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Widow's Hill Notes to Dark Shadows

By Graeme Cree

Horror / Humor

Episode 2

EPISODE 2: Vicki meets Liz and gets settled in at Collinwood. The Blue Whale Bar and grill suffers the first of many bench-clearing brawls.

As Episode 1 ended, Vicki had just arrived at Collinwood, and met Elizabeth Stoddard. Even though 24 hours have passed in real life, not a second has passed on the show. It's a lot like Narnian time. Liz asks Vicki if she has the job offer letter with her. Vicki says she does, but she can assure Mrs. Stoddard that she's the real Victoria Winters. I mean who else would be showing up tonight? Liz says it's not that, it's just that the letter was set to self-destruct if Vicki didn't arrive by 11.

Liz offers yet another expository speech. There are 40 rooms in the main section of Collinwood, not counting the two miles of underground labyrinths and secret passages. Also not counting the East and West Wings both of which are sealed off in case they need to build future storylines around them. There are no servants in the house. They've got one Caretaker living on the grounds that hides the bodies... I mean does the heavy work.

The rest of the work everyone divides among themselves. Liz dresses like June Cleaver, looks like she dresses that way 24/7, and doesn't seem to have done a lick of housework in her life. Liz tries to justify this through Suspension of Disbelief, and says that if you can accept the idea of ghosts, ghouls and vampires on this show, you should be able to accept the idea of her doing the dishes. Liz asks if Vicki brought any baggage with her. Vicki starts to explain how she grew up in a Foundling Home, and never knew who were real parents were, when Liz cuts her short. ("I didn't mean emotional baggage!")

Liz goes to fetch some tea, and leaves Vicki alone in the Drawing Room to look around. Vicki looks out the seaward window, prepared to scream her lungs out if it should have bars on it. There are no bars, just that credits sequence again. It looks like we're going to see this every day.

Liz returns with the tea. Taking out a large hammer, she asks Vicki how many lumps she wants. Vicki, who is up on her Bugs Bunny Lore, wisely declines.

Vicki admires the portrait over the mantelpiece. Liz explains that it's her great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Collins, who built this house (on Rock and Roll?). Liz explains that her spineless brother Roger will be along soon. She confesses that she was a bit nervous about hiring a stranger, but Vicki seems remarkably unsophisticated for a New Yorker, so it should be okay. Vicki wants to know how many people live at Collinwood, so Liz gives capsule descriptions of most of the cast. Since we dropped a lot of characters on you in Episode 1, maybe we should stop at this point for a quick rundown of them.

Victoria Winters: Jane Eyre-head style Gothic ingénue trying to find her real parents by taking a job in a haunted house. Tells boring stories about the Foundling Home she grew up in. Vicki is not exactly dumb, but she sees about as much of what's going on behind her back as a typical pro-wrestling referee.

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard: Vicki's employer, and matriarch of Collinwood. Hired Vicki as a governess sight unseen. Hasn't left the house in 18 years. But the real mystery about Liz is why a big movie star like Joan Bennett would be playing a role in a daytime soap.

Roger Collins: Liz's irrepressible, irresponsible younger brother. Seems to have no means of support of his own, and lives at the pleasure of Liz. Secretly in love with nobody. Not-so-secretly in love with himself.

David Collins: Roger's Devil Tot son, whom Vicki has been hired to tutor. Heir to the Collins fortune, his fiendish pranks add a constant air of tension to an already foreboding atmosphere. Try to imagine Dennis the Menace, the Katzenjammer Kids, and Little Iodine all rolled into one.

Carolyn Stoddard: Liz's teenage daughter. She'll be the Bad Girl to Vicki's Good girl (or alternately, the Veronica Lodge to Vicki's Betty Cooper). Carolyn's deep dark secret revolves around her original hair colour.

Matthew Morgan: The archetypal sinister, brutish and overprotective caretaker, who warns newcomers that it don't pay to go 'round askin' too many fool questions. Since Vicki specializes in fool questions, there's obviously going to be trouble here. Matthew doesn't live in the main house, he has his own cottage on the estate, recognizable by the bone and water dish out front.

Burke Devlin: The mysterious stranger with a grudge against the Collins family. Even though he's nominally the hero, the story isn't told from his point of view. Go figure.

Maggie Evans: Sassy waitress at the Collinsport Inn Coffee Shoppe. Often tells people to kiss her grits.

Sam Evans: Maggie's father, local artist, and the town drunk.

Bill Malloy: Manager of the Collins Fishing Fleet. A salty sailor who looks like he walked right out of an Old Spice ad. Imagine a likeable, skinnier version of Bluto.

Joe Haskell: A fisherman with the Collins fishing fleet, Carolyn's boyfriend, and the most G-rated sailor you'd ever hope to meet.

NOTE: Even though this is a soap opera, none of these characters come from a small mining town in the Midwest. We apologize for this, and those responsible have been sacked.
Meanwhile, at the Blue Whale, which doubles as a local student hangout (try to imagine a malt shop that serves only booze and fish), Liz's wild daughter Carolyn is dancing with every man in the joint much to the chagrin of her clean cut, Boy Scoutish boyfriend, Joe Haskell.
Burke and Strake are watching along, trying to keep track of who all these new characters are (they didn't bother to read the Program Guide). Strake explains that Haskell is Mama's hand-picked boyfriend for Carolyn. Burke's never heard of such a thing. A boyfriend that was picked out by mom?? Strake explains that Carolyn is ultra-wild, so Mrs. Stoddard picked out someone ultra-bland to balance things out. Joe is kind of like a self-chaperoning date.

On the dance floor, Joe is hoping to get a dance with Carolyn himself. She explains that she can't right now. Joe's got #48, and the guy she's with has #16. A fight breaks out when there just isn't enough Carolyn to go around. It's shaping up to be a beaut until Burke gets up and breaks the fight up without breaking a sweat or even removing his raincoat. Carolyn gets stars in her eyes, watching this display of fistmanship from this mysterious stranger! Burke asks Joe to take Carolyn home, but asks to talk to Joe later. Carolyn says she doesn't wanna go home, she wants to see Burke beat up Joe too! Burke threatens to paddle her if she doesn't leave, which has the opposite effect of what he'd intended.

Back at Collinwood, Liz is showing Vicki her new bedroom. Vicki will sleep in Liz's old bed. Liz says she slept in that bed every night before she got married, and a few nights afterwards when she and Paul had a fight. Which was most nights, come to think of it. Vicki is delighted at her new accommodations, and explains that at the Foundling Home, all she had was a plain iron cot. Liz quips that they probably chained her to it every night while they made her eat bread and water. Liz laughs, but for some reason Vicki doesn't.

Downstairs, Carolyn storms into the house. Finding nobody to yell at, she argues with the portrait of Jeremiah Collins. Why did he have to build this mausoleum out in the middle of nowhere, instead of someplace cool??? (Funny, Marilyn Munster never seemed to mind.) The portrait claims that it was framed.

Liz comes downstairs and overhears. She says that if Carolyn would just get married off, she wouldn't have to live in this old mausoleum, and an obviously old argument ensues. Liz asks why Carolyn has to hang out in a seedy dive like the Blue Whale anyway? At Collinwood, they have the same four records that the Blue Whale jukebox has. And Uncle Roger has better booze, too. The smooth stuff, not the stuff where you get your eyesight back after two days. Carolyn sighs that she used to dream of a White Knight who'd ride in on a white horse, and take her away from this Black and White place. Liz asks what about Joe Haskell? Carolyn says he's the kind of guy that she dreamed about having as a slave to do all the chores for her and the White Knight.

Vicki hears this argument, but wisely decides to take a quick walk before she gets blamed for it. She finds herself in Newport, Rhode Island, and wonders how she could have gotten so lost, until she realizes that it's just stock footage.

Vicki ends up on Widow's Hill (a popular local suicide spot). There she meets a balding, middle-aged man who introduces himself as Liz's spineless brother, Roger. Roger seems jovial and good-natured. At least until Vicki mentions that she met a man named Burke Devlin on the train. When he hears this name, Roger nearly loses his lunch, and makes a mad dash for the house. Naturally, he doesn't explain why. Since this is a soap opera, all of these plot points must come out in little drips and drops. Like Chinese Water Torture.

Returning to Collinwood, Vicki finds Liz in the Drawing Room, playing the piano. Liz is in some kind of unspecified anguish, and periodically bangs her head on the piano lid (perhaps the piano hadn't been tuned recently). Believe it or not, this is our cliffhanger.


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