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In the Blood

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It’s long past sunset, but Mina remains dressed – severely buttoned up and laced in black stiff fabric, a kind of armour – and she won’t return to the graveyard to seek out another visitation. But she doesn’t shut the windows, and sits by them in the lady chair, stockinged feet curled under her, as if waiting for someone; she lets herself drowse. When she stirs and sees Lucy again – sweet, lost Lucy – she can believe it is merely a dream; the hope of her heart standing in her room.

The trouble is, as it swiftly becomes clear, that a dress is not armour; it’s no defence at all. Nothing stops the call of blood to blood, the infection already in her veins that fires up again now at Lucy’s nearness. Her heart has already betrayed her. A dress, after all, is merely fabric, and buttons are there to be undone. She feels the light touch of Lucy’s fingers, much as it used to be when they were aiding each other in the last details of dressing before going down for dinner, if somewhat in reverse.

It should feel odd – where Mina is burning now, Lucy is cold – but it does not; neither is it strange to Mina when it seems as if Lucy is no longer working with gentle fingers, but with clawed nails, tearing the last of the material from around her collar. In this dream, it only feels right, more so when she feels their sharpness against her breast and then against her neck. Mina knows no fear; she suddenly longs for Lucy to press in harder, to draw blood, but her friend holds back.

She’s only Lucy again suddenly, leading Mina to the bed, peeled down to her underclothes though Mina still feels herself overdressed and overheated; the corset too restricting as her breathing quickens. Lucy laughs softly and draws Mina down onto the bed.

“You understand now,” Lucy says, lying beside Mina; then moving slightly, so that she’s pressed against her friend, almost on top of her in her nightgown. “You do, don’t you, Mina?”

As she had earlier, Mina feels a leap of joy, as if she does indeed understand the whole world. There is only Lucy, only always loving Lucy. She doesn’t think of Jonathan, or John, or even of the Count. Only Lucy, returned to her like a lost angel. Yes, blood calls to blood, and Mina’s heart races, ready for the moment as Lucy moves again, her head against Mina’s neck.

“Yes,” says Mina, breathlessly, “oh yes.”

Lucy draws back however, and as she does, Mina’s heart beats slower again, almost sluggish. She’s drowsy, recalling again that this is a dream, and she’s a dead weight against the mattress. Her eyes close.

“You do, you must,” says Lucy, kissing Mina’s forehead with youthful eagerness, just as in life. Mina is too heavy with sleep to respond. “You’ll be with us. You and John. They won’t stop us.”

Mina subsides into sleep, a feverish, unsatisfactory rest, too easily broken. She keeps waking, dreaming of a dark presence in the room, but there’s never anything to be seen when she tries to look. She ignores that and clings instead to her fast-fading dream of Lucy.

 

Her rational, waking mind dismisses all of it as the imaginings of a slight fever. Perhaps that explains too her vision in the churchyard, but she holds the fact that she thinks she saw Lucy tightly to her. It is a promise of something, she is sure. She thinks then that it is maybe even a hope of heaven, but that notion is roughly driven from her later. It’s not that, as she finds when she reacts to Dr Van Helsing and Dr Seward with a sudden, alien ferocity, even savagery. She scratches at them with claws that she doesn’t recognise as her fingernails, hisses, even spits, and her skin burns – literally and painfully– under the cross that Van Helsing presses to her forehead.

That brings her back to her senses again, and she stops and sees, though she tries not to, her own horror and repulsion mirrored in the face of Dr Seward – John.

He holds her – or possibly he’s restraining her – as Van Helsing fires angry questions at her. (She denies the accusations – she saw not the Count, she insists, but Lucy, sweet Lucy, as she was in life.) She hides her face against John’s mourning coat, in tears of shock at what she seems to have become. Even in her distress, though, she feels an abrupt increase again in her heart rate. Blood calls to blood, and between them, in their veins, there’s something left of Lucy.

She shudders again at her own thoughts and wonders suddenly at them all – the Count who is the source of the trouble; Van Helsing, seemingly untouched by it all; Lucy and Jonathan who embraced this transformation, and she and John here, trapped unwillingly somewhere between temptation and resistance that’s bound to fail – she catches her breath as she remembers that she has already failed.

She does not want this infection, this alien thing within, the change it has wrought, the loss of control. She does not want to be damned, but she is afraid that it is too late; that she no longer has it in her to truly want to be saved.

“Oh, God, help me,” she says, but this treacherous creature within thinks of Lucy, and that path leads to the Count and damnation. There’s no way back.