Authors note: Below is a diary, that I found in my attic of my Victorian home, also called the Bryan Kelly Manor. The diary belonged to a young lady named, Sarah Whittle who lived in the nineteenth century. I wanted to share this dire and sad story with the rest of you.
July 20, 1895
St. Joseph, MO.
My heart is heavy with the blackest despair for I attended Charles' funeral yesterday.
I couldn't bear to witness his interment for a final goodbye, for I was overcome with grief when the coffin was closed for all eternity. I loved him deeply and had always dreamed that we
could wed and live happily together for the rest of our days. Yet this dream had been ripped harshly from my bosom, my heart broken and battered, my
spirit bewildered, over life's certain cruelty.
It's difficult to fathom that such a robust gentleman, so full of the spirit of life, has been so harshly struck down with a heart ailment in the prime of manhood.
His relatives must be so deeply aggrieved. His Uncle John, an aunt, and several cousins from Kansas City were at the Kelly Mansion for the funeral. But Charles was closer to John than to any of them.
The two were not only partners in the Kelly Savings and Loan, but were also the closest of companions.
And did Charles' demise ever weather poor old John. Why the dear old man looked as though he'd aged a century overnight.
Papa stayed at the Kelly mansion after the funeral to
assist John. He had to give the dear man something to soothe the nerves for John was near to apoplexy.
I surmise that I look ill myself, for when Papa came home a short while ago, he remarked on my paleness, fearing that it was a prelude to a nervous breakdown. Not wanting to worry him, I promised that I would be fine in a few days, and that I just needed to get over the shock of Charles’ unexpected demise. Nevertheless, he insisted that I needed a change of scenery, since the Kelly mansion, with all those wonderful and horrible memories, was next door.
I knew that could mean only one thing...I would be staying with Aunt Martha in the country for a few weeks.
August 21, 1895
Finally I'm home, but I feel no better about Charles’ death, the pain
is still fresh and very heavy in my heart even after four weeks of country air and Aunt Martha's cooking. Yet, I'll try to hide those feelings from Papa and Hildy.
As soon as I returned, Papa called me into his study
and rejoiced over my, "improved condition." He even hinted that another love
would come along soon to fill my aching heart. But what I couldn't bear to tell
Papa is that I will never feel for anyone what I feel for Charles. Even though
Charles is gone forever, the love I hold for him will never leave my heart or soul.
I've always felt that way about Charles--even when I was a little girl. Since he was fifteen years my senior, how painful it had been for me when he gave my pig-tailed youth no notice. And how jealous I had been to see him escort so many beautiful and elegant ladies throughout town. I used to dream that I could be the one he gazed at so fondly, and held so tenderly.
Even at a tender age, I had dared to image how it might feel to have his hand on my waist as he assisted me into his carriage. In my youthful imagination, we'd go to balls, operas, and on long, romantic carriage rides.
But his lack of interest in me suddenly changed when I returned home last year from finishing school, seventeen years old and ready for my coming out.
Charles and I were reintroduced at a gala one evening, and afterward, he came to papa straight away to beg for permission to court me. Pleased at such a fine prospect for his daughter, Papa agreed immediately. I was as overjoyed as a child at Christmas.
No doubt Charles held the esteem of society and was a wealthy man besides, truly a "catch" in every sense of the word. But Charles' wealth and position mattered not a whit to me. All I cared about was the overbearing love in my heart, and I would have married Charles even had it meant a lifetime of wearing rags and scrubbing floors.
The ensuing days of my courtship were better than I had ever dreamed possible. Thus began a year of long carriage rides down Lover's Lane, and quiet afternoons at Smith's Park, where Charles and I would often hold hands or talk while we feasted on the delicious picnic dinners prepared by Hildy. Then on Sundays, we'd see the latest performance at the Tootle Theatre downtown or enjoy the music of Strauss, which was always so splendidly performed by the St. Joseph, Symphony.
Yet, more precious to me than anything was when Charles dared to steal a kiss or two when we were alone in his carriage. I still feel breathless when I think of it. How wonderful the sensation was.
If only those days could return.
But, I suppose that I must let those memories die--to lie still and fallow in the recesses of my mind, and reconcile myself to fate's unyielding desire.
Still, I'll close this entry by saying that I never knew that one person could shed so many tears...or that one heart could still beat with such heaviness. I suppose the black wreath of death will hang at the door of my heart forevermore.
August 24, 1895
I fear that I'm truly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Though Charles has
been dead for more than a fortnight, I thought I saw him standing on his veranda this evening.
I had been sitting on my porch embroidering a handkerchief when I saw the dark figure out of the corner of my eye. When I raised my head to see him standing there, I suppressed a scream, but was so scared that I dropped my work and ran to papa who was reading the
St. Joseph Gazette in the parlor.
Papa tried to calm me, insisting that the image had been merely a trick of the eyes...something brought about by grief. Hildy agreed and led me upstairs while papa prepared a sleep tonic.
Today, I realized that Papa was probably right. Charles was certainly dead, and I do not believe in ghosts.
However, papa forbids me to sit on the porch alone, because there had been two sinister murders of young ladies in the city during the past week. One was found last night behind some bushes near the entry of Krug Park; the other victim was found a few hours later, in a downtown alley off Felix Street.
Papa, who also works in the capacity of "Country Coroner," was called to both scenes, but would not tell me the details of the deaths, only that I must be on my guard. Still, I could tell that the murders must have been pretty grim for papa was as pale as January skies. He had seen a lot of death and injuries in the many years he had practiced medicine, and perhaps even worse when he had served as a surgeon in the Confederate army during the war. As a result, he was sufficiently hardened to such matters. Now, only the vilest murder or injury could touch his iron constitution, so I know that the women must have been killed in the foulest manner imaginable.
The thought chilled me through and through, adding to the despair I already felt. Now, like the rest of the ladies of St. Joseph, I'm staying indoors until the madman is brought to justice.
But I must admit that the seclusion offers me some relief as my close companions have been pressuring me to socialize. However, the pain of Charles' death is still too fresh in my heart, and I fear that I could not make merry.
People just don't seem to understand how deep my
despair goes--not even Papa.
August 31, 1895
I believe that the specter I saw has been accounted for. Papa told me that Charles' relatives from Kansas City have come to settle the estate, and that one
of Charles' cousins, Andrew Kelly, bears a striking resemblance to my lost love.
Papa also said that the Kelly family has decided to sell the mansion as it has brought nothing but death to each Kelly whom has ever lived there. First Charles' Mother Jessie, died there of blood poisoning, and then another cousin, Kate, died when she fell down the maids’ stairs a couple of years ago, and now Charles. Who could have imagined that he could die so unexpectedly of a weak heart?
The sale of the property probably brought Charles
relatives to the mansion to remove his few remaining possessions. Thus goes the explanation for my encounter with the supernatural. Obviously, I saw Andrew that day.
I certainly feel foolish for my behavior and am terribly embarrassed that a woman of my breeding failed to gather my wits enough to call a greeting to Andrew.
What he must have thought of my atrocious manners! Tomorrow, I shall go to the Kelly mansion and offer the family whatever assistance I can...
That is, if Papa will allow me to leave the house. There was another murder last night, this one near Smith Park...no more than three blocks from here!
September 1, 1895
I went to the Kelly mansion as intended, however, no
one came to greet me. Knowing that the staff had already been let go weeks ago,
I entered the house and called a greeting, since, only moments earlier, I had
glanced out my bedroom window to see the tall, shadowy figure of a man enter the
Still, though I called several times, no one attended me, and the house seemed eerily silent.
The foyer was entirely bare of all the rich ornamentation and furnishings that Charles had taken such pride in. Even the Kelly coat of arms was missing from the hallway mantel.
Sliding open the pocket doors that led to the parlor off to the left, I ventured into the silent chamber to see that it too was bare, picked clean of all its fluff and finery.
The lack of warmth made it difficult to imagine that this is the place where only a few weeks ago the Kelly’s had lived, loved, and laughed.
The wide bay window at the front of the room was the area where Charles, in his best black suit, had laid so still and dead in his iron coffin for three days and four nights following his death. How well I remember the big
bouquet of black roses that had draped the coffin, and how difficult it had been for me maintain my decorum. But looking at the area now, I realized that it held no clue that people had wept and grieved in this same spot only four weeks ago.
Cold tears formed in my eyes again as I pondered life's bitter irony. Sometimes it seemed like our
existence was for naught, that our very lives mattered little in the scheme of things, but I told myself that it was just my grief and hysteria talking.
I called out again, wanting a smile, wanting warmth and kind conversation.
No reply. Yet I didn't doubt that I had seen a man enter only a few moments ago.
I returned to the foyer and headed toward the grand stairwell, thinking I had heard some footsteps coming from the second floor...only at the foot I paused, remembering how I'd once dreamt of treading those stairs daily as Charles' wife.
How cold those stairs seemed now. And how bitterly alone I felt!
Yet another tear formed in my eye to stream my cheek. Quickly, I wiped it away, wanting only to gain control of myself before I met Charles’ relative.
I took a deep, refreshing breath and ventured halfway up the stairway, feeling as if I were trespassing, but wanting to badly to meet Andrew, if indeed that’s who it was.
Suddenly, a door slammed above and an odd creaking noise
filled the hall, which sent cold shivers down my spine. Uncertain why, I fled in fear and found myself shaking madly as I entered my own home, a terrible sense of foreboding filling my heart and soul. I don't know why, but I was certain that I should never enter the Kelly mansion again.
September 5, 1895
The Kelly family was struck with yet another tragedy when Charles' Uncle John was found dead in his bed last night.
Papa was called to the two-story house on Sylvanie Street to revive the man, but he arrived too late, for John was already dead and had strange bite marks on his throat.
The Sheriff arrived this morning to discuss the matter with papa. The two went to the study, but I stood on the other side of the pocket doors and managed to overhear parts of the discussion. Papa told the Sheriff that there was no doubt that the injuries he had seen on John's neck were like those he had seen on the woman...but were much more savage in nature. The attack had been so brutal in fact, that John’s head had nearly been severed from the neck, and like the other victims, he had been
"disemboweled and horribly mutilated.
The Sheriff mentioned something about St. Joseph having "a madman at large," and Papa agreed.
Nevertheless, to spare the Kelly family from further grief, and to prevent an uproar from a populace that was already nearly hysterical, they decided that the cause of John's death would be officially recorded as "heart failure." Furthermore, they'd have the funeral taker suggest a closed-coffin ceremony to the family, so that no one would be the wiser. After all, everyone knew of John's weak heart, a condition which would have
undoubtedly worsened from the grief of Charles' death.
The Sheriff also took papa into his confidence, telling
him that though the St. Joseph police were making every effort to bring the
murderer to justice, that they had no leads as yet...and not a single clue with
the exception of John's ring. The hideous object, a large ornate dragonhead with glistening ruby eyes, was missing and might have been the motive for the murder. It was well known throughout the city that the unusual ring, claimed to be a treasured family heirloom, was very rare and very valuable.
Thus, finding the ring meant finding the killer.
Terrified upon hearing this news, I ran to my bedroom and locked my door, wanting to escape a world gone mad.
September 9, 1895
Though the killer struck again last night, claiming the life of a young woman near Mount Mora Cemetery, I ventured outside last eve to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen. And I wondered how something so beautiful could exist in such a dark world of chaos. As I stood there, a chill rushed through me as I thought of all that had happened recently. Yet, I knew that I had nothing to fear since papa was just inside and Hildy never let me out of her sight for long.
As I sat on my veranda, trying to pretend that life was normal once again, I found that my gaze kept slipping unwittingly to the Kelly property, perhaps because of the obtrusive real-estate sign there.
Occasionally, my gaze would drift further, however, to the veranda where I had seen Andrew a couple of weeks ago. I thought it queer that I had never met the man in town or at the funeral. The mysterious man had certainly failed to attend any of the Kelly funerals for some peculiar reason, though I’ve heard that he was estranged from John and was somewhat of a
black sheep of the family.
But perhaps he just didn't have the stomach for such things.
Such were my thoughts when suddenly a man exited the Kelly mansion. He had to be the same man I had seen before for he was the same height as my Charles, had the same deep brown hair color and olive complexion, which I remember so dearly. The man looked so much like Charles that he might have been an identical twin.
My heart thumped wildly with longing, and then with fear...for Charles was dead. Logic intervened this time, however, reminding me that Charles had a cousin whom supposedly looked very much like him. And it was obvious that the man who stood but a few feet away from me, fondly watched the squirrels in the Kelly yard, was no ghost.
Remembering my manners this time, I stood and called, "Good evening, sir!"
The man's head snapped up, and for the first time, he looked directly at me. I was somewhat shocked to see the similarities between his and Charles' facial features. He could have been Charles’ identical twin, but I knew he could not be, since Charles had been an only child.
At once, I was afraid again, for there seemed to be something lethal in this man's eyes...so icy...so depthless...so black They might have been the eyes of Satan. And his face was stoic, devoid of the slightest trace of emotion, least of all warmth.
But I kept telling myself that my mind was simply
playing tricks on me. I was about to mention the coolness of the weather, when I
suddenly noticed something gleaming on the strangers’ chest. It wasn't difficult to determine what the object was, for the bright starlight sent a sparkle down on everything below....and I clearly saw that it was John's missing ring.
The garrulous object had been stabbed through with a heavy gold chain which the man wore around his neck like some object de' grace.
Terror seized me like never before and a shrill scream ripped from my throat.
Surely I fainted for I awoke in my bed with Hildy fanning me, and Papa sitting next to me...looking worried and haggard.
As I came to my senses, I shouted, "The ring, the ring. I saw the man who has John’s ring!"
Papa's eyes grew wide and round...then huge and horrified as he grasped the seriousness of my statement.
"Hildy, go call the Sheriff!" he ordered.
September 15, 1895
For days, I have been too afraid to venture from my room. I've even taken my meals here, what little I've been able to eat. Hildy and Papa are both terribly worried about me, yet both assure me that Andrew Kelly will soon be found and questioned, and that the murderer will soon be behind bars.
Still, I shudder with fear to think that the murderer is out there and quite possibly wears the face of my beloved Charles.
What a travesty that! It was as if the man I saw on the Kelly Veranda was not the kind and loving man I had known, but was more like some demented form of the man.
I don't see how Andrew, if indeed the man I saw was Andrew, could look so like my Charles. It seems a rather cruel hand of fate that this man so resembles my
lost true love.
Only the eyes were different, having the blackness of
unadulterated evil. Surely, they had been the eyes of a brutal killer.
And having felt those eyes bore into me, I never wanted to feel their penetrating coldness again.
Yet each night, I feel that I see them anew. I can't escape--even in
my dreams, for then, this man unmercifully enters my mind, searching me with those ebony eyes of death and wanting to claim me for his next victim.
Strangely, though I know this well, I don’t fight his
trespasses upon my person. On the contrary, I race after him, certain that he can somehow lead me
to Charles. Yet he disappears into the Kelly mansion. I follow him across the veranda and into the foyer...but I sense that he has gone past the servants’ stairs at the end of the hall. So I continue the pursuit.
I come to a landing where stairs lead to the second floor, and another landing leads down....into the darkness of the cellar. Still, I'm unafraid and, my dress dragging the dust behind me, I descend the creaky stairs.
Yet it isn't dark for long, for hundreds of candles
shine brightly from sconces that line the walls and dangle crookedly from the
ceiling. I quickly cross one room and then another; turning left as if instinctively sensing the correct path to him.
Then I enter a large, dark room that I imagine to be directly beneath the parlor.
I pause and look around, seeing a doorway beyond. Without hesitating, I open it to see nothing other than a bit of dirt floor at my feet, which was strange since the rest of the basement had been laid with bricks.
And there’s a foul stench here, a terrible scent that horrifies me and feels me with the worst dread
imaginable. Nevertheless, I retreat long enough to grab a sconce from the wall, seeing that the odor came from a pile of dead squirrels and rats that a cat had probably dragged in.
Then I enter the dark room, having to catch my breath as I do
so, for on the far side of the room sat an iron coffin...so like the one that Charles had been laid to rest in.
I wait as it creeks open--my heart knowing that I have found Charles at last.
He arises and comes to me, the dark, hypnotic eyes mesmerizing me so completely that I’m frozen to the spot. Yet, I have no fear, for I have found my true love, and I yearn for his nearness.
He reaches out to give me a single rose...a black rose...perfect and precious. My fears
gone, I accept it lovingly, waiting for him to take me into the warmth of his
But somewhere logic intervenes, and I scream out, refusing his terrible, cold touch. It's then that I usually wake, a cold sweat drenching my body.
Hildy and Papa are ever at my side. They shake their heads worriedly, and try to console me. How I dread that another night shall fall with these terrible nightmares to torture me anew.
September 21, 1895
Papa rushed home in the rain to this morning to tell me
that the Sheriff captured Andrew Kelly and that they think they have also found
the murderer as Andrew is totally mad. Papa says that Andrew claims my Charles
is some blood-sucking monster who not only killed several women throughout the
city, but also John Kelly. Surely, Papa was hoping that I'd think this theory
ridiculous and come out of my hysteria. He persuaded me to get out of bed, and
after I was reasonably presentable in my mourning dress, he took me down to the police station to identify Andrew as the man I had seen on the veranda.
I hated to disappoint Papa and the Sheriff, but I had never seen Andrew before. True, he had a similar look to Charles, yet he was not the man I had seen
on the Kelly porch. The stranger had been tall and dark in every way just like my Charles, yet Andrew was a redhead, much taller still, and with eyes as blue and bright as springtime skies.
In all honesty, I found him much more physically attractive than Charles had been, yet he failed to possess that spark of warmth and charisma that had endeared Charles to everyone he had met.
As I was leaving the jail, Andrew grabbed my cape and warned me that Charles was after me. Papa ordered him to unhand me, and eventually Andrew retreated, his eyes primed on the floor, and Papa rushed me out of the terrible place.
And now, I'm back at home, in my bedroom, and more baffled than ever, wondering who the man I saw was if not Andrew.
I've continued to have the nightmares, only they've
become even more realistic with Charles standing next to my bed, searching me, his long fingers trailing softly and slowly down my bare throat.
Then I arise and follow him again to that strange basement burial chamber, and he takes me to his open coffin. It’s always full of black roses, the same roses that covered his casket, the sweet scent of the flowers and death fill the air. And then, he smiles at me and pulls me close…before he sinks his teeth deep into the flesh of my neck, feasting on my blood even as I die. I scream out…and then I awaken, all the more distraught than the day before.
I eagerly await the day when I've suffered the last of these
nightmares, and Papa assures me that I will soon. Oh, how I hope he’s right.
As I close today's entry, I notice something on my desk that looks very much like the
petal of a rose...a very dark rose...but it just can't be. Like everything else that has happened recently there must be another explanation. It's probably just an old petal from the flowers that Hildy puts in my room everyday to raise my spirits. If only Hildy understood that flowers—especially roses—were the last thing I wanted see right now!
September 30, 1895
What I have to say now, I write with trembling hand. But I feel that I must write it down in order to get it out of my mind.
Today Andrew appeared at the front door, asking to speak to papa. Papa was adamant about refusing him at first, but I took him aside and convinced him that Andrew might possess some useful information about the murders. Though there was no evidence to connect him to the murders, I knew that Papa still suspected the man...as did the Sheriff. So finally, Papa acquiesced and Andrew was shown into the study, but, beforehand, I heard Papa whisper to Hildy to call the sheriff.
As Papa seated himself behind his desk, I at his side, Andrew sat in one of the large
leather chairs before us. When Andrew began to repeat his earlier warning that Charles was after me, Papa immediately started playing the detective, asking him how Charles could possibly be after anyone since Charles was dead.
Andrew replied that Charles was "not dead" but was "undead."
Papa then tried to steer the conversation away from the supernatural, hoping to glean some useful information.
"How do you know that Charles is after my daughter?" he asked, doing his best to control his temper, for papa had always been very protective of me, and he somehow saw this man as a threat. Still he bit back his notorious temper, certain that every time Andrew referred to "Charles" that he was in fact, referring to the killer.
"Because she knows about him." Andrew replied. "I dreamed about it just last night...I always dream about it before it happens."
I had to stifle a gasp, but papa merely looked perturbed.
After I had sufficiently regained control of my senses, I told Andrew that we were somewhat baffled and asked him to tell us everything he knew about Charles' involvement in the murders.
"It's all quite simple," he replied, "Charles kills for blood because he's a vampire. My father turned him into one using the detestable ring."
"What?" I asked, fascinated with the explanation that Andrew was alluding to even if it was all a delusion. I, like nearly everyone, had read Brom Stoker's Dracula, though papa didn't know about it
and wouldn't approve. Still, I had found the story darkly appealing at the time. But,
of course, it was mere fiction. Vampires didn't exist .
Obviously, like papa had said earlier, Andrew was hopelessly insane and should be locked up in the brooding Insane Asylum on Frederick Avenue.
"The damn ring!" Andrew continued. "It grants the bearer a wish, but the wish turns evil when it's asked for greed! Oh, come, surely you've heard the tale of the Monkey's Paw?
I nodded. still fascinated. He was crazy, but he had quite an imagination, and I liked nothing more than a good story. I glanced at Papa to see that he wasn't finding this information as amusing as I was. Rather, he appeared to be thoroughly disgusted with the man. Nevertheless, I continued to questioning
him, hoping we'd learn something useful from him.
"Then you're saying that John used this ring for greedy purposes?"
"Yes. To keep Charles alive. You probably didn't know it, because he hid his weakness well, but Charles was very ill. He had suffered from a weak heart most of his life due to a childhood illness. When he took to his bed one afternoon, we all knew that he'd be dead by the end of the evening, and we were correct. He gasped for air then stopped breathing around midnight. My father was beside himself; he had always known that if Charles died that the Savings and Loan would die
too. He just didn't have Charles' business savvy. And my father couldn’t allow that to happen. You see, he had amassed quite a gambling debt. Out of desperation, he did what he had always been told not to do--he used the cursed ring to wish Charles alive again.
Only a greedy request grants a wicked return, and Charles arose several days later--a vampire."
"But Andrew," I said, "Charles' coffin was closed and taken to the cemetery. The doors to the mausoleum were chained and locked. If Charles did become a vampire, there’s no way he could escape!"
"No, an empty coffin was taken to the cemetery. It was iron, so heavy that no one could tell whether a body was in it or not. And after everyone left, John secreted Charles' body elsewhere."
Papa, I could see, was totally perturbed with this story and completely disbelieving. But he had caught on to my game and was playing along. "Then Charles is not dead?" he asked Andrew.
"Not in the true sense," Andrew replied. "He's some half-dead, half-living creature who must feed on human blood. It’s something he can’t help. He craves it, you see, and he must have it!"
"How do you know all of this?" I queried.
"Because I witnessed Charles' resurrection and John's death!”
“Tell us everything you know!” said Papa firmly.
Andrew was silent for a moment, looking very disturbed, but he found the strength to continue. “I’m trying to figure out where to begin. I had returned to St. Joseph around July 10th, wanting to make amends with my father. We had had a nasty fight a few years ago, one that I came to regret. I had hoped to get a job at the Savings and Loan so that he and I could grow close once again. But I couldn’t have come at a worse time, for Charles was gravely ill. I was there when Charles died, and I saw my father get out the ring. I begged him not to use it, but he had never been one to listen.
The ring, so the legend goes, was given to one of the Saints from an angel. It’s purpose was to do good…only good. If used for any other reason, something terrible would happen. My father knew that, but I suppose his greed was greater than his wisdom. Still, I almost thought it wouldn’t work because several days passed but Charles didn’t rise.
In fact, he seemed to putrefy, his flesh bubbling and foul. But what neither my father
nor I knew was that beneath the foul and rotten tissue, Charles was forming a new, firm flesh, and the old would be shed away like the skin of a snake.”
Papa held up his hand for Andrew to stop and then he addressed me, “Sarah, perhaps you should leave us. This is not an appropriate topic for a young lady’s ears.”
“I wish to stay, Papa,” I said firmly. “I want to hear it all. Everything! Please, continue Andrew.”
“You’re quite certain?” Andrew asked, the well-breed gentleman within him gleaming through.
“Yes, please do continue,” I said.
Slowly, Andrew started where he had left off. “I was
staying at my father’s house in the back bedroom the night of Charles’
resurrection. He arrived at my father's house with revenge in mind. I heard
Charles' bitter accusations: 'why...why did you do this to me?'
Days before this happened my father had been terrified,
for he knew that something would happen, something always happened when someone used the ring...always...it never failed!"
Papa was clearly losing his patience, yet I was beginning to think that a measure of truth rang out through Andrew's voice rather than sheer madness.
"I'll never forget Charles' words," Andrew continued.
"'Look at what you've done to me! Just look at what you've done to me!' That was
when he started to attack Papa. I tried to stop him, but he seemed to possess the strength of ten
When he bit into my father’s neck, and blood spewed all over the room, I knew that Charles had delivered a fatal wound. When I saw him drink the blood, I, of course, knew he was a vampire.
In terror, I fled, knowing that there was nothing I could do and that I’d be his next victim if I stayed."
"Do you really expect us to believe this story?" asked papa, his patience finally at an end.
"I hope that you do, for I'm certain that he's after your daughter. He will kill her, for she knows about him, and he will do all he can to prevent anyone from stopping him in his evil plot! He’s not the same man you knew. Circumstances have made him a monster!"
Papa arose, angry.
"This is utter nonsense you speak, but if anyone should lay a hand on my daughter..."
"I speak the truth, sir. Why even now, Charles is lying in the cellar of his great mansion, waiting an opportune moment...."
"Ridiculous!" Papa interrupted.
But I caught onto the last words like sticky weed.
In the cellar...in the cellar...in the cellar...in the cellar…in the cellar….”
The words refused to leave my weary and distraught mind. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to go over there and have a look for myself.
"Then the answer's simple, papa. We'll go over there, now, and see if Charles is about."
"No!" Andrew yelled, sheer horror transforming his handsome features into a grim mask. "Absolutely not! It's too dangerous!"
"I agree." said papa. "I say we should wait until the Sheriff can..."
But I wasn't listening! Not to any of it. I could no longer control myself. I had to know the truth about Charles. So without uttering another word, I marched out of the study, the Kelly mansion my destination.
I could hear Papa and Andrew yelling for me to halt, yet I continued regardless, knowing that an end to this terrible nightmare lie somewhere in the basement of the house next door.
My strides unfaltering, I entered the Kelly property and made my way quickly to the front door. I was determined to put an end to the ghosts, the vampires, the nightmares, and the endless yearning I felt for a man that I could never have. I felt that I just had to face whatever fate held in store for me.
As I descended the old wood stairs and entered the dusty dark corridors, I realized that everything was exactly as it had been in my dream.
There was an endless array of dark rooms, the gaze of candles flickering against brick walls. But could the other half be true as well? Could my dear Charles be a vampire like Andrew said?
Two emotions wracked me as I proceeded...fear of the
unknown and longing to see Charles again. When I arrived at the room with the
dirt floor, I had to pause to adjust my vision for it was fairly dark…much
darker than the previous rooms. I heard a creak...felt the whisper of a cold breeze on my bare neck, and, without question, I somehow knew that he was near.
"Charles?" I exclaimed.
"You are here! he replied, "At last!"
A match was struck and a candle lit, and I gasped when I saw that familiar face that I so adored. Only, he wasn’t the Charles I'd known. Just as I had seen him on the porch that day, his eyes were fierce, dark, devoid of life or emotion, and he seemed to radiate some coldness that was nothing short of sinister.
"It just can't be." I said, astounded, even though I knew it was him.
"Yes," he said "I'm here...dead, yet eternally alive. I’ve so hoped that you might join me. I’ve missed you, Sarah. Terribly!"
"I..." The words died on my tongue, and as my gaze swept the room, I saw the coffin, the iron coffin, on the far side of the wall. It was like the one in my dream, and like the one that Charles had laid in upstairs, and I could imagine that John had probably purchased it for his ailing nephew to rest comfortably in. And I could see and smell the roses, the black roses, Charles’ favorites.
But then I heard something behind me, and I turned to see Papa, Andrew, and the Sheriff entering the chamber. And I'll never forget the bewilderment on their faces as they realized that Charles was indeed alive, dead yet alive, and in desperate need of comfort.
Charles ignored them and swept me into his arms, again telling me how much he had missed me. His arms held the cold of death, but I cared not. Nor did I care that he was not “my” Charles any longer. My wounded heart pounded
fiercely with love, and I wanted only to be with him. Forever.
"Sarah," he whispered, running his fingers through my hair, and trailing them along my neck, "my sweet, Sarah!"
"Charles...I love you!" I whispered. "I had....I had never told you that in life. That was something I did so regret."
"It doesn’t matter now. I know you love me, and I love you too! And now, we shall spend eternity together! Death need never part us again!" he said, bringing his lips to my neck. I felt wave after wave of chills as his teeth grazed my neck. I was most eager to comply with his request, not caring at all that I was about to die.
“Charles, stop! Please!” yelled Papa, and I glanced to see that Andrew and the
Sheriff were holding him back. I cared not. I cared about nothing other than being with Charles again.
It was as if I had been swept up in some glorious lovers’ spell.
Still, Papa was persistent.
“Charles, please. Please don’t damn her to the hell, you’ve been forced to endure! Please spare my
daughter! You are a gentleman. We all looked up to you. Be a gentleman now and show us that your heart is true even in death! Show us that you truly loved her!”
It was then that I felt some resistance in the arms that held me, and I saw and felt a change overcome his entire person.
The evil had turned to good like snow melting to water. His eyes changed suddenly, the black fading into the warmest brown. I knew that I was seeing the old Charles again instead of the
demented killer who had savagely killed and drank the blood of several people. The love he held for me was indeed still there and had stabbed a hole through the black shroud of evil.
Suddenly, he pushed me away harshly and I fell to the floor. Relieved, Papa rushed
to collect me, holding me firmly.
Yet, I fought Papa madly, suddenly becoming as fierce as a rabid dog in my desire to return to my true love’s arms, until I broke free at last.
"Charles" I said, rushing to him again and holding out my hands. "I want to go with you. Please, I must be with you always!"
Charles raised a hand toward me and stopped suddenly when the Sheriff fired a shot from his pistol. I screamed, yet Charles merely stood there, apparently unaffected from the bullet.
"Fool!" he said. "You can’t kill what’s already dead! Nothing can kill me now. I’m invincible! If only it weren’t so!"
"He's right!" said Andrew. "Only the ring has the power to free his soul!"
The ring Andrew was referring to was still on Charles' neck and was glowing faintly in the dim candlelight.
"Charles." I screamed. "Forget all of that, and take me in your arms again. Give me a taste of this immortality that I so crave. Let us share the glories of both life and death together!"
Charles shook his head.
"Sarah...I can't. In good conscience, I can't consign you to suffer this hell!”
"Charles, don't you love me?" I asked. I was so crazy over the love
that was flowing from my heart that I just didn't know what I was saying. It was
as if I were under some dark spell even though I knew the horror of the truth. He reached out and handed me a rose from his coffin. It was a black rose, and I brought it close to savor the sweet, pure scent.
"Sarah, I had really thought that it was our destiny to be together forever, but I now realize that it wasn’t meant to me. Keep the rose so that you might remember me! I shall never truly be dead so long as you hold me in your heart.”
It was at that moment that he removed the necklace and handed me the ring.
And I knew what he was asking. I knew what he was asking me to do.
A bit of sanity returned to me then. My eyes, hot and heavy with unshed tears, I held the ring in the palm of my hand, the others watching on. It would grant the bearer one wish...but it would have to be an unselfish one…as unselfish as true love.
As I closed my fingers and squeezed the ring tightly, it seemed to grow hotter and hotter, and at last, I whispered those very words that I never thought I'd hear myself say,
"I wish that Charles Kelly were truly dead!"
Charles looked at me, his eyes blank and nearly spiritless as his life
force left him.
"Thank you, Sarah." he said simply. “Thank you!” And then he slumped to the floor as lifeless as a marionette whose strings had been cut.
Crying hideously, I cast the terrible ring aside and rushed to him. Papa came to my side, and after he had consoled me, he picked up Charles' wrist to feel for a pulse.
Of course, there was none. This time, Charles was irrevocably dead.
April 26, 1896
As winter turns into spring, bringing new life and greenery to St. Joseph,
my life has taken on considerable change as well. At last I have been able to
bury the pain of Charles' death and am now able to cherish the memories of what once was.
I still have the rose he gave me, and, strangely, it has not withered or died. I suppose that the magic of the ring must have touched it as well.
I have seen quite a lot of Andrew lately, and we have become quite close. Papa feels bad that he had misjudged Andrew. He’s grateful that the man had risked
his reputation and safety in order to save my life and has encouraged Andrew to court me.
Secretly, I'm hopeful for a late summer wedding. Of course, Andrew has not asked yet, but I expect him to soon.
I shall always love Charles as no other, but he truly is gone now, and I must move on with my life, just as he wanted me to.
Charles has been laid to rest in his great mausoleum at Mount Mora Cemetery. And the rest of us, me, the Sheriff, Papa, and Andrew, have made a pact never to repeat to another living soul what we saw and heard the day that Charles died for a second time. Nor would anyone ever have to be tempted by the ring again. It was placed in Charles' coffin beside his body--and the black roses.
Of course, there have been no more murders, and the people of the city believe that the murderer moved on, since there have been similar deaths in Kansas City, but I heard the
Sheriff tell Papa that they are mere copy-cat killings. But I know the truth.
The full truth. Charles simply needed blood.
He had no control over what he did.
But, I must go now, for Andrew is at the door. We are taking a romantic carriage ride down Lover's Lane, and hopefully, he'll dare to hold my hand and kiss me gently like he did last week.
April 29, 1896
Thurston Whittle, MD
This is the last entry in this journal for my daughter, Sarah
Whittle was horribly murdered last night, and I’m writing this now so that everyone will understand
what happened. Afterward, for shame and guilt over my blindness, I must take my own life.
It seems that I trusted the wrong man with my
daughter's well-being and will never forgive myself for doing so.
It turned out that we had all been tricked by a malicious liar. Andrew Kelly had been the murderer all along. Charles had murdered no one. Not even John.
Andrew took my daughter out in the country and bit her repeatedly about the neck until blood loss caused her death. He then took his pistol and shot himself in the head, killing himself instantly.
I’ve attached the letter I found in his pocket.
To whom it concerns:
I didn't wish for it to come to this. It was not my intention.
But Alas, I couldn't control myself. I had wanted so long
to taste dear Sarah’s blood, and to see it spurting from that beautiful
vein in her white neck. It wasn't Charles Kelly who had murdered
or maimed the others. It was never Charles! And he knew
nothing, absolutely nothing about the murders! He was a
true vampire, yes, but he was too good hearted even then to
kill. Rather he stayed in the basement, drinking the blood
of squirrels and rats, while he yearned for the blood
that he'd not allow himself to taste even when the desire drove
him mad. Yet I went out and tasted my fill nightly! I placed a
few of the bodies where I knew they’d be found, merely because
I found it exciting to tease you so! But I guarantee you that there
are many more bodies that you haven’t found and never will.
I was no fool! I knew that the blame would be placed
on Charles when it was discovered that he was a vampire.
It’s rather amusing to me. None of you knew Charles at
all! Even as a vampire, he could never have killed my father, nor had he
came to the house for revenge that night. He had come solely
to get the ring. He had wanted to destroy it
so that no one could ever use it again, soft and noble to the
very end. And after that he left. I'm the one who killed father.
I hated him!. This man whom I'd called “father” had beaten
and abused me ever since I could crawl and had gambled
away my inheritance as well. I suppose if you're reading this,
the end is at hand as I intend to confess all before I go in hope that a greater
spirit will have mercy on my soul.
Goodbye all, and though I wish I could
say that I’m Sorry for all the blood shed I caused, I’m really not…
You see, I enjoyed it very much!
I've left orders for dear Sarah to be laid to rest next to Charles, the only man she ever truly loved,
at Mount Mora Cemetery. I will be interred at the cemetery as well.