[a long silence]
"So you had no friends in Hawkes Harbor?"
"Oh yeah, I did. Trisha, the landlady's little kid, her and Ricky Hawkes. They're about eleven. Ricky hated living in the mansion, there was nobody his age there and he didn't even get to go to school, had a tutor. He was hanging around with Trisha a lot; she's a sharp little imp. Katie's little sister. Different last names, though, Mrs. Pivens been married twice. The kids and me used to sit on the landing outside the second story of the boardinghouse, look at Hawkes Island. Me and them were pals."
Hawkes Harbor, Delaware February 1965
"So you guys are saying there's pirates' hot buried over on the island? Why don't you just go dig it up?"
"Nobody goes on the island. It's haunted."
"And it's not an island. It's a peninsula. See? There's the land bridge."
"Smarty. But Jamie, nobody has lived there for a jillion years."
"That weird woman is living at the Lodge. I heard she was a witch."
"The Lodge isn't exactly on the island. Anyway, she's some kind of teacher, studying history. We have some really cool history here, Jamie. Like the first colony, they disappeared off the island without a trace, like the colony at Roanoke. And the Indians were weird, too."
"Well, I don't know what Roanoke is, but the pirate stuff is interesting. What else do you know about that?"
"Don't tell anyone. Cross your heart and hope to die?" Sure.
"There's caves on the other side of the island. That's where the treasure's buried."
"No shit? Well, let's go take a look sometime."
"No! The whole island is haunted! It's evil! Jamie, swear you'll never go there!"
"Come on, relax. Okay, okay, I swear. So what kind of treasure, you think?"
"So the children were your only friends in Hawkes Harbor?" Dr. McDevitt asked.
"Katie was always nice to me.... Well, my landlady, Mrs. Pivens, she liked me. Don't ask me why—'cept she had a son about my age, he turned out bad. I guess she wanted to believe guys like us were good, deep down somewhere."
Hawkes Harbor, Delaware February 1965
"So, Mrs. Pivens, I hear that island is haunted."
"Nonsense. I'd think a bright young man like you would know better than to pay attention to children. The first Hawkes mansion is still standing there, it was abandoned during the Civil War, and no one has lived there since. But that's convenience, nothing else."
"How about the pirates' loot? The kids were saying ..."
"Well, there is some truth to that. The first Hawkes was said to be a pirate, and of course they roamed this shoreline. And some would say the Hawkes are pirates still! Ha ha! Tightfisted buggers.... So your Irish friend, they say he's got his sights set high.... Here have another cookie, Jamie, tell me what's going on up on the hill."
Dr. McDevitt fast-forwarded through another long silence. Jamie had paced the room, wiping his palms on his robe, always glancing at the window.
The storm clouds had darkened, giving the sky a look of twilight.
"You were going to tell me how you met Grenville Hawkes," the doctor's voice resumed.
Jamie had looked at him with mute appeal, like someone stricken dumb.
Dr. McDevitt said, "Can you remember the first thing he said to you?"
"Yeah. He asked w-w-what y-year it was."
"Didn't you think that a rather odd question?"
"No. Why should I? He didn't have a watch on."
"You said he asked you what year it was."
"No I didn't! I said he asked me for the time!"
"All right, Jamie—perhaps we should continue this later, you seem upset today."
Dr. McDevitt turned off the machine. A clap of thunder, a sudden power surge ended the tape there. The lights had come back on immediately, to reveal Jamie huddled on the floor. The doctor knelt beside him; he heard quite clearly: "Let me be dead.
"Let me be dead.
"Let me be dead."
Hawkes Island, Delaware March 1965
Let me be dead.
Jamie lay on the floor of the secret room in the cave. His bones brittle from the cold, he shook uncontrollably, his teeth chattering so hard his jaws hurt. The back of his head, his shoulders ached from being slammed up against the wall of the cave, being pinned by the throat.
Let me be dead.
The pain was incredible. The wound in his throat burned like he'd been scalded with acid; somehow that acid had entered his bloodstream and seemed to be gnawing his blood vessels, his very heart....
The worst was the memory of the cold greedy mouth on his neck, the sickening crunching noise as the fangs drove through his flesh, the sensation of being eaten alive, the small inhuman sounds of satisfaction It made—as hard as his heart had been pumping, it wasn't enough—the suction left a bruise from his jaw to his collarbone.
It happened as fast as lightning.... It seemed to take forever.... Jamie didn't expect to live through it, and now he was so sorry he had....
He had dropped to his knees and vomited when the Thing released him and the vomit in his bruised, swollen throat almost choked him. Then he keeled over on his side, and now lay quivering and panting like a half-killed rabbit before a beast of prey.
He had his eyes shut tight, but water gushed from them. It was so cold. It was so cold....
Let me be dead.
If he were dead he would no longer see those red eyes glaring up at him from the coffin. He'd been so lucky, he'd thought, to stumble on the boulder, so obviously blocking an entrance ... he'd taken little notice of the ancient symbol painted on the rock ... X marks the spot, he'd thought, and when he levered the boulder to the side, and the X became a cross, he still did not guess.... Lucky he'd brought his tools with him—the chest was full of coins, the old lock rusted...
And the chained coffin ... obviously containing something valuable, he gloated...
For who would chain a coffin...?
Then there was that moment when the universe had shifted for Jamie, when he pried open the lid—for a spilt second his mind had fumbled for a word, he wanted a word, there was a word—
Then the iron grip seized him and it was too late. And faster than was humanly possible, he was slammed against the wall. The horror of the moment, when It grasped his hair, pulled back his head, and he realized what was happening... this is really happening ... his eyes grew heavy, as the Vampire's saliva drugged him into compliance, lessened coagulates in his bloodstream, entered his nervous system to attack the mu receptors ... Jamie's pain tolerance was destroyed in seconds, never to return.
Then, after, It let him fall, as if disgusted.... Jamie didn't want to wake. He wanted to be dead. "What is the year?"
Oh, God ... It could speak ... and had a voice like Death....
year? What year? What did It mean? Jamie's mind raced almost incoherently.
"N-n-nineteen s-s-sixty-five." he heard himself sob, surprised to find he could answer, finding it impossible not to.
"Nineteen hundred and sixty-five?"
Suddenly It grabbed him by the upper arm, jerking him to his feet, strode out of the cave, dragging Jamie behind as easily as if he were a rag doll. The inhuman strength ... Jamie stumbled over small monuments, the headstones of some long-forgotten cemetery, bumping from one to another, scrambling to keep on his feet. The smell of rotting leaves, mildew, age-old sorrows ... death.
It went swiftly through the old graveyard, not glancing at the tombstones, Jamie stumbling and gasping in Its wake.
It stopped in the clearing at the edge of the cemetery, Jamie's sobbing breath the only sound.... The frigid dew soaked through his socks. Bone-chilled, exhausted, crazed, he could barely raise his head.
Down below the windswept hill, the lights of Hawkes Harbor sparkled on the edge of the sea, like a cluster of stars in the night. The Thing stood silent.
Jamie would have fallen, weak from loss of blood, and shock, but It held him—his arm would be black with bruises for days.
Jamie's heart skipped wildly when It turned to him. He saw It clearly for the first time. Tall, gaunt, and silver-skinned, the dark and depthless eyes ... and perhaps the most grotesque thing of all... still... a human face...
"And in 1965—do the Hawkes still rule Hawkes Harbor?"
In the few remaining minutes before the dawn, the Vampire's many questions answered, the best that Jamie could, It left him, the final sentence pronounced: "This coming night I will summon you. And you will obey."
Jamie stumbled out to a grotesque dawn in Hawkes Harbor, to find what an ugly, harsh thing sunlight was, what a hideous sound the seagulls made.
The ocean made him nauseous.
When he found himself back at the boardinghouse, somehow, delirious, twisting in his bed, he kept begging, "Don't let it be dark. Don't let it be dark. Don't let it be dark."