Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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9780606262507: Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)
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FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Barnabas Collins is freed from the vampire curse of Angelique and is ready to begin a new life with Julia Hoffman, but when the Old House is rebuilt, a corpse is discovered and, to protect his family, Baranabas is taken back to the witch trials of Old Salem.

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About the Author:

LARA PARKER, who played Angelique on Dark Shadows, lives in Topanga Canyon, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
Collinsport—1971

The Bentley throbbed down the dark road through a long corridor of overhanging trees. Wet with a late evening rain, the pavement mirrored the headlights and sucked the speeding vehicle into a whirlwind of new-fallen leaves. Barnabas Collins loved the feel of this car, the muscle of it, the singing hum of the engine. It was one of the few things in his life that gave him pleasure. Since he had learned to drive, he had found solace in the hardened shine of black enamel folded like wings about him, enclosing him like a carapace—or a coffin.

“You ain’t gonna believe it, Barnabas. It don’t make sense. I mean when you think about it.” Willie sat in the passenger seat, leaning back against the leather, staring out the window. His hay fever had returned with the goldenrod, and his breathing was a shallow wheeze. Barnabas glanced over at Willie’s hands clutching the corners of his jacket, nails bitten to the quick.

“I can only assume she found an original set of plans.”

“No, that’s not it. It’s not just the same rooms and the same stairway. It’s really old; it’s hundreds of years old. Where are the plans for that?”

“That’s the purpose of a restoration, Willie. To produce as authentic a replica as possible.”

“Yeah, well, you ain’t seen it.” Willie extracted a filthy handkerchief from the pocket of his jacket and blew his nose.

“What were you doing wandering around the Old House anyway?”

“Roger sent me to check on them hippies living in the woods back behind the cemetery. He wants them out.”

“Hippies?”

“Down... down by the stream, living in tents. She lets them live there. She even sleeps out there with them.”

“It’s her property.”

“Roger thinks they’re smoking, you know, heroin or something.”

“I advised him against selling her the wreckage.”

“Yeah, I can see why you don’t like her, Barnabas.” Willie blurted a noisy sneeze into his handkerchief.

“I did not say that. I never said I didn’t like her.”

“She looks an awful lot like that painting of Angelique.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”

Barnabas gripped the wheel, and his arms tingled with a peculiar pain as if they had fallen asleep. Although he had not spoken with the woman who had bought the Old House, had intentionally avoided her since that morning when Roger had introduced them in the study, she had nevertheless become as close to him as the rhythm of his breathing, the ebb and flow of her presence fixed deep in his brain.

She did not only resemble Angelique; he was convinced his old tormentor had returned.

“They got a camp,” Willie was saying. “The whole thing’s set up. Hammocks between the trees, a fire ring, a big pickle barrel for water.”

“You mean these people are actually living... in the woods?”

“Swimming in the river. Naked. I saw them.”

“Amusing...”

“I came back along the bluff and saw the Old House. All the scaffolding was down and there wasn’t nobody around so I—”

“So you decided to have a look.”

“Even before I opened the door I was feeling funny. And when I saw the inside... it was like something was crawling around on my scalp.”

Barnabas stepped on the gas and the car exploded into the gloom. Hulks of trees flew past and heavy branches reached down with leafy fingers, as torrents of leaves lifted by the force of the moving vehicle tumbled in its wake.

“The thing is... I got no idea how she did it so fast.”

He braked as they came over the bridge. Off to the right, in the headlights, the columns of the Old House glowed a sickly yellow. Barnabas pulled the car into the circular drive, cut the engine, and sat listening to Willie’s panting, aware now of his odor—what was it?—oil, wood smoke, damp unwashed corduroys. After a long moment, during which he tried to calm his nerves, he forced himself to turn and look up at the mansion where he had lived out his sentence. It had been six months since it burned to the ground. Yet, here it was: the enormous columns, the parapets, the thick moldings. Catching sight of the chained globe hanging above the door, he felt a chill. Where had she found such a perfect replacement?

He turned to Willie. “Now what?”

“Just come on. You got to see this.”

The night was still and completely black; clouds obscured even the stars, and, feeling the October cold, Barnabas pulled up the collar of his cape. Willie had brought a large club-shaped flashlight, and its beam splayed and jerked across the lawn and up to the knoll where the house sat waiting. The ground was carpeted in spongy leaves and drifts had blown up on the long porch. Once again he had the sense of being weightless, of flying, as he had in the Bentley, as though the earth were far beneath him. And yet he heard the sound of his own footsteps like old newspaper crumpled in a box. He smiled at the foolishness of his fancy. Remembrance of flight was not enough to spirit his mortal body away from this despised place.

The light flickered over the three rounded steps, a layer of leaves obscured all but a glimmer of the crumbling brick. Moss crawled across the chipped masonry like spilt blood. Barnabas hesitated, reluctant to go further, not because he believed Willie’s warnings, but because he thought he heard a human cry, deep within the house.

“Does it occur to you that we are trespassing?”

“Nah, nobody’s around this time of night.”

It was the squeak of a baby owl perhaps, or the mouse its mother had found for food. Barnabas rested a hand upon one of the thirty-two massive pillars which surrounded the exterior. These had remained standing after the fire. She could never have found trees with trunks so broad and tall, the supports of a mansion that had been over two hundred years old when it burned. Willie’s light revealed the peeling paint, the cracks in the round footings; then he cast the beam up to the pediment, which was new and now intact. The wedding cake cornice was perfectly restored, held aloft by the Doric columns and crowned with the intricate filigree of the parapets framing the roof. Barnabas was suddenly wary of what lay within.

As it is with ancient doors whose wood has swelled with age and which now sag on rusting hinges, the heavy portal was difficult to open. It dug into the hardwood floor, and the light illuminated a curved scar in the oak, which Barnabas remembered had always been there. Pinpricks of muscle spasms began in the back of his neck and spread across his shoulders.

The shadowed vestibule opened to the staircase, and the flashlight flickered across the wallpaper and moved on. Barnabas seized Willie’s arm and returned the light to the wall in front of them. The green hand-blocked pattern, with its stylized irises and running band of leaves, was identical to the one he had admired hundreds of times in the past.

“I told you,” Willie whispered.

When he entered the drawing room and saw the huge fireplace of chocolate marble—Rosso Francia marble from Italy—and the swell of the Empire mantel, a sense of the familiar came flooding forth. He remembered kneeling on the hearth less than a year ago and, with trembling fingers, lighting the first match of the conflagration that was to follow, Angelique’s laughter echoing in his brain.

Placing one hand on the graceful swirl of the stone to steady himself, he studied the carpet on the floor, the louvered doorway into the study, the crimson damask at the window. His thoughts reeled, and he had a sudden sense of deceitful remembrances invented by his unconscious. As he gazed around the drawing room in amazement, he recognized the same leaded windows, the parquet floors bronzed with aging varnish, the tall arched hallway door, and the stairs rising from the foyer up to the landing. He had a feeling of overwhelming bewilderment. What trick was this? Had the house never burned? Had it all been a vision of desperate rancor, the phantom flames against the sky a mirage? It stood as it always had: heavy, maimed, thick with ghosts.

“What did I tell you, Barnabas? Spooky, ain’t it?”

He reached for Willie’s torch and cast it over the sconces on the wall—already laden with dripping candles, up to the heavy chandelier, along the crown molding. His mind was playing tricks with him now, teasing him to seek further examples of a stunning replication that seemed to border on the macabre. The only item out of place could be the carpet. He remembered the old Tabriz well, an antique treasure the color of blood. Focusing the flashlight on the ruby nap and the creamy fringe at his feet, he was reassured to see that it was actually a new rug. So, he thought with grim satisfaction, Antoinette has not achieved perfection.

Now he was intrigued, eager to discover other variations. A portrait in a gilded frame hung in the gloom above the mantel. In a faithful restoration of the Old House, the portrait would be that of his beloved Josette. Where would the new owner have found a duplicate? And if she had, would she have made the decision, obviously one that would inflame her pride, to hang it there? He hesitated before shining the light behind the delicate French clock—which, he had to admit, was a faultless rendition of the one that had ticked away his time—and he anticipated the joy he would feel at the sight of Josette’s gentl...

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