The Monster Within

bite

 

I have spoken before of the darkness that haunted me; terrible things that I have done, that could not be undone and my sorrow and regret of the suffering and pain I caused to others in those lost nights of 1967.

We all contain our shadow side; feelings that stir within us- jealousy, rage and even vindictiveness. However many a time we do not act upon them but bury them within and don’t  let them see the light of day.  We don’t admit even to ourselves, let alone others that we harbor  these shameful feelings and desires.   I know only too well how it is to live  with these feelings and try to keep them secret.  

To my new family at Collinwood I put on an air of charm and for a long time not one of them knew what cruelty lay within me of a night.

My condition meant that the darkness that lay within me rose to the surface more than it does for most people. I do not excuse it; for I had become a monster; craving the blood of the innocent and I became violent in my desperation to hide my needs. My very nature had been changed and I had lost the ability to find the goodness within me. I have spoken before how long it took for me to find myself again; with the help of Julia Hoffman and Dr Lang.

Oh how I despised myself! To go from being a normal human being, (with all the frailties and faults that we all possess of course) to go from what  I considered myself essentially to be- a good man- to go from this to a creature who preyed upon others for his survival, it was like living a continual nightmare.

When I became human once more I resolved to learn to be good once more, and fulfill the promise I had made to little Sarah, my dear sister whose spirit came to me in 1967 and told me that I had forgotten who I was. The shame I felt as I knelt in front of her as she told me I must change was unbearable.

Part of what it means to be human I have learned, is to feel compassion for our fellow human beings.

“Is this what it means to be human?” I asked Julia, when I could not allow Dr Lang to harm Jeff Clark in his experiment to give me permanent humanity. My conscience weighed heavily upon me, and Dr Lang thankfully listened to me and ceased his plan to murder Jeff.werewolf.png

In 1968 there was a series of severe attacks in the woods surrounding Collinwood that appeared to have been done by a very vicious animal. From the descriptions of a “man that walked like a wolf” Julia and I realized that it could only mean one thing- a werewolf lived amongst us.

We found out that it was Chris Jennings, the sister of young Amy who was staying at Collinwood and friend of young David Collins.

Chris was a very reserved young man, and somewhat of a loner, but whether that was his natural character or a result of his condition it is hard to say. He was not an easy person to get to know, and understandably reticent to form close friendships with others. Although he was attracted to Carolyn Stoddard he didn’t want to pursue any long term relationship with her, for he feared harming her- something I understood only too well.

The fear of harming those you love is a terrible thing to live with- fearing that the darkness within you will rise to the surface and overwhelm you to such an extent that you lose the power to stop it. This is what Chris faced every night there was a full moon. He became a monster; out of control, his humanity gone, not even knowing who he was- overtaken by  the desire to kill raging within him.

Those around us were in great fear of this werewolf roaming through the woods at night and the sheriff and his men  were searching for the “animal” and quite rightly, most people would say, determined to find it and destroy it.

I alone, understood the agony Chris was going through. He could not help what he became, and tried many times to stop himself by locking himself in his room, but the wolf within was so strong that it overtook him and broke free.  To make matters even more tragic, Chris had no idea why or how this had happened to him, unlike myself. He had simply transformed into this creature one night without warning.  

(Although the same could be said the same of myself before I died when the bat attacked me, she had screamed at me that I would be “cursed”, so I had had some warning that some terrible fate was in store for me). Chris was going through emotional turmoil- fear, self loathing, confusion and extreme physical pain- the transformation into the werewolf each full moon caused tremendous muscle spasms.

If it had not been for his little sister, who would have been left an orphan and all alone in the world, I believe Chris would have taken his own life; he expressed this to Julia and I after we found out his secret. We decided we had to try and help him, not only for his own sake but for little Amy who needed her big brother.

Chris expressed great surprise as to why I wanted to help him and guard his secret. I showed him the secret room in the Mausoleum (where my coffin had once been) and told him that he could not break free from there and that he would be safe. I could not tell him of course that I understood what he was going through and why I felt such compassion and empathy for him. It filled me with great sorrow.

sorrow for Chris

For when I looked at Chris, I didn’t see a monster, I saw a victim of circumstances that were beyond his control. When people do terrible things, often they are victims themselves and not fully aware of what they are doing. Chris lost awareness of who he was when the werewolf overtook him, so to my mind he was not totally culpable for his actions, much like those who suffer from insanity are  not considered culpable for theirs. Maybe you will not see it this way, but I felt that Chris deserved to be protected from himself and that is why I locked him in the mausoleum. Perhaps only a monster can truly understand another monster.  

I remember one time I visited him at the cottage and he told me:  “You’re a good man Mr Collins.” 

you are a good man mr collins

I looked at him in surprise; for it had been a very long time since anyone had called me good. I had not thought that anyone would ever see me that way again.

good man1 (1) “There have been those who didn’t think so.”  I replied. 

there have been those who didn't think so“Well we know  they’re wrong, very wrong.” Chris said, and I lowered my head, feeling embarrassed but also moved at his gratitude.

He had no idea that his allowing me to try to help him meant that I was finding the goodness within myself again- that he was helping me as much as I was trying to help him.

However, I could not reveal this to him; my own secret had to remain untold.

Chris would ask me often, “Why are you doing this Barnabas? Why are you helping me?” I would reply that little Amy needed him and that he couldn’t help what had happened to him, which was true- but I of course could not tell him how much I understood what it felt like to fear oneself of a night. I told him that Julia and I would find a cure, that there had to be a cure.  

Chris shook his head, “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it is impossible.”

I wished I  could tell him that I had once given up all hope of ever being free of my own curse, and now here I was free to walk in the daylight, and not have to fear what my desires might lead me to do of  a night.

“Trust me Chris,” was all I could say, “if there is a cure Julia and I will find it.”

We spent many hours reading books on lycanthropy to see if there was any clues as to a cure.  We found none, but decided that we would not give up trying.  Then a strange spirit began to haunt Collinwood; eventually we found out his name- Quentin Collins. He was from 1897 and had once been a werewolf.  I suppose it will not surprise you that Quentin and I became good friends when I travelled back to 1897, for he and I shared so many experiences and had made the same mistakes and paid the price for them.  

quentin werewolf 6.24.11

I would like to say that I returned from 1897 with a cure for Chris but I didn’t- his suffering continued.  I have mentioned before how the Leviathans took control of me for awhile which meant that I  lost my empathy for Chris, I am ashamed to say.

He eventually left Collinwood, during the time Julia and I were in parallel time and none of us heard from him again.

I have known so many people that in the end, despite my desire to help them,  I could not help, or failed to. Sometimes it is through carelessness that we miss opportunities to help others or we don’t have the knowledge to help them until it is too late. If  I had known the extent of the powers Count Petofi had possessed I would have forced him to have told me how to use them to cure Chris. It would have given me great satisfaction to have used the darkness that resided in Count Petofi for good. Petofi was thoroughly evil, and it would have been a bitter  yet necessary lesson for him- that the powers of darkness can be transformed into powers of light and goodness.

It may come as a surprise to you that this can be so, yet I have found it to be true. I shall speak more of this another time.

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Awakening.

 

Barnabas.1967.photo

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.”

BARNABAS  old photo

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,Concern for Vicki 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.

1967 Barnabas

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.

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Love, friendship and loyalty

his beautiful eyes - Edited

 

In my world and yours I have seen many acts of hate: people driven by the desire to control others, greedy in their quest for power. I make no excuses for my own acts of wrongdoing, (and I shall talk about that another time), but if you remember, I have said that I’ve had to learn to use my abilities wisely. In certain circumstances I have had to use them in order to help others. Many times I have had to do this-  hate and evil came to Collinwood all too often and it fell mostly to myself to defeat it. It was my responsibility to do so.

I crossed time to save my family from danger, and faced many dangers myself. I did this willingly- I did what had to be done.  I met many powerful and ruthless adversaries during my travels into the past, and one of the worst were the Leviathans.

The Leviathans claimed to be all powerful ancient beings and for a time they had a firm grip on us at Collinwood. Part of their power lay in their lies- they had the ability to sound convincing and their hideous appearance only added to their menace. I have not known as many beings  that had the level of arrogance they did- they acted as if they had a right to  do what they did, and truly believed, it seemed, that they were superior to us. Had I stopped to think that they had needed me to carry out their plans and were fascinated by my ability to traverse time (which they could not), then I might have got out of their grasp sooner than I did. They seized my mind and almost my humanity, but deep within, my soul still carried the love and loyalty I had for all those at Collinwood. I was lost for a time, not only to myself but to my dear ones.

Love broke their control over me. Yes love. I would not and could not betray or hurt those I loved. Their command to kill my closest friend was the beginning of their downfall.  Inside their soulless beings was only endless darkness, cruelty and coldness. They did not  know what love is.

It is my humble observation that many people in my world and yours also do not know what love is, perhaps we are all learning, myself included, so I shall not make this into a lecture.

“Love conquers all” is a saying in your world, said by an ancient poet called Virgil. I would like to believe this is true, however I found many times that it took more than love to conquer evil and hatred. I wish it had not been so. Perhaps you are shocked by this admission- that at times I have had to resort to violence in order to bring peace.

I admire the concept of pacifism in your world and those who do much good towards others by following this philosophy. However in some situations I have faced I was forced to be violent myself or not only would I have been destroyed, but those I loved. It is not something I am proud of.

I have been very fortunate in that I had a friend in Julia Hoffman. She was willing on many occasions to risk her life in order to save mine; her loyalty to me knew no bounds. I will be eternally grateful for this. Julia taught me what true friendship is, and I showed the same loyalty to her.  My love for her was brotherly, yet I could never quite find the words to express this to her, to my eternal regret.

Barnabas-and-Julia-

“Never without you,” I once told her. Without her by my side I think I would truly have been lost.

In 1967 I was full of anger and torment. My heart had been hardened to love and I scornfully saw this as a weakness, a sentimentality that had led to nothing but pain, yet there was a deep scar within myself and when alone I often stood at Josette’s portrait willing her to return to me.

I was ill prepared for the arrival of Julia, who wished to help me. I was cruel to her many times and suspicious of her motives, yet she did not waver in her determination to help me. Perhaps I was cruel to her to test her, to see how far her loyalty would go, and test her I did, and for a time I almost drove her mad with fear.

For a long time we had a very uneasy partnership (I would not call it friendship then), constantly trying to outwit each other. I once tried to allude to our growing friendship as I mistakenly saw it at the time, and Julia replied that I was devious, and she was correct. She understood me well. I am ashamed to admit that she began to be drawn into my devious and questionable activities and became very distressed.

Much later in 1970, I made attempts to apologize for what I had put her through, but she did not wish to hear it.

“Oh Barnabas…don’t…” was all she said to that.

So my words were left unsaid, hanging heavy in the air above us. It was as though she could read me like a book that she had read many times before.

I was left wondering what to do about this. I respected her wishes not to talk of those terrible times in 1967, yet I wished to clear the air, seek her forgiveness. Perhaps there was some element of self indulgence to it, yet I truly wanted to her to know how sorry I was.

I spoke to Quentin about this; if anyone could understand how I felt it was him. He and I shared so  many similar experiences and regrets. We both knew what it was like to live under the constant shadow of a curse and to fear oneself of a night.

And so I went over to Collinwood and found him standing pouring himself brandy into a glass and looking pensive. I wondered if it was the right time to speak to him, as he was much preoccupied at the time with his own problems, and growing distant.

He turned around as I came in.

“Oh Barnabas, it’s you. Care for a brandy?” He gulped down his drink, then poured himself another one.

“No thank you,” I said, thinking that perhaps he’d had enough brandy himself.  

“Quentin, I need your help,” I said, deciding to get to the point.

“Oh?” and he gave one of his little laughs, “Well what can I do for you Barnabas?”

“It’s Julia, well I- you see I haven’t treated her very well in the past, and I want to put things right. I can’t explain it all now Quentin, but you know what it is like to live under a curse and have done things that you wish could be undone.”

“We can’t change the past Barnabas you know that.”

“Yes,” I said looking down at my hands. “I have tried to apologize of course, but she didn’t wish to hear it and changed the subject.”

Quentin fiddled with his brandy glass. “Well I don’t see what else you can do.” He then smiled. “Why don’t you give her a nice gift ?”

“A gift?” I repeated. No gift could ever  make up for what I had done I thought; what on earth could I give her?

“Yes, something to show your appreciation. All women like that sort of thing, I’m sure Julia is no different.”

“Perhaps you are right,” I mused, “but I have no idea what to give her.”

“I’m sure you will think of something Barnabas,” he said setting down his glass on the table, “If you will excuse me, it’s late. I am tired and need to go to bed.”

“Of course,” I said, “Goodnight.”

“Good night Barnabas,” he said and went upstairs.

I stood staring into the fire, wondering what token of my appreciation I could give Julia, the one person who had been by my side through so many difficult times, even when I had been very unkind to her. I knew her so well, yet I had no idea what I could give her.

I lowered my head, realising the one thing she did want from me I could never give her, and felt ashamed that I could not do so. I wished it could be different, but I could not change that. How different she is to Angelique I thought, for Julia accepted how things were, how ever much she wished they could be different. This was one of the things I admired about her.


I put on my cape and picked up my cane to walk back to the Old House.

As I opened the door the night air cooled my hot brow and I looked up at the night sky. I felt a glimmer of the unwelcome craving inside me, and shook my head a little. 

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No, I will not give into that, I told myself. I walked through the woods telling myself as I had told myself a thousand times I would feel no comfort afterwards, only shame and regret.

Willie was in bed when I got back to the Old House. I did not think he would have been much help to me, so I was glad to be alone with my thoughts.

I sat in my chair by the fire, thinking, and then it came to me.

Of course!” I said out loud.

At dusk I opened the gate of the basement, ascended the stairs and walked into the parlor to find Julia looking at the table.

“Who sent me these?”

“ I did,” I said.

The look of surprise on her face delighted me.  ”You?”

“Well I  had to send Willie to order them as I couldn’t go myself,” I said dryly with a small smile playing on my lips. “But yes, they are from me.”

“Oh Barnabas!” She picked them up, admiring them, and then noticed  the card I had tucked inside. She gave me her quizzical look then read what I had written on it.

Dear Julia, although these flowers will last only a few days, our friendship will bloom for a very long time. Your devoted friend, Barnabas.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

Her smile as our eyes met, showed me she understood what I was trying to say- what had passed between us all those years ago was gone. I could not change what had happened, nor forget it, and neither could she. I had to accept that as she had done. The look in her eyes as she held the flowers I had sent her showed me that I had been forgiven. The gift she gave me in that moment was one I would never forget.

“No, dear friend, thank you.” I said.

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Being human again.

he sees sunrise

In 1968 I had a brief time of being human again. This was a result of the administrations of Dr Lang- a remarkable man; he succeeded where Julia failed, although I must take the blame partly for this as I was too hasty in my need to be alleviated of my condition, and pushed Julia to give me larger doses of the injections than I should have had. The results were disastrous. I don’t wish to go into that now however, perhaps another time I shall.

I spoke earlier of missing the sunrise; Dr Lang gave me the gift of seeing my first sunrise in almost 200 years, and for that I shall be eternally grateful to him. His death weighs heavily upon me; although I myself did not kill him, his involvement with me led to his murder by the one who caused my affliction so many years ago.

A man of many contradictions, Dr Lang was highly devoted to his work, and some might say his ethics were questionable. So it often is when faced with difficult circumstances, as Julia and I found out when we continued Dr Lang’s experiment and so gave Adam life.

We were ill prepared for the consequences of our actions and Adam became a problem that we could not solve. Fortunately Adam came under the care of Eliot Stokes and eventually made his own way in the world. What became of him after he left Collinsport none of us ever found out. I only hope that Adam found some happiness in his brief life. Because of him I spent a short time walking in the daylight once more and not having to fear myself of a night.

There are many small pleasures humans take for granted; although being what I am grants me many abilities and immortality, I am not as free as you might expect. I have had to learn to accept my being and how to use my abilities wisely.

During those few months of being human at Collinwood I became closer to my family- the twentieth century Collinses. Although my descendents, they became my family- they were as much part of me as I was a part of them. Time did not separate us, nor did my reverting back to my condition break this bond. Not even the influence of the Leviathans could harden my heart against those I loved.

I was glad to be able to accept Elizabeth’s invitations to lunch at Collinwood, although I was not impressed with Mrs Johnson’s cooking. Roger would complain about it to Elizabeth, but I didn’t see any improvements. Julia would laugh about it after I reverted, and say that maybe this was the only thing I would not miss about being human. (I of course, can eat, but have no need to. My needs are of a different kind). I replied drily that it was a small price to pay and that perhaps Willie might make a better chef than Mrs Johnson.

I remember one evening at the Old House in 1968, not long after I was relieved of my condition, when it was still new to me. How could I have forgotten what it felt like? As I hung my cape and cane on the stand I felt a weariness I had not felt since the eighteenth century.

Willie came out into the hallway carrying a tray of coffee and Julia’s favourite cookies.

“Where have you been Barnabas?”

“I was out for a walk,” I said. This was one habit I still had- walking at night,  even though I no longer had the same reasons for doing so.

“Well you missed your dinner Barnabas. I got some cookies here if-”

“No- thank you Willie,” I said with a small smile and moved towards the stairs.

“What’s wrong Barnabas? You don’t look right,” Willie said, concern in his eyes.

Julia got up from her chair at these words to stand and look at me. I did not give her a chance to start questioning me and fussing over me. She had been staying here for a few nights and I had had enough of it already.

“I am just tired Willie, that is all.” I started to climb the stairs. “Good night,” I said to both of my friends and they both replied “Goodnight Barnabas,” looking at each other in that conspiratorial way they often did when they worried about me.

Once in my bedroom I changed into my nightwear and lay down on my bed. How many years had I longed to sleep in the comfort of a soft bed instead of the claustrophobic confines of my coffin! Yet this night sleep eluded me; despite  the heaviness of  my eyelids and my body. Faces of those I had hurt haunted my vision so I got up and stood looking out of the window, trying to clear my mind.

How can I make amends for what I have done?” I asked myself, feeling great torment. I had no answer. I sat down heavily on my bed, my face in my hands and suddenly I found myself weeping. My sobs echoed in my chest and I heard faint footsteps in the hallway. Wilie! I knew those footsteps well. I lay down again and stilled my breathing and swallowed my sobs.

“I don’t know Julia…I thought I heard cries, maybe a cat or somethin’.”

“I expect you’re right Willie.  I wouldn’t worry about it. You did lock the door didn’t you?”

“Yeah, sure I did.”

“Well goodnight Willie, oh and I’ll be going back to Collinwood tomorrow.”

“Allright Julia. Goodnight.”

Once their doors closed I let out my breath in relief. My pain was mine, mine alone. I could not and did not wish to share it, not even with my closest friends.

I lay in the darkness, the shadows on the walls my only companions. As my cold tears dried on my face I had a feeling then that the shadows would follow me even in the daylight and I would never truly be rid of them. They would always be with me and I would have to learn to accept them as I would have to learn to accept the return of my condition once more.

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