Edited by Brien Bigelow
Illustrations by Lucas Marra
Vincent could feel the warmth of the blood sliding down his throat. It was a feeling of pure ecstasy to have fed on something bigger than a rat for once. The pig’s blood gave him a brand new strength. With a full stomach, Vincent’s head cleared beyond anything he had ever felt, including when he was human.
The world of London came to life in a whole new way. The very shadows he used to hide were as clear as daylight, and the sound of blood that pounded at his ears was controllable. Closing his eyes, he could hear Maria’s heart beating softly as she slept in her bed on the other side of London. He looked down at his hands to see his veins bulging, red with renewed vigor.
Vincent considered himself lucky the slaughterhouse held its pigs in a pen outside the building, but now he had to dispose of the rest of the corpse of his prey. He slung the carcass over his back, noting how light it was without its precious blood, and jumped high into the air, away from the slaughterhouse.
As he grew stronger and more comfortable with his vampiric state, more and more animals seemed to be drawn to him. A hierarchy had been established with his introduction to the world, with the local strays seeking him out and acknowledging his power with small gifts of leaves and bones. It had amused him in some way to have such an odd company, but it had been appreciated in alleviating his loneliness. The pig carcass would be his way of feeding his new friends for their kindness.
Vincent jumped from rooftop to rooftop, making sure to stay within the shadows and away from prying eyes. Even in the deserted streets of London had become, all it took was a stray glance out the window and the dreaded vampire would be on the run once again from an angry mob, with Richard undoubtedly leading the charge. The thought sent a shiver down his already ice-cold spine.
He shook himself free of it when he landed on the rooftop of the abbey, adjusting the pig’s body as he opened the trap door in the bell tower. That’s when he heard it. In the darkness of the abbey beneath him, three hearts were beating steadily. Vincent postulated three of the local vagrants must have broken in and were huddling for warmth. He sympathized with their plight, but he simply couldn’t risk being found out.
Vincent slid the pig carcass into the shadows of the bell tower before he descended the stairs in his quiet way. He would need to use the same tactic as before: scare them, then bend their will to forget they ever saw him. It worked on the boys and surely it would work on three adults, especially now that he was fully fed.
He peered around the corner, his eyes and ears open to any clue to the invaders’ whereabouts. Their heartbeats were low but steady, indicating that they must have fallen asleep. The sound itself came from between the rows of pews, Vincent himself gutting several for himself to make a decent bed in the cellar. He tiptoed closer to his unsuspecting guests when something caught him off guard.
A single figure had cozied up on the pew, covered by a thick cloak with no one else around them, despite Vincent’s hearing exactly three hearts beating. They all seemed to be coming from the figure before him. He stared at the anomaly before him when it began to stir. Startled, he stumbled back over a pew, crashing to the floor. The figure bolted up, startled from the loud noise.
‘Who’s there?’ asked Corrine, afraid. She peered over the hem of the cloak to see Vincent in the wreckage of a pew. Even before the disease, he had never been that coordinated. Corrine stood and walked over to him, helping him to his feet. When he straightened himself, he turned away to hide his vampiric features.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Corrine. ‘Is this your home? I didn’t mean to intrude.’
‘Why do you have three heartbeats?’ Asked Vincent. Corrine stared at him, stunned.
‘How…How do you know that?’ She approached him, hand outstretched, when he took a step toward one of the windows. ‘Pardon me, but I asked you a-!’ She stopped when she saw her own reflection in the shattered glass, and only hers.
‘Why don’t you have a reflection?’ she asked.
‘Damn it all,’ said Vincent, and turned around to reveal his fangs. She took a step back.
‘You’re he…The vampire,’ she said. ‘I read about you.’
‘Yes,’ said Vincent. ‘So you must know what I’m capable of. Now answer my question.’ She stared into his moonlit eyes and saw the false confidence in them, illuminated by the light of the moon. Corrine straightened herself up and lifted her sleeve, revealing her own scars where the sutures had been, connecting the body parts that had only belonged to her recently.
‘This is what I am,’ she said, doing her best to sound intimidating. ‘A corpse reborn. I do not fear you for I have already died once.’
‘There are worse things than death,’ said Vincent. He alighted as he stared into Corrine’s eyes, touching her very soul. Her body froze, but something began to stir within her spirit. He could feel the life force, stitched together almost as well as her body.
For Corrine, the memories began to well up inside. The sadness she had explored so well from her donors, erupting inside her like a geyser. Her own eyes began to well up with tears, crying for the people she used to be. Vincent stopped.
‘I’m…I’m sorry,’ he said. “I…I didn’t mean to.”
‘That was very rude,’ said Corrine, wiping the tears from her eyes. ‘But I forgive you.’ She looked at him in a way that conveyed how much she meant it. She had learned to listen to everyone’s story now, and this fellow monster would be as good as any to start.
‘My name is Lady Corrine De Marine,’ she said, curtsying. ‘And I am sorry to intrude on your home.’
‘Vincent Harrow,’ he replied, giving a slight bow. ‘And it’s not much of a home.’ She gave him a sympathetic smile.
‘I found it quite cozy,’ she said. ‘My husband would have been staying here as an adventure.’ She laughed like audible sunshine to Vincent, who had suddenly become aware of how lonely he had been for someone to talk to that didn’t walk on all fours.
‘You’re married?’ he said. ‘Is your husband close-by?’ She looked away, unsure.
‘He thinks I’m dead. I was on my way to see him, but I don’t think I’m ready yet,’ she said before turning back to him. ‘You don’t seem nearly as bad as the papers seem to portray you.’Vincent scoffed.
‘Propaganda,’ he explained. ‘People I very much wish to avoid are looking for me. With those publications, the whole city has turned into their eyes and ears, easier to find a monster.’
‘That’s why you were hiding here,’ she surmised. ‘Why not leave the city?’
‘I have my reasons,’ he said guardedly.
‘Oh, I see,’ she said with a sly smile. ‘There must be a girl.’ If Vincent had any life in his grey cheeks, they would have turned bright red.
‘A cure,’ he responded. ‘I wish to find a cure for my condition. I wasn’t born this way, after all, and I feel my best bets lie within London.’
‘I would recommend you to my physicians,’ she said. ‘But I’m afraid you’re not the only one in hiding and they happen to be who I’m on the run from.’
‘I think I’m starting to piece you together,’ said Vincent. Corrine put her hands on her hips in mock anger.
‘Excuse me?’ she said, falsely offended.
‘My apologies,’ laughed Vincent. ‘I did not mean to offend.’
‘You are forgiven,’ she replied. ‘If…If I may stay here with you…Just until I am ready to see my husband. again.’ She looked at him, pleadingly. He saw in her the same desperations and loneliness he had felt shortly after his transformation. The endless days in the cramped cell.
‘You may stay here as long as you like,’ said Vincent. His eyes went wide, as an idea dawned on him. An idea that would require another person. He looked at her. ‘Perhaps you can help me.’
‘Anything,’ she replied. ‘After all, we monsters have to stick together. How can I help?’ Vincent led her over to the broken window and gestured to the Asylum across the way.
‘That building contains one of the greatest reserves of knowledge in London,’ he explained. ‘I think it might hold the cure for my condition.’
‘I see!’ she exclaimed. ‘You can’t enter the building unless someone invites you. At least that’s what the papers say.’
‘Exactly,’ he replied, turning to her. ‘Will you help me, your Ladyship?’ She gave a slight smile.
‘I will,’ she said. ‘And you may call me Corrine.’
‘Thank you,’ he replied. ‘I cannot tell you how much this means to me.’ She smiled and interlocked her arm with his.
‘Think nothing of it, Vincent,’ she said. ‘Now why don’t you show me around your lovely abode.’ Vincent smiled genuinely for the first time in months. He had found more than a friend. He had found a kindred spirit in Corrine. A monster just like himself. Little did he know she would not be the last.
When night had fallen, Finn became the wolf once again. He could vaguely recall hearing Sarah’s voice reaching him. It was calming, almost melodic, in how it penetrated the persona of the wolf and reached the human within. From there, she had mounted his back and he was able to climb them safely onto the roofs of nearby buildings. Once they had found an awning suitable enough to shelter them from the rain, they sat there and waited it out.
Finn and Sarah had barely survived the storm.
‘Why are you still alive?’ he had asked her. Normally a threatening statement, Sarah had understood his confusion.
‘Because I am not a threat,’ she had answered. ‘You know this.’
‘But how did the wolf know?’
‘As I said, you know I am not a threat.’ Before Finn could ask anything else, it became apparent the rising water was a problem.
The sewers that had become their haven had been flooded, forcing them into the raging storm that had taken control of the streets above. They had spent most of the day navigating the streets of London as well as they could.
Morning had come, and with it the end of the storm. Finn had curled up around himself, his bare skin exposed in the morning air. He looked up to see the sun rising, bringing its warmth with it. He had nearly slipped when he sat up to admire it, in awe of just how beautiful the city could be in the right light. That was when he heard her voice.
‘Such a shame,’ whispered Martha. ‘You couldn’t even drown right.’
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked. ‘You’re not supposed to be here.’
‘Did you think I was some silly hallucination from downing all that quicksilver?’ she said, smiling. ‘Oh no, dear brother. I’m quite real.’
‘You’re dead,’ he replied, closing his eyes and cupping his ears.
‘Thanks to you,’ said Martha. ‘Even Pa blamed you.’
‘It wasn’t my fault!’ he exclaimed. ‘The wolf…’
‘Bit you,’ she said. ‘But there was no coming back after what he did to me. Of course, you could have sacrificed yourself to save me if you weren’t such a coward. I can still hear you crying.’ She leaned in close to his face where she began to cry mockingly: ‘Please, don’t hurt me! Please!’
‘Shut up!’ yelled Finn, taking a swipe at Martha, only to have it pass through her.
‘Such a dumb pup you are,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘There’s only one way to get rid of me.’ She took her finger and slid it across her neck. ‘Too bad you lack the nerve.’
‘Is she bothering you, Finn?’ Martha looked around widely as Sarah stepped from around the corner of the awning. ‘I don’t like how she talks to you.’ Finn looked at her.
‘You can see her?’ he asked, bewildered.
‘In a way,’ she replied. ‘She’s not as clear as some. Who is she?’
‘I don’t like her,’ Martha whispered, backing away. ‘Finn…’ Sarah took a step towards her.
‘She’s my sister,’ said Finn. ‘Half sister. Back in Ireland.’ Sarah raised her hand in the direction of Martha.
‘What is she doing, Finn?’ said Martha, panicking. ‘Make her stop.’
‘I know something about their family,’ said Sarah. ‘Their cruelty more than anything.’ She clenched her open palm into a fist and Martha screamed. One moment, Finn’s sister was there, then she wasn’t.
‘She’s gone,’ whispered Finn. ‘You got rid of her.’
‘Temporarily,’ said Sarah, crouching down to look at Finn. ‘You will need to be the one that puts her to rest…eventually.’ Finn looked away, ashamed with himself.
‘She was right, though,’ said Finn. ‘It’s my fault she died.’
‘What happened?’ asked Sarah.
‘Pa wanted me to learn how to hunt. Made her take me with her out in the woods,’ said Finn. ‘We were deep in when something like me attacked us. It only bit me, and it would have killed me if she hadn’t shot it. Made it angry with her. Thats when…’
‘I see,’ said Sarah. ‘The wolf chose you, Finn. It gave you a gift.’
‘How could you say something like that?’ he asked.
‘You will see in time,’ she replied. ‘Or so the spirits say.’
‘You can see ghosts?’ said Finn. ‘Like Martha?’
‘Your sister is different, though I can’t say why,’ said Sarah. ‘But yes. I walked the Earth for a year before my resurrection. A tethered spirit, unable to pass on. I existed somewhere between the world of the dead and the living. I learned much, even from the gods themselves.’
‘I guess you’re still somewhere in between,’ he said.
‘You’re a quick learner, Finn,’ smiled Sarah. ‘I’m glad you’re the one that found me.’
‘Couldn’t just leave a poor girl like you all stuffed up in that coffin,’ he said. ‘Shame I lost that quicksilver though.’
‘A crutch you need not rely on, Finn.’
‘It’s how I kept the wolf docile before you,’ explained Finn. ‘How do you do that, anyway?’
‘The wolf may be your body,’ she explained. ‘But the spirit is still yours.’
‘Oh,’ replied Finn. ‘I don’t get it.’ Sarah laughed at that. It was the first time he had heard her express herself like that. It was nice and light, something that was made to lift spirits. She froze for a moment in shock and checked her bag, nodding once she counted all her jars.
‘Glad you’re here. Your clothes.’ She reached back into her bag and pulled out his trench coat. She handed it to him.
‘Thank you kindly,’ he said appreciatively, pulling the coat around him close. ‘Much better. I run a bit hotter than most, but nothing beats a nice coat.’ He stared out at London as it began to wake up. ‘So what do we do now?’
‘We must find the others,’ replied Sarah. ‘They will help us.’
‘Who are the others?’ asked Finn. ‘Another wolf?’
‘No,’ she answered. ‘They’re like us, but different. Other children of the gods…’
‘Right…’ said Finn. ‘And how do we find them?’
‘The spirits will guide me,’ she said. ‘We must hurry though. They tell of a shadow that will fall over London.’ Finn stood and dusted himself off. He offered his hand to Sarah with a smile.
‘Then we best not dilly dally,’ he said. ‘Best be on our way.’ Sarah took his hand as he helped her up. She jumped on his back as he jumped down to the street below. She got off and looked around. Finn saw her, and something dawned on him.
‘We both are gonna need some new clothes,’he said. ‘A half naked Irishman and a girl in bandages is gonna stick out like a sore thumb’ He closed his eyes and inhaled the city of London. ‘’Here we are,’ he said, opening his eyes. He took Sarah’s hand and led her to a section of clothes drying on a line, and after a quick pilfering, provided them both with a decent covering.
They were soon on the move, with Sarah leading the way, making sure to avoid the more crowded parts of the city. Finn would occasionally disappear and reappear a moment later with a sharing or bread of fruit. It was during one of these short breaks he looked up at his companion.
‘How come I can see Martha?’ He asked Sarah.
‘I’m not entirely sure,’ she replied. ‘Many things can affect the living’s perception of the dead. It could be that your condition allows some way to peer into that world, or even your patron…” She trailed off, seemingly unsure if she should say more.
‘I wish it would stop,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I wish I didn’t have to change like that.’
‘Do you really change every night?’ she asked.
‘As long as there’s a moon shining in the sky,’ he replied sadly. ‘Then the wolf comes out.’ She nodded at that, which made Finn a little nervous. He wished he knew what she was thinking, but she was so hard to read with the stone face.
He shrugged it off and they hopped down to the street below, Finn catching Sarah in his arms and soon they were off, looking for ones like them. It would be a long time before they would meet them, however, as the gods work in mysterious ways and their journey had just begun.
The lights of the asylum dimmed in the setting sun, as Vincent watched the workers leave, one by one. He knew the building rather well, having been the assistant for Maria’s father when it had first opened. Every corridor wove together like a maze, a nonsensical mess of doors and stairs that had baffled every new employee. No one was really sure why it had been built the way it had been, it was just a simple anomaly everyone had accepted as fact.
Vincent had been one of the few to bother learning the obscure geometry along with Maria. They would take long walks as they visited the patients, taking notes of all the twists and turns. In truth, the only people who were allowed a map of the place were Marlowe and Maria’s father, the latter’s office already being an important stop. Maria’s father was the administrator of the asylum, and had one of the most comprehensive collections on medical science in all of London.
Corrine sat next to him, eyes scanning a thick, second-hand volume on anatomy that Vincent had ‘procured’ sometime after making the abbey his home. It was astounding how fast she absorbed information, having already assimilated the knowledge of Vincent’s entire vagabond library. Once more, she found that she could perfectly recall every word, line by line as if she had any of the tomes in front of her. Perhaps it had been the lightning or the chemicals that had been injected into her lifeless body, but she found the new gift pleasant. She closed the book and looked up at Vincent.
‘Finished,’ she said. ‘That’s all of them.’ He looked at her and smiled.
‘Color me impressed,’ he said. ‘Took me years to read through half of those,’ Corrine was becoming quite fond of her new friend. He had reminded her of her Gregory in his charming awkwardness.
‘Is it almost time?’ she asked, staring at the window.
‘Almost,’ he replied. ‘I can still hear a few people tidying up on the third floor.’ Sure enough, a small group of custodians exited the building a few minutes later, leaving only the patients asleep in their rooms. Vincent sat up and offered Corrine his hand.
‘Shall we?’ he asked. She smiled and had him help her up.
‘Let’s,’ she replied. They stuck to the shadows, only crossing the street once Vincent had been sure no one was watching, save for a pair of scarlet eyes from above that shone with excitement.
Vincent led Corrine to the side entrance of the asylum, stopping just in front of the front step. He stared intently at the door.
‘This is as far as I can go,’ he said. ‘You’re up.’ She nodded and took a step forward, pulling on the door handle without it budging.
‘Locked,’ she said. There had been a small chance of its being unlocked, but they weren’t deterred. They had planned for this. Vincent closed his eyes as Corrine pulled out a thin piece of wire and inserted it into the lock.
‘Left,’ said Vincent, hearing the movement of the tumbler inside. ‘Stop. That’s the first. Now right.’ Corrine followed each instruction in turn until the handle gave way with a click. Vincent opened his eyes as the door swung open, whining just loud enough on its rusted hinges to be concerning. Once they made sure no one had heard, Corrine turned to Vincent.
‘You have to step inside,’ he said. ‘I think that’s how it works.’ She crossed the threshold and turned to him.
‘Vincent Harrow,’ she began. ‘I invite you into this asylum.’ Vincent could feel whatever invisible force that had prevented him from entering evaporate. He took a step inside and let out a sigh of relief.
‘Wonderful,’ he said. ‘I’m glad that worked.’
‘As am I,’ said Corrine, looking around. ‘Who built this place?’
‘Can’t really say,’ said Vincent. ‘I wasn’t hired here until after it had already been built.’ He turned to her.
‘Are you sure you’re up for this?’ he asked. ‘You can go back to the abbey.’ She smiled and put her hands on her hips in defiance.
‘Not unless you can suddenly match my memory,’ she said, confidently. They had decided instead of stealing the books and leaving a trail, they would use her newfound abilities to absorb as much information as she could. It would be more convenient than having to carry an entire library out the door and across the street.
‘Very well,’ he replied. ‘Follow me.’ They walked quietly pass numerous cells containing a variety of patients. Most had been asleep, and the few that had been awake were far too absorbed in their madness to notice the intruders. Corrine followed close behind as they zigged and zagged all through the mysterious building, climbing up stairs and descending others. To her, it had felt as though they were going in circles, and if it were not for Vincent’s deliberate steps, she would have assumed they were lost.
After wandering through the bizarre maze of the asylum, they reached an ornate wooden door at the top of the stairs.
‘We’re here,’ said Vincent. ‘This is the administrator’s office.’ As they approached the door, Corrine reached for her metal wire and began to fiddle with the lock when Vincent stopped her.
‘What’s wrong?’ she asked. He shook his head at her.
‘It doesn’t have a tumbler,’ he replied. ‘I can’t hear the mechanism.’
‘Then how do we get in?’ Vincent concentrated on the door, his brow furrowed as he thought. As he fiddled with his hands, a mist began to pour out form him. Before Corrine could say anything, Vincent was gone, and the mist was slowly moving under the doorway. Corrine stared on until there was a click and the door swung open to reveal a very confused Vincent.
Maria stared out her window, watching the skyline of London for even the briefest glances of her dear friend. Richard had called him a monster, but when she looked into his eyes she could see past the sunken features and saw the Vincent she had spent so many an afternoon with, discussing any number of topics.
Her fiance had been reluctant to say the least in terms of surrendering any details as to what Vincent had become, let alone how he came into his affliction. What’s more, she was immediately denied access to the asylum’s extensive library, given only the excuse it was the new policy, granting access only to employees.
She had slowly filled a small notebook with every observation she had made of Vincent that night he had saved her. When she had finished compiling his list of features, she took to sketching his appearance in the blank pages. It had taken her by surprise that, despite his emaciated appearance, Vincent was quite handsome. She began to wonder why she had never really noticed before. Perhaps it was the absence of his usually large glasses or the way he had carried himself at night, but there was a certain quality that hadn’t been there before. Perhaps it was always there and she simply never bothered to notice?
Maria had prided herself on seeing the details everyone else missed. She would often tease Vincent about knowing how the various cases ended in their readings before either of them finished, and most of the time, she was right. She soon shook her head, clearing it of those thoughts.
Richard had been pressuring her to into focusing on their upcoming wedding, the date of which had been rapidly approaching. There was much to be done, but she couldn’t help but feel it was another attempt to distract her. Up until recently, he had been in charge of the whole thing, obsessing over it to the smallest detail, snapping at her whenever she had offered to take charge of the cake or place settings. Now he had claimed to be too busy for such a thing, most likely hunting her dear Watson.
The frustration had been mounting, and she could feel it would reach a head before long. She had to get into the asylum, or at the very least, find Vincent and have him explain what had happened to him. She had thought about confronting Richard with suspicions he was the one to have entered Vincent’s room, but he would simply deflect her as he always did. Her best chance was to play dumb while she planned. To slip into the role he wanted her to fill so badly. Her contemplative state was broken when he opened the door.
‘Evening, my love,’ said Richard, walking over and pecking her on the cheek. ‘How are the arrangements coming?’
‘Very well,’ she lied. She found it surprisingly easy to lie to Richard. All he wanted was to be told what he wanted to hear, and that was that. ‘I took care of the catering mostly today, and I started the invitations.’
‘I’m glad to hear it,’ he replied, pleased she had not mentioned Vincent. ‘If you need anything else, simply send word to my father. He’ll be happy to provide.’ He walked over to the mirror and straightened his tie. ‘I was thinking, we should go out soon.’
‘Really?’ she asked suspiciously. ‘What do you have in mind?’
‘Oh, nothing much,’ he said. ‘Perhaps dinner and a carriage ride through the park. You always liked those.’ In truth, she preferred to walk, whenever given the chance. Something was off though. She decided to risk a question.
‘Are you sure it would be wise to be out so late?’ she asked, watching his expressions. ‘I thought it was dangerous out.’
‘Not while you’re with me,’ he said confidently. He turned to her and smiled. ‘No monsters are going to get you.’ Her blood began to boil. She wanted to scream at him that Vincent wasn’t a monster. That he needed help. She bit her tongue and went along with it.
‘And when would we go out?’ she asked.
‘In a few days,’ he responded. ‘I have some business to take care of with Marlowe and a few other associates. It’s going to be quite profitable.’
‘I see,’ she said. ‘And who are these associates?’
‘Hunters,’ he replied. ‘Specializing in big game and the like. I am to help them set up lodgings here in London.’ She decided to risk another dangerous question.
‘And what of your…other job?’ she asked, watching his reflection in the mirror. ‘The one you were doing the other night.’ His expression darkened for the briefest of moments before he shined his dazzling smile at her.
‘I thought we agreed not discuss that,’ he said. ‘It’s not a proper subject for the faint of heart. You women faint at the slightest hint of blood after all.’ She held her ground.
‘How did you get roped into that?’
‘Marlowe asked me. He knew my history as a soldier,” he lied. ‘In fact, it was your father that had recommended me.’ So her father had known about Vincent. He had lied to her every time she had asked Vincent’s whereabouts when she had visited him at the asylum. And what of the good Marlowe? He seemed to be the hub in which the wheel turned. He had always been good friends with their family, but she knew so little about him. The game was afoot.
‘Of course, my dear,’ she said, mustering that sweet naivete he wanted from her so much. “You’re more than qualified.”
‘That I am,’ he said, smiling to himself. He walked over to her and held her hands in his. He leaned forward, attempting to kiss her only to be deflected by her cheek.
‘We’re not married yet, my love,’ she said.
‘We will be soon enough,’ he said, charmingly. ‘I don’t see why we can’t celebrate a little early.’ He leaned in again, and she placed her hand on his chest.
‘Soon,’ she said. ‘I promise.’ He hated to be told no, but he had learned patience. It was a woman dictating his actions that had riled him this time, though he hid it well behind his ivory smile.
‘As you wish, my dear,’ he said, bowing low. ‘I shall come for you in two days for our wonderful evening.’ He took her hand and kissed it.
‘I look forward to it,’ she lied. ‘Until then.’ He gave her more smile before exiting the room where it quickly faded into a grimace. He thought once they were married, he would have to teach her how as to behave as such, and secretly looked forward to it.
Maria listened closely as Richard’s loud footsteps echoed down the stairs. She moved to the window, where she watched him enter his carriage and drive off. She had always wanted to solve a mystery, she just never thought it would involve her beloved. That, and she had hoped her faithful Watson would be at her side. She was being kept in the dark by forces at play she didn’t fully understand, but that was not going to stop her. If anything, it filled her need to find Vincent before anything happened to him. He had always been a frail one, not just in body but in spirit. He needed her, she would think.
She stared out the window once more towards the city of London, her mind already preparing her plans for the night. It wouldn’t be difficult, and it was the only chance she had to help Vincent. He was out there, somewhere, and somewhere inside her, she wished she were there with him.
‘Vincent,’ she said in surprise. ‘How did you do that?’
‘I…’ he began. ‘I have no idea. I just…wanted to be on the other side of the door and suddenly I was there.’
‘It’s quite the trick,’ responded Corrine, looking at Vincent in awe.
‘Let me tell you,’ said Vincent. ‘It feels as strange as it looks. We’ll figure it out later. Come in.’ She walked past him into the office and beheld the curious within. It had seemed like a more compact version of Frederick’s lab, jars of innumerable and unable specimens lining the shelves between the bones she was sure had been human…partially human, at least. Arcane markings were engraved into every wooden surface of the room, in a language long forgotten by the modern world.
‘You say this man is a psychiatrist?’ asked Corrine. ‘What kind of psychiatrist is he?’
‘An eccentric one,’ answered Vincent, who had grown accustomed to his patron’s oddities in his time working there. ‘Over here.’ He led her to a large bookshelf that had been placed behind the ornate desk. He scanned the rows, pulling one after another off the shelf, and placing them onto the desk behind him. They all contained titles such as Blood Diseases of the Orient and Forgotten Maladies and Their Cures. When he was done, he turned to Corrine.
‘I think these will be good to start with,’ he said. ‘Anything you don’t finish, we can come back for another time.’
‘I like a good challenge,’ she replied with her cocky smile. ‘Keep an ear out for me, dear.’ He nodded, emboldened by her enthusiasm. She sat at the desk and opened the first of the books and began to read. Even with her accelerated abilities, it would take a few hours to finish the work before her.
Vincent kept his ears open for any sign of movement, his eyes scanning the dark corners of the street below. Once or twice he thought he saw a figure appear in the bell tower of his abbey, but when he listened for a heartbeat there had been nothing.
One by one the volumes began to fall to the might of Corrine’s memory. She had made it halfway through the books as Big Ben struck midnight. They were making excellent time, all in all, and she was finding she was quite enjoying learning new things.
Vincent had begun to start poking between the shelves when he smelt it. It had been masked behind the embalming fluids and chemicals among the shelves, but it had grabbed him now. He shifted the specimens around until he saw the vial of crimson staring back at it. He took it in his hand and inhaled.
Even when he passed the rubber stopper and the wax seal, the aroma was unmistakable. The vial contained blood. Human blood at that. It drove his senses wild as he lost himself in the very look of it. It was more beautiful than anything he could imagine, dancing in the vial seductively. Animal blood simply did not compare to this. He began to undo the wax seal when a familiar voice brought him back to the world.
‘Vincent?’ said Maria, walking into the room. ‘Is that you?’ Vincent froze when he saw her, just as beautiful as ever. She stood there in the darkness but he could make out every curl of red hair, every freckle, every laugh line.
Presented by Lake Arrowhead Repertory Theatre Company
Victorian Nightmares 2018
All Rights Reserved