He would have begged for death, but he knew It wouldn't let him be dead.
Terrace View Asylum, Delaware August 1967
"Are you feeling better today, Jamie?"
"Yeah. I don't know what happened. I ain't usually scared of storms."
"Let's see—you got sick at the boardinghouse and Kell Quinn called a doctor. Is that correct?
"Yeah. Kell thought I'd been out on a spree or something....
("Good God, lad, you look like death! I've searched every bar and whorehouse for a hundred miles around.... Jamie, look at me, boy! What's happened to you?")
"But I hadn't. I was just sick. You know, Doc, laying there sick like that, I got to thinking what my life had been like. How I'd never amounted to much, some of the fucked-up stuff I'd done."
"Your illness made you remorseful?"
"Yeah. I wanted to start again, somehow—atone."
"Yeah. If I could atone there was hope ... I made up my mind, I was going to change, when I went to work for Grenville."
"That's when you met Mr. Hawkes?"
"Yeah. His car broke down on the road. He hired me when I fixed it. I had nowhere else to go."
Hawkes Harbor, Delaware February 1965
"But why do you need to leave here, Jamie?"
"I told ya, Trish. I'm going to be working at Hawkes Hall now."
"I still don't know why you have to live there."
"It's part of the deal. Room and board."
"Well... Jamie? Did you know you're shaking?"
"Yeah. I need a drink. Go on, scram, I can't get things done...."
Back in the boardinghouse, packing to leave it forever, Jamie looked out the window, at the blank, black wall where the future used to be. Nothing. No hope, no nothing, but that voice in his brain.
"I'm comin'," he muttered. "I hear you."
He paused on the outside landing, looking across the harbor where the land was darker than night. A small light, like a tiny star on a vast black sky flickered.
He was so frightened ... the black tide was rising swiftly around him, pulling him into dark waters.... What's going to happen now?
The summons was stronger now, impatient, and Jamie could smell in the cold sea wind the faint stench of the tomb.
Oh yeah, I hear you.
He went swiftly down the steps, took the road to the harbor, the dark path to the bridge. As he walked faster, leaving the lights of town behind, he suddenly remembered the word he'd wished for, when he'd opened the coffin and realized what he'd done ...
Oh God, he breathed. God. God. God.
But it wasn't God who waited.
Terrace View Asylum, Delaware October 1967
Dr. McDevitt noticed a few new behaviors in Jamie after his last session. He began showing up at mail call, loitering at the edge of eager patients. He could be found on the front-porch lounge every visiting day, anxiously studying each arriving car.
Then finally one day Lee called out, "Mail for Jamie Sommers."
"You're looking well today," Dr. McDevitt said at that same day's session.
"Yeah. I got a letter from Grenville. I had a feeling I was gonna get one, after he visited last week."
"He did?" The doctor knew very well he hadn't—he kept careful records of all the visitors. "I'm sorry I missed him."
"Yeah. But he came late-night Thursday. You weren't here."
The only occurrence out of the usual that happened Thursday evening was some sort of wild animal or bird coming through the opened window of the patients' lounge—Lee had told him it had taken several hours and a major dispensing of sedatives to calm everyone back down.
The doctor only nodded at Jamie's news.
"I'm very glad to hear it. I hope all's well in Hawkes Harbor."
"Well, I don't know about that, but he's got quite a few chores lined up for me when I get out."
Dr. McDevitt looked at his notes, and carefully loosed his grip on his pencil.
"I was thinking maybe he forgot all about me. Didn't need me anymore."
"You enjoyed working for him, then?"
"Well... it was a little rocky at first. He's one of the colonial Brits, they're real used to servants, and he's kinda eccentric. Strict. Made me nervous I wasn't doing stuff right."
"Yes. So he's British?"
"Yeah, but from Singapore. You can tell the accent's a little weird. Funny, when I went to Boston that time with Kell, I hadn't been in the States in years. I'd forgot how Americans think they're the center of the world. But to tell you the truth, no matter what off-the-map little hellhole, there's some Brit there, drinking his tea and reading his Shakespeare."
"Could I have an example of his ... 'eccentricity'?"
Jamie paused for a moment. "He had me trapping rats."
"Around his house? That doesn't sound too odd."
"Well, there was a bunch swarming Hawkes Hall when we moved in. But he didn't want me to kill them. I had to use live traps."
"Must have a profound regard for life."
"Yeah. He likes them live."
Jamie fell silent. He brought out his letter—looked up at Dr. McDevitt and grinned.
"You know, Grenville trusted me with money. Even Kellen never did that. He sent me out to buy a car."
"I'm sure you were trustworthy at that point."
"Oh yeah ..." Jamie looked at his note again. "And he doesn't like ... lights."
Hawkes Hall, Hawkes Harbor, Delaware March 1965
It hated electricity—"That fool, Franklin, look what he has wrought."
Jamie, facing life in the derelict Hawkes Hall, thought the goddamn Vampire was fucking nuts sometimes. Resigned, he made up his mind to lanterns, candles, firewood.
In other ways, It wasn't stupid. Pretty damn smart, in fact. It took an inventory of the things It needed and instructed Jamie in how to acquire them.
Within a few weeks, Grenville Hawkes had a new wardrobe— tailor-made at great expense. He'd been an officer in the French and Indian Wars, he chose a military haircut, as becoming an ex-soldier, Jamie doing the best he could. The Vampire had once been a handsome man—and even now, with the shadowed eyes and unhealthy pallor, his height and commanding presence might seem attractive.
Jamie guessed Its age—not counting the time It had spent in the coffin—at close to fifty.
It bought Hawkes Hall.
The property had been listed since World War II; local economy remained depressed, then the death of the realtor, lack of interest, the persistent rumors—all seemed combined to keep the property abandoned.
The Hawkeses themselves had given up on it. They had been pleasantly surprised to find a buyer—some sort of relative?—and too pleased at the cash offer, to make any resistance. They could use a little cash at the moment, and could tell each other solemnly that it was only right to keep the island in the family. And after all, who would have the rundown old place ... except a daft Englishman? He intended to restore it, so his story went, history was his hobby. Yes, he was quite knowledgeable in antiques. Early American, actually, was a specialty, having always been intrigued by the family stories of the American Hawkes...
Numismatics was more than a hobby; it had rivaled his dealings in trade as a source of income. Now, semiretired, still recovering from a tropical fever, there was more than time to indulge these interests—in a better climate, Singapore not the healthiest of places. And more than enough money...
The Hawkeses responded politely in the beginning. Had him to dinner. Richard showed him around the property. Lydia had him to tea. Then they shut their doors.
Just your typical snobby rich bastards, Jamie wanted to tell It. But he kept his mouth shut.