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.
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.
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.”
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.
“There have been those who didn’t think so.” I replied.
“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.
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.