Memories stirred within her mind.
She is playing all alone in the schoolyard. Rather, it is more accurate to say she is sitting by herself on the asphalt while everyone else plays.
Johnny Hacin and his chums come over to torment her again. “Look at the freak. White all over like an old hag.”
“Go,” she says. “Away.”
“Freak can’t even talk right. Her brain’s busted,” Freddie Solomon added.
Her brain works just fine. She can think clearly inside her head. It is only speech that she finds difficult. She longs for a normal human relationship, but with guys like these giving her the royal shaft, that will probably never happen.
“Ain’t that a bite,” Billy Coen says, grinning.
“To her, maybe,” Johnny replies. “To us, it’s a big tickle.” To her, he says, “You’ll die an old maid.”
She leaps to her feet and shoves him. He falls on his ass. His friends laugh. “No old!” she says. “Maid!”
She quickly realizes what a mistake that had been when they set upon her. “Give the freak a shiner!” Johnny yelled.
She remembers the pain as their blows landed on every part of her body they could reach. At eight years old, she has already decided the world is evil.
She leaps forward in time. This time, she is ten years old. Her father is a pastor and her mother is choir leader in their church. They are as devout as anyone can be.
On this night, she is sitting with her parents watching Audrey Hepburn on the magic box in their living room. She thinks Hepburn is the most beautiful and sophisticated woman on the planet.
Michael Clover, her father, sits beside her mother Anne on the couch. He won’t let her watch anything sordid like Elvis “The Pelvis.”
“You like Audrey, Chloe?”
“Yes,” she says. “Audrey… good.”
Anne whispers to Michael, “I’m worried about our daughter.” Chloe still hears her.
“She gets good grades,” is his rebuttal.
“The bullying is getting worse, and that awful school won’t do anything about it. I’m thinking of writing a letter to the President.”
He shook his head. “Eisenhower won’t do anything. He’s focused on the Reds. With Sputnik, they really put one over on us. No, we just need to have faith that God will see us through all this.” He then adds, “God isn’t Red.”
In her mind, she turns to look at them, but their faces are blank. It’s been so long that she no longer remembers what they looked like.
Suddenly, the power goes out. Her parents scream. A strange presence enters the room. A voice says calmly, “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Clover. You’ve been making quite a name for yourselves in this town. Michael, you’ve been a vocal opponent of desegregation. You also said God hates homosexuals. And Anne, you’ve been supportive of all this.” Chloe’s heart is racing. She is filled with a sense of terror she doesn’t understand.
The sounds of struggle reach Chloe’s ears. “What do you want from us?” her dad says.
“I want two things. I want to punish Christians, and I want to recruit soldiers for my cause. I’ve found it is more efficient to do both at once.”
“What do you mean?” her mom asks.
He replies simply, “You two shall be punished, while your daughter will spend the rest of her life serving me.”
Her father shouts, “God would never let that happen!”
“You studied the Bible, Mr. Clover. You know very well what God allows.”
There is a ripping sound, followed by squishing. Something wet splashes her. Michael Clover screams. The sounds repeat themselves, only now it is her mother screaming. The last sounds she hears from her parents are moaning wails.
The man speaks again. “Tell me, child. What do you think of this world?” She realizes he is speaking to her.
She knows the answer. She has long known it. “World… evil!”
“You will make a fine soldier.” She thought she could sense him smiling.
Another voice says, “Are you going to turn girl now?” This man was Red.
“I will wait. An eight-year-old soldier would do me little good.”
Yet another voice speaks, but this time, it’s a woman with a French accent. Her father called them frogs. “Come, Chloe. We’re going to make the world a better place.”
Chloe doesn’t believe her, but she has little choice in the matter.
* * *
She opened her eyes. She was lying on her back in an ambulance. An IV was inserted into her arm.
A paramedic stood over her. “Easy. You’re going to be okay.”
She was weak but still strong enough to get herself out of this situation. She ripped the IV out of her arm. “Hey, hey, hey!” the Paramedic said. “What are you doing?” In response, she sat up and rushed out of the vehicle.
Chloe was a few blocks from the church, only now it had been reduced a smoking pile of burning debris. She sped off after Kyle Falconer, the paramedic yelling for her to stop.
Kyle Falconer hadn’t gone far. What he probably didn’t know was when a vampire drank another vampire’s blood, the latter temporarily gained the ability to track them.
He would be hunted down.
* * *
Kyle stopped several blocks away in a dark alley. The sounds of sirens blared in the distance. The acrid smell of exhaust from nearby cars reached his nose.
He considered himself to be shit out of luck. Ursula was gone. The church was effectively gone. He had nowhere to go. At least he had taken Chloe out before he got royally screwed.
He was surprised to find himself lamenting her death. He had become a killer. Was he any better than his enemies?
He was so caught up in his misery that he didn’t initially notice the figure sitting down next to him. When he did, shock exploded through him and he frantically scrambled away.
It was Chloe.
“W-What are you doing?” he yelled, probably too loud for his own good.
She sat against the wall of the building behind them with her knees up to her chest. “Mission failed. Can’t go back.”
He didn’t bother to point out she could still try to kill him. He sensed the fight had gone out of her.
He sat down next to her. “Why do you follow Kyrios?” he asked her.
“Don’t want to. Afraid.”
“Afraid of what he’ll do to you if you refuse?” She nodded. “Did you mean what you said? About the moon being beautiful because there’s no violence there?”
“Hate violence. I… hurt.” A tear streamed down her face.
He now had a better idea of this girl. “I thought you were a monster. But now I see you’re the same as me. We’ve been dragged into an unimaginable situation by Kyrios.”
“Kyrios… evil. Me… evil.”
“I don’t think that’s true anymore. I think you’re a victim just like everyone else whose lives Kyrios has destroyed.”
“You are… kind.”
Kyle suddenly had the feeling he needed to protect her. It was the same feeling he had towards Ursula. But why? He barely knew either of them, and Chloe had just barely stopped being his enemy.
“Thanks. But it looks like we’re both screwed now. I have nowhere to go and you can’t go back to the manzil. What do we do?”
“Safe house,” she said.
She nodded. “Can… go there.”
He smiled. “Lead the way.”
* * *
She led him to an apartment building a few stops away on the subway. It was a tall brick building and there were restaurants and businesses next to the apartment part of it.
Chloe took him to the top floor and opened a door into one of the units. “Nice,” he said.
It was an executive suite with space to spare. In the living room area, there was a couch and TV hanging on the wall. Next to the TV was a fancy mahogany desk with a computer and printer on it. The kitchen area had a huge fridge and all the appliances you would ever need.
But then Kyle noticed the windows. They looked normal. “Wait. What happens when the sun comes up?”
He exhaled. “That’s a relief. I was scared there for a moment.”
“Couch… there,” she said, pointing to it. She then made her way to the bedroom.
Kyle wasted no time crashing on the ridiculously comfortable furniture.
* * *
He awoke later and sluggishly pulled himself off the couch. Exhaustion and soreness continued to tear at him; he was nowhere near recovered from last night. The death of Ursula still weighed on him.
It was strange; he hadn’t seen sunlight in several days and now it was appearing through the UV windows like no big deal.
His eyes spotted a sheet of paper on the keyboard in front of the computer. He picked it up and read it.
My brain doesn’t allow for quality speech so I chose this method to introduce myself.
My name is Chloe Clover. For over 50 years, I served Kyrios out of fear. I can assure you, there was no love there and no loyalty. Terror kept me in line. I know that doesn’t excuse the things I’ve done and I will have to bear my sins for the rest of my existence.
Without even realizing it, you convinced me to turn my back on the manzil. I realized it last night; you could have killed me but you didn’t. Even though I murdered the person you were closest to, you spared me. I wasn’t prepared to do the same. Not initially, at least. If you could find the strength to spare an enemy when your own life was in danger, I realized I could as well.
I won’t ask for your forgiveness. I know I don’t deserve it. But please believe me when I say I’m not your enemy anymore.
I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.
Kyle studied the letter. He had, in fact, been trying to kill Chloe last night, although it was true, he made no further attempt to end her after she re-appeared in the alley. They were both spent in more ways than one at that point.
The creak of a door opening behind him caught his attention. Chloe came out wearing the same clothes from last night. “Read?”
“Yeah, I read. It was nice. I guess I should introduce myself, too. I’m Kyle Falconer. I’m from Oklahoma, though I was born in Texas.”
She came over to him. “Nice… to meet. Kyle… Falconer.” She smiled.
He smiled back. “Same here. But I think sharing our life stories can wait until later. We have more pressing concerns. What is Kyrios’ plan?”
Her eyebrows furrowed as she evidently focused on the words she needed to get out. “Grand… Imam.”
“The Grand Imam Abdul Batin Rabbani? What about him?”
As far as evil plans went, that one was pretty bad. “If he kills the Grand Imam, there will be a holy war for sure.”
“Yes. Countless… dead.”
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “We have to stop him. But I don’t think we can do it ourselves. We’re pretty outnumbered.”
“Yeah, we need help, but I hardly know anyone here. The only person who would be interested in stopping Kyrios is that Redeemer from the other night.”
Her face lit up, and not in a good way. “Redeemer? Here?”
He explained, “One of them tracked me down a few days ago. She seems to think I was involved in… well, you know.” He sighed.
Chloe began pacing around the room. “Redeemer… bad.”
“Do you think there are more of them here than just her?”
She continued pacing. “Unknown. Work alone… sometimes. Others… groups.”
“They might be willing to help us with this.”
She stopped pacing and shook her head. “No. Sooner… kill us.”
She had a point, but that limited their options even further. “Well, then, do you know anyone who could help us?”
She headed back into the bedroom. “Where are you going?” he asked.
That made two of them.
* * *
“It’s the damndest thing,” the fire chief said as they stood in front of the church which was now smoking ruins. He had a distinct Brooklyn accent. “Eyewitnesses said they saw lightning, heard lightning. But meteorologists said there it was clear skies all night.” The block had been cordoned off, naturally, although the media was doing their best to get in.
“I see,” Angelica said. Must be someone’s Satanic Gift. “Any bodies recovered?”
“Yeah, my boys recovered a middle-aged woman before the whole thing came crashing down. Damndest thing. Body was covered in burns consistent with lightning strikes. Again, clear skies. You want more information on the victim, Detective Rourke has it.”
“Thank you, chief.”
Angelica made her way over to a nearby police cruiser where Rourke was talking with another cop. A fresh-faced patrolman, by the look of him. When Rourke saw her coming, he said to the patrolman, “We’ll talk more later.” The third wheel left and Rourke said, “What can I do for you, Miss Vatican?”
His mood had improved tremendously since getting away from the hotel. “Well, for starters, you can lower your voice. My presence and identity are on a need-to-know basis.”
“You got it.”
“What information do you have on the victim?”
He replied, “Fingerprints identified her as forty-year-old Martha Shipton. She owned the building. Bought it right after September 11.”
“What other information have you uncovered?”
He shrugged. “That’s pretty much it. We have the deed to the church and her birth certificate. Parents are listed on there, but we haven’t found anything on them. We’re currently working under the assumption ‘Martha Shipton’ is an alias.
“None of this adds up. Witnesses said they saw two people running around like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon up top, a man and woman. But when we got here, we only found two women.”
That piqued Angelica’s interest. “I thought there was only one victim.”
“Only one deceased victim,” he clarified. “We found an albino girl in her early twenties, but she refused treatment and ran off.”
“Tell me, Detective: Did either of them have fangs?”
“Well, now that you mention it, they did.” He was getting visibly nervous as when she first met him.
“I trust you’ll keep that out of any reports.”
He shrugged again. “Not like anyone would believe any of this anyway.”
Smiling, she said, “That is a very healthy attitude, Detective. Make sure the fire chief knows that as well.”
“There’s just one more thing.”
“I’m going to need that body.”
About the Creator
I'm a science fiction and fantasy author living with Asperger's. I've published 10 novels and a few short stories thus far. I decided to join Vocal in order to share stories that are fiction and non-fiction.