Harker and the Count: Chapter VIII

David Bowles
12 min readJul 9, 2023

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12 May, 1893.

The castle feels strangely empty now that Ștefan has left. I’ve occupied myself as best I could with reading and other work, but my mind keeps drifting back to last night, and my body still retains the touch of his, as though it were wax into which he pressed his noble seal.

Night has fallen. Though my heart quails at the thought, I move to obey his parting instructions: to visit the weird sisters in their suite atop the eastern stairway.

Dawdling a bit, I first used the opportunity to explore more than I had dared to do as yet. Taking a lamp, I tried all the doors. They were locked, as I had expected, and the locks were comparatively new. Rather than ascend, I first went down the stone stairs to the hall where I had entered originally.

The front door was unlocked, but I have no desire to amble about this wolf- and fairy-haunted demesne. On the far side of the hall, however, stood another imposing slab of arched wood. I found I could pull back the bolts easily enough and unhook the great chains; but the door was locked. I suspect the door leads to a basement or dungeon beneath the castle. Shuddering as I recall what little lore about vampires my mother imparted to me, I realize Ștefan likely rests in that subterranean vault.

What would it be like, to lie beside him on desecrated soil? To share the close space of a coffin’s interior, our bodies entwined?

Shaking such dangerous speculation from my head, I returned to the eastern stairway and began to climb. At the summit I found a door, partially open, though marks upon the floor suggested it had been forced.

The chambers that Mr. Renfield claims that he discovered! I understood with a shock.

After standing there a long while, comparing my colleague’s tale with what Ștefan had revealed, weighing the consequences of deception, I entered slowly, finding myself in a new wing of the castle. From the windows, I observed that this suite of chambers extended to the southern side of the castle. The last room’s windows faced both south and east, the latter direction revealing a grand precipice. The castle has been hewn into the bare rock of a mighty tor, rendering it impregnable on three sides. It boasts large windows strategically placed where no weapon can reach, ensuring both light and comfort in a position that may have once required constant vigilance…

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David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. VP of the Texas Institute of Letters.