As Sherlock himself has said. ‘The past and the present are within my field of inquiry, but what a man may do in the future is a hard question to answer.’
So, here we are in a future that none of us could predict, even though we will all have tried. The revelation timed to the moment that the revolving wheel has brought us to is of secondary importance. Therefore, and notwithstanding any other reason, I, Dr. John Watson, will maintain my duty to keep this account in honor of Quincey Harker and the rest. Those whom I shall not forget without trouble, Jonathan and Mina and their good friends, Professor Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Lord Godalming.
4th November. The tip of my shoe carved an arc into the grains that covered the floor. I glanced around the room and its heavy air. The dust deposited itself on every horizontal surface, forming a velvet layer.
“They are outside.” I said.
There was no reply or movement from the others in the room. After that, we waited without a sound. Our eyes focused on the entrance door to the lair. The steel remained locked and bolted. It was not until after several hours of intense scraping and grinding at the door that Inspector Lestrade and his officers released the obstruction.
Then, after a delay longer than it was, the door creaked open, its hinges rusted and fused solid against the movement. Lestrade poked his weasel-like face through the opening. A lantern swung from the end of his extended arm and illuminated the darkness of the interior with golden shards. The light painted over our faces and reflected within our eyes like rats caught in a trap. Which we were.
“Oh, my word. What has occurred in this place?” He said, choking on the fine particles of dust raised into the air as the room ventilated and new feet shuffled along the floor.
“Many events which defy rational explanation, my good man. Quick, help us remove this boy.” Said, Sherlock.
“Mr. Holmes. Dracula and the others were here?”
Lestrade threw the light into every corner of the room; his eyes scanned the debris and counted the empty coffins.
“Yes, All here, Lestrade.”
Lestrade pushed the toe of his boot through the layer of dirt, like the blade of a shovel through a snowdrift.
“Yes, as you see it, Inspector.”
“More than dust, for here lies death itself.”
“We will need to talk to you all, Sherlock, to state what happened here.”
“First, we must return this boy to Baker Street, Inspector. To compose our temperament. The boy needs daylight and some reality, and we better be quick about it.”
“So do I,” I said.
I turned and took what I hoped would be my last view of the coffins and the dirt and detritus spread about the chamber. The grains had spilled and mixed to hold the combined remains of Dracula and his victims to be ground together for eternity. We trod through the mess; the false carpet stored outlines of our footprints as we moved. I guided Quincey past Lestrade and two constables and then through the doorway. We stamped our feet to release clumps of the compacted remains from our boots, leaving small mounds at the base of the stairs.
We hurried to step out of the basement and ascended the circular stairway to the street like moths to a distant light. Before us, our breath hung in the cold air like a rope, pulling us upward and away from this place. We left the room and its carnage behind, leaving the cold, dark stillness of stone walls, dust, and steel mechanisms to Lestrade and his men. We have escaped the physical, but we will carry many images of the terrible events that have left themselves imprinted upon our minds. The memories will replay when we least expect or desire them. Each of us sighed a funnel of frozen breath as we saw the open doorway, which led to light and safety.
I was ahead of Holmes and the boy Quincey as we emerged from the depths of the south basement of Tower Bridge. As we reached the street, the dawn of the bleak and bright winter day hit my eyes with a brightness that hurt. After a few blinks, my eyelids fluttered and remained so without too much effort. The city horizon beyond came into sharp focus.
A broken line of rooftops and smoking chimney stacks grabbed at the sky like fingers from an open grave. Yet, at this moment, nothing could claim to be more beautiful than the sights, sounds, and noxious smells of industry and the marks of consumption of so-called civilization.
The bustle of human activity populates the streets; the air fills with shouts of adults working and children playing. Church bells peal; they do not celebrate our deliverance but call for their parishioners to assemble and pay dues for worship. After all, for those who had risen this cold morning, a morning as sharp as a city should strike at this time of year, it was only a typical Sunday in the heart of London.
The air brings a chill to my face, a welcome slap of freshness. I, too, am struck by the normality of it all. A fresh wind blew the streets free of their shroud of low fog for the first time in many days. The strange cloak of dense grey-yellow opaque mist that hugged the ground was gone. Birds, alive and about their business, filled the sky. Strangers passed in the street without a glance or thought of anything which needed to be corrected. There is no wonder for the remains that decay below the surface of the manufactured realm above, and why should there be? For there is yet no news of a murder in town.
“The world is as we left it, Sherlock,” I said.
“Apart from the lives that were engulfed within this conflagration, no one will notice this battle between light and dark, my good friend. So let us return to our normality. The familiarity and comfort of 221B.”
“Quite the idea, Holmes. Should we hail a cab?”
“Wait, Watson, we will walk and take in the streets for a while and wonder at the clouds above and the shallow string of humanity strewn upon the cobbled roadways of this town.”
“I believe this event may have turned your head, Sherlock.”
“For a moment, Watson, but only for a moment,”
Although the sharp blade of Quincey’s kukri had removed his parent’s heads from their bodies, they had not died by his hands. Their earthly souls were already long gone before he assisted their corrupted flesh to exit this world. I hold comfort in knowing this was the fact. We walked a few streets distance until the conurbation obscured Tower Bridge from our view.
We paused together in synchronicity, each taken in a sudden reflection of the event. Sherlock addressed Quincey. The boy showed no emotion; perhaps, his bowed head bore his trauma. Holmes placed both his hands on the boy’s shoulders. Quincey raised his head, and they stared into each other’s eyes. Then, with a tightening grip, Holmes, holding a solemn voice, said.
“It is a most remarkable thing that you have done here, Quincey, and you should bear no guilt for what you had to do. There was no choice. No choice for any of us. We were all part of this challenge. You understand this to be the case?”
The boy stood his ground and stared into Sherlock’s face but said nothing.
“You shall return with us to Baker Street, where you shall be safe to live in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it would be best if you didn’t think of anything other than what we must think, for nothing good will come of it. Mrs. Hudson will take good care of you.”
“And of us all,” I added.
We passed no other words between us. Sherlock removed his hands from Quincey’s shoulders, and we ambled onward. I placed my hand on Quincey’s shoulder to touch the bravery of this young boy. He had witnessed the world descend into the deepest darkness. A depth many men would never have to see.
We walked and, after a moment of contemplation, hailed a cab for the last part of our journey. I sat opposite Quincey, who gripped the leather-clad ribbed kukri handle to his chest with both hands until his knuckles bore white. He said nothing, nor glanced in any direction other than to his feet. The boy needed no additional comfort than vengeance, which would now be his path.
My thoughts darted back to the confrontation and its end.
“You realize that this may not be the end of the matter, considering its beginning, Sherlock?” I said.
“It is true, Watson, that we do not know how many more creatures lay about us, avoiding the daylight hours in a dormant state. Lying in rooms, cellars, crypts, and any place that daytime human activity would bypass. In the coming months and years, we must use all our resources to deliver a map of the dens where they may lie. As certain as they sleep, they will surely rise, and their forms will walk between us all during the hours of darkness to take their fill from whom they desire without warning.”
“When I consider my military service, where we would often remove the head of the snake only to have another emerge, to this event, It brings me to where there will be many valiant imposters amongst those the creature has contaminated who will vie to fill the vacancy left.”
“Well considered, my friend. Sometimes, perhaps though enough, your reasoning follows directions from a mastermind’s deductive power.”
“I shall take that as a compliment.”
“So, you should, as you are unlikely to get many more.”
5th November. It is seven thirty Monday morning, the fearful dread of darkness is yet to be broken. In front of me, the light of a single lamp played at the room’s corners. By the flickering of its dull yellow flame, I now record the moment and set this entry to begin this case, which I shall call ‘Imperial.’ I will note the dates and the events as they occur so that this account will become a history of the present as we tread through the mire of this time.
This journal will not comprise a diary of menial tasks and achievements or casual conversations, having no other meaning than stagnant air as it passes between lips. Instead, this account will be baggage of greater weight, a journal of events marking themselves of significant importance. I will bring these moments to this account at a later time and place than they have occurred, such is the hurry between days.
To most, today holds no difference from any other. Going about one’s business, you may have paid no heed or even noted the murderous occupances that swept London this last week. But if you had no direct involvement in the happenings or access to the newspaper headlines, why should you?
If you are unfamiliar with the Lifeblood case, the following self-incriminating and most damning statement will shock you. Only last night, Quincey released his mother and father from their ties to this world with a weapon gripped by the boy’s own hands. Yes, he struck at the hearts of those that Sherlock and I dared hope to protect. But there lies the strangest and converse matter. By Quincey’s actions and our failures, they, and we, are now saved.
We took Jonathan and Mina to their proper deaths, accompanied by the monster Count Dracula, who had corrupted and drained the lifeblood from their souls. Should I refer to the demise of the beast as his death? I know even reasonable people will make remarks upon the legitimacy of the truth I have been a part of. But, still dead, he must be, as I observed the fact of the occasion with my own eyes.
They, and maybe even you, my reader, may remark that there is a valid reason to doubt the event. And, by association, the cause of hallucination would explain your finding. But, having only the witness of Sherlock Holmes, a young boy, and myself to support these events, many would judge the assessment to be a plausible and scientific conclusion. Again, however, I hope you remain open to these accounts, which are kept untarnished by personal bias and doubt.
Underlying this case is the knowledge that others have destroyed the creature on previous occasions and in other places, only to return in a state of vengeance to take the living to join him in death. I am also convinced that his yet undiscovered companions wander the dark streets of the nighttime world, preying on the innocent and the unsuspecting.