Chapter Four: The Truth about Untruths

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I'm not sure how long I walk, but the moment I see it, I know I have to prove something to myself, before the sun sets and it becomes too dangerous to experiment. The church's steeple looms high above, piercing the sky with its spire as I watch a flock of pigeons flutter about the belfry and coo as if nothing is wrong. But everything is wrong, and the sanctuary within calls to me, like in the days of my youth, when my father would take me to church, and I'd listen to the dry lectures and do my best to not lie down on the bench during sermon for a quick snooze.

The memory snaps me back into my mission, and I let out a slow, longing breath as the vision of my father fades. He will never see the mess the world has become. He'll never have to deal with the ramifications of every action the way I do in these horrid times. In death, he is the luckier one, but I can't give up. I have my mother and Jeremy to protect.

So I march up the steps of the massive building, pristine with its wooden doors, brass knobs and stained glass windows. The beauty of it all eludes me as I press my bloody handprint against the cool doorknob and rotate it. Shoving the heavy door open, I enter the cool foyer before clicking it shut behind me.

The sound of soft voices singing echoes throughout the place, bouncing off the walls from the great sanctuary beyond another set of doors ahead. I'm sure the people inside know what's going on outside, but they make no effort to lock the place down. They put so much faith in the safety of this hallowed ground. It makes me wonder if there could be something to that. Either way, I'm on a mission and need to find out if what was said about vampires could work on these mad creatures.

As I make my way to the double inner doors of the sanctuary, I pause and find a wooden cross hanging above a picture of the Christ. I peer at it for a moment before I snatch the cross and stuff it into the belt of my pants.

"Sorry," I whisper to the picture of Jesus looking on with kind eyes and a halo lighting him up. My guilt over stealing wanes quickly as I push on the sanctuary doors enough to get a good peek inside.

There are a few people sitting in the pews, and some singing in the choir area behind the podium where the priests or pastors lecture. I'm not sure what sort of a church I'm in for some look the same unless you read the name. Before I proceed further, I see what I came for. A stoup stands in the back of the sanctuary, still and alone. I get giddy and then remember I have nothing to put the holy water in. I let go of the door and back up into the foyer, flicking my eyes about to see what I can use to carry the water.

The foyer has few options. It's neat, bare and free of clutter. I start to think I might not find anything here and will have to return later when I spot the trash can. Sprinting over to it, I flip the top up and hold it as the hinge keeps it from coming off. Peering inside, I see an empty bottle of water and, just my luck, it has the top to it screwed on. I pluck it out, uncap it and shake the remains of water out of it.

Perfect.

Slipping back into the sanctuary, I walk softly to the stoup and pull the top off it. Luckily it isn't locked, and I dip in the bottle for a bit of water, rinse it out and chuck the waste water to the carpet before I let it sit in the basin and fill to the fullest.

The place has gone quiet, and I barely notice it until I look up while screwing the cap back onto the bottle. The water is tinged pink from the blood that has seeped off my skin and tainted the water with its grit. I hope it still works, but the stares I get have me giving them a weak smile before I turn and head right out the doors and then to the outside world.

I hope I get to test it before I get home.

Sure enough, the overhang where I had killed the old man has several new ferals lingering under its protective shell against the harsh afternoon sun. The three sitting under it watch me studiously as I approach. I meet their challenging glares for a moment before looking away. My fear blooms as I wonder if they can control people with their minds, like the stories say they can. They hiss at me, and I get my answer as I find that already one person has gotten too close. His body shows no signs of struggle; no scratches or other defensive wounds from what I can see. He lies face down on the shaded concrete, spread eagle, as if willingly sacrificed. Surrounding the body is a sticky puddle of what I know to be blood. He's probably better off now. I just hope he doesn't come back as one of these feral creatures.

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