It was a dark and stormy night because, ugh! Of course, it was. It’s always stormy when I’m in a bad mood. I mean, it was my fault it was a stormy night. The dark was just part of the whole definition of night.
My congregation had gathered tonight to pray for the country. Today, the United States declared war on Germany following the sinking of the Lusitania. No one in this little town of Bourbonville, Kentucky had been on the ship or even had known anyone on the ship, but it was what it would take to bring the nation together against the Germans. War. My adopted country was going to war, and there was an air of fear, sadness, and excitement circulating in the small church.
Not that it was my problem or even the reason for my bad mood. After forty-five centuries of life, a little scuffle amongst the humans wasn’t much of a concern for me, except that it bothered the people of my small town. How an ancient Sky Elemental managed to become a preacher for a religion younger than he was was a long story and one for another day.
Taking in a deep breath to calm myself, I focused on the issue at hand. My parishioners needed comfort, and they needed direction. Without a reliable moral compass, they might drift astray and indulge in behaviors that were unbecoming of humanity in these modern times. I preached my standard fire and brimstone, something about avoiding sin, keeping to the scriptures and the dire consequences should they fail. However, the crowd was restless. The fear and excitement creating a distraction that my storm only added to.
Even I stopped paying attention to my words though. The sermon fell from my lips like a practiced rhyme.
It wasn’t the war that had me distracted; it was the pious man sitting in the second row that captured my attention. The rage and hate burning in his eyes were more than just the anger of sending his sons to war. This was an older rage. He was the source of my anxiety and foul temper.
He looked like he could be familiar, but I couldn’t be sure from where. Bourbonville was a small town, but there were a couple of churches, and not everyone attended. I could have seen him around town, or I could have a history with him I’d merely forgotten. The bulk of most of human history was already stuffed in my brain, along with countless dead languages. One face in the crowd wasn’t going to leave a mark. But it frustrated me none the less that I couldn’t figure out who or what he was.
I finished up my sermon and closed the service, all the while the man was still glaring at me with hostility. As I was shaking the hand of Mr. Farmer, a local farmer worried for his son, the angry man approached me.
“Hello, I don’t believe we’ve met before. I’m Zephyr Wyndham,” I said by way of introduction.
The man scowled and looked at my hand like I had presented him with a viper instead of five pudgy fingers. The man was huge. Huge for a human and huge for a non-human. Not that I’d met too many like myself. It turns out we are a rare bunch but this man was clearly as inhuman as I was.
“Syzmon Warchek.” The angry giant said as he gripped my hand firmly but not crushingly so. He could have if he wanted, that much was clear, and it was even more terrifying to know he had restraint behind his rage.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Warchek,” I asked, gesturing to my small office away from the few lingering parishioners. A crash of thunder encouraging them home.
“I need you to kill me.” The man said as fangs, unlike any creature I had ever seen before, descending from his mouth, and fur began to sprout from his pores, covering his entire body.
I had done my research. The man preaching was a fraud. I traced his personal history back through six generations, more than four hundred years, and it was clear that he had been moving from place to place, town to town for centuries, hiding his true identity. I had been stalking him for close to a decade now, and I knew what he was. He was a vampire. It was the only thing that made any sense, and it was his fault that I was like this. Cursed and trapped between three worlds. I intensified my scowl and clap of thunder shook the building. It seemed almost in reaction to my threat.
Well, it wasn’t exactly this guy’s fault I was this way. He didn’t have anything to do with it if I were going to be honest about things. But he represented the evil within me and the evil in the world and tonight I would end him and myself.
I waited until after the service before approaching him. I didn’t want to cause a scene. These people seemed like decent folk, even if they had an abomination as a preacher, and they didn’t deserve to witness the carnage he had planned.
It was when the preacher put his hand out in greeting when I first had my doubts.
“Hello, I don’t believe we’ve met before. I’m Zephyr Wyndham,” he said.
His skin was old, and his fingers were pudgy. Not anything like my ancient but perfectly supple skin and his should be older than mine if my research were correct. A crackle of lightning electrified the air as I gripped his hand. I had no intention of hurting him here, so my grip was firm but gentle. No point in announcing my dark intent before I needed to.
“Syzmon Warchek,” I said through gritted teeth. I didn’t like how this storm felt, and this vampire was unlike any other I’d ever come across. And I knew all about unusual vampires since I was one of the strangest.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Warchek,” he asked as he escorted me to a small office and closed the door behind him.
Thunder shook the windows of the church, but the preacher, Mr. Wyndham, didn’t even flinch, although several lingering church members did scuttle out with comments of getting home before the storm got any worse.
“I need you to kill me,” I said as my body, the second curse upon me, began to transform. Huge teeth filled my mouth, and the familiar itch of fur bursting from my pores assaulted my senses. And with a mighty lunge, I lept towards the preacher expecting to him to retaliate or at least for the sensation of blood to fill my mouth.
Instead, there was a crash, and the brightest flash of light I’d ever seen. I thought I’d gone blind from the intensity of it, but after a moment, or an hour, or a week, I couldn’t be sure, my vision returned to me. Only to see the preacher, standing in his office, a gaping hole in the roof of the church and rain falling down on me.
He extended his hand and pulled me up with more strength than I imagined his smaller body could contain.
My skin felt electrified, and his touch amplified the feeling.
“I’ll not kill you, and you’ll not kill me,” the preacher said calmly. “But you will need to repair the damage to my office.”