Purity was my baby when I first began writing long works of fiction. She’s on hiatus – due to the largely vampiric nature of the story, and my disdain for all things vampire after Twilight killed it – but I am still in love with her characters. This is a scene from the very beginning, when the two main characters – Caitlyn and Fane – meet for the first time.
She shuffled up behind him, watching curiously as he ran his hand over the top of the wainscoting, which was designed with circular knobs in a very simple style. One of these protruded forward a slight more than the rest, and had a hole beside it. Wentworth reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and unearthed a tiny silver key without many decorations, with the exception of edging in gold and a little insignia stamped onto it. It must be the symbol of the Blade Corporation.
Wentworth slid the teeth into the hole and turned, then put the key back into his pocket and grabbed the knob. He gently rotated it, and a door, whose edges were hidden by the frame of the portrait, whispered open, revealing a room full of darkness. Before Caitlyn could see anything dangerous about a shrine of silverware, Robert nudged her inside and followed her, shutting the door behind them. They were instantly trapped in perfect blackness.
They stood in silence for some time. Well, almost silence. Caitlyn could hear her heart thudding dementedly away in her chest, and her breathing was loud in her ears, but there was something in the background that made icy fingers crawl up her spine. The room was chilling, colder than a fine sprinkle of snow. The invisible walls seemed to be swelling and deflating, breathing around them. Her hearing was randomly interrupted by a high-pitched clang, as if somebody was tapping two pieces of metal together—maybe forks? she thought with some amusement.
But what bothered her most was the whispering she heard in her head. It was a low male voice with an accent that sounded eerily like her father’s. She couldn’t tell what the voice was saying, but it sounded like a curse in some ancient tongue. A shiver rippled through her flesh, and she backed up on the grungy floor, bumping into the thin, skeleton of a man standing behind her.
She jumped and nearly yelped when the door opened again. She blinked against the sudden bright light, but when she recovered she tried to use the light to find out why exactly it was called the silver room, but she had no such luck. If this shrine was at all dangerous, she couldn’t tell.
The door shut before she could spot anything; when it eased shut with a click, the chanting in her mind instantly stilled.
The room was suddenly filled with the acrid smell of Blade’s cigar. He sounded like he was fumbling with something. This was confirmed when his gruff accent cut through the silence of the room with a demand. “Robert, hold this.”
“What is it?” Wentworth asked quietly.
“A candle. I can’t see a bloody fricking thing in here. Hold still.”
“Have you put more thought into connecting the electricity to the light here?” Robert wondered.
Blade made a strange noise in his throat as he lit a match. There was a brief flare of light as it burst to life. He touched it to the wick of the candle in Robert’s hand, and then shook it out, dropping it to the floor. Taking the candle from his employee so it illuminated every fine line on his chubby face, and made his dark eyes dance with something that resembled terror, he replied quietly, “Then it could see.”
A sudden low laugh ripped through Caitlyn’s mind, and she jerked backward, startled. Dread swiftly filled her form, and she pressed herself against the wall, close to Wentworth. Both men with her jumped slightly—they heard it too, but she could have sworn that it hadn’t been her ears that picked up the sound. It had been inside her head.
Now she was sure that that silver room did not contain silverware.
“Jesus Christ,” Al hissed. His knuckles were white where he gripped the candle. “Leave, Robert.”
“Bloody hell, if you say one more thing about the profits it could make, or how she’s just a kid, I’ll feed you to it myself! Goddamn it, Robert, get out!” the businessman snarled, glowering at the taller, stick-like man.
This time, she knew it came from somewhere in the room. The down hairs on the back of her neck and her arms lifted when the deep, quiet voice murmured teasingly, “Yes, say one more thing, Robert. Let him feed you to it.”
Robert was all too ready to comply. He stole one apologetic glance at Caitlyn, whispered, “Please forgive me,” and left the room. For the fraction of time the door was open, Caitlyn thought she saw something hunched over in the corner of the room—which, like the rest, had hardwood floors, wallpaper and wainscoting—but when the door shut, and they were once again locked in darkness, she chased the thought from her mind. This had to be a way of unnerving her so she would tell them about her father’s work. That was the only logical explanation for this madness.
Or was it? a dark part in her mind asked.
Caitlyn glanced up at Al, and felt a sudden warmth toward him. Whatever was in this room, it had to be worse than this man. This fat, crooked businessman was her only ally. Gross.
He licked his lips anxiously, his dark eyes flicking around the room. Clearing his throat, he said as bravely as possible, “Well, Miss Negrescu, I’m not going to ask you anymore about your father’s program right now, all right? I’m still going to ask about your father, but… well, let’s just get to it, hm? I don’t like this room much. I think the man who sold me this house forgot to tell me that it’s haunted,” he added, trying—and failing miserably—to sound nice. There was a panicked tinge to his voice, and the smile forced on his lips was pained and wavering. He was twirling the fat cigar in his fingers, and she could hear his toe tapping on the wooden floor.
“Ghosts aren’t real,” she whispered, too quietly for him to hear. It wasn’t something she believed, herself. After watching The Shining at her friend Emma’s house, she believed that the supernatural was far too real.
“Your father’s from Romania, isn’t he?” When Caitlyn nodded, Blade imitated the motion. “Yes, I’ve noticed he still has an accent. He isn’t from Bucharest, is he? That’s the capital.”
“He’s from Braşov,” she corrected, feeling her brows pull together. What did this have to do with anything?
“Ah, yes, that’s right. Thank you. You’ve been there?”
“To visit his rather large family, I presume. Tell me, Miss Negrescu, has he brought you to Bran Castle? I hear it’s a very popular tourist destination.”
“A beautiful creation,” something whispered in the room. Whenever that voice made itself known, the room seemed to get colder and colder, until her entire body was riddled with gooseflesh. Caitlyn couldn’t tell if the sound came from her mind or somewhere else. Maybe she was going crazy. Maybe his house was actually haunted.
“I’ve been there,” she murmured, swallowing a lump in her throat and wishing the candle lit the room better. They should have brought the lamp. Or a flashlight. She was glad she had the teddy with her.
“Have you heard the stories about Bran Castle, and Romania in general?” Blade asked, tilting his head to the side questioningly. “About how it was once populated by creatures called vampires? I’ve heard through the grapevine that your mother used to tell you stories about vampires. It’s odd, isn’t it? That she believed in Romanian creatures even though she was from Ireland? Or Canada, rather, but she lived in Ireland, didn’t she? Perhaps your father believes in leprechauns and pots of gold,” he added, chuckling. Caitlyn gawked up at him, wondering what he was getting at. “Your mother believed in vampires, and doesn’t your housekeeper, Abigail Johnston?”
Caitlyn shrunk back from him, feeling a frosty shiver penetrate her veins. “Vampires aren’t real,” she murmured. This time, it was something she believed. There weren’t any vampires in The Shining, and she and Emma had been too chicken to watch Dracula right after viewing the first film.
“Is that what you think? It’s what your father thinks, isn’t it? But in no way what Dierdre and Abigail think. See, Miss Negrescu, I’m a bit like your mother and housekeeper, I think,” he continued softly. He was sounding less calm now. Fear was edging back into his voice, threatening to overpower him. “I believe in them.”
“They aren’t real…”
“I believe the contrary, my dear. In fact… I own one.”
Another metallic click ripped through the chilly air, and a quiet voice with a growling accent hissed, sounding right beside Caitlyn’s face, “You could never own one of the strigoi morţi.”
The corner of Al’s mouth twitched downward, but he remained as courageous as possible. “May I introduce Fane Dracul?” he said, lifting his arm toward the center of the small room. The flickering orange light reflected off something shiny and silver, and Caitlyn stared in horror. This had to be a trick… an optical illusion… she was dreaming…
This dream was a nightmare. The thing before her looked like a man, but this was no ordinary man. Though it was folded on the floor in the corner, it looked like a giant. Its hair was deep ebony, and it caught light from the flame, which caused strands of reds, golds and deep browns to pierce the shadows of the long locks. And long they were. They were tied back, and fell in straight unison, interrupted by only a few waves, inches past his shoulders. A few loose strands fell before his face, covering eyes from hell itself. They were narrowed with menace, locked on Alfred Blade, and a deep, blood-chilling scarlet, highlighted with vermillion, crimson and dark orange. The colour of spilled human blood.
The flesh was pulled taut over hollow cheeks and a long nose. It was a stark contrast to the hair, as it was whiter than snow, but showed no spidery blue veins underneath, as fair skin often did. The chin was narrow and somewhat pointed, and the brow was smooth with immaculate black eyebrows.
This thing wore a bizarre assortment of clothes. Long legs were covered by black trousers, simple and classy, and the feet wore dress shoes that looked strangely modern yet old-fashioned at the same time. It wore a white shirt from some old era that had somewhat belled sleeves, and tight cuffs and collar, with a black waistcoat overtop. The buttons were golden. Underneath its neck was some sort of old-timey scarlet tie. The vest was formfitting, pulling the shirt close to its torso; it seemed to be very slim, on the edge of skinny, but looked powerful. Caitlyn couldn’t decide if it was beautiful or horrifying.
Even though thick silver manacles were clamped about its wrists and it was chained to the wall behind it, the thing emanated glory and royal magnificence. It was terrifying.
Caitlyn couldn’t look away, but desperately wished she no longer had the image burned before her eyes.