Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production and not mine
Crystal clear moonlight streamed through the window into a dark shadowy room of a young boy tossing and turning violently under his covers in his small bed. He tried desperately warding off sinister nightmares involving bats, cloaks, canes with striking silver wolf-head handles, and a coffin being stored up in a mysterious dungeon somewhere.
Nightmares were nothing new to this small boy named David Collins. He had them as far back as he could remember. But lately his nightmares had a tendency of becoming real. That's not good, considering his nightmares are about Barnabas Collins, who is not really his cousin from England, but rather a member of the undead who wished death upon him.
The boy shot up through his covers with his dark eyes wide. He emerged from a frightening nightmare that immediately faded from his mind like a mist being blown in a breeze.
He stared around his bedroom panting, clinging to his covers tightly. His toys and posters remain perched in the shadows.
For the life of him, David doesn't know why everything has to look so scary at night. But he's never the kind of kid who insisted on the need for a nightlight. He always knew Collinwood is a haven for ghosts. Usually, David doesn't even mind the hauntings. In fact, some of his dearest friends are ghosts. But ever since he learned the truth about Barnabas, David's nights has become one nightmare after another. His nights always plunge into hell from the moment his governess, Victoria Winters, tuck him into bed, and switch off the light.
A familiar tune of music suddenly reach David's ears, accompanied by a sudden present chill. The tune is very sing-songy and completely timeless. With the sudden present chill creeping up David's spine, the boy knew he is not alone. But this thought didn't spook him. Even though he's about to be visited by a dead person, David knew it wasn't Barnabas. This dead person is nice, but a mystery surrounds her. A mystery David is determined to crack.
The eerie transparent form of a little girl who lived long ago known as Sarah Collins materialized on the end of David's bed. She perched sitting on her knees, playing her beloved flute as she did so. She wore her long white ghostly dress with a matching bonnet. It's the only outfit David ever saw her in. She played her favorite timeless song, "London Bridge." There was a time David found this song stupid and annoying, but since he met Sarah, he found it completely haunting. Sarah finished her tune, and placed her instrument on her lap.
"Hello, David," she greeted with her usual childlike innocence.
"Hi, Sarah," David replied with great relief in his voice.
Lately, David found himself being at his most comfortable with Sarah. Even though she's a ghost who lived long before he was even born, David appreciated the fact she also happens to be around his age. Even though Sarah gets David into trouble sometimes, David found they have some things in common, mainly with some morbid fascinations that will have many kids among the living screaming. And considering David is constantly surrounded by adults, it's nice to have a kid who can come along and play with. The best part is Sarah doesn't even need some grown-ups permission to play with him at Collinwood.
"What's the matter? You look frightened," Sarah observed, noting David's pale face, and frightened wide eyes through the pale moonlight.
"Oh, I just woke up from a scary nightmare," David informed her.
"What was your nightmare about?" Sarah asked him, cocking her head curiously.
David cast the ghost girl a scathing look, and retorted, "You know darn well what my nightmare was about!"
"I keep telling you to stay away from the Old House," Sarah scolded shrilly.
"How can I?" David countered. "I know weird stuff is going on there. So weird, Miss Hoffman is practically guarding the place. I wonder why she's in league with Barnabas."
At that statement, Sarah cast David a quizzical look, and asked, "What does 'in league' mean?"
David ignored her.
"And I also can't forget that Barnabas was behind Maggie being missing," he added. "You told me so yourself Sarah that Willie tried to warn her something about Barnabas."
"I shouldn't have said that, David," Sarah said evasively, averting her gaze from him awkwardly.
"But you did," David persisted stubbornly. "Barnabas did something terrible to Maggie. I don't know what, but Willie tried to help her, but he got shot and took the blame."
David pictured a scenario in his mind's eye of Barnabas locking Maggie in a cell in the same dungeon he inadvertently visited in his dream. Willie was cowering in a nearby darkened corner, looking as if he's waiting for something to strike him. It all looked absurdly like a fairytale with a captured Princess, a monster, a monster minion (albeit a put upon reluctant one), but no hero.
"There's nothing you can do for them, David." Sarah's serious tone cut through David's dark fairytale reverie.
David glance at the ghost girl who illuminated eerily in the pale moonlight. She cast the boy a sorrowful look, and David realized there's nothing he can really do about Willie's tragic downfall, or Maggie's lost memories.
"Yeah," he uttered in a small voice. He suddenly grew panic. "What about Vicki?!"
"What do you mean?" queried the ghost girl, cocking her head again.
"Barnabas has been spending time with her lately!" David said frantically. "A little too much time."
"I know," Sarah said simply.
"I'm worried what Barnabas would do to her," David said breathlessly. "She's a very good friend."
"Are you worried she'll be in league with Barnabas?" Sarah asked him steadily.
"Not exactly," David replied lightly. "I'm not for sure Burke can protect her. And that is very scary, Sarah. Burke is the strongest person I know. I don't want Barnabas to hurt him, either."
"Danger is coming, David," Sarah stated cryptically.
"I know, Sarah," David replied evenly. "But I can't let Barnabas hurt Vicki and Burke like he did with Willie and Maggie."
David squeezed shut his eyes, trying to avoid horrible images of the prospect of what Barnabas could do with his governess, and her fiancee, Burke Devlin. The boy opened his eyes, and gave the ghost girl a real serious look.
"Look, we know Barnabas' secret. He's a dead guy that comes out at night. I got a feeling he's the same Barnabas Collins in the portrait downstairs. The very same Barnabas. Am I right, Sarah?"
"I'm not allow to tell," Sarah exclaimed anxiously, clutching her flute tightly.
She crawled aside to the bottom left corner of the bed, and let her legs dangle over the edge. David leaned over to her in his pajamas, and persisted, "It's true, isn't it?"
Sarah didn't look at him, let alone answer his question.
"You can tell me," David insisted. "It'll be our secret."
Sarah glared at him over that, and huffily countered, "You didn't keep the secret room at the mausoleum a secret, and I told you not to tell anyone!"
"I didn't have a choice," David argued defensively. "No thanks to you."
Sarah glared at David again in anger. Her ghostly glow accompanied by the illuminated moonlight gave her a severe and alarming appearance. This caused the boy to immediately backtrack at once.
"But that doesn't matter now," David said hastily. "We need to think about Vicki and Burke. We need to protect them. Will that toy soldier you gave me do the trick?"
"You're the one who needs that, David," said Sarah.
"But Vicki and Burke needs a magic toy soldier to protect them, too," David insisted. "Look, Sarah, I've deal with the supernatural before. Besides people like you and Barnabas who are dead."
"What do you mean?" Sarah cocked her head again.
David plopped himself next to her, dangling his legs over the edge along with hers.
"Well," he began, "people think I've forgotten my mother. But I really haven't."
"Why would people think you forgot your mother?" Sarah asked, completely perplexed by this.
"My mother is a supernatural person," David explained. "She's a Phoenix."
"A Phoenix?" Sarah gave him a bewildered look.
"A Phoenix is a very powerful bird that lights itself in flames when it's ready to die, and is reborn from the ashes."
Sarah looked even more bewildered.
"Your mother is a bird?"
"No, well..." David stammered. "I guess... I never thought about it in that way," he admitted.
"Are you a bird, too?" Sarah asked amusued, stifling a giggle. "Do you have wings hidden under your pajamas?"
"Of course not, Sarah," David muttered, rolling his eyes. "I don't have any wings, and I'm not a bird. And neither is my mother."
"But you just said she's a Phoenix," Sarah said pointedly.
"She can make herself be reborn in the ashes," David clarified. "She was here not too long ago. She wanted me to join her in the flames, but I didn't."
"How come?" Sarah asked.
"I... didn't want to," David answered her shakily.
He recalled that fateful night at the fishing shack when he was surrounded by bright blistering flames. David felt as though he was in a trance of some kind. Through the red flames, his mother beckoned him, her voice echoing hauntingly deep inside his mind.
"It was wrong for me to join her," David murmured to Sarah, who remain sitting by his side on the end of his bed. David continued to relive that terrible night. He pictured his mother's striking face and golden hair surrounded by red flames. Her voice still echoed deep inside his mind, calling his name. But another voice intervened. A familiar feminine voice filled with frantic worry.
"Vicki came for me," David told Sarah. "Vicki saved me. She really loves me a lot. I just can't let Barnabas take her away."
The powerful red flames cease inside David's mind. It's as if it disappeared like a puff of smoke. The haunting features of his mother vanish. Her spell now broken, David turn his soft gaze back to the eerily illuminated ghost girl.
"Your mother burned up and Vicki saved you," Sarah concluded.
"Isn't she dead?" Sarah asked frankly.
"No." David shook his head. "She doesn't die. She just get reborn. I won't see her again, but that's okay. She's not dead, just... away."
"Why do you let people believe you don't remember her?" Sarah asked gently.
"It's just easier to make grown-ups think I don't remember sad things like my mother," David exclaimed. "That way we can all move on."
The two fell silent.
David decided to cut that, and asked, "Well, Sarah, is Barnabas the same guy in the portrait downstairs?"
Sarah didn't answer. But with the knowing looks the two cast each other, it seems David already knew the answer to his question.
"I wish Josette was here." David sighed longingly, casting his chocolate gaze downward. "We used to be close until Barnabas came and made her go away."
"How could Josette help?" Sarah queried, creasing her brow.
"She used to help out a lot around here," David said. "She used to help Vicki. I wish she still could."
After a pregnant pause, David gave Sarah a lamented look, and said despairingly, "Why does Vicki want to be friends with Barnabas? Does she know he only comes out at night and only evil dead people do that!"
"Josette may not be here, but I am," Sarah chimed in.
"I know." David sighed. "I just wish Josette could help us."
"How about I play my flute?" Sarah suggested, eagerly lifting up her instrument.
"What good will that do?" David said indignantly.
"You'll see," Sarah insisted playfully.
David heaved a deep sigh and hunch his shoulders back. If there's one thing he learned about Sarah she is full of surprises.
"Well, okay," he said unsurely.
Sarah placed her flute between her lips, and played the only song she seemed to ever known. As David listen, he shut his eyes and a violent flash cut through his close eyelids. He stumbled upon a terrifying image of Barnabas protruding his monstrous fangs, and another flash intervened. David stumbled upon another vision; he saw Sarah wandering around Collinwood. But the Great House was different. And there was something different about Sarah. She wasn't wearing her usual white dress and bonnet. She was dressed in a pink robe with a strange matching pink bonnet. The girl entered a bedroom that belonged to Vicki, but here it didn't belong to David's governess. It belonged to Josette. Sarah daintily placed a candle she had personally made for Josette on the windowsill. The girl hoped this would cheer the noblewoman up. She had been awfully sad since Barnabas... went away. When Sarah was about to light the candle, she gazed down into the grounds and spotted... Barnabas.
The girl grew ecstatic. Her beloved brother had come back. He was not gone forever like her mother and father kept cryptically implying. Sarah dashed her way down to the main floor, and hurried her way to the grounds. But she didn't see her brother anywhere. She called anxiously for him, but still received no response. The next thing she knew, Sarah found herself at Eagle Hill Cemetery. She had a strong feeling her brother was around here somewhere, though she was perplexed on why. It was starting to get dark, and the sky was filled with moisture. Thunder began to crack, and a bolt of lightning cut across the sky like a ribbon. A storm was approaching, but Sarah refused to returned home without her brother. She searched inside a dark sinister crypt, and suddenly found herself trapped inside. Sarah called desperately for help, but no one heard her. Being locked inside a dark scary crypt with a loud storm approaching wasn't the most ideal of situations for Sarah to be in, but she figured she should wait patiently for her brother's return. Much to her surprise, Barnabas did come into the crypt. Sarah was thankfully relieved by his presence, but something was wrong.
Her brother was both surprised and taken aback by his sister's presence. He tried to hide from her in the shadows, but Sarah got a glimpse of her brother's face from what little natural light the crypt allowed in. What she saw was a horrible sight; Barnabas' mouth was smeared with blood. Sarah screamed and frantically ran out of the crypt at once. Barnabas desperately called out to her, pleading for her to not runaway. But Sarah didn't listen. That - monster was not her brother.
She was so panic stricken, she was too scared to returned to Collinwood. The servant, Ben Stokes, found the petrified girl hiding behind the tombstone of Jeremiah Collins' grave. She was even unable to speak. Just as the pouring rain hit from the dark thundering sky, Ben carried the little girl home. But Sarah became so wet and cold she developed pneumonia. She fell bed stricken, and her mother sat loyally by her side as if willing her to get well. But ever since she saw Barnabas' blood-drenched face, Sarah remained hopelessly mute.
Her cousin Millicent tried her best to keep everyone's spirits up, but it was clear to Sarah she didn't had much longer to live. She tried to warn her mother about Barnabas, but her warning didn't reach through.
A couple of nights since Ben returned her home, Barnabas managed to somehow visit Sarah by her bedside. Sarah knew he was no longer the same man she'd known. There was a darkness about him, and yet he came to her with deep worry and love in his dark eyes.
He gently sat by her side and softly apologized for frightening her. Suddenly finding her strength, Sarah sat up, and weakly uttered her last words. "I love you, Barnabas. I always will." She died in her brother's arms, leaving him devastated and heartbroken.
A series of flashes burned across David's visions consisting of horrible images of Barnabas sinking his fangs and draining the blood of many women on the dock. Then more violent flashes came, flashes of Barnabas sharply choking Willie Loomis' throat, and biting his wrist. A flash of Barnabas biting more girls and sucking their blood on a darkened back country road. A flash of Barnabas draining the blood of farm animals in a field. A flash of Barnabas draining the blood of Maggie Evans on her bed. Then came the most terrifying flash of them all; Barnabas holding Vicki in a tender embrace with his sharp fangs and her delicate neck just inches apart.
David screamed. He found himself shooting up from under his covers in a severe panic. He was back in bed in his bedroom. Instead of being the middle of the night, it is morning. Sunshine stream through his bedroom window. Sarah is no longer in the room with him. But Vicki, who's already in a cheery lavender dress with a matching bow tied up in her long dark hair, stood by the end of his bed. She gave her charge a gentle concern look.
"David, are you alright?"
David gazed up at his governess with his mouth gaping.
"By the look of terror in your eyes, I must say that was a real scary nightmare you just had there," Vicki observed knowingly. "You even screamed out 'No!' and everything."
"I did?" David uttered, absurdly embarrassed his governess had witnessed his suffering of dark childhood nightmares.
"I suppose you dreamt about your cousin Barnabas again," Vicki surmised.
"Vicki, he's really bad," David insisted. "He wants to kill me."
His eyes became dark and wide, like he's staring off at some faraway place.
"David, we're all doing what we can to prove to you that isn't so," Vicki stated in a no nonsense tone.
David wanted to make her understand Barnabas was not the nice man he shown himself to be. But he refrained, knowing it will be useless. Vicki and all the other adults won't believe the obvious fact that Barnabas Collins is evil and dead.
"Are you over your nightmare?" Vicki asked the boy.
David nodded slightly.
"Good, you better get dressed," Vicki ordered him. "Burke is going to take us out for breakfast. Then we're going to spend the whole day at Bangor, just the three of us."
With this news, David's face lit up slightly in joy.
"Yes, you better hurry and get dressed."
Vicki exit the bedroom and shut the door behind her. David shot out of bed and quickly got dressed. As he made his bed, he thought about his nightmare. He recalled receiving those violent flashes of Barnabas when Sarah started playing her flute. David wonder if that's her way of telling him her secret. After all, David told her about his mother, a bad person he so happens to love. Now Sarah did the same in regards to an evil person she so happened to love, her brother Barnabas.
David found it hard to believe there was a time Barnabas wasn't dead and evil. But apparently such a time did exist, and Sarah loved him very much. Perhaps there was a time Barnabas was an innocent, but David couldn't ignore the fact he also ruined, destroyed, and even took people's lives. Over this dreary thought, David picked up his toy soldier, and put it in the inside pocket of his blazer. If there's one thing David learned in the past few months is that life is short. He decided to cherish his day with Vicki and Burke before life shortly decides to take them away from him.