Let it Burn

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Jan. 1

"A new year, a new you!" says the man in the ad on the radio as I sit in the idling van and watch the two vampires leap out of the shadows, grab the old lady, and haul her out of sight. Her kicking feet are the last thing to go, and I watch them pound the sidewalk, thick brown support shoes struggling to contain lumpy ankles.

Once the feet are out of sight, I climb out of the van and shiver as a cold breeze hits me. It's an unusually chilly night. I cross the street and I run the steps to the church.

It's a normal church, Presbyterian, I think, not the vampire church, not Open Doors Ministries. Oh no. I'm not going anywhere near that place or Father Pete.

I tried that. I fell for it. After they bombarded me with text messages, I finally left my hideout in Dallas and went to visit Vince and his new pals. I was getting pretty damn lonely, you know? So despite what happened to Diana, I met the fat old vampire with his flabby white skin and creepy red eyes, and I have to say, it was the most depressing thing I have ever seen. Here's this vampire who's been around for two thousand years and he looks like shit. He was living proof of what I have to look forward to, because even immortals get old and ugly eventually, I guess.

Yet Vince and the others were fawning all over him, spouting all this crap about shepherding mankind. It's like they joined a cult, and I don't get why because Father Pete absolutely repulsed me. He looked me deep in the eyes and I don't know what he was expecting, but whatever he thought was going to happen didn't. He seemed frustrated by it, but I just wanted to get back to Dallas. I kept trying to imagine the face Vince would make if he saw my arm. I kept seeing Diana strewn across the living room. I kept waiting for all those vampires to turn on me, so I cut out as fast as I could and I haven't been back. I ditched my phone. I disappeared.

But I didn't get away.

I didn't go far enough.

The vampires are all over the place here now. They are truly taking over, this new V Genetation, and I couldn't be more over it.

New year, new you! the ad said, and I think it's right. New year, new me. I need to make some changes. I need to find a new scene.

I grab the handle and a ponderous church door swings open. Cold air slaps my face. I feel like I'm being rebuked, and I suppose I am, but when I step over the threshold, the chill goes away. A wave of heat envelops me. I'm walking through fire. My burned arm shivers and the muscles clench. Suddenly I'm reliving those dreadful moments in the truck, but this time it's worse because it's everywhere, in every inch and pore, a great righteous cleansing, and that's okay, this time the fire's nice. It's just what I need—a sign that I'm doing the right thing. The suffering is part of the experience, right?

As I walk up the aisle toward the front of the church, I pull a silver cross out of my pocket. The metal sears my palm and I let it burn. I suffer, as I feel I should suffer to be the first vampire to experience this purely authentic, unadulterated experience. To blaze a new trail—literally.

I walk through the church and I swallow fire.
Because, after all, what's more ironic than a vampire meeting God?

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