Originally published 5/25/15
A/N: A part of my Avenging Shadows universe. Barnabas, along with cousin Quentin Collins, is the co-headmaster of the Stoddard Institute, a school for mutants. Other staff members include Dr. Julia Hoffman, Mantis and the witch Agatha Harkness. Barnabas has been using a serum, developed by Julia Hoffman and modified by the Avenger Dr. Hank Pym, to counter his vampire curse. The serum has started to fail as Barnabas’ body has built up an immunity to it and the negative aspects of his curse, the aversion to sunlight, the confinement to his coffin during the daylight hours, the lust for blood, have all returned. So who does a nearly three-hundred year old vampire turn to for help? Another vampire of course. For more backstory, read my “Avenging Shadows” stories listed in my profile. Not necessary, but probably helpful.
“Reaching Out” – A Dark Shadows / Morbius the Living Vampire Crossover. Part of my “Avenging Shadows” universe.
Barnabas Collins scowled at Dr. Julia Hoffman as she drove her small car down the narrow street looking for the right address.
“This is a waste of time”, Barnabas complained. “If Dr. Pym and Reed Richards can’t modify the serum I’ve been using to allow me to survive the light of day, what makes you think this man we’re going to see can do any better?”
“Because”, Julia smiled. “This man is Dr. Michael Morbius and he’s one of the top bio-chemists on the planet with emphasis on blood disorders. He was also once a living vampire and managed to find a cure for his own infliction.”
“A living vampire?”, Barnabas frowned. “That’s why the name souded familiar. But he was responsible, if I remember correctly, for his own curse.”
“Yes”, Julia agreed. “He wasn’t a true vampire, but a scientifically created one with all of the same issues though as a true vampire. He had the fast healing, the blood cravings, mad rages and fits of insanity and almost chalk white skin.”
“Which is fascinating, I must agree”, Barnabas said. “But how will that help my situation?”
“Morbius created a serum that, for a time, allowed him to live as a normal human, without the blood lust and without the aversion to sunlight, much like the serum that I created so many years ago that Dr. Pym had modified, that allowed you to do the same.”
“The same serum that my body has built up an immunity to as of late and forced me to once again go back to being a creature of the night”, Barnabas noted.
“Quit being so dramatic”, Julia scoffed. “What we did once, we should be able to do once more. And it’s not like we haven’t been able to control the blood-cravings. And also, you’re still able to be active and go about your affairs during the day as well, much unlike when we first met and you were confined to that coffin in an immobile state during the daylight hours. You merely must avoid direct sunlight.”
“You’re correct of course”, Barnabas agreed. “I am being overly dramatic. I guess I just became too accustomed to being able to enjoy the daylight, the warmth of the sun, while using the serum and I don’t want to give that up.”
“And maybe, if Dr. Morbius is all that he’s reputed to be, you may not have to.”
“Perhaps”, Barnabas muttered.
“Now, quit complaining and help me look for this address”, Julia smiled.
“Why couldn’t he had met us at Avengers Mansion”, Barnabas scowled once more. “Or maybe have him come to the Institute?”
“Because he asked that we come here”, Julia said. “And given his own history, I can see why going to a place like the Avengers Mansion might not be too appealing. As for the Institute, we may very well invite Dr. Morbius to come there if he’d like, but for now, it’s better to not burden the students with unnecessary worry or activities. If word was to get out among the students that the Headmaster of the school was having problems controlling his vampiric curse, it could cause stress and problems.”
“That’s why I was prepared to take a leave of absence from the Institute”, Barnabas noted. “before you and Quentin talked me out of it.”
“If I thought that was necessary, I’d say so”, Julia remarked. “But I don’t feel it is. The Institute needs you there and the students need you there as well.”
“Bah”, Barnabas scowled once more. “Quentin does a fine job as the Headmaster and with Mantis and yourself there as well, not to mention Agatha, Dolly and the rest of the staff, I’m just another pretty face, of not much use for anything but decoration.”
Julia frowned and then realized what he had said. She broke out with a laugh.
“Do my ears decieve me or did the great Barnabas Collins just make a joke?”, she commented.
Barnabas just smiled and then pointed at a house coming up into view.
“I believe that’s the house we’re looking for”, he pointed out.
Julia glanced at the address on the front of the mailbox and nodded.
“I believe it is”, she said as she turned her car into the driveway. “Now, are you ready to be poked, prodded and talked about as if you were not even present?”
Barnabas frowned at Julia, but his eyes twinkled as he said grimly, “I guess!”
Julia pulled her small car up in the driveway and parked. ‘
“Then let’s go meet this Michael Morbius and see if we get something accomplished”, she smiled.
“Yes”, Barnabas said. “Let’s.”
((( break )))
A few moments later, after being greeted at the door by a young woman, Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas Collins were led down a series of hallways and into a make-shift lab / examining room. Waiting there to meet them was a pale-skinned man wearing a white lab jacket.
“Dr. Hoffman? Mr. Collins?”, the man said as he came forward to shake their hands. “My name is Dr. Michael Morbius. Welcome to my home.”
After exchanging greetings and making some small-talk about the traffic, Dr. Hoffman decided to get right to business.
“Have you had the chance to look over the notes that both Dr. Pym and I sent you about Barnabas’s condition”, she asked.
“I have”, Morbius said. “And I found them very informative and fascinating. But of course, I would still like to perform some tests of my own and examine Mr. Collins myself.”
“As we anticipated”, Barnabas said quietly. “What do you need me to do?”
“Well, I’ll have to take some blood samples of course”, Morbius replied. “But mainly, I’d like to hear more about how you became a vampire. I understand that it’s more of a magical curse rather than the more traditional vampire attack.”
“Actually, it’s a combination of the two”, Barnabas replied. “I believe that Julia sent you a telling of what happened in her notes, did she not?”
“She did, but I find it helps to hear it from my patients… to hear their own telling and version of how they became one of the undead rather than just reading it.”
Barnabas sighed and then began to speak.
“To put it bluntly, I became involved with a witch, a priestess of voodoo magic named Angelique. After realizing that I was in love with another, she used her magicks to make the object of my affections commit suicide. When I confronted her with her crimes, she was accidentially shot during our confrontation. As she lay dying, she cursed me that I would never find love again and would walk the earth forever alone and in misery. And then, I was attacked by a large black bat which ripped out my throat and drained me. I was pronounced dead at the scene and rose three days later cursed as a creature of the living dead.”
“Hmmmm. So it was originally a curse from a witch”, Morbius asked.
“Yes”, Barnabas said.
“I have to ask, have you sought out a possible magical cure for your affliction? Maybe Dr. Strange or another witch?”
“We’ve tried that”, Barnabas said. “Both Dr. Strange and Agatha Harkness have looked into my situation and even Angelique herself has attempted to help remove the curse, but there’s a… catch to the curse.”
“A catch? I don’t understand.”, Morbius questioned.
“If the vampire curse is totally removed, there is a strong possibility that there will be reprocussions to the Collins family line and possibly even the end of the family itself”, Dr. Hoffman explained.
“And if I have to remain one of the undead in order to keep my family safe, so be it”, Barnabas added. “While both Angelique and Dr. Strange have found ways to remove the curse itself, I can’t take the risk that my family will suffer or be hurt.”
“Dealing with magic is always risky and I understand very well”, Morbius said. “So since we can’t remove the curse itself, we’re looking for ways to make it as bearable as possible and allow you as much of a regular life as possible.”
“Exactly”, Barnabas replied.
“As you’ve read in our notes, what we have been doing is using a serum I developed many years ago that allowed Barnabas to avoid the blood cravings and survive the rays of the sun and daylight. It was modified by Dr. Hank Pym after Barnabas built up an immunity to it. And now, it seems as if it’s failing once more”, Julia explained.
“While using the serum, I was not only able to move around in the daylight, but also function as a normal human both during the day and night. And there were no cravings or desire for human blood”, Barnabas added.
“Those cravings can be so intense”, Morbius admitted. “I hope I can help you.”
“If you don’t mind my asking”, Barnabas said to the white-faced man as he began to perform his examination, “Julia was telling me about your past and life as, what she called a ‘living vampire’. How did you end up becoming a vampire?”
“I was suffering from an extremely rare blood disease and was trying to find a cure”, Morbius explained. “And using a combination of vampire bats and an electro-shock therapy I had developed, I managed to do just that, but at a terrible cost. It turned me into a psuedo-vampire of sorts, with the ability to fly and heal quickly, but an extreme aversion to sunlight, white skin and an uncontrollable lust for human blood. And I lost my sanity for a long time as well. I was a blood-thirsty killing maniac and menace. Luckily, I was able to eventually develop a cure, albeit temporarily, and find my way back to sanity.”
“You said temporarily”, Barnabas noted. “Is there something we should perhaps know?”
“Not all that long ago, I was involved in something. along with several others, where we united to prevent a demonic creature named Lilith from using her children of the damned from coming back and turning Earth into a literal hell. With all the hocus pocus and supernatural activity going on, it seems that the curse I bear came into play quite prominently and I was once more back living life as a living vampire.”
“So your cure didn’t work?”, Barnabas asked.
“For me, no”, Morbius said sadly. “I am still a so called living vampire. But I’ve re-devoted myself into finding a means to ending this affliction and becoming fully human once more.”
Noting the look of concern on the faces of Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas, Morbius continued. “But my curse is different from yours. Using the notes from Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Pym, I have no doubts at all that we will be able to either modify your old serum or develop a new one to allow you to live as a human and escape the restrictions of your curse.”
Seeing nods of agreement from both of his guests, Morbius smiled. “Now let’s get to work, shall we?”
((( break )))
Several hours later, Morbius, Barnabas and Julia are sitting in a small dining room, sipping on coffee and taking a short break. Julia looked at the two men and quielty shook her head.
“What, Julia?”, Barnabas asked as he observed this action.
“I just had the strangest thought”, Julia replied. “When I was a small child, I never even believed in the supernatural, but now, here I am having coffee with not one, but two actual vampires. Just the irony of it all.”
“I imagine it can be kind of discerning”, Morbius agreed. “I was always a man of science and had no interest as a young man in anything having to do with the supernatural. It was always there, especially in my native Greece, but I had no interests with anything but research and science. Only when I was beyond desperation to cure myself of my blood disease did I even begin to consider alternative means. Looking back, I would probably have been better off to stick with test tubes and chemicals.”
“We’ve all done things in our lives… our past, that we regret”, Barnabas said quietly to the white faced man. “We can’t change the past or second guess our reasons for being. We can only accept, move on and do our best to not repeat the same mistakes.”
“Barnabas is right”, Julia said. “You can’t change what happened. Your reasons were justified and the intentions were honorable. Everything happens for a reason, even if it isn’t always obvious what that reason is.”
“I apologize”, Morbius said. “I didn’t mean to indulge in self-pity.”
“No need to apologize”, Barnabas replied. “We all have those moments and it’s entirely all right and understandable.”
“Thank you Mr. Collins”, Morbius said quietly.
“Not to change the subject”, Julia jumped in with a tone to her voice that indicated that changing the subject was precisely what she hoped to do, “but I just realized something else. I’m here with two vampires. While there are similarities to be sure, the very nature of each of your afflictions are so different. Just precisely how many different types of vampires are there?”
Smiling at Julia to thank her for the change of topic, Dr. Morbius spoke first. “That’s a really good question. There are several types actually. I myself am more of a psuedo-vampire than an actual supernaturalistic based creature of the night.”
“And of course, I became a member of the undead through a curse”, Barnabas noted.
“But what about the others out there?”, Julia asked.
“Well, there are the so-called old-ones”, Banbabas began. I believe that they only number perhaps thirty or so in number and are probably the oldest that we know of. They are mostly extremely reclusive and tend to avoid most humans or other beings. There was an incident a few years ago where one of them wrote a book, considered fiction of course and came out into the public eye.”
“Would that be the one they called Lestat?”, Julia asked. “I’ve read the book ‘Interview With A Vampire’ several times. You mean it’s real?”
“Yes”, Barnabas replied. “But they rarely get involved with anyone anymore and are more myth these days than reality.”
“There are also vampires that I’m aware of who don’t drink human blood, preferring the blood of animals. I know of one coven that lives in the north-west and of several others of their type that live in South America. A strange thing about these vampires is that none of the traditional methods against them work. They can survive sunlight, although it does make them sparkle. They’re extremely strong and fast and traditional weapons like stakes or crosses don’t have any effect. I only believe there to be maybe a few hundred scattered around the world and they’re led by an organization called the Volturi”, Morbius added. “The strangest thing, to me anyhow, is that they only sire others when they choose to by use of a venom that they can generate with their bite.”
“That is fascinating. I know with most traditional vampires, if they kill someone by draining them, they automatically rise in three days. So you’re saying that if these vampires want to transform a person into a vampire, it has to be an intentional and deliberate act?”, Julia asked.
“Exactly”, Morbius responded.
“I believe that those vampires are the ones that our student at the Institute, Bradley Black, spoke of… the ones that his tribe, the Quiluete’s, are rivals with”, Barnabas mentioned.
“I believe you’re right”, Julia said. “I remember him speaking of them now.”
“Next, we have the traditional vampires like Dracula”, Barnabas said. “More or less, their soul has been replaced by a demon. This splinters down though into two different breeds if you will. We have the vampires who are of the Dracula bloodline who can turn into mist or a large bat. They are repulsed by religious items and can control the elements and hypnotize with merely eye contact. Dracula is obviously the most powerful, but there are others equally as dangerous and evil.”
“Barnabas, I just realized something. You were cursed and then bitten by a large bat, that being what actually turned you into a vampire. Is it possible it may have been Dracula himself?”, Julia asked. “You can do the bat-thing and if I’m understanding correctly, only those of his bloodline can do that.”
“But I can’t control the elements or turn into mist”, Barnabas answered. “So while the vampire that Angelique summoned to transform me was probably of the Dracula lineage, I doubt it was the Dark Lord himself. If it was, he would have no doubt made his presence felt in our lives at some point by now.”
“Dracula is an ego-maniac”, Morbius interjected. “If he was your sire, you would know.”
“You’ve met Dracula?”, Julia asked the white-faced man.
“Unfortunately yes”, Morbius replied. “And barely survived the experience.”
“Fascinating”, Barnabas said grimly.
“I’ll tell you the story one day”, Morbius smiled. “But now, where were we?”
“We’ve spoken of the old ones, the Volturi led groupings, the Dracula lineage and that leaves the final grouping”, Barnabas remembered.
“And the final would be what I call the hell-mouth vampires”, Morbius said.
“Hell mouth?”, Julia asked.
“Because they can usually can be found in areas where there’s a strong supernatural presence and the walls between dimensions, between hell and earth, are literally at their weakest”, Morbius explained.
“These are the bottom-feeders if you will, of the vampire world. They are vampires, but they can’t change form or control the elements or anything else”, Barnabas explained. “They are stronger and faster than humans, but are easily killed by a stake, fire or decapitation. They are also subject to the old rules about not being able to enter a home without being invited and so forth”, Barnabas said. “The only advantage these vampires have over vampires like myself and those of the Dracula blood-line is that they don’t require a coffin or pinch of their native soil to survive. Sunlight will kill them, but they can move around quite easily during the day so long as they avoid the light.”
“They also tend to be kind of stupid”, Morbius decided to add. “While there are exceptions of course, the general hell-mouth vampire isn’t known for great brain skills. They’re only about killing and torture and feeding. They’re dangerous, but probably the easiest of vampires to destroy if needed.”
“This is all so fascinating”, Julia noted. “And perhaps something we should teach the students at the Institute as well.”
“What do you mean?”, Barnabas asked.
“Well, most of our students are either mutants or of the inquisitive nature. It only makes sense, especially after that encounter with the so-called Master last year, that some of them will probably encounter a malovent creature at some point. Knowledge is power as they say and it could help them be ready and prepared, just in case”, Julia noted. “Besides, it’s extremely fascinating.”
“I would be willing to speak to your students if you’d like”, Morbius smiled. “Before I became… this, I used to really enjoy giving lectures and talks. It would be nice to do it again. And as Julia mentioned, your students are aware that vampires exist, seeing as their Headmaster is one himself. Shouldn’t they know about the others as well and be prepared if anything was ever to happen… just in case?”
“I shall think about it”, Barnabas agreed. “But first, I think we need to concentrate more on the reason we’re here.”
Looking at the clock, Morbius nodded in agreement. “And with that, let’s get back to work and see how my tests are coming along.”
And with that, the two vampires and the red-headed doctor rose and headed back towards the lab and research area.
Several hours later, the three are once again sitting in the small dining room, an air of gloom filling the room.
“I am so sorry, Mr. Collins”, Morbius said. “I can run the tests again if you’d like, but the results seem pretty conclusive.”
“It’s not your fault Doctor”, Barnabas sighed quietly as he glanced once more at the papers sitting in front of him.
“We will find a solution”, Julia said, placing her hand on Barnabas’ shoulder.
Barnabas reached up and placed his hand over Julia’s as he spoke once more to Morbius. “So the problem is that my body has built up an immunity to the original serum and even with modification, it has pretty much reached the end of it’s effectiveness?”
“Exactly”, Morbius replied. “It was… is an amazing serum and it totally countered all of the vampire traits, allowing you to enjoy the sunlight, remain awake and alert during the day and even avoid the bloodlust that comes with your curse, but as effective as it was, the curse that turned you into a vampire is not so easily thwarted or overcome. It was just a matter of time before your body built up an immunity and that’s exactly what happened.”
“So it’s hopeless?”, Barnabas sighed.
“It’s never hopeless”, Julia spoke up. “We managed to develop this serum and stave off your curse one time and we can do it again.”
“I will continue to experiment and work on your problem as long as it takes”, Morbius added. “And I’m sure that between myself, Dr. Hoffman, Dr. Pym and Reed Richards, a solution can and will be found. It will just take more time than we had anticipated.”
“And we still can use the synthetic blood to control the blood lust so that will not be a problem either”, Julia added.
“I know”, Barnabas sighed. “I’m just feeling sorry for myself. It’s just after so many months of living as a normal human, walking in the sun, helping to run the Institute, even working as an associate of the Avengers… it has been so amazing. And then to go back to only being able to live as a creature of the night… it’s quite disturbing to me.”
“But you will still have those night hours to be with us and live”, Julia said. “Consider the alternative. You have half of a day to live and thrive. Some don’t have that.”
“Yes, I agree”, Barnabas sighed and then gave a small grim smile. “All things considered, I’m being a big baby, aren’t I?”
“You said it and I didn’t”, Julia smiled. Leaning over to give Barnabas a kiss on the cheek, she added, “But I, we love you anyhow.”
So I suppose that is it and we should probably head back to the Institute and inform Quentin, Mantis and the others of what we’ve learned”, Barnabas said.
“Again, I’m sorry that I couldn’t be of more help”, Morbius said as he stood up and shook Barnabas’ hand. “I will continue to try and find a way to modify the serum so it works again for you. I would suggest though that maybe you look once more into finding a magical way to remove the curse. Anything that we manage to do will only be temporary at best and you deserve a permanent cure for your curse if there is one.”
“We’ll continue to look at both supernatural and scientific solutions”, Julia said. “Whatever it takes.”
“Again, thank you for your time and efforts, Dr. Morbius”, Barnabas said as put on his jacket. “It is very much appreciated.”
“Call me Michael”, Morbius said. “And we will get past this and your curse. Just have faith!”
After more small talk, Barnabas and Julia excused themselves and exited to their waiting car. The sun had just gone down so they would have plenty of time to get back to Collinsport. Morbius agreed to stay in touch and would come to visit the Institute at some point in the near future. Morbius stood in the door of his home as watched as Barnabas and Julia drove away.
“I’ve dealt with my own curse for only a few years. Barnabas has been dealing with his for close to three hundred years. What an amazing man. I will find a way to help him. Whatever it takes.”
Morbius continued to watch until the tail lights of the small car vanished from sight. Then turning to go back into his home, he mumbled once more to himself, “I think I’ll go send my results to Pym and Richards. Maybe Hank McCoy too. Maybe I missed something? It’s time to get back to work!”