When I was released from my coffin in 1967 I was half mad with grief, anger, loneliness and self loathing. Many people have some aspects of themselves they do not like or wish to change, but to to be filled with loathing for oneself, one’s very being is a terrible thing to live with. I knew that I should have been destroyed once I became what I am, not only for my own benefit, but for the benefit and safety of those in Collinsport. Yet, how I longed to live! My need for survival was greater than the desire to die. So it is with all living beings.
And so it was that I lived, although dead of a day, due to the mercy of my father and Ben Stokes, neither of whom could not bear to have me destroyed. But what life was it to become? Chained within the confines of a coffin, time began to stand still to me for all those years. I cannot explain the torment I felt being in that stifling dark prison, with no room to move, with not one thing to comfort me.
Alone, my thoughts, my memories attacked me and haunted me during the times I was conscious. My insides clawed deep within me, my hunger for blood a thousand agonies-I was starved. Starved of light, companionship, human touch- all the things we take for granted.
And so when Willie Loomis removed the chains from my coffin and I was freed from my prison I attacked him hungrily. With his life force sustaining me I began my new life. Slumped on the floor, Willie groaned in pain and terror, and, I am ashamed to admit that I did not stop to consider the shock this young man was going through but fired questions at him- I had to know what world I had been released into. His clothing was very different to mine; that alone told me that some time must have passed.
“What year is this?” I demanded roughly.
“Y- year? 1967,” he croaked.
My mouth fell open. 1967! So much time had passed; there was much I had to learn about this new time I found myself in. I questioned Willie mercilessly- was there still anyone living at Collinwood? What changes would I expect to find? Fortunately for me it was night, so I was able to go out from the mausoleum and see for myself if what Willie had told me was true, for he told me all manner of strange things about this new century.
There had been many developments since I had last walked in Collinsport- motor vehicles, telephones, women wearing trousers and short frocks and nauseatingly loud music coming from machines. It was shocking, but the shock of being free at last was the greater one, for I had long given up hope that I would ever be found. I was certain that my father would have taken the secret of my existence to his grave.
But a few weeks later, I began to wonder if my father had decided to spare me out of hope that one day in the future someone would find me and know how to cure me of my affliction. Despite his disgust and horror at finding out what I had become, he had tried to find a way to have the curse removed, but he had been unable to. With great sorrow he had told me that I must die, and I had hung my head and agreed with him, unable to bear what I had become any longer.
Yet, I had been spared, and here I was in 1967. I was immortal- time would now either be my friend, or it would become my enemy. I had to become a modern man, or learn to pass as one, so I instructed Willie Loomis to go and get me a suit of clothes and warned him to tell noone about me.
“You know what will happen to you if you tell anyone about me,” I said, “Be here at dusk with the clothes and make sure no one sees you come here.”
Willie nodded, “I- I understand.”
He came at dusk with the clothes as I knew he would, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they looked on me.
“A perfect fit, you have done well Willie.”
Dressed in my new 1967 suit I went to Collinwood and introduced myself as a cousin from England. It was surprising how easily they believed me and welcomed me into their home. The Collins family of 1967 were far more welcoming to me than any of their predecessors would be during my travels into the nineteenth century.
Living with them was a young woman named Victoria Winters who was a governess to young David. He was often a troubled child and she showed great patience and kindness towards him. Despite the dark desires I held for her, she was innocently drawn to me, and I liked her company for she liked to hear about the Collins family history- my history, although she never found out who I truly was. I was very pleased that she was so interested in Josette.
Victoria became in time, a very important person in my life, but during those troubled times in 1967 at the Old House she became closer to me, and I began to fear myself greatly and what I might do to her. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but I began to be stirred by feelings I wished to keep buried- again I speak of friendship and love.
I told myself that my reluctance to fulfil my need with her, despite the intense craving I felt, was to avoid rousing suspicions within the Collins family regarding my true nature. Already I had caused a great deal of trouble and pain to Maggie Evans and I had to be careful not to place myself in any more danger of being found out for what I was. I will always be grateful to Victoria- for her grace, her gentleness and kindness towards me. By knowing her I slowly began to learn how to control myself better and over the coming year we became closer, and when I was cured of my condition and human once more I realized that I had fallen in love with her.
Her heart lay with another however, to my sorrow, but Victoria was sensitive towards me in her rejection of my love and gave me a different kind of love- that of a true friend. By knowing her I began to see what love meant, and sometimes it means watching the one you love be happy with another, and accepting it. I empathized with Vicki when she lost Peter Bradford to the mists of time, and even though Eliot Stokes and Julia tried to dissuade me, I was willing to take whatever risks I might face in order to reunite Vicki with the man she loved. I shall however, save this for another time.
A being such as myself inevitably has many enemies. As much as I loathed myself, others would loathe me more so- and fear me. They had just reasons to fear me, as I had little self control in those first months of my awakening. I make no excuses for my actions; I only seek to explain how I came to be the way I was. Isolation, grief and pain led me to losing most of my humanity and sympathy towards others. How I envied other people their humanity- how simple their daily lives seemed to me!
In those early days in Collinsport I would hide in the shadows of a night and watch people going into the Blue Whale, watch them talking and laughing and my sense of isolation would intensify. I would see people courting and a pain like a stabbing knife would pierce my heart and Josette’s beautiful face would haunt me. In those moments I would almost wish that someone would come by and know what I was and drive a stake into my aching heart. It was moments like these that drove me to go down to the docks and alleviate my pain by sinking my fangs into the soft flesh of some helpless victim. This was always only a temporary comfort however, and as the warm liquid reached my throat I felt only a brief enjoyment, tainted by self disgust.
I was careful not to feed for too long as I did not wish to kill those I fed from, and with my powers of hypnosis I made some forget that they had ever met me, so that they would never remember what had happened to them.
As my confidence grew through the Collins family accepting me I began to grow in my arrogance; I began to grow careless and started to spiral out of control. I faced a crisis. Julia’s treatments to cure me of this affliction failed and the people in Collinsport were anxious over my violent actions and what I had done to Maggie Evans (although they did not know I was the one who had done these things, soon I knew I would be found out if I carried on as I was). I had to change, find myself again, for I was lost, and even Julia was struggling to help me and critical of my actions.
I was hardened to the sufferings of others; in fulfilling my needs I ignored the pain I caused them. Yet, the very need that I secretly yearned for most, was the one that would release me from much of my troubles and fears. Love. I had lost Josette and everyone I had ever loved, and I feared loving anyone ever again, for I knew what would happen if I opened my heart to love again: destruction.
How can I explain how it feels to fear loving someone? That by loving someone you will condemn them to death, either directly or indirectly?
So now perhaps you can now see why I rejected gentleness, kindness…for they can lead to friendship and love. I thought by remaining cruel, cold hearted and friendless then she would not return. Turning love into an agent of destruction is truly despicable and only she would have thought up a curse so cruel. I was heading towards my own destruction through my actions, as it was only a matter of time that I would be discovered, even though Julia and Willie protected me and kept my secret.
I have already spoken about Julia’s loyalty to me and her dedication to seeking to cure me of my condition. Willie, too was loyal though I am ashamed to say that this was not because he liked me- he did not, but because of the power I had over him. As with Julia, I later on sought to seek his forgiveness for how badly I treated him (which I shall talk about some other time).
I was astonished when Julia offered herself to me one evening, seeking to help me fulfil my needs without having to go out of a night and prey on a stranger. I abruptly refused her offer and did not tell her why- the truth is that I was filled with shame, and felt awkward that she would even consider accepting such an act from me.
I did not know it then, but my reluctantly agreeing to work with Julia and take the help she offered me was the beginning of my journey back to finding my humanity; for not only had I to learn what true friendship was, but I had to learn how to trust again. Trust was one of my earliest lessons. This took me a long time, for I lived in fear every night. I feared loving again, I feared friendship and I feared myself.
With the help of Julia (and Vicki although she didn’t know it) I slowly regained my ability to trust, form friendships and to be able to love others again. However, the fear, although it lessened, always remained.
I discovered that I had an innate ability to see what others around me could not see, and I began to use the heightened senses that came with my condition to my advantage in order to help those I cared about. I had to learn to find a way to live with myself. The awakening of my humanity lessened the darker needs that lurked within me, and by other people’s acceptance of me, I began the long journey towards self acceptance.