My name is Father Gabriel Collins and I have been living a double life. No, this is not a confession about some hanky-panky going on between me and some altar boy or a married female parishioner, or a beautiful young novitiate at the convent the next town over. It breaks my heart that those things happen, but I am not one of those priests. This is about my day job. And my night job.
Why does a priest need to have a day job and a night job, you ask? Because our town has been ravaged by a vile demonic plague. We are surrounded by and overran with bloodsucking corpses from the deepest pits of Hell. You see, I'm what you would call a vampire hunter. By day, I hear confessions, administer Last Rites, conduct baptisms, weddings, and funerals, teach 6th grade Catechism at our parish school, counsel my parishioners and offer any advice I could give them, and say Mass on Sundays. But when night falls, I blend into the shadows like my enemies to strike the fear of God into their dead soulless hearts.
I looked at my watch one last time and entered the confessional to wait for my last appointment for the day. He was coming at 6:40PM. As if on cue, I heard the church doors open and close and footsteps heading my way. The curtain swished and I heard a breathy exhale like someone who had just ran all the way to the church.
"Good evening, my son," I said, as my customary greeting.
"Good evening, Father," came the familiar voice, albeit with a shakiness to it, as though he were nervous. I knew very well who this young man was. I had baptized him as an infant and his siblings after that. "In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."
"May the Lord help you confess your sins," I prompted him gently.
"Amen. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been a year since my last confession. These are my sins…" he said, enumerating the many sins he had committed over the course of the year.
"For your penance, I want you to say nine Hail Marys and nine Our Fathers," I said, after listening intently as he listed his many sins. "Would you like to say the Prayer of Contrition, my son?"
"I would," the young man said. "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because of Your just punishments. But most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin."
"God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," I said.
"Amen," came the voice, much lighter and happier now than earlier. It was as though a great burden had been lifted off this man's shoulders.
"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good," I said.
"For His mercy endures forever," was the reply. I could sense the smile in his voice.
"Go in peace," I said with a smile of my own.
"Thank you, Father," he said, after which I heard the swish of the curtain once more, receding footsteps, and the opening and closing of the church doors.
After that final confession for the day, I went home to the rectory, fixed myself a plate of leftover coddle cooked by the rectory's lovely housekeeper, a sweet old lady whom everyone in the parish has nicknamed "Mama Mary". I had some buttered soda bread with it, also courtesy of Mary. Since she had already gone home for the day, I had to wash the dishes myself. It was now 7:40. After washing the dishes, I went upstairs to my room, undressed, put my shirt, slacks, and coat in the laundry basket, then I proceeded to change into my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and said my nightly prayers. I intended to get some sleep before the real work began.
At ten minutes to midnight, my antique twin bell alarm clock rang incessantly, jolting me out of my peaceful sleep. It was time for my night job. I sprang from my bed, hastily threw off my shirt and pajama bottoms, and put on a black long sleeved undershirt, a black button down shirt, black pants, black leather boots, and a heavy black leather trench coat. I kissed my rosary and slipped it around my neck then wrapped myself in a thick red scarf to protect my neck from the vampire's deadly bite. I entered the code on my safe—23623—and grabbed the wooden box within it. The box contained a crucifix with a sharp point at the bottom that doubled as a stake, a mallet, an extra rosary, two pistols with twenty silver bullets blessed by the Archbishop himself, a prayer book, a small Bible, a vial of garlic powder, a vial of salt to sprinkle around you for protection, a vial of holy water, and a vial filled with the blood of a stigmatic. These vile creatures could drink any blood except the blood of those who have borne the sacred wounds of our Lord on their bodies. It is a potently deadly poison to their kind. To us, it emits a wonderful scent much like perfume. To a vampire, the blood of a stigmatic emits a most putrid stench which they cannot stand.
I wore my utility belt around my waist and filled it with the four vials and eight extra bullets from my arsenal. I also attached my crucifix-stake and mallet to my utility belt and attached two extra stakes just in case. I loaded my twin pistols with six bullets each and secured them on my shoulder holsters on each side of my body. I loaded two extra pistols just to be safe and placed them in the hip holsters attached to my utility belt. I took four bowie knives hidden away in a secret compartment in the safe and inserted them into my boots, two knives in each boot. I slid the Bible and prayer book into the left and right inner pockets of my trench coat respectively, closed the safe, grabbed my black cowboy hat hanging on a hook on the wall, and exited through a secret door in my room's fireplace. As I rode the lift down into the rectory's basement, I felt like a Catholic Batman, if Batman was a Catholic priest and not an orphaned multibillionaire playboy and CEO. I do wish I was Batman, though. In my opinion, clowns are way less scarier than vampires. But I cannot show my fear and must press on. As I climbed the steps of the storm cellar, I uttered a quick prayer for protection and resignation to God.
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum," I whispered softly, making the sign of the Cross. "Redimiste me, Domine, Deus veritatis."
With a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding in for a long time, I pushed open the heavy double doors of the cellar and stepped into the cold night air ready for battle. Ready for war. I shut the cellar doors and hopped onto my waiting black Harley, revved it, and drove off into the night. I was headed for Davenport Municipal Cemetery, where, according to my informant, the latest vampire attack had occurred. Reports were coming in that a string of kidnappings had happened and children were vanishing, never to be found again. Those that were found too late were found dead with two puncture wounds on their necks, bled dry, all the life sucked out of them. Two of these children managed to escape and both tell the same story. They were lured out of the comfort of their homes by a woman with a beautiful singing voice who sang them lullabies. But instead of falling asleep, it had the opposite effect and they followed her as she led them to Davenport Cemetery. This sick bloodsucking monster who preyed on innocent children must answer for her crimes against God and against humanity. She—It—had to be stopped.
I parked my motorcycle in front of a closed café a block away from the cemetery. I walked the rest of the way, creeping along soundlessly through back alleys as I melted into the shadows around me. As I reached the cemetery, I hopped the wall and landed softly on the grass inside without making a sound. In the pale moonlight, I could see a figure in white moving through the trees and tombstones, clutching a sleeping child to her chest. As it drew closer, I could clearly see her tattered, blood spattered gown and flowing golden hair. I was taken aback for an instant by her beauty. Her looks were reminiscent of Farrah Fawcett's, and if I was a teenager, I would have had her likeness plastered on my bedroom wall. Her body, too, reminded me of Farrah. I stared in a stupor, drooling at the goddess before me. But I shook myself from her evil trap and clutched the crucifix, ripping it from its holster. As I stood from my crouching position, I held my crucifix high. She hissed and snarled.
"I adjure you," I said, advancing on her. "By the holy angels! Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Raziel! I adjure you, cursed dragon! Diabolical legions! Come out! I adjure you, spawn of Beelzebub, Abaddon and Sheol!"
The vampire let out a shriek so horrible it sounded like the tormented souls of Purgatory. The sharp points of her fangs gleamed in the moonlight. I steadied my resolve and clutched my weapon tighter.
"By the utterance of all the watchers and the holy ones!" I said, shoving the crucifix in her face. She recoiled. "In the name of Adonai, God of the heavens! I command you! In covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Moses, the all-powerful El Shaddai! Fly from this innocent soul!"
At that, she carelessly flung the child she was holding and lunged at me. On instinct, my left hand flew to my tool belt and I blindly grabbed one of the vials, throwing it at the she-demon before me. The glass exploded on her face on contact and the blood from the vial boiled her Undead skin and flesh. It sizzled, popped, and smoked like fried bacon in a greasy pan, but it smelled less appealing than frying bacon. I coughed and had to cover my nose with my trench coat due to the horrid stench of burning, rotting garbage. The creature shrieked, recoiling, giving me an opening. I took my opportunity and drove the crucifix-stake into her chest. She froze once and recoiled once more before making a lunge at me again. She fought like a wounded tiger when it is cornered. Her sharp nails tore through my leather trench coat making eight long gashes, causing the material to tear. I felt excruciating pain in my right shoulder and was horrified at the realization of what had just happened. I was bleeding. Reenergized by the scent of my blood, the vampire fought on despite the offending stake sticking out of her chest. Strings of blood mixed with venomous saliva stretched before me as she opened her maw wide to strike. At the last second, I drew my gun from my right shoulder holster, cocked it with some difficulty, and fired, aiming at her stomach. She stumbled backwards as blood spurted and pooled around the new wound. Normally, the wound in her stomach would close, but because I had struck her heart—her most vulnerable part—she was greatly weakened, negating her self-healing factor. I put the pistol back into its holster and grabbed the mallet to finish the job.
Despite the blinding pain in my arm, I gripped the stake tighter in my right hand and held the mallet in my left. I pounded away, driving the mercy-bearing stake deeper and deeper into the vampire's dead, unbeating heart. She let out shriek after horrifying shriek and her body shook and flailed like a fish out of water. But I did not falter. I buried the stake deep into her chest, up to the hilt and I watched as the figure of our Lord on the crucifix sank deeper into the crimson hole. Finally, her movements stopped and she lay as still as death—the way she should have been had she not turned into the foul beast that she was. The danger wasn't over, however. There was still a task to be done. In a final act of mercy, I drew one of my concealed bowie knives slashed the poor girl's throat, hacking away until her head popped off and was severed from her body completely. Next, I tossed her head and body into a dumpster behind the cemetery and set fire to it. No longer will she disturb another boy or girl's peaceful dreams.
After my task was complete, I returned to the cemetery to collect the child she had so carelessly discarded. I turned him over and recognized little Tommy Wilson, a choirboy from our parish. I immediately fished for my phone and dialed 911. I heard the operator on the line ask me what the emergency was.
"There's another wounded boy at Davenport Municipal Cemetery," I reported. "Hurry, or he might not make it!"
As soon as I hung up the phone, Tommy Wilson stirred as though being woken up from his sleep. He opened his eyes sleepily and then sat up, quickly scooting back when he caught sight of me.
"Who are you?" he asked. "Where am I?"
"I'm an angel," I told him. "And you're going to be alright, kid. That's a promise."
"An angel?" he said, his little eyes growing wide with wonder.
"Yes, Tommy," I said. "An angel. And a friend."
"An angel," he repeated, then promptly fell back asleep. I stayed with him until the paramedics arrived, and as soon as I heard the wailing of the ambulance, I made my way out of the cemetery and into the night.
After I had cleaned and dressed my wounds back at the rectory, I decided to catch some more sleep before the sun rose in a couple of hours. Before saying my prayers and slipping into bed, however, I made my way to the cathedral and climbed the winding stairs to the top of the belltower. As I stood watch over the sleeping town, my tattered trench coat flapping in the breeze, I vowed in my head to be its secret protector. As long as the Undead walked the earth and my town was unsafe, I will continue to wear the mantle of the Dark Angel. As a priest, I must guard the Church and her people. Our Lord said that He would build His Church and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And as long as I am standing, as long as I am breathing, I will not let the Gates of Hell prevail. Let the Devil and his angels throw everything they have at me. No hellish scheme shall ever harm my flock. That's a promise.
So concludes yet another shift of the night job.