Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production and not mine

A Precious Jewel

The darkening sky bathed over the Old House like a sinister cloak on the Collinwood estate. Dusk would be arriving shortly, and Willie Loomis couldn't afford to waste any time. It wasn't like he was slacking off. He spent the day doing what seem to him like a million and one chores, and cramming in a million and one more. He performed tedious errands all around Bangor, and managed to get back to the Old House two hours before the arrival of dusk.

He then spend the last of those two hours sweeping the floors, washing any dishes that needed to be wash, and replacing all the candles and lighting them in preparation for his undead master, Barnabas Collins, to awake with the night. But there was one more matter that needed to be dealt with. A matter Willie didn't want to deal with, but it couldn't be ignored. Especially since Barnabas gave him specific orders to do it. Carrying a light chest in his left arm, Willie sorrowfully entered the elegant Colonial bedroom of Josette Collins.

No, not bedroom, Willie mentally chided himself resentfully, squeezing shut his eyes. Shrine.

It just wasn't the creepy portrait with eerie dancing candle light flickering across the painting above of the fireplace mantle that constitute it as a shrine. It was the whole damn room. A sick demented shrine to a woman long dead and buried. A shrine Willie was forced to refurbish and renovate down to the most mundane and sickening detail. A shrine Willie was forced to give tremendous attention and care to. A shrine to a dead woman Willie possibly care nothing about, but was the object of the undying desires and twisted obsession of his undead and monstrous master.

When Willie entered the centuries old bedroom, his heart nearly fell to the floor. Willie was the only one in the disconcerting and imposing bedroom. But for a time, the shrine of the bedroom served as a prison. A prison to an innocent young woman who had the misfortune of crossing paths with Barnabas Collins. And Willie helped him to hold her captive.

As he stood at the open double doorway, Willie's eyes soften. He tried to resist the urge to wept. After spending the day concentrating on his unimportant chores and tasks, Willie no longer couldn't keep his sorrow in check. His heart breaking, Willie recalled before sunrise of Barnabas informing him of Maggie Evans, the innocent young woman they'd both held captive, and who Barnabas psychologically tortured and abused, had died.

The unsympathetic and uncaring tone in Barnabas' voice as he told his servant this filled Willie with disgust. He slammed the double doors in anger.

Now he was in this room, Willie no longer had some anal task to keep him distracted from his guilt and grief. Standing forlornly in the shadowy room, floods of memories assaulted Willie with their torment. Memories of Maggie being in this room. His heart ache when he recalled hiding the half-brainwashed girl in this very room from her own father and boyfriend. His stomach curl and his skin crawled when shortly after that, Barnabas ordered his servant to leave this room so he could punish his "beloved" for making a sound that almost alerted Sam Evans and Joe Haskell of her captivity.

Willie never wanted Barnabas to hurt Maggie. He didn't want to leave her alone in this room with that evil creature. Willie shudder in shame over his cowardice. What hurt the most was no matter how hard he tried to help Maggie, even saving her life by standing up to Barnabas himself at one point, Willie had the uncanny ability to always bring the doom captive down. After a while, Maggie no longer view the servant as a trusted friend and ally because he wouldn't let her escape. The truth was Willie would do anything in the world for her, except to give her freedom.

Willie so happened to let loose the most evil being who had clung onto every essence of his soul. Thus another guilt attacked Willie; if he hadn't tried to rob the graves at the Collins mausoleum to begin with, Maggie wouldn't had gotten captured and mentally tortured in the first place.

Running a hand through his sandy hair, the young man began to sob. He shakily sat the chest down on Josette's vanity. As he gazed at his pale miserable reflection at the vanity's mirror, other memories haunted him. Memories of Maggie parading around this room and throughout the Old House in an antique wedding gown and veil. Mentally, she was in a zombie-like state, thinking she was Josette. Willie often served her tea, and prepared meals for her and Barnabas in eerie candle light whenever she was in that state. That left Willie's chest feeling hollow. He didn't care much seeing Maggie that way. This brainwashed and demure noblewoman had nothing on the free-spirited spark Maggie Evans possessed. Willie thought Barnabas was a moron for not appreciating Maggie for being Maggie.

Shaking himself from that thought, Willie realized dusk was drawing nearer. He needed to perform the task he came here to do before his master awaken with the night.

Willie opened up one of the drawers of Josette's vanity, and began collecting her jewelry which were stored there. He deposited them into the chest.

They're very precious jewels, Willie thought morbidly, as he placed a pearl necklace, and the sparkling diamond necklace Maggie once tried to bribe him with in the hope it would give her freedom, into the chest. The painful sight of that diamond necklace nearly flush out new set of tears for Willie.

He quickly buried it with other glistening jewels so he wouldn't have to look at it. As he picked up a ruby ring, Willie suddenly recalled fondly of Maggie giving him the diamond ring her father gifted her. A warm glow filled up Willie's chest. That was the only time anyone gifted him something as a friend. Not only was it a gift of something he liked, it was given to him by someone he held valued and dear. Unfortunately, Barnabas confiscated the ring after Willie lost it due to a confrontation with that nosy brat, David Collins. Barnabas never return the ring back to his servant. Willie didn't know what his master did with it. With great longing, Willie would give anything to get it back. It was his memento from Maggie, and Maggie alone. Not some lost sparkling treasure from some dead woman who probably never loved Barnabas to begin with.

Willie tossed the ruby ring into the chest. As he collected more jewels, he encountered something that nearly caused his heart to skip a beat. With trembling fingers, Willie picked up Josette's enchanting diamond emerald earrings. The earrings gleam under the waning light. Willie became enthralled by the beauty of it. He stared deeply into them as if in a trance. A memory crept up to him in a warm wave as he recalled seeing Maggie wearing them. She looked ridiculously...

Willie didn't finish the thought.

Something just dawned on him. He always knew Maggie was a looker. Hell, that was the sole reason why he set his preying eyes on her to mark as one of his sordid conquests. Little things like her refusal of his tasteless accosted advances be damned. But one gloomy night, Willie witness Maggie gracefully descending down the staircase with the emeralds delicately dangling from her ear lobes. Both the emeralds and Maggie shimmer serenely by the gentle candle glow. At that moment, Willie fully realized how beautiful Maggie truly was, despite her being in one of her zombie trances at the time. Maggie made Willie felt something that was completely foreign to him. Something he didn't know he was capable of feeling. Willie doubted he would experience these type of feelings toward anyone again.

During Maggie's imprisonment, Willie felt he found a kindred spirit. Something that would never happened if it weren't for Barnabas Collins. They'd both had been battered and abused by that evil monster, and been exposed to the kind of torment anyone couldn't possibly imagined. By this thought, Willie's heart broke again. But as he continued to gaze into the sparkling earrings, he mused his kindred spirit wore them more beautifully than the French priss Barnabas was enchanted with.

Willie flirt with the idea of snatching these earrings for himself as his own personal memento from Maggie since Barnabas took his ring. But in the end, the servant decided the punishment was not worth it if his master found out. Dejectedly, the broken young man placed the emeralds into the chest.

After collecting all of Josette's valuable jewels, Willie shut the chest tightly. He slowly left the saddest and most haunting bedroom in the world.

He slowly and sadly descended down the dark musty steps of the basement, where Barnabas rest in his coffin. Dusk was fast approaching, so his master would awaken shortly. Willie headed for the cell where Barnabas used to lock up Maggie. Willie always felt when he used to check up on her, often to serve her pitiful meals, he was visiting a princess locked up in a dungeon. That was how medieval the basement portion of this decaying manor felt.

When he unlocked the cell's iron door and creaked it open, Willie's heart fell upon the sight of the cell no longer holding a prisoner. For a brief moment, Willie forgotten about Maggie's sudden death. A death he helped cause. The door of the secret passageway was still open. Willie placed the chest in the hidden storage Barnabas instructed. Willie shut the passage, thus locking away Josette's pretty jewels. He leaned against the brick wall with watery eyes as more painful memories of Maggie continued to attack him. Memories of the reluctant vampire bride either begging him to let her escape, or to simply comfort her and provide her with company. She even suggested they'd runaway together once, but Willie couldn't accept that tempting offer. There was no doubt in this tormented and pitiful young soul's mind and heart had he runaway with Maggie, he would've been happy. Oh, so very happy. But if Maggie owned his heart, Barnabas owned his soul. That was all that matter in the end.

Willie broke down and wept. He let down the girl he considered his kindred spirit. He would never see her again. His spine chilled over the heart-stopping moment of the arrival of dusk.

Elsewhere in the dark dreary dungeon, the creaking sound of an opening coffin screech into Willie's ears. His master was waiting for him.

Willie wiped his tears with his sleeve. As he slowly left the cell and locked the iron door behind him, Willie suddenly recalled rescuing Maggie who was locked in Barnabas' old coffin at the Collins mausoleum. Willie thought about it, and decided that was the best thing he'd ever let out of a coffin.

He went to serve his master.

A hundred miles outside Collinsport, Maggie Evans was locked inside a completely different cell. Sitting cross-legged under her covers on her small bed, clutching her ever present doll, Maggie gently rocked her shaky frame, humming to herself.

"Take the key and lock her up," she murmured in an eerie sing-song voice. "Lock her up, lock her up..."

The night began to crept from her barred window. Maggie looked around her cell more alertly. She knew when the night arrived, an evil creature would come out and get her. She sadly wondered why that special little girl hadn't visited her lately. She also vaguely pondered why the sandy-haired man hadn't check up on her in the dungeon.