Chapter 16


< The night sky is as beautiful here as ever. Nonetheless- >
Yawning, Tess checks her watch again. It’s 1:30 AM, and still no sign of Helsing.
< -it can only keep me entertained for so long. >

Thoroughly bored after sitting in a tree for hours on end, Tess pulls out her pocket knife, breaks off a small branch, and starts mindlessly carving it. What will she make? Not even she knows yet.

She’s managed to trim off all the excess leaves, twigs, and bark, when we hear movement from the other side of the cemetery wall. She folds the knife back into her pocket and gets rid of the shaved branch by balancing it between the tree limbs above her.
She hones her senses in on the movement and hears the familiar voices of Helsing and the other men.
< So all of them came, then.
< Time to begin. >

Tess transforms into bats and flies back to the house. Landing in the yard, she clicks her tongue to summon the wolves and orders them to stand down for the night, sending them inside to guard the family’s rooms instead.

A flock of bats flies over to Tess from the house, and Drac forms from them beside her.
“So it is time?”

Tess grins, “Indeed.”
She walks towards the house, and he follows.
“They’ll head this way soon. Remember not to show yourself. No matter what.”
“And you remember,” he retorts, “that I will not allow a member of my family to be harmed.”
“Come now,” she taunts, “After all this time, surely you trust me?”
He only gives a “Humf!” before flying off back to the house.

She takes her time. Once inside, she checks to make certain the doors leading further in are locked.
Then Tess knocks on Lucy’s door.
She doesn’t open it, but we hear a groggy, “Yes? Who is it?”
“It’s Tess. I need your help with something. Please meet me in the entryway.”

That done, she returns to wait just outside the front door-
< -I can hear footsteps running up from the front gate. >
Tess hones in to the noise. < Already? >
< No… No, they’re too soft- and alone. >

Looking down the driveway, we see Mina running up and looking very disheveled.
She makes it to Tess, but doubles over, heaving for breath.
“Helsing… Coming… Saw tomb empty…”

“Woah, woah…” Tess grabs her arm to help steady her. “Yes, I know. I saw him come to the graveyard.”
“What?!” She jumps up, mouth open like a fish.
“I have a plan for this, it’s alright-“

Lucy tiptoes out the front door.
But we tune out of their conversation, distracted by the sound of heavy footsteps coming up through the front yard.
< Time to hide and let the chips fall where they may, for now. >

Once again, I push down my rising feelings of guilt.
No need to hide my anxiety, however. The tension within Tess is almost as potent.

“They’re coming,” is all the explanation Tess gives to the two women — before re-entering the house and climbing up into a corner of the ceiling, clinging to the walls.

We can no longer see their faces, but their heads swivel, their auras confused and scared, for a few moments. We can hear them arguing: Mina saying Lucy should hide-
“They could hurt you! Or worse!”
-Lucy wanting to stay and try to change their minds-
“I’m not running! Arthur, Jack — they would never hurt me!”

I can surmise what happens next from the sound alone.
Finally, the men come close enough for the women to hear them, and their argument becomes truly pointless when Helsing appears.

< Jeez, did he bathe in garlic or something?! >
< Knowing him? Probably. >

“Miss Mina?!” he shouts in shock.
“Dr. Van Helsing. Please, don’t hurt her! Lucy, she’s-”
“You vile creature!” he screams, “Although I pity you, I cannot allow you to harm yet another innocent! … Miss Mina, please, move away from her.”
“If I do, will you put away your weapons?”
“I cannot! If I do as you ask, there will be nothing standing between the monsters of this place and ourselves.”
Lucy interjects, “They are NOT monsters!”

Even angrier, Helsing screams, “Vile creature! You have-”
But Arthur cuts in. His voice pained, he implores, “Lucy, please. If there is any of you left in there… let Mina go.”
“She is not holding me here,” Mina protests.
Helsing pleads, “She has entranced you, dear Mina-”
“No! She’s still Lucy!”
But his persuasive attitude drops quickly, “She has been turned!”
“She CHOSE this! It was the only way to save her life!”

There’s a moment of silence and restless shuffling.
Jonathan breaks it, murmuring, “What? Mina… You knew?”

Helsing is beside himself. We can hear his heart racing, his breathing ragged. Fear and anger are jabbing out from his aura like hackles on a cornered dog.
“You LET this happen?” he hisses.
“Of course I did. It wasn’t my choice, this was what Lucy wanted. She can live a long, happy life now.”
“You FOOL!” Helsing bellows, “She has allowed herself to become a monster! No. No I am the fool- for not realizing you had been enamored by their spell.”

Seeming to realize Helsing is a lost cause, Lucy begs, “Arthur! Arthur, please, you know me. You know me better than anyone! It’s me! It’s your Lucy!”
Gravel crunches underneath boots — once, twice…
“What-! What are you doing, fool!?”
“Lucy…?” The footsteps come a bit faster: three four five…

More footsteps come now- then press hard into the ground, sliding a bit.
Mina lets out a sound of protest, and Lucy screams, “Let him go!”
“Don’t allow him any closer!” Helsing orders.

“No! Don’t you see? I swear, it’s her! It’s Lucy! MY Lucy! OUR Lucy!
Mina cries, “Jonathan, please! Don’t you trust me?”
“Mina…” Feet slide against dirt and gravel again.
“It is! It’s still Lucy!” Mina begs.
There are more crunching footsteps.

“Wait. What are you DOING you fools?!”
“… I know my wife,” Jonathan declares, “She’s smarter than almost anyone I know. And her instincts are never wrong, so… So if she says that’s her best friend up there, then… Then I have to believe her.”
The footsteps come faster and stronger- then stop at the front steps. Mixed declarations of agreement are coming from several voices.

“No! You fools!” Helsing wails, “Don’t you see? They have you under their spell!”
There’s more crunching of gravel.

“This… No… NO,” Helsing laments angrily, “I’m sorry, all of you. But if I must… I can’t allow them to overtake this place.” He declares, “If I must, I will kill you all to stop that catastrophe! Now. Monster! Show yourself, you scum!

< Finally! >
< Heh. As usual, I’m both excited — and terrified. If I get this wrong… >
< Hey. As you say, there’s no point dwelling on it. No time to, either. >

Tess climbs down from the ceiling-
-and walks out the front door.

Helsing’s eyes go wider than I thought possible. His angry aura has completely retracted. The only thing he radiates now is shock. But, as we watch, it changes to something else — horror. His hands are shaking-
-we notice, then, that he’s holding that same silver cross from before.

Helsing trips over himself, falling to the ground, trying to get space as he puts the pieces together. We watch his aura thrash and squirm as fear overpowers his rationality. Desperate. Yes… So desperate to find anything, any argument or weapon to use against this wicked thing stepping closer towards him.

He looks back and forth between Tess and the people watching us in confusion and dismay. He’s completely at a loss for words.
< If I wasn’t so scared of messing this up, I’d find it amusing. >

As the vampire hunter stares up at her, Tess breaks him out of his stupor with a grave, “Hello, Dr. Hellsing.”
He sputters, “No… But… But, you can’t be…” almost loses his grip on the cross, “I… I saw you in the daylight!”

Until, finally, he screams, “I befriended you!

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One thought on “Chapter 16

  1. Pingback: Contents | Crossroad of Infinity

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