Reflections

“Oh you look different!”

Different? How so?” I smiled at the little girl standing next to me peering down into the rippling water.

“You look funny!” She giggled. “Look!” she pointed. “Your nose is moving and become a funny shape!”

I looked at the face reflected back at me as it wavered over the pool.  

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“I see what you mean. I don’t really look like that at all do I?”

“No, you have a good nose,” Sarah laughed then she knelt and picked up a stone and threw at my face, or rather the face that was in the water.

My face shattered into many tiny pieces as the water claimed my reflection.

“Oh look– your face is coming back again!”

“So it is,” I agreed. The face stared back at me but this time, it changed in a curious and strange way. I bent down to take a closer look.

Then all of a sudden a very fat toad plopped into the water and broke up my face again. As he did so, a heavy cloud covered the sun and I shivered. I lifted my face to the sky and a few tiny raindrops dripped onto my head.

The clouds were coming thick and fast and the temperature had dropped considerably.

“Come Sarah,” I said taking her little hand and helping her stand up,” It’s going to storm, we’d better go back to the house.”

As we opened the front door, we were greeted by my mother.

“Barnabas, Sarah, you are only just in time for dinner. Wherever have you been?”

“Down by the pool, looking for frogs. I didn’t see even one, but a fat toad who broke up Barnabas’s face!”

My mother gave me a quizzical look.

“My reflection in the pool,” I explained.

“Oh I see, well, I will see you at the table,” and with that my mother went into the dining room.

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“Mother seems sad,” remarked Sarah as we hung up our cloaks.

I pretended not have noticed, and told Sarah so, making up some excuse that Mother was tired and did not like the rain; for by now it was raining very heavily. We had to light the candles early which made my father grumble, for being wasteful. He thought it was light enough to see to eat by the firelight and dim daylight, but my mother and I both sided with each other saying we could not see well enough to cut the meat.

That night we all retired early, and as I stood by my mirror and brushed my hair I gave my face some consideration. I was looking rather pale I thought, but my father told me that was a sign of good breeding. I laid the brush down and climbed into bed.  

Blowing out the candle I thought about the pool and how my face had changed. I didn’t mention it to Sarah for fear of scaring her, but for one moment my own reflection had unnerved me, as another face had stared back at me, grinning maliciously, with teeth that had looked much sharper than my own. My face, but not my face at the same time.   Had my eyes been playing tricks on me? I reasoned that it must have been the sunlight and rippling of the water affecting my vision just before the toad had leaped into my reflection and broke it up.

Some of the local villagers claimed that the pool could show you your true face if you looked into it long enough. Of course, it was all nonsense and my Aunt Abigail tutted and muttered about “pagan ways” whenever she heard anyone mention it.

But mirrors, well they showed you your true face didn’t they? Abigail thought so. I told her that it was impossible to see one’s own true face as it was always in reverse, and that a good artist could show one their true face more accurately.   On a whim I had a local artist paint me, and many people said it was an excellent likeness and I thought so too, although when I held it up to the mirror and looked at it and myself I could see many differences.

“What on earth are you doing Barnabas?” My father asked when I was studying the two faces in the mirror.

“Seeing which looks like me the most.”

“Well, when you have quite finished wasting your time on idle pursuits the ledger book needs your attention!”

I sighed and laid my portrait against one of the chairs. How I wished I was not my father’s clerk!

“Yes, I will see to the figures Father,” I sighed and went to the study.

I could never have known it then, but that portrait became rather a talking point over the two centuries at Collinwood.

A very clever woman came to the old house one night in 1967 and brought me a book of the family history, one that had reproductions of family portraits in it. She used this as a way to distract my attention whilst she took out a small mirror and attempted to see if I would appear in it for her or not.  

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I was very angry of course, for a vampire can never reflect his likeness in a mirror, but I pretended to believe her absurd story about checking her cosmetics. Her own vanity betrayed her: for she thought herself cleverer than she actually was. I knew she had seen only the candles in her mirror.

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But this vanity of hers became useful to me much later on, as Julia Hoffman was as determined as I that one day I would be able to look upon my face again, even if it were a version of my face.

I must also confess to a little vanity of my own, for I commissioned Sam Evans to paint my portrait, and of course everyone all thought it was of the descendent of the first Barnabas. I took some pleasure in the fact that I chose to pose in a similar way to my first portrait and was emulating my “ancestor.” I enjoyed the little joke.

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I realized too, that I was taking a risk in my identity being found out one day, but I thought myself too clever for anyone to truly know who I was.  I was new to the modern age and the tenacity of the educated modern woman such as Julia Hoffman.

To a vampire mirrors hold a morbid fascination- for my face I showed to those around me was never my whole face. The fangs hidden from view could never be revealed except for when it was time to take the blood of another.  I showed a version of my face that I wanted them to see: the human Barnabas, and the one I longed to be.

The portrait in the foyer was not the real Barnabas either, for he had died long ago, even if he was now in the present. It always gave me a strange feeling to look upon it, remembering the artist painting me and little Sarah’s fascination watching my face appear with each brush stroke.

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“Will you do a drawing of me?” Sarah asked the artist.

“ If you brother says I may, “ he smiled.

“Of course,” I agreed.

And so he did a most beautiful drawing of Sarah, but sadly she lost it. One of the servants carelessly used it to light the fire- it had fallen onto the floor one night and in the early pre dawn light, the stupid girl had taken it thinking it one of Sarah’s discarded spelling papers and twisted it up to use for kindling.

We knew nothing of it until Sarah came into my mother’s room crying, saying she could see one of her eyes, and the corner of her face burning in the fire.

The artist had gone away to visit his own sister, so we could not ask him to draw another. I made some clumsy attempt to replace it but drawing portraits was not one of my talents.

But I digress.

That night in 1967, I resolved to be more careful about being near mirrors, except the one in Josette’s bedroom.  Very few people were allowed in there. Her room was to be a shrine to her memory and it drove me to do some terrible things. I made Maggie Evans sit at that mirror many times and see Josette in it instead of herself. But even I could not make this last- for when we look into a mirror, we see a version of yourself, and sometimes we will not like what we see. Maggie did not like to see Josette, and I understand how wrong that was now.

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I secretly envied her to be able to look into her own face and know who she was, although I never admitted it or even gave her a hint I felt this way. It had been a long long time since I had known who I truly was.

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Sacrifice

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Sacrifice– the word doesn’t even sound nice to one’s ears does it? It is even less pleasant to write about, but write about it I must. For sacrifice has featured many times in my life- I have been both the victim of it, and the cause of it. I sacrificed  the happiness and lives of others for my own selfish desires. Then racked with guilt I spent a few years after that willingly offering myself up as selflessly as I knew how to ensure the safety and happiness of my family and friends. But even then others made their own sacrifices along the way, either through knowing me and working as my allies or getting in the way of our mutual enemies. It seemed that even when I was putting myself last I collected some victims, which caused me great sorrow. Death followed me like a shadow- my curse saw to that.

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Of course, some of this was because of my need for blood.charity-gets-bitten I could try and fight the desire for it of course, but ultimately the cravings would get so immense that the thirst overwhelmed me and I could bear it no longer, and I knew that someone would have to offer me their blood so that I would be satisfied. At times, I was offered it almost willingly but it was nearly always to their detriment and I tried to take as little as I could, but once the hot sweetness filled my mouth I often felt crazed for more. Disgusting as this sounds, there was sometimes a special  feeling of intimacy when I felt an emotional bond with the woman I was feeding with: Josette- Roxanne- Vicki, and even to some extent Charity Trask.

For them however, there would always be a price- their life if I continued to accept their offerings to me.  Love often does mean that we make sacrifices- such as putting ourselves out to help our loved ones- perhaps missing a trip to care for them when they are sick, but to die- to die for it— no, it should not come to that. I am aware that some lyrics of popular music express the sentiments “I would die for you, I could die for love” but I strongly suspect that this is being overly dramatic- few of us would  usually equate love with death- this is more the prerogative of Romantic poets.

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Sometimes I didn’t even know whether I was the victim or being victimized such was my confusion during those dark days of 1967. Josette’s spirit left the Old House when I went to live there and I was alone in a strange century with people I didn’t understand and mistrusted their motives.

Those years of 1795-6 were still vivid in my mind- I had vowed only to hate after Josette had fled from me and fallen from Widow’s Hill, all because she didn’t want to pay the sacrifice to be with me.  Even in my anguish I understood and did not blame her for it, but my heart was broken that she was afraid of me. I staggered away from the cliffs, and later vowed before Ben Stokes that I could only hate from this moment on- love had ruined me. The subversion of love if I may call it that- of the witch, twisted into something vile, turned me into something loathsome. I was no longer the person Josette had fallen in love with. With her gone I turned my rage onto those around me in my own strange sense of justice- Nathan Forbes and Reverend Trask.

Reverend Trask despised me; perhaps he sensed that I was in a way a strange subversion of the religion he preached so avidly- his Lord had offered his own blood selflessly so that he may save the souls of others, but here was I taking the blood of others so that I would survive yet another desperate and lonely night.  In the end I snuffed out his life as he took Vicki’s life- he sacrificed her innocence for his own egotistical and misguided ravings, whilst the real witch amongst us gloated. She made fools of us all for a long time and when  I realized what she truly was it was too late.

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My own blood was spilled for a few moments of weakness and ignorance and not only my own life and happiness was sacrificed but that of my dear Josette, my poor little Sarah, my beloved mother- even my father was left a broken man once he discovered the horror of what his son had become.

For one such as I, blood, love and death became blurred- they almost became one and the same- sacrificed, sacrificing-   lusting for blood,  yearning for love, longing for death, trying to escape death,  wanting to live- seeking an end to this cycle. My boundaries became difficult to define, difficult to contain, difficult to understand. I found myself taking on various roles, not even knowing what was real much of the time, such was the depths of the deceptions I created for myself.

Slowly it all began to unravel, and I began to see that through the sacrifices I had made through my foolishness I could turn around some of my curse by using the powers that came with it to fight against evil that came to Collinwood far more than any household should ever have to encounter. The hardest thing was realizing that I could not do this alone, and that those dear to me like Julia also had to risk their own safety to help me. She told me many times that I could not be expected to risk my life for hers if I would wouldn’t accept that she would be prepared to do the same for me.

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I feared losing her more than she ever knew- although she didn’t quite know how much I cared, she trusted me to always be there for her. I couldn’t fully express my gratitude to her, and when I made attempts to she would shrug it off and state that I had helped her many times. I had lost so much, that losing my best friend was unthinkable- this was one sacrifice I was determined not to have to make, even if it meant the loss of my own life.

With sacrifices also come gratitude, or as I have come to believe, from my own experiences it is wise to never lose sight of that-being thankful for the kindnesses our friends show us. I realise that this hasn’t been an easy read, but I wish to finish with something positive, and also an apology for such a difficult subject, but sometimes my memories are melancholy and I can’t seem to help myself, and need to explain what I experienced and felt, and reflect upon it all.

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Suffering

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Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape,
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
But O too fond, when have I answer’d thee?
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal’d:
I strove against the stream and all in vain:
Let the great river take me to the main:
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield;
Ask me no more.

When we are suffering we may inadvertently create more suffering not only for ourselves but others we hold dear to us. I should never have gone to her that night, I know that now.  But, truth be told I knew it then too, but I could not help myself. To live for eternity without her was an agony I knew I could not bear, yet to live with her meant death- her death. I was already dead, but in a cruel way also alive – and my feelings were intense, more so than when I had been an ordinary man. Now, I was a creature of the night with dark yearnings – cravings so strong that at times I thought I would go mad.

When her tearful eyes gazed into mine and she begged me to take her with me I felt an icy chill seep into my bones, for she had little idea of what this meant.  How could I explain what I had become? That my love for her would bring her suffering then her death? I wanted more than anything to keep her safe, bring her love and joy. When we love someone the last thing we want is to make them suffer. Yet, when the witch had screamed at me that all who loved me would die, that became the only thing I could bring my dear Josette.

I was suffering enormously it is true: tormented by my need for blood each night and disgusted with myself afterwards I would slink into the shadows tears on my blood stained face. 

How could I ask her to love me still? My loyal servant Ben pleaded with me to leave Collinsport for good, but I couldn’t bear to never see her lovely face again. Selfishly, I stayed and visited her of a night through the secret panel in her bedroom, taking her in my arms and loving her in the only way I knew how.

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My plans to make her mine meant that she would live for eternity as I was cursed to do, but it was a living death; I knew Ben Stokes was right when he told me I was wrong to even consider it, but I didn’t know how else I could bear each night otherwise. Centuries of loneliness and suffering stretched out before me, unless I could find someone to end my suffering. Faithful Ben could not bring himself to do it. I longed for him to destroy me – being destroyed at the hands of a friend seemed to me a kindness, laying me to rest in peace, but to have been hunted down like an animal by the authorities was what I faced (it was inevitable) which was worse.  I had left many victims of my blood lust in the short time since I had been cursed to this damned existence – already the inhabitants of Collinwood were gossiping about the  “ blood thirsty beast” in their midst.

We are often told that we should not have regrets, for they are futile as we cannot change what has been. This I find to be false in light of what I am – for if I didn’t have any regrets how could I live with myself? I may not be able to put right many of the wrongs I have done, but I have realized that the experiences I’ve had have taught me to see how precious life really is. We must never waste a moment to show our loved ones how much they mean to us; we must show them that we care. We must. Having too many  regrets eats at our souls and we cannot be at peace. 

With regrets comes forgiveness, which I have talked about before. Forgiving other people is much easier in some ways than forgiving ourselves. I know now that Josette eventually forgave me for that terrible night on Widows Hill. Even now I feel the horror as vividly as I did over 200 years ago as she slipped from my arms down onto the rocks as the wind swept the sea into  a frenzy.

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As the elements claimed her spirit, and her broken body lay below the cliffs, my heart became as hard and as cold as the cruel stones that she lay upon, and for a long time after that I could only feel hate and despair. Many a night I would roam Widows Hill raging at the way it had stolen me from her, claimed her as its own. Her voice mingled with the ghosts of the weeping widows that haunted the place – my suffering was causing me great agony but in a perverse sort of way brought me some comfort, for I felt that one day I might find Josette again as I could often sense her presence  in the wind that whipped my cloak around my legs as if she were angry with me for causing her to die.

In the new century I found myself in Josette’s spirit came to my aid twice when I was in danger and I knew then that she had forgiven me, even if I had not forgiven myself.

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“My darling forgive me for the suffering I brought you,” I told her one night as I sat alone by my fire in the Old House, and outside the wind sighed at  the window. Perhaps I was imagining it, but I felt some peace come over me as though she had heard me.

climbed the stairs to her room and gazed at her portrait, holding a single candle above me which cast a wavering glow on her face.  Her eyes were solemn.

A knock on the door broke me out of my reverie and reluctantly I turned away and went downstairs to open the door.  It was Julia. As she walked into the drawing room she could see that my mood was particularly melancholy but did not press me on it, for I had had enough of an ordeal being bricked up by Trask’s spirit in my basement, and she kindly made a front of putting my mood down to that.

“I deserved it,” I told her simply, “for he was only doing what I did to him.” Trask had suffered and died at my hand and even though he had been a spiteful and vindictive man, his fanaticism bordering on mania, I had acted from the same emotions that he had shown to Victoria Winters – hate. Now we were even – he had got his revenge on me and his spirit lay quiet once again.

Julia turned away, pain reflected in her eyes at my words, for the prospect of losing me was as unbearable to her as losing Josette had been to me – and still was.

“Don’t Barnabas,” she said quietly and I looked down at my hands, understanding her, accepting what I meant to her.  I said no more on the subject, for I knew how much she had worried when I had gone missing and regretted that I yet again had caused her so much upset.

At this moment in time, I was no longer a creature of the night, but it still felt to me that the curse was never far away from me, and my fears that it was laying in wait for me proved to be correct. TKitty and Josettehe Leviathans returned the curse to me (although the witch made an attempt to and would have succeeded if it had not been for Adam). They prevented me from saving Josette’s death a second time, and reliving that agony once again was  one of the worst nights of my life. 

Death has touched me so many times, yet I am still alive- why, I don’t know. I have suffered and brought suffering to many; there are those who say that through suffering we can come to a state of enlightenment, or wisdom or something close to it, but I wish that I hadn’t had to have gone through all that suffering to have learned what I have. I have lost too much, caused too much losses. There must be better ways to learn:  I believe there are better ways to learn, which I will save for another time. 

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*Poem: Ask Me No More, from The Princess by Tennyson.

 

 

Ghosts

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I shall never forget meeting her for the first time, her shy smile and light conversation; she was so full of life and promise as many young women are.  Her soft skin glowed with health and youth- how could I ever have known what tragedy would lay before her? That for only a few months after knowing her, loving her, that her life would fade away, as did mine into the darkness, and for thereafter I would know her only as a ghost?

I loved her in life and I loved her in death, and for many years sought ways to cheat time and to change what I had done, change events: but time was stronger than I, and my enemies used it against me. I could not undo that had been done.

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Many people today do not believe in ghosts; that those who are no longer walking this earth are somehow still alive somewhere, or that their memories somehow haunt the places they loved and can be seen and felt by the living.  

It is my observation that more people experience ghosts than is actually realized; that they do not talk about such experiences for fear of being seen as strange or over imaginative. We often fear what we do not understand. If we see a “ghost” what does it mean to us? Why has this occurred? 

That night in 1967 when I first walked through the doors of the Old House after being freed from my coffin by Willie Loomis my past and future rolled into one.  There was an air of timelessness that washed over me as the cobwebs hung over the windows, the fireplace and the face of my beloved Josette. Through the layers of dust the 18th century was more real to me than the 1960s. At any moment I fancied that I would hear the footsteps of little Sarah running down the stairs calling my name. But she was gone, long gone and another child spoke my name instead.

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Young David Collins, a strange but astute boy spoke to me of seeing ghosts in the Old House and even believed me to be one at first; he was even disappointed to find out that I was not a ghost…but yet…in a way he was correct.

I was “alive”, yet not truly alive, not only in the physical sense but also in a spiritual sense, for this time I found myself in was not my own. I had broken the laws of nature by my very existence and should have been a jumble of bones in my tomb alongside my family. But here I was, living still, walking in the moonlight  of a night, when most normal people were sleeping in their beds. Perhaps I was a living ghost, for I was consumed with the past, vainly attempting to recreate what I had lost, whom I had loved.

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My preoccupation with the ghosts of my past led me to attempt to turn a living woman into one, which proved disastrous. In my pain and desperation to regain what I had lost, I  was suffering from what I now believe to be some sort of temporary insanity- I was blind to the depths of the suffering I caused Maggie Evans in my efforts to make her become Josette. I needed her to be Josette- in my anguish all I could see was the resemblance to my lost love and that was enough for me at the time.

To my eternal shame and regret after this vivacious young woman lost part of herself and was taken away by Dr. Woodard to Windcliff, I then turned my attentions to Victoria Winters, whom I had always felt an attraction to from the moment we first met. Her innocence and gentleness charmed me, and we shared an interest in the past and a love of literature.

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Much later on, I told her that loving me would have been the greatest mistake of her life, although I wished that hadn’t been true- for by then I was human once more, with a future I felt I could offer her, (although perhaps an uncertain one) and  found that my chance had been snatched away from me in the guise of Jeff Clarke.

I spoke earlier about how I came to help Vicki and Jeff – in actuality he was Peter Bradford, a man from my century, and a ghost of sorts himself. The irony of my efforts to protect Vicki from the worst parts of myself for so long, fighting against the desires that drew me to her, then the genuine love I felt for her ( finally realizing that she didn’t and would never return my love) was not lost on me when her fate seemed to be to love another ghost.

Vicki slipped into the past to be with Peter and I followed them to ensure that this time they would escape the gallows- my curse had cheated me of Josette, but I resolved not to let Vicki suffer the same fate due to the schemings of the one who had cursed me- enough had suffered due to my wrongdoings. Fortunately I was successful, but I had to hurt other people to do it, which I am ashamed of, but I won’t go into that for now.

I still think about Vicki and her preoccupation with ghosts and the past- she was very much taken with Josette for a time and I used this to my advantage and encouraged it. Was I to blame for her travelling back to 1795? I can say with all certainty that this was her undoing- for there she met Peter Bradford, who despite his love for her ( which I could see was as true as mine for Josette) sealed her fate. She would not be swayed from her determination to leave her own time and join him in the past.  I learned much later on, to my great sorrow, that she and Peter had not had long together- the Leviathans saw to that, or more precisely, Jeb Hawkes. Vicki became a ghost herself- falling from Widows Hill.

I considered travelling back to 1796 again and looking for Vicki to prevent her death, but Eliot Stokes and Julia talked me out of it, pointing out to me the inherent dangers of changing events and the risk to myself.

“We have had enough messing around with time Barnabas!” Eliot stated firmly, “Look how close we came to not getting back to 1971- not to mention the dangers you faced in 1897- leave well enough alone.”

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“He’s right Barnabas,” Julia said, “You can’t save everybody, and it was Vicki’s choice to go back with Peter.”

I paced the room anxiously then went to stand in front of the fireplace, leaning on the mantle.

“I know that! But I can’t help feeling responsible-”

“Oh Barnabas,” Julia sighed, “When will you stop doing this to yourself?”

“Doing what?” I said, turning round and giving her a warning look. Eliot looked at me then Julia curiously.

“You know what,” she replied quietly. Then to my relief she changed the subject, asking Eliot if he had read some medical journal she had lent him. I walked away and sat in my chair and stared into the fire, as images of so many I had loved and lost haunted me.  

“You make the past so beautiful,” Vicki sighed to me her eyes shining wistfully.

“ Don’t leave me Barnabas..” Josette sighed.

“ Barnabas don’t turn away from me..” begged Roxanne.

“Barnabas….Barnabas?” I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was jolted into the present by Julia looking down at me with a concerned look.

“Where’s Eliot?” I asked.

“He left, as he has a lecture to prepare for.” Julia smiled.

I hadn’t even noticed he was gone, so far away I had been.

I stood up and realized that now at this very moment at least, there were no ghosts, just the present – in the form of Julia. She at least had never been a ghost to me- dear Julia, always loyal, by my side since I had known her; even when going into the past with me, she had always been of the present.

“Are you- are you alright Barnabas?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “I was just thinking about the past, but perhaps now I must think of the present.”

“Yes, the past always gets you melancholy,” she said pointedly.

“It’s a curious thing to be out of time,” I told her, “I should have died almost two hundred years ago, but here I am. Was this meant to be, like it was for Vicki to leave her own time?”

“I don’t know Barnabas,” Julia said, “I don’t think we’ll ever know.”

I thought about Quentin, perhaps he felt the same confusion and disorientation I often felt. I made a mental note to ask him one evening.

I sat down in my chair again, suddenly feeling tired.

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“You look exhausted Barnabas, why don’t you get some rest?” Julia suggested.

She started opening her bag and I knew what that meant.

“No, I don’t want a sedative!”

She pursed her mouth and gave me a guilty look, knowing that I knew her only too well. She had the good grace not to try to deny it.

“Well, it’s getting late, I’ll be going back to Collinwood. Goodnight then Barnabas.”

“Goodnight,” I said. “I’ll be over tomorrow. I shall see you then.”

Sensitive to my need to be alone, knowing me as well as I knew her, she quietly left me sitting by my fireside, alone but for  the ghosts that were as much a part of the Old House as the very bricks, wood and stone that formed its very foundations.

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I sat silently in contemplation- I could never forget those I had loved and lost, to do so felt like I was not honouring how I had came to be in this time- they were part of my life, my story, but I also came to realize that my story was still yet to continue; this time not with ghosts of the past, but with the living, the people I knew and loved right this moment. There were many new stories awaiting.

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Awakening.

 

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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

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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. 

960

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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