She was laid to rest under a young birch tree, my dear wife.
When I returned the next day the earth was still frozen, hardly enough had been dug out to cover everything with the brown soil, mixed with ice and snow. Red roses I brought to her, red as her lips once had been, red as her blood dripping from Holmes’ chin…
My mind couldn’t grasp what I had seen in the candle light in Mary’s room.
Had it really been Holmes, my dear boy, the one whom I’d praised above all others; among the human beings living around me?
He had been so thin, his skin unnaturally pale… why had he come back? Why had he sucked the life from Mary’s defenceless body? It must have been his ghost. But why was he haunting me now? What had I done to deserve this?
Burying my face in my hands I stood there for a long time. Snow began to fall in big, soft flakes, covering everything with white, a pure white making me think of the desert again.
How I got home I cannot tell. This time hell was covered with ice.
How peaceful he looked in his slumber, my dear man.
Midnight was over, I crouched on the bed beside him, eyes fixed on him and him alone.
He was still handsome, although terribly thin, almost like me. His heartbeat was a steady beat, a radiant pulse claiming me, enchanting me. I wanted to be at his side forever, for all eternity.
Cautiously I stretched out a trembling hand.
‘You shall not touch him!’ How dare you, wretched creature that you are, that you are now!
I basked in the heat emanating from him; he was feverish, my dear Watson.
Several hours he had stood like a statue in the cemetery, snow collecting on his broad shoulders, his hat, his face, in his moustache. His lips had been blue when finally his faithful maid had arrived in search of him, taking him by the hand, urging him into a cab, feeding him hot broth and tea.
How peaceful he looked, asleep, murmuring her name, my name.
O Watson. What had become of us? You, a lonely man with a broken heart, I – a vampire.
I awoke with a start. He sat as if frozen, Holmes, my dear boy. It was cold in the room, the fire had gone out, frost on the windowpanes and my breath turning to ice on his face, in his brows.
When he moved it was too quick for the eye to see, a dark shadow seemed to veil him from too close an observation, at least by human eyes.
This was a dream, wasn’t it? I was dreaming of him, again.
“Holmes?” I whispered, watching him standing near the window, the sun sending its first shy rays through a slit in the curtain. He vanished an instant later, and I, rubbing my eyes, stumbling out of bed to find out if it had been real or just a dream, felt the cold under my feet, creeping under my skin, into my heart.
Sitting in my room a few hours later, a plate with toast, eggs and tea within reach, my army revolver in my lap, I played with the thought to follow them – Mary and Holmes.
The typewriter yawned at me, an open mouth, ready to devour every word, every thought… but there wasn’t anything left to say. Only my heartbeat begging him to return.
‘Holmes come back, Holmes come back, please – come back!’
I lifted my eyes, hopefully. But no. Only the maid rummaging in the kitchen. I had promised her to eat a bowl of soup. I wasn’t hungry, I would never be hungry again…
Burying my face in my hands I let the weapon drop. With a thump it hit the floor. Maybe that was the reason I didn’t notice his appearance again. But there he stood – made of stone, a shadow in the shadows.
A cold draft made me shiver. His ghost had come back again to haunt me… and then he moved, came closer and closer. I dared not to twitch a finger, I swallowed, my hands clenching around the chair’s arms.
He avoided the light, came to a halt behind me and… touched me. I closed my eyes, sat rigid, motionless, waiting for whatever would happen next.
“There is a way.” His voice!
“It’s painful and will cost you much.”
“I don’t care. I have nothing to lose. I’m alone now. Holmes…” Turning in my chair I looked up at him.
Slowly I stood, face to face with him, like a marionette on strings I lifted my hand to touch his cheek, he retreated. I offered a hand, my left, he took it with his right, with his fingers only and I drew him with me into the light.
“Does it hurt?” Holmes shook his head.
“It stings. Like a razorblade drawn over taut skin. Like a sunburn, a bit more.” He was shaking, eyes closed, his hair an unruly, black mass.
“Open your eyes, please?”
“No. Watson! No… I don’t dare, but I can see you with my eyes closed… I see you… always…” A smile, wary and gentle.
He retreated into the security of the shadows again, still holding my hand. He was shaking and I hurried to shield him with my own body from the sun.
“Holmes…” I whisper, “…my dear, poor Holmes. How could this happen?”
“It happened, because I let it happen, Watson.” A deep sigh. “This time I met a superior opponent…” After a long pause he said:
“Near Bishops Wood, there’s a gypsy camp. You know Simza. Ask her, she knows.”
And saying so he disappeared.
The next morning I left for Hampstead, heading north towards Bishops Wood.
The Occult Pair they call it. Two strangers, a man and a woman, coming together just one time in their life, to celebrate the ‘Holy Wedding’, a ceremony which enhances their spirituality and clairvoyance.
Seven holy artefacts they would need to gather first: a new wax candle, hawthorn, common gorse, a cock’s feathers, two doves, a basket with bread, a glass of wine.
She is lying on top without touching the earth, he
But this time it was something more, something different, much more sinister than anything even the gypsies had heard of.
Two male beings depending on each other. A bond, not yet in blood, but what? Love? Watson felt his hands shaking. He was just one part of that game, a feeble part.
He looked into Simza’s black eyes.
“What will happen?”
“I don’t know. It is dangerous. If you fail, you both do not return.”
Watson nodded unperturbed.
“What will I need?”
White heather, your own blood, your lover’s hair… Possibly. A wry smile on his sad face he had left the camp again.
New moon it had to be. The Phuri Rjat – the ‘Heavy Night’. He knew – Holmes would be there. He still couldn’t feel his heartbeat… only the heavy beating of his own.
If it would have enough strength to bring someone back from the dead?
Mycroft couldn’t breathe, but he had to finally, breaking the spell and staring at the dark figure just far enough away to be out of reach.
“Sherlock…” he whispered and felt his knees going weak. “Is it really you, brother?”
“Yes, Mycroft. It is me, or what has become of me… No! Stay away! I will hurt you!”
“Sherlock, it is true then? A vampire… He made you one of his minions?”
“No. Yes, no. He made me into one of them, but I’m not his minion, never will be. That’s why I am here Mycroft. If I survive this, you have to make sure… you have to make sure that he doesn’t, do you understand? Or else he will raise an army against all humankind and darkness and fear will reign.
I will kill him, and then you have to make sure that I will not be the last one, do you hear me, Mycroft?”
Mycroft felt the blood drain from his face, his limbs shaking, sinking down onto his chair he said:
“You mean, you…”
“A holy bullet can do it. I know you can do it, Mycroft. If not you, who else? Good bye!”
And saying so he left not only a sobbing brother behind him, but also a man who would make sure to end the life of one Sherlock Holmes.
I hurried to see Watson. The pain in my heart resembled faintly the feelings I once had had for my brother. But I had to make sure. My mind wasn’t to be trusted anymore. My thirst became greater from victim to victim, night after night my longing for blood got more insistent, I couldn’t stay hungry anymore.
The doctor wasn’t at home. I could have followed his scent, but I went the opposite direction, searching for Dracul and his mate.
Dark clouds hung above the city, dull bells chimed, fog was coming up. The weather as bleak as my chances to be human again. I had to find them soon. I knew Dracul was aware of Watson and that he was a worse enemy than was I.
There also was another fellow, a doctor too, from the Netherlands, van Helsing. It seems that one of them, an American, had been in love with that Roma girl I was so unfortunate as to have killed in my first attempt to quench my thirst.
Good. They thought it had been Dracul himself, which was right in a way. They did a great job sterilising the count’s resting places which I had found that there had been more than one all over London.
They had found the house in Purfleet rather quickly, and desecrated the boxes there.
I for my part had found out that a tomb in a cemetery was more than enough to find a secure place to spent the hours of daylight.
If there was need to hide I preferred to vanish in the sewer, the second city underneath London; the stinking canals filled with excrement and the trash the oh so civilized world wanted to get rid of. Rats and insects lived here, in every corner and crevice they occupied it like a second empire built on mouldy bread and corpses…
Yes, the corpses swimming on their back in the slimy water, with rat nests in their hair and eyeless snakes around their necks.
It was dark here, even at day. What else could a vampire wish for?
I saw Mycroft leaving the house, Carruthers in tow. He had grown fond of his private secretary, who so selflessly had offered me his right arm to drink the blood from his veins directly. He wouldn’t tell my brother, I was sure.
For he was as devoted in his love as I was with my Watson. They soon would have the bullets. O brother mine. I wished, I could have spared you that.
At the cemetery again. The snow was thawing, the wetness dripping from the branches, onto my shoulders, onto my hat. A few snow drop flowers had found their way through the white crystals already, looking all the more fragile in their early bloom. I let my eyes wander, searching for white heather.
I doubted to find such a rare plant here, but then I saw a few twigs under the bigger branches of a young hazelnut tree. I broke them off, enough for the task at hand.
They were shaking when I wrapped them into a white kerchief. I covered my mouth with my gloved hand when I took a last glance over Mary’s grave.
A bird gave a loud warning sound and fled making the snow fall down from the birch tree like a small silvery waterfall. It made me smile. Mary would have loved it, but there was no more love for her in my heart now.
All the way back I thought of his black hair, wet from the rain, curling under his hat. I looked up to the sky, the sun was lurking through the clouds. It would be warm, well, a bit, as it had been once in Brighton.
Weird I had to think of that day again, and now. For his hair had been wet after our love making, and I had felt it on my face, like the touch of a brush, gentle and soft… Holmes, I want you back!
The next day found me stumbling over the same fold in Mycroft’s office carpet again as I had done when? A week ago? I had lost count of the hours since I had lost the love of my life…
Forlorn I sat in that deep, comfortable chair, when a warm hand touched my shoulder.
“Dr Watson. Always good to see you again.” I flinched. That phrase belonged to my boy, not to him, as mighty a brother as he was!
“I beg your pardon, Dr Watson. May I express my empathy for your… recent loss?”
“Can I…” My voice broke. “Can I have a drink, please.”
“Of course, of course…” Mycroft mumbled. A minute later I held a glass of Scotch in my hand. I cleared my throat.
“I… I saw him. He is... still alive. And you knew it. You knew it the whole time, Mycroft.”
Mycroft nodded, his lips pursed, heavy lids hooding his eyes, a strand of his hair falling over his face.
“Yes, I did. I beg your pardon, but I couldn’t! I couldn’t tell you! I thought it best not to…”
“What? Not to tell me the truth? Because I am only his friend and so I have no right to be trusted? Then you know what also happened to him, Mycroft? And that I, maybe, I am the only one who can save his soul… bring him back even…?”
Mycroft took my hand and let two silver bullets drop into my palm. I swallowed, looking up at him, into his brown eyes - eyes so like his brother’s.
“I know.” He said simply and I had to swallow again. “He begged me, to make sure… Watson! Make sure, if you can not save him, if you have to end his life… end it quickly.” He turned and faced the fireplace, hands clenching at his sides, his portly figure shaking.
Silently I left my place, let the bullets slip into my pocket and said:
“You can rely on me, Mycroft. Good evening.”
On my way out I came across Caruthers. The man looked haunted and grey. He avoided my gaze, and I left without further ado.
Waiting for him in his sleeping room, I let the amulet slip from my left into my right hand. I could find him wherever he would go… A faint trace of warmth was still in my body. Poor Thaddeus, poor Mycroft. Even Stanley had offered me his blood. I had refrained. The dear, old fellow, so fragile, so precious.
I heard him before he reached the house, his heartbeat a beacon in the darkness of my existence. He entered the room, his steps like that of an old man. My dear Watson!
He lit the fire, stoked it, the room soon became warm, the flames creating a golden glow around Watson’s beloved form. He then saw me and froze, staring at me, his mien changing from frightened to unbelieving then finally into a faint smile.
“Holmes,” he whispered. This one word nearly made me cry. Maybe I wasn’t breathing anymore, but my heart felt like it was on fire, the stake of his former love driven through it, impaled, longing for it.
“Watson, always good to see you…” I said toneless.
A second later I was in his arms, writhing helplessly under his ministrations, his kisses, burning stigmata on my cold skin. He ripped my already torn clothes apart, laid bare my skin, my bones, nerves, his touch feeding me with his warmth, his scent, his being.
“Watson, you will be my saviour and I will be your downfall.”*
“So be it!”
I flipped him on his back and then, then… tracing a line down from his shoulder, over a vein in his arm, I drank his blood from a vessel in his elbow. Our eyes met, I closed mine, my eyelashes tickling his skin, he shivered and my fangs pierced his flesh.
My beloved man! Your blood, finally! It pulsed with the rhythm of his heart, red, sweet, rich. Every strain an eruption of life against my lapping tongue; I hissed through clenched teeth, he closed his arms around my head, crying, drawing me closer, drawing me near.
It was like drowning, a gentle swaying like drifting on an ocean of rainbow coloured lights… His heart told me I love you I love you I love you in an all too familiar pattern. I wept, he stroked my hair, my ears, face.
“To be human again, Watson… human…” My voice like a faint scent in the dark. One with the shadows, black in black, Watson could only see my eyes and fangs shining in the dim moon light.
“How?” He asked.
“Not the blood, my dear fellow. Only your love can save me, and return me, get me out of the dark and give me back to the light.” Watson said nothing, just cradled my lithe form in his arms. He nodded, his face solemn, his heartbeat steady and fast.
“Then I will love you, Holmes. This time no one will ever separate us again.” My thumb stroked over the noble eyebrow of my dear doctor.
“You have always been a saint, Watson.”
“Holmes!” He kissed me and for the first time in my vampire life I felt loved.