“You’re late,” Father Rivera called out from the confessional when he heard footsteps in the empty church.
“Couldn’t be helped,” replied a deep voice, echoing in the dark. “It isn’t like this place is easy to get to at night.”
“That’s what you said the last three times,” Rivera said, agitation evident in his words. “God’s patience may be infinite but mine is not. I suggest you try harder to be more punctual, Mr. Jonas.”
The door to the confessional eased open and closed. “Why? What else have ya got to do?” Jonas asked from within the adjoining booth. “It’s not like there’s a lot to do in this town.”
Rivera leaned closer to the screen that separated them. He spied the faint silhouette of the larger man and was suddenly aware of the stale smell of sweat that filled the air. Jonas had once again chosen to wear a T-shirt to his debriefing, despite the chill permeating the church this time of night, and was busy scratching his bare arms.
“Is there a problem?” Rivera asked.
“Then I suggest you get on with your report.”
Jonas took a deep breath and was silent for a few seconds before speaking. “We followed up that intel you provided. Sure as hell, that town your boys scouted out was filled with bloodsuckers.
“We ran our usual game, acting out the parts of lost travelers and what not until we located their nest. Then we followed SOP and hit them midday.”
“How did that go?” Rivera asked.
“You’ll be glad to hear that I didn’t lose a single person to a vampire.”
“Well, that’s good news,” Rivera said. “I presume that as we speak, your crew is at the local watering hole imbibing themselves into unconsciousness?”
“Nope,” Jonas said. Again he began to scratch his arms.
“Then where are they?”
“They’re dead. All of them.”
Rivera frowned. “But you just said no one died.”
“I said that I didn’t lose anyone to a vampire, because what we found waiting for us in that nest wasn’t just a bunch of soulless undead.”
“I don’t understand,” Rivera said.
Jonas sighed. “Werewolves,” he spat. “Those bastards had a group of werewolves guarding their nest. We were taken by surprise and before I knew it, half my team was in pieces on the floor.”
“Preposterous,” Rivera scoffed. “Where is your team?” he asked again.
“I told you, they’re dead. Some got torn to shreds right off the bat. The ones that made it out, well…” His voice trailed off.
“What became of them?” Rivera prompted.
“I shot them.”
“Because they had been bitten by werewolves and lived. They were doomed to become the same.”
“Mr. Jonas,” Rivera began harshly. “I will not accept this ridiculous tale. Werewolves do not exist. Don’t let the fact that Satan’s minions walk this earth in the guise of vampires lead you to believe that every mythological creature ever invented truly exists. They do not. Now, what happened to your team?!”
Jonas stopped scratching himself and was now very still. “I told you, I killed them,” he said solemnly, and for some strange reason Rivera believed him. His instinct told him that this man was responsible for the deaths of some, if not all, of his team.
Muttering now in a low voice, Jonas continued, oblivious to Rivera’s presence. “I killed them all. I should have seen it coming. I should have seen it. It’s all my fault.” There was no doubt that his days as a field agent were over.
“Pray for me, father,” Jonas whispered, almost to himself.
Feeling tired, Rivera simply nodded and said, “Of course I will pray for you, my son.” It was going to take a lot of hard work in order to help Jonas find redemption.
“Pray for me, father,” Jonas repeated, this time his voice sounding heavier. Rivera noticed that his breathing had changed as well, becoming more labored.
“Yes, Mr. Jonas. I will pray for as I just said.”
Jonas began to fidget. “No father!” He suddenly howled. “Prey for me! YOU ARE PREY FOR ME!”
Father Rivera looked up just in time to see two tremendous hands, taloned and bristling with dark hair, tear through the flimsy screen to grab him by the throat.
Jameson T. Caine has at one time or another worked as a carpenter, meat cutter, shipping clerk, forklift operator, assembly line worker, long haul truck driver and ordained minister. Currently he drives a tanker truck by day and calls himself a writer by night, the latter fueled by a steady diet of soda and cheese puffs. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two dogs. Visit him online at http://jamesontcaine.blogspot.com/.