This story is a crossover between the Guthridge tales and the Love Bites novels.
It is intended for inclusion in a new book about the Professor which will reveal a great deal about Miss Evelyn Poole’s rather colourful past, and how she came by her treasured red robe.
The new novel will hopefully see the light of day next year when I have got my current WIP finished meanwhile, enjoy it as an entertaining short.
The Journal of Professor Arnold Guthridge,
St Aidan’s College
February 6th 1903
Friday was here at last, it had been a busy week for both Evelyn and I – we were planning to catch the evening train to Pendleberry for the weekend to visit her niece, Lady Mary, and her husband Lord Theddingworth but as we prepared to leave, a telegram messenger came hammering at the door…
“Good grief, it’s from Daniel. He urgently requests that I come to London – by the next train if possible!” announced Guthridge on reading it.
“Oh, Arnold, I was so looking forward to us spending the weekend with Mary and William,” responded Evelyn in dismay.
“Well you can still go Pendleberry and I will join you tomorrow.”
Evelyn somewhat disappointedly agreed, and so it was that a few hours later, Guthridge found himself sitting in Poulson’s office listening to the Inspector’s revelation. Seven bodies; three men and four women, had been found in various locations around the City of London with their throats torn out. Other than cause of death, there seemed no tangible connection between them. The victims were of varied social standing, ranging from common prostitute to costermonger to lawyer – a likely eighth victim had been saved when a police patrol in Whitechapel interrupted the killer at his task. A streetwalker had been propositioned by a man wearing dark clothing and possessed of dark, almost black eyes in a pale face; she claimed the stranger had held her in a mesmeric state and seemed about to bite her throat when the constables spotted them. The assailant, disturbed in his act, fled quickly into a dark alley and disappeared. More policemen were summoned and a thorough search of the area was conducted but they were unable to find any trace of the mysterious assailant.
Guthridge, having reached Scotland Yard, felt more than a twinge of annoyance when Daniel revealed that it was only when a high-flying lawyer, Lancelot Baines, had been murdered that Scotland Yard had deigned to increase its vigilance.
Recognising the man’s name, he opined sardonically. “Incredible, it took the death of a man of status for London’s finest to become interested, I see?”
“Steady on there, Arnold, I knew nothing of this before then,” retorted Poulson.
“Sorry, Daniel, but it does grieve me somewhat that no-one cared about this horror until the demise of an acquaintance of the Chief Constable.”
“That’s as may be, old friend, but this murderer has no respect for status and many more may die if he is not apprehended soon.” He sighed and sat back in his chair. “Arnold, will you help me or not?”
“Do you have one of your little buff files of prepared documents to hand?” asked Guthridge.
“Funny you should say that,” Poulson went to a filing cabinet and opened a drawer. “I imagine you will wish to peruse this and no doubt show it to the redoubtable Miss Poole?” asked the policeman while handing Guthridge a folder.
“Of course; now, I have to journey to Pendleberry tomorrow so must set out early, for it will require a change of train upon return to Oxford.”
“Do you have somewhere to stay tonight?” asked the Inspector.
“No, but I’m sure the Paraphysical Society will be able to put me up, even at such short notice,” replied Guthridge.
“Arnold, I insist that you stay with us at our house. Constance would be delighted to see you again.”
“Well, if you insist.” Arnold eagerly agreed, the Inspector’s wife served a good table and the quality of the policeman’s brandy was as good as his own.
There was a knock at the office door and Sergeant Burton entered the room, telegram in hand. “For me?” asked Poulson.
“No, sir, it’s for the Professor, sir.”
Guthridge took it to read the missive. “Decided to join you in London and have sent word to Langton’s to reserve a room, see you soon, E.”
“Well, Daniel, it appears that Evie is joining me in London.”
“Oh, will she need accommodation too?” asked Daniel in concern, as much as he liked the Professor’s companion she held radical views regarding the emancipation of women and also eschewed the wearing of corsetry. His wife was more of a traditionalist and the two women had clashed before.
Guthridge laughed. “Do not concern yourself, Daniel; she has already arranged lodgings at Langton’s Hotel so your Constance will be spared Evie’s modern beliefs.”
Poulson pulled a face. “Hardly what I would call lodgings, that place is a palace. Mind you, as the daughter of Henry St John Poole, Evelyn is hardly what you would call poor, is she?” Evie had a considerable stipend but rarely dipped into it, preferring to rely on the money she earned as a college tutor.
Evelyn, clad only in her favourite crimson gown, sat on the bed in their hotel room a little later, looking through the buff folder. “Arnold, it says here that teeth-marks were found around the edges of the wounds, that there was very little blood found in each case and the streetwalker claims to have been mesmerised by the suspect. You do realise what this points to?” asked Evelyn.
“Vampires, yes, it crossed my mind almost immediately but there is no proof they even exist.” Arnold replied.
“There is,” stated Evie in a matter of-fact way.
“Ah, it all makes sense now, your niece is a vampire and that’s how she survived what would be a fatal wound to you or I – but what of her ability to walk abroad in daylight?” asked the Professor somewhat sceptically.
Evelyn sighed. “Arnold, Mary has vampire blood flowing in her veins but she is not a nosferatu. Her husband William is the same, both have eternal life and the power to mesmerise others but that all is all, and they do not have any desire to imbibe fresh blood.”
“How is this possible?”
Evelyn explained how Lord William had acquired a small supply of desiccated vampire blood over a hundred years ago and having taken a sufficient amount, mixed with wine, discovered its remarkable properties. Years later, he had sought for a partner to imbue with the same powers and join him in eternity. Evelyn confessed that he had offered her the chance to become like him but when she had refused; mainly because of her feelings for Guthridge, he returned to his original choice, her niece, Mary. “So there you have it, my dear, if vampires did once exist I can see no reason why they should not still. It’s as simple as that.”
“If this is true then how do we catch this man?”
She began loosening the oriental robe. “I have no idea… I do have a nephew-in-law who might but it’s too late to do anything about it at present.” Evie leaned back and the robe gaped wide to expose her bosom, she then smiled as Arnold slipped it from her shoulders.
Next day the couple undertook the arduous journey to Pendleberry, where Guthridge informed the Theddingworths that he was now aware of their condition before asking Lord William if he might be able to assist them in their task.
Theddingworth looked accusingly at Evelyn before answering. “There is a device known as an Oculus Veritatis,” he explained. “It is a glass lens through which a vampyr’s true nature may be discerned.”
“Good Lord, if Scotland Yard had access to such a thing it would greatly aid them in their investigation,” exclaimed Guthridge upon hearing this.
“It is one thing to have the device but it cannot tell you where to find the creature,” explained Theddingworth.
“But it would be a start, where could one acquire such a thing?” asked Evelyn.
“There are allegedly only four in existence; an Elizabethan alchemist called John Dee, along with his fellow researcher, Kelley, had the things made. It is believed the Vatican has one in its vaults while Dee kept another for himself, no-one knows what happened to the last but it was believed to have fallen into the hands of Vlad Tepesh, that most infamous of the creatures.”
“Good Lord, not the Count Dracula from the story?” asked Guthridge, and Lord William nodded.
“Wait a moment, that accounts only for three such devices and you said there were four?” started Evie.
“Ahem, well, I may have acquired one during my travels in Bohemia,” confessed the lord. He crossed to one of his many Cabinets of Curiosity and after unlocking it, reached in and passed what looked like a large pink coloured monocle on a gold chain to Guthridge. “This is an Oculus Veritatis, to look through it is to see the monster lurking inside the vampire.”
Mary looked nervously at the lens in his hand. “Arnold, no!” she entreated.
But her words came too late; out of curiosity he raised it to his eye, looking first at Evie, who, to Arnold, looked her lovely self but with a rosy overtone. The Professor then turned his gaze to Lord William and his face fell. “Good Lord!”
“What is it?” asked Evie, and Guthridge passed it to her without comment. She regarded Lord Theddingworth and gasped; William was a fine handsome man who appeared to be no more than forty-five but through the lens he appeared haggard, his skin grey, and slightly menacing of aspect.
Mary snatched the lens from her aunt’s hand, crying. “You must not look through it anymore, I beg you!”
“Mary, my love, is this how you now appear?” started Evie in horror. Her niece began to sob and she enfolded the young woman in her arms to reassure her. “It does not matter if you do, for you are still my dear niece.”
“What you saw is what lurks within us, Evelyn, we are not vampires but this is what the blood has done to us,” stated Theddingworth. “I acquired the Oculus after Mary had consumed the damned stuff and I if I knew what it had done to me I would never have offered it to her, or you come to that.”
“Then are you becoming vampiric?” asked Guthridge in concern.
“Not myself as yet, Professor, I have been this way for over a hundred years and have no desire to bite anyone, nor do I catch fire in daylight.”
“I think it affects everyone differently,” piped up Mary anxiously. “Of recent I find bright sunlight greatly hurts my eyes.”
Lord William looked at his wife with concern then turned to Guthridge. “Professor, as I said, the lens will not trace a vampire for you but another such creature, or somebody who has the blood in their veins, would be able to feel the presence of one if it were near.” He sighed. “If you could keep this to yourselves I will try to help you.”
Guthridge sent word to Fenwick in Oxford; he was to send as many of the purple lanterns as he had made, along with any spare lenses, to Langton’s for deposit in Evie’s suite. He then travelled with Lord William and Evelyn to London and thence Scotland Yard. Since the Lord had forbidden his wife to be involved in the enterprise, the psychic, Sidney Parret, had been drafted in as Guthridge believed that a sensitive such as he might be able feel the presence of a nosferatu thus doubling the chances of Scotland Yard finding the creature before it struck again. When darkness fell a strange group assembled outside Bishopsgate Police Station, Guthridge, Evelyn, Lord William and two constables formed one search party while a second comprised of Sidney, Daniel and three officers, including Sergeant Burton. All were armed with pistols and wooden stakes and each party had been equipped with quartz lamps to use against their foe. The redoubtable Sgt Thicke commanded a sizeable team of reinforcements stationed on the main street; along with Fenwick, his collection of scientific paraphernalia, and spare lanterns, ready to assist as required.
The two parties of vampire hunters set off in opposite directions on the perimeter of the previous murders; their intention was to cover the maze of streets and alleys in sections. If the killer struck tonight hopefully either Lord William or Sidney would feel their presence and one team would be able to capture or destroy the creature.
Unbeknown to either party, out of sight and on a high roof, a pair of brown eyes set in a face as pale as alabaster watched curiously as they set off their different paths. The owner of the orbs then descended to the street unnoticed, to follow Guthridge’s group while hardly making a sound.
After much rushing down narrow alleyways and turning corners, Evelyn had fallen behind, having paused after noticing a pale woman dash disappear into a dark passage. Realising she had become separated from Guthridge and the others, she quickly set off in the opposite direction, believing it would be safer on the open street where Sergeant Thicke and his men waited.
She stopped on spotting a dark figure in the alleyway ahead of her, and nervously called. “Arnold, is that you?”
“No, my darlink, I am most definitely not an Arnold,” came the reply. It was a woman’s voice, albeit with an unusual accent.
Evelyn relaxed a little. “I’m sorry, you see I have become separated from my friends and I was a little concerned.” She peered at the figure in the dim gaslight to see a pale face under a dark hooded cloak that swirled about her as she walked.
“Concerned that I might be a vampeer, perhaps?” the woman stretched the word to emphasise the ending – sharp pointed teeth visible behind red lips.
Evelyn gasped and brought the violet lamp up only for it to be snatched from her hand before she could use it, she then fumbled in her handbag for the Webley but the creature stepped forward, quickly taking her hand in her own. “You do not need your revolver; I’m not going to harm you, my pretty.”
“Mmmnpf,” Evelyn attempted to scream for help but the woman swiftly put a pale hand over her mouth while holding her right arm tightly with the other.
“Shh, don’t fret; your heart is beating so fast and I can see the pulse in your lovely neck.”
Evelyn tried to struggle but the deep brown orbs stared into her blue eyes, drawing her into them then against all reason she found herself growing calm as the pale face came near. The vampyr clasped her mouth on her victim’s neck to push extended upper fangs into an artery but to Evelyn it felt more kiss than bite, at the same time causing a strange desire to rise unbidden in her loins. After a while the fangs were withdrawn and she could feel the vampire’s soft tongue licking the wounds clean while sealing them at the same time. The woman lifted her head to smile and a tiny drop of blood ran from the corner of her mouth. Evelyn then became aware that the vampyr was touching her intimately through the cloth of her skirts. Close to, it was impossible to guess the woman’s age, she was perhaps in her late forties or early fifties but her smooth skin was the colour of alabaster with lips of the deepest crimson as contrast. A long pink tongue slid from the mouth to lick up the blood drip; Evelyn found herself falling into the brown pools once more and she inclined her head towards the red lips, intending to press her own against the vampyr’s in a kiss. A police whistle sounded and the creature hissed, releasing her embrace to flee quickly into the darkness.
“Evie, are you alright?” Arnold had appeared, along with Theddingworth and the two uniformed officers, quartz lamps held aloft.
“Arnold, look to your lady friend, we’ll chase the damned thing down!” shouted Lord William and with the shrill of a police whistle, the trio set out in the direction the apparition had fled.
Guthridge took Evelyn gently by the shoulders and spotted two small closed incisions on her bare neck. “You’re safe now my darling, I won’t let anything else happen to you.”
To his surprise she leaned against him with a salacious look upon her face. “Arnold, take me, take me now! Push me to the wall like a tuppeny whore or bend me over yonder water barrel if you desire, I don’t care which.”
“Good Lord, Evelyn, is this some kind of enchantment the creature has put upon you?” asked Guthridge in shock.
She became frantic. “If you won’t do it then call back William, and both of the constables too, I need to be satisfied!”
Guthridge shook her vigorously. “Evelyn, this is not you speaking, pull yourself out of it!”
Her face changed and her eyes widened in horror. “Oh my, Arnold, the creature bit me and it was not unpleasant but rather arousing. When she released me I was filled with an unnatural fervour and, oh my.” Evelyn’s face and neck reddened at the memory of what she had intended; she could still feel a throbbing in her groin. “Oh, the shame of it!” she cried.
“Do not worry, he is being hunted now and more policemen will be coming.”
“But, my love, my assailant was not a man but a woman, there must be two of them!” exclaimed Evelyn.
“Good Lord, let’s get you to safety, Evie, then I must inform the police that we have double the trouble.” Putting a protective arm around her, Guthridge led his beloved onto the brightly lit street unaware of the watcher sat on a nearby rooftop.
Lord William could feel the presence of a vampire nearby but it was neither the one they had first pursued nor the one that had accosted Evelyn. So he suggested the two constables went one in direction while he the other, ostensibly to encircle the creature but in reality he wished to confront this new creature alone. Made confident by his century of experience in arcane matters and bolstered by his perceived invulnerability, Lord William followed the mysterious being through the alleyways. Its presence seemed to rise and fall almost like a change in pitch as it drew ahead of him then slowed down, as if allowing him to catch up. Eventually the strange pursuit led to a gloomy graveyard where he could spot the dark figure waiting in front of the closed church door.
He raised his lantern, intending to turn it on but a fruity voice came from the shadows to declare. “You are a strange one aren’t you?”
Lord William stayed his hand, demanding. “Who are you?”
“My name is John Dee and I was and still am a man of science, amongst other things,” the shadow moved forward to reveal an avuncular bearded face. “Intriguing, you seem to be a hybrid of both vampyr and human, how was this achieved, may I ask?”
“Why should I give up what may be my only advantage over you?” demanded Theddingworth in an authoritative voice.
“I am sure your blood would be of no benefit to me, so you need have no fear of revealing your secret.”
“I will be the judge of that!” stated Lord William firmly.
“As you wish, sir, but let me assure you we are just as concerned over our rogue companion as are you,” replied the vampyr. “There is much we need to discuss.”
After informing Sergeant Thicke of the news and instructing him to warn Inspector Poulson of the second vampyr, Arnold decided he would take Evelyn, who was still shaking, straight back to the hotel and they set off towards Langton’s. Unable find a cab, the couple walked arm in arm along the poorly lit streets with Guthridge having an uneasy feeling that someone or something was stalking them.
As they drew near to their destination, footsteps came up quickly behind them and Evie cried out in alarm. “Arnold, it is the vampire!”
Evie raised her quartz lamp to illuminate a black suited figure in its violet glare but with a hiss he flung his cape over his face before swinging at Guthridge, to knock him into Evelyn and cause the device to fall from her grasp. It clattered on the cobbles and the battery compartment popped open and while Evie attempted to fit the dry cells back into the device, Arnold gamely thrust at his assailant with a wooden stake but the vampire grabbed his wrists with strong hands.
“We meet at last, Professor Guthridge,” said the being.
“You know me?” asked Arnold in surprise.
“Oh, I know of you from the newspapers, they tell of the clever Oxford academic coming to help the police hunt me down. I imagine you’re the one behind those awful lanterns too?” snarled the vampire, baring its fangs to bite.
Guthridge was struggling in the creature’s grasp to no avail when the grip suddenly relaxed, allowing the professor to wrench himself free and step back to see a metal spike protruding several inches out of the being’s chest. The vampire sagged slightly but was held in a standing position by whoever was holding the weapon that had been pushed neatly through from the back.
“Hello Professor, this is quite an honour,” announced a voice from behind the stricken vampyr, a pale face peered over its shoulder to smile toothily at Evelyn, who stood open mouthed, all attempt at lighting the lamp forgotten. “Hello again, my pretty,” said the female vampyr.
Without another word the woman spun the staked creature around and, extending vicious talons from the fingers of her right hand, took off the head with a single blow.
“Who are you?” asked Guthridge; not knowing whether to feel relief at his assailant’s demise, or terror that it was another undead creature that had brought it about.
“I am Elisabeth Bathory,” replied the woman, smiling to expose very sharp teeth.
“Countess Blood!” exclaimed Guthridge. At this, Evelyn, eyes wide in terror, gave a soft whimper while clutching at him.
The vampire laughed lightly. “Do they still call me that?”
“Why did you kill one of your own?” responded Guthridge.
“Because he has been taking human life unnecessarily and that is forbidden. We have lived alongside you mortals for years, keeping out of your way while following an Edict that was drawn up with your leaders. We are supposed to take only what is needed and no more, and it is my duty to excise those who break this rule.” Bathory picked up the head and Guthridge could see that it had taken on a desiccated appearance. “This is the only way to kill a vampyr or as we say, excise it,” she pulled her weapon from the decapitated body. It was a long metal spike with a wooden handle. “It’s made of iron,” she explained. “Wooden stakes will incapacitate a vampyr but iron is better and it hurts.”
Guthridge reclaimed the dazed Evie’s quartz lantern to hold it uncertainly before him, finger hovering above the button. “What do you intend with us now?”
Bathory laughed again. “If I wished you harm your clever little toy would not stop me, Professor. You are something of a celebrity within our community and we follow your exploits avidly.” The vampyr slid the spike into a sheath at her waist then after throwing the body over her shoulder, stated. “You claim to have encountered ghosts, spirits and even a golem but do you know, in all my long years upon this earth I have yet to meet a single one?” she picked up the head once more. “Well, it’s been a pleasure to meet you and your lovely companion. May I advise you to take better care of her in future for she is quite delicious?” As she disappeared into a dark alley with her extraordinary baggage, Bathory called back to him. “It is probably better that our paths do not cross again, Professor.”
Evie insisted on us retiring to our room the moment we arrived back at Langton’s where, without pressing the point, we spent a very convivial night. The very next day, Daniel informed me that Scotland Yard had been visited by a man from Whitehall who referred to himself only as The Secretary, and that he had related to the Chief Constable that the matter of the Throat Ripper was over and done with. Apparently the killer was a foreign agent, most likely from Prussia, sent to cause terror and unrest in the capital. He was apprehended in the act by an operative of His Majesty’s Government and had been dealt with accordingly. The Secretary further stressed that the matter was to be considered closed and no further police action would be required. An interesting aside is that Lord William, while separated from the constables encountered yet another vampire, who was a man of science!
It has been impressed upon me that this entry must never be put into print, but one day it will be available to read and when that is so I hope you harrumph as loudly on reading the above, as did I upon hearing it.
A. Guthridge (Emeritus, St Aidan’s)