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.