[AN: This one was, I’m pretty sure, never actually published in any sense. It’s just been sitting on my hard drive since I was in high school. What makes it notable is that I’m fairly certain this is the first fanfic I ever wrote – back before I knew that fanfic was a thing that existed and had a name. I’d had the idea to write a compilation of short stories retelling bits of more famous stories from the POV of minor characters. This was one of a very tiny number that actually got written: that one part of Dracula, from the point of view of that one maid with no name.]
I was only a maid. No-one ever paid much attention to me. Even Miss Lucy, who everyone always said tried so very hard to be sweet to everyone she knew, didn’t always notice me around the house. Sometimes even the other servants ignored me, because they were all older than me and thought I was just a silly girl their mistress had taken pity on. Maybe I was.
My mother took me to England the same week my dad died. She said she knew of a well-off woman in London, a Mrs Westenra, who knew her of old and might be willing to let me live in her house and work for her to earn my keep, now that we didn’t have anyone working to give us an income. Sure enough, the Westenra woman gave me a job helping to look after the household – and Mistress Lucy too. It wasn’t a very well-paid job, true enough, but I got some… perks. Unofficially, like.
Oh, all right, I took stuff. But it wasn’t just me; all the girls were doing it. Well, OK, maybe not all of them. But I know for certain I wasn’t the only one. I definitely saw Mary trying to slyly slip one of the Westenra woman’s silver spoons into her apron instead of washing it, when she thought no-one was looking. Anyway, it wasn’t like I ever took anything very big, or anything that would really be missed. It was just trinkets. That old house was full of trinkets that nobody else ever noticed. So, sometimes, I’d just help myself. I was thinking of mum, you see. She wasn’t getting any younger and she couldn’t really afford to be working herself what with her bad back and all, so she was relying on me to make ends meet. It wasn’t her fault. That was just how the cards came up, as she would have said. She was a terrible one for cards, was my mother. Back when we had the money.
Anyway, nobody noticed the things I took, so I thought it must be that nobody cared for them and so I just kept doing it, whenever there was no-one about. It only got easier when the Westenra woman got sick, and then Miss Lucy came down with something too and there wasn’t really anyone watching any of the servants. I never found out properly what either of them had; I was only a maid, no-one tells us these things. There were all sorts of rumours about among us though – they said that Mrs Westenra had some sort of terrible disease of the heart, and Mary swore she’d overheard the doctor saying she only had a matter of weeks to live. I can’t really say I felt very sorry for the woman. I never knew her myself, she was just a friend of mum’s, and I was more worried about what would happen to my salary if she went. I was quite sure that Miss Lucy would keep at least most of the servant-girls on after her mother’s death – Miss Lucy was always a bit of a soft touch and didn’t like having to reprimand us – but I couldn’t be sure, because she wouldn’t need as much looking-after on her own, and she was going to be married fairly soon too.
They wouldn’t say what Miss Lucy was ill with – I don’t think most people even knew, even the doctor, because he had to get some foreign man in from Germany or Holland or somewhere around those parts. Some sort of specialist, I suppose. He certainly walked like an important, educated man. Talked like it too, but in a sort-of nice way. Mostly. Even between them they couldn’t seem to cure her – she just got worse every time we thought she was getting better. Everyone was worried about her, especially the doctor. He’d always been sweet on Miss Lucy; you could see it in how he looked at her. Mary said he’d even proposed to her but been turned down, although how she should know I have no idea. I think she was just jealous really, because he was a quite handsome man and I reckon Mary badly wanted him to notice her, except he never looked at any of us because we were just servants.
The foreign specialist at least seemed to think he knew what was wrong with the young mistress, although he never spoke about it. Whatever it was he thought she had, it was different to any illness I’ve ever heard of, and even in my short life I’ve encountered a few. It made her go very pale and weak, as if her very blood was draining away – except that there were no open wounds that I could see, and there was never blood on her pillow when I came into her room in the mornings. It was a pity, really – she had been so very pretty before.
Whatever it was, the foreign doctor filled her room with wild garlic flowers as part of his attempted cure – they were everywhere: on the windowsill, the shelves, her bedside table, even around her neck. The whole room stank of it, but we got used to it after a while. We weren’t allowed to take any of it away – the foreign specialist was very clear on that. I think the smell must have had some curing properties after all, like they say certain flowers can have on all those diseases that you get from the air, because often after she’d spent a night in the room, surrounded by all the garlic, she would seem better in the morning – more like her old self. One of the doctors would always sit up in the room with her as well, though none of the girls knew what they hoped to achieve by merely watching their patient sleep. If it was just the usual doctor I would have thought it inappropriate, but the foreign man was doing it too, so I can only assume there must have been some medical purpose. The odd thing though – every time Miss Lucy took a turn for the worse, it was always when neither of the doctors was there. Perhaps just the reassurance of having them nearby was what was helping her to recover.
Anyway, there was this one night – it was in early autumn, I think, but I was never too good with dates – when suddenly everything started to get very strange. I was quite frightened actually, except I didn’t tell any of the others that because they’d only laugh at me. It started out like any other, normal night – I made sure Mistress Lucy was all right, then I finished off my rounds and headed for my own bed. I thought I was woken in the middle of the night by some sort of horrible crash, but at the time I thought it must have been merely a bad dream, and I went back to sleep. It was only when we had to get up to start the morning’s chores, and I was heading towards the washroom in the hope of catching a quick bath, that I ran into Mary and two of the other girls, and they asked if I had heard such a noise, because they like me had apparently all heard it and ignored it at the time.
Afraid that something might have happened to Miss Lucy in the night, we went – all of us still only in our nightgowns, mind – to her door, and a weak, terrified voice called to us from inside. We rushed inside and – I’m not embarrassed to admit – all four of us screamed. It was horrible. Miss Lucy was lying on the bed, pale as ever, and Mrs Westenra – her own mother – was lying on top of her. I didn’t know then if she was alive or dead, but something awful had obviously happened. The window was shattered, as if blown inwards by some unstoppable force, and there was broken glass everywhere, mixing with the garlic flowers that had fallen from their places around the room.
Mary and the other two moved the Westenra woman’s body and hid it under a bed-sheet – I think I was too shocked to move, myself. Miss Lucy seemed to have come to her senses, though, and told us we should go have a glass of wine to calm our nerves. I didn’t need telling twice, I can tell you – I hadn’t been so nervous ever since before my old dad died. The wind blew a door shut as we were leaving, and even though we knew what it was we all screamed at the bang and ran like a rowdy mob into the dining room – that’s how on edge we all were.
Mary yanked open the sherry decanter as soon as we got in and took a gulp straight from the bottle before handing it to the rest of us. I have to admit I’ve never really been much of a drinker, not like some of the other girls, but I think between us we must have drained over half the bottle there. And then, just as we were calming down and before any of us knew what was happening, everything started to go all blurry and the floor seemed to slide under my feet, every time I tried to step on it. Now, I said I wasn’t that used to drink but I certainly wasn’t new to it enough that I could lose my balance and vision just with a few measly gulps. Something was definitely up – especially since it was happening to the other three as well. The last thing I remember before I started to dream was the look on Mary’s face as she toppled over and crashed onto the carpet at my feet.
I had the strangest dream that morning, before I awoke to find myself alone on the couch. I’m not even sure now that it was a dream, though I don’t know what else it could have been. I remember there was this… man. This tall, greying, dark-haired, foreign-looking man. But it definitely wasn’t the foreign doctor that had come to deal with Miss Lucy. Oh no, this was someone else. Someone… crueller. I don’t know how I know that, all right? I just did. He had this bad feeling about him.
He wasn’t doing anything, just standing in the middle of the room, with this big dark coat or cloak wrapped around him like the wings of a sleeping bat. He was very tall; I remember that – I had to look quite far up to see his face, even considering I was lying down. When he saw me looking, he smiled at me, but it wasn’t a nice smile. He had these very, very white teeth, whiter than snow or milk almost, and framed by these lips that looked so red they could have been coated in fresh blood. They were very long, too, and sharp, especially the two pointed ones on either side – I don’t know what they’re called, I’m not a dentist.
Somehow I was transfixed by that mouth. All I could think of was those red, red lips and those white, white teeth. I imagined them speaking to me; laughing at me; kissing me; caressing me… biting me. I know it sounds stupid, but I couldn’t think of anything else. He must have been two or three times my age as well, maybe more. I don’t know what my mother would say.
Anyway, this man… assuming it was a man… sort of glided over to me and knelt down, gracefully, like a cat, with his hand gripping the back of the couch, forming an arch over my body.
“They fought me,” he said, in this quiet, gleefully cruel voice. “But I think I win, no?” And then it seemed he was gone. As if maybe he’d just vanished into the shadows or, more likely, I’d just gone back to sleep. Assuming I was awake anyway.
Whatever happened, it all seemed in the distant past when I woke up. I think it must have been almost afternoon at least by then, and here I was still in my nightdress. Mary was just coming in to pull down the blinds, and she told me – rather scathingly – that while I’d been asleep the doctors had arrived – both of them – and the Westenra woman had been declared dead, and Miss Lucy was on the brink herself, and lots of people were very worried and apparently her husband-to-be might be coming over soon, and there was also an American man who she’d been fond of waiting patiently in the hall. Embarrassed, I ran upstairs, trying not to catch the eye of the confused-looking American in question, and tried to occupy myself for a while with getting dressed and tidying the house as best I could without disturbing anyone.
For the rest of that day and most of the next, me and the other girls tried to keep on with our duties as if nothing had happened. I think it was just our way of making sense of the situation, I don’t know. Miss Lucy kept being visited by one or other of the doctors, or the American man, or – towards evening – by Holmwood, the man who was meant to become her husband in a few days or so. We didn’t imagine any of us would be allowed in, of course, since we were only her servants, so we mostly tried to keep out of everyone’s way.
I asked Mary what was going to happen to us if Miss Lucy did die, and we were left without any employer to attend to. She just laughed and said that even if by some miracle Miss Lucy was back to perfect health by morning, she wouldn’t be staying in that house for a second longer than it took her to get paid off and resign. It’s all right for her; she doesn’t have a family to support. As far as I know. I thought about telling her of my dream, but I knew she would only laugh more and I wasn’t in the mood to be mocked. I was too worried about what I was supposed to do, and what mum would say if I had to tell her I didn’t have a job any more.
Miss Lucy’s absence did mean that there was no-one to notice if the necklace in her room I’d had my eye on for a while went missing, but somehow I just didn’t feel like taking it right then.
Letters for Miss Lucy kept getting delivered, which for want of anything better to do with we simply left sitting in what had been her room for someone else to deal with. We were still all pretty much in the dark as to what was going on – nobody ever tells the servants that kind of thing, do they? No, we have to just carry on like nothing’s wrong and only get told afterwards that someone’s died or worse. To keep my mind off things, I opened and read a few of the letters, as sneakily as I could. Most of them were from a friend of hers, someone named Mina – I think I can vaguely recall her as one of the visitors Miss Lucy had often had round in the past. It felt a bit odd, opening someone else’s mail like that, but the way things seemed to be going downstairs it didn’t look like anyone else was going to need them. I suppose it was quite sad that the young mistress had happy friends elsewhere who didn’t know what was happening, though. Still, it wasn’t my job to inform them; I was just cleaning staff.
Somehow we all managed to keep going until a day or so later we were given the inevitable news: Miss Lucy was dead, and as soon as all the immediate matters were sorted out I would be unemployed. Most of the servants helped out with the funeral arrangements and the undertakers and all that stuff. Somehow, I just couldn’t bring myself to do much. It was like up until then I’d been following a road, and now the road had ended and there was just barren land in every direction.
That night I made up my mind to go and see Miss Lucy’s corpse. I don’t know that I wanted to say goodbye – she was, after all, my mistress, not my friend – but I did feel somehow that it would bring some sort of sense of… I don’t know… closure, maybe. I crept down the corridor to the room she’d been lain in once everyone else had gone to bed.
At first, when I lifted the sheet to see her, I thought there had been some mistake and she wasn’t dead at all. She didn’t look much like a corpse. In fact, she looked better than she had done for a long time, not since before the illness. But what caught my eye even more was the tiny, golden crucifix lying on her mouth. I didn’t know where it came from, but it was so beautiful. My father, before he died, had been a very strong-minded Catholic, and he had brought us along to the chapel every week. There was this magnificent crucifix on a stand at the front, placed so that the light from the windows would bounce off its gold surface and make it look almost like the glory of the real God was shining out of his carved face. I loved that crucifix when I was little. I always used to dream of one day owning something so beautiful, but I knew I would never be able to afford it, even if I worked every day for a million years.
But now, sitting in front of me like a last gift from Miss Lucy, was the most wonderful little miniature version of that very crucifix, or so it seemed to me. It felt almost like I was supposed to have it, like it had been destined for me all along. So I took it. It was on a little golden chain, so as it could be hung around someone’s neck, so I put it on, replaced the sheet and ran back to my room as quickly as possible. It just felt so right.
It didn’t feel right in the morning though, when I was woken by rough hands seizing me from my bed and snatching the cross from around my neck. I almost cried out, before my assailant silenced me with a look. It was the foreign doctor that had come to help Miss Lucy. He pushed me roughly away from him and hissed,
“What wicked thief is this that would steal, not only from those who live, but from those whose breath have left them? Do you know what you have done?”
He seemed so very angry that I started to cry. There was something about how he looked or how he spoke, I don’t know, but it was clear that the little crucifix meant something special to him, or to Miss Lucy, I don’t know which. It was if I had betrayed them both, like I had ruined Miss Lucy’s last wish.
“You have cause more harm than I hope for your sake you will ever understand, girl!” the foreign doctor hissed again, in his stilted English, his eyes flashing in accusation, before he wheeled around and marched from the room. I just collapsed, shaking, on the bed and cried.
I left the house that same day. Nobody noticed, in all the business. I didn’t have much to pack, and even Mary was too preoccupied to pay any attention when I walked past her on my way out. I knew mum would be disappointed, but I didn’t care any more. I felt that somehow the house didn’t want me there any more; like my one action the previous night had turned the very air against me. I still don’t see how anything could have been my fault. How was I to know? I was only a maid.
If you’re cool and not a vampire, you can support the Court of Ranternal Affairs here. Even if you are a vampire, to be honest, I’m not picky.