The wind bit deeper, and I pulled on the ends of my trench coat. An alcove appeared in the manor’s wall. I slid my body inside of it. A narrow, rectangular stone door was lodged in place, and time had sealed the seam smooth as leather. Over the course of my weeks of preparation, I had made efforts to weaken the threshold. I placed my old hands upon the surface, and braced my shoulder into the stone. I breathed in deeply, sucking in flecks of dry debris that rattled in my lungs, and with a great effort flung my body into the door. The sudden motion moved the wall forward a significant distance. My muscles ached as I pushed the barrier. I could not suck in enough air. My eyes closed, and I could see the face of Coveton: his rounded cheeks and hazel eyes in a sea of pearl white, his richly pink skin and thin eyebrows above a hideous smile. I envisioned this face as I pushed with every essence left in my aging body.

Finally, the door shifted and fell inward to the estate’s inner grounds. I collapsed upon the grass. The cold earth filled around my hands and bathed my skin in moisture. I could stay there forever, immortal in that moment. Still, I proceeded. Coveton will sense my presence soon.

Slowly, I regained my footing, finding that each feeble bone in my arms and legs were unbroken from the intense strain of moments ago. I recalled from my research that vampires had amazing recuperative powers that allowed them to mend quickly. We humans are only healed by time. Time is a stranger creature still – that heals us even as it kills us.

The winds calmed, and rain slowed to a bearable pace. I opened my valise slowly and ensured that nothing was too wet: a flask of oil, a silver crucifix, three pieces of twine cut in six-inch pieces, a roll of electrical tape, an unopened letter from my accountant, a small medical satchel, an Enfield revolver, and a piece of oak wood sharpened to a fine point.

Toward the front of the estate I traversed, near to where I could see the mansion’s main door. From a rather greedy and uncouth real estate agent, I had obtained a floor plan of the home. He was reluctant at first, and even when I explained I was saving his filthy neck from the bite of a being of Hell, he did not budge on the price. However in my old line of work, it requires little effort to manipulate the simple-minded. With the blueprints, I had uncovered several ways to gain entrance to the manor. There were numerous occluded areas to enter on the north end, while a low balcony was present on the southeastern side.

I squatted into a shadow near the base of the home and took several deep breathes. My endurance was waning, and my legs were cramping. Did I have the stamina for such covert endeavors?

Before another moment of thought, a light cut through the mist like a beacon. The intense glow burned my eyes that had become accustomed to the darkness. I held my hands up to block the rays and quickly felt foolish when I realized it was merely the headlights of a car pulling through the main gates of the estate.