Heart of a Killer by Mike Cervello (author of The Refuge of Night) -- a FREE Chapter
Compliments of CVK Pub.
Lena set herself in back of the church in the pew furthest from the altar to pray. She purposely stayed away from the front near the candles. Too many times in her life, her evil aura had blown out the candles if she got too close. Kneeling in silence, she prayed. The mass was over. But, she wanted to be alone with God in his house to have a one on one with her maker, about her life and her family. She often asked God, why was someone so gentle and kind to others as she, turned into such a creature of violence. Tonight, she felt guilty for what she did to the Shermans, even after what they did to her and her family.
It was only recently that she discovered that she could go into a church without burning up. That was six years ago. Her good friend, Andrew Smith, was the one who helped her to realize that her faith in God would protect her from obliteration inside of a church. She put her trust in God to protect her. As Andrew explained, there was a purple aura that surrounded her and not a red one like the rest of the vampires that they both knew. The fact that her aura was purple showed that there was more good in her than most people. And, that good would shield her. Ever since that time, she went to church every night off from work to thank God.
She became a regular here. The pastor of the parish even left the church open just for her on the nights that she came to mass. She had told him; her unusual coldness was due to a physical ailment. From her point of view, that half-truth was correct. She looked upon her curse as a disease because it always left her uneasy. She was broken from her trance of meditation with her maker when the pastor, Father Mark came up to her and broke the silence of the church with a whisper.
"Excuse me, Lena."
"Yes Father," she whispered back making the sign of the cross to the altar before turning to him.
"Arent you a doctor?"
"Yes, I am, Father."
"Could you please have a look at a man? We called the police and asked for an ambulance. I think he may be dying. Hes not coherent. He seems to be imaging things. Apparently, he was attacked outside the church during mass. Thats why none of us heard anything."
"Id be glad to help," Lena replied getting up. "Please, take me to him, Father."
The man was on a couch in the rectory. Two priests tended to him when Father Mark led Lena to the wounded. Lena realized that she should have been prepared to see blood from an injured man, but the task was still difficult. As her canines rose inside of her cheeks, she bit her tongue hard and concentrated on the pain to hide her guilt. Lenas shame of her unnatural hunger made her feel less than human among these mortals. The victim was very pale, weak, and his breathing was faint. He opened his eyes in horror, sensing the danger that Lena represented. Lena saw the wound on his throat and immediately knew what had befallen him. He strained with all his might to rise up and fight. The mark on his neck reminded her of the wound that she had left on those who had threatened her own existence. They had become her victims. They were slaves to her will for the rest of their mortal lives. The only difference was, she had never drained as much blood from any of her victims as this man had lost. Her intentions were never to kill. She could only hope that there was enough time to save this mans life. His heartbeat was the most faint in the room.
When their eyes met, Lena could tell that his trepidation was due to her presence. The vampire venom in his blood made him aware of the supernatural and what she was. He pointed at her. Lena watched with apprehension as his mouth moved, but the words werent there. She could remember being the victim of a vampire herself. Her intentions were not to take advantage of a helpless man. She was summoned here to help. She would do everything within her power to save his mortal life.
"Easy now," she said gently, kneeling down besides him. "Youre safe! Youre among friendsreally! Im a doctor. I belong to the parish. Father Mark asked me to help you. Ill do everything possible to save your life. Youve lost a lot of blood! I can see that from the wound on your neck. Youre gonna need a massive blood transfusion. Were gonna have to get you to a hospital. Father Mark has already called for one. Right now, I can give you an injection of vitamin B-twelve with iron. Youll need it to recover."
Lena opened her purse and pulled out her first aid kit and extra medical supplies. She was fully equipped for victims with injuries like this. Her own guilty conscience for her own victims drove her to always travel prepared to help. After giving him the injection, she turned to one of the priest and gave him a gauze pad. He was shocked, but he was even more surprised from her strange request.
"Father," the doctor said. "Please do me a big favor and soak this gauze pad in holy water and put it over his wound. Ill cut the tape for you to apply the dressing."
"Huh," the surprised priest remarked taking the gauze pad.
"Please humor me, Father," she replied. Lena paused as she thought to herself. "What if he doesnt?" She asked herself in her thoughts. "This mans life is on a thin thread. The only chance he has of pulling through is for us to kill the vampire venom. I cant let him die. I took an oath as a doctor to save lives. I cant take a chance on losing him. Im gonna have to trust these priests. I just hope that they can still look at me as a person and a friend after this."
"I know what this mans injury is from. But, my profession binds me as a government agent with top secret clearance to keep my mouth shut. It has to do with national security. Its like you guys having to keep the contents of a confession a secret. Can I trust the three of you with classified information about myself and others to save this mans life?"
"If you need holy water for this man," Father Mark commented. "Then its something that we may already know about."
"Possibly," Lena replied thoughtfully. "But, if it does come out, Im gonna have to ask all of you to keep it our secret, as mutual respect for our job responsibilities. It also concerns me. The government actually picked me because of what I am, as well as who I am to help them deal with a classified global crisis."
"Tell me, Lena," Father Mark asked. "How can the government think that they can deal with forces beyond this world better than the church?"
"Ill put it this way," Lena replied. "The government has employed agents with ties beyond the world of the living to help them with their problem. No ordinary person can stand up to this threat. Thats enough for you to suspect me. And, Ill confess to you, as an open confession that I am indeed such an agent. Im a good person at heart, as youve come to know with a curse that Ive learned to control through the love and understanding of very close friends and family. I pray for them every time I come here and I ask God for his help with my curse. This man before us is a victim, as I once was. I feel for him. I want to save him from my fate, just like I want to with every living mortal. My curse is something that I wouldnt wish on my worse enemy. Please take that gauze pad and do as Ive asked. Then, well move him away until the ambulance comes. After we apply the holy water, his attacker will have a news blackout about where he is and whats going on with him."
"It looks like a vampire did this," the priest with the gauze pad remarked.
"Bingo," Lena replied. "Now that you understand, it should start to make sense. But this must remain with us only guys. The federal government doesnt want another War of the Worlds. Innocent people will be hurt. None of us want that. Please help. Ive trusted you with national security secrets. Please trust me. After five years, I hope that were all still friends. Im still the same person that youve known since then."
"Do you do this?" Father Mark asked Lena, pointing to the wound on the man.
"Before God, I tell you that Ive never killed or left anyone that badly injured. Ive only taken blood in self-defense. And all of my victims have been able to walk away on their own. I feed on blood donated in bottles from the FBI through blood drives for me. Before that, I stole from blood banks in hospitals. I forgive you for judging me. We all have our human emotions to deal with."
"Im sorry, Lena," Father Mark replied. "I shouldnt have been that harsh on you."
"I understand where youre coming from," Lena replied. "Take a chance on me, Father. I aim to please."
"Okay," Father Mark replied. "We owe you that."
When the priest with the gauze pad returned, the injured man found new life. He struggled to get away. He pushed away the other priest. Lena pounced on him like a wild lioness and held him down.
"This is for your own good," she told him.
"Who are you to help this mortal?" The victim asked in a harsh voice. "Hes mine, bitch. Go find your own food."
"Whom am I speaking with?" Lena asked holding him in place.
"Wouldnt you like to know?" The victim asked. The priests all made the sign of the cross. The more the man fought, the more pressure Lena applied and held him in place.
"Oh," Lena replied. "But I will find out who you are, my dear. You forget; I am what you are. You should know the powers that I have."
"Hes possessed," one of the other priests remarked to Father Mark.
"Youre a traitor to your own kind," the victim commented.
"Really," Lena replied. "I dont ever recall asking to join the undead. I identify with mortals. And those are the people that I choose to be with. You may as well have him stop struggling. Hes no match for a vampire. He cant overcome me."
"Im coming for you and the mortal," the man replied. "And Ill kill those clergymen too."
"Youre a sick misguided individual," Lena replied. "And youd better look to your defenses when you do get here. I can take care of myself and Ill protect my friends."
Lena looked at the priest with the gauze pad and pointed to the victims wound. Lena held the victims hands together and squeezed him close. The priest put the gauze pad over the wound. The victim screamed out and steam flared from under the gauze pad, to the amazement of the priests. Lena saw the priest easing his hold after seeing the man suffer.
"Hold it, please Father," Lena exclaimed. "We must purge the evil from his body. Tape it in place. Remember, the only reason why its burning like that is because there is evil in that vampire venom in his blood. The burning will stop when the evil is purged."
After the priest fixed the dressing with tape, the man collapsed. Lena shrugged her shoulders, realizing that there was nothing left to hide from the clergymen. She picked him up and carried him in her arms as if he was an oversized balloon that was weightless in her arms. They looked at her with raised brows, daunted by her unnatural strength.
"Come on guys" Lena said trying to get them to their senses. "Weve gotta get to the church fast. Whoever did this to him is on their way. Virtually any other vampire, outside of myself, will burn up inside of a House of God. Youll be safe there. I wont have to worry about you there if I have to fight this evil person. If you can run, then run. I have no problem supporting his weight. I have over twenty times the strength and speed of any woman of my size and weight. Lets move quickly."
How is that possible?" Father Mark asked, following Lena and the others.
"I never gave up my faith in God," Lena replied. "The other vampires have. Any vampire that threatens a clergy persons life most certainly gave up on God. I give the same respect to all religions that I have for my own. Youll be safe in the church. Try to keep up with me guys. I can run faster than a speeding bullet. Ill try to keep the pace of a slow moving car for the rest of you."
Much to the priests amazement, the victim seemed to be getting better inside the church. Lenas vitamin injection also seemed to be having a positive effect on him. He seemed more coherent, but he still feared Lena. She tended to him with great patience and understanding.
Father Mark looked on as Lena worked with her patient. He had known her for five years now. She was a good person, as far as he was concern. He had seen her go out of her way several times to help out other parishioners. Despite her beauty and brains, and she had plenty of both, Lena was a very humble person. Her curse must have caused her many hardships that resulted in her great capacity of tolerance. The patients sudden movement startled Father Mark as the man found a sudden burst of strength. But, Lena proved to be faster and stronger and held him down.
"You," the victim said looking at her. "Youre like her. Youre like her."
"Easy," Lena said soothingly. "Try to rest. Youre very weak. Save your strength. I hear you. Youre inside of a churcha house of God. And, these men with us are priests. Youre safe. May I explain why you feel as you do about me?"
"No," the man replied. "Shes coming! Shell kill me."
"Whos she?" Lena asked. "Do you know her name? Can you describe what she looks like, or what shes wearing?"
"She . . . shes a monster," he replied, "just like you."
"Im what she is," Lena replied. "But, Im not who she is. Do you understand the difference? Vampires are individuals, just like mortals. We all have our good and bad. My name is Dr. Lena Banks. You can reason with me. Whats your name?"
"Then, you admit it," he replied.
"Yes," Lena said with a nod. "I admitted it to these priest as well. We all have a common interest for your well being. Dont forget vampires are the victims of vampires themselves. I can relate to your fear. I admitted what I am to everyone here to save your life. Father Luke probably wouldnt have put that holy water on your wound to kill off the vampire venom, if he didnt fully understand your danger. Thats why I made the choice to tell my parish priests my deep dark secret, my shame. But, even though I am a vampire, I dont kill or pick on anyone. I only fight to defend my family, my own life, and for the publics safety because it is my job as a federal agent. Now, can you please describe this lady vampire whos on her way over here?"
"Her eyes," the man replied. "Theyre not human. They burn of red fire. And, she has the teeth of a wolf. You must have teeth like that too."
"Not if I can help it," Lena replied. "Vampires teeth grow to full size when they see blood or if they experience strong emotions, such as anger or fear. What does she look like in her human form?"
"Her skin was pearl white and her hair was a soft silky blond. Shes a yellow blond with long flowing hair." The victim said.
"Thats a start," Lena replied. "What was she wearing? Do you know her name?"
"She was dressed real fine," The man replied.
"What does that mean?" Lena asked finding humor in the mans remark. She forced herself not to laugh, fearing that her patient might take her reaction the wrong way.
"I mean, she was all decked out with a low cut top and a slit tight fitting skirt with platform high heels." He replied.
"I see," Lena said as an involuntary smile crossed her face. "Typical man," Lena thought silently before speaking aloud. "Whered you meet her?"
"In the bar," the man replied.
"Which bar do you mean?" Lena asked.
"What does it matter now?" The victim asked. "Shes here."
"Where," Father Mark asked looking around.
Lena was silent for a second as she focused her senses on the vampire. She felt a strange new coldness and looked toward the front door of the church. The victim looked in the same direction. Lena pointed at the door for the sake of the others.
"Shes right outside," Lena replied. "I can feel her. Shes probably trying to get up the nerve to try to enter the church. No doubt, she thought that shed find us in the rectory and probably turned the place upside-down to find us. That was the last place where she could see us through the eyes of her victim."
"What," Father Mark commented.
The people inside the church bared witness to the knob of the front door turn and shake. There was the crackling sound of fire, followed by an ear-wrenching high-pitched shriek of someone in mortal agony. The frantic screams were followed by thumps and low-pitched booms coming from outside. The sounds were unnerving. When the priests instinctively move toward the door, Lena pulled them back.
"Stay here," she urged them. "Youre safe. God is with us in here. Outside, you have no defense against her. I must face her alone. I can deal with her. You can look outside of the windows. But please, dont leave until she is gone. Ill draw her away."
"Lena," Father Mark said as she strode toward the door.
"Yes Father," she replied glancing at him.
"What about the police and the ambulance?"
"Ill get her out of the area," Lena replied. "Theyll be able to come through."
"Be careful," Father Mark said, almost stuttering.
"I will," she said with a smile. "Dont worry, Father. This is what Im trained to do. I can handle her. Besides, I have to think about my family too. Im their only defense against the undead. Ive gotta survive for everyone."
Lenas supernatural hearing picked up the other vampires voice from outside. No one else could hear what the other vampire had to say to Lena. They could only assume that something was going on by the expressions on her face as she listened.
"Whats wrong?" Father Mark asked.
"I dont believe her," Lena commented. "Shes threatening to drop a whole pile of human corpses outside the front door unless I come out to face her. She must think that Im chicken. Ive gotta go now. I cant allow someone to die on my account. Shes nuts! Were dealing with a crazy lady! Dont tell the cops about her, whatever you do. If they go after her, theyll only get themselves killed. This is what Im trained to do. I must face her alone. And remember, guys, what you all know about vampires is as secret as a confession. I opened my heart to you guys, please dont betray me."
"We wont, Lena," Father Mark said taking her hand and holding it with both of his. She smiled and pulled her hand free. She looked toward the front door. She zeroed her senses in on the whereabouts of the other vampire. She burst into a cloud of smoke and raised the brows of all the others in the room. The smoke absorbed itself to the floor and passed right through it.
"Well pray for you, Lena," Father Mark said folding his hands together. He turned to the other priests. "Brothers in Christ, let us offer a pray to the Father for the success of Lena as she prepares to battle with the forces of evil."