This is the dark tale of Count Dracula, told through chilling journal entries. It starts with Jonathan Harker’s visit to the Count’s castle.
Article from “The Dailygraph,”
(Cut and pasted into Mina Murray’s Journal)
From a local journalist.
One of the greatest and most sudden storms ever recorded has just been experienced here. The weather had been somewhat sultry, but nothing uncommon to the month of August. Saturday evening was fine, and the townspeople were in a festive spirit.
The next morning was fine as well, until the afternoon. That’s when the gossips, who often sit on the East Cliff churchyard, noticed that from the north-east sky to the north-west sky there were clouds that looked like fish scales—a sure sign of a heavy storm brewing.
The coastguard on duty made a report, and one old fisherman foretold the coming of a sudden storm. The evening sunset was so very beautiful and grand that large groups of people walked along the cliff in the old churchyard to enjoy the beauty. Just before the sun disappeared, the clouds were lit up in every sunset color—fire red, purple, pink, green, violet, and tints of gold.
The wind died away in the evening, and at night there was a dead calm, a sultry heat, and a sort of intensity that comes before a thunderstorm. The boats were all left in the harbor, except for a foreign boat with all its sails set, heading west. The sailors on the boat must have been either ignorant or arrogant.
Shortly before ten o’clock, the beach was so quiet that one could hear a dog’s barking from the other side of town.
A little after midnight, there was a strange sound from over the sea. High overhead, the air carried a strange, hollow booming.
Then, without warning, the storm broke.
With a speed that seemed incredible, the whole ocean convulsed. The waves rose in fury, growing taller and taller until the sea was like a devouring monster. The white waves beat against the sand and rushed up the cliffs. The wind roared like thunder and blew with enough force to knock a strong man off his feet. The curious onlookers were forced to escape away from the beach.
To add to the dangers of the storm, masses of sea fog came drifting inland. White, wet clouds crept in. With little effort of imagination, it seemed to be haunted by the ghosts and spirits of the sailors lost at sea.
At times, the fog cleared, and the glare of the lightning could be seen in the distance. With each boom of thunder, the whole sky trembled.
Before long, the lighthouse’s searchlight discovered a distant ship with all sails set, apparently the same vessel which had been noticed earlier in the evening. The wind had thrown them back to the east, and onlookers on the cliff shuddered to realize the terrible danger the boat was in. It seemed quite impossible for the boat to reach the harbor.
Then, another rush of sea fog came, covering everything in gray. The onlookers could only listen for the roar of the storm, and the crash of the thunder. The men waited breathlessly.
The wind shifted suddenly and the searchlight leapt to follow the ship. It was thrashing from wave to wave, with all sails set, and rushing at full speed toward the harbor.
All of the onlookers were filled with great awe when, as if by a miracle, the ship had found the harbor, steered by the hands of a dead man! But the boat didn’t stop at the harbor. It was going at such a speed that it rushed across the harbor and dug itself into the sand and gravel under the East Cliff.
But, strangest of all, the very instant the ship landed, an immense dog sprang up from the ship, ran forward and jumped down to the sand. It ran out and disappeared into the darkness.
The coastguard on duty ran down to the ship and climbed on board. The men working in the lighthouse turned the searchlight onto the ship and kept it there. The coastguard ran about the boat, and when he came up to the wheel, he recoiled at once. This piqued the interest of all the onlookers, who rushed to the ship to get a closer look.
I, your local journalist, am a fairly good runner, and so I rushed ahead of the others to see the boat. The coastguard and the police refused to allow the crowd to climb aboard, but I, as a journalist, was permitted to climb on. I was one of only a few who saw the dead sailer clutching the wheel.
The dead man was fastened by his hands, tied one over the other, to a spoke of the wheel. And on his wrist was a bead necklace that held a wooden crucifix. The poor fellow might have started out sitting down, but the storm must have dragged him to and fro, so that the cords that were tied had cut into the flesh and down to the bone. A doctor came and made an accurate note of the scene. Surgeon J. M. Caffy, (office address: 33 East Elliot Place), who came immediately after me, made an examination. He then declared that the man must have been dead for two days.
In the dead man’s pocket there was a carefully corked bottle which held a little roll of paper. When the coastguard opened it, he discovered that it was a daily log of the ship’s progress. The coastguard said that the man must have tied up his own hands, fastening the knots with his teeth.
Of course, the lawyers of the town are always talking about who can claim legal ownership of the boat. One young law student loudly asserted that the rights of the owner are already completely sacrificed, since it cannot be held by a dead hand.
Needless to say, the sailor was removed from his place on the deck, where he held an honorable watch until his death, and placed in the mortuary for further inspection.
Already, the sudden storm is passing and the crowds are scattering away home. In tomorrow’s newspaper, I will write more details of the ship which found her way so miraculously into the harbor during the storm.
The morning of August 9,
Article from “The Dailygraph,”
(Cut and pasted into Mina Murray’s Journal)
From a local journalist.
The sequel to the strange arrival of the ship in the storm last night is almost more startling than the thing itself. It turns out that it is a Russian boat from Varna, and it is called the Demeter. It only has a small amount of cargo—silver sand and a number of great wooden boxes filled with dirt.
This cargo was addressed to a Whitby solicitor, Mr. S. F. Billington (office address: 7, The Crescent), who went aboard this morning to formally take possession of the cargo.
The Russian consul, too, took formal possession of the ship, and paid all harbor fees, etc.
In town today, nothing is talked about except this strange occurrence. The Board of Trade is taking extra care that every matter is strictly handled according to regulations. Because of the attention, they are evidently determined that there will be no reason for complaints.
There was also a good deal of interest in the dog which had landed when the ship struck. A few people have tried to befriend the animal, but unfortunately, the animal was not found. It seems to have disappeared entirely from the town. It is possible that the dog was frightened and it ran away to the woods, where it is still hiding in terror.
Others seem to believe the opposite, and fear that the dog might be fierce and dangerous. Early this morning, a large dog, which belonged to a coal merchant, was found dead in the road. It had been fighting. Apparently, its opponent had been savage, because its throat was torn away, and its belly was slit open with claws.
The afternoon of August 9,
By the kindness of the Board of Trade inspector, I have been permitted to look over the log of the Demeter.
The log of the ship is written up to three days ago, and it contained nothing of special interest. The rolled up piece of paper in the bottle, however, told a much more interesting story.
It almost seems as though the captain had been seized with some kind of mania before he had even boarded the ship, and that this mania had developed persistently throughout the voyage.
I am permitted to publish the contents of the log here (omitting technical details of private information and cargo). Of course, my statement must be taken with a bit of skepticism, because I am writing from the dictation of a clerk of the Russian consul, who kindly translated it for me.
Log of the Demeter.
Varna to Whitby.
Today is July 18, but very strange things have been happening here. I want to keep an accurate note of the past two weeks and the rest of the journey.
On July 6, we finished taking in cargo, which was silver sand and boxes of earth. At noon, we set sail. East wind. We had five crew hands, two mates, a cook, and myself (captain).
On July 11 at dawn, we entered Bosphorus. We were inspected by Turkish Customs with no problems. We paid the fees and continued our journey at 4 pm.
On July 12, we traveled through Dardanelles. We were inspected again by Customs officers and paid the fees. At dark, we passed into Archipelago.
On July 13, we passed Cape Matapan. The crew was dissatisfied about something. They seemed scared, but they would not speak out.
On July 14, I was somewhat anxious about my crew. These men, all steady fellows, have sailed with me before. When one of the mates asked the crew, they only said that there was something, and they crossed themselves. This made the mate angry. He lost his temper with one of the crew and hit him. I expected a fierce quarrel, but everything was quiet after that.
On the morning of July 16, the mate reported that one of the crew, Petrofsky, was missing. He could not be accounted for. That night, I took watch. Abramoff was the next to take watch after me, but I did not go to bed. The men were more downcast than ever. The crew seemed to believe that there was something aboard. The mate is getting very impatient with them.
On July 17, yesterday, one of the men, Olgaren, came to my cabin. In an awestruck voice, he told me that he thought there was a strange man aboard the ship. He said that during his watch it had been raining, so he took shelter behind the deck house. That’s when he saw a tall, thin man, who was not a member of our crew, come up to the deck, and disappear. Olgaren said he followed the man cautiously, but when he got to the front of the deck, he found no one, and all the doors were closed. He was in a panic of superstitious fear. I am afraid that the panic may spread. The only way to defuse this panic is to search the entire ship from one end to the other.
Later in the day, I got the whole crew together and told them that we would search the ship from stem to stern. The first mate was angry again, saying it was foolish. He said that a such a superstitious hunt would only demoralize the men. He asserted that he could keep them out of trouble. I ordered him to take the steering wheel while the rest of us began a thorough search. We left no corner unsearched. In the cargo room, there were only the big wooden boxes which didn’t have an odd corners where a man could hide. When the search was over, the men were very relieved and they went back to work cheerfully. The mate scowled, but said nothing.
We’ve had rough weather in the last three days, and all hands were busy with the sails—no time to be frightened. The men seem to have forgotten their dread. The mate is cheerful again, and everyone is on good terms. I praised the men for their work in the bad weather. We passed Gibralter and went through the Straits. All is well.
A feeling of doom has spread over this ship. We were already a man short, and last night we lost another. Disappeared. Like the first, he finished his watch and was not seen again. The men are all in a panic. They asked to have a double watch because they are afraid to be alone. The mate is angry and he fears that there will be some trouble or violence.
Four days in hell, and our ship is knocking around this stormy sea. No sleep for anyone. The men are all worn out. I don’t know how to set up a watch because none of the men are fit to do work. The second mate volunteered to steer and watch at the same time, and let the other men sleep.
Another tragedy. The men were too tired to double, so the second mate volunteered again. When morning came, there was no one on deck. The men raised an outcry, and all came up to the deck. We searched thoroughly, but no one was found. And now, we are without a second mate. The crew is in a panic. The first mate and I agreed to stay armed from now own and wait for anything suspicious.
We rejoiced because we were nearing England. The weather was fine and all sails were set. I went to bed worn out and slept soundly, but I was awakened by the mate telling me that both men of watch and the steersman are missing. The only people aboard are myself, the mate, and two hands.
Two days of fog, and we haven’t seen any passing boats. We had hoped that when we reached the English Channel, we would be able to signal for help or get to another ship. Without enough crew hands, we don’t have the strength to raise and lower the sails, so we are keeping them set. We seem to be drifting to some terrible doom. The mate is more demoralized than either of the crew hands. All men are beyond fear, and they are working steadily and patiently, knowing that the worst is coming.
August 2, midnight,
I woke up from a few minutes of sleep to a cry. I could see nothing in the fog, so when I rushed up the deck, I ran straight into the mate. He and the other man were yelling that there was no sign of the man on watch. One more gone. Lord, help up! The fog lifted a little and we saw North Foreland, which means we must be in the North Sea. Only God can guide us in the fog, which seems to move with us.
At midnight, I went to relieve the man at the wheel, and when I got to it, there was no one there. The wind was steady, so I grabbed the wheel. I dared not leave it, so I shouted for the mate. After a few seconds, he rushed up on deck in his nightwear. He looked wild-eyed and haggard. He came close to me and whispered hoarsely:
“It is here. I know it, now. On the watch last night, I saw it. It was like a tall and thin man. And ghostly pale. It was on the deck, looking out. I crept behind it, and stabbed it with my knife. But the knife went through it, as empty as the air.” As he spoke, he took his knife and drove it savagely into the air. Then he went on, “But it is here, and I’ll find it. It is below the deck, perhaps in one of those boxes. I’ll unscrew them one by one to see. You work the wheel.” And, with a warning look and his finger on his lip, he went below.
There was a choppy wind, so I could not leave the wheel. I saw him come out on the deck again with a tool box and a lantern, and go down the front hatchway. He is mad. Raving mad. It’s no use trying to stop him. The boxes hold nothing but dirt, so I am not worried that he will damage the cargo. So I will stay here, mind the wheel, and write these notes. I can only trust in God and wait until the fog clears. Then, if I can’t steer to any harbor with this wind, I will cut down the sails and signal for help.
It’s nearly all over now. Just as I was beginning to hope that the mate would come out calmer (I had heard him knocking away at something down below, and work is good for him), I heard a sudden, startled scream which made my blood run cold. He shot up to the deck like a raging madman with his eyes rolling and his face convulsed with fear.
“Save me! Save me!” he cried, and then looked around through the blanket of fog. His horror turned into despair. In a steady voice, he said, “You had better come too, captain, before it is too late. He is there. I know the secret now. The sea will save me from him. It is all that is left!” Before I could say a word, or move forward to grab him, he sprang up and deliberately threw himself into the sea. I suppose I know the secret too, now. It must have been this madman who had gotten rid of the men one by one. And now he has gotten rid of himself. God help me! How will I explain all these horrors when I get to the port? If I get to the port!
Still foggy. Even the sunrise cannot pierce this fog. I know there is a sunrise because I am a sailor. I didn’t dare to go below the deck. I didn’t dare to leave the wheel; so I stayed here all night. And in the dimness of the night, I saw it—Him! God forgive me, but the mate was right to jump overboard. It was better to die like a man. It was better to die like a sailor in the blue water. But I am captain, and I must not leave my ship.
There is nothing for me to do but to outsmart this monster. I will tie my hands to the wheel, and I will also tie a crucifix—the only thing I know he will not dare to touch. And then, come good or bad, I will save my soul, and my honor as a captain. I am growing weaker, and the night is coming. If he can look me in the face again, I may not have time to act. If we become shipwrecked, I pray that this bottle will be found. Those who find it might not understand it. If not, well… then all men will at least know that I have been true to my duty. God bless my poor, ignorant soul.
Of course, you have to judge for yourselves. There is no evidence to look at. We only have the captain’s words. It could have been the captain himself that committed the murders. The townspeople here almost universally believe that the captain is simply a hero, so he will be given a public funeral. Already, the arrangements have been made, and he will be buried in the churchyard on the cliff.
No trace has ever been found of the great dog. Many of the townspeople want to find and adopt it.
Tomorrow will be the funeral, and so, this will be just another “mystery of the sea.”