The Third Option

A Dark Shadows Story

Chapter 1

Maggie Evans approached the bedroom door with trepidation. She expected to find it locked, as it usually was, but a small part of her clung to the possibility it would not be. The only breath left in her quest for freedom was the hope that Willie forgot to lock the door. She didn't dare think that Willie would purposely leave it unlocked; she knew he couldn't be counted on to save her. Willie was more of a slave to the vampire than Maggie could ever be. Even if she resigned herself to her fate, her strength of character would never yield entirely.

Barnabas Collins had tried everything to break her; to make her conform to his will. At first, he tried the conventional method. He violently sank his fangs into her neck and drank deeply. During the first month of her captivity, he repeated the macabre practice several times a week. Willie would beg him to stop, and would be rewarded with a backhand to the face that would send him sprawling across the room. Sometimes his protestations enraged Barnabas further and he would stop feeding on Maggie and transfer attentions to Willie's neck. Eventually Willie stopped interfering, and Barnabas stopped assaulting Maggie realizing it was getting him nowhere. Her will was too strong; she was not fully under his control.

Barnabas then decided to try a different approach: Courtship. He allowed Maggie to regain her strength and then promised to be kind and gentle with her. She was grateful for the change, but found it difficult to sit through his promises of the glories of everlasting life and love given over gourmet meals prepared by Willie. She did her best to seem content and even interested, but knew Barnabas was no fool. Eventually he would understand it was pretense; Maggie lived in terror of that night.

She reached the door and jiggled the handle; it did not yield. Depressed, she turned and walked back to the canopy bed. As she lay down, she looked up at the portrait over the fireplace. Josette Collins, the woman she was supposed to become. Maggie could see how beautiful the woman was; a beauty that Barnabas found impossible to forget. Could he actually have loved someone so much he would do anything to bring her back into his life? Could he ever have been that human? She found it difficult to believe, but then again, she knew nothing about Barnabas Collins the human being. And she knew nothing about what transformed him into her tormentor and her life into this waking nightmare.

Maggie rolled onto her side and looked at the window. Even through the drawn curtain, she could tell the sunlight was bright. It had to be late morning. Her stomach growled; she'd had no breakfast yet. Where was Willie? The door lock clicked and the man left her thoughts and entered the room. His hands carried a tray of food. His face carried bruises and welts.