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SÉANCE FOR A VAMPIRE

FRED SABERHAGEN

TITAN BOOKS

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: SÉANCE FOR A VAMPIRE

ISBN: 9781845869188 (eBook)

ISBN: 9781848566774 (print)

Published by

Titan books

A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

144 Southwark St

London

SE1 0UP

First edition: October 2010

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Names, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead (except for satirical purposes), is entirely coincidental.

© 1994, 2010 Fred Saberhagan

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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the british Library.

CONTENTS

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Ninteen

Twenty

Epilogue

Also Available

Prologue

Of course I can tell you the tale. but you should understand at the start that there are points where the telling may cause me to become rather emotional. because I–even I, Prince Dracula–find the whole matter disturbing, even at this late date. It brought me as near to the true death as I have ever been, before or since–and in such an unexpected way! No, this affair you wish to hear about, the one involving the sĂ©ances and the vampires, was not the commonplace stuff of day-to-day life. Hardly routine even in the terms of my existence, which for more than five hundred years has been–how shall I say it?– has not been dull.

It is difficult to find the words with which to characterize this chain of events. It was more than grotesque, it was fantastic. Parts of it almost unbelievable. You’ll see. Pirates, mesmerism, executions by hanging. Stolen treasure, murder, kidnapping, revenge and seduction. Women taken by force, attempts to materialize the spirits of the dead...

I know what you are going to say. Everything in the above list is a bit out of the ordinary, but still the daily newspapers, those of any century you like, abound in examples. but in this case the combination was unique. And soon you will see that I am not exaggerating about the fantasy. Some of my hearers may not even believe in the existence of vampires, may find that elementary starting point quite beyond credibility.

Never mind. Let those who have such difficulty turn back here, before we really start; they have no imaginations and no souls.

Still with me? Very good. Actually no one besides myself can tell the tale now, but I can relate it vividly–because, with your indulgence, I will allow myself a little creative latitude as regards details, and also the luxury of some help in the form of several chapters written decades ago by another eyewitness. He, this other witness, who is now in effect becoming my co-author, was your archetypical Englishman, a somewhat stolid and unimaginative chap, but also a gentleman with great respect for truth and honor.

As it happens I was nowhere near London’s Execution Dock on the June morning in 1765 when the whole fantastic business may fairly be said to have begun. However, somewhere past the halfway point between that date and this, less than a single century ago in the warm summer of 1903, I lived through the startling conclusion. In that latter post-Victorian year I happened to be on hand when the whole affair was pieced together logically by–will you begin to doubt me if I name him?–by a certain breathing man blessed with unequaled skills in the unraveling of the grotesque and the bizarre, a friend of the above eyewitness and also a distant relative of mine. And this adventure involving vampires and sĂ©ances was enough, I think, to drive the logician to retirement.

But let me start at what I will call the beginning, in 1765...

There had been laughter inside the crumbling walls of Newgate during the night; at a little past midnight a guard in a certain hellish corridor was ready to swear that he had just heard the soft giggle of a woman, coming from one of the condemned cells, a place where no woman could possibly have been. Naturally at that hour all was dark inside the cages, and there was nothing that could have been called a disturbance; so the guard made no attempt to look inside.

Some hours later, when the first daylight, discouraged and rendered lifeless by these surroundings, filtered through to show the prison’s stinking, grim interior, there was of course no woman to be seen. There had been no realistic possibility of anyone’s passing in or out. The cell in question contained only the prisoner, the tall, red-bearded pirate captain, still breathing, just as he was supposed to be–for a few hours yet. breathing but otherwise silent, not giggling like a woman, no, he was still sane–poor chap. And the guard, as little anxious as any of us ever are to seem

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