|"The 'Self.' What is it that makes the man but his own will? Judging from the mythology revolving around our fine series, the answer is 'the reaction.' We know good from its contradictory actions to evil. We know funny from watching anything that's not Seinfeld. It's how we define who we are. There exists within such a system a self-fulfilling prophecy where the meek try to tear down the strong by creating and placing unto them negative personas--by manifesting their own insecurities into labels, by believing in their own twisted 'truths,' and by dragging down everything around them. In this tale, by this precedent, we learn more about Simon Belmont through his reactions to himself. Or do we?"|
Turn Back Now
By Sam Mills
Simon Belmont was on his way to the Castle of Dracula. A burden in his soul was coming all too apparent, and he feared for his life as he made his way down a desolate trail in the woods. There was something about this place that was so dark, even in the light of the very chilling autumn day.
There was something following him…chasing him perhaps, but he wasn’t afraid. It wasn’t something in the woods, but in his head. Thoughts were emerging he’d never had before now, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to face them. Doubts as to whether or not this was the right things.
“Turn back now,” he heard a voice oddly similar to his own say. He looked around to make sure it wasn’t someone hiding out in the trees. There was no one around, but heard the voice again. “Turn away and let Dracula do what he needs to do…”
“No, I’ve got to keep going,” he said aloud. There was nothing that was going to stop him from going forward with his mission. If anything, it was going to be his own self-doubt that would get the best of him. But he knew the control he had over such things. He kept on going.
A few moments later, as he past by a stream, he heard the voice again. “Turn back now…” This time, is didn’t lack direction, but seemed to be coming from the water itself. He stopped and approached the brook and looked into the water. Chunks of ice flowed through the rapid water. All he saw was his reflection. He shook his head, but was shocked that his image reflected in the water did not. “Turn back now,” his reflection said.
“This is one of Dracula’s cheap tricks. You’re going to have to do better than this!” Simon said. “Are you testing the waters?”
“Listen to your fear.” the reflection said.
Simon gave it no more thought and continued on his way. It was getting late, and he knew it would be getting dark soon. The castle in the woods couldn’t be too far, but its exact location wasn’t certain to him. The air was becoming a little cooler, the light a little dimmer, and despair began to fill the very air around him. There was no sign of goodness in this place any longer. The dark was beautiful, but Simon knew that was the trap of this place.
The moon was coming up over the distant mountains. It was red as blood, and seemed to cast a red glow over the forest. The air was becoming thick with fog, and he began to hear something rustling around in the trees surrounding him. With his whip in hand, Simon stopped. He was ready to do battle with whatever was to come across his path.
When nothing came forth, he went onward. But he soon caught sight of what appeared to be someone up ahead. He couldn’t make out a face, but he knew they were waiting for him. “Who’s there?” Simon called as he approached. They didn’t answer him. Simon came up cautiously as he got closer. Whoever it was had their back turned to him. As he reached them, he asked, “Who are you? Turn around and show your face?”
The man turned around, and he was shocked to see…himself.. “Hello Simon,” his double said. “Don’t be afraid, at least not of me.”
Simon was outraged. “What is the meaning of this? What kind of trickery are you up to?”
“Dracula has nothing to do with this. You and I are the same. I’m just your sanity speaking. You’d better stop this right now. It’s not safe for us to go there. Dracula will kill us for sure,” the double said.
“Nonsense! You and I are not the same! If you are really part of me, then you know Dracula must be destroyed!”
The double nodded. “Indeed he must, but not by us. Let someone else do this. In fact, there are others entered into Dracula’s castle as we speak. They are strong and more destined for such a task.”
Simon knew this was not the truth. It perplexed him that Dracula would actually expect this to stop him. He knew that it was his destiny, written in his blood, that he should enter the castle and defeat Dracula’s forces. There was nothing that was going to stand in his way. Even if he did have doubts, he would never let them manifest themselves in such way. “Move aside and leave me be,” he commanded.
“I can’t allow you to do that, and I will stop you if you try!” his double argued. Simon attempted to snap the doubles hand with his whip. But his double grabbed the whip and wrapped the end of it around his wrist. With his weapon unavailable, Simon was concerned as the double reached back and grabbed a whip of its own. But this whip was not leather like his. It was steel, with a sharp ball tip at the end.
Simon released his whip and fell back as the double took a swing at him. Simon rolled away and behind a tree to shield him as the double took another swing. “Don’t make me extinguish you!” the double said. “Your doubts are stronger than we realized.”
Simon stepped out and ran at the double. He jumped in the air and kicked his foot into the doubles chin. The double fell back and Simon got a hold of his whip. He took a swing and hit the double in the chest. The double took another swing, which hit Simon in the shoulder. Simon cried out in agony, but took another swing. The double got hit in the face, creating a large lash across his face. “Enough!” Simon said.
“I’m not done yet!” The double took another swing as Simon swing his whip. The two whips intertwined together, creating a tight bond together. The two of them tried to pull them apart, but for some odd reason, they were stuck! “What is this?” Simon asked.
“It’s a sign, that we are one. But I am the stronger, and the victor. You must stand down!”
“If you are so strong, then why don’t you go after Dracula? I need your strength!” Simon argued. The double stopped and listened. “I admit, my fear and doubts overwhelm me. That is seen by some as a weakness. But you yourself prove that this is not the case. I must use my strength, regardless of what they may be, not to fight myself, but to fight what it is I fear.”
The double stood there, giving no indication of what was on his mind. They stood there in silence for a moment, then his double spoke. “We’ll see just how much your fear helps you when you reach me…” the double said. Simon was puzzled. Then the double grinned, showing off a set of fangs before transforming into the form of Dracula himself. “I shall enjoy meeting up with you again, if you live that long!”
Within a moment, Dracula became a cloud of mist, blown away by a huge gust of wind.
Simon has passed the test that Dracula had given him. The irony was that, while Dracula had done this test for his own benefit, Simon had grown more courageous and ready to fight than he’d ever been. He was now looking forward to meeting the count, and Dracula had given him all the wits he could have ever possibly asked for.
The End (of this prelude)