He got down from the vehicle with a few others, not many people about on this cold, wet January night, with the wind from the North Sea cutting through the air like a sabre.
How many knew that ‘bus’ was short for ‘omnibus’ the Latin word meaning ‘for all’? Not many, he conjectured, this was a generation ignorant of its own recent history, let alone ancient languages.,
Still, that suited him and his purposes, as it meant the common crowd did not learn from past experiences. He was hidden from them, lost in a shroud of superstition and misinformation.
His very action of travelling on this crude public transport was to mask his movements and leave little trace.
This town had many associations which crowded into his mind. The shipwreck off the coast, the food he had found, coming ashore into the graveyard – and the women, oh yes, the women….
It was over a century ago, but time meant little to the Count. The place had changed, the harsh glare of electricity a damnable curse to one so sensitive to light of any kind. The constant drone of the vehicles they all favoured, belching out airs fouler than anything he could conjure from the pits of Hell.
Still, there was a familiarity to the streets and landmarks which ‘progress’ had been unable to alter.
Renfield would be waiting on one of the quays, with the small boat to transfer them out to the coaster. Soon he would be free of this troubled isle and able to start his crusade elsewhere, in places he was still undreamed of. The coffin with his native earth rested deep in the hold of the coaster, and he knew he must reach it before dawn.
The keen wind brought other scents to his heightened senses, not blotted out by the diesel and petrol fumes. There was the odour of decay and wormcast from the nearby churchyard, and the heady reek of the hot, vital blood coursing in the veins of the mortals around him. There was the girl who had travelled from Scarborough, not knowing that he saw her furtive, curious glances at him though she pretended to be absorbed with her mobile phone.
Also, the driver of the bus, stepped out into the weather to puff on a cigarette, his craving greater than the desire to keep warm and dry in his cab.
He heard the children of the night calling to him in voices humans could barely hear, or hope to understand.
‘Master!’ they cried, ‘Master!’
It was too public here to satisfy his need. His preservation over the centuries had depended on discretion. This modern world with all its faults possessed the means for his destruction and he had no desire to test those. There would be crew members on the exotically registered coaster…
As he walked purposefully from the railway station towards the quays, the inner voices grew louder. He felt the stirrings of souls long conquered, striving to rise up and follow him. Power surged through his body as the minions of old added their strength to his.
His preternatural hearing caught the sounds of stones rattling and earth shifting as the mortal remains shifted in their resting places to follow him down to the sea.
Closed up shops and restaurants huddled under the cliffs like birds sheltering from the storm, and only a few lights showed as the half-frozen rain lashed down. A chuckle rose from his throat and it was an eerie sound well-suited to the evil night.
It was usually the pleasure boats and harbour trippers who tied up to the steep stone jetty, but tonight he discerned the pale light bobbing on the full tide and he sensed the pitiful essence of his slave Renfield.
‘Renfield!’ he called, half-whispered, half-telepathy, ‘is everything ready?’
On 10th January 2013 BBC news reported that human bones had been exposed at a church graveyard in Whitby after a landslip took away part of the cliff. This incident was attributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall in the area.
In a secret report to the Prime Minster the shadowy ‘Institute for Unexplained Phenomena’ stated that the cover story of heavy rain and a landslip seemed to have been accepted by the locals and public at large but that there was no way the bones could have been washed out. They seemed to have moved in response to some ‘great attraction’ which would need further investigation. The report was signed by a Doctor Van Helsing.