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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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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