I left them sitting silently, locked in each other’s embrace, content with the closeness after being separated for so long. This was the final image I had of Catherine and Heathcliff before I departed Wuthering Heights.
In the open expanse of the moors, with the wind softly rippling with sweet melodies and the trees humming in tune, an apparition in the form of a trapdoor appeared in the ground. I knew that this was my next calling. Without hesitation, I opened the door to my next adventure.
I was a silent resident in Castle Dracula, observing events as they unfolded. I was not the average resident however; I had access to the most discreet corners of the castle, which facilitated my journey to uncovering the truth about Dracula. I wanted to know the human under the exterior of the monster.
Sunk within the invisibility of the castle walls, a figure clad in black, I blended in with the darkness of the castle. I watched him stay up late one night, waiting for sunrise. There was no denying the hope that glistened in his dark eyes; it radiated with childlike anticipation. Hoping and expecting something that is far out of reach. I saw him slowly creep towards the light. His pale skin would have blended well with the sunlight, but he immediately refracted from contact with the light, hissing as the brightness scorched his skin. This is the price he had to pay for eternity. An unending spiral of agony and distress.
There was a firmness about his appearance, a lack of flexibility, like everything was set in stone, unable to progress beyond the rigid lines that circled his aged face. When Jonathan Harker arrived at the castle, an unhealthy grin circled Dracula’s face. I could tell that Jonathan noticed something eerie about the Count’s manner, but perhaps he dismissed it for paranoia. It was clear as glass from my perspective. This tall, gaunt, aged man inspired a macabre ambience. He plagued those around him with trepidation and agitation. With his raised eyebrows, the Count was deep in contemplation, calculating how he was to go about feasting on Jonathan’s flesh. Jonathan shuddered as the Count made his way towards him. Something was amiss. The Count moved in an unnatural manner. With his long, black cloak, his gliding movements suggested that he was elevated off the ground.
This is the price that the Count had to pay for eternity. To have all shrink in fear merely by his presence. I proceeded to think. What did the Count find so fascinating about a long-lived life? Never dying. Always the one to bear the loss of a loved one. Did he even have any “loved ones” anymore? Had he ever? My fascination was spiked. I proceeded to follow his every move, determined to uncover the great mystery of Count Dracula.
I came to a possible conclusion.
Freedom. Liberty. Emancipation.
This unrestrained access to life – “life” is not defined in the conventional sense here – giving way to a fluidity that can only be accessed by the promise of eternity. Overcoming the boundaries of the fragile human constitution. The limitation of being susceptible to illness and death is no longer a fear. There is only the open vastness of a world undiscovered, of knowledge to be acquired, and the restless pursuit of vigor. Chasing life at its optimal point.
As I continued to shadow the Count, I made some additional discoveries. Death is a thought-provoking subject to contemplate; sometimes out of fear, other times out of genuine fascination. With Dracula, I was able to learn what it truly means to breach the natural workings of the universe, and somehow conquer death, the great force that has kept mankind constrained all their life. There is no denying the sense of powerfulness that accompanies such an accomplishment. Dracula’s fiendish inclinations cannot be discredited, but it is also important to recognize how humans have engaged in their own fair share of heinous deeds. Humans are not perfect either; they carry their own demons with them as well, they just hide these monsters better.
This observation led me to a more profound detection. The unseen reflection in the mirror is a stark illustration of the un-reality that I have found myself in. Is he even real? Or did I somehow expunge this creature out of my darkest imagination. Have I breached the bounds of sanity?