Dracula in Love

By: Karen Essex

Prologue


Everyone has a secret life. Perhaps yours is merely a gossamer web of thoughts and fantasies woven in the hidden furrows of your mind. Or furtive deeds performed on the sly or betrayals large and small that, if revealed, would change how you are perceived.

Unlike most people whose lives remain private, my story has been written by another, sold for money, and offered to the public for entertainment. The author of the fiction claims to be above reproach because his records are “exactly contemporary.” But these “records” are falsified documents, based on the lies of a cabal of murderers desperate to conceal their dark deeds.

The true story remains a secret—my secret—and with good reason. Reader, you are about to enter a world that exists simultaneous with your own. But be warned: in its realm, there are no rules, and there is certainly no neat formula to become—or to destroy—one who has risen above the human condition. That is wishful thinking. Despite what you have read in commercial fiction, in the supernatural world, science and religion are both ineffectual, and garlic, crosses, and holy water—no matter how many times it has been blessed and by whom—are equally useless and benign. The truth is deeper, darker, and stranger than you imagine. As Lord Byron wrote, “for truth is always strange; stranger than fiction: if it could be told, how much would novels gain by the exchange!” In the forthcoming pages, we shall see what is gained when truth is told.

At some risk to myself from mortals and immortals alike, I will now reveal to you what happened in that strange and seminal year of 1890, when I shed the cocoon of ordinary life, bursting through the membrane of prosaic earthly existence and into a world of preternatural magnificence. That is the world we learned as children to fear—the milieu of goblins, ghosts, spirits, and magic—when it is the tangible world that is rife with unimaginable horrors.

The truth is, we must fear monsters less and be warier of our own kind.

Mina Murray Harker, London, 1897

P. S. The astute reader will notice that I have employed herewith the same fictitious names used in the other tale, with the exception of Morris Quince, who in no way resembled the cowboy American stereotype Quincey P. Morris, and Dr. Von Helsinger, who was not a product of Amsterdam but of Germany, the world’s leader in psychiatry during our century.





Part One


LONDON





Chapter One


29 June 1890


In the beginning, there was the voice.

That was how it began on that first evening, with a masculine voice calling out to me in my sleep; a disembodied voice slithering into my dream, a voice of deep timbre and tones, of sensuous growls, and of low, hollow moans—a voice laden with promise and with love. It was as familiar to me as my own, and yet I knew not whether it came from inside my head, from outside me, or from somewhere not of this earth. Hushed like wind through a valley and smooth like velvet, it beckoned me, and I neither had, nor wanted, power against it. The voice was my master.

I have been looking for you, I said.

No, we have been looking for each other.

Then came hands, no, not exactly hands, but touch—the essence of touch, caressing my face, my neck, and my arms, making my skin tingle and awakening something long dormant inside me. Smooth lips gently kissed me and then pulled ever so slightly away. Come, Mina, the lips whispered, and I felt warm breath as the words came out. You called to me, did you not?

Eager to discover the owner of those lips, the giver of that touch, I moved into the darkness, unaware where I was, or where I was being led, or by whom. But I knew that when we were finally united, it would be a homecoming. I felt as if my body were wrapped in warm skins and lifted into the air. Drifting through darkness and toward the unknown, I was not exactly flying but safely held aloft as I floated through nothingness. Something like fur tickled me beneath my chin and all around my neck and back.

After what seemed like a timeless journey, my bare feet touched mossy ground. Excited and intensely alive, my body was unfamiliar to me, except my heart, which beat with a new ferocity. The rest of me was some tingling mass of energy as I ran toward the hands and the lips with their promises of touch, of kisses, and of love. I saw nothing but felt hands come out of the darkness again and begin to stroke my hair and caress me with great tenderness.