Greetings dear readers.
Sorry I haven't published anything new in a while. My life has been more than a little stressful and busy.
This was actually first planned to be a one chapter story, but I realized how long it was going and realized that the point where I end it here is a natural chapter cut off.
The date of July 16th as Carolyn's birthday is courtesy of the the Dark Shadows Wikia. (It was based off of the original series, but I went with it.)
Reviews are always appreciated. :-D
And awayyyy we go! :-)
Working in a fish cannery could be rough on people with a normal sense of smell. When you were a werewolf, with enhanced senses…it was a whole new story, thought Carolyn to herself as she pushed a cart of freshly gutted Atlantic Salmon across the work floor of the Collins Cannery. After almost a month of summer employment in her family's business, Carolyn would have thought she'd have gotten used to the scent of fish…but no luck.
She really had to respect the older workers who did this year-round. They did this for months, for years on end. They probably had gotten used to the smell of fish years ago. Of course, that was how they earned their living, versus Carolyn who was working there for the summer simply to earn her own spending money…as well as gaining firsthand knowledge of how the family business functioned.
Carolyn suspected that she was given the dirty jobs –gutting the fish, for example- largely because she was the boss' daughter and they were trying to see how much pressure she could take. Well, as far as Carolyn was concerned, they could keep on trying. She was going to prove to them she was no pampered girl who expected special treatment because her family owned the place. If they wanted to haze her, let them try. When you were Carolyn Collins Stoddard and you lived the life of a Collins…having to gut fish all day was really child's play. I mean, when you were a werewolf and you lived in a genuinely haunted house with a pair of vampires, your cousin communicated with his dead mother and you've gotten into a brawl with a witch…gutting fish was child's play.
Carolyn reached the processing tables with her load. The macho looking workers there –who she was quite certain were checking her out constantly- saw her stop the cart. The two workers (who had come over from Angel Bay Cannery when Barnabas "bought" it from Angelique) flashed matching condescending grins as they looked at Carolyn and the heavy metal containers that held the gutted fish.
"Hey there babe, let us help you with those." One of them said.
"Yeah, they look pretty heavy." His buddy added with a smirk. The two of them somehow labored under the opinion that Carolyn spent her days fantasizing about the two of them and was simply awaiting to see which one was more worthy of her hand (although her hands were NOT the part of her they stared at constantly).
Carolyn flashed them her trademark half-smirk and calmly lifted the trays –which weighed around fifty pounds apiece- onto the table. She cleared her cart so fast the two would-be macho men were left standing jaws agape, as she turned her cart around and headed back to the gutting dock where her work station was.
"Don't strain yourselves." She called sarcastically over her shoulder and smirked as she watched the as they discovered just how heavy the trays were. Overall, the disadvantage her condition had in terms of acuity of smell in a fish cannery was outdone by the advantage she had in terms of her being far stronger than pretty much any normal girl her age and size. Carolyn well knew that other workers in the cannery talked behind her back. They seemed to either be wary around the boss' daughter, or dismissive of what a little rich girl like herself (although the family was only recently returned to being able to call itself wealthy) could do in a demanding workplace like the cannery. Carolyn really couldn't care less what they said about her. She knew who she was. She…Her train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of another new hire. He was a swarthy guy with a mustache and incredibly pronounced sideburns –even by the standards of 1973- who had the reputation of having bedded at least three girls who worked at the two canneries so far. In the last six days, he'd been studiously looking over Carolyn…with the clear intention of making her number four.
"Hey Carol-Ann", he said (she wasn't sure if he was deliberately mispronouncing her name or he was just too stupid to know better...Carolyn's vote went to the latter) with a smile that was the most insincere gesture she'd seen since she saw President Nixon trying to proclaim his non-involvement in the burgeoning Watergate affair on television.
"Hello Ron" Carolyn responded in the usual detached monotone she reserved for people who irritated, or bored, her. "Do you…need…something?"
"Babe, a man like me always has a need for something. And I think you're just the fine chick who can fill that need." Ron said, moving slightly closer so she could get a full whiff of his Aqua Velva cologne.
"Really?" Carolyn asked with a sneer and a dose of sarcasm that –as she figured it would- went right over Ron's head.
"Oh yeah….What do you say we maybe go down to the beach after work? I've got some wine and weed in my car. We could put out a blanket and, you know…"
Carolyn found herself fighting against her temper. Ron was irritating her in all types of ways. Aside from her being underage, did he think she was so stupid that she hadn't heard of the reputation he'd gotten with girls around here? Carolyn felt her temper rising, but forced herself to be calm. It was difficult. Today was Friday. The full moon was on Sunday night. That meant she was already feeling the usual sense of restlessness and tension within her body, as the time of the change drew near again. She could sometimes feel the emotions of her animal side coming to the surface. That left her generally with no patience for the stupid or irritating. Ron checked off both of those boxes. Carolyn sighed heavily.
"Uh, no Ron…I don't know. Maybe you should spell it out for me." Carolyn said with her usual sarcasm.
"Well, we spread out the blanket on the sand…I pop open the Chianti, have a little grass…And I show you what a man does with a fine young lady such as you. You dig it?"
"What a man does? Oh, you didn't tell me I could bring my boyfriend Joe along. He's about the only real man I know living in this town right now." Carolyn said with mock sweetness as Ron absorbed her words and realized how she'd just put him down. (Ironically, she thought, she actually spoke the truth. David didn't count as a man because he was only eleven. And Barnabas…well, he wasn't technically alive so he didn't count as 'living' in Collinsport.) After about ten seconds of his mental wheels squeaking over her words, the arrogant smile faded from Ron's face, replaced by a perplexed look.
Just then Carolyn lunged at him, and as she did so, she made an intensely deep growling sound like Ron had never heard before. It was like something a dog would make…a really large and very vicious dog (or a wolf). Carolyn only lunged a few inches, but the shock of her sudden gesture, combined with the growl she mustered had the intended effect. Ron jumped back only to find himself slipping on fish oil that coated the floor. He stumbled backwards and tumbled into a vat of fresh fish guts.
Ron pulled himself up, wiping the goo from his face, to find Carolyn marching up to him and locked her cold green eyes (he was too shocked to realize that they had been blue only a few days before) on him.
"Now you listen to me, Ron. I don't want anything to do with you. If you keep harassing the girls here, I swear I'll see to it you're fired. And, if I find out you're trying to screw girls my age by giving them wine and weed…I guarantee you that the night after I find out, getting fired will be the absolute least of your problems. Do you dig it?" Carolyn asked in a very cold tone of voice –that somehow, to Ron, sounded like it was mixed with an animalistic growl- that indicated she meant every word she said.
"Yeah…Yeah, I dig."
"Good" Carolyn said simply, then leaned in and sniffed the miasma of fish guts enveloping Ron in an exaggerated manner. "Hmmm, that's an improvement on your cologne." She said with a sneer before turning on her heels and walking away.
Later that afternoon, Carolyn dismounted her bicycle and wheeled it into the garage at Collinwood. Her mother was still at the cannery, going over some paperwork and wouldn't be home until a little later. Even so, Carolyn preferred to go to work on her own. It felt a little awkward having her mother –the cannery's boss- giving her a ride to work every day. Plus, when the time of the full moon grew near, Carolyn found she wanted to do all the physical activity she could. It helped her burn off the growing energy she found herself with as the time of the change crept up on her again. As she walked from the garage to the kitchen door of Collinwood she found herself thinking of Ron again. The guy was a creep, no two ways about it. She'd meant what she said that if she found out he was using booze and drugs to get into girls' pants she'd make him very sorry. If it wasn't full moon, she could merely have a talk with her aunt and uncle. Carolyn had a feeling that both Barnabas and Victoria would regard Ron as much of a swine as she did…and would agree that he needed to be taught a lesson he would not soon forget.
Besides, even if Ron wasn't a pig and she wasn't already dating Joe Haskell, the whole booze and drugs bit wasn't the way to get anywhere with her. Carolyn was well aware of how prevalent both were amongst her peers. She wasn't condemning of other kids who did indulge…but it wasn't for her. She'd seen for years, in Julia Hoffman, what a dependence on alcohol and drugs could do to a person. As well, Carolyn was all too aware of the need she had to remain in control of herself. She knew too little of her condition to do otherwise. On the night of the climax of her family's feud with Angelique, she'd experienced a partial transformation on a night that didn't even have the full moon. She couldn't be certain if that was due to Angelique's presence, or simply the onslaught of emotions and adrenalin she'd felt. All she knew was the fear that taking any sort of substance that lessened her control over herself could be a very bad thing indeed. For all she knew, not only could she find herself changing, but she might not even have any control over herself in her werewolf form either. (THAT scared her more than anything: the idea of not being able to control herself when she was a werewolf. The idea of waking up the morning after full moon, like Lon Chaney Jr. in those old horror movies on the late show, not remembering what happened the night before was a most disturbing one. She smirked at how tidy those movies made becoming a werewolf looked. Larry Talbot always seemed to wake up fully dressed and his clothes presentable if a little mussed up. The morning after the full moon always found Carolyn stark naked and often soaking wet, muddy, covered in tree sap, etc. That was something Universal Pictures never seemed to show.)
Carolyn entered the house and listened, allowing her enhanced senses to tell her what she wanted to know. She could hear David upstairs somewhere, talking with Willie. They seemed to be inspecting the day's work that the two of them had done on painting Collinwood's interiors. Everything was progressing on schedule. The rebuilding of Collinwood would be officially completed, with all work done, by autumn. David and Willie were pitching in by doing some painting of the various rooms during the day when Carolyn and her mother were at the cannery…and Barnabas and Victoria were still sleeping. Carolyn kicked off her shoes and headed upstairs to shower off the day's scent of fish guts.
Twenty minutes later, Carolyn pulled a t-shirt over her head and began to comb her wet hair. She paused to turn on some music. She smiled and listened to the sound of Donovan Leitch perform "Season of the Witch". It was a song she didn't play too often now. Barnabas hated the title (his reaction whenever Bewitched came on television was equally as severe) and tried to eject the record through the nearest window. (She could see where he was coming from, but thought he was taking it to extremes). They compromised by Carolyn promising to only play it during the day when he didn't have to hear it. Carolyn let herself move trippily to the music as she combed her hair. She remembered dancing to the same song in the dining room the day Victoria arrived and met the Collins family for the very first time last year. Carolyn had to admit that Victoria really took the family –with their dysfunctional issues- in stride that first time. (And that was even before Barnabas showed up.) She looked around her room. It was far different than her old one, even though it was in the same place –in the tower that adorned the front of the mansion. The dimensions were the same, but the décor was far different. Now, Carolyn had opted for more restrained colours and had fewer posters of music groups on the walls. She did still have the hanging chair though (It was the first thing she listed when her mother had asked her how she wanted to decorate her room when they moved back in.), as well her lava lamp and shag carpeting. On the wall was a Rolling Stones calender. The box for the coming Sunday was circled in red, denoting that it was the night of the full moon and the change. As she moved to the music, she caught a glance out the window and smiled. She just saw Joe Haskell biking up to the house.
Carolyn looked in the mirror and made sure her hair was alright. She bolted out of her bedroom, down the small flight of stairs and led to the main corridor and sprinted down to the main stairs. Having Joe visit now made Carolyn feel…just…good. And that was on top of the churning expectation of the full moon. Reaching the stairs, Carolyn simply leapt over the banister and dropped to the foyer below. (The agility was another side-effect of her condition.) She landed in a crouch on her bare feet, with a grace that simply was not human (which was the case). She stood up, smoothed her hair, and trotted to the front door, pulling it open just as Joe rang the bell.
"Hi" Joe said in surprise at her presence at the door so soon after ringing the bell.
"Hi" She said back with a smile, gesturing for him to come in.
"Where is everyone?" Joe asked as he entered Collinwood and –as he always did- simply took in the grandeur of the house.
"My mom's still at the cannery. Willie and David are upstairs painting some of the rooms that were just finished. Victoria and Barnabas are…um...busy." She said.
"Cool. I just wanted to come over and say goodbye to you myself."
"I'm glad you did." Carolyn said with a coy smile. Then it faded somewhat. "I'm going to miss you."
"I'll miss you too. I wish I didn't have to go." Joe said. His family was leaving, within the hour, for an annual family gathering in Salem, Massachusetts.
"It'll only be for a week. When I get home next Sunday, I promise I'll call you first thing." Joe said with a smile.
"You'd better." Carolyn said with fake look of sternness on her face.
"I swear." Joe said with a laugh as they walked over to the fireplace. (That had finally been finished by the workmen. Now, there were no signs of the previous year's fire. Barnabas planned to return the treasure from the family crypt to the secret room behind the fireplace within the week. To ensure nobody else knew of the secret room and locking mechanism, he'd hypnotized all the workers involved in the repair to forget what they'd seen. He had slipped each of them a twenty dollar bonus though as his way of apologizing for the hypnotism.) Joe looked around. "Your Uncle Barnabas really had this place rebuilt just as it was?"
"Yeah, pretty much; the kitchen's totally modern now and the plumbing in the bathrooms are a whole lot better as well. Everything else is just like it was." Carolyn said, as Joe looked up to the ceiling.
"Hey, I've always meant to ask. What are those things up there?" Joe asked as he pointed.
"Up where?" Carolyn asked, tilting her own head upwards.
"Up there, those circles right next to the light."
"Oh…Those are the heads for the sprinkler system."
"Barnabas had a sprinkler system put in when they rebuilt the house."
"You mean, like they have in hotels and offices now?"
"Yeah, he said that it was a smart precaution." Carolyn said. She didn't tell Joe that Barnabas had been considering it, but when David said that his mother told him something about him being a phoenix…That was the clincher. Her mother said that the Collins family always endured. Barnabas agreed with that…he added that from now on, they would take all due precautions as well.
"Yeah, I guess it is." Joe said as he began to walk back to the front door.
"Do you have to go so soon?" Carolyn asked dejectedly.
"I'm afraid so. My dad wants to get going before the traffic on I-95 gets really bad. He hates all the summer tourists who clog up the roads."
"Well, I hope you have a good trip."
"It won't be."
"You won't be on it." Joe said. Before Carolyn could respond, Joe pulled her close and kissed her tenderly on the lips. As they broke, Carolyn's face was a mix of serenity and desire.
"I really, really am going to miss you." Carolyn said softly.
"I'll miss you too. When I get back next week, I'll take you out to dinner and a movie. We can celebrate your birthday then." Joe said as he walked out the door and mounted his bike with a wave, as he set off for his house.
Carolyn waved and shut the door once Joe was out of sight. She was mentally kicking herself. How could she have forgotten? She supposed it was due to all of the usual anxiety and jumbled emotions that came as the time of the full moon grew close again. Still she couldn't believe she'd forgotten such a momentous event. Two major events now stood in her near future. Today was Friday, July 13th. (The irony of the date didn't escape any members of the family that lived in a house of supernatural elements and beings.) Sunday, July 15th was the night of the full moon. Monday, July 16th, 1973 was the day Carolyn turned sixteen.