Tides of Sorrow

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A plethora of established venues, pubs, clubs and restaurants offered a wide range of cuisine and liquid refreshment. Many had guest musicians, be they solo or groups entertaining the masses.

Stands and stalls equally showcased their wares; food, drink, arts and crafts, gimmicks and costumes all for sale.

Whitby had opened its doors to a myriad of colourful characters in the second of its bi-annual Goth Weekends. Many paraded around in costumes which bespoke their fascination with the macabre and the laughably titled King of vampires, Count Dracula - the Transylvanian nosferatu, given life in this very corner of the world by a then little-known theatrical company manager called Bram Stoker. Somewhat ironically, the entire town had come alive with the ‘undead’.

From ghostly brides to stylish Count’s the visitors to the festival were resplendent in their gothic and steampunk garb. Make-up and wigs were utilised to the maximum, producing truly intoxicating as well as some seriously disturbing visages.

Most attended in the true spirit of the themed weekend; relishing the opportunity to dress up as their favourite dark, menacing movie or literary characters and enjoying a couple of days good music and all-around entertainment. They meandered through the town, mingling with like-minded strangers; fictional monsters galore, laughing, talking, singing. Friendships were forged. Relationships made. All appeared to be a rather bizarre, unified ‘family’.

But, little did they know a real fiend walked amongst them. And he was on the hunt for the few lesser-festival-minded attendees.

Cain’s appearance, although somewhat bedraggled was met with courtly nods, mirthful salutations or drunken mumbles. The corners of his lips twitched at the camaraderie on offer.

He had no doubt his face had the stereotypical sunken look with dark shadows beneath his eyes, an unearthly pallor and long straggly hair. His clothes, old and still a little dusty and stained from carnivorous indulgence some fourteen days prior, all aided to his blending in with the festival goers.

A few twitching noses subtly made him aware that - as he had suspected - he was a tad ripe. Only memory served his sense of smell, and he could still remember, quite vividly, the occasional stench from working the land and being amongst the livestock which his bro -.

He exhaled. Now was not the time to think of such things.

In order to move around without causing offence - or worse, alarm - he thought it best to freshen up. This involved an exercise he had mastered over the years. He was as much a thief as he was a killer - all necessary in keeping up appearances.

He had a little time, so he weaved his way through some of the streets, his eyes scanning stalls and shop windows. Inevitably, he arrived in front of the one he had considered earlier. It was preparing to close, the owners perhaps keen to partake of the festivities themselves.

A few bodies milled about the narrow street, some, like him, looking in the window. There were four customers making last-minute purchases and as one of them neared the door, Cain, slid inside, undetected, blending in with the numerous racks on the shop floor. He was more than adept at such manoeuvres and could also easily outwit a camera or two when the need arose.

Aware he was still somewhat malodorous he did not take long to select what he needed. It would not do if his stench attracted unwanted attention. Quickly ensuring no electronic tags would give away the fact someone was hurtling out the door with goods in hand (it had happened in the past in other venues), he waited until the shop assistant was bagging up the last customer’s purchases before he made his escape.

Once outside, he quickly hauled himself up drainpipes and brickwork, over balconies and onto the roof of a building where he could scan a large part of the town. He needed somewhere to wash now. His eyes zoomed in on lit windows, gauging the possible houses or hotel rooms where he could ‘borrow’ the facilities.

He scuttled across some more rooftops until finally, he spied an open skylight. He listened to ensure no-one was within the vicinity of his point of entrance. Only muffled sounds from a room nearby reached his ears, one voice hurrying another along or they were “going to be late”. Perfect.

He dropped down into the lobby of the guest house and quickly determined which room the voices had come from. More good fortune - a cupboard across from it offered an ideal hiding place.

He just clicked the door closed when the voices spilt out into the hall.

“Come on! They’ll be waiting for us,” a man’s impatient voice grumbled.

“Just getting my hat, give me a minute!” Another male retorted.

“You’ve had an hour trying different outfits! You are worse than a woman!”

“Love you too, honey!”

A kissing sound permeated the cupboard door. Cain’s eyebrows pinched at the endearment.

The first male then adopted a theatrical tone. “Right then! Let us join da children of da night.”

Cain truly wanted to strangle the man for his pitiful attempt at a Romanian accent. He knew only too well the reference made, having read the very book which was so associated with the town.

“Lock the door.”

“I will! Now move it!”

The couple teased each other as they descended the stairs. Once the outside door closed, Cain emerged from the cupboard and crossed the hall. He turned the handle on the off-chance they had actually forgotten to lock up in their hurry to get out. They hadn’t. It was no problem though, he was strong enough to crack open the yale without causing damage to the door itself.

He slipped inside and drew the door closed. The disarray in the room momentarily took him by surprise. Clothes were flung over the bed and the only armchair in the room. Some items were scattered on the floor and hanging out of drawers.

More amusing yet, was that some of the articles of clothing were not all menswear. He stooped down and picked up a stray stocking attached to a suspender belt. Next to that had been a pink tutu and a corset.

He had lived long enough to know the laws and rules by which he once fervently lived by had very little to do with the lifestyles of humankind today. Little shocked him. In fact, he had learned to turn a blind eye to certain ways of life. They were none of his concern - affection between people of the same gender was the most trivial of ‘practices’ in his opinion.

He had wasted enough time looking around, now he needed to shower. He stripped off his rank clothing and tossed it in the corner of the bathroom. He read the labels on the gels within the cubicle and rigorously washed his hair and body.

For all his skin was oblivious to the sensation of touch he still relished the fact he was becoming clean and would, as a result, smell better to others. It made the hunt easier, for they were not so quick to shy away from him. And it seemed to add some strange kind of allure.

He roughly dried himself and donned the new clothing - shirt, trousers, long coat and boots - all in keeping with the theme of the weekend while not completely outlandish that they would not serve him for several months.

He picked up a hairbrush from the shelf above the sink and dragged it through his hair. It was still damp but would dry quickly enough once back on the streets.

He collected his old clothes and on finding a carrier bag stuffed them inside. He would dispose of them elsewhere so as not to cause distress to the lovebirds when they returned. That consideration was waived once he opened the door with the broken lock.

A rueful smile crossed his lips. Seemed they may end up a little stressed after all.

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