Patient Zero

Chapter 1 - The Unwilling and Unwanted Patient

Willie Loomis is forced to give a blood sample to Dr. Woodard, and although Barnabas successfully switches the blood slides, he forgets that the good Dr. still has the needle that was used. In this alternate story line, we find out what could have happened if Dr. Woodard discovered his "condition" This is a stand alone story and is not connected to any other Mina Fiction / Willie Loomis Story.

Willie, Dr. Woodard, Barnabas, Julia, OC Emma, and others...

A/N: While I still have another series that has remained unfinished, I wrote this for the Dark Shadows Digital Fanzine website. I do plan to complete the last in my other series "Playground Of Shadows" I hope you enjoy this in the meantime.

"Dr. Woodard!" Willie was surprised to find the doctor waiting on the front porch of the Old House when he returned. "Wh-what are ya doin' here?" Willie held a bag of groceries in one hand and fumbled to get the key in the front door. It had been nearly a week since Barnabas forced him to sit and allow the doctor to take his blood, and he wasn't thrilled to see him again. "Barnabas ain't home, if that's who you're lookin' for." He pushed the front door open and the doctor followed him in.

"I'm actually looking for you, Willie."

"Oh, yeah?" Willie nervously set the bag of groceries on the small table and tried to act like nothing was wrong. "Whadya need me for?"

"Willie, the blood that I took last week – "

"Yeah, I'm all clear", Willie interrupted, "you said so yourself. As normal as I could be. Sorry I wasn't much help for poor Maggie."

"Willie, sit down."

"I really can't. I have a lot to do before Barnabas gets back." His intuition told him that bad news was coming, he could feel it. Anytime anyone, in the history of forever, told someone to sit down, it was because they were about to share bad news.

"Willie, your blood sample, I checked it again, and the samples didn't match."

"How can that be? You took the samples yourself." Willie was trying to sound disinterested, but his heart started to race.

"Well, that I did, but I took a sample from the needle that I used to take your blood after I looked at the slides. That sample was much different than the one on the slide. The one I took from the needle had the exact same markers as Maggie Evans. In fact, the blood sample from the needle came from a very sick man."

"Maybe your needle was dirty, Dr. Woodard. Maybe it got contaminated. As you can see, I'm perfectly fine. You really gotta be goin' now. Thanks for your concern, but I'm real busy and don't have time for this."

"No, Willie. I don't believe that you are fine. I think you somehow managed to switch the slide, and I think you are seriously ill. Let me take another sample."

"Don't be silly; I'm healthy as a horse." Willie walked to the front door and put his hand on the doorknob. Dr. Woodard, you need to go. I'm not givin' up any more blood, and if I don't get my work done, I'm gonna to be in a lot of trouble."

"I was afraid you would say that. You could be contagious, a danger to others. Willie, I need you to cooperate. You've already spread whatever it is to Maggie, I can't take the risk of it spreading further."

"I'm not sick; I'm fine I tell ya!" Willie flung the door open, and tripped several steps backwards when he saw two men standing at the door. "Who the hell are you?"

The large men walked into the foyer and Willie backed himself up against the staircase.

"You need to come with me, Willie. Someplace where you will be safe and the rest of town will be safe too. It's just temporary. Write Barnabas a note, and let him know you had to leave town. Tell him it was a family emergency."

"What? No, NO! I'm not goin' anywhere; I'm stayin' right here."

Dr. Woodard pulled out an envelope and set it on the bookcase. "I was afraid you would say that. I don't want to do this the hard way, Willie, but you really leave me with no choice."

Willie's heart was thundering now. He turned to make a break for it and ran up the stairs. He made it to the top when he felt a sharp pain lance through his shoulder. One more step, then another, and his limbs suddenly weighed a hundred pounds each, and the hallway started to melt away. A third step and he collapsed to the floor, and several seconds later he was out cold, and the orderlies were carefully picking him up and carrying him back down the stairs and out of the old house, into a green and brown station wagon.

"You know where to take him." Dr. Woodard grabbed the keys that he saw Willie toss on the table. "Take his truck. I want him secured, but comfortable. And remember, not a word. I don't want this town in a full-

blown panic before I know what I'm dealing with."

"Yes, Doctor."

A heavy sigh escaped his chest as he climbed out of the coffin. The lanterns are not lit, he noted silently. Barnabas climbed up the dark stairs, opened the door and entered another dark room.

"Willie!" Barnabas called out, agitated that his servant was not there to greet him, but there was no response. As he grabbed the matches and began to light the candles, a task that was far beneath him, he called out again into an empty house.

"Willie!" Barnabas began to search the house, remembering the last time the house was not aglow when he awoke. He found Willie unconscious in Josette's room with a lump on his head as large as a golf ball. Curtains were draped over his chest, the ladder was on its side, and one of the iron wall sconces was lying beside him. Perhaps he has fallen again.

The inside of the house bared no trace of the young man, so Barnabas took to the outside. The beat up old truck was missing, just as his servant was. Puzzled, the vampire made his way back into the house, ready to put out his siren call, when he saw an envelope on the desk.

Dear Barnabas,

I apologize for this late notice, but I had a family emergency. My pa was in a bad accident and I had to leave town and go check up on him. I'll be gone for a few days, possibly a week or longer. I'll send updates when I get them. Thanks for understanding.

- Willie

Barnabas stuffed the letter into his pocket and then stormed from the Old House and headed to Collinwood in search of Julia.

He knocked on the door and greeted Mrs. Johnson, careful not to set off any undue alarm, and then politely asked if Julia was present. Before he got an answer, Julia was standing on the landing and descended the stairs.

"What an unexpected visit," Julia sweetly greeted him.

"Julia, can we speak in private for a moment?" Barnabas walked into the study and she followed him, noting the anxiety in his voice. "Read this." Barnabas handed her the letter as he shut the door to the study.

Julia looked up at him when she was done with a puzzled look. "How odd, I should think he would talk with you first before leaving."

Barnabas snatched the letter back from her, "He didn't write it."

"You need to calm down. There must be a logical explanation. What makes you so certain he wasn't the author? You no virtually nothing about the man."

"I know everything! I've seen his every pathetic thought, his every memory. Pa is the name he used for his bookie!"

"Barnabas, how can you be so sure?"

"Willie is an orphan, Julia. Both of his parents were murdered right in front of him when he was a small boy, a burglary gone bad. He has no Pa in the true sense of the word. Someone wrote that letter for him. Someone who heard him talk about meeting his so-called Pa. Someone who knows nothing of the man."

"The poor boy; how tragic. To see such a horrific thing at such a young age. No wonder he—"

"Would you mind focusing on the topic at hand, Dr. Hoffman? Someone has taken Willie."

"Why on earth would someone want him? He has no money; a ransom seems fruitless."

"He has many enemies from his escapades with Mr. McGuire. It is imperative that I find him. He is vital to my existence, and I am vital to his."

"Why not ask Jason then? Perhaps he can shed some light on his whereabouts."

"I'm not convinced that Jason isn't the one who took him."

Beals' Manor, Maine

The doors flew open and the cold winter air came blasting through and into the large foyer.

"Whoa! Wait a minute. Who is this?" A young woman spun around as two large orderlies carried in an unconscious man. "My uncle didn't say anything about bringing someone here today."

"We don't set the rules, Emma. We just do what your uncle tells us. He told us to bring this guy here, to secure him and make sure he was comfortable. So, where do ya want him?"

"I don't want him. In case you didn't get the memo, I'm supposed to be leaving today for vacation. See?" The girl lifted a suitcase and wobbled it at them. "In exactly 8 hours and 25 minutes I will be on the beach with a drink in my hand and the sun on my face."

"I'm sure your uncle will be here before you leave. Now, where should we put him?"

"Ughh!" The petite young woman dropped the suitcase to the ground with a thud that echoed around the cavernous entry way of the old mansion. "What's wrong with him?"

"Don't know." The largest orderly shrugged.

"But he needs to be secured?" she asked, green eyes wide and concerned.

"Yup. He wasn't exactly a willing patient."

"Shit." She brushed the raven colored curls from her face and pulled her hair back and secured it with a green ribbon in a long ponytail, muttering to herself before she gave direction. "Put him in room C, I'll be right there." She headed towards the ringing phone and answered as the new patient was taken down the hall and out of sight.

"Hello? ..."

As soon as she heard the voice on the other end of the line she was momentarily relieved. "Uncle Dave, thank goodness, where are you? … " She was hoping he would tell her he was on his way. "Collinsport?! You know I'm leaving tonight, right?... I can't take care of him. What's wrong with him anyway?..." She twisted the cord around her finger nervously as she listened. "You don't know?..." The more she listened, the angrier she became. Emma kicked her suitcase and then began to raise her voice louder into the phone. "Are you serious? … So, let me get this straight, you don't know what's wrong with him, but you need him quarantined while you try to study his blood and figure it out?... Did you think for one minute if he IS contagious you are endangering me too?! … I don't care if you're in the middle of your research. I'm leaving, tonight, so you better get back here a hell of a lot sooner or he'll just have to sit here alone ..."

She was furious.

"Damn you, this isn't fair! Hello? HELLO?" She slammed the phone down gave her suitcase a final angry kicking before one of the orderlies called for her; the ribbon shook loose from her hair and dark curls swarmed around her face.

"What!?" She snapped as she entered the large, and lavishly decorated room.

"How do you want him?"

"Just strap him down. Not too tight, make it so he can reach this and not piss himself." She opened the doors of an ornate, dark cherry wood cabinet, grabbed a plastic urinal bottle, and tossed it on the dresser next to the bed; she tried to avoid looking at the young man all together. "He's going to need to take care of himself until my uncle gets back."

"Emma, you can't just leave him here alone." Jack, one of the orderlies who brought Willie in, gently put his hand on her arm as she was walking out of the room. "The Doc wouldn't have had us bring him here if he wasn't sick."

"Eight years, Jack." She looked up at him, "I haven't been away from this hell hole in eight years. I've been taking care of these ungrateful assholes every single day since I was seventeen. Their rich families dumping them off because they're too embarrassed by them, or they can't handle them. They're never grateful. They don't even realize what a privilege it is to get to come to a place like this. Do you know, just last week, that horrible woman in room A spit at me as she was discharged?! Right in my face. That was the thanks I got after cleaning up her vomit and nursing her, and her little alcohol habit, back to health."

"I don't think he's like that. He was scared, Emma; you could see it on his face. He was terrified. Just look at him, does he look like some rich kid?"

Emma glanced over at him quickly. "They all look like that when they're sedated."

The young woman walked out of the room, and an internal fight began within her. I'm going to just leave him. That'll teach my uncle to just dump people off on me. This is my only chance. If I don't do this I never will. Emma packed a few last items and set them by the front door as Jack watched her.

Emma Susanna Martin moved into the manor with her uncle when she was seventeen. Abandoned at the age of three by her mother, she was raised by her father, and spent most of her time in dive bars and pool halls where her father would con people out of their hard-earned money. Emma wasn't sure if her father was always a criminal, or if he turned into one after her mother left, but it didn't matter either way. He was in and out of jail, and she was in and out of foster care for most of her young life. Two days before her sixteenth birthday he was arrested for murder, although he insisted it was an accident, and she disappeared into the streets until child protective services caught up with her and informed her that her long lost uncle was willing to take her in. Anything was better than living on the streets of south side Chicago, especially a mansion in the woods of Maine. Soon after she moved in, her uncle put her to work. He offered to pay for her schooling on one condition, she would remain at the manor and use her degree to assist with his patients. Nursing wasn't her first choice, but she didn't have many options. And now here she was, just as she was planning her getaway, some guy gets dumped on her and threatens to ruin all her plans.

"Don't look at me like that." Emma said, disgusted.

"Like what?" The orderly leaned against the wall and watched her.

"You know like what."

"I understand, ya gotta do what ya gotta do." Jack shrugged.

Emma rolled her eyes, and dropped her coat over her luggage. "Okay, okay. I'll go check on him. I can take the next ferry out. But I'm leaving tonight!"

Emma sat down, watching the new resident from an observation room, but her thoughts drifted to the first patient whom she treated at the exclusive hospital. A beautiful debutante who was well known in every prominent Hollywood social circle. People like that came to her uncle's facility because it was discrete, private care, and the place looked like a grand mansion, not a hospital. It was tucked away on a small island in Beals', Maine, about two hours from Bangor, and sat on 30 acres of otherwise uninhabited forest.

After working with the privileged, wealthy patients, and their absurd demands, Emma began to get irritated by it and started to wonder if it was fair for a place like this to exist, where only the filthy rich could afford to go. And worse, they treated her like a common street rat, as she changed their bedding, cleaned up their vomit, and made sure they had the proper medications and care. And here was another spoiled brat, some young guy from a well-to-do family, sent here to keep his mysterious ailment a secret so as not to ruin his family's reputation. It disgusted her. Emma was calculating the exact time she would need to leave to make the last ferry out when a noise startled her back to the mirror. The new resident was awake.

Cinnamon. Just before he came to, he smelled the sweet aroma, and he was warm and comfortable. For the briefest of moments, he was transported to a time before his life fell apart. A time when he was a child and his mother was baking something in the kitchen and he was curled up in a blanket with cinnamon cocoa in his hands. His eyes fluttered open and focused on a flower pattern on the tin ceiling, and he turned his head, slowly looking around the room. It was large, with a giant stone fireplace that was roaring. The walls were covered in ornate dark wood and built in book shelves, and there was a bow window that went from the floor to the ceiling. Ornate furniture filled the room, all upholstered in rich red and brown material. It was an amazing room; a room that belonged in a story book; a room that he had never seen before—a room he didn't belong in.


Willie's heart began to race, but as he jumped up to get out of there, his reality prevented him. His arms and legs had been fastened down, and a thick strap had been fastened around his waist, allowing him to sit up, but not to get off the bed. He began to panic as he remembered Dr. Woodard and the orderlies that came to pay him a visit at the old house.

"Dr. Woodard! Hey! Dr. Woodard, let me outta here!" Willie was tugging and twisting, trying to get free. "Please! You don't understand! I haveta get back! I–I can't stay here!" More twisting and pulling followed, with pleads to be set free, frustration and fear overwhelming him. "Please, anyone!"

Willie calmed himself for a moment, and stared into the giant mirror hanging over the fireplace, his reflection looking back at him. His mind was racing. Barnabas will go insane; he'll kill me for sure. He'll kill Dr. Woodard too. Maybe he already did. Oh, God, maybe he killed him and now no one will ever find me. His thoughts raced like bees in a hive and he began to thrash again against the bed until he exhausted himself.

Well, well, sleeping beauty is finally waking up. Emma re positioned herself and watched as the new patient slowly came to. She had seen this awakening many times before. Flurries of swear words and angry thrashing. In cases where the patients were brought against their will, she preferred to be out of the room when they woke up. Usually family members would be there instead. It was rare that they would be alone, like the young man before her now. What kind of a family leaves someone like this?

She watched as he went through the typical emotions, but was startled when he calmed and stared into the mirror. For a moment, she wondered if he could see her, and if she didn't know any better she would have thought he was staring right at her. She studied his face as he sat there, and where she was expecting to see anger, she saw only fear; he's terrified. The young nurse rose out of her chair and approached the glass to get a closer look when he suddenly began to thrash against the restraints. For nearly an hour he tugged and pulled until eventually he slumped down into the bed and began to tremble.

What on earth is wrong with him?

"You gonna go in and check on him?" Jack was standing in the door way, his white scrubs now replaced with jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, and a duffel bag over his shoulder.

"I'm going to have to at least once before I leave."

"You can't just leave him alone, you know that, and who knows when the doc is gonna show up."

"Oh, I'm leaving alright. After I check him in, I'm out of here." Emma shut the door to the observation room and grabbed her stethoscope and blood pressure cuff from cabinet in the hall. "I don't even know what's wrong with him." Emma sighed, and shook her head. "How could my uncle do this? Do you know anything about him? Anything at all that might help me understand why he's here?"

"We picked him up in Collinsport. Big mansion sitting up near the cliffs."

"Of course, another rich kid gone bad."

"I don't know, it was strange. The house looked like it was falling apart. Wallpaper all torn down, furniture looked old and ratty. It looked like the place had been abandoned. No power either, all candles. It was more like a haunted house than a home."

"And he was there alone?"

"Yeah. When the guy got one look at us he bolted, but we caught him, sedated him and brought him here."


Emma opened the door and Willie instantly jumped to attention.

"Hey…oh thank God. You - you gotta let me outta here. Dr. Woodard, he – he made a mistake, a real bad mistake. I – I'm not sick. He's got it all wrong."

Emma didn't answer back. She tried to ignore his rant as she wrestled with him to wrap the blood pressure cuff around his arm and began to pump.

"I'm tellin' ya, I need to get outta here!"

Willie continued to plead with her, but she had tuned him out. Wow, his blood pressure is insanely high.

Emma then reached over him to place the stethoscope, but he fought every placement against his chest. She rolled her eyes and stuffed the instrument into her pocket.

Just as she was about to turn, Willie grabbed her arm and she turned towards him in shock.

"Please say something." Willie pleaded with the young woman, his frustrations ever mounting. "Where am I?"

A sharp, and unexpected pang of compassion hit Emma, but no response was returned as she yanked her hand from his and exited the room. Don't get attached; you're leaving.

"You can't keep me here like this! Come back! Please come back!"

Emma left the room and then returned with another set of straps.

"Wha…what are you doin'?" Willie tried to distance himself from the girl without success.

Without a word, she began to strap one of his arms down tighter, so that it had no movement at all. She then grabbed a small needle and started to insert it into Willie's vein.

"You - You can't take my blood! You bitch! Let me go! You have no right to do this!"

Emma shot a piercing look at Willie, and he glared back, but after a moment his face softened and the fear reappeared. "You don't understand. I can't stay here."

Emma turned quickly away from him, gathered her samples, and bolted out of the room and back into the observation room.

"Look at him. Something isn't right with this guy." The large orderly responded.

They both looked on as Willie again began to fight against the restraints and tears of frustration slid down his cheeks. "Please, I can't stay here. I'm not sick!"

Emma looked at her watch, if she didn't leave within the next ten minutes she would miss her flight, and what was supposed to be the chance of a lifetime would be gone.

"The house staff can check in on him. I'm sure my uncle will be here within a day or so."

"Emma, they don't know how to take care of him. They know how to change the sheets and cook a meal, not care for a sick man."

"I'm leaving, Jack." Emma entered the foyer and grabbed her coat and luggage. "I already called a cab, he's out front. If you are so worried about the guy, then you can stay with him."

"Emma, he needs a trained nurse, what if something goes wrong?" He yelled to her as she was handing the cab driver her bags. "What if he dies?"

Emma pretended not to hear those last few words and waved goodbye through the cab window as they pulled away from the mansion.

"How long to the ferry?"

"Thirty minutes Miss."

Emma stared out the window, watching the trees flash by. He'll be fine. He wasn't even supposed to be there. Her thoughts drifted from one question to the next. Where was his family? He looked so terrified. What if something IS wrong with him? She closed her eyes and all she saw were his pale blue eyes staring back at her. Sadness and fear swimming in them. It was gnawing at her. Something wasn't right with him, something more than just a bad habit that he needed to kick. Something dark and serious.

Don't do it. Don't say it… Emma tried to talk herself out of it, but she couldn't get the terrified young man out of her mind. Shit. "Turn around."

"Huh?" The cab driver swerved slightly after Emma tapped him on the shoulder

"I said turn around! I need to go back." Her voice was angry even as she said it. Angry at herself for making this decision.

"You want me to go back?" The cabbie turned to look back at her briefly.


Emma grabbed her bags as the cab drove away from her, leaving her standing in front of the grand mansion once again. She picked them up, stomped back into the house, and tossed them into the foyer.

"You're back!" Jack came down the hallway and watched her throw her things as if having a child's tantrum.

"Yes. I'm back," Emma spat at him. "Five thousand bucks down the toilet, years of planning. For NOTHING! All because of my stupid uncle and that stupid guy." Her voice was angry, and she was almost on the verge of tears. It was one of her biggest flaws. Every time she got angry tears would flow. People would mistake her for weak or sad, when in truth she would be furious.

"It's the right thing to do. I've been watching him. He's been trembling in that bed and really seems scared. Something is very wrong. I think maybe you should go in there and just try and talk to him. Calm him down if you can. I don't think he has any family comin'."

"I am so irate with this entire situation. I don't think I can calm him down. I'm just here to make sure the guy doesn't stroke out."

"You know you did the right thing. You're a good person Emma, even though you try so hard not to be."

"I've looked everywhere, Barnabas; no one has seen him." Julia took her gloves off, tugging one finger at a time, and set them on the table.

"I am convinced someone has taken him." Barnabas poured a glass of sherry and handed it to Julia.

"I'm surprised at you, Barnabas. You seem genuinely concerned."

"I have a great deal invested in the young man. I would truly hate to have to find someone else and start over."

"Well, he didn't just vanish. Someone must have seen him. I asked Dr. Woodard to have his staff keep an eye out for him while he is out on leave."

"Out on leave?"

"Yes, he asked that I stop by to take over a few of his psych evaluations. Seems he will be gone for a few weeks."

"Really? Did he indicate his reasons?" Barnabas thought it odd that the doctor would step away from his patients, especially Maggie Evans. Dr. Woodard had spent nearly every day checking in on her, funny that he would suddenly leave her.

"No. I didn't ask and he didn't volunteer any information." Julia watched as Barnabas walked towards the door and grabbed his coat. "Is there something wrong?"

"Well, perhaps it is time to talk to the good doctor and see what could possibly be taking him away from his work here."

"You don't think he has something to do with Willie's disappearance?" Julia grabbed her coat and began to follow Barnabas out of the house.

"I think it is an odd coincidence and worth looking in to."

An entire day passed by, and then another. Emma brought Willie his meals, checked his vitals, and completely ignored every whimper, every angry rant, every name that he called her and the apologies that followed. She tried to ignore the fact that young man barely slept, and she never spoke a word to him, telling herself she was just biding her time until her uncle arrived. Just make sure he doesn't die before he gets back. Don't get to know him. Just ignore him and don't get attached.

She forced herself to keep her distance until the third day. She went into the lab and looked at the blood samples. There was something very odd about them. Something bizarre and amazing and beautiful. Something that was not normal, maybe even not human.

After hours of tests, she emerged and burst into the patient's room.

"Okay, what's your deal." Emma stood firm, with her arms folded against her chest, determined to get an answer.

"She speaks." Willie retorted angrily, irritated with the young woman for ignoring him for days.

"Cut the crap. I looked at the blood samples, I know something is up, so spill it."

"First, tell me where the hell I am. Where did that bastard Woodard take me? And who the hell are you?" Willie pressed the button on the bed to make him sit in a more upright position.

"You're at Beals' Manor." She said matter of factly.

"What is Beals' Manor? Is that in Collinsport?"

"No, it's on Beals Island."

"Are we still in Maine?"

"Yes, I'm sure your rich little family told you they were sending you here." Emma walked closer to the bed to get a better look at him.

"I don't have a family, and I sure as hell have never heard of Beals' Island. What is this place? Can you please take these off me?" Willie shook his arms up flashing the hospital restraints.

"This is a hospital and rehabilitation facility. It is extremely private and ridiculously expensive, and those are staying put."

"Look, I got no money and no rich parents. I don't even have a family, or nothin'. Believe me, I'm nobody, so you may as well just let me go. If you're expecting me to pay to be here, I got no way to do it."

"Well, someone wants you here. Look, I told you where you are, now it's your turn. What is wrong with you? And don't say nothing because I've looked at your blood. I know something is going on here."

Willie stared at her with a stone-faced expression. "You had no right to take my blood."

"I had every right. My uncle just drops you off here, no warning, no nothing. I could just as easily have left you here in the care of the maids and cooks. I was supposed to be on vacation." Emma's voice was getting louder and she was getting angry. "I should be on a beach right now! Sipping drinks out of cups made of pineapples! I took all the money I had to go on that vacation! And you know what really sucks?" She was pacing now, and ranting at the young man. "I wasn't coming back! I was going to find a nice little nursing job in the islands, and I was never coming back here. I put a deposit on a cute little apartment. But then YOU," she seethed, "you show up, looking terrified and scared and alone. I was in the cab at the ferry, but I couldn't get you out of my head! I can't stop thinking about you and your stupid big sad eyes. I came back to take care of YOU!" She tried to fight it, but the inevitable anger tears started to fall and she kept trying to wipe them away before they streamed down her cheeks. "So, don't tell me I have no right to take your blood! I'm trying to help you and figure out what is wrong with you!"

Willie sat wide eyed and quiet for a few moments of extreme awkwardness.

"I – I'm sorry. I'm sorry you came back. But, I – I didn't ask to come here." Willie's voice was low and calm. "I was highjacked, I'm being held here against my will. Your uncle is Dr. Woodard?" Emma nodded in confirmation, "he Shanghaied me and brought me here. He thinks I have some kind of contagious blood disorder. But I'm not…I'm not contagious. I'm not anything, or anyone to anybody. Please, let me go and then you can go too! A win – win."

"Your blood," Emma sat down beside Willie again, "your blood isn't normal. It is resistant to everything. Your white blood cells are like super heroes. They attacked and killed every foreign body I introduced them to. It's like you're immune to everything. It's a miracle."

Willie reached over as far as the restraints would let him, and gently put his hand on hers. "If you don't let me go, I'll die here. Nothing you have will be able to save me. I need to get back to Collinsport. I don't have much time." Willie knew he was never allowed to leave Collinsport. Not without explicit approval from his master. Any time he tried, and he tried repeatedly in the beginning of his captivity, he would sooner or later get violently ill, and the sickness would get worse with every day he tried to stay away. It was like some kind of curse, and the only cure was to get back to the Old House.

"Good evening, doctor." Barnabas startled the man as he was putting suitcases in his car. "Planning a trip?"

"Barnabas, Julia, what an unexpected visit. Yes, I am headed out for a few days, traveling to a conference."

"I see. Is Maggie Evans no longer under your care?"

"She is, but she seems to be stable, and her father is taking very good care of her. A few days won't matter. How is Willie doing? I assume he is getting along with no problems?" Dr. Woodard was squirming beneath his fake expression. He wanted to get in his car and get out of there as fast as possible.

"Oh, you didn't hear?" Barnabas pierced a stare through Dr. Woodard. "He has left town for a few days. Visiting his Pa, it would seem."

"Good for him. Well, I really must be going. Perhaps we can share a nice brandy when I return; my treat." The doctor climbed into his car as Barnabas said his well wishes, and the green station wagon disappeared down the road. The vampire and Julia followed a safe distance behind, certain that they would be led directly to Willie.

"Willie, wake up." Emma sat beside the bed, dabbing his forehead as a fever continued to climb within the young man. "You're having another nightmare."

She gently shook him, and he awoke, eyes glassy and distant at first.

"Take these."

"They won't help. You can't help me."

"My uncle will be here tonight; he'll know what to do." She held his hand and brushed the hair from his eyes. A week had passed, and during that time she grew quite worried. She sat with him every night, and after her anger towards him subsided, she got to know a little bit about him; he didn't give up much. But it turned out their childhood had been more similar than she could have imagined. On the fifth night, however, he began having nightmares and fevers. He would have fits of nausea and could barely keep any food down. He would scream horrific things in his sleep, and talk of terrifying acts of cruelty. Being buried alive, having the blood sucked from his veins. It was progressively getting worse and she was scared for him. She had removed all the restraints with exception of the one around his waist. She still didn't want him leaving, for fear that he would try, and end up dying without proper care.

"Your uncle can't help me either. He's gonna come for me, and when he does, you're all gonna be in terrible danger."

"Shhh, just rest." Emma jumped when she heard the front door slam shut. "Oh, thank God, he's here."

She rushed down the hallway and into the foyer. Her uncle was standing there shaking the snow from his coat.

"Ah, good, you're still awake."

"Where the hell have you been? I am so furious with you."

"I came as soon as I could."

"Do you have any idea how sick Willie is? His fever is so high he is hallucinating! Talking about vampires and being buried alive."

"Is he awake now?"

"See for yourself."

Barnabas and Julia stood on the porch of the stately mansion, he could now feel that Willie was near, and his need to feed from his servant was at an all-time high. But there was one problem: getting in.

They walked around the grounds and found what must have been the servants' entrance. A home of this size would almost certainly have staff to support it, and he couldn't chance ringing the main bell and have Dr. Woodard answer. So, the pair went to the back door and knocked gently.

"Have you any idea what time it is?" An elderly woman opened the door dressed in her house coat and clearly not prepared for visitors. She adjusted the curlers in her hair as she waited for a reply.

"Why, yes, I was wondering if you could be so kind as to allow us to visit a patient. No one answered the main door, so I thought I would try here. We are here to see a Mr. William Loomis. I am a dear friend who is also financing his stay here."

"We're not supposed to take visitors through this entrance, but it's late and that storm out there isn't getting any better. Come in, I'll show you to the waiting room."

Barnabas shot a look at Julia and she knew what to do, she pulled out her medallion as Barnabas crossed the threshold of the house, and before the woman could shut the door and lock it, the mysterious visitor had vanished and the old woman was staring into the swinging gold and jewels held in Dr. Hoffman's hand.

Dr. Woodard and Emma sat in the observation room having a heated argument.

"You kidnapped him. Since when do you abduct patients? And then you left me here with him!" Emma made no attempt to control her anger. "Have you any idea how terrified he is? The things he shouts in his sleep are horrific. I'm so worried about him."

"I had hoped he would come willingly, but knew better, so enforced quarantine was necessary. His employer keeps a short leash on him, which means Willie doesn't make a single move without Mr. Collins' approval, and even then he seems to have anxiety issues."

"So, you spent extra time researching him, what is this mystery disease? What on earth makes kidnapping justifiable?"

"I have good reason to believe that he has some sort of virus that is mutating his blood stream; it may be contagious. I brought him here to ensure that no one else in Collinsport contracts the infection."

"Yes, about that! You have had me taking care of a man you think might be contagious and you didn't think to tell me first?" Emma's fury was about to become explosive.

"Well, I don't know for sure. But I certainly couldn't have an epidemic on my hands."

"Yet you figured it was fine to infect your niece? That poor man has some severe illness, I don't know what it is, but he deserves better than to be dragged into a strange place, tethered down like a dog, and made to wait until you decide to address it."

"You've become attached, that's a first for you isn't it?"

"He is a human being, and a very sick one! And you have endangered every person here if he is truly is contagious!"

"Seems more than that. Emma, dear, I'm going to bed. I am exhausted. When I wake in the morning I will relieve you of your duty and you are free to go."

He walked out of the room and headed to the private wing of the facility, but Emma didn't leave. She dimmed the lights and sat vigil, keeping an eye on Willie. An hour later, the door to Willie's room opened. Uncle Dave must be checking on him.

To Emma's surprise, a strange man walked into the room. Tall, thin and menacing looking. She pressed the silent panic button.

She watched as the man woke Willie up, and listened to their conversation.

"How did you get here?" The strange man growled at Willie.

"I – I was taken here. Th-they kidnapped me."

"Who did?"

"I – I don't know."

"Lies! Do not LIE to me, Willie!" The vampire struck Willie, and Emma gasped. She began to furiously press the button.

"I know it was Dr. Woodard! Why did you not return?"

"I couldn't leave, Barnabas. I – I can't get loose!" Willie tugged on the padlocked belt around his waist and then collapsed back on the bed.

"Did you let them take your blood?"

Willie was cowering now, unable to escape.

"You FOOL! He took it didn't he!" Another whack against his head. Emma grimaced, and nearly bolted out the door to rescue him when the evil visitor jump upon the bed. What Emma saw next was so terrifying, it paralyzed with fear.

"No, Barnabas, don't! Please!" The vampire sunk his teeth deep into Willie's neck, and the young man writhed in pain, making low guttural sounds. Emma shook with terror, trying desperately to hide her screams in her hands, but the scene was far too much of a shock, and she fainted, cracking her head on the cabinet as she went down.

"Did anyone else see you or attend to you while you were there?"

"N-No. J-Just the regular help." Willie was shivering beside the fireplace, a thick blanket wrapped around him.

"No other doctors, no nurses? No others took your blood with exception of Woodard?"

"N-no, no one else." Willie's tried desperately to make himself sound confident. "The regular staff, they brought me meals and stuff. I – I guess the nurse was on vacation."

"I see."

"Julia, did you take care of everyone?"

"Yes. They should have no recollection of Willie whatsoever." She said, proud of herself.

Willie sat quietly and rocked back and forth on the floor, hoping that he had protected Emma. If Barnabas knew of her, she would be dead before sunrise.

"Emma, wake up. Are you okay?" Jack gently rocked the young woman back and forth as her eyes rolled open. "Hey, what are you doing in here?"

With a jolt, Emma bolted up and backed up against the wall. "D-Did you see it?" running up to the mirror she looked into the patient's room. "Where is he?"

"Where is who?" Jack looked at her confused.

"Who?! Willie, that's who. Last night this…this thing came into the room and… and…" Emma was shaking.

"No one has been in here Emma. You must have had one hell of a dream. Oh, good morning doctor."

Dr. Woodard walked into the small room, confused by the scene. "Emma, what are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?! You can't be serious! What is going on here? Where is Willie?"

"Emma, maybe you should lie down. Come on, let's get you checked out, you have a rather large bump on your forehead."

"I'm talking about Willie, the patient you kidnapped!"

"You must have hit your head pretty hard. Let's get you looked at."

One Month Later

Willie was sitting at the counter of the diner, grabbing a quick bite to eat for lunch before he had to return to the Old House. His afternoon task list would keep him busy and would not allow any time for a dinner break.

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

"No." Willie answered quickly and got just enough of a look at the person taking the seat beside him to choke on his coffee.

"Shit," he whispered under his breath.

"A coffee, please, to go. And a blueberry muffin."

"What on earth are you doing here?" Willie whispered. The last person he ever expected to see again was Emma.

She set her money on the counter, took the to-go cup and the paper bag with the muffin and thanked the waitress. As she slid off the counter stool she took a piece of paper and discretely slid it into Willie's pocket, then left the diner without a word.

Willie quickly paid his bill and headed out into the street. There was no trace of her. He reached into his pocket and read the note.

You owe me some answers. I saw everything.
Meet me tomorrow at the museum at noon.
If you don't show up, I'll come to your house in the evening.