Willie sat quietly on the edge of the bed and let his gaze drop back down to the knotted floor boards, his hands wrapped around the back of his neck gently rubbing the large knot behind his ear. His hair was matted with dried blood and he thought how badly he needed a hot shower to wash the events of the nights before off him. Barnabas stood in the doorway watching him, wondering if Willie had returned from his slip into madness the night before. Willie continued to stare downward, his breathing slow and deliberate.
You know what you need to do Willie.
A sting rushed through Willies chest hearing the words, but he knew exactly what he needed to do. It wasn't a choice, it just was. Willie grabbed the side of the bed and stood up, never taking his eyes from the floor. As he took a step forward his leg shook and collapsed on itself, dropping him to the floor. Without a sound he again pushed himself up, using the bed to steady his balance. Barnabas reached out and grasped beneath Willies elbow to help steady him, but with Its touch Willie pulled away sharply.
N-no…d-don't … please … don't touch me. Willies voice was quiet but stern.
Barnabas stood looking down on him irritated with Willie's reaction and in a fierce growl that shook the room It spoke.
Willie managed to stand and get his feet stable beneath him; the drumming of his heart bringing a surge of pain to his head with every beat. He slowly lifted his head and fixed an empty gaze at IT, and without saying a word began to walk out of the room and down the hallway, using the wall to steady him. Willie got to the staircase and was thankful for the railing. He clutched the rotted wood that ran beside the steps and climbed his way down, losing his footing at the bottom and once again dropping to his knees allowing a small moan of defeat escape him. Barnabas was close behind, watching intently as Willie again dragged himself up to his feet.
Once you have it bring it to the gardens behind the house.
Willie quietly made his way out of the house. The closest pasture to the old house was on the Collins estate about 3 miles from the gardens. He slowly walked down the driveway and to the truck, gathering a flashlight and a rope from the back. As he turned to face the house It stood in the doorway watching him move. Willie flicked the flashlight button, banging it several times against his palm to get it to turn on, and then disappeared into the woods.
Willie emerged at the edge of the pastures about an hour later. His movement was slow, the knot on his head was pounding and each step brought an ache that rang through his body. He found a calf sitting alone at the edge of the pasture fences and draped the rope around it, slowly tugging it and guiding it back through the woods, back to the gardens, back to IT.
He walked back slowly, partially because he was exhausted, but mostly because he wanted to take up as much of the nighttime as he could. The longer he was out the less time he had to spend with IT, and the less time IT had to terrorize him. Willie's thoughts drifted to the night before and to the old house and the thoughts of having to live out the rest of his life, or the rest of Barnabas' life, in complete servitude. It was a hopeless thought; one that Willie now knew was his fate with no escape.
Willie took a slow deep breath as he lingered on the outside of the gardens with the small calf. He turned to face the calf and placed his hands around it's ears as he looked at it.
I'm sorry…so very sorry…
Willie choked back a sob and led the calf into the gardens.
The moon was bright and cast a ghostly shadow through the gardens, a low fog rolling in through the forest. The trees looked twisted and mangled and what once was a beautiful place was now completely overgrown with vines that strangled every flower and bush that might have brought color and light into the area. A statue was placed in the center, standing crookedly on the broken cement that had weeds and grass escaping from beneath it through large cracks. Two park benches sat on either side of the garden, both rusted and partially sunk into the ground. Willie tried to imagine this place at a time when someone cared for it, when someone took the time to be interested in its beauty. He looked at the face of the statue, eyes in a blank stare, cracking from neglect. He thought that he might just hate the gardens more than he hated the house. It was nothing more than a place forgotten, a symbol of decay, just like everything else around him.
Willie was dragged out of his thoughts as the Vampire entered the garden. The low fog made it look as though IT floated in. Willie dropped the rope to the ground and stepped several feet back away from the calf. He would not look at IT, he kept his gaze fixed squarely on the ground, staring at vines and thorns that were delicately entwined around one of the overgrown rose bushes suffocating their blooms. IT walked towards Willie, and he did not move. He continued to hold still, afraid to make eye contact for fear of slipping back into the madness once again.
Barnabas stood in front of him and then snatched the rope from the ground and pulled the calf towards it. The Vampires face grew dark and the whites of Its eyes filled with a sea of blackness. It pounced on the calf dropping it to the ground and sunk Its teeth deep into its pulsing veins. The calf let out a low dark moan and Willie shuttered and choked back a hard sob that erupted from deep within his belly.
When It was done the calf lay on the ground lifeless. Barnabas walked to the edge of the garden and grabbed a shovel that IT had placed there earlier in the night. IT took the shovel and dropped it in front of the calf.
Bury it Willie and when you are done join me in the great room.
Barnabas left him alone and walked out from the gardens; Willie was thankful for Its retreat. He bent down and picked up the shovel and standing up too quickly the moon started to spin around him causing him to lose his balance and fall down upon the drained calf. The smell of the fresh blood swept up through his nose and he rolled off of the calf and pulled himself away from it, clutching the ground and crawling away. He stood up and once again grabbed the shovel, this time standing slowly to keep his equilibrium, and he started digging. Hours seemed to pass when he finally had a hole dug deep enough. He knelt down next to the calf and pushed it into the hole. It took every bit of strength he had and he sat there on the ground staring into the grave.
Willie wasn't sure of the time or how close morning was, the moon was still high overhead so he assumed there were several hours of night left, several hours of possible horror. He patted down the last bit of dirt over the calf, stood the shovel against the back door of the house and hesitantly took a step through the door into the small room that opened into the kitchen. The moonlight dragging a dim light through the back door window. For the first time he looked around the small room. It was mostly empty, a small barren closet missing its door to one side and on the other a built in bench set into the wall. Willie looked at the bench and noticed rusted hinges on the back side; he bent down and slowly lifted up the seat of the bench revealing a small storage place. It was mostly empty, only a child's doll, a ball and some tattered old clothes lay in the bottom of it. He couldn't help but wonder about the people that had once lived in the house and then he squeezed his eyes tight, a chill running through with the sickening thought that he too now lived in the house against his will.
Willie continued through the small room into the dark kitchen, it was difficult for him to see anything, he only noticed a fireplace against the wall, but any real detail of the room was not recognizable. From the kitchen he walked through a room he could not identify, it was far too dark, but he followed a dim lite through the room into a small hallway that opened up to the great room in the front of the house. Barnabas was standing, staring out the front window and several candles were lit around the room. Willie stood in silence taking in the front room and seeing through the flickering shadows that it was in complete decay.
Home… Willie muttered to himself, not realizing he said it out loud. Barnabas did not turn his gaze from the window, he simply spoke to Willie in a civilized tone.
Yes Willie, we are finally home.
Willie's eyes began to swell with tears and in a broken voice he responded.
I – I don't want to stay. Please don't make me stay.
Barnabas slowly turned around to look at Willie who was standing there, his blue eyes glassy in the candle lite as he dragged his hand through his hair nervously.
Barnabas walked towards Willie and pinned him up against the wall pushing Its hand directly into Willies chest keeping him in place. You will stay. This is your home. You have nothing to say about it.
Willie struggled beneath the Vampires hand, but he said nothing, only stared up at IT with fear swallowing him.
Willie, I am going to go out. You will go to your room now. There is much for you to do tomorrow, you will need your rest.
Willie stood there as if he didn't understand what he was being told. He was confused, go to bed ? The thought of sleeping was the furthest thing from his mind. He was afraid to sleep, afraid of the nightmares and the dark.
Bed Willie! NOW! It moved around Willie and from behind gripped his neck and pushed him forward through the great room towards the stair case. Willie was thrown off balance, but IT kept him on his feet pushing him forward and up the staircase.
Barnabas please! Let go.. Please!
It pushed him to the landing of the staircase and then down the hallway to the end of the hall back to the room that Willie was to call his own. It pushed him through the doorway and Willie stood there turned back around to face it. He wanted to run out but his body would not respond and all he could do was stare at IT as IT slowly grabbed the door and closed it behind him. Willie then heard the lock turn and panic flushed through his veins as he rushed towards the door, gripping the doorknob and trying to turn it with no success.
No! Please don't lock me in… not again! Willie banged on the door and grabbed the doorknob trying to shake it loose. Please let me out… Barnabas Please! Willie continued to bang on the door until he could no longer stand. He leaned on the door, his cheek and hand up against the wood and slid down … I don't want to stay…Oh please…I don't want to stay.
Willie looked around the room and it was completely dark with the exception of a small beam of light that the moon was shining through the small window. Willie felt his way around the room, it was dark and the chill in the air cut into his bones. He reached into his pocket and grabbed the matchbook. One match left. Willie walked to the pile of candlesticks in the hopes that there was one that had a candle in it. Nothing. He searched the dresser; Nothing. He dare not burn a single thing in the room, but he was cold. He reached down and grabbed one of the tattered bed coverings and then felt his way towards the bed. He climbed up and wrapped the blanket around him. It smelled musty and slightly of smoke from the fire that was burned in the room the night before. He sat there on the bed trying to stay awake, afraid to sleep, but his body had other plans and Willie drifted off into a troubled sleep.
When Willie awoke he looked out the window and saw that it was morning. He looked at the door and there was a note attached to it. He rolled himself out of the bed and walked to the door, pulling the note from it.
Willie – today you will begin work on the great room.
Empty it and put the furniture that is damaged into the kitchen.
DO NOT BURN ANYTHING!
Pile the garbage into the hallway, I will go through it this evening.
Gather firewood for the fireplaces. Be sure to put some in your room.
There is much for you to do. Do not disappoint.
Willie read the note, he had his orders. Do not disappoint. He reached for the door and slowly turned the knob and it opened. Willie walked out into the hallway, the sun beamed down from the large window at the end of the hall. This is the first time he would see the house during the day.
The hallway was long and the wallpaper was peeling down from the ceiling and curling at the seams. He walked to the end of the hall close to his room and saw a door. He opened it and it lead to a staircase , the staircase was dark but he could tell that there was a staircase that led up and one that led down. He would not explore that today. He turned and walked towards the open stair case towards the front of the house. He passed a smaller room and looked in, it was filthy and he noticed that there a large pitcher and a bowl that sat on a stand. There was a cracked oval mirror that hung on the wall and another shelf with several odds and ends on, nothing of significance.
He continued down the hallway and found another room, he peered in and it looked similar to the one he had been in. A brick fireplace on the wall and a small child size bed in the corner. A dollhouse sat on a small table that was covered in cob webs. There was furniture tossed about this room just as there was in the room he had stayed in. Hmm…a child's room
Walking further he stopped in a room that was large, a giant wooden four poster bed in the room. A grand fireplace against the wall and large windows overlooked the front of the house. The curtains were hanging but rotted through and this room too had furniture tossed everywhere. Willie thought this room must have been for the lady and gentlemen of the house. Maybe Barnabas' room. Willie continued to walk, there was one last room towards staircase across the hall from the large room. Nothing to speak of, it was in the same level of decay as the rest of them, bits and pieces of furniture strewn around.
Willie made his way downstairs and into the great room. He flipped over one of the chairs that was toppled over, its upholstery torn and it's guts spilling out of the holes. Everything was filthy. He walked into the dark hallway that he had passed through the night before noticing a rusty metal cross hanging crookedly on the wall.
Willie wasn't an overly religious man but the enormity of his life crashed down around him and he dropped to his knees. A quiet prayer was whispered, something he hadn't done since the day he lost her. I know I have been horrible but p-please … please let me one day feel the warmth of home again. Home like I did when I was in her arms. P-Please, please give me the strength to survive until then. I am so sorry…so sorry. Willie shifted and pulled his knees tight to his chest. He tried to wrap his thoughts around the Vampire and that at some point IT had been a man. He tried to think that perhaps there was some humanity left in him, but the cruelty he had experienced told him otherwise.
Barnabas Collins, once a man, was now a monster and he was Its prisoner.
Willie's new life had begun.
A/N: Well that is it for this story. Thanks so much for reading and the kind reviews. I have already started the second story and will post it soon, hope to see you all there.