The Monster Within

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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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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. 

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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