At Best an Echo, by Bradley H. Sinor

“Elena,” muttered Abraham Van Helsing as he looked down at the silver framed photograph in his hand. The flickering light from the gas flame on the wall covered the glass with a yellow glare. It wasn’t necessary to see the picture; he knew each and every inch of it.

It had been taken six months after Elena and he had been married in 1880. The two of them were stiff and unmoving, waiting as the photographer got everything ready to expose the plate. He had his hand resting on her shoulder as she perched on a small stool, a parasol across her knees. But there was a gleam in Elena’s eyes, hinting that she was a moment away from saying something either profound or amazingly funny. That was the woman he loved.

He flexed the fingers of his hands, still remembering the feel of her hand in his, and his own fingers wrapped tightly around a sharp obsidian knife. He wiped away a single tear as he stared at the picture.

“Abraham, have you gone deaf?”

Van Helsing looked up with a start. On some level he had heard his name being spoken, one of any number of sounds that echoed up and down the halls of the University of Amsterdam’s Medical School.

He blinked twice and realized that a familiar figure had invaded his office. The tall, imposing figure of Dr. Joseph Bell, a black medical bag in his hand, stood there smiling. Bell was sixty-three years old, but with the amount of energy he seemed to radiate, and in spite of the shock of white hair, the man could easily have passed for twenty years younger.

“Joseph! It’s good to see you.” Van Helsing advanced toward his friend.  Bell’s grip was still strong.

The two had known each other for more than two decades, since they had investigated a matter involving a plague and an alleged curse. Bell was the first one to scoff and proclaim the supernatural events that Van Helsing had investigated to be nothing but folkloric poppycock and mummery. That had not stopped the two of them from becoming friends.

“What are you doing here at this time of the year? I believe that the semester is not yet over,” said Van Helsing, filling two glasses with sherry and passing one to his friend. “I would have expected you to be terrorizing medical students to the point that they would prefer those bleak Scottish winters to missing one of your lectures.”

“Indeed, these are the final weeks of winter term. Some of my colleagues seemed to think I have been working too hard, so I asked Arthur Doyle to fill in for a while and decided to come here for a visit,” said Bell “So, Abraham, I see the food is still excellent at the Medlenbrough.” “Up to your usual tricks, Joseph?” Van Helsing made no effort to conceal his actions as he glanced down at his sleeves and pants’ legs, looking for any telltale sign that might have given Bell any clues to his eating habits.

“I would hardly call my minor observations ‘tricks’,” Bell told him. “It is just the skill of a good diagnostician, a skill that every doctor should have.”

“I know what you look for and how you are able to diagnose these things about people, but it still amazes me,” chuckled Van Helsing.

“In this case it was just two things: in the pocket of your overcoat I noticed the Daily Journal. The Medlenbrough always stocks the latest papers for its morning patrons. Since the date on the paper is today’s, and the delivery label with the name of the hotel is clearly visible, I was able to make my conclusion.”

“And the second thing?” said Van Helsing.

“Your appointment book is open on your desk.  I noticed that you had written that you could be reached at the hotel between 8:00 and 10:00 this morning,” said Bell.

“As always, obvious and elementary.” Van Helsing saw the wince on Bell’s face at the context of the last word. “Once again, I see the reason that young Doyle modeled that detective of his on you.”

“Humph,” said Bell. “The less said about that, the better, I should think.”

Bell picked up the medical bag he had carried in and set it in front of Van Helsing. From inside it he brought out a small leather folio. “I want you to know that I have violated several British laws in obtaining this for you.”

Van Helsing picked it up and unfastened the leather ties that held it closed. Inside were a dozen parchment pages. The material felt odd, different, and not just from age. The only other time he had felt anything similar had been in one of the most guarded rooms in the British Museum. He had gone there to consult copies of the Al Azif, the so-called Necronomicon, and other volumes that it was better the British public did not know about.

“All that remains of the Kollier-Croft Codex,” he murmured.

“I thought you might recognize it; apparently a few pages were salvaged,” said Bell.

“Indeed. I’ve been trying to get a look at this for five years, since I first learned of its existence. Baron Carlson refused to even admit that he had it,” said Van Helsing.

“Oh, he had it, all right. Let us say that saving the life of the Baron’s grandson gave me a bit more leverage than you had. I made a weekend visit to his country home, and this came away with me. I just borrowed it, of course.”

Exactly how Bell had managed that bit of prestidigitation, Van Helsing could only speculate. He had heard rumors of how well it, and the rest of the Baron’s occult library, was hidden. Yet it didn’t surprise him that his friend had been able to acquire the codex pages. “If you were willing to take that risk, Joseph, have you come to believe that the secrets in these pages will enable me to help Elena?”

“I believe that you believe they will, old friend. If having this helps you, it was worth the risk,” said Bell. “I only wish the way out of that padded room was in them.”

Van Helsing had spread the pages out on his desk, pushing everything else to the side. Written in Greek and Latin, the pages appeared to be part of a traveler’s narrative, illustrated with some highly detailed renderings of animals and plants. The writing was crabbed in places, running letters together as if the writer had been rushed and uncertain he would be able to finish.

As he read line after line, Van Helsing found himself thinking of a Latin tutor he’d had as a boy of nine. The Reverend James Murray had been convinced that his young charge would never master the tongue of Rome.

After several minutes the text began to change, letters blurring and reforming, the illustrations changing as well into things that no naturalist of any age had described. No longer was he looking at a travel narrative, but descriptions of horrific ancient ceremonies, spells that invoked powers and beings from the darkest places of the universe.

Van Helsing laid his finger a quarter of the way down one page, tracing a circular symbol. The pen work was painfully fine and detailed, leaving the impression of one drawing carefully laid on another, layer upon layer.

Looking at it, he had the feeling of standing at the bottom of a huge mural and being able to see only a tiny bit of it. The desire to see the rest, to know its secrets, was like a tidal wave rolling over him, obliterating his awareness of everything else.

“Abraham, no!”  The voice was female, distant but clear and commanding.

Van Helsing jerked backwards, his vision filled with the familiar sights of his university office.  He had to struggle to draw a breath, grabbing the edge of the desk to steady himself.

Bell sprinted across the room, grabbing his friend by the arm, as Van Helsing’s legs went out from underneath him. The Scotsman managed to guide the other man into the chair.

“Easy there, Abraham,” Bell said as he loosened Van Helsing’s tie and began to check his pulse.

“I’m all right.”

“That’s a matter of opinion,” said Bell. “You’re as pale as a ghost. Your heart is hammering like you had just run a marathon.  I turn my back for only a minute, then it’s like a hurricane hit this room, everything goes flying, and you drop like a stringless marionette.”

“Did I do this?” Van Helsing gestured at the scattered items on the floor.

“I’m reasonably certain that you did, since we are alone in here,” Bell said. “That is, unless you have a resident ghost.”

“That would be a simple explanation.”

“Simple explanations are sometimes the best. But let’s leave all explanations till later. Perhaps we should call a halt to this matter, at least for the moment,” suggested Bell. “I think a bite of supper might be good for you. May I suggest we adjourn to the Medlenbrough?”

“That might help,” agreed Van Helsing.

Since the weather was terrible, it had been raining for two days straight, the dining room at The Medlenbrough was nearly empty. Not that they would have been denied a choice of tables under other circumstances, but the maître-d’ knew Van Helsing well, so there was little doubt that they would get a good table.

“So, you just walked off and left your students,” said Van Helsing as he bit into the last piece of his filet.

“Indeed I did. Call it their holiday from me. Since everyone had been nagging at me to take some time off, I decided to do it, just not when they thought I would. There was another matter that brought me here.” Bell produced an envelope from inside his jacket and passed it over to Van Helsing. “That young Dr. Simmons that you wrote me about seems perfectly suited to fill the position in the medical school. I thought I would bring his acceptance letter myself, but I think you should have the pleasure of actually giving it to him.”

“You have made a wise choice. Mark will be an asset to your staff, although it will be quite a transition from the University of Amsterdam to watching the misty dawns over Edinburgh Castle.”

“I should say so,” said Bell. “Just be sure you caution him to be ready for our Scottish winters. They are a bit more brisk than you have been experiencing here.”

Van Helsing inclined his head for a moment as he noticed a small man dressed in a dark, slightly rumpled, suit approaching their table.

“Good evening, Inspector,” he said.

“Good evening, Herr Professor. I am sorry to disturb your dinner. They told me at the University that you were dining here.”

“Don’t trouble yourself, Inspector Hollaman. Allow me to present my friend and colleague, Dr. Joseph Bell of the University of Edinburgh. Joseph, this is James Augustus Hollaman, one of the bright lights of the Amsterdam police department.”

“A pleasure, Inspector,” said Bell.

“The pleasure is mine, Herr Doctor. I hope you will forgive the intrusion. I need to discuss a matter of great importance with Prof.. Van Helsing.”

“Anything you can say to me you can say to Dr. Bell; he is utterly trustworthy,” said Van Helsing.

“Sir, you must come with me. There has been an incident at the asylum that resulted in a death,” said the policeman.

“At the asylum?” Van Helsing felt the color draining out of his face.

“Yes. Someone tried to murder your wife.”

Once he was certain that his wife was safe, Van Helsing had requested to be allowed to see her attacker. The body had been removed deep into the basement, below the most secure cells, into the asylum’s morgue. Lit with several gas lamps, it was filled with shadows and silence. There was a smell of disinfectant hanging in the air above the stone and the mortar, mixed with a cold that seemed to leach what little warmth the three men had brought into the room with them.

What lay on the table looked human, at first glance. Van Helsing lifted one of its hands and could see the webbing between the fingers, which also seemed to have an extra joint. Pulling back the eyelids, the orbs that looked out were solid black with almost no sign of white except at the very edges.

“An extraordinary example of deformity,” said Bell. “It was only a matter of luck that the attendants saw him going into your wife’s room. I just wish they hadn’t killed him. Though from what they said, it was the only way to keep him from killing Elena.”

“Thankfully, there will be no reports in the newspapers regarding this incident,” said Hollaman. “I have already had a word with some of our friends in the fourth estate. I will leave you doctors to examine the body. He carried papers identifying him as one Eban Marsh, an American sailor from Massachusetts. I want to check in with the officers I have assigned to watch the asylum for the rest of the night.”

On a table near the body was the attacker’s weapon, a curved dagger. The blade was some six inches long, but the curve and its shiny surface gave it a feeling of being longer. The handle was covered in intricate designs, portraying several strange creatures, tentacles wrapped around symbols carved into the wood.

“This is a priceless bit of work,” said Bell. “The skill that went into it is amazing. From the color of the wood I would venture to suggest that it is old, perhaps several generations.”

“I concur,” Van Helsing said. “It would have been passed down from one generation to the next. All dedicated to the same thing.”

“Such as?” asked Bell.

Van Helsing pointed at several places on the handle, showing how the design went from the wood onto the metal itself.  “These symbols are pictographs, used by some obscure South Seas tribes. Loosely translated, it seems to describe this weapon as being the sting from beyond the edge and the dark of Nyarlathotep and Yog Sog Oth.”

“Part of the Cthullu mythological cycle, as I recall,” Bell said.

“A bit more than myth, I would say,” observed Van Helsing.

Bell seemed to be ignoring him, intent on examining the appendages of the corpse, moving the joints in most unusual ways.  “This ‘person’ is either one of the most deformed beings in existence, or there has been a tremendous amount of inbreeding.”

“Inbreeding, yes, with a good bit of cross-species breeding, as well,” said Van Helsing. “Let us hope that our friend’s ‘cousins’ do not come calling or attempt to reclaim his body.”

Bell motioned at the dagger. “Certainly not if they are that well-armed.”

“Joseph, if you would continue your examination of the body, I would appreciate it.”

“I was wondering when you would go to see her.” It was a statement rather than a question; one that Van Helsing knew needed no answer.

Standing in front of the door to Elena’s room, Van Helsing was afraid. He knew what he wanted to find on the other side of the door, but he knew what he would find, and they were two different things.

The door, a heavy metal thing, swung silently open. The windows were closed, sealed shut with wire mesh and bars. There were other locks on the room, tiny, carefully inscribed symbols, tiny bits of salt, incense and oil, discreetly spread into the four corners: protections against things that only a few, outside of those who were strangers to sanity, knew existed.

From out in the hallway, he could hear the sounds of footsteps and distant screaming cries of other patients, the same sounds that Elena had heard every day and night for the past dozen years.

Elena was lying completely still in her bed, covered partially by a blanket. Her face was awash in the shadows and bits of light that leaked in from the hallway, relaxed and, for a moment, at peace, even with lines of pain in her face and ragged streaks of gray marking her hair.

Her eyes were open, staring straight at the ceiling, marked only by the slow blinking of the lids. Van Helsing looked at her for a long time while he stood next to the bed, then leaned forward until his face was only inches from hers.

“Elena,” he said softly, and began to sing softly to her. The tune was a Welch folk song they had heard in those long-gone first days after they had met. When Elena had heard it she proclaimed it wonderful and insisted on learning the music and words.

For several minutes there was only Van Helsing’s voice, but then he began to hear hers, echoing each note and tone that came from him.  It was a tiny sad sound that came from Elena’s throat. She had done this before, many times, and then it would be gone, as quickly as it had begun. Van Helsing allowed himself the slim hope that this would be the moment he had prayed for. That this was the fanning of the flame, that it would light her way out of the prison of insanity he had locked her in.

“The walkers slide with the penguins quietly,” she said in a little girl’s voice.

“Elena,” he said, his heart breaking as he heard the words.

“Abraham,” Elena said in a clear and precise voice. “I wanted to go for a walk, like we did that first day, but the hurling monkeys are blocking our way.”

She began to hum, and then the sound faded away. Without warning Elena Van Helsing sat straight up in her bed, as stiff as a board, shooting up so quickly that she almost collided with her husband. She stayed like that for a moment, then slid backward onto her bed, lying as silently as the darkness around her.

Three candles and a piece of chalk were all that Van Helsing needed after he had returned to the asylum with the leather folio. It had taken him nearly an hour to draw the complicated design around his wife’s bed,, filling up much of the room.

None of the staff had come into the room except for a single orderly who said nothing, just stood in the doorway looking at the scene in front of him and left. Anyone else who worked there would not have even opened the door; over the years they were used to Van Helsing’s occasional “unusual” methods of treatment.

“Joseph, this is something that I must do. I beg of you, no matter what happens, no matter what you might see or hear, you must not interfere in any way, shape or form. Understand that if that were to happen you would put not only myself in harm’s way, but Elena as well,” he told Bell. “It is for her that your professional services may soon be needed.”

Bell had said nothing, just took a place outside of the design in the corner of the room. The Scotsman extracted a thick cigar from his coat pocket, but did not light it. Instead he stood there quietly, brandishing the tobacco like a weapon.

After lighting the candles, Van Helsing sat cross-legged in the middle of the design. He tried to push everything else out of his mind, focusing on Elena and the place where she dwelled. A distant carillon marked the half-hour and then the hour while Van Helsing stared down at the Codex pages he had laid in a semi-circle around him.

He began to read, carefully pronouncing each word, hoping that the impromptu translation would be accurate. Between one heartbeat and the next, Van Helsing felt everything change. The asylum was gone; there was no sign of Bell or Elena or even the city.

Van Helsing knew this place; he had walked here and in others like it over the years. At first glance it seemed like a hill far out in the countryside. Nothing appeared that much out of the ordinary, but no matter what direction he looked in, nothing felt quite right.

Coming toward him from the west was a man dressed in the Bedouin robes of an Arab. The figure never seemed to go faster than a brisk walk, but grew closer at an amazing pace. When the man stopped in front of him, Van Helsing recognized the face: a scarred cheek, hawk-like nose, and eyes that drove themselves into the soul of whatever he looked at. The long mustachios only clinched the identification.

He had met Richard Francis Burton, the knighted translator of the Arabian Nights, on several occasions before the man’s death. He could see that face in this younger one that stood in front of him.

“I must say, for a man dead these three years you are definitely looking remarkably healthy, Sir Richard,” said Van Helsing.

The figure laughed. It was a sound that sent a chill into Van Helsing’s heart. For no more than a moment the human shape was gone, replaced by something else: with tentacles, teeth, half a hundred eyes and a stench that would have made a freshly dead corpse smell like perfume.

Then the man in the Arab robes stood before Van Helsing again. He refused to allow himself to think of this “thing” as the man whose face it wore.

“If you have something to say, “said Van Helsing, trying to sound bored, “then let us say it and move on.”

“Direct. I like this. Very well, go home,” it said. “I could have sent one of my children, but it pleased me to offer fair warning.”

“The same way you sent one of them to try to kill my wife?”

The figure laughed and began to speak in a vaguely Arabic dialect, though the words were like nothing heard on the seas of sand.

“Abraham!” Elena’s voice cut through the mist. Van Helsing turned toward it.

That very action was enough to shake him loose, he realized, from the holding spell that the thing had on him.

Long tendrils of pulsating flesh were inching their way toward his legs. He kicked at them, driving the toes of his boots into the sod. That seemed to be enough to drive them back, for the moment at least.

“Abraham!” Though he could not see them, Van Helsing felt two hands grab his arm and yank him backward into swirling mist. The sensation of falling through a door surrounded him and then everything was calm.

Taking several deep breaths, Van Helsing looked around. Again the scene had changed, but again it was a place that he knew – too damned well. No peaceful landscape this, but ruins that stretched on as far as the eye could see. The night sky was filled with churning clouds that gave the whole place a feeling of never-ending midnight. Cyclopean ruins stretched to the landscape and beyond. What life there might have been here had long since been crushed out.

This was the realm of Yog Sog Oth, the demon beyond the gate, one of the Old Ones: beings locked away from the earth after their reign of terror, who were always struggling to return. To some they were gods, to others demons; to Van Helsing they had always been something to fear which must be never be allowed to escape from their prisons.

A hundred yards in front of him he could see a pair of twin pylons, electricity filling the air between them like a Van de Graaff generator gone wild. Van Helsing knew this place all too well. There had not been a day in the last dozen years when the image of it had left his mind. His hand clenched and he could feel the obsidian knife for a moment.

She was as he had last seen her, stretched out on an altar-like slab of rock in front of the pylons, her face pale, the wind whipping strands of hair across it. She had not aged in the dozen years since the two of them had arrived in this place, come to place a seal that would keep Yog Sog Oth from coming through the gate.

Why should she age? This was her soul, her true self, as real to the touch as anything, though her true body lay in the asylum, raving about penguins and hurling monkeys. Van Helsing fought down the self-loathing that sought to rise in his throat, with the knowledge that he had condemned the woman he loved to lie as guardian of this place for the rest of her life.

Van Helsing’s eyes fell on the dagger, still buried to the hilt in her heart. His fingers clenched with the memory of wrapping themselves around it, the memory of her hands on his, helping to push the blade into her heart.

“No. No,” he said and reached out to touch her cold cheek, tears rolling down his face. His hand brushed against the silver swan brooch on her blouse, a gift on their first anniversary.

“Abraham.”

Elena stood at his side, a look of sadness and joy in her eyes. Unlike the figure on the altar, who wore a traveling skirt, vest and loose blouse, this woman wore a gown of black and scarlet, an identical silver swan brooch affixed to her left breast, her face young and not yet touched by pain and madness.

Van Helsing reached for her but she pulled back, just out of his reach. “I’m sorry, Abraham. What you see is at best an echo of what I was. Over the eternity since we first set foot in this hellhole, I’ve learned to tap some of the power in the pylons. That’s what has let me reach out to you, to pull you back from the Codex and away from that thing that sought to stop you.”

“I know, my darling. You are always looking out for me. But now I’ve come to free you, Elena. There is a way.”

The look of sadness deepened in Elena’s eyes, mixed with fear. “I know that was what you said you would try to do. But we both know it cannot be. I have become one with this place, and it was necessary for a human soul from a still living body to hold the line here.”

“It should have been me,” said Van Helsing.

“It could not,” she answered softly. “Of the two of us, only you had the knowledge and skill to make it work. That is why I guided your hand when…”

“I drove the dagger into your heart,” he said bitterly. “Now I’ve come with a way that you can walk out of the asylum. For all these years I’ve searched for a way.  I knew there had to be one, and I’ve found it.”

“No, Abraham, you know that cannot be, no matter how much either one of us wants it. The gate can only be held as long as there is a guardian, one whose soul is imprisoned here and whose body lives on Earth. You said so yourself,” she reminded him. “In the eternity since that moment I’ve come to know the truth of your words. Besides, with the terror that has held, that has pounded into the very core of my soul, I do not believe I would be able to wear sanity again.”

The seals on the gate had worn away with the passing millennia. Only the willing sacrifice of someone to become the guardian could keep them in place.

“No, I will not permit it to be so,” screamed Van Helsing. “One of the followers of Nyarlathotep tried to kill you tonight. I do not know what I would have done had he succeeded.”

“You would have gone on, sadder, but you would have gone on to face each dawn as you have all your life. I would give anything to stand with you again, facing the unknown, growing old at your side. But that cannot be. I know that what happened will happen again, as surely as one day follows another. The followers of the Elder Gods are always probing, trying to find ways to free their deities.”

“No, Elena, I am your husband. I know what is best for you,” he told her, feeling more determined than ever.

“As I know that you must not do this. There is a great evil that will soon be afoot in the world. The only way it can be defeated is if you are there to hold the line and drive it back.”

Waves of images flashed in Van Helsing’s mind: wolves, a woman dressed in a gossamer gown, an aristocratic man standing in the turret of a castle, fog and death flowing everywhere.

Van Helsing looked toward the echo of his wife. She had moved away from him and the altar. Elena’s arms were raised above her head, partially blocking her face. From her open palms shot bolts of light, glowing a sickly green, which flew outwards faster than anything he had ever seen.

They struck him, hitting his chest with the force of a horse’s hoof, wrapping around him like an ever-tightening vine. Van Helsing staggered backwards, one arm free and frantically struggling to balance himself with it.

“My darling, our paths are different now; they always will be.” she said, tears rolling down her face. “You must go back. Remember that I love you and will always be near.”

Van Helsing felt words dying in his throat as he rolled through a door into darkness. The last image before he passed out was of the silver swan pin, the one on the woman standing in front of him, as his hand closed around it.

“You had no intention of coming back, did you?”

Van Helsing stared into the amber liquid that half-filled his brandy snifter for several moments before he finally took a swallow. He had never particularly liked the taste of brandy, preferring the taste of a good single malt. But in this case, the burning sensation as it rolled down his throat felt very right.

It didn’t surprise him that Bell had divined his plans, though for a time he had hardly admitted to himself what he would have had to do to actually bring “Elena” back. The gate could not be left without a guardian. The lack of one was what had precipitated problems in the first place.

“Do I take it now that you have had an encounter at the crossroads and become a believer?” he asked Bell.

“I’m hardly Saul of Tarsus. As I said, I believe that you believe, and you believed that you could expiate the guilt you felt over Elena’s condition by exchanging places with her.” Bell was standing near a large globe, idly running the fingers of his left hand over continent after continent as they rotated in the wrong direction.

“That sounds like a bit of reasoning that that fellow from Vienna would follow,” said Van Helsing.

“Freud, you mean?”

“Yes, that’s the fellow. I can imagine he would class me in with some of those rather colorfully-named patients of his. But getting back to you, I suppose you can supply me with one of those eminently obvious lines of reasoning to back up your conclusion.”

“Actually, in this case it was a lot simpler,” said Bell. “Before leaving England, I had Lee Satterfield take a look at those parchments. She gave me a rough idea of what they said. Seems that the spell you were wanting, to make it work, required an exchange: one for another. Knowing how you blame yourself for what happened to Elena, the rest was obvious.”

“Very good, old friend. It would have worked, too.” Van Helsing‘s voice was a harsh whisper. “Except she fought me, wanted to remain in that hellish place.” He wanted to say more, to let his pain rage out, the frustration he felt at having failed the woman he loved.

“Abraham, I wish to the depths of my being that I had some scientific trick, some magic wand to wave, that would take away the pain that you are feeling. That I could prove to you it was all in your mind. But I know that to you it was very real.”

Van Helsing reached into his pocket and brought out the silver swan pin. It had been real, very real. When he had awakened on the floor of Elena’s room it had been clutched in his hand, hard enough to cut into the palm.

“Do you plan to try again?”

Van Helsing shook his head. “No. Elena said that my place was here, that there was great evil that I had to confront. Lord knows what she was talking about.” As he spoke, he picked up the pile of mail that had accumulated on his desk. At the bottom was a letter bearing an English stamp and postmark. He opened it and half-heartedly scanned the contents.

“Joseph, when do you plan to return to Scotland?”

“I have to be back in two weeks. I was planning on leaving this Friday.”

“Good. That will be just enough time to put matters in order here. I hope that you will not object to some company, at least part way.”

“Indeed not,” said Bell. “May I ask why the sudden desire to travel to England?”

Van Helsing held up the letter.  “This is from a former student of mine, John Seward. He operates an asylum near Whitby, outside of London. There is a case there he needs to consult me on.”

“Excellent. A visit to the English countryside will do you a world of good.”

Bradley H. Sinor has seen his work appear in numerous science fiction, fantasy and horror anthologies such as THE IMPROBABLE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN, THE GRANTVILLE GAZETTE AND RING OF FIRE 2 and 3. Three collections of his short fiction have been released by Yard Dog Press, DARK AND STORMY NIGHTS, IN THE SHADOWS, and PLAYING WITH SECRETS (along with stories by his wife Sue Sinor.) His newest collections are ECHOES FROM THE DARKNESS (Arctic Wolf Press) and WHERE THE SHADOWS BEGAN ( Merry Blacksmith Press).

If you enjoyed this story, let Brad know by commenting — and please use the Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus buttons below to spread the word.

Illustration by Galen Dara.

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5 responses to “At Best an Echo, by Bradley H. Sinor

  1. Pingback: Lovecraft eZine Issue #9 for December 2011 « Unspeakable Gibberer·

  2. Thank you, David, AJ. Glad you enjoyed the story. I always figured that there was a lot more to Van Helsing than just a vampire hunter ;>. I’m a major Sherlock Holmes fan and had always wanted to do something with Bell.

  3. Great way to show Van Helsing’s life. I also like how Bell is Doyle’s inspiration for Holmes. Does this mean that, perhaps, Van Helsing meets with Doyle when going back with Bell and becomes the inspiration of Dr. Watson? Hmmm…

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