Ambrose sighed and watched the same flat plowed over corn field scenery flash by. He looked over at Barbara. “You okay?”
“Do you need to take a break? Are you tired?”
“Not yet.” She smiled at him. “Thanks.”
He leaned his head back.
Father Landover is a priest for vampires. It’s his mission or whatever. He won’t turn us down.
But he might.
He might not.
But he might.
What if he does? Where will we go? What will we do? Will we have to break up? Will I have to let her go?
I hope not.
He looked up at the night sky. Please don’t let him turn us down.
Two hours later, they reached St. Agatha’s Church – a small rural church in the small rural town of Yards Length. The church sat in what used to be a corn field. Unfortunately, no one had ever considered doing anything landscaping-wise. So, the church sat there in the vast empty field with not a single tree in sight.
Barbara parked the car and got out.
Ambrose sat silent and still and almost too nervous to breathe.
She opened his door. “Come on out.”
“I’m scared, Barbara. There are so many what ifs. So many possibilities. So many reasons for him to say no.”
“True, but you’re forgetting one important thing.”
She smiled. “He could always say yes. That’s a possibility too. Come on.” She grabbed his hands and tugged him out of the car.
He shivered. “It’s too cold out here.”
“Silly. I wasn’t going to wait out here for him. Let’s go inside.”
He held her hand as they approached the white steepled church.
The closer they got, the more nervous he felt.
His heart raced. His breathing was all too fast. His knees trembled and shook like he had a bad case of day exhaustion.
Please don’t let me faint.
The front doors were unlocked.
Barbara pulled them open.
Ambrose tightened his grip on her hand.
There was no vestibule.
The church interior was right there in front of them.
Ambrose’s pupils widened.
Barbara led him to a pew towards the front.
He sat down on the non-wood pew.
Stained glass windows.
I know this.
It’s been so long.
The priest came into the sanctuary followed by two altar boys.
And Mass began.
Barbara stood, knelt, and sat with the rest of the congregation.
Ambrose sat still.
I know this.
The familiar, long forgotten Latin phrases were like a song to his ears. A song he used to know.
Tears fell from his eyes and he let them fall.
His mother knelt beside him. Her prayer book in her hand. Her eyes and attention straight ahead.
Ambrose chin-propped on the pew in front of them. He glanced over at his father.
His father’s lips were moving in silent prayers.
Ambrose sighed and looked up at the paintings on the ceiling. His mind wandered in odd directions and into strange thoughts.
How did they get the paint all the way up there? Sling-shot? Really long paintbrushes? Ten zillion ladders?
He frowned as he imagined carrying buckets of paint up that many ladders. That wouldn’t work too good.
His father swatted the back of his head and whispered, “Pay attention.”
Ambrose returned to candle-lit Earth just as the Consecration began.
The bells rang three times as the priest genuflected and raised the large white host.
Ambrose paid attention.
Barbara sat back as the priest began his sermon on charity. She looked over at Ambrose.
“You okay?” she whispered as quietly as she could.
He nodded and reclaimed her hand.
She squeezed his hand.
The priest went over some of the finer points of charity and who or what makes someone your neighbor.
Ambrose looked towards the tabernacle and whispered a soft prayer.
The priest finished his sermon and resumed Mass.
Everything proceeded as he remembered it: the Creed, the Canon, the Sanctus, the Consecration, and soon enough it was time for Communion.
Barbara rose to receive Communion. She looked down at him as if to ask if he were going too.
He shook his head.
I know I can’t.
She walked up to the altar rail and knelt.
I know I can’t.
He looked down at his hands and extended his claws.
I’ve killed so many people.
For my own needs.
For Mark Caten’s needs.
Out of anger.
Out of jealousy.
Out of hatred.
Ambrose thought about his family and friends.
For no reason at all.
Barbara returned to the pew.
His claws retreated into his fingertips.
I know what I need to do.