A Harrowing Halloween

Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production and I am not affiliated with it in any way

Chapter One

From a distance the strange eyes glowed eerily through the inky blackness of oncoming night. Leaves underfoot crunched noisily as he made his way from the woods and on to the path leading to Collinwood.

The glowing orbs grew larger at his approach, and he could now distinctly see the outline of what appeared to be a round object from which the light was emanating. Baffled, he slowed his steps as the lit windows of the house illuminated one of the oddest things he had ever seen. A hint of fear began trickling through him. Could she have returned? Was this yet another display of her witchcraft? but if so, why would Angelique blatantly flaunt her work for all to see? The fact was, she wouldn't. then again, she wasn't the most predictable person he'd ever encountered and this might be another way to taunt him, and if and when she made her presence known at Collinwood, her fabricated story would be one of innocence.

He was pulled from his frantic reverie by clattering feet and bantering voices, and not wanting to be caught admiring something that might link him to Angelique in any way, he hurriedly stepped past the horrible leering face as the door opened to reveal a smiling David, Amy and Carolyn. "Why did you choose such a huge one, David?" Carolyn panted, her arms laboring under the weight of an enormous pumpkin.

"It isn't that big," David told her, "there were ones much bigger. Here, set it over by the first one."

Carolyn staggered to the specified place, and bending at the waist, relieved herself of her burden with a hollow thump. "Carolyn, don't drop it," came David's petulant cry, "I hope it isn't bruised."

"David, that pumpkin was bounced around on the bus from bangor for nearly an hour and it survived. It's me you should be worrying about."

She rubbed her lower back to illustrate her point but David wasn't listening, inspecting his precious pumpkin for nonexistent dents and scratches. Amy appeared next, a smaller pumpkin in her arms, her face alight with eager anticipation, and it was she who noticed Barnabas watching. "Hello, Barnabas," she greeted, "are you coming to help? You didn't bring a pumpkin. That's all right, we have a few more in the house."

The trickle of fear had turned in to a rushing river. Had Angelique put the family under a spell to assist her in doing her evil deeds? where was she now? He must find Julia and Quentin and inform them of this latest dilemma. He wasn't certain how they would fight her, but fight her they must if the family was to be spared from the evil touch of witchcraft. "Hello, Amy," he replied, trying to keep the revulsion from his face, "at the risk of sounding ignorant, may I ask what you are doing?"

He didn't expect her to offer an honest answer, if she was under Angelique's influence she would be unable to tell the truth, but the strangeness of the scene prompted his curiosity. "We're carving pumpkins," she announced, setting her pumpkin beside the others. "Haven't you ever made a jack-o-lantern?"

"Of course he has," Carolyn broke in before he could respond, "he wants to know why we're insane enough to carve such massive ones."

"Yes, that's right," Barnabas stammered, "they are quite sizable.."

He didn't bother to correct her assumption that he had indeed never made a jack-o-lantern.

he vaguely recalled the season in which jack-o-lanterns were made, he thought it had been around the time of all Hallows Eve, a holiday not celebrated by the god fearing puritans of which his family belonged. When questioned as to the reason of their lack of involvement in the holiday, his father had held his head high and proudly proclaimed the Collins' family was above such a frivolous pagan ritual, celebrated only by heathens who didn't have the intelligence to know better. These professed jack-o-lanterns weren't anything like the ones he and Jeremiah had sneaked out to see one moonlit night after his parents and aunt Abigail had retired for the night. the jack-o-lanterns he knew had been carved from large turnips with malicious intent chiseled in to their thick skins as a deterrent to evil spirits. He and Jeremiah had listened raptly to the custom recounted to them by an old irish fisherman as he kept watch over his grandchildren, helping them with their jack-o-lantern building. More than a little chilled by the unfamiliar tradition and unnerved by the faces that took on the appearance of glaring skulls, the boys had returned home, a mixture of fear and bravado brought on by the forbidden adventure where they had learned so much information that would shock their elders coursing through them, crawled in to their beds, and safely ensconced beneath warm blankets felt emboldened to talk of the outing with much more bravery now that they were away from the perceived danger.

The door opened again and Quentin emerged, armed with several knives. In horror barnabas lurched forward, knowing he must stop Quentin from doing something he would regret. He too was under Angelique's control, but what was to be gained by killing the children and Carolyn? Laughing, Carolyn stepped between the two men. "I can appreciate your reaction, Barnabas," she said, smiling, "Quentin wielding knives is a rather an alarming sight. We're used to seeing his charming side."

Quentin affected an injured expression. "Come on, carolyn, don't tell me I've lost my reputation simply by looking a bit rakish."

Barnabas was fully aware of just how dangerous Quentin could be, having witnessed it firsthand in 1897 when Quentin's suspicions had caused him to threaten Barnabas with a sword. thankfully that situation had been neatly dealt with by Judith's arrival, and this deadly situation must be defused before blood was shed. "Quentin!" barnabas said sharply, "I must speak with you!"

Quentin glanced at him curiously, then shrugging, surrendered the knives to Carolyn. Moving several paces from the group Quentin asked, "What's this all about, barnabas? I certainly wasn't that menacing."

His boyish grin quickly evaporated to be replaced with bewilderment when Barnabas posed his urgent question. "where is she, Quentin?"

"Who might you be talking about, cousin?" he asked, "we have many women in the house to choose from and..."

Impatiently Barnabas interrupted. "Angelique! Where is she?"

Quentin's puzzlement turned to a slight frown. "The last time I knew she was dead, Barnabas. Has she found a way to return to plague us yet again?"

Now it was Barnabas's turn to look confused. How was it Quentin had been placed under a spell without having come in to contact with her? It was plausible she had been able to slip in to his room, acquire something that belonged to him then carry out her bewitching from afar, but she had been sufficiently smitten with him in 1897, and he suspected she would want to see Quentin again if only to placate her curiosity as to how he was getting along. He cast an anxious glance at Carolyn who was now distributing knives to Amy and David and taking one for herself. "you two be careful," she warned sternly, "I don't want any accidents happening that would require stitches."

After eliciting promises from them she turned her attention to the men. "what are you two discussing with such secrecy? We're waiting for you to join us."

Quentin flashed her his trademark grin. "I'm sure you wouldn't be interested," he said, "and don't be starting without me."

He moved in the direction of the others but Barnabas caught hold of his arm. "Are you telling me this is simply an innocent activity?"

Nonplussed, Quentin asked, "What did you think we were doing, some sort of dark magic?"

The expression on Barnabas's face must have spoken his thoughts because startled comprehension donned on Quentin's face. "you really thought this was some sort of ritual dark ceremony, didn't you? That's why you were interrogating me about Angelique! You think she has us under her power!"

Hearing his fears spoken aloud suddenly made them seem ridiculous and baseless. He gestured to the candlelit jack-o-lantern, feeling his face grow hot with embarrassment. "Well, if you must know, I have never seen jack-o-lanterns carved in this manner and with this type of vegetable. It appeared as though it might be Angelique's handiwork."

Barnabas watched as Quentin made a valiant attempt to remain straight-faced, but mirth overrode his tenuous control and he burst in to laughter. His reaction caused Barnabas to feel even more sheepish at his hasty conclusions. wiping tears of amusement from his face Quentin gathered himself. "None of us are being controlled by witchcraft, and certainly not by Angelique. Lay your fears to rest, Barnabas, we're doing this of our own free will."

Barnabas nodded, then quietly asked, "Would you kindly explain the changes of the traditional jack-o-lantern? I had an opportunity to see one when I was a child, but they were made from turnips in an attempt to keep evil spirits at bay."

Quentin patiently obliged, explaining that jack-o-lanterns were no longer used to repel spirits of ill repute, they were more for entertainment and decorative purposes. He wasn't certain the reason for the change from turnips to pumpkins, but in his opinion, pumpkins provided a larger canvas on which to create faces. "Are you two coming or not?" David demanded.

"We'd better join them," Quentin advised, "we wouldn't want to deprive David of his fun."

Barnabas held back, shaking his head. "I've never carved a pumpkin before, Quentin. I wouldn't know how to go about doing it. In any case, it is a pagan ritual even if it wasn't devised by witches."

Carolyn, who had finally had enough of the chatter overheard barnabas's last comment as she neared. frowning slightly she said, "I would hardly call this a pagan ritual, barnabas. Don't you think that philosophy is just a bit outdated?"

It was times like this when barnabas felt distinctly out of place in this century, no matter how long he mingled with this society or how much time he had spent here, there would always be different points of view and behavior that would set him apart from everyone else. "I'm sorry, Carolyn," he said, "I don't wish to ruin your fun. Perhaps it would be best if I simply watched."

"Nonsense," she proclaimed stubbornly, "there's nothing wrong with carving pumpkins. It's a celebration of the season and nothing more. Are you telling me you never carved pumpkins when you were younger?"

Barnabas shook his head, deciding on partial honesty. "My father had very strict ideas on holidays he considered to be antiquated and refused to allow me to participate in them."

taken aback, she seemed lost for words, then a look of bleakness clouded her pretty face. "That's so sad, Barnabas. It really is nothing more than innocent fun, but if you'd rather not participate I understand."

His expression eased and he offered her a grateful smile. "Thank you, Carolyn," he said softly, "as I said before, I wouldn't think of spoiling your fun, and I shall be quite content to watch."

reaching out, she laid a gentle hand on his arm, then returned to the group, her smile back in place. general chaos ensued for the next half hour as twice David drew blood from his hand with the knife, each time causing Carolyn to pale and Quentin to be amused. Amy for her part was meticulously etching a face on her pumpkin, and as it took shape barnabas noted it wasn't the forbidding expression he had expected. Upon completion of her jack-o-lantern, she brought it to barnabas for inspection. His guess had been correct, it bore no resemblance to the traditional jack-o-lantern, rather it was a cheerful face, it's mouth tilted upward in the formation of a smile, and lit with a candle, barnabas knew its eyes would glow not with warning but mischief. "This is quite an original piece of artwork, Amy," he praised, "wherever did you come up with such an idea?"

"You're so funny, Barnabas," she laughed, "this isn't very unique. Lots of people carve jack-o-lanterns with happy faces."

Obviously the customs of this tradition had transformed much more than he had realized. "Nevertheless, Amy, it is good to see one that doesn't resemble a human skull."

Her mouth turned down in a slight frown. "I don't like creepy things like that, Barnabas. This is better."

Carolyn, david and Quentin came to examine Amy's pumpkin and finally David told her she ought to have carved a more scary face. "you should have done one like mine." he chastised mildly, holding up his own pumpkin for perusal.

David's pumpkin depicted a scowling expression full of sharp teeth and slits served as eyes from which the jack-o-lantern could glare. "That looks positively spooky, David." Carolyn admitted.

David gave her a long-suffering look that plainly witnessed his exasperation with adults. "That's the point of Halloween, Carolyn."

Quentin's pumpkin was an entirely different sculpture altogether, a pirate complete with a painted beard and a strip of cloth over one eye that was obviously an eye patch. the varied designs evidenced Quentin's words, that the carving of pumpkins was purely for recreation rather than superstitious protection. Carolyn's pumpkin sported a smiling countenance similar to Amy's and Barnabas offered significant praise for each piece before being sent in to the house to fetch candles.

Roger accosted him on the way back from the pantry, dubiously eyeing the candles he carried. "Are you expecting a major power outage?"

"No," barnabas replied, "although if the electricity fails we'll have plenty of illumination."

Falling in to step beside his cousin, Roger wanted to know the reason for the candles. barnabas explained the festive activities taking place outside and roger scowled. "David is too old for such nonsense, and I can't believe Carolyn and Quentin are indulging him."

"To be honest, Roger, I think Quentin and Carolyn were enjoying themselves as much as David and Amy."

"It's nonsense." Roger repeated under his breath.

Barnabas was still undecided about the tradition, but if it brought pleasure to people, he couldn't very well object to it. They met Julia in the foyer, and yet again Barnabas had to recount what he'd explained to Roger. "Surely an educated woman such as yourself can't possibly support such childish antics." Roger huffed, hoping to gain an ally.

Julia paused before opening the door and turned to Roger,. "It's a way to encourage creativity. there's no harm in it and there certainly isn't a prescribed age restriction on halloween. After all, adults dress up in costumes for the occasion and no one thinks them childish."

roger was caught off guard by the comment in which he could find no flaws and in customary fashion mumbled, "well, don't think you're going to rope me in to such foolishness."

they stepped in to the slightly chilled autumn air and found Chris and sabrina admiring the jack-o-lanterns. they smiled upon seeing the trio. "Are we too late for the pumpkin party?" Chris wanted to know.

"Of course not!" Amy bubbled enthusiastically, crossing to her brother and giving him a fierce hug.

The jarring rumbling sound of a wheeled vehicle intruded upon the merriment and moments later willie came in to view pushing a wheelbarrow filled with pumpkins of varying shapes and sizes. Julia glanced ruefully at the candles Barnabas held, and turning to Him, whispered, "Thank heavens you brought so many, Barnabas. It looks as though we'll be needing them."

Julia's prediction proved correct as David and Amy, thrilled with their previous masterpieces, insisted on carving another, and further persuasion from Amy urged Sabrina and Chris in to the cheerful commotion. Carolyn opted out of further participation, content in the knowledge she had contributed sufficiently to the occasion, and her energies were directed at Roger as she tried to get him involved. "You really should try to get in to the spirit of things, uncle Roger."

"I'm much too old for such childish goings-on, kitten."

She cast a quick look to where Quentin was trading carving techniques with David and Willie. "It isn't childish," she defended, "Quentin is doing it."

roger grimaced and gave a grim laugh. "Yes, well I'm not too convinced of Quentin's maturity. Just look at him and Loomis carrying on!"

A pumpkin fight had begun, Quentin and Willie missileing the innards at one another and in seconds David had joined the fray. Even Carolyn had to heave an inward sigh at this turn of events and as the messy war progressed closer to them, she and Roger backed away, debating the wisdom of remaining outside. Barnabas, looking utterly appalled, turned to Carolyn and Roger. "Is this part of the new tradition?"

"It most certainly is not." Roger announced pompously, momentarily forgetting that he didn't approve of any portion of the festivities. "This is part of Quentin's and Loomis's infantile behavior."

An outraged cry brought an end to the contest as Mrs. Johnson stood in the doorway, hands on hips, glaring ferociously at the combatants. "What on earth are you doing?" she demanded, "I told you I wanted you to save the pumpkin seeds so I could bake them! Now I see you've strung them all over creation, not to mention you've made a terrible mess I'll have to clean up!"

Her sentiments were echoed by a very shocked Elizabeth who stood just behind her, staring wide-eyed at David's appearance. Sailing past Mrs. Johnson, she stepped up to her brother. "Roger, I can't believe you would stand here and permit David to do such a thing! Just look at the state of him!"

Roger swelled with righteous indignation. "Come now, Liz, I was going to stop him. I'm as dismayed by his behavior as you."

"Apparently you aren't," she countered, "or it wouldn't have occurred in the first place."

She left him sputtering wordlessly, advancing on her nephew, eyes flashing severely. "David, just what in the world were you thinking?"

She didn't give him a chance to reply, simply continued her lecture. "You're a mess. I can't imagine what caused you to act this way."

"Aunt Elizabeth, I..."

"I'm not interested in excuses, David. Go inside and clean up."


"Don't argue with me," she warned, "I mean it."

Quentin moved forward before the discussion could spiral out of control. "You really shouldn't blame him, Elizabeth," he said apologetically, "Willie and I started it."

She whirled on him. "You and Willie?" she repeated.

"Yes." he admitted, shamefaced.

Wanting to take his share of blame in the proceedings, Willie came to stand beside Quentin. "Sorry 'bout that, Mrs. Stoddard, we didn't mean no harm by it."

She scanned the splattered pumpkin plastered on their clothes, in their hair and over the grounds. "What possessed you two to do such a childish thing? You should no better."

Sufficiently reprimanded, they ducked their heads in silent agreement. "I suppose David saw this fight and thought it might be fun to join you?" she questioned.

"Yes." Quentin affirmed, "but honestly, Elizabeth, it was all in fun. At least we won't have to dress up in costumes for the party tomorrow night. We look scary enough."

His stab at levity didn't lighten her stern expression. "You didn't set a very good example for David and Amy." she pointed out.

"No, ma'am, we didn't." Willie mumbled. "We're real sorry."

Her features softened and she allowed herself a small smile. "You did look like you were having quite a good time, but you really must go inside and change before Mrs. Johnson goes in to heart failure."

Dutifully they obeyed, David and willie edging nervously past Mrs. Johnson who afforded them a fulminating glare, and not even the boyish grin Quentin flashed her succeeded in winning her forgiveness. It was Roger who finally broke the awkward silence. "Is this creative enough for you, Julia?" he asked sarcastically, gesturing grandly toward the carnage.

"That wasn't creativity, Roger, it was roughhousing."

"Is that your professional opinion, roughhousing?"

"It's my personal opinion." she said, a smile lurking in her eyes, "If you want my professional diagnosis on the matter you'll have to bring them to Windcliff."

"The thought had crossed my mind." Roger muttered.

Gingerly stepping around the squashed pumpkin, Amy moved to Mrs. Johnson who was still fuming. As was her nature she offered to help the housekeeper clean up the mess. "It won't take long with both of us doing it." she added helpfully.

Mrs. Johnson appeared startled by the generous offer, especially from a child, and in the face of Amy's kind smile and sincerity she couldn't stay angry. "Don't you worry, Amy," she said, "I'll clean everything up. You didn't make the mess after all."

"But really, Mrs. Johnson, I don't mind helping."

"I know you don't, but you need to finish carving your pumpkin."

Amy was about to protest further but a gentle push from Mrs. Johnson returned her to her previous activity. "I'm very proud of you, Amy." Chris whispered to her.

"Why?" she questioned.

"Because you offered to help Mrs. Johnson when you didn't have to. That was a very nice gesture."

"I like Mrs. Johnson," Amy said simply.

No further explanation was given, nor was one required. When Amy befriended someone, her natural inclination to help whenever possible was lovingly apparent.

The pumpkin carving was beginning to wind down, and Barnabas, having just returned from yet another trip in to the house for candles, caught sight of Julia surveying the scene, a wistful expression shadowing her face. He came to stand beside her and for a long moment no words were exchanged. It was Barnabas who at last spoke. "You must have carved pumpkins similar to this when you were a child."

She didn't turn to look at him, but the slight slumping of her shoulders made him wonder if he had unknowingly touched upon a part of her childhood she didn't want to share. He was formulating a proper apology when she replied. "No, Barnabas, I never made a jack-o-lantern, not once."

Her voice was so low he was forced to lean closer to hear. "Did your parents forbid it?"

She uttered a small harsh laugh of self deprecation.. "They didn't forbid it. On the contrary, they encouraged me to participate in activities with other children, hoping I think, to get me more interested in social interaction. But all that interested me was studying the pictures of human skeletons in my father's medical books."

"That's what makes you such an excellent doctor." Barnabas complimented, hoping to raise her suddenly deflated spirits.

"Yes, Barnabas, I am a good doctor, but what kind of a person am I?"

Bewildered by this sudden shift in her mood, he wasn't certain how to answer her question without sounding false, and the last thing he wanted was to brush her feelings aside as if they were nothing more than insignificant trivialities. A few heartbeats passed, the moment too fragile to disturb, then she continued, her voice tense with pent up anger he suspected was directed inward at her own regrets. "I used to watch the children in my neighborhood playing. They would ride their bicycles, dress up for Halloween, run around in the winter time throwing snowballs at each other, and all I could think was how childish they were, how pointless and petty. I had better things to occupy my time, I didn't need to waste it on behaving so frivolously."

He tried to comprehend the depths of her feelings, wondering why she thought studying was such a bad pastime. she must have seen the bewilderment on his face because she turned on him, eyes sparking angrily. "Don't you understand, Barnabas? I thought I was better than them. I knew I was better than them! While they were indulging in such pointless things, I was getting ahead in life. I knew what my future was to be and I didn't shy away from it. I would be a superb doctor while they would amount to nothing."

Stunned by this blatant admission, Barnabas couldn't find a suitable response. She must have realized the intensity of her emotions because she turned away from him, trying to shrug off what she'd just said. "I was wrong, barnabas," she finally whispered, "I was so wrong, and only years later did I realize just how arrogant I had been. The children who I thought would grow up to be worthless now had fulfilling careers and meaningful relationships and I..."

She stopped just short of the unspoken boundaries they had long ago established between them, and not knowing how to get past it, he could only assure her with meager comfort which he doubted provided any consolation at all. "You have a very successful career, Julia. You made your way through a profession that few women enter, and you did that with perseverance and intelligence. surely that is something to be proud of?"

"Yes," she breathed softly, "it is something to be proud of, but how I wish I had joined those children in their world of play."

She might have said more but they were interrupted by Amy's arrival, her second jack-o-lantern held aloft. Julia's face instantly brightened as she took the pumpkin and gave it the praise it deserved. "It's for you, Dr. Hoffman." Amy admitted shyly.

Surprised, Julia glanced up from admiring the pumpkin. "For me?"

"Yes," Amy said, "I noticed you were looking so sad over here just a minute ago, and I wanted to cheer you up."

She blushed at her observation and rushed on before her nerve failed. "You have been so nice to Chris and I, and I know it isn't much, but I wanted to thank you. Please, I want you to have it."

It was one of the rare times Barnabas had ever seen Julia lost for words, and rarer still to see the gentle provocation of that silence. Her eyes glinted with what Barnabas strongly suspected were tears, although she didn't allow any to fall. Instead she pulled Amy close for a quick embrace. "Thank you, Amy," she said, her voice hoarse with emotion, "what a kind thing to do. I love it."

Amy's face mirrored the lit jack-o-lanterns that now paraded beside the door as she smiled at Julia before rushing to Mrs. Johnson who had just finished cleaning up the remnants of the fight. "Here, Mrs. Johnson," she said gesturing to a neat pile of seeds, "I saved my pumpkin seeds for you. I know how much you wanted to bake them."

Mrs. Johnson's astonished surprise was priceless, bringing laughter all around. "Divide and conquer." Barnabas mumbled.

"What was that, Barnabas?" Julia asked.

"Amy," he explained, "she certainly knows how to win everyone's affections, doesn't she?"

Now Julia beamed, all traces of her previous musings vanishing. "That she does. She's a wonderful girl."

Chris and Sabrina offered Mrs. Johnson their seeds as well which succeeded in completely mullifying her, and her previous mood restored, she shepherded everyone in to the house, with the promise of warm drinks to hurry them. It was Chris's voice from just behind him that made barnabas turn. "Now I know why Sabrina, Amy and I came to visit Collinwood. It was so we could witness that outrageous pumpkin fight, and so Amy could spread her good cheer."

Agreeing wholeheartedly, Barnabas glanced at the faces of the jack-o-lanterns as he passed, and decided they weren't so bad after all.

Gathered around the table, mugs of steaming cider in their hands to ward off the chill, the weary group of celebrators discussed the upcoming party that had been two weeks in the making, compliments of David's and Amy's enthusiasm. According to David, it was going to be the greatest Halloween party ever, and not only because everyone would dress up in costumes, but because they would keep their costumes a surprise until the beginning of the evening. The only prerequisite for attendance was that everyone be dressed up. It was after this decree that Amy turned to barnabas. "Are you going to come to the party?"

Not wanting to hurt her feelings, but having no desire to attend such a flamboyant gathering, much less in disguise, barnabas chose his words carefully. "I wouldn't have much to contribute to your party I'm afraid, Amy, I don't have an adequate disguise."

Her face fell but David hurriedly stepped in. "there are lots of old-fashioned clothes in the attic and down in the basement you could choose from, Barnabas."

Slightly irritated at being pushed in to something he didn't want to do, Barnabas frowned. "I don't care much for masquerades." he admitted.

He could practically see the wheels spinning in David's mind, searching for any loopholes in his argument. He must have been successful because he suddenly looked smug. "that isn't true, barnabas. when you first came to Collinwood you invited everyone to a costume party, remember?"

How could he not remember that night? it had been the first time since his return to Collinwood he'd seen evidence of Josette's existence, where Vicki had become Josette's voice and forced them all to relive the nightmare that was her death. The party hadn't gone the way he had envisioned, the mood having been tainted by the sadness of a previous lifetime, with everyone wearing brittle masks of cheerfulness until Barnabas had ended the evening. His anticipated party in ruins, and the return of his beloved Josette had cast a dark pall over his heart. He had no intention of tempting fate with yet another celebration involving people parading as something they weren't. "That was different, David." he hedged.

A mulish expression settled on David's face. "No, it isn't."

Roger turned to his son. "Stop pestering Barnabas. IF he doesn't want to come, we'll leave it at that, shall we?"

Scowling, David fell silent. "I myself won't be able to attend," Roger informed his cousin, "I have business in Boston."

A twinge of guilt tugged at his conscience. Whenever Roger was away, he served as head of the family and spent much more time at Collinwood. If he closeted himself in one of the guest rooms for the evening's duration it would come across as childish. Roger had unintentionally necessitated Barnabas's attendance, which prompted him to find another solution. He could claim a headache, and certainly everyone would understand, but david and Amy would be able to see it for the excuse it was. There was always the chance of him having business dealings elsewhere, but he immediately discarded this idea. his filial responsibility was too strongly engrained, and he couldn't desert them on false pretenses. "Dr. Hoffman is going to come." Amy told him.

He exchanged a look with Julia and she nodded in response to Amy's words. The press of Amy's and david's eyes upon him finally broke his willpower. "Very well, Amy," he acquiesced gracefully, "I shall attend your party appropriately outfitted."

Her face brightened, the smile returning to her eyes, and Barnabas found himself glad their persistence had won out over his stubbornness.

Cloaked in darkness, the Old House appeared forbidding and cold, traits it had once held for Barnabas, and in some ways those impressions still lingered. He hoped he had been able to imbue it with some warmth, with some of the positive aspects of his character, but on nights like this, it recalled him to the first time he had glimpsed the house upon his entrance in to this century. It had been lonely, abandoned, silently pleading for life and laughter to fill its halls. While Barnabas had been able to restore it to its former glory, the laughter and happiness had never taken up permanent residence. One tragedy after another hadn't provided the family with much incentive for humor, much less lasting peace. Cursed, that's what they were, cursed by the actions of people long departed from this world, and by others who would never truly die.

The snap of a twig underfoot was magnified in the stillness and barnabas spun around, his eyes trying to penetrate the shadowy surroundings for the source of the sound. It didn't take long as the moving shadow was making no attempt at concealment. through the hazy light of a moon obscured in clouds he saw the white glint of fangs, a sight he was all too familiar with. As the figure coalesced in to human form, barnabas reeled backward, his face draining of color. Nausea and dread swelling inside him, he tried to make sense of what his eyes were conveying to his shocked brain. When that failed, he could only choke out a few halting words. "David, who has done this to you?"