“Well, the spirit’s certainly acting in a very strange way.”
So, let’s say you’re a Leviathan. Not the hooded sparkle-face kind, or the secret transforming alien octopus kind, just the regular human type Leviathan, who was given a ring and a membership card by an occult entity who promised that you would get power and money and revenge on your dad if you agreed to work seven days a week for no salary, performing dangerous assignments that you don’t understand.
Look, you’re stupid. Let’s just say that you’re stupid.
And here you are, in the middle of the night, in a drafty crypt, in some fish-factory town in Maine. You read in a book that your boss is vulnerable to werewolves, which you didn’t realize there were any, but guess what, there are. Also, there’s vampires, you just found that one out too. Apparently there’s everything.
You met some spooky girl with white hair a month ago, who seemed like she knew who the local werewolf was. You just happened to run into her again tonight, and you shadowed her to her boyfriend’s house. You broke in, you found some clues, you found the werewolf. And there’s going to be a full moon tomorrow night, so you’ll know for sure that he’s the wolfman before you shoot him in the head with a silver bullet. It’s hard to call that a lucky break, but you might as well try. This is some nightmare version of “lucky” that’s basically all you have to look forward to.
Now you’ve got the probably-werewolf in some forgotten old crypt, waiting for moonrise. You pulled a gun on him, and marched him all the way out here. It didn’t take as long as you figured it would to find a hiding place, because there’s a high crypt-to-citizen ratio in this town.
He’s playing dumb; he says he doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe he doesn’t. You’re pretty confident he’s the werewolf, but you want to be sure, in a situation like this. If the moon comes up and he doesn’t change, then you’re wrong about him, and maybe you’re the one playing dumb. Somebody must be.
The full moon doesn’t rise until tomorrow night, so you’re going to have to keep this guy chained to something for 24 hours. But you can’t just hang around, trying to make conversation with a dude you’re planning to kill. Besides, you’re going to keep him locked up for a whole day with no food, water, sleep or toilet facilities; things are going to get kind of biological after a while.
You bring in your associate, a guy that your boss killed, and then raised from the dead. Now you get to tell him what to do. This is the cool part, this is why you joined up with these freaks in the first place. Power over life and death! The ability to kill an enemy — your dad, let’s say, or anybody — and then bring him back to life, as your mindless slave! And then you can stand there, and look into his cold, dead eyes, and know that you’re the one with power. Now, it’s your turn.
So, let’s say you used to be a police officer. You worked hard. Collinsport was a hard town to protect and serve. You heard a lot of weird stories, and some of them were true. But you went to work every day, because you were a good police officer, and you loved this town. You had a family. You can’t quite remember all of their names right now. But there must have been someone, standing next to your grave. Crying. Somebody was there.
“It’s-true-he-did-die,” says the under-master. “But-he’s-been-brought-back-from-death-at-least-temporarily.” Is he talking about you? What does he want?
“Go-over-and-shake-hands-with-him.” Okay. You reach out your hand, but the other man screams “No!” and jumps at the wall. What happened? Did you do something wrong?
That happens a lot. The master says you should do something, but everything is so loud. They talk so fast. You try to do what the master tells you, but it all runs together.
The master told you to follow the under-master. You don’t like that. That’s not how it works. When the master tells you to do something, and you do it, then it’s not quite as cold for a while. That’s why you got up from your grave. He made a promise, over your resting place, that if you do what he says, the cold would go away, a little.
Doing what the under-master says doesn’t feel like anything. You have to do it, the master told you to. But it still feels just as cold.
“Harm-you-as-long-as-you-behave-yourself,” the under-master says, to the other man. The other man looks scared. You have no idea what’s going on.
Okay, relax. Think it through. The under-master has a gun, and he’s in charge. The other man must be a fugitive. You used to be good at this. Ask a question.
“WHY IS HE HERE?” you say. Your voice doesn’t sound right.
“You-know-who-he-is-don’t-you,” the under-master says. It’s a question. You say yes.
“What-you’ll-find-more-interesting-is-what-he-is.” That’s too many words. Did he answer your question? Is this still the same conversation? Sometimes, things go so fast that it’s a different day.
“TELL ME,” you say. Your voice doesn’t sound right.
“Through-the-woods-looking-for-victims,” he says. The under-master is telling you something. “Isn’t-that-ironic-Mr.-Jennings-that-Sheriff-Davenport-here-while-he-was-alive-could-never”
Sheriff Davenport. That sounds familiar. You saw that written down, somewhere. That used to be somebody’s name.
The sheriff says, “What are my instructions?” That is so cool. The cops at home would freak out, if they saw you had a dead sheriff asking you what to do. You’re going to have a whole army like this, someday.
You tell him to chain the wolfman to the wall, and stand guard over him. Then you give the dead man your gun.
“This has six silver bullets in it,” you say. “When the moon rises, he’ll go through a transformation. You’re to wait until that transformation is complete, and then — kill him.”
“I understand,” the dead man says. So cool. Seriously, that is never going to stop being cool.
You swagger over to the big, bad wolf, still cringing against the wall. “Mr. Jennings,” you smile. “You look so pathetic, I could almost hope I’m wrong.” And then you turn, and walk away. You wink at the sheriff, on your way to the door.
You have a gun in your hand, now. This must be some kind of a jail. You’re supposed to chain that prisoner to the wall, and then wait until something happens. It’s still cold, it’s always cold. You wish you could remember what’s going on.
You go back to the carriage house, to tell your boss the good news. The werewolf is the only thing that can hurt him, and you figured out who the werewolf is, and now you’ve got him chained up in a crypt, being guarded by a zombie with a gun. It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done. You’ve basically saved a god’s life. He ought to be thrilled.
Except he’s not, obviously. He’s uptight and angry, like he always is, these days. You try to tell him that something interesting happened on your way back from Collinwood, but he jumps down your throat, complaining that you took too long, and you didn’t get enough information about the ghost that’s haunting him. He doesn’t even ask about the werewolf.
So you tell him that the ghost tried to choke you, earlier today. You almost forgot that even happened, it’s been that kind of night. The lights went out, and suddenly there was a noose around your neck, pulled tight against your windpipe. You almost died. It’s weird that you forgot about that, for a minute. But that’s what your life is like, these days. Sometimes it feels like something shocking happens every twenty-two minutes.
“Just let me think. Let me think!” the boss says, pacing around and smacking at shadows, and all of a sudden, this cold pit opens up in your stomach, because you’ve been here before. You thought joining the Leviathans would mean you’d never feel like this again.
He glares at you, and says, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what?” you say.
“Like I’m afraid.”
You try to smile. “Afraid of what?”
“Spirits of the dead.”
But you’re an adult now. You have a fur coat and an important job and a zombie. This is your leader, the demon god of the Leviathan people. You’re not afraid of him. He likes you. He’s not your dad.
And then it goes bad, way, way faster than you thought it would.
It’s Emily, you think. Or Amy, or Amelia, or something like that. Or Emily. It’s hard to think. You have so much time, locked up inside this empty shell that walks and talks and follows instructions. You have eternity without rest, there is nothing but time and temperature.
And then you notice the prisoner, sitting huddled in the corner, and you remember: oh, right. You’re supposed to chain him to the wall.
He struggles. You grab at him, and he screams. You hear yourself say, “YOU DON’T LIKE THE TOUCH OF DEATH, DO YOU?” Your voice doesn’t sound right.
The gun is in your hand, again. The prisoner is up against the wall. You tell him to put the manacles around his wrists. His hands shake. You think about asking him if he wants his lawyer present, and then you remember what you are.
What was his name? Somebody said Davenport, before. Is this man Davenport?
And then you think: Emily Davenport. That’s the name. You wonder where she is. Is she warm, and safe, and alive? Is anyone? Are there still real people out there, anywhere, or is this dark carnival everything that there is?
So at this point, you’re wondering what the hell you’re doing this for, if you’re still going to get smacked in the face.
“I lead,” he says. “And you follow, Bruno! Don’t you ever forget that.”
And then you look into his eyes, his mad monster eyes, and you think: I wonder if it’s too late to get into art school?
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Bruno leaves the crypt, and Zombie Davenport points the gun at Chris — staring at him, unmoving — until he breaks eye contact for a second, to check if the camera is still on him.
When Jeb is on the phone, saying, “That idiot! That imbecile!” you can see a camera moving at the left side of the screen.
Bruno tells Jeb, “Just as I was about to leave, the lights went suddenly out.”
Jeb tells Bruno he’s afraid of the spirit of Paul Stoddard, and something falls over in the studio.
When Jeb tells Bruno that he has a gut feeling, you can hear somebody walking in the studio.
— Danny Horn