Chapter 1 We exist to exalt in Our Lord Jesus Christ. The End is Nigh.
The first statement came from the LED sign of a church near my place. It made me wonder why people trundled off to work or scrambled to stand in line for an iPhone when they should be exalting. Then I realized the church expected us to consider everything we do as part of the ‘Plan’. Employment means sustaining oneself to continue worship. Buying the latest tech allows people to stay in touch with one another to maintain community. Etc. Etc. Pass the fucking Kool Aid.
There’s a bright side to everything, right?
Some jackass downtown plastered the second statement on a sandwich board he wore over his grubby clothes. Never mind the fact he’s been wearing the shitty cardboard thing for a fucking decade. I wanted to ask him for his definition of nigh and when I could expect it. Tomorrow? A year from now? Or perhaps when the dinosaurs return to reclaim their ancestral home?
I half believed he and the church worked together. He warned the world of some impending (nebulous) end and they stood as a stalwart beacon inviting the disenfranchised populace to seek comfort. The choice of their words gives it away. Let’s start with the church’s message. Exalt comes from Latin like all proper linguistic expressions. Ex means out. Altus means High. The combined Latin word would be exaltare. The definition varies slightly depending on the context. One, you would hold someone in high regard, two you’d raise them to a position of power and three, you’d make their character noble. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I figure they just want us to think of Christ as a nice guy.
I’m sure he was but how does his disposition help us now? More importantly, if our existence is to exalt the man, what the hell were we good for before him? Oh, God. Right, sorry, I forgot about Him. He was up there providing us with a raison d’etre through his vengeance and floods and language. The dude sounds temperamental. At least Christ brought some compassion to the mythology.
Oo, sorry, does mythology sound offensive? I’m sure the Ancient Greeks would agree. Yet we don’t have a half moment’s hesitation referring to Zeus and his buddies in such a way. They’ve been relegated to video games and fantasy novels. Once the profound belief system of a civilization, now a catalyst for fiction.
I wish the homeless guy had more conviction. I feel like he’s in touch with what’s really going on. His prophetic ending may not be as close as he thinks but who cares? He’s delivering a warning as opposed to false hope or at least inaccurate purpose. Desires stem from a need for fulfillment. Thinking, creation, and emotions all come from somewhere and they are not specifically designed simply to hold someone above others.
Rampant bigotry alone should rein in any exaltation BS. Our world already minimizes individuals and outright crushes those who are in the minority. The politics in place to defend us have become more reality show than government so there’s nowhere to turn for help. I would think we’d try to get along and team up against the real threats.
You know the ones. The human monsters we call terrorists. I don’t even know why horror writers are still in business. These maniacs burn people alive, throw them off buildings and behead reporters under various pretenses, all made up. The boogey man has nothing on these motherfuckers. He might as well retire which is funny to say if you’d seen half as much as I have.
I hope the end is nigh because there’s a lot of shit that needs to stop but until then, there’s work to be done and I’m on the clock.
A vampire stuck it to the Society a while back. He waltzed into the city, fed in a highly public manner then blew town without looking back. At some point, the asshole was sane enough to register so I got a hold of his record. He called himself Vellancia Dellagrand but everyone referred to him as ‘Grand’. Vital stats said he stood five foot eight so unless he sported a monster cock, I didn’t get the nickname.
I caught up with him in Portland, Oregon while he enjoyed some late night take out in the form of a diner waitress. He pressed her against a car, holding her still as he moved in to slobber all over her throat (this is why they get called necklickers). She begged and whimpered but he seemed to relish the terror as if he’d found a new way to feed his nature.
I took careful aim with my pistol, zeroing in at the base of his skull. The shot would be tight but I doubted the girl would earn more than a face full of his brains. The silencer displaced the report, a mechanical clink followed by a directionless pop. Grand died without a clue he was in danger. The special round left a small entry wound in the back but obliterated his face.
Teeth, nose cartilage, eye balls and meat splattered over the roof of the car and blood saturated the victim. She started screaming as Grand’s body slumped to the ground. I waved a hand in her direction and she passed out, knocked unconscious by a well-placed spell. She collapsed beside him, arms stretched over her head as if she were sleeping in on a Sunday morning…well, if her bedroom were a suite in hell.
The Society deemed Grand unworthy of rehabilitation so I dragged him to the center of the parking lot, well away from the car and his potential victim. Fucker turned out to be heavy. I guess I discovered the origin of his name. Even with ten pounds of useless meat removed from the whole, I had to put my back into moving him.
His skull left a sticky, uneven trail on the pavement and tiny pieces of his face fell to the sides like a gory trail of breadcrumbs. I backed away and concentrated on his still form, bringing to mind one of my favorite and most often used spells.
Flames erupted from the center of his body, spreading rapidly to the limbs and pulpy head. The meat crackled like fresh bacon and his clothes melted. Clearly Grand didn’t believe in natural fibers. I waited until the fire rendered him to ash and scattered the remnants with my boot. The smell made me sneer involuntarily, a cross between charred ham and tar.
I checked the girl who seemed to be coming around. She could figure shit out on her own. Her cell phone still worked and a quick trip to the hospital would reveal she escaped unscathed. Months of therapy might fix her completely. She probably wouldn’t work the night shift for a while.
I walked the couple blocks back to my car and sent a text to my handler. Job complete.
I sat behind the wheel for nearly ten minutes before receiving a reply. Remain alert for further orders.
Fucking fantastic. Work tended to pile up and complete downtime was rare. It seemed unusual to have the list dry up, even temporarily. I didn’t plan on complaining. A little relaxation sounded nice.
Luckily, I knew what to do with myself when they weren’t asking me to kill people. I turned to Netflix and my ever growing queue. Perhaps The Midnight Turn finally made it to video on demand sites. I couldn’t wait to see Clotilde Broussard again. After catching the film in the theater, I wouldn’t quite say I became obsessed but I sure as hell took note.
Since it left the theater, I watched the various outlets like a hawk, waiting for a chance to see it again. Heading back to Seattle, I tapped the steering wheel in anticipation. Tonight might be the night. Tonight, I might see her in motion rather than the endless stills from conventions, the red carpet and promotional photos.
I couldn’t wait and maybe that made me part of the problem, part of why the end was so god damn nigh. It didn’t matter. A person needed something to focus on and for me, it was her and the beautiful way she depicted such a deadly creature. The curve of her neck, the swell over her breasts, the poise of her lips and the lilt of her accent all combined to make her the perfect woman, a modern starlet of high esteem.
Clotilde would clearly be one of the most famous actresses of this generation and I couldn’t wait to watch her rise. From whatever vantage I could, I’d be there to see it all.