Paris, the most sensible honeymoon destination of all...
My words on the train when I had ‘saved’ Watson’s wife from a certain death brought by Moriarty’s men. Now it meant nothing to me.
I glanced down upon the city lights – Louvre, Montmartre, the splendid Eiffel tower. Piece of art in a city full of art.
I climbed up Notre Dame with no more than my bare hands and feet. It was a cold night, a black night, stars sparkling like diamonds on a purple blanket.
With my new eyesight it was mortifying. Every star evaporated into a halo, the horizon a thin silver line.
The wind spoke of hail and lightning, the scent pure and full of promises.
Even up here I could smell them – the weak and innocent, the gamblers, thieves and beggars, the humming sound of life, all the small inns, hotels and restaurants. All those fragile beings crammed together in small rooms, living wall to wall, their rambling, shouting, singing and loving.
They thought themselves invincible. Who was I to judge them? I wasn’t even one of them anymore.
Looking around I became aware of the gargoyles guarding this place.
Ugly looking creatures they were. How came that something so detestable watched over so much beauty as of that of a cathedral sanctified to the Virgin Mary?
Alas – only their outer appearance was horrible. What about me? I had killed a young girl only to satisfy my hunger! Wasn’t I as despicable as them? Now, as a vampire, I loathed myself as much I had been confident back when I had still been human.
To be human again…
A bell’s tolling both hurt and rescued me, the sun was rising. I hurried to find shelter, for I couldn’t stand the daylight anymore.
Covering my sensitive ears I flew downstairs, the tomb of a Noble Frenchman provided an almost comfortable place where I could ‘rest’ and try to find something resembling solace.
What wicked mystic had done its work in me? My heart was no longer beating – but my thoughts were still in uproar, winding me up to unknown heights, but also to depths deeper than Reichenbach Falls.
I felt myself falling down again, down, down, down… The last thing I saw were the gargoyles, smiling down on me almost mockingly.
How I hated them, now that I was one of them, one of their kind. Made of stone, lifeless. I felt tears again running down my cheeks. This had to end. How? I didn’t know. My soul was lost. No one could save me anymore.
Crouching in the dark vault one last thought wavered through my mind. If no one could save me, I had to find my maker, end his life, turning whatever he was into ashes again. And then – end my own ‘life’.
I had to find him as soon as possible. Surrendering I became one with the darkness.
I could feel my teeth, my fangs, unfamiliar, filling more space in my mouth than I was used to. They touched my lips, every move I made I was aware of the darkness surrounding me. Noises increased, light, even at night was unbearably bright. The wetness on the streets looked like blood to me.
Everything was drowned in shadows.
My tongue searched my fangs and all I could think of was how it must feel to quench this insatiable thirst on Watson’s throat. I wasn’t afraid of the dark outside – I was afraid of the dark within myself.
I started chasing them. This time not for justice, or because it was right. I hunted them because I gave my hatred, my loathing, free rein. If there was such a thing as ‘joy’ in my being a vampire, then it was the moment, when they realized, that they were going to lose their lives.
The moment I had them cornered, the stink of their ‘angst’ was in the air, the fear in their eyes, the surrender to the inevitable fate that awaited them. Some yielded immediately, some struggled through it until the end.
But it was me who suffered. Even in death they still looked human.
I roamed Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, leaving a trail of corpses behind me. Police forces never saw me, heard me, nor had the slightest chance to approach me; my reflexes too quick for their dull minds, my body to fast for their eyes to notice.
The decision to see my Watson one more time hung like a dark cloud over my head, shelter and threat at the same time.
What would he look like, now – after three years of my absence? What would he make of it, his friend, the famous consulting detective as a devil, a dark creature, an emotionless thing.
Thinking of him felt like a stake through my heart, that cold piece of inert flesh.
O Watson! My dear man. Still I would do everything for you, everything, to keep harm out of your way.
Standing on the pier, a last glance to the old continent, I turned my back to return home. To the place where I had been born, lived, suffered and enjoyed so many days together with him. My one and only, my friend.
Something deep within me wept at the thought that it would be him who would end my state of being. If there was someone who could achieve it, it was Watson.
Heading towards England I landed in Portsmouth on the fourteenth of November, determined to see Watson as soon as possible. Watson – I’m coming home!
The pen in my hand I stopped my desperate attempt to pin down my feelings at the moment I saw him fall.
The world had stopped spinning, opened a window in my soul and closed it immediately when I realized the horror, the inescapable fact, that he had been falling… lost…
My dear boy. How I wished we could have swapped places that day. For you, my dear Holmes, have always been and will always be the best and wisest man I’ve ever had the privilege to know…
A shadow gliding through the room, I saw it in the corner of my eyes. An icy draft came up from behind, piercing a cold sharp needle between my shoulder blades.
He is here! Here. At my house, my place.
Alarmed I dropped the pin, and without delay left my desk and rushed out of my room to see Mary.
“Mary!” I called, before I entered her room. When I opened the door I first saw her and then my heart stopped beating.
“Holmes.” For it was him, a dark lump crouching at the bedside, bend over Mary’s body, sucking at her throat! What the hell?
“Holmes!” I yelled at him. As fast as lightning he retreated until the wall stopped him, where he, half hidden behind the dark curtain, crouched, glaring at me with red eyes.
I could do nothing but stare. Was it really him?
Slowly I approached him, he stood and said nothing. Like the statue of a dark angel he simply stood, moving neither hand nor foot.
He wasn’t even breathing anymore. How pale he was. In the dim light he looked like a statue.
“John…” Mary! In the brief moment I needed to look at her, Holmes was gone, the window wide open, the curtains moving in the gentle, icy breeze.
As fast as I could I closed it again, when I heard Mary saying:
“John. I begged him for it. I forgave him. Forgive him, too. He loves you… you love him… and I…” Death took her, before she could utter the next words, and I, still holding her hand, on my knees beside the bed, heard myself whispering:
“No, don’t. Don’t leave me... Mary…”
I heard his unabashed sobbing, grieving for his wife. I felt a stirring in my soul, the grand Maker was plucking at the strings again. Wiping the blood from my lips I felt a small pang of regret. But then – by sacrificing her own life she had saved Watson’s. Biting my own hands I felt tears running down my face, collecting at my chin, dropping onto my chest.
I left to hunt some black souls who deserved to die. It was no relief, my thoughts still at Cavendish Place, with her, with him.
I would return in two days again. First I had to find Dracul and his slave, this… Jonathan Harker.
I had considered briefly a visit to my brother, but the thought of him being presented with the thing I had become appalled me.
I was sure to find the hiding place of my prey in no time.
A vampire does not only nurture from blood alone. There is a connection between him and others of his kin, not in blood, a spiritual connection.
Whatever substance he had impregnated me with I didn’t know. But it wasn’t just ‘biological’, there was more in the making and becoming of a vampire.
A shifting on a spiritual level, a stirring of souls, a blur of minds. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling. Music of another kind, for music in humans descends from the brain and goes directly through the heart without touching one’s mind. This was equal, but more atmospheric.
A much higher level of imagination, enhancing every sensual capacity, everything alive had its own level of radiation, a halo of multi-coloured lights.
The most radiant were those of humans, of course. Flaring, like flames or dimmed like an ember in the hearth. I loved to see it fading.
My victims died slowly, their light changing from an angry red to a golden hue, like a sunset in winter. Still bright and then turning to grey, a last red or orange flash – and it was over. Reduced to ash and earth again their souls were free to roam the spiritual world, to find another body, perhaps. Or remain there forever.
The Romani woman had been right: a vampire does not only feed from blood alone. I ‘felt’ their emotions, their heartbeat in my veins as I once had felt my own. Their emotions swept over me like a honey-coloured wave, sweet and sinful; all their hate, their love, their joy and grief mingled together like the spice scented air in India or Morocco, flavoured with the taste of their sweat and blood.
I confess – I wept when I took their lives, but I did not intend to leave another vampire behind. Wasn’t it enough that he existed? He would be my next victim.
I approached them at the opera, Dracul and Harker, the white hound in their wake. They saw me, of that I made sure. Dracul was much more cunning that Harker could ever dream of being. The Count obviously had found a new home in England. One more reason to end his state of being.
They resided in a lair in Purfleet Street called Carfax Abbey, not far away from Belvedere on the opposite site of the Thames. Of course the Count wouldn’t roam anywhere else than the noblest part of town, where streets were crowded and victims easier to find.
I observed them several nights, giving Watson the proper time to bury his wife, and myself to recall his dear face in my imagination again and again.
My heart wasn’t beating anymore, but the shell I was trapped in still remembered his touch… My dear, dear man.
A woman crying murder further down the street distracted me; the few minutes I needed to see what was going on gave them the opportunity to vanish into the night.
I cursed without breath, my fangs slitting my lip. The stale scent of my last victim’s blood made me shiver and cringe. Too long since the last meal, too long since the last kill…
With my preternatural senses I searched for Dracul and his companion.
They were gone.