Archive for January, 2005
Sunday, January 23rd, 2005
Sunday, January 16th, 2005
Thoughts? (Warning: spoilers. Please don’t read until you finish the book.)
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Lucy Carnacki’s Diary.
1 November. Salisbury. — In my coffin, I visited hell in a nightmare so vividly real that it seemed as though my spirit had left my body and traveled there. A cacophony of sound surrounded me as I walked amongst dark, murky pits in a desolate landscape. I had a terrible sense of loss and despair and hopelessness. Ichor tears streamed down my face as I slept.
When I awoke, the battle for Stonehenge had already begun.
In my nightmare-induced terror, I begged my husband to surrender, to let Lilith win. My words brought tears to his eyes. “I am sorry,” he said.
I felt ashamed at my lapse and for my weakness at a time when he needed me strong. We could not give up with so much depending on us. “I am sorry, too,” I said.
But the battle was hopeless. Jacob and Captain Albion fell in quick succession. I rushed to join Adena and Anne as they crouched over the prone men.
Jacob was knocked out from a horrific wound across his face. The remains of his left eye dangled on the bridge of his nose.
Captain Albion bled from a bullet wound to his chest, but he remained alert and in command.
He looked up, raindrops splashing on his face. Anne took his hand right hand in hers. “Adena, is the barrier holding?” the Captain asked.
“No, sir,” she said. “It cannot hold for much longer.”
He closed his eyes. “Listen, we do not have much time. Lilith is arrogant to the point she believes she knows better than God does. We must use that against her and catch her in her own trap. Lucy, you must gain her confidence so that she will allow you close enough to strike her when she least expects it. You are our only hope. You have to give her reason to trust you. Hold me aloft and kill me.”
I began to speak. “No, do not protest,” he said. “There is no time and I am dying anyway. You will shorten my life merely by moments. You may even have to kill the others. Do whatever you must. Understood?”
Anne shook her head.
“Take my revolver and hide it,” Albion said, handing it to her.
“Now I depart this realm. May we all meet in a better one.”
Adena, Anne and I exchanged a last, sad, weary, glance. “Strike me first,” Anne said. “Spare me from seeing his death.”
I did as she asked, knocking her to the ground though I held back my full strength. Then I lifted Captain Albion high and ended his brave life. He died defending England and would not have asked for more. I know. I tasted his life flowing into me, warming me and giving me the courage I needed to carry out the deception.
I could sense Lilith and her children watching me. I needed to act quickly. I had to render Henry and Thomas defenseless before the barrier fell and Lilith’s minions could descend on them. I struck Henry and glided to Thomas.
The barrier gave way as I arrived beside him. He fired at Lilith, but the silver bullets did not pierce her. Fearful of what her minions might do to him, I knocked his gun away and prepared to kill him so that at least his death would come swiftly from one who loved him.
I sensed Lilith’s joy at my joining of her fold. She commanded me to spare my beloved’s life.
“Let us summon the old gods together,” Lilith said.
Whilst the ritual distracted her, I attacked. Oh how we fought! I gained strength from the Captain’s blood, but also from the love I felt for Thomas and the others.
Lilith’s blood and her spirit flowed into me as I drank. She was invulnerable to mortal weapons, but not to one of her own unearthly children. None had ever sought to challenge her before and I could taste her surprised thoughts in her blood.
I drank more than her blood. Her very life entered into my body, leaving her own form an empty shell. As a precaution, I used Thomas’s dagger to decapitate the hollow vessel. Holding his dagger made it seem as though we struck the blow together.
Yet even as I did, I could sense Lilith’s presence inside me. The
Creatures of the Night sensed her, too, and obeyed my commands. Lilith is a part of me now and I possess her memories and soul.
But I remain myself. I knelt beside Thomas as Adena and Anne rushed up to him. We told Thomas and Henry of Albion’s last order to kill him to deceive him. With the knowledge gained from Lilith coursing through me, I closed the rift in the sky, sealing out the ancient ones.
Most of the vampires and werewolves had fled, but the handful that rebelled against Lilith remained. When I finished the ritual, I turned to see the last of them shake hands with Henry. Then the vampire looked at me, swept off his hat with a courtly bow, and transformed into a bat to fly off into the night.
Jacob surprised us by surviving his grievous wounds. I carried him to the barn and then by wagon we traveled to Salisbury and found a doctor’s office. We pounded on the door until the man appeared. He took a look at the wound and immediately guided us into his surgery.
Once he finished with Jacob, he turned to the others. Thomas needed his broken right arm set. Henry’s nose was broken. But another vampire had caused the injury to Anne, who had a slash down her right cheek from a slashing sword.
Leaving them, I returned to the field alone and carried away Albion’s body. Lilith’s corpse, as well as the other bodies, had disappeared, either transformed into dust or taken away by her children. But they had left Captain Albion’s remains untouched.
On my return flight to Salisbury, I passed a church. For a moment, I thought of trying to enter. Having fought for God, would I be able? I looked at the steeple and the double doors and imagined crossing onto holy ground. I stood for a long time and then walked away. I did not need to test God’s love for me. I already knew the answer.
Mr. Carnacki’s story — concluded.
“Albion had ordered Lucy to kill him to get close to Lilith. He knew his wound was mortal and his sacrifice saved mankind.
“A Salisbury doctor’s heroic efforts and Jacob’s own strength saved his life though at times we feared.
“The doctor also kindly took care of my own minor injuries. Though Lucy apologized again and again for breaking my arm, I had to wonder if her dark nature had taken a wicked delight in it. She can be quite frightful at times.
“A few days later Anne, Lucy and I buried Albion at his wife’s ancestral home near Osmotherley. We left Adena and Armitage in Salisbury to look after Jacob, who was too injured to travel.
“The day after Albion’s burial, Anne, Lucy and I arrived at London to settle unfinished business there. To our delight we learned that Mr. Griffin had survived after all. He had escaped as the Chief Inspector ordered. The vampires had pursued him until he jumped from London Bridge onto a barge passing below on the Thames. Once on the river, the vampires could not follow. Fearful of the witch’s wrath, they had told her they had killed him. The witch had thought she spoke the truth when Lucy questioned her at Osmotherley. The fall onto the barge had broken his legs and caused a blow to his head that knocked him unconscious. He did not wake until days later in a hospital.
“Chief Inspector James’s remains were never found. I like to think his ghost watches protectively over London.”
Carnacki stood and walked to the window to look outside. The sky was a brilliant red in the east. His story had held us spellbound for the entire night.
“It is said God moves in mysterious ways. If Count Dracula had obeyed Lilith, we would have never learned of her plot to restore the Garden of Eden. Was it chance or fate that led Count Dracula to Lucy Westenra?
“Many, many good people died — Mrs. Westenra, Lucy Westenra, Rabbi Metzner, Inspector Johnstone, Premkumar Walekar, Chief Inspector James, Elaine Hamilton, Captain Albion, Quincey P. Morris and others we did not know — but we all must pass into eternity eventually though we do not know the hour. Yet there are times, such as now when Europe stands on the brink of war, that I wonder how it might be if Lilith had won.
“Mina and Jonathan Harker did not learn for many years that Lucy still walked the Earth. Once you have kept secrets from your friends it becomes harder — not easier — over time to tell them.
“In late November of that year, Jacob and Adena traveled with Dr. Seward and Lord Godalming to accompany Mr. Morris’s body home to Texas. I had hopes that more than friendship would develop between Jacob and Adena, but, alas, it did not, though they continue to investigate the supernatural together as partners in America.
“Lord Godalming hired Mr. Griffin as his private secretary. Eventually, Lord Godalming settled happily into marriage and he established a charitable trust to fund Adena and Jacob’s work.
“In January of 1894, Henry Armitage returned to Miskatonic University. Between donations from Lord Godalming and Lucy, he was able to purchase every book on his library’s list.
“Anne MacKenzie remained with Lucy for sometime as a companion and the two traveled across Europe. With time, a relationship developed between Anne and Dr. Seward, who had learned from his experiences and become a better man. They married and live happily with a son they named Edgar.
“And Miss Madicott?” I asked.
“Soon after Anne MacKenzie visited her, a strange spectral presence haunted Miss Madicott until at last she went to the police and confessed to the murder of Mr. MacKenzie.”
“And the Police Commissioner?” I asked.
“He mysteriously disappeared after the battle at Stonehenge,” Carnacki said. “His body was never found. I shall say no more of it.”
“And Lucy?” I asked.
“In November of 1893, Lucy met with Inspector Johnstone’s widow, Mrs. Johnstone. Lucy asked Mrs. Johnstone to move into Hillingham and live there with her children. Mrs. Johnstone agreed.”
“But what became of Lucy?” I asked. The others, too, leaned forward to hear his answer.
Carnacki gazed out the window. “She is somewhere on the Continent.”
Abruptly, as was his way, Carnacki ushered us to our coats and out the door. As we thanked him for the evening, he promised to have us over again after his return from an investigation in Wales.
The four of us walked out together in dawn’s gray light. The walkway was strewn with wet, orange leaves.
“So that is why Carnacki remains a bachelor,” Taylor said.
“What do you mean?” Jessop asked.
“Lucy Westenra stole his heart and he pines for her still,” Taylor said.
Lucy Carnacki’s Diary.
1 November, 1913. London. — I spent the night listening to Thomas recount our meeting to his friends. I sat on a chair listening as I’ve so often done when he holds these gatherings for his friends to tell them of his investigations into the supernatural.
They departed and he walked about the rooms straightening furniture and stacking up the glasses on the tray.
I wished him a good morning as he entered the bedroom. He gazed at me in surprise.
“What happened to your trip to Paris?” he asked with a smile.
“Anne and I decided we’d rather stay home with our husbands,” I said.
“Did you hear any of tonight’s story? I told how we met.”
“So I heard. You left out a few details.”
“It was 20 years ago,” he said. “I can’t remember everything. But I do know this. You are still as beautiful as that first night I met you in Hillingham.”
He too is as handsome as then though there are lines around his eyes and his hair is gray at the temples.
“I have an investigation for you,” I said with a wanton smile. “I know of a haunted room where ghostly moans can be heard and a mysterious force shakes the furniture.”
“Where is this room?” he asked with a smile of his own.
“By Jove! it is this one as soon as I finish writing,” I replied.
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“The sun was barely up when Adena and I set to work with our brushes. We had brought buckets of white paint with us and together worked to draw a huge ‘Defensive Circle’ on the grass, encompassing the standing stones as part of the pattern of our pentacle. The project took us nearly three hours to complete except for a short section left unpainted so that Lucy could enter the protective ring. We had only to finish the circle to create the supernatural barrier. We drew smaller, complete circles around the slaughter stone and the heel stone.
“Our plan called for the ‘Defensive Circle’ to keep out the Un-Dead enemies and for our Enfield and Winchester rifles to hold off our earthly foes. The monolithic stones would provide us with a nearly fortress-like protection.
“Anne and Captain Albion stayed at Stonehenge whilst Armitage, Adena and I walked back to the barn. With Jacob’s aid, we slid Lucy’s crate with her sleeping form inside onto the wagon. We wanted to take our positions early in case Lilith sent scouts ahead.
“The afternoon was cloudy, but the sun broke through occasionally. We spoke little for words were not necessary.
“I thought of something Armitage had told me. After Armitage returned to Osmotherley, he had told me how he had felt when Jacob strode into the room to save Miss Hamilton despite the overwhelming odds against them. He said he had been proud to think that he would soon die alongside such a brave man. As we unloaded Lucy’s crate and Adena dipped her brush into the paint bucket to complete the ‘Defensive Circle,’ I understood what he meant.
“Armitage leaned against Lucy’s crate, a blade of grass jutting from his mouth, and opened a book. Albion stood on the crate as lookout. Jacob whistled merrily as he returned the horse and wagon to the barn.
“Anne and Adena sat cross-legged on a blanket, chattering away with each other as Adena braided Anne’s hair. They looked like young girls except for the rifles across their laps.
“I sat on the blanket next to Adena. I would like to say that I spent what I thought my last hours in prayer or deep contemplation about eternal truths or even reading profound literature. But I did not. Instead, the apprehension I had felt in the morning had faded away during the lull into a slight boredom. With the buzz of Adena and Anne’s voices in the background and the security of knowing Albion and Jacob were alert for any danger, I dropped into a deep slumber. I had slept little during the night.
“But when Captain Albion gave a low whistle in the late afternoon, I woke instantly. In the distance, he had spotted a motley group of nine men approaching, some dressed well and others in patched coats and hats.
“We took our positions behind the stones and held ourselves ready.
“As they drew closer, Albion shouted for them to stop. They looked at us with our rifles aimed at them and then glanced doubtfully at each other before they shrugged and, as one, turned and slunk away.
“We did not fire, uncertain if they were actually with Lilith or not. The Captain motioned for Armitage to move to the western side of Stonehenge to watch any approach from that direction and for I to take the east.
“The men had withdrawn, but we kept ready. I worried the men we had sent away might be antiquarians and diggers. If so, they would return with local constables.
“Time runs slowly when you stare straight ahead at the same section of land. I came to know every clump of weeds in front of me and every rock on the ground under me.
“But I kept my attention on my assigned area. I had complete faith in the others to do the same. As night drew near, Jacob and Armitage lit torches that they had set around our perimeter whilst I had slept.
“With the setting of the sun, two things immediately happened. In the distance, we heard the howl of wolves and we braced ourselves for a charge. At the same moment, Lucy appeared from her coffin more bewitching than ever.
“Anne handed Lucy a Winchester. She levered in a round. ‘They have surrounded us,’ Anne told her.
“Lucy could see much better in the dark. She nodded and then dashed over to me. I greeted her warmly, but the haunted look on her face worried me.
“‘Are you well?’ I asked.
“She was as radiantly pale as a full moon. ‘I am terrified,’ she whispered low, crouching beside me. ‘I dreamt I was in hell. Thomas, it was so vivid, so horrific. Please tell me my nightmare is not my destiny.’
“Tears stung my eyes. Even before that night in Hillingham when I had entered the ‘Defensive Circle’ to stand by her, she had evolved from a supernatural creature to study to a woman I wanted to protect.
“I could hear the plaintive desire for reassurance in her tone yet I could not bring myself to lie to her. ‘Lucy, I do not know,’ I said.
“She lowered her rifle, bowed her head and hid her face behind her hands. Her body trembled with emotion. ‘Thomas, I am scared,’ she said. ‘Let us surrender to Lilith. Please! Let her restore the Garden of Eden. Please! My nightmare was so real.’
“I wanted to tell her to take courage in knowing our cause was just, but the words sounded hollow in my thoughts even as they formed. I wanted to comfort her, but I shared the same fear. ‘I am sorry, Lucy,’ I said, feeling more low than I ever imagined possible.
“Lucy straightened, nodded slightly and slowly, and told me she, too, was sorry.
“The howling of the wolves drew closer. Then we heard an even more ominous sound. Thunder rumbled and the wind began to blow.
“‘Can you halt the storm?’ I asked.
“‘I shall try,’ she said.
“Lucy stood and spread her arms. A look of deep concentration grew on her face. The purple-black clouds seemed to swirl and Lucy’s expression became frantic.
“Rain pelted us and lightning flashed around us. Thunder blasted us like the concussion from dynamite. The torrent put out the torches with a hiss.
“Lucy appeared more desperate, her arms held in front of her and shaking from an invisible strain. Lilith and Lucy battled with their wills and concentration to control the weather. Suddenly a lightning bolt struck Lucy in a blinding white light and knocked her flat to the ground!
“I ran to her. ‘Lucy!’ I cried, throwing myself down beside her prone form.
“She opened her eyes. ‘I cannot stop the storm,’ she shouted over the roar. ‘Lilith is too powerful.’
“‘I am just glad you are safe,’ said I pulling her up.
“Gunfire banged in the distance, but the humans on Lilith’s side were as blind as we by the wind, rain and darkness.
“Jacob fired at muzzle flashes. I returned to my post with Lucy by my side. We joined him in shooting at our foes.
“I fired at barely seen forms behind their own muzzle flashes. Bullets whizzed overhead or struck the wet ground near us throwing up small splashes of muddy soil. Yet we held better positions defensively than our foes and for a time I experienced a growing confidence that we might hold Lilith’s minions off long enough to keep her from performing the ritual in the required time.
“Lilith’s human minions, however, were not alone. With a growl, three werewolves dashed through the darkness with the speed of jungle cats and charged at Jacob, who was closest to them. With his attention focused on trading rifle shots with a sniper, Jacob did not see them. I shouted a warning as I turned and fired, hitting a leaping werewolf through the heart and killing him. But the other two landed upon Jacob’s prone body.
“With a snarl, one wolfman slashed his razor-sharp claws down Jacob’s back, tearing deep furrows through his coat and clothing and into his skin. The blow rolled Jacob over. Lucy and I fired simultaneously, hitting the werewolf. But the third swatted Jacob across the face, his claws slashing Jacob with deep furrows from the brow to the jaw line and gouging out his left eye. The force of the blow tumbled Jacob through the air. He landed on the back of his head and neck, his body bouncing once when it hit the ground. We fired again, hitting the third werewolf and knocking him flat.
“As Captain Albion ran to his fallen friend, a rifle shot dropped the Captain. Lucy fired into the darkness and silenced the sniper.
“Anne and Adena rushed to our injured whilst I fired my rifle in an effort to hold off our unseen foes. I heard Armitage shooting on his side of Stonehenge.
“I glanced back to our center. Despite his ghastly wound, Jacob pushed himself up to one knee and began to stand then collapsed into Adena’s arms.
“Then, already filled with despair at the sudden, shocking turn of misfortune the battle had taken, I sensed the Horror of Hillingham approaching us. The damp hairs on the back of my neck rose as the entity drew near. I was terrified and I was not alone. The shooting from our opponent’s side stopped as the Horror frightened away Lilith’s human confederates.
“Lucy and I exchanged a glance. ‘Go help Adena,’ I told her and she ran to join the others.
“Save for the occasional stark brightness of the lightning, all was pitch-black darkness.
“I knew we did not have long to live. The driving rain was washing away the Defensive Circle. Somewhere beyond, the Horror waited. And so did Lilith.
“I looked at the rain pelting the painted lines. It was only a matter of moments before the ‘Defensive Circle’ washed away and we were overrun.
“I did not think our situation could get more bleak then suddenly it did.
“I heard Adena scream and I turned in her direction. In the momentary flash of lightning, I saw Lucy backhand Anne across the face, knocking her to the ground.
“With an unbelievable speed, Lucy swooped up Captain Albion into her arms and bit deeply into his neck. The Captain’s agonized scream was cut off quickly as his life’s blood gushed across her face. Even over the storm’s fury, I heard the ghastly, crunching sound as she ripped through his muscle and tendons and tore out his throat.
“I stared at her unable — not wanting — to comprehend what I had just witnessed. The sudden return to darkness was merciful for taking away the image I had seen.
“With the next stroke of lightning, I saw Lucy next to Armitage. He swung his rifle like a club at her, but she struck him and knocked him to the ground. He landed hard on the ground, stunned senseless by the blow.
“With the staccato bursts of lightning from the storm, I watched Lucy eerily gliding toward me. She had a horrible, voluptuous smile on her lips. In the darkness between the flashes, her eyes glowed like red embers. I waited stunned then she was next to me. She brushed the strands of wet hair from her face. Something inside of me died.
“‘Lilith, I offer you victory!’ Lucy shouted and then laughed with a harsh sound like breaking glass.
“‘Why?’ I asked, too dazed to even defend myself. My empty Winchester dropped from my hands.
“‘Did you actually believe I would give up paradise for you and the others?’ Lucy’s laughter chilled the marrow in my bones.
“The last of the barrier washed away and the lithe form of Lilith crossed to Lucy’s side.
“As quick as thought, I drew my revolver and fired my last silver bullets at Lilith, striking her squarely in the center of her forehead. The bullets flattened harmlessly against her. Lilith tilted her face with a smile at me.
“In the next instant, Lucy knocked the revolver from my grasp with such strength that she broke my right arm above the wrist.
“Lucy pulled me into her arms, the points of her fangs pressing against my skin above my jugular. I thought of Captain Albion’s death and waited for my own.
“‘Do not kill him, my daughter,’ Lilith said happily. ‘I intend to end suffering. I want him to see how wrong he was to try to stop me. You have done well.’
“With a wave of her hand, Lilith stopped the rain as suddenly as it had begun. Stars and a crescent moon appeared as the curtain of clouds were swept away.
“‘Unfortunately,’ Lilith continued, ‘we do need the sacrifice of a virgin to wake the old gods.’
“Lucy flew over to Adena and Anne, dragging them from the ground where they lay cowering in terror from the many vampires that surrounded them. Tears streamed down their faces.
“My Queen, may I offer these two?’ Lucy asked. ‘When I wanted to join you earlier they kept me from coming to your side.’
“Lilith pointed to Adena. ‘She may die knowing she serves the greater good.’
“I inhaled deeply. With my left hand, I reached behind me and pulled out my kukri dagger from the sheath at my back.
“With a sudden swing, I thrust the blade upward toward where Lucy’s heart would have been if she possessed one. With the speed of thought she transformed intangible as smoke and the dagger passed through her. Then she assumed her human-like form and backhanded me with her fist. The blow struck me across the right side of my brow and I dropped to my knees, feeling like a crowbar had struck me.
“‘Mr. Carnacki,’ I heard Lucy whisper through the fog of pain. ‘Do not make me disobey Lilith and kill you or I shall feast slowly on you.’ She picked up my dagger and she pulled me up by my left arm to the stone where they had stretched out Adena for the sacrifice. A vampire with a Russian accent shook Armitage conscious. Blood ran down from Armitage’s broken nose and swollen lips.
“Lilith began chanting in a language I did not recognize and in response the sky began to whirl as she performed the ritual to open a portal to a nether region.
“The surviving vampires, werewolves and men stared upward in awe at the tear to the fabric of reality visible in the sky.
“Lucy moved close to Lilith’s side and the demon smiled at the vampire like a mother would a favored daughter, but she did not stop her chant.
“Lilith held her arms aloft with a silver blade poised to stab down into Adena.
“Adena appeared paralyzed with fright as the vampires held her to the stone.
“Armitage stood on the other side of the altar, his arms pinned back by another vampire, looking down at her. There was no fear on his face, no hatred, no passivity, no coldness. Instead his eyes held a steady gaze for Adena to hold onto like a ship’s anchor in a stormy sea. She nodded, almost imperceptibly, but I could tell from the motion she would die bravely, that she had taken courage from him as if he had willed it into her.
“The rift in the sky widened and a towering figure of the darkest shadow appeared behind the opening. I was about to witness Lilith’s moment of triumph.
“Lilith stabbed downward with the dagger and with a blur of speed Lucy parried Lilith’s strike with the curved blade of my kukri!
“The vampire immediately pounced upon the demon, her fangs sinking deep into Lilith’s throat. Lucy drank so fiercely that the black blood poured through her lips.
“Lilith — her lips drawn back in agony — tried to push Lucy away from her, but Lucy held on tightly with her talons dug into Lilith’s back.
“Anne pulled a revolver from the inside of her jacket and took aim at the tall vampire holding me, hitting him between the eyes and then coolly turned to blast the vampire holding Armitage.
“The vampires holding Adena let go of her to assist Lilith. Adena jumped off the altar and raced to her satchel to arm herself. Anne fired again, striking a black-clad vampire in the back of the head as he tried to pull Lucy away from Lilith.
“Lilith rolled on the ground in a desperate try to dislodge Lucy, but Lucy held on determinedly despite the ferocity of the struggle.
“Huge clods of turf were thrown up into the air as Lucy and Lilith fought like beasts with an eye-blurring speed.
“I was rushing to Lucy’s aid when suddenly I was caught in a grip colder than ice. The Horror of Hillingham picked me up with his spectral hands and threw me hard against a standing stone about a dozen feet up from the ground. I slid down the lichen-covered surface and landed hard on the grass. I wiped blood from my eyes and pulled myself up to charge.
“I had no clue as to how to fight the Horror. My only thought was to stay alive long enough that I delayed the ghost from assisting Lilith.
“The Horror again came to grips with me. The anger and hatred that causes a brother to murder brother, a mother to kill her children, to cause killers to commit the most sadistic and vile deeds emanated from the ghost as it choked me. It felt as if spectral fingers took hold of my essence to rip my very soul from my body.
“With desperation, I sought to recall the last lines of the Saaamaaa ritual, but I could not think for my mind was filled with a vile horror.
“My heart pounded so hard it seemed as if it would burst. I swung my fists to fight the Horror yet my blows passed through its form.
“Armitage was swinging a Winchester like a club as he fought a werewolf whilst a tall, rangy vampire fenced with another vampire to protect Armitage’s back. Anne and Adena also were caught in their own desperate fight, standing over Jacob’s body. Vampires fought vampires, werewolves and men. All was madness and terror.
“Yet each second the Horror of Hillingham spent killing me was time that it was not defending Lilith.
“And as death approached and my sight began to dim into final darkness, I twisted to look upon Lucy one last time. From the corner of my eye I could see her as she drew her blood-covered mouth and ichor-stained teeth from Lilith’s prone form. ‘May God forgive you, Lilith,’ Lucy cried out. Then she swung my kukri dagger and lopped off the demon’s head.
“Instantly, the dozen surviving vampires and werewolves howled as one, even those that had moments before been locked in combat. Lucy held up Lilith’s head, and snarled, ‘Lilith’s blood flows through my veins now. I am the Queen of the Night! Obey me or perish!’
“Many of the vampires and werewolves growled before fleeing into the darkness. Lucy pointed to the Horror of Hillingham, or rather the ghost of Cain as we later learned, and commanded, ‘Return from whence thy came!’
“Immediately the Horror released me and I dropped to the ground.
“Lucy began to chant in the same mystical language used by Lilith. At the time, I did not know how she knew the words to say, but she closed the tear in the sky. I heard a boom overhead and then the stars were visible where they belonged.
“Lucy rushed to my side. Bewildered by the events and lightheaded from the Horror’s grip, I shook my head in disbelief and said, ‘You killed Albion.’
“‘It was his idea,’ Anne said as she also ran to my aid.
“‘He is at peace now,’ Lucy said.
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
October 31, morning. Near Salisbury. — If we are marked to die, we are enough. I wrote my will and mailed it from Cambridge with the Marlowe book. I left everything to Eleanor. She can sort through my papers and books and decide which should be donated to Miskatonic.
I thought of Eleanor and my love for her as I watched the wedding of Miss Lucy Westenra and Mr. Thomas Carnacki.
“He has only agreed to marry me because he believes he will die tomorrow,” Lucy said last night, her eyes sparkling with happiness.
“I have other reasons as well,” Carnacki said.
We congratulated them. We had just finished cleaning and loading the weapons for tomorrow’s expected battle when they made the announcement.
“We’ll need to find a minister,” Adena said.
Albion shook his head. “We should not risk going into town,” he said. “The place may be crawling with the Un-Dead.”
“What do you recommend?” Lucy asked.
“I have married off soldiers to local girls when they were in a, uh, predicament,” Albion said. “I did not have the authority, but they did not know that.”
“But we would know it,” Lucy said. “That rather ruins it.”
I smiled as an idea came to me. “I have the solution.”
“What is it?” Lucy asked.
“Before the abomination of slavery ended 30 years ago, the slaves in America’s South were not allowed to marry in churches so they practiced a custom that may trace its roots to antiquity. The couple would jump over a broom together. It would not be a legally binding wedding, but I believe it would bring a couple together before the eyes of God as well as any service in St. Paul’s Cathedral.”
Lucy’s fangs gleamed in the lantern light. She looked at Thomas, who returned her smile, and they nodded in agreement.
Jacob brought out a broom from a tack room and laid it on the floorboards of the barn.
As he did, Lucy knelt suddenly and began counting the broom stalks tied to the end of the handle. “There will be a slight delay in the ceremony,” she announced.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I felt compelled to count these for some reason,” she said. “I don’t know why.”
“I thought that was just Romanian folklore about vampires and brooms,” I said.
“Apparently it is not,” Lucy said. “Please do not distract me.”
After several long minutes of silence, she stood. “Eight hundred forty three.”
Lucy clapped her hands together to wipe away the dust. “Let us begin anew. Captain Albion, may I beg a favor? Would you stand in for my father?”
Albion blinked. “I would be honored,” he said, stepping to her side.
I directed Carnacki to stand on the other side of Lucy.
“May God bless this union,” Captain Albion said.
I officiated. “Hold hands and on the count of three, jump over the broomstick,” I said. We all counted together and they jumped. And Living joined with Un-Dead in marriage.
We applauded the couple. Then Anne sang a traditional Scottish tune in a sweet voice and Lucy and Thomas danced. We ate our cold provisions, drank from shared bottles and were lighthearted for a time.
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
31 October, 4 a.m. Near Salisbury. — I want to remember everything about yesterday for as long as I exist and shall write it down on the chance our time is not short. We spent part of yesterday at a wonderful pub in Salisbury called the Haunch of Venison. The place has a most curious collection of artifacts. I pointed out a mummified hand to Jacob. The card said the hand belonged to a gambler who cheated at cards. Jacob pretended ignorance of my intended message, though no one could be so unlucky as I am when playing him.
We left town after spotting three of Lilith’s rogues and took shelter from the rain in a barn.
Thomas sweetly apologized for not having a better place for us to spend the night, considering it may be our last.
I looked around at the spider webs in the corners and between the rafters. I heard the squeak of mice frightened by the horses. I recalled the lonely lairs of the vampires in London and Jonathan’s account of Dracula’s ruins in Transylvania. If we survive, will I become like them?
“Thomas, I sleep in a coffin packed in soil in a crate,” I said.
“This is fine.”
He smiled at me and I bit my lip, fearful of his dying on tomorrow’s battlefield. I wanted to hold him tightly to me.
“Do you really believe this is our last night?” I asked, clutching his arm and looking up into his eyes.
“We may survive,” he said. “Stonehenge must hold mystical power or else Lilith would not be using it for her ceremony. Our ‘Defensive Circle’ will draw upon that energy to keep out the forces of evil.”
Then his smile faded. “I will not lie to you,” he said. “There is much that can go wrong. It will not keep out werewolves or humans. They can destroy the barrier if they reach it. And once it is down we will not be fighting just vampires, but also ghosts, maybe even the horror that haunted us at Hillingham.”
“So you believe this is our last night?”
He looked into my eyes for a long time. “Yes,” he said.
“But you still plan to fight? Even though if we stay here and let her perform her ritual, we will live in the Garden of Eden together forever?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Thomas, if she kills me, I may lose my only chance at paradise,” I said. “My soul may spend eternity in the fires of hell. Will you still fight her knowing that?”
His eyes glistened suddenly with unwept tears, but he held my gaze.
“Yes,” he said. “And should I arrive in heaven and you are not there, I will seek you out and bring you forth from even the darkest pit. And if I cannot rescue you, then I shall stay there with you for I would be tormented even in heaven if you were not there with me.”
His sincerity touched me to the core. There was no bravado in him.
I had tasted his blood. I knew the man.
“Thomas, will you marry me? Tonight?”
“Yes,” he said, smiling again.
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
(October 31 — continued).
Later, I whispered to Adena, who lay nearby, asking her why she had not prevented the wedding.
“Why didn’t you?” she said.
I thought for a time, but I didn’t answer.
In the darkness, she reached her hand out and took mine. “Henry, are you frightened?”
I tried to keep morbid thoughts out of my mind, but I calculated the number of hours I could expect to live.
“No,” I answered as bravely as I could.
She squeezed my hand. “I am too,” she said, moving closer and resting her head on my shoulder. I put an arm around her shoulders to comfort her. Soon she fell to sleep, exhausted beyond measure by the strain.
I stared up at the darkness for a long time feeling the thoughts of a condemned man before his execution. It was a long time until sleep came to me.
Lucy Carnacki’s Diary.
(31 October — continued).
The others piled straw at the far end of the barn, leaving the loft to us. Before Thomas and I climbed the ladder, Adena and Anne pulled me aside.
“We need both of you with us tomorrow,” Anne said.
“Do not kill him,” Adena said.
I smiled at them. “I won’t,” I promised. The three of us embraced like sisters and though it was not the advice I expected to hear as a newly wed bride, I knew they meant well.
And though Thomas and I approached each other with shyness, it did not last. I discovered my innocent lover matched me in lurid excitement.
It is nearly dawn. Thomas has just fallen to sleep. I am exhausted yet too excited to sleep so I turned to my old confidant, my diary.
If this is to be my last entry, it is a pleasant one to end upon.
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“We buried Miss Hamilton in an overgrown garden not far from the house. We were all saddened at her demise, Jacob and Armitage especially so. The other bodies were thrown into a long disused root cellar far away from the house. We thought of burning them, but Captain Albion, much more experienced at these matters, said it takes considerable wood and time to burn one body, let alone nearly a dozen corpses.
“The witch, the same that Lucy and I had fought in London, had led them to Osmotherley, seeking revenge for our attack upon her.
“Lucy had caught the witch on top of a hill. The witch had nearly defeated Lucy during the daytime in London. But the hag proved no match to the powers of a vampire at night. Shortly before dying, the witch had revealed that vampires had slain Chief Inspector James and Sean Griffin at the orders of the Commissioner.
“Chief Inspector James had tried to hold off the vampires long enough for Griffin to escape. But they captured the Chief Inspector and the vampires tried to hypnotize him to reveal our location. The Chief Inspector’s will resisted them and when that failed they tortured him. The brave man died without telling them. The witch, however, used foul necromancy to obtain the information from his corpse. The Chief Inspector had never been to the farmhouse in Osmotherley, but we had given him directions to our refuge to meet us there. The vampires that pursued Mr. Griffin told the witch they had killed him.
“Terribly saddened by the deaths of three of our companions, we packed, loaded the wagon and set off in silence to Osmotherley to catch a train.
“‘Where will we go?’ Adena asked after we arrived at the railroad platform.
“Armitage spoke up with authority. ‘Cambridge,’ he said. ‘I can do further research at the university.’
“For the next three days we combed through books, searching for a ritual to aid us against Lilith.
“We were exhausted, but we knew the end, for better or worse, was near. From what Miss Hamilton had told us and what Lucy had learned from the dying witch, we knew it would be over after the 31st of October.
“We decided to make the most of the time we had remaining. Jacob and I went out one night to a pub and for an evening the two of us drowned our cares in our cups.
“The following day, feeling the effects of my overindulgence, I slept until late into the morning.
“When I awoke, Lucy was sitting in a chair waiting for me as I had done for her many times by her coffin.
“Due to reasons I will not go into, I had not spoken to Lucy since the battle at Osmotherley.
“She bid me to dress and she turned around as I did. When I had my clothes on she led me by the hand, carrying a picnic basket in the other, to the Cam where we punted to an inviting site on the river’s bank. The day was sunny, but cool. We conversed for some time of different matters.
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
27 October. Cambridge. — It has been two days since we departed Osmotherley and I finally decided to question Thomas about the reticence of my friends toward me. I suspected the cause, but I wanted to hear it from him. His coolness in recent days has been maddening to me
A funereal pall has hung over all of us. We all mourn Chief Inspector James and Mr. Griffin, of course, but there is more. Lilith’s speaking of Mrs. Albion’s death opened an old wound in Captain Albion’s heart. Armitage and Jacob blame themselves for Miss Hamilton’s death for bringing her into danger. They ignore the fact that she would have died a more horrific death earlier if not for their timely rescue. Adena and Anne are haunted by the lives they took in London. And Thomas, though he has not said as much, feels a certain responsibility for all as our leader.
I waited in his room, watching him sleep with his lips slightly parted and perfect. He and Jacob had deeply imbibed the night before apparently patching a rift that had developed between them. Neither the others nor I had been invited to join them. Their drunken revelry at a pub must have been successful, for they returned in a cart pushed by a rowdy group of students singing a wretched tune.
Even with immortality, I shall never understand men. Whenever I convince myself it is possible to make sense of them, they surprise me with their words or deeds.
It is not just Jacob and Thomas, either.
Whilst Albion and Anne carried Jacob to his room, Adena and Henry took care of the sleeping Thomas. I listened from my room down the hall as they undressed him. A dresser drawer opened and Adena insisted lightheartedly to Henry that it was his job to the pajama bottoms on Thomas since she had taken the trousers off him. I had just begun to imagine Thomas unclad in his bed when I heard Henry — stolid, stalwart Henry — burst into tears. I listened to Adena try to comfort him, though I could tell she did not understand his sudden tears any more than I did.
At last they finished their task and left Thomas asleep in his bed.
I heard the others settled back down for the night. I bit my lip and resisted temptation, but I schemed. Since the others have not particularly wanted my company of late, I sat in my room and read.
I forced myself to stay awake at dawn. The sun crept up the painted sky like a gold ball rolled slowly across a blanket of rose and tulip petals. I smelled eggs and bacon cooking and coffee and tea brewing in the kitchen. I listened to people down the hall brushing their teeth and others stirring between their blankets. I missed how our maid, Lizzie, would throw open my curtains to wake me and tell me Mother was waiting to breakfast with me.
The breakfast smells made me particularly miss being alive this morning though I should not be moved by the memory of food. After how I dined at Osmotherley, I might not hunger for a month!
When the others departed the inn, I entered Thomas’s room and waited. When he finally stirred, I announced my presence.
“Good morning,” I said cheerfully.
He raised an eye and then looked startled and frightened to see me.
“Miss Westenra, what are you doing in here?”
So he has returned to “Miss Westenra,” I thought.
“I wanted to speak to you and to invite you on an outing with me,” I answered him.
“Oh?” He sounded doubtful.
“Yes,” I said, wondering if I had made a mistake in forcing the issue.
“Do you wish to speak first?” he said. “Because you may not want to be near me after we have spoken.” His bluntness surprised me.
I hesitated then nodded.
“Very well,” Thomas said. He propped up a pillow and sat up. I noticed his right hand had taken a hold of something under the pillow, something he held by his side hidden under the blanket. “We are concerned about what happened during the fight at Osmotherley.”
“When I saved your life?” I asked with a wide-eyed innocence.
He had a pained expression. “After. On the hill.”
“What did Jacob tell you?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Thomas said. “He would not speak of it. He just said it was something we did not want to see.”
I breathed an inner sigh of relief, but kept my face from showing it.
“I told you that I killed the witch on the hill,” I said. “Jacob must have seen me fighting the witch and he mistook her for an old woman.” I told myself not to throttle him at the first opportunity.
Mother would have been so proud at how I have learned to control my impulsive nature. “The poor man. He must have thought I killed an old woman. What I did was terrible, but necessary.”
Ugh! I still cringe at the disgusting memory. I had to hack the witch into small pieces and eat her to keep her flesh from reforming. She tasted like I imagine a diseased crocodile tastes like. I decided Thomas did not want or need to know the specific details of how I swallowed the witch alive.
“Oh! I see,” he said.
“What did you think occurred?”
“I owe you an apology,” he said. “From the screams, I thought you were torturing victims needlessly.”
“For goodness sake, Thomas. I hope you do not truly believe I would do such a thing,” I said.
I had not “needlessly” tortured them. I had needed to do it. The first time I pulled a man’s arm from his torso was an accident, but the others I needed to do for the sheer pleasure of it.
“You didn’t torture the witch to find out about Lilith or the Chief Inspector or Mr. Griffin?” he asked.
He sensed I was not being fully honest and it irked me that he didn’t trust me more. He was right not to, but that did not make it any less irritating.
“I promise I did no such thing,” I said.
I had not tortured her for information. I obtained that after eating her brain — just as she had done to the Chief Inspector.
With each bite, the witch’s memories had flowed into my mind until she nearly overwhelmed me. The witch had tried to take over my body from within and I struggled to remain in control until I purged her whilst standing on the back of the train onto the speeding tracks below. May her pieces rot for eternity!
Thomas was eager to believe my half-truths rather than listen to his own intuition. I may not understand men, but I know how to manipulate them.
“Thomas, would you explain to the others what I have told you? I do not want them to think me so horrid as they have imagined. It hurts to see those I love and adore look at me like I am a monstrosity.”
(Especially Jacob! Why should he turn shy about anything he
witnessed me doing to that witch? After all, when Adena asked after the battle if a werewolf had infected anyone, Jacob had said he was not sure. “Where were you bitten?” Adena had asked with concern. “No ma’am,” he replied in that slow drawl of his. “I bit him.”)
“Certainly, Miss Westenra,” said Thomas, relief shining on his face.
“Thomas, my dearest friend, would you please return to calling me Lucy?”
“Lucy, I beg for your forgiveness for the misunderstanding.”
I kept my thoughts below the surface of my expression. “I understand, Thomas. Would you go on the picnic with me now that you know I am not as evil as you had suspected?” Although, perhaps, I am more of a monster than you want to know.
“I would be honored,” he said.
As we took turns punting the boat on the Cam, we spoke once again as friends. I do love him. I cannot stay mad at him even though he cannot completely accept me for what I am. But I gave him my most wanton smiles and flirtations whilst maintaining an innocent facade. There are many ways to torture someone.
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
October 27, late evening. — I have the unpublished works of Christopher Marlowe in my possession, written after his death in 1593. I am shipping the manuscript home in the morning. If I die, at least it will survive for Miskatonic University’s special collection.
Tonight, I met with my previously unknown benefactor and he presented me with his book and information of the location and time where Lilith will perform the ritual to awaken the old gods to help her carry out her plan.
After dinner with the others, I motioned to Jacob and he nodded. We slipped away from the group, ostensibly to hoist a few pints at the pub. Instead, I waited for my meeting by the statue while Jacob covered me with his Winchester rifle. If it were a trap, he would make certain our foes paid dearly for taking my life.
A shadowy figure appeared beside me. “You are early,” he said.
I held out my hand to him. The vampire seemed surprised by my gesture, but he shook my hand with a dry, cold grasp.
“So when you died in a tavern brawl, it was not a knife wound?” I said.
“It was neither a tavern nor a brawl,” he said then caught himself.
“You of all people should know not to believe everything you read in books,” Christopher Marlowe said. “But how did you know who I am?”
“Statements you made in our previous conversation made me suspicious when I reconsidered them after our last meeting,” I said. “I did research here. You’ve used the same ‘Kit Morley’ alias in the past.”
He rolled his eyes. “So I did,” he said. A melancholy expression appeared. “One tends to forget things after centuries of existence. If we survive Lilith’s scheme, your Miss Westenra may discover this for herself.”
“How do you know of her?”
“Lilith set spies on Dr. Van Helsing and the others hunting Dracula and they led us to her,” Marlowe said. “Your Miss Westenra has become quite the subject of conversation among the vampires. Others have tried, like her, to remain on the side of good. But the desire for evil always wins out eventually. Mark my words, one day your vampire will turn on you.”
“But you are not evil,” I said. “There must be hope for her.”
“I am a killer,” Marlowe said, his eyes flaring red. “I simply kill discretely. That is why I am going to help you. Lilith wants to eliminate our ability to commit evil deeds. Besides, she is a foreigner in my land.”
“So once again you play a dangerous double game for England,” I said. “Old habits die harder than vampires?”
A shadow of a smile appeared. “Yes. This isn’t the first vampire invasion. Too bad Walsingham isn’t around for this one. He would have enjoyed it.”
“Are you working for the government?”
“I have not worked for the Crown since 1620. You and your friends remain on your own. I fear I have not been able to provide much assistance. Lilith has spies everywhere. When I discovered you were a scholar of my works, I did my best to protect you.”
“And to use me,” I said.
Marlowe glanced up at the rooftop where Jacob hid with his rifle.
“Which brings me to why I am here. Lilith intends to perform her ritual at Stonehenge on the 31st. She must be stopped.”
“I do not know. Since your raid, she has hidden carefully and surrounded herself with her strongest creatures to protect her. But you must stop her.”
“How do I know you speak the truth?”
“You have read my works. Do you think I want to do only God’s will and not my own?”
“What is the horror she sent to Hillingham?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders. “It frightens even the vampires. Which reminds me, I must be going.”
“I wish you could stay. I want to talk to you about your writing, about your peers, about your thoughts on contemporary literature.”
He shook his head and pulled out an object from a satchel. “I have brought you a gift. But now I must return before my absence is noticed.”
Marlowe disappeared. Jacob joined me and I decided to tell the others of the meeting.
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“Lucy and I had a pleasant outing, but I could not shake the feeling that our time was running out. The next morning Armitage said he had confirmed from a mysterious benefactor that Lilith planned to act on the 31st, when the Un-Dead are at their greatest strength. She planned to perform her ritual at the ancient monument of Stonehenge.
“Not all of us trusted the information. Captain Albion warned it easily could be a trap. But Armitage said the same man who had delivered the information also had helped Jacob, Miss Hamilton and himself escape from London on the night of the 24th and probably had saved his life on the night of the 11th when Inspector Johnstone died.
“Albion was for returning to London, to scour the city until we found Lilith and killed her.
“Others thought his plan suicidal. We had succeeded in killing vampires in the past because we caught them unaware. To face them when they were alert for battle was another matter entirely.
“The debate continued throughout the day and into the night. In the end, the decision was made to defend Stonehenge. Adena and I would paint a ‘Defensive Circle’ encompassing the entire structure and we would defend it with rifles.
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
October 28. Cambridge. — We decided the fate of humanity by cutting a deck of cards.
We argued for hours about our next step, with Carnacki, Adena and myself for Stonehenge and Albion and Anne for London to attempt to draw out Lilith.
Ignoring the debate, Jacob and Lucy played poker with the well-thumbed deck.
“Let us leave it to chance,” Albion said at last.
Carnacki looked around the room at us, but we had no more answers to give. He nodded to Albion. Jacob shuffled the deck and handed the cards to Albion.
A hush fell over the room as Captain Albion picked his card. He turned it over to show us. The queen of spades. We would go to London then, I thought with anguish.
Carnacki reached for the deck, but Adena stopped him. “Let us pray first,” she said. We formed a circle taking hands with those next to us. I took Adena’s on one side of me and Lucy’s on the other.
With her other hand, Adena took Carnacki’s who grasped Jacob’s hand, who grasped Anne’s who also took Albion’s who also held Lucy’s.
Adena prayed softly, “Lord, please give us a sign. We are frightened, our hearts sad and our minds filled with doubt. Lord, guide us to do your bidding. Amen.”
She nodded to Carnacki. He looked at the cards and then lifted them up, about halfway down the deck. He slowly revealed the face card to us: the king of hearts.
“It is decided then,” Albion said. “I just hope to kill Lilith. I did not know my wife carried a daughter, but somehow that demon knew. Whether God is with us or not, I do not care.”
Adena reached out and grasped Albion’s hand. “Captain, you must have faith we are doing the right thing.”
Albion bowed his head. “I sometimes think Lilith is right. God has forgotten us.”
The Captain reached to put his card back into the deck and accidentally knocked the cards off the table. As he bent to pick them up, we discussed our plan further.
“We have Lucy to help us control the weather so that we will not have to deal with rain whilst we paint the Defensive Circle,” Carnacki said.
Anne knelt next to Captain Albion, who flipped through the cards with a strange expression on his face. “Captain, what is it?”
Captain Albion smiled at her with an almost beatific expression on his face. He squeezed Anne’s hand and then patted Adena on the back. “Adena, you have been a good friend to me and I shall think upon what you said. My wife died trying her best to give birth, to create life. It was the most heroic effort I have ever seen. She died in God’s good graces. She would want me to do the same when my time comes.”
We heard his tread up the stairs. The room remained quiet for many moments until Jacob broke the silence. “He took the cards.”
“Don’t worry,” Lucy said. “I saw a Chinese checker set in the parlor.”
“I don’t know how to play,” he said.
“I will teach you,” she promised.
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“Once we made the decision, a surprising feeling of relief came over us. We took the train to Bath and stayed for a day, where we enjoyed long peaceful strolls in the countryside and the Parade Grounds, as well as other quiet pursuits. Albion asked Armitage to recommend a good book to read. Lucy, Adena, Jacob and I picnicked under trees just outside of town. As we walked back through town, I pointed out the carving of Jacob’s Ladder, adorning Bath Abbey.
“Lucy looked on it with a peculiar expression. The stonework, as you know, shows figures climbing to redemption as well as those dropping into the pit. Perhaps she focused more on those falling from the ladder. She did not speak and I regretted pointing it out to her. We stood for a time and then Adena nudged us to continue our walk.
“That night, we toasted our departed companions, Rabbi Metzner, Inspector Johnstone, Sergeant Walekar, Chief Inspector James, Mr. Griffin and Miss Hamilton.
“On the morning of the 30th, we decamped to Salisbury. We arrived in the early afternoon and had lunch at the ancient Haunch of Venison pub on Minster Street.
“We decided not to stay at an inn as we had planned for we had recognized three men walking down a street. They had been in the queue in front of the blood clinic and so we suspected they were human confederates of the vampires. Lilith’s allies, at least some of them, also had arrived early.
“Seeing them proved, to my mind at least, that we had made the right decision by choosing to defend Stonehenge. We rented a wagon and horses to carry our bags and Lucy’s crate. We found an old barn about a quarter of a mile from the ancient stone monument. We entered the barn just as a rain began to fall.
“At the rumble of thunder in the distance, I looked at Lucy. ‘I will be able to disperse the clouds tomorrow,’ she said. ‘I do not want to do it too soon and signal that I am here.’
“‘That is wise,’ I said.
“The barn had stood abandoned for a considerable time. It had more of a dusty smell than an animal one. We unhitched the wagon and stabled the horses. There was hay and straw in the loft as well as mice.
“I listened to the rain falling on the roof and dripping through a hole. I found the sound oddly comforting and thought to myself there could be more woeful places to spend a last night on earth.
“But I did not know how Lucy would take to sleeping in a barn for it was far different from the splendor of Hillingham.
“As she looked about her, I apologized for the humble accommodations. ‘Thomas,’ she said. ‘I sleep in a coffin packed in soil in a crate. This is fine.’
“Captain Albion spread a horse blanket on the dusty wood floor and by lantern light we cleaned, oiled and loaded our weapons in preparation for the next day’s fight. We were running low on silver bullets with a dozen rounds left, including four silver bullets for my revolver.
“We conversed well into the night. Considering that we feared it might be our last, we behaved amazingly light-hearted. At sunrise on the 31st of October, the sky was clear so Lucy retired to her coffin to rest. We left Jacob to watch over her at the barn and then the rest of us walked to Stonehenge to prepare our defenses.
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“My anxious thoughts were partly eased when in the early afternoon, Armitage and Jacob arrived with a young lady, Elaine Hamilton.
“They had rescued her from the clutches of a vampire and six of his human confederates.
“The clock ticked and my fear increased for Chief Inspector James and Mr. Griffin.
“Armitage, Adena and I sat around the kitchen table, discussing the situation. Captain Albion took a ride on his horse whilst Jacob saw to the other animals. Anne was upstairs with Miss Hamilton, providing her with clothing since the young lady had fled London without any belongings. At the hotel in York, Lucy had retired to her coffin and we did not expect her to appear until after sunset — if then. Despite her weariness, she had scribbled in her diary until nearly dawn.
“Miss Hamilton had provided us with an important clue that she had picked up from the vampire, Lord Ruthven.
“The vampire had promised to turn the six gentlemen into fiends such as himself. From what Armitage told me, they already were devils in human guise. One of the men was the lady’s older brother. She was to have been given to the vampire in return for Ruthven making them into the Un-Dead.
“But Armitage said he and Jacob had arrived in time to save her life and honor. Armitage told us of how Jacob strode into the midst of their surprised foes and, armed only with his dagger and tomahawk, slain six of them.
“Armitage spoke with awe. ‘He is a madman in battle!’
“‘Thank God he is our madman,’ I said.
“Miss Hamilton had overheard Lord Ruthven tell her brother he had to decide soon, that ‘by the end of the month it would be too late.’
“At the time, Miss Hamilton had not known that she was part of her brother’s decision. They came from a wealthy family that had been active in political circles. Her brother had long practiced debauchery, drinking excessively and visiting houses of ill repute while speaking at the House of Lords on the decline of Britain’s morals and the need for stricter laws against vice. Yet she had not realized the depths he had fallen until she found herself at Lord Ruthven’s mercy.
“When she told us of Lord Ruthven’s deadline, a chill ran through me. I had feared our time was running out. We attempted to read the papers stolen from Lilith, but we could not.
“Armitage volunteered to take them to a linguist he knew in Cambridge.
“Adena and I told him of our confrontation with Lilith.
“He listened solemnly, his bearded chin sinking low on his chest. After we concluded, he pressed his fingers together.
“‘So let me get this straight,’ Armitage said. ‘If Lilith wins, mankind lives again in the Garden of Eden. If we win, humanity suffers, evil continues to exist, and we more than likely go to prison to await execution for our crimes, which include numerous counts of murder, burglary and arson.’
“‘Yes,’ Adena said. ‘That about sums it up, I believe is how you Americans say.’
“Armitage looked up. ‘Lilith could have been lying.’
“I shifted in my chair. ‘She had no reason to lie,’ I said. ‘She knows we will fight her to the end.’
“‘Will we?’ Armitage asked.
“‘Yes,’ I said.
“‘Should we?’ he asked.
“‘Yes,’ I said.
“‘By fighting her, are we not defending evil?’ he asked. ‘She may be eager to undo the damage she caused in the Garden of Eden. There is an old legend that claims Lilith encouraged Eve to listen to the Serpent and to take the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. That could help explain why she is doing this to get right with God before her time passes here on Earth. What if she is doing God’s will?’
“I leaned forward and said, ‘Adena understands the metaphysical implications much better than I do, but I know this: Lilith had Adena’s father, Inspector Johnstone and several others murdered, her fiends have slain countless others and some invisible horror tried to kill Lucy and me. I will fight Lilith to the end whether she intends to open the gates of hell or Paradise.’
“There was a pause as Armitage and I stared at each other. He appeared deep in thought then said, ‘My ancestors fought for liberty at Bunker Hill and Gettysburg. I do not want a demon from the desert to take free will away from us. I will be with you.’
“Adena stood up and paced around the table. ‘I do not believe Lilith is serving God’s will,’ she said. ‘I believe you were right that she is taking action now because she sees her time as nearly passed. She is desperate and arrogant and she sees this as a last opportunity to restore herself to the Creator’s good graces. But if God had not wanted the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, he would not have put the Serpent there. And we do not fight to defend evil; we fight to defend the right to choose goodness. There is a difference, Henry.’
“‘My dear friend, you are right,’ Armitage said. ‘But we are fortunate Lilith has not worked openly. I fear most people would support her. They would cast aside freedom and knowledge in exchange for peace and an end to suffering.’
“‘In many ways, Lilith is as much a creature of habits as any person,’ I said. ‘She has always lived in the shadows so that is what she does now. If Dracula had not disobeyed her, we might never have learned of her scheme.’
“‘I may have found something to stop her,’ Armitage said. ‘I found reference to a Babylonian ritual, but we need the ceremonial bowl, which is in New York.’
“Adena and I looked at each other. ‘Lilith told us you were looking into that,’ Adena said. ‘She knows about the ceremony and said it does not work.’
“Armitage bowed his head. ‘She must have spoken the truth,’ he said. ‘If my knowledge posed any threat, she would have had me
“‘Even if it did work, I doubt if we could get the bowl here in time,’ I said. ‘A trans-Atlantic crossing takes at least a week.’
“‘We will think of something else,’ he said.
“The three of us spent the rest of the afternoon poring over Armitage’s notes trying to develop a plan without much success.’
“Anne and Miss Hamilton came downstairs and prepared supper. Miss Hamilton was understandably quiet, surrounded as she was by strangers.
“‘What did you learn of the Hillingham Horror?’ I asked Armitage.
“‘There is legend that God cursed Cain to wander the Earth forever after Cain killed his brother. We know Lilith has ties to the Garden of Eden. Is it not possible that Cain’s ghost would be with her? That would explain the power of the apparition.’
“‘By Jove! If so, his anger and desire to kill have not lessened over time,’ I said.
“Though we had been away from Osmotherley for days, we quickly returned to our former patterns of setting watch and sharing chores. I ate supper hastily for it was my turn as sentry outside.
“As the sun set on our valley, I exchanged a nod to Captain Albion, who led his horse into the stable.
“I walked over the fields, my thoughts heavy with worry for our missing companions. I passed the stone wall that ran alongside the old drovers’ road. I listened to the gentle buzz of the insects and turned to look upon the farmhouse. Golden light shone through the windows. The lamp was lit in the room Lucy shared with the other ladies.
“An owl hooted in the woods and another answered from a short distance away. Rain had fallen earlier and the ground was wet, but not too muddy. The overcast sky had broken up and wind blew away the veil of clouds to reveal the stars behind.
“The owls hooted back and forth when suddenly a dog howled close by, interrupting them. It seemed a forlorn sound and for a moment my heart went out to the animal, possibly lost and hungry. Then, to my right, I heard a strange snarling growl. It was too close to have come from the same dog. I straightened and listened tensely to the trotting of the large dog over the fallen, wet leaves not far away.
“A startled bird took flight and I jumped at the movement.
“The wind shook the skeletal branches of the tree above me. The branches creaked with low moans as they scraped together in their swaying. I felt terribly alone in the woods.
“Perhaps a minute passed when I heard another howl — closer than before — answered this time, to my horror, by a chorus of howls. It was a pack of wolves!
“I drew my revolver and fired in the direction of the nearest howl with faint hope of hitting my target, but with the more important intention of sending a warning to my companions of our danger.
“The wolves snarled in response to let me know they did not fear me. The intelligence behind their growls made me happy I had loaded my revolver with silver bullets for I realized it was werewolves that had surrounded me!
“Werewolves! In some tales, werewolves and vampires hunt together; in others, they fought as rivals.
“Then I recalled another folklore — an even more frightful possibility. Werewolves were devoted servants of witches.
“I could hear the werewolves pacing alongside me under the trees on the other side of the stone wall beside the sunken lane.
“I thought of making a mad dash for the farmhouse, but knew the pack would be on me long before I reached safety. When I came to the corner of the stone wall, I paused, my breath and heart beat
loud in my ears. I inhaled sharply and braced myself. I listened
and took a quick glance around the corner. Perhaps just a foot away a werewolf’s yellow eyes glared balefully at me!
“The werewolf sprung at me with bared fangs and I instinctively snapped off a shot. The werewolf landed on me, knocking me flat on my back on the wet heather, his foul tongue lolling through his open jaws. My shot had struck a mortal blow and I rolled the dead fiend off me.
“The other werewolves, however, had used my momentary incapacitation to close in upon me. I fired my remaining four shots, perhaps hitting one of the monsters though in the panic and darkness I could not be certain.
“I drew my dagger and stood with my back against the wall for I knew I had no time to reload my revolver.
“I had little hope of slaying the werewolves, but I loved life dearly and wanted to hold on to it and fight for it as long as I could draw breath.
“So when I heard Captain Albion roar, ‘Run, Carnacki! Run!’ I turned and sprinted down the open slope to the farmhouse, hoping he had a plan to save me, willing to grasp any desperate chance that was offered.
“My legs pumped over the thick heather, my leather soles slick on the wet grass. I feared I would stumble. I knew I would never get up if I did. Between their terrifyingly loud howls, I could hear the beasts panting directly behind me. It would be only moments before the werewolves would strike at my legs and roll me up, then tear me apart with their sharp teeth and claws. I inhaled deeply with the thought that it would be my last, conscious breath.
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
October 25, 11 p.m. Onboard a train. — I have never known so much sadness and grief.
Jacob and I arrived with Miss Hamilton at Osmotherley shortly after noon. I told my companions I wanted to keep our encounter with the stranger at Victoria Station a secret for the moment. I worried that Captain Albion or Carnacki, suspicious of an ambush, would dissuade me from keeping the appointment in Cambridge. But I believe the meeting may provide us with crucial knowledge.
I was glad to see the others welcomed Miss Hamilton into our fold for I felt responsible for her safety and happiness.
Carnacki, Adena and I shared the information we had gathered during our trip to London.
They had met with Lilith and learned she intends to wake the old gods to slay the Serpent of the Garden of Eden and take away the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge as a way to appease God. If Lilith succeeds, she will restore Paradise. If we win — at this point that outcome seems so in doubt there is no reason for me to speculate on it.
Miss Hamilton helped Anne in the kitchen. But despite the hearty dinner they prepared for us, we ate with little appetite for our anxiety grew over the Chief Inspector and Mr. Griffin’s failure to return.
During the meal, Captain Albion seemed a different man, much sadder and distracted, than before our departure from Whitby. I do not know if it is because his return to Osmotherley carries so many reminders of Sergeant Walekar or if something happened to him in London. The others have spoken little of what occurred there.
To assist the Captain, Jacob and I carefully boxed up a few of Sergeant Walekar’s personal effects — a comb and towel, a box with his medals and a metal tin with mustache wax — that he had left behind at the farmhouse and placed them in the suitcase under his bed.
We had just finished when we heard a gunshot outside from the lane. Jacob reacted swiftly, grabbed two of the Winchester rifles from the corner and sprinted down the narrow stairs.
He tossed one rifle to Captain Albion as we stepped outside.
“Spread out,” Albion ordered. “Dr. Armitage, don’t stand silhouetted in the light. Anne turn the lamps down.”
We listened. A pack of wolves began a tremendous howling near where we had heard the gunshot. “Can anyone see anything?” Albion asked.
“There!” she said. “Thomas has just —” A revolver shot interrupted her. “Good Lord!”
“What is it?” I shouted.
“A werewolf has slain him,” she exclaimed. “Wait! He is up!” We heard four more shots ring out only to be answered by deep, guttural growls.
Albion cupped his hands together and shouted: “Run, Carnacki! Run!”
“They are right behind him!” Lucy shrieked.
Albion leveled the rifle, sighting, but shaking his head. “Jacob! Do you have a shot?”
“No, sir.” Jacob tossed Lucy his Winchester and dashed off for the barn.
“I can’t risk it,” Lucy said.
“You must or he is dead,” Albion said. He calmed his voice. “You can do it. Just like Sergeant Walekar taught you.”
Lucy took aim, but her eyes were filled with fear. “I saw this in a nightmare,” she said. “I can’t do it.”
“You can,” Albion said softly. “Focus on one target. Aim. Now squeeze the trigger.”
She fired and levered the action of the Winchester.
With his steady reassurance guiding her, she fired again and again and again. Between shots, I heard the drumming of hoof beats as Jacob dashed off on horseback to Carnacki.
“Dr. Armitage, Adena, guard the rear of the house,” Albion said.
“There will be others. Anne, Miss Hamilton, take the upstairs.”
We heard a shot fired from the front gate of the stone wall. A bullet smacked into the stone block above our heads.
“They’re shooting at us!” I cried in alarm.
“There are men with rifles at the stone wall,” Lucy said.
Albion sighted his rifle and returned fire at the spark-like flare of a muzzle blast. “Doctor, if you please, the rear of the house,” he said. “Keep steady.”
Another shot and I heard a hornet’s buzz followed instantly by a bullet gouging the door inches from my head. Adena tugged on my arm and we ran to the kitchen, grabbing our rifles on the way.
We took our positions. I pushed the window open, strangely mindful not to break the glass.
My mouth was dry and tasted as if I had a copper penny on my tongue. More shots banged at the front of the house and from farther off. I struggled to breathe normally.
Adena gave me a frightened glance, the whites of her eyes wide. She swallowed hard. I wanted to offer comfort to her, but I dared not trust myself to speak confidently so I gave her a bright smile and a friendly wink. Her lips curled up for the briefest instant and she winked back then we returned our attention to outside.
I heard returning hooves and then saw the horse with Jacob and Carnacki. Carnacki jumped off and ran inside.
“Lucy, take an upstairs window,” Captain Albion called from the front.
“But I want —”
“The window,” he ordered.
Jacob rode the horse directly into the stable and sprinted across the yard. Adena tossed him a rifle. He caught it with one hand.
“Don’t shoot me,” he said lightheartedly and dashed off like a
child awarded a special treat. He stopped at the side of the barn, crept along it, and slid down the slope to the line of trees, vanishing from our view.
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“Suddenly I heard a rifle shot from the house followed by a whine of pain directly behind me. I kept running. More shots. They seemed to whiz right by me. Then Jacob galloped up on his horse, riding so close I thought I would be run over. He reached down, pulled me up by my outstretched arm, then with a sharp “Yah!” he spurred the horse away. Gunshots erupted from the road. Our attackers returned the gunfire from the house. The werewolves had come with armed men.
“Lucy, I learned later, had fired the shots that had saved my life.
“We made it to the relative safety of the house. Jacob rode the horse into the barn whilst I dashed in the back door.
“Armitage and Adena had taken position at the rear of the house whilst Albion held the front with Lucy and the others upstairs.
“The howls continued for some time. Lucy shot occasionally, but the rest of us could see little. She must have been successful, however, for the gunfire from the stone wall dropped considerably.
“Albion peered outside and told me to join Armitage in the kitchen.
‘She’s made a frontal assault too hot for them,’ he said. ‘They’ll
try to flank us next and attack the rear.’
“I did as directed. Since Armitage and Adena had the windows covered, I took the door, opening it enough to see and to fire.
“I lay prone propped up on my elbows.
“Captain Albion ran back to the kitchen. ‘You three remain here,’ the Captain said. ‘Hold them as long as you are able. Keep their attention. Lucy has the front covered. I’ll go around and Jacob and I will ambush them. And let us hope they do not have any experienced fighting men among them.’
“He ran into the darkness and disappeared. Perhaps 10 minutes passed and then I saw a man about 30 yards away, walking slowly, a rifle in his hands. He looked around, moved forward a few feet to the next tree and then stopped and looked around more.
“Another man appeared not far behind him, also walking cautiously. They were heading for the barn.
“I fired and the man dropped, though I could not tell if I had struck him or he simply dove for cover.
“Bullets smacked into the door frame near me. I leaned on my side, levered another round into the Winchester, rolled onto my elbows and fired in the general direction of the shooting.
“More shots hit the door frame, but they were aiming too high. I glanced over at Adena and Armitage as I chambered my next round. They too were returning fire. Wood splinters flew from the door. I fired again at a darker shape in a dark field.
“Despite the chill of the October night, sweat beaded into my eyes, stinging them. I grew incredibly thirsty and craved water. I feared someone was moving to my left to flank us and I shot again. Suddenly more shots tore into our attackers from the side. We fired as Albion and Jacob blasted volley after volley into them. Our foes continued to target us, apparently not realizing they were caught in crossfire.
“A woman screamed upstairs. I jumped to my feet and raced up the stairway. As I entered the bedroom, Lucy transformed into a bat and flew out the window. Anne looked at me with tears in her eyes and then returned to shooting. On the floor, motionless, lay Miss Hamilton, her eyes staring vacantly as a red stain spread on the front of her dress.
“Furious, I ran down the stairs and charged out the door. I heard growls and shouts and shots in the distance. I cursed the darkness and chaos. I heard Armitage tell Adena to stay and guard the house and then he followed me.
“I feared to fire, uncertain where Albion and Jacob were. My left sleeve was sticky from blood rolling down my arm from a gashed finger that had been struck by a splinter. My tongue was like cotton and I breathed shallowly as I advanced with the rifle at my shoulder as Sergeant Walekar had taught.
“We came to the first of the bodies, men and werewolves transforming back into men. You could tell which had been the werewolves because their corpses were unclothed.
“We searched for other foes to slay. I stumbled over a corpse in the darkness and kicked it bitterly. Armitage and I became separated in the darkness, but I found Captain Albion binding a shallow wound he had received from a bullet grazing his right forearm. I informed the Captain of our loss of Miss Hamilton.
“Armitage found us and leaned against the tree. He wiped his brow with his kerchief, returned it to his pocket and then proceeded to reload his rifle.
“‘I shall never complain of a student speaking loud in the library again,’ he said.
“‘Good man,’ Albion said.
“A distant gunshot in the dark led us to resume our search for Lucy and Jacob. Elsewhere the battle had renewed. We followed the sounds of fighting until we reached the bottom of the hill. We found Jacob and later Lucy rejoined us. There were no survivors among those that attacked us.
“After the battle, emotions ran high.
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
(October 25 — continued).
We fought a lengthy gunfight with our human and supernatural foes. Lucy’s remarkable sharpshooting and a well-timed ambush by Jacob and Captain Albion turned the tables on our attackers.
Jacob and Lucy pursued our fleeing foes up the hill near where we had setup the firing range.
As Carnacki, Albion and I started up, Jacob came running down. He stopped when we called out to him.
A drawn-out, quivering scream came from the top of the ridge. Carnacki began to run up the hill, but Jacob grabbed Carnacki’s arm as he passed.
“Sir, don’t go up there,” Jacob told him. “You don’t want to see her the way she is right now.”
“Lucy needs our help,” Carnacki said.
“No,” said Jacob. “No, she doesn’t.”
The wail rose and fell and rose again.
The wind blew the scattered clouds and even in the dim starlight I could see Jacob’s face was ashen. That scared me even further.
“What happened?” I asked, afraid of his answer.
“Her eyes are glowing red,” Jacob said with a tremor in his voice.
“I followed a trail of bodies. Most ain’t got their heads or limbs.”
“Oh dear God,” I moaned.
“That ain’t the worst,” Jacob said. “When I reached the top, Lucy stopped and turned and looked at me and she had this look of such pure evil and then she started again. And when I saw what she was doing, I turned tail.”
Another frightful shriek from the hilltop made us stand and stare silently up the hill.
“What is she doing?” I asked in a hushed whisper.
Jacob swallowed hard. “You don’t want to know.”
Carnacki pulled his arm free from Jacob’s hand on his sleeve and began up the hill. I heard the cock of a revolver. “Sir,” said Jacob as he pointed the gun, “I’ll shoot you in the leg to keep you from going up there and if you knew what I’m sparing you from you’d thank me.”
The screams from the hilltop echoed through the low valley creating a nearly unbearable, continuous noise.
Tears streamed down Carnacki’s face. “Damn you! We’ve got to save her from herself!”
“Mr. Carnacki, it is too late,” Jacob said. The young man wept, too, and he wiped his sleeve across his eyes. But he held the revolver steady. “She is what she is.”
Carnacki, his fists clenched in rage, threw himself at Jacob. I stepped in front of Carnacki and blocked him. It took all my size and strength to hold him. Albion grabbed Carnacki’s right arm to help me. In the struggle, the three of us slipped on the wet ground and the Captain and I landed on top of Carnacki.
“Jacob, go inside the house and help Adena,” Albion ordered.
“But —” Jacob protested.
“You did the right thing,” the Captain said. “But Adena and Anne need you in there.”
Jacob nodded and left us.
The screams on top of the hill continued for a long time. At the peak of each shriek, Carnacki struggled to break free until the last painful cries died away like a whisper in the wind.
After a while, exhausted from the struggle, Carnacki calmed down and we helped him to his feet. He walked away with his head bowed without speaking to us.
Albion asked me to oversee the burying of the dead. “Work quickly. We need to leave here. There may be more coming and we may not be as fortunate next time. We only lost one person.”
“We lost someone?” I asked with trepidation.
“I am sorry to tell you this, Henry,” the Captain said. “Miss Hamilton was shot. She is dead.”
His words were like a sword piercing my heart. I worked mechanically, fearing that if I stopped I would not be able to go on. We buried her, said a prayer and retreated from Osmotherley.
Though I had known her only a short time, I grieve as though I lost a friend. I should not have brought her into such a dangerous
situation. She would be alive if I had not.
I write again in my journal onboard a train. I live to fight another day, but a part of me — a growing part of me — hopes Lilith wins and ends the suffering.
Saturday, January 15th, 2005
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
(24 October — continued).
From the look on his face when the door opened, I knew Thomas expected it to be one of Lilith’s men or worse. Last night in the train’s salon car, we had discussed the risk of capture by Lilith’s minions. It was not just a question of being tortured for information. With the hypnotic powers of vampires, a simple gaze into the eyes might provide them with answers.
From the hall, Albion spoke up. “It is us,” he said warily.
“Step inside,” Thomas answered, his hand still gripping the revolver in his coat pocket.
Albion did, followed by the others. The tormented look on Thomas was replaced by one of relief. He shook Albion’s hand and Anne’s and then faced Adena. They looked at each other then she rushed into Thomas’s arms and began crying, her body shaking with sobs. Thomas squeezed her tightly.
Anne had a haunted look and stared off into the distance. Albion held out a chair for her and she sat down mechanically. I stepped over to her and put an arm around her and she rested her head against my shoulder. I looked up at the Captain. “They have had a rather trying day,” he told me.
Albion separated Thomas and Adena and guided her to a chair. The Captain pulled out a silver flask and passed it around. The tears had stopped by the time the waiter came to take our orders.
Albion and Thomas stepped out together, leaving the three of us alone.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“No,” Adena said. “Killing is an awful thing. Even when it is kill or be killed, it is horrible.”
“We did what we had to be done,” Anne said. “They left us no choice. You must be strong. The Captain needs us.”
“I suppose you are right,” Adena said.
My curiosity grew. “What happened?”
Adena shook her head. “I do not want to speak of it. Not today. Not ever.”
“We have important information we must act upon soon,” Anne said.
“But please forgive me. How are you?”
“We had a busy morning,” I said. “We killed seven vampires, one wolf, one witch and burned down a house.”
“Four vampires,” Anne said. “And six men.”
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
Carnacki’s maid entered the room with a fresh pot of coffee. His story had taken much longer than usual yet none of us wanted to leave. He thanked her as she left and he poured us cups of the black brew and passed the steaming mugs around.
I sat back with my coffee. I had not realized I had been on the edge of my seat.
“I have not meant to talk so late,” Carnacki apologized. “Should I finish another night?”
“No, please continue,” I said. Arkright and the others nodded their concurrence.
Thunder rumbled from the storm.
“Very well,” he said. Carnacki took a drink and set his cup down.
He sighed. “I remember it all too well, as if it happened yesterday. I wish I could forget what occurred. But I cannot.
“The others made it to the rendezvous much to my relief. I had hidden my worry from Lucy, but I confess I had become anxious that harm had befallen them. I followed Albion into the washroom to hear what delayed them.
“‘The ladies were wonderfully brave,’ the Captain said, splashing water onto his face. ‘Sergeant Walekar’s training paid off today. They fought as bravely as any soldiers I ever commanded.’
“‘I wish they did not have to do so,’ I said, handing him a towel.
“‘I do too,’ the Captain said. He wiped his face. ‘I do too,’ he repeated more softly. ‘But I would not be alive if not for them.’
“‘What happened?’ I asked.
“Albion shook his head. ‘We do not have time today. We had a bit of luck. We know where Lilith is. At least, we know where she will be. A messenger arrived at one of the vampire’s residences, summoning him to meet her this evening.’
“‘Delivered by one of her people?’
“‘No, telegram,’ he answered.
“We discussed the possibility of a trap, but Albion was confident in the information. The note had arrived early in the morning — before the vampires and Lilith knew we had returned.
“‘They would not have tried so hard to kill us if they planned to lead us into an ambush later,’ Albion said.
“‘But she might realize that the vampire she sent the message to has been dispatched,’ I told him. ‘If so, she will be ready for us.’
“‘It is a risk we must take,’ he said.
“We returned to the private room. We had much to consider. Lilith might have changed her plans after news of our raids reached her.
“‘If I am not mistaken, most of her vampires and their human confederates will be busy relocating their coffins,’ I said. ‘We will not have much success with the remaining addresses on our list.’
“‘Should we send messages to the others to join us to go after Lilith?’ Lucy asked.
“‘I do not think so,’ Albion said. ‘If we are wiped out, at least the four of them will survive to carry on our cause.’
“I reflected on what the Captain said. ‘You and I should be enough for this,’ I said. ‘If her defenses are too strong then we shall fall back without pressing our attack. Three more or even seven won’t make a difference.’
“He looked at me and nodded. ‘Right. The ladies should stay behind as a reserve force,’ he said.
“‘We will go with you,’ Adena said. ‘We have earned that right.’
“‘You have done enough for today,’ I said.
“‘We stay together,’ Anne said.
“I sighed, knowing I could not convince them otherwise. ‘So where
is Lilith?’ I asked.
“‘You will not believe it,’ Albion said.
“‘Yes, I will,’ I said.
“‘The Tower of London,’ he said.
“‘I don’t believe it,’ I exclaimed.
“We climbed into one carriage for the ride over. With the streets tightly packed, we did not arrive at the castle grounds until shortly after 4 o’clock. The Beefeaters in their colorful uniforms stood watch, their halberds at the ready.
“The others looked about them, expecting at any moment to at last face our enemy.
“But I lagged behind, lost in thought. My mind explored possibilities: the White Tower; the Beefeaters’ apartments; the dungeons. It all seemed wrong for her to use such a public place as her lair or as a meeting place. She was a demon of the desert, long accustomed to isolation and the shadows, to hiding, to loneliness.
“‘Captain, she is not here,’ I said.
“‘How can you say that? The telegram said Tower of London. We have not yet begun to search,’ Albion said.
“‘Follow me,’ I said and hurried to a nearby street where I led them to a set of stairs going down. At the bottom was a chained, iron gate. The sign above had already begun to rust: ‘Tower of London Station.’
“‘This is more to her liking,’ I said, opening my valise and pulling out the pry bar. ‘It is an Underground station abandoned in 1884.”
“‘Allow me,’ Albion said. He studied the padlock a moment then pulled out a small lock pick and unlocked the gate. ‘Had a soldier in my outfit once who had lived a rather nefarious life before taking the Queen’s shilling,’ Albion explained. ‘He taught me some of his secrets.’
“We pulled the gates behind us, but did not lock them. We followed the stairs down. Even treading lightly, our steps echoed in the tunnel.
“The station — part of the Metropolitan Line — had opened in 1882 and closed just two years later, one of many so-called ‘ghost stations’ vacated because of population shifts or poor planning.
“‘I was consulted the previous year by a railroad official interested in reopening the station. There had been rumors it was haunted. I did not find any evidence of the supernatural, but it was decided competition from the nearby station on the District line made this one unnecessary and economically unfeasible to maintain.
“From a rucksack, we pulled out lanterns. Albion and I drew our revolvers. Adena, Anne and Lucy walked behind us. Out-of-date advertising posters and show bills plastered the tiled walls. We tiptoed down another flight of stairs and climbed over the turnstiles to the empty platform.
“We heard a train long before we saw its front light. We ducked behind a corner. The rumble and smoke turned the deserted station into an alcove of the inferno. The engine and cars quickly passed.
“I led the others down a narrow hall, past a series of offices still furnished with utilitarian desks and wood chairs until I came to a heavy door.
“I opened it. If the station and platform were like walking into a time capsule, the door to this tunnel opened to a place even more ancient. In my earlier investigation, I had learned that in the digging of the tunnel and station, the workers had stumbled on a temple site going back at least to the Romans. Antiquarians had studied the site and came away with different theories about the sect.
“I held myself ready and walked down the short tunnel of nearly 2,000-year-old stonework to a square chamber. Candles set in tall stands burned. Persian carpets covered the stone floor.
“My pulse raced and I slipped Inspector Johnstone’s knuckle-duster on my left hand. I could see flickering torchlight coming from a second chamber.
“I stepped quietly through the archway into the chamber alert for any sound and movement.
“‘Good afternoon,’ called a woman’s melodious voice.
“At first, I could not see anyone behind the desk despite the oil lamp burning on it.
“Then the darker than night shadow took a more solid appearance and I beheld Lilith, or at least I saw as much of her as I could comprehend.
“When my eyes, or mind, grew accustomed to her, I could only describe her as beautiful as an angel made by the hand of God. Not an angel from the paintings in museums, but an angel, whose beauty is so magnificent, so glorious, that it dazzles the eyes to look upon.
“Still, I held my revolver pointed at her. The others continued forward until we had formed a skirmish line in front of her, each of us covering her with various weapons.
“‘Welcome,’ Lilith said with a gentle smile. ‘I had hoped to speak to you before my children killed you. I would allow you to live, but my children are not so forgiving. You have angered them. They intend to have your blood and to slay your other companions as well.
“‘Yes, I know about them. My spies are everywhere. Your librarian friend thinks the answer to my defeat lies in a Babylonian ritual. If it worked, do you think I would be here now?’
“Lilith spoke to us for some time. And when she finished, we had a better understanding of what she intended to do, but we still did not know how to stop her. Some of us even wondered if we should.
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
(24 October — continued).
Anne, Adena and Captain Albion had discovered a clue to Lilith’s location.
Thomas, however, figured out what the clue meant and guided us to her in the Tower of London Station, an abandoned Underground railway station.
He led us straight to Lilith, who sat as if we had made an appointment to speak with her.
“I had hoped to speak with you before my children killed you,” she said.
She stood up and walked over to us. She was dressed in a flowing, light brown garment such as desert women wear. It was open in back for her wide leathery wings. Her skin was alabaster, her wings blacker than a moonless night. She was the most beautiful being I have ever seen.
Lilith smiled at me. “You do not belong with them. You are one of my children, a creature of the night. And I shall love you as my own daughter.”
“I fight on the side of God,” I said, trying to sound confidant.
“Really?” she asked, her eyes twinkling with amusement. “So you have entered a church lately? You have taken communion? Placed a sacramental wafer on your tongue? Dipped your fingers in holy water? Kissed your crucifix? Understand, Lucy, God does not care for you. Why else would he have allowed you to suffer and die? He does not care for any of you. He did love humanity once, but no more.”
Lilith put a hand on my shoulder. “I may not be human, but I too love my Creator,” she said. “I will make things right for God so that he will be happy and walk on the Earth with us again.
“You and your friends are causing needless suffering. I had arranged to feed my children so no humans would be harmed. For that very reason, I sent Count Dracula away when he disobeyed me. But when you destroyed my good doctor and his clinic, you made it impossible for me to control my children. People are dead because of you. You should not be fighting against me.
“If you persist, you will be hurt, even killed, so others might live in peace and love. I will not let you stop me. My goal is too important.”
Lilith stepped back. “Listen,” she said gently. “Do you want to know what I am going to do? I shall do what God should have done. I will kill the Serpent of the Garden of Eden. I will take away the Apple of Knowledge. It is clear God made a mistake when he created them and placed them in the garden.
“Look what humanity has done with free will. They allow his children to starve as others feast on plenty. They desecrate the Earth instead of serving as faithful stewards. They celebrate war. From their temples and mosques and churches they preach hatred of his children instead of celebrating his love.
“I have stood outside their sanctuaries and heard their sermons. Last week I listened to a bishop describe how God has walked away from England because of the evil done by man.
“Yet even in the beginning when God walked with man, there was evil. Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Cain slew his own brother.
“Humans have been such a disappointment to their Creator. God does not deserve such unhappiness.
“Do you know what it was like to have the Creator walk beside you? It is the most blessed, glorious experience. He made the Universe. Can you imagine such infinite power?” She paused. “You cannot because your intellect cannot grasp it. He knows every star and every grain of sand. Yet when you walk beside God, you know, you know, that you are his most joyous creation. In those beginning days, he often walked on the Earth with us.
“But no longer. And I miss that. And it is humanity’s fault. God looked at the wickedness and failings of Adam and Eve and their descendants and God repented what he had made. God no longer cares for you or for any of us. But I have discovered a way to repair the rift between God and us. And you cannot stop me. Even if you could, you shouldn’t.”
Lilith pointed to Captain Albion. “This man is a good example of why I must win. There is so much pain in him.”
She turned to him. “Is your wife’s death not proof that God is gone from the world and no longer cares for you?”
She looked back to me. “Has he ever told you how his wife died?”
Albion turned and for the first time I saw fear in his eyes. “Please,” the Captain pleaded to her, his voice not even sounding like his own. “Please don’t.”
“I’m sorry Captain,” Lilith said. “It is too important for you and the others to understand why I must not be stopped.”
Lilith looked with pity at the Captain as he bowed his head. “He and his lovely wife, Catherine, were living in India. Their first child was close to being delivered and the expectation prompted more happiness than they had ever dreamt. But the heat! With her swollen hands and feet and heavy abdomen, she found it unbearable. And so they took their doctor, a kindly experienced physician, and rode their cart to a cabin in the highlands. Then do you know what happened? The doctor, only 47, died of heart failure, such terrible timing. The shock of it sent Catherine into labor, with only her husband to help her. She could not travel and he could not abandon her to seek help.
“Oh how she suffered. And the Captain, always so skilled at taking life, could not save the lives of his wife and his child. She begged him to cut the baby from her to save the child’s life. But his nerve failed him. He had slid metal into so many to kill, but he could not do it to save. And so the beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed Catherine and their beautiful, dark-haired daughter died.
“Is that not so, Captain?”
Tears poured down Albion’s face. “A daughter?” he said. “I did not know.”
Lilith looked at him with genuine compassion. “I am sorry to brin g you pain, but with the help of the old gods, I will make things right so no one will ever have to suffer again. The Serpent will be killed, the Apple taken away. Humans will know only love and obedience to God. Then God will return to walk amongst us again.”
Lilith spoke with such sincerity that I found myself wanting to join her cause.
Albion, always so strong before, appeared devastated by his grief. Thomas had lowered his weapons. Anne clutched my arm and buried her face against my shoulder. Adena looked deeply sorrowful as if the core of her faith had been shaken. We had at last met our enemy and
Lilith had defeated us with only her words.
Then Adena looked up and her eyes met Lilith’s.
“I am so sad for you,” Adena said. “You are right. We are human and we fail. We do not live as God intends and we do not have the relationship with him that he wants. Too often we are weak and frightened and selfish and hurtful. Too often we sin and go against God’s will.”
Adena’s voice grew firmer. “Lilith, you must miss God terribly. But you are wrong to think Adam’s children are to blame. Do you not see? God has never left you. He never leaves. He never turns his back and walks away. It is the other way around — we stray from him. He always holds his arms open for us. You have spent countless eons not even realizing he is there waiting for you. Lilith, give up your arrogance and return to him.”
I expected Lilith to answer Adena with a murderous fury.
Instead, Lilith smiled serenely and said, “We shall see.”
Then her wings spread wide and folded over her and she vanished. I would have preferred her rage. Anger might have meant doubt; she had none in the path she has chosen.
I wish I could say the same of myself.
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“Lilith had surprised us. We had expected a horrific demon. Instead she wore a beautiful guise and spoke with a persuasive manner.
“There are legends of creatures invulnerable to mortal weapons unless the weapons have been marked with sacred symbols or blessed under certain rites. I believe the symbols are more to allow the wielder of the weapons to use them for with Lilith we could not bring ourselves to attack her. Whether from enchantment on her part or weakness on ours, we posed no threat to her.
“Adena understood the theology behind Lilith’s plan better than I.
From what I gathered, Lilith intended to take away independent thought and action from mankind. She planned to kill the Serpent and take away the Apple of Knowledge to restore the Garden of Eden. I did not know if such a thing were possible. But Lilith, who had the wisdom of centuries behind her, believed it could be done. She would end all suffering and fear. She saw it as a way of bringing back God.
“Immediately after speaking to us, she disappeared. I took the opportunity to grab papers, maps, and scrolls off her desk and stuff them into my valise.
“But Adena tugged at my left sleeve, eager to flee before Lilith or her servants returned. ‘There’s no time!’ Adena shouted.
“As we dashed up the stairs, we heard footsteps descending.
“‘This way,’ I shouted, leading them to the platform. Albion covered our retreat. A train passed, spraying smoke and cinders from the engine. ‘Follow me,’ I said as soon as it passed. We ran through the darkness, footsteps behind us.
“We fled. If we had stood and fought, we might have slain some, but we would have died. Our earlier success against vampires owed more to surprise than to martial prowess.
“We heard the rumble of an oncoming train and squeezed into a niche. But we lost precious time.
“The footsteps gained as we stumbled and tripped through the darkness until we saw the lights of the next station. Anne tripped with a shout of pain and Lucy quickly helped her up and ran with her.
“We climbed up past a surprised crowd of people waiting on the platform. We heard frightened screams and shouts behind us as whatever pursued us followed onto the platform.
“We sped on into daylight, into the street and did not stop. I could not gather my bearings, but headed west, now at a full sprint, pulling Adena by the hand. We turned a corner, crossing a street crowded with horses and vehicles, my leather soles flying over the pavement. Turning into a narrow alley, we skidded on the wet pavement and dashed through a courtyard onto a broader thoroughfare. I saw a four-wheeler and ran in front, waving to stop him.
“I told the Cabbie to take us to the British Museum. I had to warn Armitage.
“We gasped, out of breath from our mad dash through the Underground and the busy streets, and slouched low beneath the windows.
“For half a block, we rode and then the carriage stopped because none of the vehicles moved. London’s traffic has always been notorious, but now even it seemed to conspire against us.
“I asked Albion the time: half past 4 o’clock. A cart filled with barrels sat in front of us. I noticed a floral shop, a bakery, a newsstand, and, half a block down the street, a messenger service. I told the others I would return and ran into the office. I scribbled hasty notes to send to Chief Inspector James’s hotel, Dr. Armitage’s hotel and to Dr. Armitage at the British Library, warning my friends to flee London at once.
“When I returned, the carriage had not made any progress down the street. ‘Can you tell what the delay is, Cabbie?’ I asked the Driver, who sat up on his perch. ‘It looks like the police are searching for someone or something,’ he replied.
“I hid my reaction and tossed the Cabbie another coin, telling him we did not have time to wait and that we would walk. He looked at the coin and nodded. The others stepped out of the cab and we set off. Anne had twisted her ankle running in the darkness of the tunnel, but she walked bravely despite the pain, leaning on Lucy’s arm.
“‘What do we do?’ Adena asked.
“I shook my head with uncertainty. Our encounter with Lilith had demoralized me. I felt as hopeless as when I had first fled Hillingham.
“We made it to our Kensington hotel, where we immediately ordered a cart to take our baggage to King’s Cross. We took an evening train to York. We spent the night there and in the morning arrived at Osmotherley.
“None of the others had arrived and I feared for their lives.
Friday, January 14th, 2005
Dr. Armitage’s Journal.
October 24, near midnight. Onboard a train. — Jacob and I still live. Despite everything that happened tonight, we will continue the struggle though we do not know if the others live.
I worried for our friends throughout the day because of their frightful mission. Yet I had my own task to perform. I pored through fragmented grimoires, Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernale and other books, making notes and examining fragile texts, researching arcane references until my eyes grew red and my fingers numb from writing.
Jacob sat looking like a suspicious dog guarding a soup bone.
My work fully consumed me until Jacob tapped me on the shoulder.
“The day is growing late, Dr. Armitage,” he said.
Some part of my consciousness registered his statement. “Almost finished,” I said.
I continued, digging through words the way a miner goes through rock, searching for a vein to follow. At times, I thought I found a lead only to have it peter out. A text on Babylon myths described a ceremony to trap Lilith in a specially created bowl. I spent two precious hours in the morning researching the artifact only to learn the required bowl is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. If only it had been in the British Museum.
Jacob shook my shoulder. “Doctor, the library is closing.” I stood up and stretched. My shoulders and neck were dull with pain from being hunched over. The side of my right middle finger was scarlet and deeply indented from my long grip on the pen. I collected my papers, surprised by how much I had written.
“We must leave,” Jacob said.
We put on our coats and stepped into the night. I pulled up my collar for the air had a brisk chill to it. No cabs waited at the stand or on the street and we walked to find one. I wished for a warmer hat like the one I had back home in New England, hanging on a pegboard. I began to daydream of home.
“Duck hunting,” I said.
“What, Doctor?” Jacob asked.
“That’s what I probably would be doing now if I were home.”
“What?” he asked.
“Duck hunting,” I said again.
We followed New Oxford Street to Charing Cross Road and walked several more blocks. I felt disoriented, hungry, tired and mentally fatigued. “Where are we?” I asked at last.
Jacob shook his head. “You mean you don’t know?”
My mind drew a blank. I could not even think of the name of our hotel. “No. I’ve been following you.”
“Ah. I thought I was following you,” Jacob said. “It all looks different at night.”
“Have you ever been in a city before?” I asked.
“Plenty,” he said.
“New Orleans once and now London,” he said.
“We’re lost,” I said.
“I reckon we are,” he said.
“Do you remember the name of our hotel?” I asked.
Jacob began to answer, closed his mouth, opened it again and then
shut it. “No. Don’t you?”
“It’s been a long day,” I said. “Let us walk. It will come to us.”
“It was near a train station,” he said.
I rolled my eyes. How many railway stations are there in London? A dozen? I decided that if we could not remember our hotel I would take us to my old hotel where I had mail piling up. Carnacki had been afraid it would be watched. It also did not have a protective circle drawn. But at the moment I was beyond caring about either precaution.
“I’m hungry,” Jacob said.
I pointed down Shaftesbury Avenue, toward lights and people. “I know where we are now,” I said, relieved. “Picadilly Circus.”
“Do you know where our hotel is from here?”
“Let us find some place to eat,” I said, hoping food would revive my mental faculties.
“You still don’t know where our hotel is, do you?” he said with resignation.
“Haven’t a clue,” I admitted.
My stomach growled as I smelled fish being fried. My mouth watered. I had not eaten since breakfast.
But suddenly I stiffened like a hunting dog that has alerted to game. My appetite vanished as I recognized a man from the blood clinic line sitting on top of a coach. He stepped down and held the carriage door open for a group of well-dressed men. I could see they had surrounded a frightened, teary-eyed woman. All stepped into the large carriage and the driver closed the door, which had a coat of arms painted on the side.
Jacob followed my gaze. “Dr. Armitage, what is it?”
“Don’t stare, but do you see the coach?”
“We must follow it,” I said. “The man driving was at the blood clinic.”
It was not difficult to keep pace for the traffic was heavy. We followed through Picadilly Circus to Sackville Street. The passengers departed and the carriage rolled on.
The men half carried the woman, nearly faint with fear, through an arched walkway into a courtyard. I held up a small pocket mirror. There was a gap where the image of one of the seven men was not reflected.
“Which do we follow?” Jacob asked.
“Let us stay with the group,” I said. “The last man is a vampire.”
They opened a door, laughing drunkenly, and stumbled inside a fashionable row house. Briefly, we could see the group through a window. Then one of the men drew the curtains closed.
“Dr. Armitage, I’m going in there to rescue the lady,” Jacob said.
“I’d like you to stay at the door to make sure none get past me.”
“We will be killed,” I said.
“Would you want to live with yourself if we didn’t try to save her?”
I breathed deeply before I answered. “No, my friend. I am with you.”
“It’s gonna get ugly,” Jacob said.
We crossed the courtyard at a trot and Jacob pulled out a dagger and a long-handled hatchet from sheaths hidden under his coat.
“Don’t shoot unless absolutely necessary,” he told me. “Use your knife. Otherwise we’ll have the law on us and I don’t like jail cells.”
I pulled out the dagger Carnacki had made me carry though it embarrassed me. Librarians did not wear sheathed daggers. The blade’s weight felt awkward in my right hand.
We walked up the stone stairs, past the pillars and opened the door. We could hear muffled shrieks from the girl and we followed the sound. The entrance hall had been made to look like a ceremonial lodge of an ancient sect, creating an unworldly atmosphere, with burning torches set in sconces on the walls.
Down the hall we quickly padded until we came to an opening into a larger chamber. Four of the men held the girl by her arms and legs as she lay stripped naked on a table. Two others watched from close by. The vampire stood between the girl’s legs. He wore formal black evening attire except for his pants, which were down at his ankles. He still wore top hat as if the rape and slaughter of the girl was not worth doffing it.
I took my position at the doorway of the room while Jacob walked in with a cavalier manner. I felt proud that I would soon die alongside such a brave man.
The men and vampire stopped smiling and looked at him agape.
“Who are you?” asked the dandy holding a thin knife to the lady’s throat. “Get out now! This is a private affair.”
They were accustomed to being obeyed and to bullying those who did not. Their privileged existence of wealthy debauchery had not prepared them for the next few moments.
After the initial outburst, Jacob’s audacity silenced them as he kept walking closer. The details of the horror that followed remain terribly vivid in my memory.
With a weird war cry, Jacob shattered the stillness. He hurled the tomahawk in his right hand, the weapon a blurring circle until the curved blade struck with a sound not unlike an axe striking a log the forehead of the knife-wielding man. The man’s eyes crossed momentarily as he looked at the wooden handle in front of his face then he dropped the dagger from the lady’s throat and toppled back. The woman’s face was spotted with red drops of the man’s blood. The high pitch of her scream faded as she appeared to faint.
But Jacob had not stopped. As soon as the tomahawk had flown from his right hand, he had slashed with his left, the dagger slicing the neck of the man closest to him. Blood sprayed from between the man’s fingers clutched to his throat. He dropped to his knees and terror drained his face of all color.
Jacob reversed his grip, bound forward and stabbed into the throat of a third man, never stopping his constant movement through them. His progress had taken him to where his tomahawk protruded from the split skull of the corpse near the woman. With a smooth grace, he rocked the tomahawk out of the skull, gore dripping from the blade.
Two of the men appeared too frightened to even move; they could not believe the whirlwind of death that had entered their midst. The other drew a slender foil from his cane and lunged at Jacob, who parried the strike with a careless ease. He stepped into the man’s reach, and thrust his dagger into the man’s throat. The man’s eyes registered ultimate surprise, as if it was impossible for his previously charmed existence to suddenly come to an end.
The other two began to back away with trembling steps. They dropped their walking sticks and held their hands with their palms in front of them. With nearly incoherent words they sputtered for mercy. With a sideways swing, Jacob’s tomahawk struck the man’s forehead, knocking pieces of skull and skin and gray matter through the air. With Jacob’s return stroke, the tomahawk chopped off the fingers of a hand hastily thrown up in defense then sank into the thin section of skull at the optical orb, into the sinus cavity, and popping out the left eyeball before stopping at the ridge of the man’s nose.
Jacob gave the tomahawk’s handle a twist as the man sunk to the ground. I heard a crack as the cheekbone broke inside.
With the fluid grace of a leopard, Jacob rose from his crouched position above his prone victims. Blood and gore dripped from his blades.
Slow claps echoed off the high ceiling of the vaulted room as the vampire applauded and drew our attention to him.
“Bravo!” he said with an arrogant smile on his lips. He had simply pulled up his pants and watched Jacob slaughter his companions.
I walked up to Jacob’s side, carefully stepping over the bodies and the pools of blood spreading on the floor. One of Jacob’s victims, slow in dying from the ghastly wound to his neck, groaned and cried pitifully for his mother.
I reached my hand into my pocket for a packet of wild rose and garlic dust. Warily watching the vampire, I slipped my arms out of my coat and placed the coat over the naked-form of the girl on the table.
The vampire hissed, baring his frightful fangs. “You may be good at killing mortal men, but you have no idea what you are dealing with!”
Jacob sneered. “Yeah, we do you blood-sucking son of a bitch and I ain’t done killing yet.”
Suddenly doubt and fear appeared in the vampire’s eyes. He glanced down at the bodies and at us advancing toward him.
He snarled and with a snap of his cape transformed into an immaterial, swirling-smoke-like form to escape us.
“Henry!” Jacob roared.
I tore open the envelope and hurled the powdered dust of wild roses, garlic and wolfsbane at where the vampire had stood. The
dust spread in a small cloud in the air where the vampire hovered.
We heard a howl of such agony that Jacob and I looked at each other in shocked horror. The vampire re-materialized on the ground, rolling in pain, his fingernails ripping into his own skin in an apparent effort to get the wild rose and garlic dust off of him.
Jacob knelt over him and shouted: “Where is Lilith?” He yelled louder to be heard over the vampire’s screams: “Damn you, answer me and I will end your pain! Where is Lilith?”
Quicker than the eye could follow, the vampire lashed out with a backhanded blow that sent Jacob tumbling head over heels like a man thrown from a horse. Jacob landed on a dead man with blood oozing into muttonchop whiskers.
The vampire began to stand and I tackled him to the ground. The vampire struck me on the top of the head and I saw stars. I held on though and Jacob rushed to my aid. The vampire twisted and thrashed his arms to cast me aside. The vampire continued shrieking in pain as if on fire from the inside.
When the powder struck him in the form of motes of dust, it must have shocked him into resuming his human shape. But the transition also had resulted in his resuming his solid form with the bane of his existence inside of him. As we struggled on the floor, I feared he would tear us apart in his death agony. In the struggle, the buttons of my collar and shirt popped off and my crucifix dangled free. I tore off the necklace and pressed it against the vampire’s forehead. His agonized howls increased and we rolled in a desperate struggle.
Veins popped out in Jacob’s temple and neck as he screamed at the vampire, “Where is Lilith?”
The vampire, his face pocked and smoking, snarled and snapped his fangs at him.
We shouted the question at the dying vampire over and over. The vampire shook his head wildly.
Jacob grabbed the vampire by the hair and punctuated each syllable by pounding the vampire’s head against the marble floor: “I! AM! THE! MON! STER!” White spittle flew from the young man’s lips. His face was scarlet with rage. I backed away from my friend, more frightened by his fury than of the vampire. “Answer the damn question!”
The vampire broke his hands free and dug his talons into his own face, pulling off his skin from his flesh. Jacob rocked back on his heels as the vampire clutched and ripped and screamed. With the skin off, the vampire’s fingers tore the exposed muscle and flesh until his wet skull glistened through.
The vampire’s agony shocked even Jacob. The vampire began to pluck at other skin and flesh where the powder had seared it.
Jacob, his back to me, inhaled deeply. He stood, looked around at the destruction he had wrought and turned to me. He breathed deeply again and shrugged his head to the right and then the left, his neck muscles as taut as corded ropes.
With the flesh over his jaws gone, the vampire’s howls had softened to gasping whimpers.
“We should go,” I said.
Jacob nodded. I handed him a handkerchief. He wiped the blood from his face and motioned to the unconscious girl. “What do we do with her?”
“Take her home,” I said.
“Gotta get her dressed first.”
The vampire continued to pull away pieces of his own flesh, but he moved slower. Strands of skin, torn muscle and gristle hung from him like a ghastly fringe. His teeth made loud clicks when they snapped together.
I held up the remnants of the girl’s garments. They had been cut off her.
We heard a loud crack from the vampire and glanced at him. The vampire’s hands gripped his glistening, slippery ribs and he appeared to be resting from a great exertion. He had split open his own rib cage at the sternum, an astonishing feat even considering he had already ripped the flesh from his chest.
“You wouldn’t have clothes pins with you?” I asked Jacob.
“I reckon not,” he said. “Sorry.”
“I wish they hadn’t cut her clothes off her,” I said.
“They weren’t very considerate,” he said.
Jacob bent down to the groaning man, who looked up gratefully at him. “Take me to a doctor,” the man said. “Please. I will give you anything you want.”
Jacob took off the man’s shoes, unbuckled the man’s pants and pulled them off the man’s legs.
“These will fit her and he didn’t soil himself like some of the others did,” Jacob said to me.
“What are you doing?” the man asked.
“Taking your pants,” Jacob answered. “The lady needs them. If you tell us where Lilith is hiding, I’ll take you to a doctor.”
“Who is Lilith?”
“Wrong answer,” Jacob said, his knife moving to slit the man’s throat.
I stopped him. “No, Jacob,” I cried. “We should get the man to a hospital.”
Jacob nodded slowly. “OK. But first things first.”
“Agreed,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief.
Jacob tossed the pants and I caught them. “Why are you giving them to me?”
“I took them off him; you put them on her. It’s only fair. I did my part.”
A strange, suction noise from the vampire caused us to turn and to see him pulling out his own heart. His back arched with the strain. The arteries and veins stretched tight as he lifted, until, with a wet, tearing sound, he broke the heart free from his chest. The vampire collapsed and was still.
“Alright,” I said. “I’ll put them on her.”
“Hurry,” Jacob said, passing me another man’s jacket.
I pulled the pants over the ankles and up the legs of the young lady, an awkward process on a prone body. Jacob went to the smallest man, took off his shoes and put them on her feet.
“Why not put on her own shoes?” I said, pulling the pants over her curved hips while trying not to look at her.
“Too noticeable. With her hair under a hat and a man’s clothes, she might pass for a boy.”
“Smart,” I said.
“We’ll need a cab,” Jacob said. “Could you go hail one?”
I ran out to the street. I signaled a cab to the curb and promised the driver a shilling to wait. When I ran back inside, Jacob pointed to the pants-less man. “He doesn’t need a doctor anymore.”
The man’s eyes stared vacantly. His body was tilted to the side. My eyes met Jacob’s and he shrugged.
Together we pulled the lady up. As we did she regained consciousness with a wild-eyed fright and she struggled like a rabbit caught in a snare. “Miss, we’re here to help you,” I said.
The woman trembled and looked at each of us and then around her and then at us again. Jacob and I nodded reassuringly to her in turn.
Then she buried her face against my shoulder and sobbed.
“We’ll take you home to your family,” I said. “You’re safe now. But we must be going.”
She shook her head. For a moment I feared the horror had addled her wits. “You don’t want to go home?”
She shook her head more vehemently and stopped her tears.
“No family?” Jacob asked.
She glanced down. “No.”
The woman slid off the table. She stepped over a corpse. She stared at the carnage then spat on the body of the man who had held the knife to her throat.
We walked with the lady between us, escorting her to the carriage.
“Where to, gents?” the driver asked.
“Saint George’s Drive,” I replied.
Jacob raised a brow. “It suddenly came to me where our hotel is
located,” I explained.
The lady stared straight ahead. Jacob and I looked at her and we both shrugged, uncertain what to do. I thought of dropping her off at a police station, but feared it would raise too many questions and feared the same with a hospital.
I sat wishing she would speak for I suddenly hated the silence. The quiet left me to my thoughts. Thinking recalled the horror of the house we had left. Words, any words, would be better than that, I thought.
I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Jacob, what you did was the bravest and most horrific thing I have ever witnessed.”
I cursed myself. I did not want to speak about what had just occurred.
Jacob leaned forward and his eyes locked on mine. “Dr. Armitage, I have had a lot of experience at fighting. I have fought Apaches. I have killed outlaws. I went into that fight confident I could best those men. They were soft from easy living off the wealth earned by their ancestors. In my family, the only things passed down are this dagger, this tomahawk and a terrible anger. Those gentlemen got to see all three.”
“But the odds,” I said.
“Odds don’t count for much,” Jacob said. “Once you kill the first one, the rest are usually too busy worrying about dying to think about killing. The only thing I was uncertain about was the
vampire. But I had faith you could best him. Dr. Armitage, I went in there almost certain we’d live. You looked at the odds and you thought we’d be killed. Yet you didn’t hesitate to go. Who is the braver man?”
His words surprised me. I blinked away sudden, uncontrollable tears. I could not speak for I was overwrought from the conflicting emotions of horror from the fight and happiness at having survived.
He looked away before he continued. “Most people are sheep and I do not mean that in a bad way,” he said. “God means for people to be his flock. Some eat grass all day, looking up at the shepherd for guidance. Some people are the sheepdogs — soldiers, lawmen and firemen — that protect the flock from the predators for some people want to slay the sheep, out of hunger or just out of meanness. When the wolves, coyotes and bears attack, the sheepdogs and the shepherd fight to save the sheep. And sometimes you see a tough old ram or ewe join the fray to save the herd. You’re one of those rams.”
“And you’re a sheepdog,” I said.
“No, sir, I’m a wolf,” he said. “I just happen to like to hunt the other wolves.”
We listened to the clop of the horses’ hooves and the creak of the axle under us. I suddenly felt exhausted beyond measure. The strain of the previous days and nights, the long hours of research at the library, our wandering lost through London and the desperate fight with the vampire left me more drained than providing Lucy with blood ever did.
I tottered on the line between awake and asleep. Sleep was an escape from my nightmarish memories. As my eyes closed and head rested in the corner, I heard the young lady ask Jacob: “Where are you taking me?”
“Miss, wherever you want to go,” Jacob answered. “Do you have anyone we can take you to in London?”
“I lived with my brother,” she said.
“I thought you said you had no family.”
“You killed my brother.”
There followed an awkward pause. Jacob shifted in the seat beside me. His elbow bumped into my side. I kept my eyes closed. I may have followed him into battle against six men and a vampire, but he was on his own for this.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry,” Jacob said.
“My brother offered me to Lord Ruthven in exchange for transforming him and his friends into vampires,” the woman said.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, adding emphasis to the elbow he jabbed into my ribs.
“Stop apologizing,” she said louder. “You saved my life. My brother gave me to Lord Ruthven to rape me and degrade me and kill me in front of their friends.”
“Ma’am, I am — sure we’re close to our hotel,” Jacob said. His heel came down hard on the instep of my left foot.
“Did I fall asleep?” I lied, rubbing my eyes and avoiding Jacob’s accusatory glare.
“I was just getting ready to tell Miss, uh, the lady here, that she could stay at our hotel in the extra room,” Jacob said.
“Of course, you are welcome to stay,” I said. “You also may be able to provide us with information. As you may have surmised we too have an interest in destroying vampires. In any event, you may count yourself under our protection for as long as you wish.”
A choking sound came from her. I feared she would cry. Certainly it would have been understandable if she had. But she pulled herself together. “Thank you. Thank you both for — for rescuing me.”
“You are most welcome,” I said. “Miss, I am Dr. Henry Armitage and this is Mr. Jacob Wetzel.”
“I am Elaine Hamilton,” she said.
The carriage pulled up to St. George’s Drive. I paid the fare and
we walked the short distance to our hotel. I motioned for Jacob to escort Miss Hamilton to our rooms and went to the front desk for the key.
The clerk also handed me a sealed envelope. I glanced around, suddenly fearful. No one was in the lobby. No one I could see, I thought. I tore open the message.
“Flee at once,” I read.
I recognized Carnacki’s handwriting.
“When did this arrive?” I asked the man at the front desk.
“I do not know, sir. I just came on duty.”
My exhaustion suddenly vanished. I ran the three flights of stairs to our rooms. Jacob and Miss Hamilton stood at the door, leaning against the wall. “We must leave immediately,” I said.
Jacob raised a brow and I handed him the note. He passed it to Miss Hamilton. “We’ll take you out of London and find some place safe for you,” I told her. She nodded.
We cautiously entered our rooms. They were empty. We quickly threw our few belongings into our bags.
From the doorway, we scanned the area before leaving the hotel. We did not see anyone, but that did not mean they might not be there. London was a haunted house with a fresh horror behind every door.
Despite anxious moments, we made it to Victoria Station. An odd trio we must have appeared with a woman clumsily dressed in a man’s clothing and two men looking tensely about them. I paid for the tickets as Jacob watched alertly. Miss Hamilton stood next to me.
In the blink of an eye, a rangy young man with a thin mustache and
chalky complexion appeared next to us with his arms folded. I had not heard him approach; neither had my companions. All three of us gave a jump. Jacob’s hand went inside his coat, but the stranger held his palm out.
I recognized the man, but I could not immediately remember from where.
“Good evening,” he said. “I mean you no harm.”
Then I recognized his voice. The two of us had discussed the dramas of Shakespeare and Marlowe until nearly dawn on the night of October 12 — the night Inspector Johnstone had been slain. The night I also probably would have died if I had returned to my hotel.
“Who are you?” I asked, forgetting my manners in my bewilderment.
“I apologize, but I do not remember your name.”
“Kit Morley,” he said. “And I owe you an apology for startling you. But we do not have much time. I have sent the dogs after a false scent. Listen. Three nights from now meet me near the statue of King Henry VI at King’s College in Cambridge.”
He walked away and I placed a hand on Jacob’s shoulder to keep him from pouncing on the man.
“We must catch our train,” I reasoned. “If he meant us harm he could have done so.”
We boarded our train and now I find myself sitting up too nervous to sleep despite my exhaustion. We are in a day coach opened to take on extra passengers. I do not know where the train is going for I had bought tickets for the next train leaving the station. I do not care our destination as long as we are putting miles between London and us.
Friday, January 14th, 2005
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
(24 October — continued).
After the doctor finished sewing Thomas’s wound, we renewed our effort against the vampires. Thomas attempted a weak quip, but he could not hide the dread in his eyes.
In the cab, he took another drink from his flask. “See, this is why
I needed my valise so desperately,” he said.
“Thomas, I fear the witch hit your head too hard,” I said.
I cannot recall ever having been in so many houses. I began to feel like some sort of deliveryman. In the past, I suppose I had ridden by many of these same vacant houses. But then it was so easy to look and immediately put aside any thought of their existence. Now I do not know if I will ever forget them.
And the interiors of the vampires’ properties! Will I become like this, uncaring if I live amongst ugliness and dust? In Mina’s typewritten notes of Jonathan’s journal I read that Dracula lived in a decrepit castle. The Count had wanted me to go with him. Even if I had been his willing lover, how could he think that I would give up Hillingham for a drafty, vermin-infested, stone ruin in the mountains in the middle of nowhere? Perhaps he knew that eventually
I would not care about such things. After all, how long did I stay in my burial shroud before Anne suggested I change clothes?
I have digressed, but since it is my diary I am allowed. As we prepared to leave yet another empty house, Thomas stopped me and we looked out the window at three men. Thomas suggested we leave through the back and pulled me along. A man followed us down the alley.
We had suspected that some, if not most, of the vampires would have human confederates. Certainly Dracula did in Transylvania and I do here. We were fortunate not to have been surprised by them earlier.
But they were after us now. Perhaps they had discovered our earlier handiwork and had set a watch on the other properties of their dark masters.
We had become the fox to their hounds. “We should go to the police,” I told Thomas.
“And tell them what? ‘Pardon me, Constable. These men are interrupting our burglary, arson and vampire killing spree. Would you mind locking them up until we are finished?’”
“Please don’t be sarcastic,” I said.
“Forgive me,” he said. “But we’re in a rather tight spot.”
“We’ll think of something,” I said. “I know. I’ll kill them.”
Thomas winced. “It may come to that,” he said. “But let’s wait.”
“Think of some clever trick,” I said helpfully.
“Clever tricks work much better in stories than they do in real life,” Thomas said bitterly. Then he brightened. “By Jove! You’ve given me an idea.”
Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued.
“We walked for a time with a man following us from a distance. I caught occasional glimpses of others drawing nearer. I pulled her by the hand until we were running. The men trailing us gave chase.
Lucy and I gained briefly, but I knew we would outdistance our pursuers only for a short time.
“‘Think of some clever trick,’ Lucy told me, with the tone she must have used on her servants at Hillingham.
“‘Clever tricks work much better in stories than they do in real life,’ I explained patiently. She had pinned her hopes on me and I could not think of a way to get us out of the situation.
“But as my mind raced, something Lucy said reminded me of her vampiric nature and inspired an idea. ‘This way,’ I told her, leading her into a blind alley, a narrow canyon of walls with no fire escapes.
“‘We’ll be trapped,’ she whispered.
“‘Hide behind here,’ I said, pulling her down behind refuse-filled barrels.
“We heard footsteps hurrying along, echoing off the walls of our alley then fading away.
“‘They’ll be back,’ she said.
“‘We won’t be here,’ I said. ‘We’re going up. Lucy, climb the wall to the roof.’
“She looked irked at me. ‘I can’t do that.’
“‘Dracula could,’ I goaded.
“Her dead eyes stared coldly at me. ‘Hold on,’ she said.
“She took off her shoes. I held them with one hand with my arms wrapped around her neck. She gripped a small gap between the bricks and like a spider ascended the wall. I clung to her, fearing I would lose my grip and fall to my death 20 feet, then 30 feet, then 40 feet below. In less than a moment, we reached the top and dropped behind the edge onto the flat roof. With a four-foot-high wall surrounding the rooftop, we did not have to worry about being seen. We lay next to each other — me breathless from my anxiety and she busied putting on her shoes.
“‘Knew you could do it,’ I told her.
“‘Yes,’ she answered drolly, ‘but I ruined these stockings.’
“Our eyes met and then we smiled at each other. ‘Come on,’ I said. ‘Keep low. We’re not out of the woods yet.’
“We walked across several roofs, keeping toward the middle to avoid being seen from the streets and alleys below.
“At last we came to the end of the block of buildings. We sneaked a glance over the edge of the cornice. We saw two men, including a roughly dressed fellow that I recognized from the queue at the blood clinic, and the other in a top hat and business suit.
“We ducked down, fearful that our stares would somehow draw their attention to us. We dared another quick glance. They were walking away with their shoulders stooped in disappointment.
“We found a rooftop door, pulled it open and hurried down the stairs of the building. We glanced around before stepping into the street, then hailed the first cab. We breathed a sigh of relief at our narrow escape.
“I gave the address, but asked the Cabbie to stop half a block away.
“We spotted two men lounging in front of 430 Marylebone Road. I had the Cabman take us to the rear alley to drop us off and paid him to wait.
“We sneaked through the back of the property and looked in the windows. Seeing no one, I slid a wire between the window frames and undid the latch. I pushed up the window slowly, silently and entered, inviting Lucy in behind me. We crept through the building, as fearful of the men outside as we were of anything inside.
“We found a door under the stairs. After a quick glance to make sure that the sentries outside were still at their post, we tiptoed into the dark of the basement. I cast open the shutter of my dark lantern and in the narrow beam I spotted two coffins. Lucy and I looked at each other and nodded. Simultaneously, we lifted the lids and struck, she with her sword and I with my heavy dagger. We drove stakes through their hearts. To my surprise, both occupants were male vampires. Seeing the two coffins side by side, I had assumed that indicated a vampire couple.
“We crept up the stairs warily. Taking another quick glance outside, I noticed the lookouts still in conversation. However, one of them suddenly motioned to the other and they headed to the front door.
“I had to decide quickly. If we dashed out, they would see us running away. If we stayed, they might take a quick look inside to allay their suspicions and then continue their watch outside. On the other hand, they also might find us inside and then we would have to fight the living instead of the dead.
“When I heard the front door open, I shuttered my light and Lucy and I waited on the dark stairs. We heard footsteps cross the floor.
“I breathed as softly as I could, my hand on the revolver in my pocket. The steps stopped, the men listening for some moments. Then one man said in a thick, rough accent: ‘I told you there’d be no one in here. Let’s get out before we wake those nasty buggers.’
“‘Right, mate,’ said the other. ‘Just a look downstairs.’
“‘You might wake em and they hain’t behaving like they’re supposed to,’ said the first. ‘Me, I’m getting out of ‘ere. We’re supposed to guard ‘em, not feed ‘em.’
“That seemed to settle the disagreement and the two left, closing the door softly behind them. Lucy and I began to sneak out, but as we crept down the hall I heard a shout.
“‘Bloody ‘ell!’ a voice yelled and the front door banged open.
“My heart jumped a beat and Lucy and I raced out, hoping the cab driver had obeyed my instructions. He had and we jumped in.
“Angry shouts followed our departure, but when we turned to look, we had lost our pursuers.
“‘By Jove! that was close,’ I exclaimed to Lucy.
Lucy Westenra’s Diary.
(24 October — continued).
The thrill of our many narrow escapes raised my spirits and aroused such a delight in me that I wanted to kiss Thomas again. Such agonizing ecstasy! At one point, I had to take off my shoes to scale a sheer wall to escape our pursuers. I made a show of putting my shoes back on. I noticed he stole a glimpse of my ankles then quickly looked away. Perhaps I am not the only one filled with torment.
Yet as we went to rendezvous with the others at the Strand, Thomas was quiet in the cab as he worried for the others.
He asked the maitre d’ if any one had asked for a Mr. Thomas King.
When the man replied rather formally that no one had, we went up to a private dining room that Albion had reserved by telegram. Thomas asked the maitre d’ to direct any of our party there when they arrived.
When we sat down, I realized why the maitre d’ had turned his nose up at us with such disdain. Thomas was hatless, his curly brown hair was a wild mass. We both smelled of smoke and our clothes were smudged with cinders from our rooftop escape.
Thomas glanced to the door and cocked his head as if listening. When he began to tap his fingers against the table, I took his hand. “They will be here,” I said.
His nervousness was contagious. Anne and Adena had become more than friends to me. We had shared so much. I pictured my last images of them on the train, looking brave, yet frightened as Captain Albion gave them final instructions.
I wanted them safely by my side. Hours seemed to pass then we heard the quarter-hour chime. I stared at the clock.
Thomas stood and paced back and forth in the small room. I glared at him from the corner of my eyes until he noticed. “Sorry,” he said, sitting.
The room closed in. I listened to the pounding of his heart. The half-hour chimed and we nearly jumped.
“We’ve had nice weather today,” he said at last.
“Yes,” I said absently.
We resumed our silence.
“I mean despite the fog and chill and all,” he said as if there had not been an interminable pause in the conversation.
“Um, yes,” I replied.
The clock ticked. I stood and watched the street from the window.
People. Lots of people. None I recognized.
The quarter hour chimed.
“We need to depart,” he said, his voice tight and unnatural. “That was what Albion and I had agreed upon. To not wait if the others were late. Anything could have happened. We have to assume the worst and leave whilst we can.”
I nodded and reached for the cloth-wrapped scabbard. I glanced up and motioned to Thomas. Footsteps sounded down the hall. Thomas stuck his hand in jacket pocket and I heard the cock of the revolver’s hammer drawn back. He stood sideways against the wall near the door. I moved to the other side.