Posted on August 8, 2012 by Flames
Recently were posted some design notes from author Corissa Baker about her novel, The Shadow of Dracula: Harker’s Inheritance. She has also sent us the first chapter of the book, which gives you the opportunity to explore her tale.
The Shadow of Dracula: Harker’s Inheritance Chapter One
This was compiled after such dreadful events as should provoke lunacy and challenge one’s understanding of this modern world of 1935. What follows in these pages may be dismissed as wild and irrational fiction, even unworthy of broader attentions. It will be ridiculed and those named in these accounts risk social stigmata and questions of their mental health. If it weren’t that a doctor of psychology and head of a lunatic asylum was involved I should think that I would have kept this all very much in the dark.
However, it is the very darkness that I seek to bring awareness to those bold enough to believe. These pages conclude a story that began in 1897. And, in this time of unrest, I am of the conviction that this world need know of a deep darkness we face. This is a darkness that knows no boundary lines, save for good and evil; a darkness that is without the confines of politics or nationality. I fought many in this vein of evil, but the tale you are about to read speaks of an ancient and powerful evil. You will come to know who I am, but first you should learn its name, the name of the demon Dracula.
QUINCEY HARKER’S JOURNAL
30 June, 1934. London – I haven’t kept a journal before now, so I imagine it will take some getting used to. I feel writing a journal will be a beneficial exercise for me, especially that the habit is so inseparable from family history. I grew up on the pages my parents and their friends wrote during the harrowing acts of hunting the Count Dracula.
It feels strange to write his name. Dracula. I heard that name, among others, innumerable times as I grew up. These were tales of heroism and daring acts; of threats reaching deeper than the physical, down to the deepest part of the soul. One should shudder to think on it, though I… Well, I rather intended to record the day’s events, on which I’ve hardly written a jot.
Today marked the thirty-sixth anniversary of my father’s escape from Count Dracula’s Castle. A party was held at their estate this evening with most of the original group in attendance. Presently, I write at my desk in my childhood room. My intent is to return home in the morning, having aided in the duties of host. Though my parents are yet quite cheerful, their age is beginning to tell on them, particularly with father.
Those wild events preceding my birth had been singularly difficult for him which even the pages of the collected writings express. He has had a full head of very gray hair for as long as my recollection allows. My sweet mother has cared for him in devout attentiveness all their marriage. She was even so faithful in her care during her most tormented hours under the wicked control of the vampire. They will have been married thirty-seven years as of the twenty-fourth of this coming August. They have been through more than this world will ever be made aware. I fear they may not be with me much longer.
I am included in this intimate circle of those destined to know the secret horrors this world holds. Surely we’d all be locked away in Dr Seward’s lunatic asylum if this civilised society were to hear the stories I heard while growing up. Therefore, we few have sworn ourselves to secrecy as if by holy vow. I am uncertain why I find myself writing upon this topic. It is hardly evident in daily life. There has never been seen, or heard of, another vampire in London; or in England for that matter.
We do not particularly go looking, of course. We have our daily lives that busy us with their own concerns. Rather, we keep our eyes open and sift rumors with keen minds. I, myself, have not been included in many of the conversations pertaining to the subject. My assumption is that these gentlemen are courteously aware of my pressing duties as a solicitor, especially with my father’s failing health. It looks as though I may soon be taking full responsibility of the firm and our growing clientele. Fortunately there has still been a healthy demand for solicitors in the wake of the Great War and subsequent economic trials we have collectively endured ever since.
It amazes me to think that it’s been about fifteen years since the war’s end. I turned twenty years old a week prior to its official last day. I was a just a teenager when I was sent to foreign fields. I didn’t even know why… Nearly fifteen years later, here I write still without understanding how I survived. I am unable to properly put it from my mind. I suppose writing like so does provoke one to introspection. Perhaps it will do me some good to put pen to page again and turn ‘round to face the demons of my past. I shall have to retrieve those haunting memories written down in unsent letters. For now, the hour grows late and my eyelids want their accustomed rest.
What’s this? A knock on the door. At this hour?
4 July. – I fear I must return to this account with sad, though not unexpected news. Oh my prophetic soul… The knock on my door was at the hand of my father’s nurse. She had come to inform me that my father’s health had suddenly turned for the worse. A doctor had been called already, now my parents wanted me at their side. It was an odd sensation entering their chamber at such an hour and in so serious of circumstances.
My mother sat nearby, though apart, as my father wanted to talk to me alone. I can hardly account for the difference I saw in his person from the party to this moment. He appeared paler, though his eyes were still his old self. He looked at me with a strange expression I had never witnessed before. It seemed that I were the one dying and not he.
I sat beside him, still silent, as I was entirely uncertain as to what to say. I looked at my mother, but her eyes were downcast, searching. Had her eyes not been open I would surely have thought her to be in prayer. My attention was drawn to my father again as he took my hand. “Son,” he said. “You know the contents of the collected writings of our past.” I affirmed this statement, still perplexed by his demeanor.
He continued in such a way that made me question if I myself were the one ill and my fevered mind had reversed our roles in my perception. “I need you to tell me honestly, Quincey. Do you believe?” I thought it an odd question, having never given my brave parents reason to think I’d ever doubted those events.
I searched for my mother’s eyes once again, but my father squeezed my hand sharply and surprisingly hard for a man in his condition. I actually flinched, looking back toward him. “Answer me, boy.” I felt like a child being reprimanded.
“Yes, father. Of course I believe. I could never doubt you. Neither you nor mother have ever given me cause to doubt your unfailing honesty.” His harshness faded instantly, as did the grip on my hand. His words were softer now, “Quincey, I must also know one more thing. Your mother and I raised you in the church. Do you also believe in its holy power?”
For this I didn’t need to look anywhere else. I could answer that in any presence of mind. If I believed the events entered between the covers of that so secret book, then I had to believe in the holy power taught in the sanctuary of the church. I answered, simply, “Yes.” The effect of this word seemed rather to be the answer to an unspoken question. A question asking for permission to release this world from his cares.
No sooner had I answered then his eyes gently closed, he sighed contently and life passed from him. My mother’s tears were quiet and not without dignity. I moved to comfort her and stayed with her for a good, long time, still without giving voice to my thoughts. My mind, however, was churning with new questions rising to the surface.
I saw to it that my mother found her way to sleep. I then informed the doctor of my father’s passing when he arrived, and released the nurse of her duties for the night. Hereafter she will be caring for my mother’s health. After these events, I returned to my childhood bedroom in such a state as would not allow rest. Instead I chose to search out the aforementioned unsent letters from my time in the trenches.
To my utter horror, they were missing. I know precisely where I hid them. As a child I had discovered a loose floorboard under the bed. I was able to pry it open from the foot of the bed without having to move the frame and risk any telltale scratches in the floor. I can’t imagine how anyone could have stumbled upon it unless they were under some strange suspicion and were actually searching for such a hiding place.
Furthermore, I examined the room and discovered slight scratches in the paint around the latch of my inward swinging window. This appears quite definitively that there has been some invader and one who knew precisely where to look. Upon further inspection I confirmed that, to the best of my recollection, nothing else in the room was missing or out of place. To be safe, I set a chair before the window so at least the panes would rattle and wake me if an intruder were to try to enter again.
However, the theft could have happened ages ago. I haven’t opened the floorboards for so many, many years now. I had forgotten what else had lain beneath them. Sitting on my desk now, with these papers, are a horse figurine, a shell from the chamber of a Winchester rifle, and a wooden stake. Now I remember reenacting stories of the bold, Quincey Morris, the man I am primarily named after. In fact, I am named for the lot of men who fought to free my mother of the dreadful curse all those years ago.
Being an only child raised with such strange stories and told never to speak of them, I was left to work through it all on my own. Lord Godalming and his wife had children, a son and daughter, but our childhoods were separate. I don’t believe Dr Seward had a child before the unfortunate circumstances that lead his wife into mental distraction. I find it difficult to refer to it. How tragic it must be as the head physician of a lunatic asylum to be forced to witness one’s most dear soul descend into lunacy herself. I have never heard clear facts as to the supposed reason for such a great sadness.
Surely it is more a case of British dignity to keep these things close to the chest. It would be improper to bother polite company with matters so personal and dire. However, I had thought I was included in a circle of deep friendship that would loosen such societal boundaries. I am beginning to question things I had never thought twice on before.
Again, I digress. I have not yet accounted for the past three days, though these events can be condensed and subsequently addressed in brief manner. The days following my last journal entry were filled with much mourning and preparations. I saw through legal matters with a coworker at the firm, it being necessary for a solicitor other than myself to tend to my father’s will. It was a dreadfully melancholic few days. I have been named sole inheritor of my father’s law firm, which was not of surprise. It is just strange to feel the weight of that reality now settle upon me. I will also, naturally, inherit the estate after my mother…
Oh, I cannot be made to write those words just yet. My mother, the sturdy and devout Mina Harker – she is quite rarely referred to as Wilhelmina – is as strong and healthy as ever. I will, however, give up my flat and resume my residence in this household to be a presence of care and companionship to my dear mother.
I wouldn’t wonder that people may think it odd, our being so close. But they can never know why, for being among a type of elite group of knowledge bearers does have the effect of creating tightly knit bonds. I can’t imagine it will bother me at all to take up residence here again. It may be the death of my father stirring up such emotions, but I am rather fond of the idea.
As my father was an excellent solicitor, he had everything in place. We were able, as difficult as such a time is, to promptly plan the funeral and carry it out. My lovely, faithful father, Jonathan Harker, was buried yesterday afternoon in a plot behind our church beside the grave of Quincey Morris.
I must admit it strange to see my name on a gravestone with the date of my birth the same as his death, well, adding one year of course. I feel oddly compelled to note as well that my parents provided for his burial when Lord Godalming was unable to contact Mr Morris’ next of kin. It could only be assumed that the address found among the man’s belongings was wrong, or that whomever the next of kin was had no desire to respond.
I feel a deep connection to my namesake. I would love to visit America someday, to see his great state of Texas. I only know him from the writings and the stories, but I feel as though I knew him personally. My mother believes, to this day, that I hold a piece of his spirit within me. I wonder if that is possible.
It seems to stray from Biblical teachings, but it is so nice a thought that I cannot condemn it myself. I’d like for it to be true. Maybe that would explain… Well, let’s leave that for another night. I am utterly exhausted in every way. I must sleep. I will be attending to these many new mysteries with as much focus as I give the work of my profession. For now, I must rest. God bless my sweet, enduring mother.
* * *
The Shadow of Dracula: Harker’s Inheritance is available at Amazon.com.
This excerpt was provided by and posted with express permission of the author Corissa Baker.
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