1. Journal Entry One
I arrived in Transylvania in the early hours of the morning and although it was the beginning of May, the weather seemed to be in a permanent cycle of just before a storm. I was told to await transport at around mid afternoon. The carriage would to take me from the lodge I have been resting in to Castle Dracula. With the somewhat large gap of spare time in between I took the opportunity to explore the local village. During my trip into the town something quite peculiar seemed to happen. Each shop I entered, locals would ask me my name and where I was heading and each time I would tell them: “My name is Jane Harker, from England and I am here on behalf of my poor Mother who, god rest her soul said her last dying wish was for me to find my father who went missing here a good ten years ago.” To which they would respond by exchanging harrowed looks with one another and speak in hushed tones when they thought I was not paying attention. The fact that this seems to occur frequently is beginning to worry me. Another strange event happened when I visited the bakery. Upon telling the bakers wife who I was and where I was going she cried in horror. I made many attempts to settle the woman but she was quite hysterical. After a few moments she stopped and placed her hand on her chest, seeming to be clasping on to something. The wife pulled a silver pendant from around her neck and placed it in my hands. She told me it had been blessed by the Holy Spirit and would keep the evil in the castle away. I was reluctant to take such a gift that seemed to be of sentimental value to the woman but she would not let me leave without it. The piece itself is quite ugly but I have taken to wearing it nonetheless.
When I set out on this journey I was always unsure of what I would find. Fathers journals were often written in riddles and made little sense to me growing up but they were the closet thing I had ever had to having a father since I was eight and I was not about to give up finding him now. Not long after father had been declared missing, an article was wrote about him and his achievements as a great lawyer in London, his love for his work and how his devotion to his job had unknowingly lead him to the grave. But the man I knew from his journals had no great love for the law, but a love for strange and ghastly stories. Pages and pages of articles and old folklore were written about immortal beings and creatures of the night that consumed human blood to survive. The tales had frightened me to core as a child and even now at the age of eighteen the thought still gives me chills.
Once back at my room I opened the letter I had received earlier from my fiancé Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. He and I met when I first began my search for my father Jonathan. I learned from the journals that Father had been in contact with Abraham about some occult stories involving the draining of blood from a child’s body. Father described his trip there a dead end and found nothing of the sort that he was looking for. My stay in the city of Amsterdam led me to fall in love with Abraham and we were quickly engaged. Van Helsing has extensive knowledge in medicine, the occult and folklore which is what I suppose first led both my father and I to him in the first place. During my time in Amsterdam, Abraham trained me in basic medicine and combat skills and would insist that I drank one cup of Holy water a day. I often found these routines strenuous and sometimes ridiculous. Wooden stakes should be used for fence posts and no more! Despite how silly I felt whilst learning each skill, I do feel well prepared for almost anything. In his letter, Abraham expressed his worries about my being alone on this journey and wanted to remind me all of the moves to protect myself from the unknown. I do love him dearly but if I am at all honest, I would not be surprised if he was completely mad. I expect my mother Mina, if she were still alive would fear that I have chosen a suitor too much like my father and that it will only end in heartbreak. I believe the difference between them is that father was lured by the darkness and Abraham is quite sensibly afraid.
When the carriage arrived to collect me a rather large and almost lumbering man stepped down from his seat at the front to greet me. He outstretched his hand which closely resembled a bear paw and offered to help me into the carriage. The man said his name was Renfield and a long time servant to the Dracula family. As I entered the cart a crowd of people began to form around us. Many women stood side by side weeping and praying. The chant “We pray for your soul, dear child!” traveled through the mob quickly and soon almost everyone there began to pray. Husbands stomped angrily and called out to Renfield. “You can’t take any more of us. Have her and be done with it.” Children baring crosses cowered behind their parents and a few even shrieked at the sight of Renfield. A dark feeling of dread settled in my stomach. Renfield seemed oblivious to the growing crowd and continued to ready the horses for the journey. A priest splashed what I can only assume was Holy water over the carriage, some sprayed inside and dampened my dress. A woman who looked like she may once have been pretty, cried by the side of the cart window. “It took my little boy! My poor baby was drained. There was nothing left of him. Don’t let Count Dracula take you too! Don’t let the darkness in!” The scene was quite overwhelming and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to dash from the carriage and back into the crowd or hurry Renfield to get the carriage going quicker. Suddenly the cart was rolling through the mob and started its ascent to the castle Dracula. The silence that replaced the screams from locals became awkward until Renfield started to make small pleasantries and of course he asked what brought me to Transylvania. Since Renfield seemed to be a reasonably pleasant I told him a little more about my reasons for being in Transylvania than I had others.
“I have come here in the hopes of finding my father Jonathan Harker who went missing here ten years ago.”
After that Renfield seemed to become suspiciously inquisitive about my motives for my journey.
He asked several questions about what my father was doing in Transylvania in the first place to which I told him.
“My father was a lawyer in London and often took many trips around the world to finalise legal documents with clients. On his last trip my father Jonathan came here to Transylvania to collect signed papers from Count Dracula who I believe was purchasing land in England. Since this was the last place father was ever known to be in it seemed only natural for me to follow up all possible leads.”
The response I gained from Renfield I found to be quite rude. “You won’t find what you’re looking for here. You should stop digging whilst you can. Your father is most probably dead and you should move on with your life.”
I don’t know what I expect to find in Castle Dracula, I have definitely heard chilling stories but I must be brave. I must find my father.
I hadn’t realised quite how long the journey from the lodge to the castle would be and now with the sudden frostiness between me and Renfield, the ride was becoming a little unbearable. The terrain to the castle was rocky and the path was often surrounded by great forests. The jostling around made the dagger I had hidden in my boot shift uncomfortably. It certainly was not the best place to keep a weapon but what else can a girl do?
Nightfall fell quicker here than I was expecting and it wasn’t long before we were plunged into darkness. In the distance the faint howl from a wolf echoed and sent a shiver down my spine.
“You know, it’s probably the wolves that did your father in.” Renfield stated. I found his comments to be unsettling and rather untimely.
As the road steeped higher, the howling wolves grew louder and oddly, I sought comfort in the necklace that the baker’s wife had given me this morning. The horses seemed to be unsettled by the ghastly looking gargoyles that protruded from the mountain castle Dracula stood upon. I was starting to wish I had kept up my daily Holy Water routine.
“We’re almost at the gates.” Renfield said in a gruff voice.
My heart beat quickened and I worried that it might burst right out of my chest.
Gradually the carriage came to a stop outside of a huge pair of black gates that towered so high that the tops of them disappeared into the night sky. The gates themselves were so daunting that I hadn’t even stopped to notice the castle behind them. Castle Dracula seemed to be built in such a way that you could almost believe it grew right out of the mountain all by itself. It was tall, much taller than the gates and had spiralling turrets on either side. Not much else was visible of the castle under the eerie glow from the few torches that were alight. Renfield helped me from the cart and as I stepped out all I could think of was how unnerving this whole place was.
The sound of thunder rumbled above and the first few drops of rainfall splattered down. “We must move quickly, Miss Harker. You don’t want to be out her for much longer, especially not with them wolves.”
The dash from the carriage to the castle entrance was quick but the rain had begun to fall heavier and by the time we reached the door we were both soaked through. I reached out to knock on the enormous wooden door but Renfield caught my hand just before I did. “You shouldn’t have come here.” He warned as he shrank into the darkness. A bolt of lightning struck the castle sending small shards of rubble tumbling down. The door to Castle Dracula opened. “Count Dracula?” I whispered into the darkness. No light shone through from inside the castle and the only sound to be heard was a faint hiss. “Countess Dracula.”
“Oh. I’m dreadfully sorry. Is Count Dracula inside?”
Another hiss came from the doorway. “There is and never was a Count Dracula.”
I became awfully confused. “But, my father, he said he was to visit a Count Dracula in this very castle.”
The woman cackled. “My dear, your father never even made it inside.”
This time an even bigger flash of lightening appeared and illuminated the castle. On the left hand side next to the door frame stood a familiar man with a petrified look upon his face, except this wasn’t a man? He was made of stone. “Father?” I cried in horror and reached for the dagger in my boot.
A third slash of lightning struck and this time shone upon Countess Dracula. Her skin was alabaster and her lips blood red. Were they stained from lip rouge or human blood? Her hair was as black as the night and a malevolent smile spread wickedly across her face. I jabbed my dagger towards her but just as the light vanished, so did she.