Sometime In The Future
The target is leaving the coffee shop. It is one I’ve come back to any number of times when I return to the old city. Back here, where my life ended and was remade into what I have become. It is a place known, appropriately, as ‘Lestat’s’. It nauseates me to find people that still glorify. . . Them. It has always sickened me that they trivialize this obscene danger in humanity’s midst by naming a mediocre coffee place after the name of something they think is a ‘fictitious’ character.
I have been to New Orleans many, many times and no one in the Lower 9th jokes about that name. You might as well yell ‘Heil Hitler’ in the Jewish Congregation Or Chadash on West Ward St.
But, I digress: to find the Target here, of all places, is no surprise. Many of the Lamia* come to this coffee house or, more accurately, to the basement of this coffee house regularly. I have known of the Caché Club under Lestat’s for many years. This place drips with a particularly bitter black blood for me because it is where, I believe, Billy met his ‘Sire’. I may have purified that monster already, for all I know. I’ve traced many targets to this bar and neutralized a few of them. These ‘lucky’ few were ones deemed good targets for me to hunt to extinction and cause subtle disruption and destabilization in their ‘community’ of the damned. Subtly is the key, here. No one ever too important but always someone that will be missed and cause distress at their going missing. ‘Blood Dealers’ are a favorite of mine and the Caché Club seems to be a favorite of theirs. Low-level Lieutenants of the Chicago ‘Elders’ are also selected targets.
* Lamia is Latin for ‘Night Spirit.’
In any case, I’ve watched the place religiously for years hoping to see if what they left of my Billy would come back here. Billy’s Vampire does not come here, though. He has never come back to this place.
I fear someone warns him that someone else is watching.
Perhaps it is the Target himself. He betrays his own kind to help who he thinks is his one time best friend in the world. He doesn’t understand what I know, though. He does not understand that Billy is dead. What the Target seeks is not his friend. It is something masquerading as his friend. It is something from Hell!
Sam has never come to terms with this. Part of me wants to reach out to him and try to convince him of this so that Sam’s torment over Billy could end. But, then I’d loose my best lead to finding the Creature.
I need Sam to lead me to Billy’s Vampire. I can then vanquish that Creature and finally be free of my guilt and need for holy justice in Billy’s regard. Perhaps, if my Ascendant Helper is correct, I can free Billy’s soul too. Billy can be released from this curse and rest in peace, at last.
Here, near this place, is where I first discovered where Billy had ‘run away’ to. I was only seventeen when I found him here. He and I had a torrid young love affair. He broke my heart once, but mended it completely and with the competence of a soul surgeon. He and I loved each other. We were the match Heaven had made and this despite the twisted teachings of the Medieval Church who’s Modern Revision I now serve and faithfully so.
My name is Monsignor Brandon Temple. I am a priest of the Reformed Catholic Church in America. I am also a holy Exorcist. My speciality is the purification of the Lamia De Sanguine better known as . . . Vampires!
Since olden times, Ordo Beatae Mariae de Mercede Redemptionis Captivorum or the Celestial and Military Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives (Mercedarians) have had a sub-order attributed to Qui Sub Sole, or ‘Those Without Sun.’. We Mercedarianus Solus were given the special mandate to seek out and redeem the souls of the Lamia. It was hoped that by The Rite of Holy Exorcism the Church could purify the bodies of the dead and release them from the demons that had captured the souls of these victims and forced them to inhabit their own dead bodies. The hellspawn would further desecrate these captives by having them murder and drink the blood of the living to ‘survive’.
When I entered the Priesthood, I sought out this order, trained for it, and joined it . . . all for the sole purpose of finding Billy’s Vampire and possibly freeing Billy’s spirit from the Vampyre, at last. This then might, perhaps, pull the knife of grief from my heart and give Billy back his freedom. Since the time of Billy Chase’s ‘secret first death’ the knife has twisted in me. I saw him slaughter my beloved solace, Stevie Mitchell, right in front of my eyes! I saw the monster that had been my sweetheart and I could not decide which agony was worse: seeing Stevie exsanguinated in front of my eyes, or seeing that the Creature that was doing it was the one time love of my life.
In all honesty, Brandon Temple died that day also. He was replaced by the hunter I am now. At first, I sought vengeance. Later, with prayer and the sage counsel of my old mentor, my vengeance softened into compassionate duty. Stevie was merely dead once, but Billy, I came to understand, was bound in the unending torment of eternal death. Billy, innocent and sweet Billy, was in a kind of Hell and by no fault of his own.
I came to realize that my Billy had been consigned to this damnation by the dark fate of happenstance. He was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong Vampire. A lonely Vampire Sire who must have longed for Billy as his companion. For all I knew, the Thing had been watching Billy for all his young life. To think of that now . . . sends a cold shiver down my spine. All that time that Billy and I loved and lost and loved again, we were being watched and preyed upon by this creature of the night.
So my final duty to my love is to end his nightmare for good and Sam will help me. He must help me and to help me he’ll need to be exposed to the dark truth of this world at last. The thing he has chased is something he can barely understand. I fear if he uncovers too much of Billy’s truth, without my help, Sam’s life could be put in danger by those in the Dark that wish to keep their diabolical society secret. With me, he can have a fighting chance of finding this truth with a measure of safety. He can then help me in my holy mission to destroy the vampire Billy has become and thus free his soul. This is a job only those that love Billy most in the world could do. I, his first true love, and Sam his beloved best friend for life. Sam must help me! It is his destiny.
Presently, I see Sam leave the coffee house and quickly leave on foot to his car, presumably. I trail him at a comfortable distance so as not to raise his hackles. I try to keep a block between him and me and try to make myself as inconspicuous as possible with being ‘preoccupied’ with things like my smartphone or the antics of the moths in the streetlights. There are plenty of people on the street that work to screen my movements. I also figure that my Helper in Spirit may be affecting things to keep Sam from noticing me too soon.
To my surprise, Sam does not go back to a car or stop to order a ride but, instead, ducks into a side alley. Perhaps he has caught on to the fact that I have been trailing him. I can only imagine that an investigator like Sam has developed something of a sixth sense for knowing if he’s being followed or not.
Living men have a penchant for thinking only in two dimensions. It is a weakness born of walking straight lines on horizontal roads for all their lives. They will look behind them, down, left and right and even around dark corners, but they rarely look . . . up! This is a weakness the Vampyre know to take full advantage of in the city. Knowing this, I have learned to hunt as they hunt because they forget to look above themselves more often than not. The Vampyre figure they have the high ground at all times, so they don’t bother thinking that a human would hunt as they do.
Up from the fire escape and across the maintenance catwalk I follow Sam from above as he enters the alleyway. My Guardian seems to whisper something into my mind and the hackles on the back of my neck go up. I see Sam stop and take out a match to pretend to light a cigarette he doesn’t have. It is a signal for . . . something. In the light of the flame I see, now, that Sam has been carrying books of some kind under his trench-coat. I have an idea as to what they are. I have read a few before he’s had a chance to claim them. Billy’s journals!
My hackles tickle the back of my collar and I feel the warmth of invisible shields enfold me. I always imagine them as wings. I have a feeling that is exactly what they are. My Guardian would have them now wouldn’t he?
My night sharp eyes catch the flash of a shadow pass not too far away from where I am. I understand now why the Guardian warned and then cloaked me. A Lamia was here! I suddenly feel concern for Sam, but, I also feel I need to wait and to be patient. Something tells me this isn’t just any vampire coming to see Sam. I have a feeling my long hunt has finally come to its end! Then again, if this is just another vampire focusing in on its prey, I have means of saving Sam if need be.
I unloose the ebony and gold enameled cross-bow from my back harness and quietly lock it into place. The cushioning of the weapon’s mechanisms keep it from making sounds as I arm it. One can’t give any noise away when hunting Vampyre. They can hear a rooster crow ten miles distant!
I hope not to have to use it because that will mean that the vampire here is not Billy and that I’ll have wasted another night following Sam around seemingly aimlessly. The guy has always annoyed me!
Down in the alley I hear the light scoot of sneakers on pavement like someone has landed from a small leap. The sound is the same as the sound basketball sneakers make at the arena. Somehow, that one noise triggers in me old feelings of warmth and recognition. I’d know that footfall anywhere. Some instincts never die, even within the damnation of the undeath. The squeaky sneaker is a uniquely ‘teenage’ sound. Not only that, it is the same sound Billy would often make with his sneakers as we’d run or walk around since he always tended to drag his feet a little when he walked.
The lump in my throat suddenly presents an obstacle for me to overcome. I cannot get emotional about this. Though I have not seen Billy in full since our boyhood together, I cannot let what I will be seeing fool me as it has Sam. What I will be seeing will not be Billy . . . but a creature from Hell mocking his form and using Sam for its own ends.
But then . . . I am undone by that chirpy voice! Impossibly, it is that same teenager’s voice caught halfway between boy and man that I came to know better than my own breath. It is Billy’s voice, pure and his! At one time it was the most beautiful sound in the world to me. That chirping voice calling out to me: ’Brandon!’
“H-hey Sam!” The voice of my love is quiet in the darkness of the alley, but clear as silver bells to me.
“B-Billy? Billy, uh . . . I managed to get these for you from that inspector hot on your tail. D-do you still want them?” By means of special scopes put into glasses I can see what transpires in the dark as if it were day. The night vision turns things a little less dark than the surroundings by casting things into an eerie green. More eerie still, are the two bright yellow-green pinpoints of light staring out from the darkness of the back of the alley.
Chirping voice or not, those are the glowing eyes of a predator of the night. Billy’s face is hidden behind them so I can’t see his features, but . . . I know that Billy’s Vampire is there. His face and his voice may be Billy’s, but those eyes can’t lie. The vampire is a beast. A creature of pure instinct and hunger. I suddenly fear for Sam’s life! Should I intervene now or leave things to play out? Would it not be karma if Sam were to fall victim to the Thing after betraying his own kind in a vain hope that he might get Billy ‘back’ again, or whatever?
I find, though, that for the first time, I haven’t the heart to pull the trigger and lance Billy in his heart. So many vampires have fallen before me in just that way and I barely batted an eyelash. But, now . . . finally presented with the whole reason I entered into this ministry in the first place, I find I cannot do what I have wanted to do for so long and should do.
I see Billy gently advance in Sam’s direction. I remove the night-seeing glasses so that I can see Billy’s Vampire with my own eyes. Nothing glows strangely there without the night-vision. All I can make out are just impressions of a familiar face and haircut. But they are all the impressions I need to recognize him. I stifle a sniffle and try to gain some kind of control over my emotions, but they only magnify as the face and the hair become more defined as more artificial light falls upon them. The recognition is complete and it’s completion now, at this time in our lives, is what makes this whole scene impossibly surreal to me . . . as well as mortifyingly nostalgic. I have to cover my mouth to hold in a gasp at seeing him. It is all there! Everything I remember!
I am reminded of my first time seeing Billy at the Mall with him walking with Sam. I remember being caught watching him by AJ. I am reminded of the infatuation I had. The instant crush that would become so much more in so little time. It seemed like forever in those days, but a day is a year to a fourteen year old mind. In a matter of a few brief months Billy and I had met, fallen in love, broken each other’s hearts, reunited and found our love stronger than when we initially met.
I remember the nervous pacing in his room as I made the GIGANTIC leap of faith that admitted, finally, that I was not only gay but that I was in love with him. That Billy felt the same way was . . . beyond precious to me! I went absolutely mad for Billy then. I loved him so much that it hurt!
I . . . still do! My first love was my only love. In the oceans of time since seeing Billy that first time to the day I lost him and found out what . . . he’d become . . . I’d never stopped loving him. Even after seeing how he slaughtered my dear Stevie, I still loved him! Even in my lust for vengeance and through the years of study I endured just to achieve this . . . I loved him. Finally, it has been my love that has brought me to him now. It is love that guides me to do as I must do. But, it is difficult and I owe Billy a look at what I have become and I owe him a chance at redemption by offering my saving gift to him. I can release him from his curse. I can set him free! I can make it so he can know daylight again!
“Here ya go, Buddy. Uh, you might want to move on out of this area for a while. That particular detective looking for you was pretty hot to find you. He’ll be after me now too! As obsessed as he is at finding you I can only figure I made him pretty pissed by drugging him and taking this evidence away.” I hear Sam explain.
“Thank you, Sam. Thanks for all that you’ve done for me since, um . . . finding me again and all. It’s true, though, you need to get out of this and get away from me now. I won’t have you going down . . . in any way, ‘cause of me. I’ve had to do a lot of horrible things here in Darkness. Too many things and I regret (sniff) each and every one! But, I couldn’t live knowing that I’d ruined you and your life over . . . this. (Sob)” I hear the break in my Billy’s voice. I hear the pain there. The . . . agony and I can no longer stand it. While Billy and Sam embrace I leap from my perch above them and allow the invisible ‘wings’ of my Guardian to catch me in flight and then settle me soundlessly behind them.
I allow them their moment. I feel a ragged sigh escape me as I see Billy’s shoulders shudder and I hear the keening of his lost soul. Sam holds him much as a father might. He is so much bigger than Billy is now. Though they are the same age, Sam is now a full grown man while Billy . . . Billy is still just the boy he was! He has not changed at all in all this time. I tried to prepare for seeing this again first hand, but, I find that for the realities of grief, one can never be fully prepared or even prepared at all.
The impact hits me in full as Billy looks up over Sam’s shoulder and his beautiful eyes catch sight of me. It is like seeing a living ghost! When he swept down on Stevie, all those years ago, we were still of an age, but now seeing Billy’s unnatural youth, I am stunned! The eyes are not glowing as they were in my night-vision. They are the light brown they have always been. Optrix lenses cover the reflective light of his night seeing eyes. Despite this, however, the sudden emotions in him illuminate the Optrix from the back somehow making his eyes clearer and brighter than they should be. The brightness flares red a bit as a new emotion hits Billy.
The emotion of fear.
“S-SAM! WW-WATCH OUT! A . . . HUNTER!!” Billy screams and he does so in absolute abject terror. The note of fear in Billy’s still-young voice cuts me deep. How can he fear me so? I was his Brandon. His Brandon! But then I must remember I am not recognizable as I am. Through the second sight of my Guardian I see through Sam’s eyes and see myself as they see me. What I see is indeed terrifying. I look on the outside so much different than how I actually feel inside. Fierceness instead of sadness. Merciless rather than compassionate. Dangerous rather than heroic. I am indeed . . . a hunter. Just not the vile kind of which Billy is thinking. I am no hitman for the sacrilegious Elders!
Backlit by the streetlights shining into the dark alley I see my tall frame as a shadow of menace. I stand with my long winter coat flowing about my booted ankles and my wide brimmed Monsignor’s hat dipped and covering most of my face.
With practiced speed from a long life in the police force, Sam spins and takes a knee while whipping out his service revolver, aiming it in my direction. His aim is a braced and two handed one telling of his hours of practice on the shooting range. The practice and the poise do not help him. The invisible wing of the Guardian swipes the weapon from his hand with sufficient force to where the gun shatters as it connects with the wall of the alley. Sam shakes his hand out as the force of the blow must have injured him. I dearly hope it isn’t broken.
“Hey Sam. Hey . . . Billy.” My voice was deep for a fourteen year old when Billy knew me, but maturity and age has deepened it further into something resonant and terrifying. It intimidates . . . even when I don’t want it to.
The both look at me now with confusion mixed with the fear.
“Wh-who are you? How do you know our names? How do you know . . . my name?” Billy’s broken chirp causes an involuntary chill to shiver down my spine. How is it that I could be hearing his young voice like this after all this time? I am well used to the unnatural youth of the Lamia, but in my targets from before it was largely meaningless to me because I never knew them in life. I slew Vampyre children along with the adults with the same dispassion. Never have I had to confront someone I knew in life . . . and certainly no one I knew this well and loved this much!
I reach to remove my hat while the two tense for some other attack of mine. I turn to allow the light to shine on my grizzled face a bit. Both Sam’s and Billy’s eyes go wide when they finally recognize who I am to them.
“B-BRANDON?” Billy’s youthful voice goes briefly falsetto and rings off the walls of this alley in Darkness.
“Noooo waaaay!” Sam seems to groan in a whisper. He looks on me with a different kind of horror now. It is not so much revulsion as almost an exclamation of pity. He must see the scars on my face and the hardness there. He will probably remember Billy’s Brandon as being the ‘Prettiest Boy In School,’ something he and some of Jamie Cross’s friends used to joke about me behind my back.
Now . . . that beauty is long gone.
“Yes.” I intone simply.
Billy covers his still full and sumptuous lips with his hands and falls to his knees and I see the Optrix completely fail his eyes as the vampiric glow shines through them and his running tears. I want to hold him! I want to rock him and tell him all will be ok. In a way, things will be . . . but not without pain first. There will be pain.
Pain for us both.
Billy rises slowly to his feet with the unnatural strength and grace only a vampire can have. His movements were never that smooth and controlled when we were boys . . . except when we were in bed together. But, I shall not go there in my mind. Some things are too sacred to think of when an act of violence must be meted out. This new sinuousness in his movements belies the alien nature of Billy’s physiology to me and reminds me, again, of what he truly is. The glowing eyes are one thing, but the unnatural beauty and strength there . . . these set me back into the right frame of mind where Billy’s Vampire is concerned.
Haltingly at first, but then with speed Billy makes to come to me. The look on his face is longing and not hunger so I know he must seek some kind of reunion with me. A reunion, perhaps not unlike the one we enjoyed on the Hill at the park those many years ago. A time in daylight and brightness. A time of youthfulness and joy. A time from which we are all gone from now. A time that can only exist in memories.
Billy easily evades Sam’s attempts at holding him back. Sam does not trust who he thinks he sees in me. He is justifiably wary. But he is only human and these things must transcend humanity. This matter is a matter concerning humanity, but also far outstrips it!
Billy’s corpse reaches out for me in a need for embrace. Certainly, I kneel to receive him. I must. How could I not?
“Ohhhhh God! Brandon! I’ve . . . wanted to find you for so-o long! I never thought I’d ever see you again! I-I…(retching sob)! I’m SO sorry about Stevie! I was hungry and so . . . jealous.” I barely hear his words. What hits me first is that same vanilla sweet scent that is Billy’s very essence in flesh. The Vampire’s Curse did not take that from him. I find I bury my nose into his neck as I did when we were together as boys. How I loved that scent! How I have missed it!
How utterly will I miss it still.
“Do not worry, my love. My precious love. I am here now. I have come back for you.” I speak my truth into his small ear. I feel him relax in my arms and I find I need to hold his slight weight up as his body convulses in long held sobs. He cries like the lost soul he is. He cries like the very child he is. Never, even when we broke up that day out in front of my old home, have I heard such heartbreak from Billy. He is truly tormented. He truly is in Hell! I must deliver him from this Hell.
“I-I never thought I’d ever see you again! I never thought . . . *UCK!” Billy’s eyes go wide with sudden agony and his staring eyes slowly look up to stare into mine. I see a pinch of sadness overtake the look of shock.
“Uuugh. Wh—-y? WhAa* (cough)—Why?” Betrayal he thinks. But as my own eyes well with long held tears his face softens in understanding. He knows why.
“I —— L-llove you, B-brandon. Th-thank you!” He manages to say past his agonal breathing.
“Me . . . too . . . ” I say in a broken whisper and then turn the Sun Shard Blade in Billy’s dying heart and instantly Billy’s face relaxes into the most beautiful expression of peace I have ever seen. The Angelic blade finishes it’s merciful work and Billy’s empty corpse falls to dust in my hands.
I clutch the dust and hold it to my lips kissing it.
“Be free my Beloved! May it be that I can join you soon when my hunt is through.” I allow Billy’s dust to drift away on the night air. All of his earthly remains drift from my hands. Everything except one small thing. I feel it there in my hand. A soft object that is not death-dust. Though slightly blinded by the tears in my eyes I look down to see the object.
It looks like a simple braided ‘friendship band’ made of some flexible material. It is entirely black and somehow metallic yet soft in my hand. I fondle it and a tear drips on to it.
I stand looking up from my prize and then down at an aghast Sam sitting slumped in horror-shock against the far wall of the alley.
“H-how could you?” He asks me, choking back tears.
“Because it had to be done, Sam.” I respond in finality.
Looking back down at my Billy’s friendship bracelet I somehow know he has left it for me. The Guardian whispers something about ‘put it on’. So I do. Upon my doing so I feel a sting happen around my wrist. It is quite painful, but I merely wince. Pain in the flesh is nothing to pain in the heart. Plus, it is a pain that I am familiar with. It feels, strangely, like the burning one has when receiving a tattoo. I have had many tattoos etched into my body. Most came from my formation as a Mercedarian. By rite of empowerment the sacred tattoos are placed.
Reflexively, I cover my wrist as soon as it starts to burn. As I take my hand away I am astonished to find that the band has disappeared only to be replaced by it’s replica in the form of a black tattoo around my wrist where the band had been! Suddenly, I understand! This, then, shall be my most sacred tattoo. It is Billy’s connection to me. His bond! The proof I need that his love survives death! We will be together again! Hopefully sooner than later.
I touch the love bond on my wrist to my lips and then take my leave. The Guardian responds to my mental request and lifts me off into the sky with one mighty sweep of his invisible wings. Sam is left to shield his face from the dust and debris kicked up by the draft of the wings.
Later That Evening
I stand holding the rail of Navy Pier looking out into the velvet blackness of the lake at night. The chill in the air promises ice and I feel my withered and roughened cheeks redden with the icy bite of a sudden night breeze. I find myself wrap my long coat closer around me as the wind catches at my clothes causing them to flutter.
Upon the wind I hear the softest of voices speaking in quiet yet contented tones. The soft lilt in the voices hint to me that these voices come from young ones and that these young ones care for one another deeply. Though I cannot pick up on the exact nature of the conversation I note that one voice seems to be an elder, wiser voice consoling a younger and far more insecure voice. The odd nature of the flow of this conversation has me unconsciously train my ‘special’ awareness upon them.
Indeed, it is as I suspect: a Fledgling and his Sire, yet, comparably they are not too far apart in actual age and are of an age physically. Two young vampires share this pier with me tonight.
By reflex, the Guardian covers to hide my presence from them. It allows me to approach without alerting them. Their conversation resolves for me out of the quiet lapping of the lake. The terms used are those lovers use for one another. In them I see the treasure that I have lost. I feel from them the familiar gravity of souls met and fused. The magnetic bond that I once shared with Billy, lost, and found again only to have it screened from me by the Veil of Death. Tenuously, the newly discovered bond I have in spirit with Billy tingles about my wrist as I feel the tattooed band radiate it’s peculiar warmth. He is with me even now and he draws me to these two.
“I love you so-o much, Taryn! I, just . . .I don’t know what I’d ever do if I lost you!” The Fledgling tells his Sire.
“I’m not going anywhere, Justin! I’ll always be with you. You have to believe that!” The Sire, Taryn, reaches for his Fledgling, Justin, and tenderly embraces and kisses the blond boy.
In the half-light, my night conditioned eyes can see the beauty there. In life, they should have been the most popular boys in school . . . or the most reviled. In my day it would have greatly depended on what they were ‘pegged’ as in high school. If, as would have been fairly obvious by their current behavior, they had gotten pigeonholed as ‘Gay’ their lives would have been made into a living Hell. A Hell I was familiar with in my little closeted world and could see through the torment of dear Jimmy LaPlane or, worse, the near homicide of my dearly departed Stevie. He survived the jocks. A pity he could not have survived the vampires.
The memory of Stevie brings me back from my reverie. Indeed, I forget that the two before me are of the Vampyre. Lamia cursed to hunt humans for sustenance . . . or worse. Yet, seeing the love there and feeling the tingle of Billy’s spirit through his wrist bond with me, I am caused to regard this Justin and Taryn differently. Even the Guardian seems to counsel restraint.
Something is very special about these two. The familiar glow of True Love I feel radiating from them is something I’ve never felt from their kind before. All of the vampires that I have vanquished have been apex predators of the most ruthless and vicious kind. None of them had love within them or, if once they did, it was long gone from their blackened hearts. The Darkness had consumed them inside and out. Either that, or like in Billy’s case, they were tormented by their undeath and sought freedom from it but did not have the courage to watch a sunrise one last time.
Even though I see the Predator’s Glow reflected in each of the other’s eyes, I cannot regard these boys as the kind of Creatures that I normally hunt. Even if they were valid targets marked to cause the vampire community the most upset, I could probably not bring myself to destroy them. The shuddering tears and the glow of their love intensifies as they embrace and kiss. The Angelic Sight allows me to see the golden aura that their loving circuit creates. It also shows me something more:
There is near limitless power radiating from Justin. I see destiny there too. He is a childe of destiny because he was reborn into Darkness as light! He is the product of the love I feel between he and Taryn. These things Malachi, my Guardian, speaks into my mind. He also gives me a notion that these two are recognized by him and that they are both destined for a greater purpose.
Malachi encourages me to reveal myself and I allow him to part his wings from around me.
Justin is the first to see me and I am immediately treated to the thrumming furnace that is his power as I see a red fire ignite in his eyes. His Sire turns and his own bright green Optrix covered eyes fix on me in terror! These reflexes are born of one too many encounters with danger. I imagine that they have already encountered vampiric hunters. Already they are hounded. Already those I seek to destroy seek to destroy them in turn. Justin and Taryn are a threat to their evil. They are, thus, my unwitting allies.
“Peace. I mean you no harm.” I raise my hand and project an air of peace. The Guardian Malachi subtly accentuates this by means spiritual and psychic. Though I sense a strain from my Guardian in attempting to achieve this assurance with Justin he does succeed, at least in part.
Justin seems to ‘power down’ somehow and Taryn seems to relax a bit, though he is still most wary. I don’t blame him considering what I fear they have both gone through at the hands of their own abominable ‘leadership’.
I offer them something they can understand. Reaching out my arm, I bid them to observe: “I am human. See?” The offered revelation itself seems to set them back on edge a bit. They know, now, that I know what they are and that is something they seem not to be used to from ‘strange humans’. But then, they have no idea how very ‘strange’ a human I am.
“I am Father Brandon. Do not be alarmed that I know of your kind. My Church has given sanctuary to many lost souls in the past. It is, perhaps, why I noticed the both of you here. I see ‘lostness’ here.” I explain, both young ones continue to regard me with great suspicion, but do not attack and do not flee. I see intrigue there in their glowing eyes. I allow a gentle smile to crack my usually dour face.
“Who do you work for?” Taryn asks with trepidation.
“None of your Elders, if that is what you are concerned about. If you notice . . . I don’t have the Saving Mark upon my neck ‘protecting’ me from being feasted upon.” I expose my neck and I see the two crane in to see.
Taryn, in particular, looks on with interest.
“Then what’s from stopping you from getting ‘feasted upon’ by us?” Justin snarls defiantly. He is quite young for one so powerful. His ‘mean streak’ would seem forced except in his eyes I see something . . . Darker there.
“I suppose nothing, though I have a feeling you are both already sated and have taken a ‘donation’ recently.” I tell them turning away from them to face the water. There would be little possibility of either of these ‘half-lifes,’ as their despicable Elders would call them, from successfully attacking me. Justin’s apparent strength aside, they have no idea what powers they contend with here. I, for one, doubt they would test it anyway. Neither of them ‘feel’ like they really want to attack me. This is a front of bravado. Taryn seems to know this as he takes Justin’s hand and pets it gently as if to at once say he is loved, I am no threat, and, basically, ‘calm the fuck down’.
“How would you know if we’ve, er, sated ourselves or not, or whatever?” Taryn is older in Darkness. His bearing, though burdened with deep pain, is one who has gained wisdom by years. He does not strike first. He asks questions first. Most wise.
“The blush in your cheeks, of course. The rose in your lips. The life in your flesh.” I tell them.
Both look at me askance but can’t seem to help themselves.
“Really, dude. Who the hell are you? How do you know all this? What’s your business with us?” Ah, at last Justin shows his dominant personality though Taryn’s example leads him into the right path with me. Asking questions, not threatening without knowledge. I sense another’s wisdom there too. One who has been in Darkness a very long time.
“As I said, I’m Father Brandon. I . . . work with people in your situation for a living. I have done so for a time. Long for mortals . . . not so long for those long gone from daylight. My apologies for disturbing your peace. I had no business with you, particularly. Your . . . light attracted me. It is not often I see such as you among those in Darkness. I needed to bask in it for a moment. Thank you, both. I bid you good night.” I turn to leave them.
“W-wait! L-light?” Justin steps toward me and I feel Malachi tense a bit, but he does not act.
I turn back toward him and look into his Optrix blue eyes as deep as any ocean. There is longing there in his question to me. Ah the need there! So many questions left unanswered. So much left to learn and do. So many tears of pain yet unshed. Taryn comes up behind him and takes him by his arm protectively as if to hold him back and anchor him. He also seems to be reaching for answers. His glittering green eyes reach for me with his special power. He is a ‘Reader’ as the Elders recon their ‘Extras’. I feel his embryonic telepathic powers attempt an instinctive scan of me. Malachi blocks the sweep with passing ease. It is such a gentle touch, I was tempted to allow Taryn to touch me as it would be so easy with his vampiric mind. The fact that he won’t be able to read me will be cause for concern.
“Wow! What are you? I can’t . . .,” but Taryn stops himself before revealing anymore. Justin looks to him in warning and back to me with renewed concern.
“The Second Sight of your kind does not affect those of mine. But, don’t be afraid. I mean you no harm as I have said. Here . . .” I offer my arm again as a proof of other things. Since I can now clearly see the Bond Bands on both boys’ arms I know that it is important to show them.
They both gasp at seeing it. My own Bond Band burned into my flesh. They look at each other’s and back at mine and then into my eyes wide with adorable wonder.
“What, do you think that the bond cannot exist between the Light and the Dark? That is the key, young ones. Light and Darkness are the same, only flipped like one side of the coin to the other. This one even goes beyond the veil of . . . Death.” I cradle Billy in my hand as he exists in the bond.
“Wow! But I thought that could only work between, well . . . Vampires.” Justin blurts and Taryn squeezes his arm with an annoyed expression that Justin has just ‘let the cat out of the bag’ or whatever.
“Love is a power that transcends all things. Powers, Principalities, Elders, Humans, Vampires, Darkness, Life . . . Death. Billy will be forever with me and, one day, God willing, I will be with him beyond the Veil. So will it be with all who love. Love is life and love never dies!” I tell them as they stand in stunned silence.
I proffer the Benedictus, crooking my fingers in the sign of blessing and I make the sign of the cross before them. “In nomeni patri et fili spiritus sanceti. Know peace Justin and Taryn. What you have is precious beyond price. Let no one tear it asunder. As it was with Billy and I, may it be with you. Amen” I pray.
Then, at my mental prompting, I am no more to them. Their minds forget me and only my message remains. Malachi takes me up into the clouds and away from Chicago one last time. There are Darker things afoot that need my attention now. For these two I must continue my work. Renewed in my vocation I go forth to San Francisco with Billy’s love shivering at my wrist.
One of the oldest of the Elders has revealed himself out of the shadows of the fathomless past! To find this one I must go. My hunt continues.
This is Brandon Hunting!