This is the final monologue in a series of stories being released as separate blogs. They form an account of an experiment performed at Knaresborough castle for Fright Night, Halloween 2013. Investigators travelled around the castle grounds to discover ghosts, who waited, hungry to tell their stories. As you read the accounts, I invite you to imagine that you are standing where the investigators stood, and having heard the ghostly tales, I challenge you to make the choice each experimenter had to make in light of the evidence given.

Dare you read on? Are you willing to face your fears, your own darkness? Dare you step into the realm of the un-dead and unmask the vampire in our midst?

**Please read the first three accounts before reading this one.**

To read the first account, Steven’s story, click here. To read the second, Elizabeth’s story, click here. And to read the third tale, John Henley’s story, click here.

For this final account, the investigators had to descend stairs into a rocky tunnel that runs beneath the castle grounds. There, they were greeted by a man dressed entirely in black. He gave his account turned away from his guests, his face concealed from their gaze.

***

The Man In The Black Coat

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So you’ve found me.

Welcome. Please, take a seat. You are my honoured guests.

You’ve been told not to look into my eyes. Perhaps that is good advice, but perhaps you will find it necessary. We shall see.

So, have you guessed who I am – the man in the black coat?

I am a part of you, each of you. The part you can’t see, that you choose not see – that is why I cast no reflection in a mirror.

I am the part of you that cannot, or will not, examine itself – that is why I cannot enter any place of prayer.

I am the part of you that will never transform – that is why I shrink from the image of the cross, that place of death transformed into life.

I am the part of you that will not die – that will feed on the blood of others to remain intact.

I am the part of you that will suck in, consume and destroy, rather than being destroyed myself.

I am the part of you you refuse to acknowledge – a foreigner and a monster.

I am hidden underground in the darkness, for you do not wish to see me – I cannot bear the light.

But from these hidden places I perform works of service for you, and you love me for it. You serve me as your master, although you do not know it. I take your weaknesses and build a wall around you, a wall of protection. For that you should thank me.

Take Elizabeth, brokenhearted – her love taken by war. I believe you’ve been acquainted. I perform a service for her. I take away her pain, remove her grief. She does not have to let go, or move on. I protect her from that. I have become Peter for her. I give her a way out, in exchange for her lifeblood.

Or Steven, caught in the middle of a war between his brother and the woman he loved. Or that is how it seems to him. But I perform him a service. I have stolen his memory, replaced the truth with a lie. For the truth is that his twin and his wife did not hate each other, in fact the opposite is true – they were lovers. It was not an argument he saw in the shadow of the castle, but a kiss. And in that moment his heart was rent in two. I offered to bind it up, to heal his love with anger, to change wine into water, love into hate. I gave him a way out. In exchange, he serves me with his lifeblood.

Or John Henley – poor John Henley – trapped by his own ambition, unable to acknowledge that he cannot unlock all the mysteries of the universe, that he is not God. I perform a service for him. I provide the room in which he is trapped, and quiet the part of him that knows he needs to escape. I give him a way out of facing truth. In exchange, he serves me with his lifeblood.

And what about you, my friend? What service can I perform for you?

I think, perhaps you have a choice to make. Do you look me in the eye, allow the scales to fall away? Or are you here to kill me? The choice is yours. I will not aid you and I will not hinder you.

In front of you are two objects. You must choose one of them. One will kill me. The other will show you my face.

Choose one now and we will discover the end of this story.

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