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    Black Roses
    A "Dark Shadows" tale 
    Dedicated to Michael Stroka 
    Prologue:  Vincent Prescott
    March 12, 1780.  eight minutes before midnight. 
            "Yes,  my beautiful little one. You’re as impatient as I am
    aren’t you my dearest?"  A quaint looking man of about forty,  who went
    by the name Vincent Prescott (though no one remembered) said to the
    exquisite ebony-colored cat rubbing against his left leg and gazing at
    him with curiosity through mesmerizing golden eyes. 
            "I gave up on human companionship,  you know that." Vincent
    continued,  addressing the feline. "They feared me for my practice in the
    art of black magic,  they even thought me mad...  Imagine that."  He then
    let out a laugh that would have made anyone wonder if ‘they’ could have
    been right.  ‘Then I found you,  that night  in the rainstorm,  imagine
    that my divine little lady,  finding something as magnificent as yourself
    drenched in the rain.  OH what plans I have in store for you now."
            The cat mewed softly as Vincent lifted her onto the table,  which
    was covered with churning liquids in bottles and powders in bowls and
    various strange things that threw sparks when touched.  She sniffed and
    explored the oddities while he began to mix the ingredients on the table
    in what seemed to be a random order.
            "Patience my own,  patience"  he said affectionately to his
    treasured pet who had decided to rub her head against his hands.  ‘I’m
    almost finished. *sigh* Would that I had means to test concoction before
    using it on you,  but it’s impossible. You understand don’t you my
    precious one."
            She purred softly in reply,  almost in understanding.  Vincent
    smiled at her apparent acknowledgment and put the last touches into the
    bizarre green foaming mixture and placed it into a large copper kettle on
    the floor beside the table.
            "There It’s finished"  He said with the exuberance of a little
    boy "Are you ready my dear?" 
             Tucking her under his arm,  Vincent gently took the cats front
    paw and placed it into the green foam in the kettle.  She hissed and
            "I don’t blame you my treasure,  but please…"  
            The cat relaxed,   somewhat reluctantly in his arms,  and allowed
    him to place her in the liquid.  
    No sooner had she been submersed,  than she leapt from Vincent’s arms,
    scratching him badly in the process and letting out a tremendous howl. 
    She dashed screeching out of the room and into the hallway,  with the end
    of the almost ungodly cry sounding almost more human than feline.  
    Then the room was still.
    "What’s happened to you… dear god what have I done…" Vincent shouted
    after the hysterical animal,  scrambling across the room to the hall
    where she’d gone.  When he got there,  he gasped and almost turned
    The nude form of a young woman was lying on the floor. 
    Vincent walked over to her as if in a dream.  The woman stirred softly as
    he reached down to take her arm and aid her to her feet.  
    Before this night,  he’d never seen this woman’s equal in beauty.  Her
    skin was like clean, cream colored porcelain and her body was flawlessly
    shaped in sleek, elegant lines.  Pushing her glossy,  ebony colored hair
    away from her face,  Vincent could see how high and sharply carved her
    cheekbones were,  and how they lead down to her small,  pointed chin. 
    Her nose was short and pointed and when she raised her eyes to him, 
    Vincent Prescott could see what color they were.  They were golden.
    "I’ve done it" he said aloud  "Look at yourself my dear,  it worked…"
    Chapter 1
    Pt 1
    April 19th 1874  Du Champs family home,  an hour before dawn
            Mother and child breathed simultaneously.  As the child took its
    first breath,  and the mother took her last.  As it too often happens, 
    the young woman’s price for bringing a child into the world was to leave
    it herself. 
            "She’s gone Thurston,  I’m so sorry…"  Eva Maddock,  who had seen
    such things too many times in her years as a nurse and midwife, said to
    the recent widower,  pressing his shoulder sympathetically.  
            Thurston du Champs crossed the room over to where his wife lay. 
    ‘Estelle,’  he whispered to the woman lying still on the damp,  stained
    sheets. ‘Estelle…’  was all he could manage to force through his tight, 
    tear closed throat. They’d scarcely been married nine months,  the child
    had almost certainly been conceived on their wedding night.  If it
    hadn’t,  it was shortly thereafter. Thurston and Estelle had been a
    blissfully happy couple,  with a good sized fortune,  and delighted in
    the prospect of becoming parents.  Now Thurston stood alone by the side
    of the bed,  feeling exhausted and spent off all energy,  not knowing
    what to do,  or think,  or feel.
            "Thurston…"  Eva’s voice shot through his thoughts. "I know how
    you must feel,  but you’re still a father now.  The babe is quite
            He turned to see Eva with the freshly cleaned infant in her arms.
     ‘It’s a boy,  perhaps you can take comfort in your son. Estelle would
    have wanted it that way,  Would you like to hold him?’
            The very idea seemed almost obscene to Thurston.  He looked at
    the child as though he were a viper. ‘Would I WHAT?’ He choked ‘That
    little demon is the very thing responsible for its mothers death! Take it
    and drown it for all I care.  I won’t raise the child that killed my
    Chapter 1 pt 2
    April 19th 1884  Du Champs family home,  half an hour after midday 
            Eva Maddock entered the home of Thurston du Champs without even
    knocking.  He was so used to her being there by now the formality had
    become unnecessary.  She found him in a room at the end of a long entry
    hall,  slumped in a chair by the fireplace,  where she always found him.
    Bottles cluttered the floor around the chair and it’s occupant was
    clearly in a drunken stupor.  Eva entered the room and picked up an empty
    bottle off the floor. 
            "Thurston,  you can’t continue like this."  She said,  her brown
    eyes deep with both sympathy and scolding at the same time.  ‘You’ve
    drank  away and squandered all the money you had…’
            "I have a right to do what I please with my own money woman,  and
    you have no right to tell me otherwise.  If you’ve come to teach the boy
    again,  do so and leave me in peace."
            "He’s your son and he has a name.  You do know he’s ten years old
    today don’t you?"
            "You don’t need to remind me on either count Maddock."  He said
    darkly.  Thurston regarded the day as the anniversary of his wife’s death
    rather than his son’s birth,   so it had always gone unmarked. 
            "I still say the lack of regard you have for your own child is
    criminal.  Lack of affection not withstanding, What chance have you given
    him in life?  You’ve never even thought of schooling for him have you?"
            "You do plenty,  the boy can read,  write,  spell,  and fairly
    well versed in etiquette and social graces."
            "I do what I can.  He’s intelligent you know.  Learns and repeats
    things like a parrot."  After  ten years, Thurston’s lack of intrest in
    his son still managed to upset Eva.  ‘Do you even know where he is?’
            Thurston grunted.  ‘He ran off somewhere.’
            "Dear god,  don’t tell me you’ve been beating him again…"  Eva
    nearly got sick.  ‘If you can’t respect the boy as your own son,   and
    care for him,   than at least acknowledge the fact that he’s Estelle’s
    son as well.  Do you really have so little regard for her and her memory
    that you’d abuse the child she gave her life to give you?’  Eva knew she
    was being harsh but she didn’t care. 
            "DAMNIT MEDDOCK"  Thurston bellowed,  standing for the first time
    since she entered the house,  showing his formidable size and hurling an
    empty wine bottle at her,  which would have hit her had she not had quick
    reflexes.  Instead it flew past her,  coming dangerously close but
    hitting the wall behind her relatively harmlessly and shattered.  
    Thurston dropped himself back into the chair. ‘Can’t you just leave me in
    peace?’ He added in a injured,  almost weak voice. 
            Eva straitened slowly and crossed the room towards him.  ‘This
    isn’t any kind of peace Thurston,’  She said softly,  placing her hand on
    his large shoulder.  ‘not for you or your son.  I know you’re not a bad
    man,  only hurt,  but it’s no excuse to hurt the child as well.  Anyway I
    suppose I’d best go and find him.’  Thurston dropped his head into his
    hands and listened to Eva leave the room. 
            She entered the hall from the room and glanced around her but
    there was no sign of Thurston’s son.
            "Aristede…" She called.  ‘Aristede where are you?’
            "I’m here Eva" a young and surprisingly calm voice answered her
    Eva breathed a small sight of relief.  He couldn’t be too badly hurt if
    he was answering her.   She didn’t have to ask where ‘here’ was.  She
    knew he was most likely under the stairs again,   where the small boy
    could fit but his father could not.  She turned the corner where the
    stairs began and knelt down beside the small grating that lead to the
    empty space under them.
            "Aristede?" She asked quietly into the darkness.
            "I’m here."  The young voice said again.
            "Are you all right?"
            "I suppose so."
            "You can come out now."  Eva said gently.  ‘It’s all right’….
    Chapter 1 pt 3
            Aristede came out from under  the staircase and stepped into the
    lighted room.  He was still rather small for a boy of ten,  pitifully
    thin and delicately built.  The contrast to his sturdy robust father was
    startling. Eva had known Estelle Manning-du Champs for only a short time
    but still she could see the strong resemblance her son bore her.
            "Oh Aristede,  look at yourself…"  Eva sighed,  taking the boy’s
    chin in her large hand,  examining the deep scrape and  bruise that
    covered one of his large,  well-defined cheekbones. ‘Come with me I will
    get you cleaned up.'  
            He followed her docilely into the washroom where Eva set him on a
    stool and wetted a rag in the basin.  ‘I can’t tell you how much it
    distresses me that this happens to you Aristede.’  Eva mumbled the speech
    she normally went into while tending to Aristede after his father had
    been drinking and ‘Had a bad night’ as they put it. Aristede sat quietly
    as she washed the blood from his cheek and looked over the rest of him
    for any injuries that might need attention.  There was an assortment of
    scratches and bruises,  but nothing that could be helped by anything but
    a few days time. ‘At least you don’t seem to be too bad off this time.’
    Eva informed him. 
            "Eva?" Aristede asked quietly.
            "May I ask you something?"
            "Of course. Always,  what is it?"  Eva said,  trying to sound
    cheerful while cleaning the bloodied rag in the wash basin. 
            "Did I kill my mother?" He asked with a blunt steadiness that
    made the question all the more disturbing coming from his young voice.
            Eva nearly choked at the question and dropped the basin that
    shattered on the floor at her skirts.  "Aristede…" She gasped.   Her
    reaction startled him and he sat rigid on the stool staring into his lap
    with his hands clasped so tightly his knuckles went white. ‘Your father
    told you that didn’t he.’  Eva said in more of a statement than a
            Aristede nodded tensely without looking up from his lap and
    hands.  ‘For as long as I can remember.  He always tells me that.’
            "ARISTEDE…" Eva choked again,  hardly able to speak.  She’d been
    caring for Aristede for all his ten years,  but this was something she’d
    never heard.  Impulsively,  she took Aristede up in her arms.  He
    stiffened in her grasp and withdrew from her coldly.
            "Is it true?"  He said
            Eva let go of Aristede but took him by the shoulders instead.
    ‘Listen to me,  whatever your father says,  that’s not true do you hear
    me?’  She said firmly.  ‘You’re not responsible for what happened to your
    mother.  Don’t even think that.  I know you’re too young to understand
    now,  but you’ll understand when you’re older.  It’s not your fault.  You
    must believe that.  Do you?’
            Aristede nodded slowly,  but Eva still wasn’t satisfied that the
    boy believed her.
    Chapter 1 pt 4
            "THURSTON!" Eva’s voice resounded through the room like a
    metallic clap.  Thurston struggled though the alcohol induced fog that
    clouded his mind and vision to see Eva standing over him.  Her look was
    far from inviting.  
            "What is it Maddock?"  He growled through the darkest point of
            Eva was so choked with anger and horror she could scarcely speak.
    ‘How could you…’ She hissed.
            "How could I what,  woman?  Get drunk? It was quite easy I assure
    you.  Now leave me be."
            "Aristede is only ten,   he’s far too young to understand what
    happened to his mother.  Beating him is quite bad enough,  but to tell
    him he’s responsible for his mothers death… I had no idea you could be so
    cruel.  And to your OWN SON!  It’s unforgivable."
            Thurston chuckled to himself.  ‘So the little villain has been
    talking to you.  Only ten and he has blood on his hands.  I only pointed
    it out to him.’         
            "Estelle was very small boned.  She knew the risk she took in
    trying have children,  but she wanted to so badly.  No one is accountable
    for what happened to her,  least of all Aristede.  I’ve been trying to
    tell you that for ten long years."  
            "I’ll be the judge of the innocence or guilt of my own son Eva"
    Thurston said calmly in one of the rare times he acknowledged his
    relationship to his own offspring.    
            Eva stomped her foot in frustration. "Be careful Thurston.  Evil
    deeds generally return to their original maker."  She warned,  almost as
    if she was setting a curse on him and stomped out the door. 
            Thurston was left alone in the once fine drawing room of the once
    fine house.  ‘How did this happen?’  He asked himself.  Everything was so
    different than the way he’d planed it.  Ten years before he’d had a
    loving wife,  social status,  money,  and he was even pleased at becoming
    a father. Echoes of the delight he felt when he learned his new bride was
    with child still returned to haunt him.  All he was now was something  he
    didn’t want to be.  A drunk living in the ashes of long spent fortune
    with the pain of a lost love and a child he could scarcely bear the sight
    of because of the way the child stared at him with terror though his dead
    wife’s eyes. 
    Chapter 1 pt 5
            Du Champs family home.  April 25th 1889  Late evening 
            Aristede stood alone in the room that had been generally
    considered his for most of his life.  To look at it,  no one would have
    thought it could have been inhabited by a child.  It was stark and bare
    with little to offer anyone,  especially one so young.   He finished
    pushing what few belongings he owned into a small bag.  ‘I don’t care
    anymore.’  He thought ‘Even if I starve in the streets, things can’t get
    any worse than they are now.  I won’t stay here.’  A strange sense of
    determination had grabbed hold of him,   despite a bruised cheek and what
    felt to him like a possibly cracked rib.  He was fifteen now,  and the
    first fifteen years of his life had been spent in darkness and abuse. The
    fear that the unknown world may be even harsher than the one he lived in
    now had left him.  A chance that his life would become more difficult
    existed and he knew that,  but a chance that his situation would improve
    was there too,  and that was far more than he already had.
            Slipping quietly down the stairs to the front of the house,  
    Aristede could see how the fire threw the shadow of his father large
    against the wall through the open drawing room door.  He pulled in a deep
    breath,  not minding the stabbing pain in his side,  then held it for the
    rest of the way down the stairs. The staircase had never seemed so long
    to him before.  Aristede was almost more worried that the sound of his
    own pounding heart would betray him rather than the sound of his
            It wasn’t either one however.  Just as Aristede reached the
    bottom of the seemingly endless staircase,   he managed to jounce a small
    table,  sending a vase crashing to the floor. 
            "Aristede,  what are you doing?"  Thurston’s voice seemed to fill
    the hall as he sat motionless,  not even looking away from the fireplace.
            Aristede stood fixed to the spot,  like a bird when it knows it’s
    been trapped by a snake. 
    Chapter 1 pt 6
            Du Champs family home.  April 25th 1889  Late evening
            "I’m leaving"  Aristede blurted out at long last after he was
    able to catch his breath and slow his heartbeat down to an at least
    semi-normal rate. 
            "What?"  Thurston asked flatly,  pulling himself up from his
    chair by the fireplace and standing in the doorway to the hall where his
    son stood paralyzed with fear. 
            "You heard me."  Aristede said as a sick,  cold feeling spread
    over him.  "You have no reason to keep me here."
            "What madness,  and where do you think you’ll go?"
            "Somewhere… anywhere…  just not here."
            "You look so much like your mother do you know that Aristede?" He
    asked abruptly. 
            Aristede just dropped his eyes and looked at the floor in front
    of him. 
            "Of course you wouldn’t know that,  would you."  Thurston added
    bitterly.  "Strange that the only part of her I still have his her
    murderer.  Nevertheless,  you’re my and Estelle’s son.  As much as I hate
    it you’re the only aspect of her that remains and I won’t allow you to
    leave here." 
            "I didn’t kill my mother."  Aristede said in a dropped voice, 
    telling his father that for the first time in his life.
            Thurston bounded across the cold marble floor and grabbed his son
    by the shoulders, slamming and pinning him head and shoulders into the
    wall. ‘That’s what Eva Maddock told you,  isn’t it boy.  I knew I should
    have sent her away long ago.’  He growled. 
            "It doesn’t matter who told me that.  It’s true.  Just let me go.
    LET ME GO." Aristede argued pitifully while trying to free himself from
    his father’s grasp. 
            "That woman always had a way of putting ideas in your head that
    should never have been there.   I’m sure you’re leaving was an idea of
    hers as well.  Well it won’t happen Aristede do you hear me?"  Thurston
    bellowed as the threw Aristede roughly to the floor towards the stairs
    he’d come down not five minutes before.  Then he added violently.  ‘You
    won’t leave here while I live and breath."
            Aristede pulled himself up of the floor onto his hands and knees.
     He knew what his father said was true.  He’d never leave while Thurston
    was alive.  Pulling a knife he’d never intended to use out from under his
    shirt he thought ‘If he always considered me a murderer,  so be it.’
    To be continued

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