Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production and not mine
Truth and Denial
Early sunlight streaked across the cemetery as an iron door of a vampire's tomb creaked open. Barnabas Collins emerged amidst a hollow but necessary victory.
The last few days had been quite arduous to put it mildly. Barnabas had been forced to face the kind of monstrosity that was not too long ago very much his own.
It all started when his manservant, Willie Loomis, discovered their good friend, Dr. Julia Hoffman, lying unconscious on the basement floor in her own personal laboratory in the Old House.
But that was not the most troubling thing. What was troubling was Julia tried to prevent Barnabas from finding out she fell unconscious. Fortunately, Willie was never good at keeping secrets from his master. But that was not the most troubling thing, either. The troubling thing was Barnabas didn't know what caused Julia to fall unconscious.
The story she gave Willie in which she was overworked on the experiment struck Barnabas as being far-fetched.
He mentally acknowledged perhaps there was some truth in that, but the former vampire couldn't helped but fear that wasn't the case. Especially in light of recent events.
Willie tried to reassure his master that Julia was only exhausted and needed rest. Barnabas hoped that was true. The following day, Barnabas' hope was immediately dash.
He showed up at the front steps of Collinwood in the hope Julia was rested enough to continue on with the experiment. Instead of being greeted by the freshly rejuvenated Julia, Barnabas was instead greeted by the stony Mrs. Johnson, who sternly informed him his friend was still exhausted and wished not to be disturbed.
Undeterred, Barnabas instructed the house maid to deliver Julia a note he quickly whipped up. But when Mrs. Johnson returned from upstairs, the former vampire was hit by another blow; according to Mrs. Johnson, Julia actually tore up his note.
Barnabas began to grow very uneasy. It was not like the doctor to thoughtlessly dismiss him like this. Especially when they didn't see eye to eye on certain things. But lately they'd seem to be on the same wave-length as far as their friendship was concerned. What changed?
When evening arrived, Barnabas sent Willie to the Great House to retrieve Julia, only for the servant to returned to the Old House with no doctor.
It seemed Julia had dismissed Barnabas once again.
Barnabas decided to cease sending servants. He needed to know what became of Julia himself.
When he came to Collinwood the second time, he stumbled upon Julia returning from a suspicious looking outing. There Barnabas finally confronted her about why she kept her distance from him, and why she was constantly dismissing him. Julia responded by dismissing him personally this time without the need of a servant. Ignoring her, Barnabas developed an ill feeling over the scarf covering her neck.
He yanked it off her, and his worst fears were officially confirmed; two fresh punctured wounds scar the side of Julia's neck. The newly born vampire, (and dead Collins family handyman), Tom Jennings, had gotten to her.
But of course there could be no other explanation. Julia was weak and bed-stricken during the day, and vibrant at night. She became unsociable, short temper, tense, and mostly had no will of her own.
Barnabas knew these symptoms all too well. He caused Willie Loomis and Maggie Evans to experienced them when they fell under his thrall just a short year ago. Now Tom Jennings had done the same to Julia.
This leaves Barnabas was no other alternative. He needed to find Jennings and destroy him. But this wouldn't be easy with various dire obstacles standing in his way.
Adam was quite adamant with Barnabas and Julia to finish building his mate out of grotesque body parts, just like how Adam himself was created. He was so adamant in fact, he threatened to kill every member of Barnabas' family (including Victoria Winters) if they didn't pull through. Then Vicki's betrothed, Jeff Clark, (who also played a role in Adam's creation) inconveniently stumbled into the lab and discovered the body parts being stored there, thus finding out about the experiment. Even though Barnabas personally didn't like him, he managed to persuade the young man to help assist them for the sake of Vicki's life.
But then another family blow hit; Roger Collins informed Barnabas that the troubled family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, had escaped from Windcliff. Roger desperately wanted Julia's assistance to relocate his missing sister, but Julia was too enthralled by Tom Jennings to be of any use. Not only to find Elizabeth, but also for the experiment.
That made Barnabas feel a little empty. Julia was usually so lively when it comes to her work. She was one of the most unique and independent women Barnabas had ever known. Before he was free of his coffin, Barnabas had never met a woman doctor. She used her skills to assist him countless times, even in nefarious purposes. But this Tom Jennings took that away from her. Not only that, but her desire to be a successful and independent spirit.
Come nightfall that would all come to an end, then Barnabas can concentrate in finding out who was responsible for Jennings' monstrosity. But first he needed to destroy Jennings.
Julia did an admirable job in resisting Jennings' summons throughout the night, but she dreaded she couldn't resist him at the next sunset. So Barnabas laid out a plan and put it in motion; he'd arrange for Jennings to come see Julia in Josette's bedroom, and shoot him with silver bullets he had custom-made. A concerned Julia fear this would be highly dangerous, but Barnabas couldn't see any other way to end this.
With sunset's arrival, Jennings predictably called for Julia. Like a hopeless junkie needing a fix, the doctor tried to torn away from the historic bedroom to reach her summoner.
Barnabas helped keep her composure, and Julia calmed and became more herself.
With Barnabas' trap in place, Jennings menacingly arrived, but Barnabas underestimated two important elements he should've realized, given it wasn't that long ago he was a creature of the night himself.
One: Jennings had supernatural powers, and could disappear and reappear at will. Two: was how far a vampric thrall could make a person go to protect her master.
In a blink of an eye, both Julia and Jennings vanished.
After that, it was a long, strenuous, frustrated, and terrifying ordeal for Barnabas. He and Willie spent countless hours searching the woods. Disappointingly, they'd returned to the Old House after a fruitless search.
"Why can we find Tom Jennings?" Barnabas fretted to his servant as he hung up his cloak and beloved wolf-head cane. "Where could he be? Where could Julia be meeting him?"
"I don't know, Barnabas, we looked everywhere," Willie responded a little shortly.
"No we haven't, or we would've found them," Barnabas insisted. "I keep thinking that they're meeting someplace I know, someplace I've been overlooking."
"Well, could'ja destroy him, Barnabas," Willie challenged his master. "I mean, could'ja really?"
"Well, what do you think I've been hunting him for," Barnabas responded a little indignantly. "Without Julia we can not finish the experiment."
"Is that the only reason you're gonna find him?" Willie said dubiously.
"Well, what other reason could there be?" Barnabas said haughtily. "Adam may come here tonight. He may demand to find out how we've gone with the experiment. What can I say? If we do not do as he wants, he would destroy Vicki. You know that."
Willie gave Barnabas an odd narrow look, and said in a light accusing tone, "I just think maybe you got another reason, Barnabas."
"Well, what other reason?" Barnabas said taken aback. "Well, yes, he'll kill the rest of the family one by one," he considered. "He never threatens unless he is determined to go through what he promises. Why did this have to happened, Willie? The experiment is so important."
Over his master's fretting and despair, Willie responded by inappropriately giggling derangely. He scampered into the drawing room in some peculiar giddy delirium. Needless to say, the master of the Old House was puzzled.
He followed his servant into the drawing room, and demanded, "What are you laughing at?"
"Oh, Barnabas, you're... you're... you're talkin' about all the people except one that concerns you the most," Willie exclaimed, flailing his hands for emphasis. "I mean, the experiment, Vicki, Adam. But what you don't mention much is Julia. And she's the one you need the most."
"Obviously." Barnabas didn't know what Willie was getting at. To him everything was completely obvious, and the situation was too dire to take it lightly.
"I can't... put together... the parts of a body into a human with life in her breath." Barnabas didn't even know why he was stuttering some of his words there, but Willie's teasing and knowing look was suddenly making him very tense.
"Ah, Barnabas, you just don't get what I'm sayin'."
"Are you being profound?" Barnabas queried his servant.
"No, but you're actin' like some man who's secretary is missin', and I know that's how you don't feel."
Suddenly disconcerted, Barnabas turned his back on his servant, and faced the candelabra instead. But Willie eagerly hovered over to his master's side.
"I mean, Barnabas, you're more than just worried about Julia," he persisted.
"For a specific reason," Barnabas insisted defensively.
"Well, that's all I'm sayin'!" Willie said sheepishly, flailing his arms.
"If she goes on seeing him she would die," Barnabas said seriously, "and if she dies she would be like him. No, we must stop him. We got to go out again."
"Oh, wait, where are you goin' to go?" Willie protested, as Barnabas headed into the foyer.
"Through the woods again," Barnabas answered, facing his servant.
"Well, he's not there, she's not there, how could they be?" Willie argued.
"Well, we can't stop... with... noth... nothing done." Barnabas stuttered his words again, growing more frantic by the minute.
"Why, Barnabas, why?" Willie demanded pointedly.
"What do you want me to admit, Willie?" Barnabas said irritably, moving toward the warm burning fireplace. "That I care for Julia more than I appear to? All right, I will admit it. She's been a part of my life for so long, a very important part. And I must find her. But where could they be?" the former vampire wondered aloud. "Where could he be? Where could he be at this time of night so late?"
Barnabas thought of a place he stalked to long ago when he became a newly born vampire liked Jennings had just become.
"Yes, the docks," Barnabas whispered in a sinister tone. "I remember the docks at night. Deserted. Except for an occasional woman hurrying home."
This dark reverie in Barnabas caused Willie to become increasingly uncomfortable, causing him to cower a little. Before any of them could form any thought of action, an urgent rapping came from the front door.
Collins family matriarch, (and Windcliff escapee), Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, needed Barnabas' aid. After Willie granted the older woman's awkward request to be left alone with her cousin, a shaken Elizabeth confided in Barnabas about how her coffin was ready for her, and how Roger wanted to have her entomb.
Barnabas was puzzled over the matriarch's recent obsession of coffins, death, and being buried alive. He gently tried to persuade her to returned to Windcliff, but Elizabeth forced him to promise to not turn her in to her brother.
Barnabas was genuinely concerned and worried over the clearly troubled woman, but it was through her ramblings he finally found out about Julia's whereabouts; in a crypt on the edge of the Collins Cemetery. Apparently, Elizabeth thought the tomb was where she would be laid to rest, and Julia was in on her soon-to-be demise.
But Barnabas knew in actuality, the crypt was Tom Jennings' tomb, and Julia had been having her rendezvous with her master there. Barnabas wasted no time in hurrying on his way.
The trek to Tom Jennings tomb at the Collins Cemetery was excruciating for Barnabas because it left him alone with his thoughts. The kind of thoughts he was uncomfortable being alone with. Thoughts of Tom Jennings protruding his fangs into Julia's vulnerable flesh and turning her into his slave. Thoughts of how not long ago, Barnabas would have no qualms of doing such ghoulish things himself.
Now that part of his past filled him with deep shame.
What more, Willie Loomis' claims and accusations filled the former vampire's head like a persistent numbing drumbeat. This actually caused Barnabas to admit he cares for Julia more than he lets on.
I mean, Barnabas, you're more than just worried about Julia.
The former vampire squeezed shut his eyes. Of course he cares about Julia. She's his friend. Why did Willie had to forced him to vocalize that?
A parade of depraved thoughts unwelcomely entered Barnabas' mind. Thoughts of Tom Jennings tasting Julia's blood, with his lips and fangs covered in sweet crimson. Barnabas was now heading for the rendezvous spot where Jennings and Julia performed such acts. Barnabas completely disdained that, and it got his own blood boiling.
Through his own personal experiences, Barnabas knew the sensual pleasures of taking blood from a woman.
Inexplicably, Barnabas couldn't helped but wondered what Julia thought of these rendezvous. He was mildly aware Tom Jennings was an attractive young man, and there he was paying special attention to an older woman. Not some promiscuous harlot, or a young virginal maiden that vampires often targeted, but Julia.
Barnabas recalled that embarrassing shameful time in which Julia's experiment transformed him into a hideous, withered, old man, as opposed to the human man he longed to be. Barnabas remembered he needed human blood, preferably, the blood of a woman, to rid him of this bizarre scientific curse.
Julia must've been aware of the sensual overtones involved between a vampire and his prey. Barnabas remembered how Julia willingly offered herself so he could experience youth again. He remembered the way she looked at him, and the huskiness of her voice in yearning anticipation.
But, Barnabas denied her that opportunity. He recalled his reason for doing so was that it struck him as being inappropriate. But there was another reason. A reason he was unsure of. He didn't know what to make any sense of it through his jumbled thoughts. Now, nearly a year later, Julia had finally experienced what it was like to be taken into the caress of a vampire, only that vampire wasn't Barnabas.
Initially, Barnabas turned Julia down the year previously because she lacked youth and beauty. Now she was taken by a vampire who was nothing but this. Barnabas had no choice but to recognized the bitter irony of that.
- you're more than just worried about Julia, echoed Willie's pestering tone deep inside his master's mind.
Wistfully, Barnabas remembered tasting Josette's blood, and then later Vicki's. Given his overpowering love for both women, that experience was more than just lustful desire for Barnabas. It was something he never experienced in the tasting of blood. A feeling so overwhelmingly powerful, Barnabas knew with perfect clarity Julia was not experiencing it with Jennings.
But thanks to Dr. Eric Lang, and oddly enough, Adam, Barnabas no longer had the need to survive on blood, or to sleep in a coffin. He was finally the normal human being he craved to be.
As he neared the Collins Cemetery, Barnabas put in an effort to strengthen his resolve. In between getting duped in his own house, and stealing his dear friend from right under his nose by doing something Barnabas himself never experienced, tasting Julia's blood, Barnabas couldn't help but to feel a little emasculated by Jennings.
That was something he needed to rectify.
Barnabas had gotten so use to being human, he'd forgotten what it felt like to take full advantage of his supernatural abilities to thwart his enemies. That was what Jennings did to him.
But Barnabas had more experience in being a vampire, and there were some lessons Jennings hadn't learned. Unfortunately for him, it was too late to get educated.
Barnabas creaked open the iron gate of the Collins Cemetery, and prowl his way through. His black cloak made him feel absurdly like a bat, given he no longer possess the ability to transform into one.
Gliding by various headstones and gravestones, Barnabas encountered a shadowy crypt at the edge of the cemetery. It was where Elizabeth had instructed. He cautiously entered the crypt, but did not see the sight of Jennings.
He did however find the unconscious Julia lying on the cold, hard, marble floor behind the coffin. She was incredibly pale and litless, liked she was drained.
"Julia!" Barnabas gasped when he encountered her motionless form.
He knelt beside her, and took her cold hand in his. He continuously called her name, but she remained unresponsive. With nothing to do, Barnabas collected his friend into his arms, and began his trek back to the Old House.
To a casual observer, it looked as if Barnabas was gently cradling his lover in his arms. But, Barnabas was too far gone to care to be self-conscious. He didn't even paid much attention to his servant's pestering tone plaguing his mind. His friend was clinging to life, and he needed to help her.
As soon as he reached the Old House, Barnabas called for his servant.
"BARNABAS!" Willie cried upon seeing the frail doctor clinging in the arms of his master.
"Well, what happened?" Willie asked worryingly.
"She's dead," Elizabeth surmised, her voice completely devoid of emotion.
"Is she, Barnabas?" Willie asked mournfully, his own voice cracking, as they all went into the drawing room.
"Look, she's dead," Elizabeth insisted, her voice still emotionless.
Barnabas gently placed Julia on the chair in the drawing room, and exclaimed, "No, she's not dead, but almost."
Willie momentarily knelt by Julia's side, but instantly shot up.
"I'll... I'll get a doctor!"
"No," Barnabas told him.
"It's too late for a doctor," Elizabeth persisted.
"Well, is it, Barnabas?" Willie asked emotionally. "Is she gonna die?"
"I don't know," Barnabas admitted, "but you better get Josette's room ready, now."
"You're lying to him," Elizabeth accused her cousin coldly.
This was the last thing Barnabas needed. It was moments like this that made him realized Julia was the only sane person in this lifetime. But unfortunately, she was dying, and she couldn't help calm his raking nerves.
"Please, Elizabeth," Barnabas pleaded.
"She's dead," Elizabeth stubbornly insisted, staring down at Julia's helpless form. "You can't keep that away from me."
Wanting to get away from Elizabeth, Barnabas ordered Willie to escort her upstairs in the font room. They would figure out what to do with her in the morning.
Alone with his friend, Barnabas loyally knelt beside her, and said with great tenderness, "Julia, Julia, are you alright?"
The doctor's eyes slowly fluttered open at the sound of his voice.
With blurry eyes, Julia mumbled, "Barnabas," but started slipping back into unconsciousness again.
"No, don't," Barnabas gently pleaded, "stay with me, Julia."
The doctor didn't respond.
The hellish howling of a dog existing in the shadows of the night brought Julia back to awareness.
"He calls to me," she said in a monotone voice, her eyes shut tight. "And I must go."
"Yes, I know, Julia," Barnabas said in a pained knowing voice.
Julia suddenly opened her eyes wide, surprising her friend.
"I'm... I'm going to die!" she said panically, her voice cracking.
"Julia!" Barnabas murmured, distress by her words.
"I know it, oh, Barnabas!" Julia tried lifting her fragile frame off the chair, but Barnabas gently halted her progress.
"Rest, rest, please," he urged her, placing her back on the chair.
The howling of the ravenous dog continued to disturb the night, distressing the doctor.
"I can't," she said defeated. "I can't."
"Julia... I'm... I'm... I'm going to help you," Barnabas stammered. "I... I... can, I will, I swear I will."
"No," Julia managed to say weakly, before once again slipping back into unconsciousness.
"Julia..." Barnabas weakly grasped her arms.
Willie frantically stormed into the drawing room, shakily declaring, "Hey, Barnabas, we gotta get her to the hospital!"
"What time is it?" Barnabas queried his servant.
Puzzled, Willie glanced at the clock on top of the fireplace mantel, and answered, "Four-thirty."
Completely resolved, Barnabas stood up, and proclaimed, "Half an hour it will be dawn."
"Barnabas, she won't be alive then," Willie argued emotionally.
"We must take that chance," Barnabas insisted.
"Barnabas we gotta get her to the hospital!" Willie heatedly argued. "Get her a transfusion!"
"- where he suddenly appear in the middle of the night at the hospital bed?" the master of the Old House countered. "No, Willie, we must settle him. That is the only way we can save her."
"Barnabas, we've been hunting him," Willie muttered tiredly.
"I know where he will be at dawn," Barnabas declared darkly. "I will be there, too. As he lies in his coffin. Get me a stake, Willie, now."
Like the ever loyal servant, Willie did what he was told. He'd tried to reason with his master that maybe it would be a better idea to wait till sunlight to confront Jennings in his coffin. But, Barnabas wasn't afraid. Jennings need to be destroyed as quickly as possible if Julia was going to live. Barnabas decided to have Willie come along to assist him.
He didn't know how he felt leaving the dying Julia alone with the mentally fragile Elizabeth, but he reasoned no dire harm could possibly come from that. All Barnabas knew was as soon as Jennings was settled, Julia would be well.
Willie didn't say much on the trek to the cemetery. He was cowering, and obviously reluctant to assist in this. Barnabas was thankful for his silence. He was in no mood for Willie trying to argue or reason with him. Barnabas was still perturbed his servant forced him to actually admit his feelings for Julia. He slightly wondered if Willie saw him being gentle and tender with her in the drawing room.
He pushed aside those awkward thoughts. He needed to focus on destroying Jennings.
When they'd arrived at the tomb, Willie finally spoke, "Barnabas, it's not light yet."
"Quiet," Barnabas hissed.
"Barnabas, we're taking an awful chance!" Willie whimpered.
Ignoring him, Barnabas creaked opened Jennings' coffin, only to find it empty.
This put Willie in a severe panic.
"Barnabas he's going to come back any minute! We gotta get outta here! I ain't stayin' here!"
Like a complete craven fool, Willie slammed down the tools that would've protected him from the undead. He cowardly ran out of the crypt yelling in terror. He left his frustrated master alone.
Barnabas collected the tools his servant foolishly dropped, and sense the presence of his rival at once.
The pale and sinister form of Tom Jennings emerged from the deep shadows of his crypt.
"You," Barnabas uttered.
He firmly held the stake and wooden hammer within his grasp.
Enraged by Barnabas' presence, Jennings began advancing on him.
"There's no time, it's getting light," Barnabas told him.
Jennings glanced at the early colors of light filtering through his window.
"Just a moment, that's all you have," Barnabas added.
However, Jennings was unconcerned by this. He flung at Barnabas, and forced him to open up his grasp. Barnabas' weapons dropped to the marble floor. The two scuffle, with Barnabas trying to choke him. Jennings responded by shoving him toward the window.
"The light, the light!" Barnabas said gruffly, indicating the window, where the early morning light was gradually becoming brighter. "You're wasting your time with me."
Clearly, Jennings didn't care. He roughly grabbed Barnabas by the shoulders, and shoved him against his coffin. Barnabas tried warding him off by choking him again, but Jennings overpower him and bared his fangs. With Barnabas screaming, Jennings moved in for the kill. But the sound of a crowing rooster halted his progress.
"Do you hear? Do you hear it?" Barnabas demanded in a taunting tone. "It's dawn. Unless you get back, you'll be dust."
With more early morning sunlight engulfing the crypt, Jennings had no choice but to take the former vampire's words seriously. Barnabas shoved the fiend right off him, but Jennings roughly grabbed him again, halting him.
"It's light, it's getting light!" Barnabas gasped desperately, as Jennings choked him into unconsciousness.
Barnabas came to a short time later, finding himself lying helplessly on the marble floor. Jennings was nowhere in sight. He could only be in his coffin.
As the brilliant morning sun shined ever so brightly, Barnabas got back to his feet. He was grateful for the sun. For too long the sun was one of his greatest foes. How fulfilling it saved his life in preventing Jennings from finishing him off.
Barnabas lifted the lid of Jennings' vulnerable salvation. He came upon the repulsive sight of the night creature resting contentedly.
Did someone ever look at me as I now look at you? Barnabas thought inwardly to himself.
He suddenly thought of the people who had looked at him this way. Some he even loved; his father, Ben Stokes, Willie Loomis, Julia...
No, no, or I would not be alive now.
Gingerly, Barnabas once again collected his weapons, but hesitated by the coffin. It wasn't that long ago Jennings was an innocent. He was a good man trying to earn an honest living. But that all tragically changed.
I must if Julia is to live, Barnabas soberly reminded himself. I must do what I feared, dreaded, and perhaps even wanted.
With that, Barnabas placed the stake over the vampire's heart and drove the wooden hammer hard on top of it. The stake pierced Jennings heart. His painful screams cut through the cemetery.
But it was done. It was finally done. Barnabas unceremoniously tossed his weapons aside, and shut the lid on the bloody corpse. In order to conceal this obscene depravity, Barnabas had to carefully bury the body come nightfall. But he was not going to worry about that now.
And that was how it happened. The story of how Barnabas Collins got here. As he made his returned journey home, he had only one thing on his mind. It wasn't what just transpired between him and Jennings, or how Jennings became a vampire, or even Adam and his grotesque demands. He returned to the Old House and headed straight up to Josette's bedroom.
He found Elizabeth fiddling around, and Julia lying in Josette's Victorian canopy bed.
"Julia, are you alright?" Barnabas asked her hopefully, coming up to the bed.
"Yes, I'm feeling better," Julia gently answered him.
She indeed had more color to her cheeks, and gloriously, the two puncture wounds on her neck vanished.
"I knew you will be," Barnabas said faithfully.
He turned to Elizabeth, and requested, "Elizabeth, would you leave me alone with Julia for a moment, please?"
"I don't understand," Elizabeth said exasperated, "she seems as though she was dying, and now she's so much better."
Despite her puzzlement, the matriarch granted her cousin's request regardless.
Alone in Josette's bedroom, Barnabas sat by the side of the woman who came through to him more than any other. The woman so unique, Barnabas had come to care for her more than he ever realized. She was his dear friend and constant companion.
"It's over," he said, tenderly grasping her hand with both of his. "Tom Jennings will never bother you again."
Julia took her free hand and sandwich it on top of Barnabas' tender caress.
"Thank you, Barnabas," she said graciously.
"You saved my life so often that I don't deserve thanks," he said sincerely.
A beautiful glowing relief shimmer throughout the Old House. It was the same relief when Julia and Willie loyally came to Barnabas' aid when the ghost of Reverend Trask imprisoned him in the basement. Once again, a family is reunited, and the powerful forces of the supernatural was brought down to do it.
Barnabas was so enthralled by this glowing relief and reconciliation, he didn't have time to register a faintly familiar voice echoing deep inside his consciousness, - you're more than just worried about Julia.