This was lovingly written to fill in and continue the plot of the 1979 film starring Frank Langella. I did it out of love for the original and my desire to see the characters come to a proper and much more satisfying conclusion than the one in the movie. Elements from the Stoker novel, as well as the film's representation of characters, have been used. There are minor inconsistencies to the original but I have tried to remain as true as possible. Please ignore any minor faults, as it has not been properly betta'd.
For most of the night, the ship had been tossed on one wave after the other. The first mate, a God-fearing man by all accounts, crossed himself more than once and uttered that they faced certain disaster, as there was a vile demon aboard. The captain was not prone to believing such things, for he had long ago cast aside the mantle of religion as superstition, but even he could not deny that on such a night, with no moon and macabre clouds filled with bleak intentions, it was possible that all form of ghoul and goblin might exist, so he gave no protest when it was suggested prayers be said below decks.
Ever since departing from Romania, the ship had suffered one scourge after another, beginning with the odd behavior of the cabin boy. He was a smart lad, intelligent beyond measure and often found with a book when not occupied with the captain's orders. More than once he'd had his ears boxed for not attending his duties and then sent on his way. Their first day at sea he was perfectly sane and in possession of all his faculties. By the next night, he was pale and dazed, his enormous brown eyes displaying unusual dullness. The third day he vanished entirely and though the ship was searched top to bottom, nothing was found of him save his book, wrapped in a cloth beneath his pillow, and the crucifix his mother had bestowed on him before he went to sea. "Strange," the captain had remarked, and all assumed the poor lad had gone overboard.
It had proven to be merely the first in a disconcerting sequence of events, ranging from the sight of a mysterious figure on deck beneath the full moon to incoherency among the crew. After that, the captain was forced to admit the possibility of a ghost among them, for they carried no passengers. The only cargo was a dozen heavy wooden boxes but although ears were pressed against them, nothing was ever heard from the interior. Determined not to be thought superstitious, the captain wrote off these incidents as paranoia brought on by too much rum and insisted no more be said on the matter.
Then his second mate went missing, not two days' journey from England.
"How am I to run a ship with the bloody crew vanishing?" he roared.
The first mate chewed on his lip and looked, as always, disconcerted. He took to carrying around a crucifix and reciting the rosary to anyone who would listen. No one owned up to whose idea it was to gather the night of the storm but the agreement among the crew was that dark forces were afoot. The wind was beating their sails and waves were crashing over the bow, but still the captain would not change course.
"I've had enough of this damned nonsense! By tomorrow morning, we'll be in port!"
"There must be a Jonah among us," they muttered, pagan superstition running rampant to the very end, and someone suggested a search of the hold. Lanterns swinging wildly and eyes aglow with the fear of haunted men, the captain let them have their way, and down they went. Flickering golden shadows cast into darkened corners, staggering with each toss and swell of the sea. It was then a hand was laid on the largest crate and a sailor shouted that he felt a pulse beneath it. Burly and slender, terrified and enthusiastic, all crowded round, rested hands on the worn wood, and agreed. Drunken with their discovery, they traipsed up on deck, where the storm had worsened, and beneath the frantic, whipping sails, shouted that the crate must be thrown overboard. The captain, concerned they might mutiny if he refused, gave his consent and there was a good deal of tramping feet and curses as lengths of rope were fixed around the crate. The storm and the state of the crew lent a crackle of intensity to the air, fueled with rain and wind, and even the rats below decks were ill at ease, squealing as the crate was winched up into the air by one end and forced through the hatch. In their terrified enthusiasm, hands slipped and it banged against the edge, eliciting a horrific sound from within that it set their hair on edge. It was not so much a growl as a snarl, but not anything like human or beast that they had before heard.
"Throw the damned thing overboard!" shouted the captain, for the first time believing in ghouls, and the crate was eased onto the deck and pushed to the railing. The most able among them forced it upright but as it came to rest precariously on the edge, they realized its occupant was trying terribly to get out. Ferocious cracks came from the wood as it splintered were nearly lost in the thunder pounding through the heavens; the seams split and the nearest man came to a swift end as his throat was ripped out. His body was hurled carelessly to the deck, his blood spreading in a crimson tide through the planking as the creature set upon them all. It was a great black wolf, its eyes glowing in the swinging lanterns that clung to the mast. The first mate went down with unholy screams, his crucifix tumbling to the deck and sliding to a halt at the captain's feet. Though not a religious man, he wound the rosary around one hand and with the other, lashed his body to the wheel. Waves crashed over the side, drenching him as he stood his ground, attempting defiantly to steer them toward the shoreline. Distantly, he could see a faint pinprick of light, its beam shining out across the water.
The last thing the captain saw was wide open jaws and gleaming canine teeth before the creature tore his life from him, leaving him limp and hanging from the helm.