A couple of months ago I decided to attempt a little project. It started off after reading an article on 'Nosferatu', the 1922 German silent movie, which is one of probably one of the main pioneers not only of the film industry itself but also of the classic Hammer horror era of black and white films: 'Frankenstein', 'The Wolfman', and 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon'.
'Nosferatu' itself is based upon Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', which in my opinion alongside Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' and Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' is one of the best examples of Gothic fiction. Of course, the German producers of 'Nosferatu' were unable to acquire the rights to film 'Dracula', to the estate of Stoker forbidding it. To get round this problem, they wrote their screenplay with omitted characters, an amended ending and ultimately characters themselves had a radical change; not only in their names but also in their personality. Of course I'm recalling what I read from memory a couple of months back so please don't quote me on any of this.
From this inspiration I ventured or ignorantly attempted to write 'Nosferatu' as a sort of Gothic Shakespearean-esque play. I did think against it, but once I started I couldn't stop. Pity then that I no longer have either the urge nor can I conjure up the mood and atmosphere I was under while writing. It's a strange life at times. I was settled in one place, then suddenly I was moving house again - this time a house of my own. Maybe at some point in the future I might revise this excerpt and continue on writing, since astoundingly I actually wrote a detailed account; five acts with six to seven scenes.
Here follows what I had written in regards to 'Nosferatu' over 2 months ago. Please also note just like 'Nosferatu' the 1922 silent movie, I too changed characters names, plus certain aspects of the plot. Later acts where to drastically alter from the original, but also pay homage to both Stoker's 'Dracula' and 1922's 'Nosferatu'.
Thou dare not speak his name,
That demon shrouded in shame.
Thou shalt not meet his glance,
That sinner charmed by chance.
Thou will not utter one breath;
Nosferatu, winged bird of death.
Scene I: Interior. A mahogany paneled room. Enter Jeremiah and Claude.
Jeremiah: To what invite of this night, do I here attend?
If not to play riposte with reverie and remorse,
Of another failure to find one's own heart:
'Tis not the night for this, my friend.
Claude: Alas, no. 'Tis not what I invited your presence,
Here tonight. Yet to cast an unburdened eye,
Upon this rank letter sent to my residence,
But 'ere not one foul night before.
Look you over this gilded gold insignia,
And pray tell me what your stare does chance,
Or at a knave's glance, partake to see?
Jeremiah: Why. It is but a crest. Nothing except mere fancy.
Claude: More than mere fancy, good Jeremiah. For here lies,
Accursed insignia of the Count of Transylvania.
Though did my soul flinch and my breath blench,
As I skimmed his scrawling on which he writ,
His desire to converse a parley between his estate,
And our humble own.
Jeremiah: What business would one of noble ascent,
Risk to disturb old Hecate's fair visage...
If not to summon one of us to his gates,
So wrought from iron in Gaia's belly of hell?
Pray do inform me of this.
Claude: Deeds need no informing, of which the deed shall be,
Carried, progressed, and performed by one,
As he has requested with an acquiesce to your name.
For I quote in good faith:
"Embark young sir, good fellow, Jeremiah. So that I may,
Shake his hand at my door. Invite him in, allow him to sup,
And invest my interests onto the mantle of his worth."
Jeremiah: Duty bounds me, but recant not this reluctance,
Not worth these chains I dare not unbound.
To note, I am soon to be wed to the fair beautiful,
Rose; I with glad consent call Abigail.
Prithee, do not send me henceforth upon his invite,
Send for young Edmund, he who has the wit and,
The gust for guile, so lacking in those two I am.
Spare me no curse; for the devil's hour too fast,
Upon my much anticipated matrimony is near.
Claude: In my heart, your request, I would so wholesome,
In my mirth be happy to divulge. Alas,
This I say with bitter intake, I cannot allow.
Since the Count has already appointed this purse,
Purposed only to you to claim expense,
Of sojourn by steam, sail, or by cacophony,
Of coach to deal business; betwixt you and he.
Jeremiah: I shall not say my spirit is of a depressed state,
For this missive I must undertake marks me,
Into somewhat of a churlish harmony of hate.
Claude: Leave the letter in your care, for it details,
With clarity his intentions of discussion;
You will no doubt be seasoned to listen,
Upon his cadence when you are there,
With erudite ear and an understanding tongue.
Delay not, for past the cawing of the crow,
Upon the eve of dawn glad bells,
Must you be off. Ever your soul remains in hell.
Weather be kind upon your journey, and let,
No angels or demons disgrace you,
For good, or for ill.
Jeremiah: Oh, shallow curtain over sable sun,
Cast off your shadowed garments,
And let but a minutiae of some light,
Reflect the misery of my manic soul.
Groom was I to be, within a week,
A mere week to lift over veil, young Abigail,
And beseech her the honour of labelling her,
But nay, some gallant, black and infectious,
Foreign creature has bade me entreat him,
With a dire business, I wish no part in.
Even this lousy letter, summons me,
To a gibbet. Oh, what a cur is he.
What a hound, a beast, a fiend,
To take these ageless hands, and cast,
Them to blister on Haephaisto's pyre.
I know in my overheated heart, when I,
Do impart upon my reluctant journey,
Never will these fresh eyes gaze one glance,
On the beauty that is my maiden: Abigail.
Silence now. I hear a tapping, a gentle,
Rapping of soles comes deftly clear...
What ho! My dear colleague and sometime,
Friend, Edmund. On what honourable an hour,
Do you wish to make so amicable an amend?
Edmund: Why such gaiety in your voice betrays the horror,
So agitative, so bereft of tears, in your eyes.
Pray, inform me of this infectious matter at once.
For I was off to claim a slice or two for lunch,
Though such trivial thing as a meal can wait,
Before I fear your bottled emotion will corrupt,
Before the fuse is lit and help is none but late.
Jeremiah: Fate. Fate, my friend. A fate more harrowing the raven,
That will send us on a beacon of black to our deaths.
Business I have been positioned to attend,
Over the sea, to the sultry sights of Transylvania,
This be the cause of my inner most tumultuous mania.
Edmund: Mandatory is this voyage?
Jeremiah: Alas, 'tis so and written down on pale parchment.
Here read over these lines. For they will impart better,
This agony I feel within my cracked ribs I swear.
Edmund: [reads letter] Ah. I now understand your worries.
Fear not. For gentle Abigail will I with your grace,
Be so happy and fortuitous in my favour be glad,
To extend an ebullient manner to herald her safe.
Jeremiah: Do this freely? Not much coin can I resolutely grant,
This so noble and kind a friendly gesture.
Though my dowry be as high as the angels choirs,
Conversing in radiant heavens above, I am but poor,
Until holy matrimony is passed and such income is,
Permitted to me by Abigail's proud father.
Edmund: Freely shall I do this. Hesitate not, and fret not.
For economically humble in wealth am I,
So no weight of silver, nor gold, will ever cease,
My brazen taste to do this one small favour.
Jeremiah: You are a most gracious fellow. For you have,
Quietened the quells of stresses ungainly squalls,
That galls my unappeased spirit to the pinch.
Know how happy I now feel to know my future wife,
Be so doted and cared upon with your mortal life.
Depart upon her my merry tidings and explain,
Forthwith you chance to meet upon her;
My reasons for my business and inform her also,
Of my undying adorations and lest forget,
Her winged doves of my unaltered affection,
Will once more be cradled by these arms.
Edmund: Tarry well these words of departing affection.
And fever not your mind with woe or sobs,
That might cast any doubt on my abilities,
To keep Abigail, so soft a cat is she; safe.
Jeremiah: In that I pray you will do your best.
Edmund: And I pray you'll be returned before the next day.
Jeremiah: Maybe so. But the journey is long and I fear,
I shall not stalk these island shores before,
This hot and muddled month is all but clear.
Edmund: Then I shall carry out my duty until such a day,
Or evening you shall return.
Jeremiah: Most kind welcome for that fact, my friend.
Now let us vacate this antique parlour,
For soon unfurls the chiming hour,
That sends me off on so dreaded a night;
For hearken my ears do stand to anticipate,
Dark caws crying: the beginning of the end.
Scene II: Interior. A stone-walled inn. Enter Jeremiah, with Innkeeper and
two unnamed residents seated in a corner.
Resident #I: Say, look over there at that suited gent.
Resident #II: Hmm, to that pansy, who thinks himself a man?
Resident #I: Aye. He, who is naught but still wet.
Resident #II: Wet he is. Though it has but rained but two hours.
Resident #I: Ha ha. So that be the truth, but nay, look upon him,
And tell me. Is he not alien to our culture,
How afraid he is not to be seated with our ilk,
And drink this is so fine an ambrosia of milk.
Resident #II: Ah, forget him.
Resident #I: Forget him!? Forget him. Do you not care how,
Strange he acts, how weird his gait is, or how,
Less haggard is his cherubic cheeks do glow?
Resident #II: Aye. I say forget him. What's one more strange,
Stranger. Least he be not unlike him...
Resident #I: Do not mention him. Utter not that foul name,
In so public a place as this.
Resident #II: What harm can he do? Superstition. That's all his name,
Implies. No more an omen than wive's tales. It is but,
Childhood tales told over a babe's crib. Nothing ill.
Resident #I: Hold your tongue. Here comes over young master now.
Drink, and do not be so blasé on your thoughts,
For I fear him. I fear him till my liver quakes.
Jeremiah: Evening sirs. I could not but overhear your conversation.
May I be allowed to join with you both, so I might,
Harvest some thoughts 'ere I wander off to my bed?
Resident #I: If you must. But I cannot comprehend,
How youthful a spirit, and one so formal,
Be warranting an audience with the likes of us?
Jeremiah: 'Tis cause I have travelled from afar, and human,
Companionship I have lacked for a number of days.
There is no catch. Except to be apart of a simple,
Furore of drunken musings and philosophy.
Resident #II: Ha ha. Philosophy? What do you take us for?
A pair of spring heeled Socrates?
Resident #I: Ha! Maybe he does. His likeness is one of that,
Ancient a thread in elitist foliage's academia.
Jeremiah: How harsh you speak.
Resident #I: Me or him?
Resident #I: Do you not mark that? Our cadence of tone is,
Too harsh. 'Ere his ears do crack at our joviality,
And discourse of his persona so princely he be.
Whet not your mind with our coarseness, oh alien,
It is but our ways. For we are but beggar farmers,
When the sun is high up over our paddocks.
Resident #II: I do mark it. And I mark it good. What a whelp,
Is he to interrupt our not so tidy speech.
I am weary and need of rest, I think.
'Tis best I put down this fair flagon,
And head on home, where I shall,
Lay my pate across one's stiff pillow.
Adieu my fellow. Let not the young,
Poison your heart with ignorance.
[Exeunt Resident #II.]
Jeremiah: It seems he feels intruded by my present company.
Resident #I: Worry not on his departure. Here, I'll call over,
Yonder innkeeper. For my drink is lacking, and,
I think both of us will need a drink or three.
Relax. My bite is no more worse than the bark,
I do bear in my anger. And angry am I not.
Jeremiah: I do not fear your bite, nor your bark, good sir.
Resident #I: Assume that as much. But something else you fear,
Shadow voices you may have ear to listen,
As you travelled to this bleak, remote haven?
No doubt, you are married to the law, to impart,
Some legislative knowledge on some guiltless figure;
Is that not your true reasons to your being here?
Jeremiah: That is very true to the point of my presence,
Dare I say, how acute your assumption is.
Resident #I: It is no gift. It is easy, you express a weight,
A burden of one that has to deal with such matters.
Jeremiah: I never thought it be so noticeable to notice, yet,
I have only one matter I must tomorrow attend.
Resident #I: May I be so bold as to enquire about this act?
Jeremiah: I see no problem, I confess, in relaying in some,
Part my reluctant sanctions of my employer.
I am here to discuss a venture with the Count,
Ergo, I will tend to his wanton whims with false,
Mind of embittered and shallow eagerness.
Resident #I: Turn back. Turn back at once. Forget this sickness,
Let not your soul be tainted on so vile an invitation.
It is not safe for you. Not safe. No. Not safe.
Jeremiah: I cannot do such a retreat. 'Tis but a missive,
Of one I cannot flee or hide from. Even if my heart,
Longs for my love I left back home in the arms of,
My fellow compatriot, so deft in gilded lore of law.
Resident #I: I know you not well. But please let common sense,
Urge you to give up and return to your young love;
I beseech you. For I shall not bear witness...
No, I shall bear not these fragile pupils on your,
Lily pale carcass, before carrion carries you away.
No. Turn back. That is your only option now.
Turn back, and do not let your soul and your heart,
Be robed in the devil's black.
At last, here by the innkeeper. Will you not put,
Forth any protest, dear bearer of the ales,
To halt this desperado mission this fool,
Has adamant airs to journey onwards?
Innkeeper: What mission this be?
Resident #I: Do not be a blind man. Can you not see,
He is to do business with him...
Innkeeper: Him? Eh. You would be wise young sir to digest,
His words. For they know more wisdom than,
Ever you had the gut to hold.
Jeremiah: Surely, this venture is my own business?
Innkeeper: May it be so. Yet, this is not some light-hearted,
Quarry you should risk any breath you wield,
For he, is not of this world. He is a blight.
Too long has he held his immortal sway o'er us,
And not for nothing have we sought to dissuade,
Hot footed gentleman as yourself to attract,
So unholy a villainous audience with him.
Jeremiah: Heed these will I your words. Both of you. However,
I cannot back down from my duties or my responsibilities.
Even if sirens of my spirit cry out for me to go home,
Ignore them I must. As I must regrettably ignore for now,
Your own challenges for me to turn back. Alas I cannot.
Resident #I: So full of air is this young mind. All mist, but no density,
Nor any desire to truly respect our honest purpose,
Lest not your finger be pricked by a black rose,
For fair the scent will seduce the Count's nose.
Mark these words. Mark them. For then will you,
Truly understand the utter folly you have consented.
Innkeeper: I have other matters I must go to. Drink heartily, and,
I pray young sir, do digest some of that fellow's advice,
If not my own. For a tragedy will befall you before this,
Tale is finished.
Jeremiah: In that I shall do my good sir. For that I will dutifully,
Bear all faculties in this ballooned brain,
To dwell on your frothy fears, lest not,
Tears flow along River Styx of my mistake.
Resident #I: I would say even the River Styx, be a far,
Nay, a more better place to visit, than be,
Shackled to sojourn onwards to him.
Jeremiah: Be that so. But duty bounds, and there I must go.
Resident #I: The night is late, and I lack the lust or joy,
To kill this thirst nor is this gentile man,
Somewhat lax to heed my inky wisdom.
I hope when sunlight sparks again,
You will have come to your senses,
To forget your silly little undertaking.
I bid you goodbye. Remember,
Prick of the black rose,
Will invoke his more potent side.
In that I pray, your courage does not hide.
[Exeunt Resident #I.]
Jeremiah: What superstitious old morons.
Why they would have me flee from,
The devil himself. The devil. Ha!
A mere figment of a dying faith,
Believe, I do not of such things,
Deceive not will I be from my duty.
But alas, rest my heart.
Be still, not long until this ghastly,
Enterprise be complete, and once more,
I'll be able to enjoy life with my beloved.
Oh Abigail, I wish you were with me now,
How you could give me that flare,
To emblazon my sometime marred will.
Folly, it may be. Folly it surely is, am I blind?
Their words are wrought in an honest truth,
Yet still this curse of curiosity dwells within.
It is decided. I will continue on, even if it,
What was it that old man said;
Prick of the black rose?
What strange ponderous warning,
I dare warrant it heralds ominous meaning.
Ah, I care not for now. I am tired,
And this ill thought is a disease on me;
Away to slumber I cowardly go.
Scene III: Exterior. An old horse and cart before a bridge, the rugged face of a mountain is
in the immediate background. Enter Jeremiah and the Driver.
Jeremiah: Say driver. Hey! Hey!
Jeremiah: Why have we stopped? 'Tis but under a few miles,
Before we reach our destination. I hope that no,
Unexpected tragedy has befallen our haste.
Driver: This is our destination.
Jeremiah: No, it's not. You lug. We're nowhere,
Nowhere near where I need to be,
So rein your horse and let's be on the move.
Jeremiah: Stubborn fool. How pitiable a fellow,
Can you be? Truly you don't believe those,
Myths pertaining to such terrors along this,
Winding mountainous path, so carved into,
Nature's bosom itself?
For what can the mere sky, the sun, or rocks,
All around, warrant any dismissal of,
Driver: Bah! More ignorant fool you are, than me,
A stubborn one. Least I have aptitude,
Least I have the sense to know that not one,
Nay not even a living soul has returned from,
Past this bridge. So be it not even triumvirate,
Cerberus would stand guard over it. Go on ,
For all I care; your folly is not worth the dare.
Jeremiah: Parry me not with such omens old,
For the night is nigh nipping at my neck,
With a crisp wind ever so bold,
That 'ere these fool's fingers stiffen.
Driver: Then let us return back to that homely,
Residence, so rugged, yet so raw,
In warmth, wit, and a wisdom to shield,
Any hapless fellow from our country's cold.
Come, 'tis wise, yes?
Jeremiah: Say you it wise. Indeed, but issues,
Neglected never will I leave,
Incomplete; Until my duty is forthwith,
And comfortably complete, so that I,
Might perchance to depart this;
Dank and depressing dominion.
Though not even an angel's kiss itself,
Would ever tempt me to turn back.
Driver: I do say 'tis wise, for no grave has ever,
Fit right to hold no flesh or soul or bones,
For such blatant actions thus are yours.
Be it as may, I will hence return on,
Moon's next waxing, ere we now part.
Good fortune smile what favour she has,
Upon your obsessive core.
Jeremiah: I shall gratefully receive it, and fear,
Not. The day is dead, but night is naught,
When shadows may swallow my sanity,
To realms bereft of my youthful vanity.
Haste to this point on morrow's moon,
I bid you night, driver.
Oh, unholy spurs prick my will,
With your titanium edged thorns;
Alas no ebb or flow of energy,
Could ever give me the strength,
To walk on. If only I could walk on.
Wait. Is that a coach shadowed in,
Black? Does my genesis bade eyes,
What foul mystery is this?
An hallucinatory kiss? Nay,
This cannot be truth; where is some,
[Enter Shadowy Figure with cloak and hood.]
-- Here's end the excerpt. --
©James Nankervis 2013
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for reading.