DOWNTON ABBEY MEETS LOVECRAFT MEETS NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in Deadtown Abbey.
It is a world few of us have ever known. A world of masters and servants, where everyone knows one’s place. A world of newfangled technology like telephones and motorcars. A world of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and monsters of the deep. At the center of his necropolis estate lives the Earl of Monroe, who must hold the family he loves and the servants he trusts together against the eldritch onslaught of this rapidly changing world.
Johnny took her gloved hand and moved to kiss it politely, but as he did he stripped the glove right off and placed the palms of both his hands flat against her right hand. She gasped in surprise, and shocked looks could be seen on every face of the family and staff.
As soon as Johnny touched his flesh to Maureen’s, every detail of Mister Tarboosh’s vampiric visit to Maureen flooded Johnny’s mind—and hers.
Her mouth was agape in horror and amazement. “I remember …”
“You have the shadow of the vampyr, but you are a virgin! How can this be?” Johnny said in his reedy voice.
“My good man, how dare you!” George shouted and started to move against their guest, but stopped short when Lady Maureen spoke.
“Papa, it is a joke, like we young people like to play,” she said for everyone to hear, then whispered to Johnny, “How could you know? No one outside this house knows my shame! My dalliance with a vampire!”
Johnny was still holding her bare hand in his, but it seemed gentle now, not at all threatening, and her soft expression induced Roger and Peter to stop and return to their places in the staff line. Slowly and suspiciously, but they returned.
“Will someone please tell me what is going on?” George pleaded to the couple in front of him, who were sharing a deep and meaningful look. “That joke was in poor taste, sir, but I do know Maureen and her sisters like a jest, no matter how unseemly.”
“Indeed,” Johnny said. “I do apologize for playing along with it.”
“Besides,” George continued, “we do not have vampires on this property—the entire grounds are hallowed, I assure you.” It was unnecessary to say, perhaps, since it had all been a joke, but he had the reputation of the house to uphold.
“Even under the road and the house?” Johnny asked calmly, gazing into Lady Maureen’s wet eyes.
“Well, no, but … ah. Still, sir, we do not discuss” —he indicated the general area in which organs of reproduction might be located, but did it in a way that seemed to deny such was the case here and now—“personal business, in jest or in earnest, not even when alone. Indeed, especially not when alone.”
“Of course. My apologies again, Cousin George. I was startled by the loveliness of your daughter.” The pale, reed-thin man was just as awkward-looking as ever, but the beautiful Maureen looked very happy staring at his pockmarked visage. He placed a hand—quite familiarly, actually—upon the girl’s head and spoke a few whispered words that no one could decipher. “You will find that the shadow has lifted, my sweet cousin. The vampyr who … took you … will no longer enter your dreams.”
Her mouth hung open. “I’m free?”
To this, Cousin Johnny only smiled and showed his slightly yellow teeth.
And Maureen did look much more well now, her father had to admit. Ever since the night of the Romanian’s death, his daughter had seemed awfully distracted. Downright ill, come to the point.
“I’m Eleanor!” honked his middle daughter, who stuck out her white-gloved hand like a pantomime jigging for sixpence at the fair. Before Johnny could take it to bestow a kiss, she reconsidered the glove and stripped it off in a way that brought to mind a drunken sailor being mugged for his pants. Then she stuck it out again.
“A pleasure,” Johnny said as he took her pasty hand in his and bent to kiss it. A thousand images ran through his head in the few seconds his skin was in contact with hers, none of them pleasant, some of them nauseating, a few of them unidentifiable except for the sound of frog flesh being slapped against a wooden fence. By the time he stood up again, his earlier paleness looked like a hardy farmhand’s tan in comparison.
“Jolly good,” Lord Monroe said at two of his daughters looking happy, and hoped the heir wasn’t too insulted by his youngest not being present.
Johnny was then led to quickly meet the staff who would be serving him in the great house one day. None of them looked directly in his eyes, for some reason. With so many real dangers in the world, Lord Monroe thought in amusement, his staff was as superstitious as a ship full of mariners being followed by an albatross. They went inside to prepare for the evening.
NEXT WEEK: PART 11 — AN INAPPROPRIATE TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION