Chapter 22

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Argyll Presbyterian was crowded, as it usually was on Sunday morning. Scott noticed that there were fewer people coming up and congratulating him for his heroism, which was just fine with him. There were the occasional uses of the word "hero" and the occasional recognition, but otherwise most of the congregation were their typical pleasant selves.

Scott tried to avoid Dawn but found he wasn't really able to do that. She was, however, pleasant, if not exactly warm, toward him when he did see her. Her parents were typically cordial toward him, Phil Rhinebeck thanking Scott for picking up Dawn the other night and saying how he was now concerned that there were not only bad people but wild animals running around the light-rail station. Phil said he hoped that the authorities would catch that man-attacking cougar soon; Scott just nodded along. Phil seemed unaware of Scott's conduct with Dawn the other night, which was a relief to Scott, as he just didn't need the extra stress. In any case, he excused himself from being able to retrieve Dawn again from the train stop.

"That's too bad. Can I ask why?"

"Umm...it's...personal. Personal reasons. Not bad personal reasons, it's just...personal, personal reasons. Nothing having to do with your daughter at all. No, sir, nothing having to do with her. It's...personal."

"Personal. Yeah, you said that."

"Did I? Sorry."

"Why do you seem nervous?"

"I'm not nervous! I'm...too much caffeine. Anyway, I'm really sorry, really I am."

"That's all right! No need to explain! We'll make other arrangements."

Scott did not pay much attention to Pastor Larry's message that morning. He reasoned it was for actual people, not vampires, and that it couldn't have done Scott much good anyway. He was a monster, a hell-bound demon beyond salvation, and that's all she wrote as far as Scott was concerned. He just sat in the pew, stewing in his fears.

Pastor Larry noticed Scott sitting alone in the back of the chapel. Naturally, he offered to talk with Scott later after he dropped his family off at home after their usual postservice lunch. Scott agreed to talk with the pastor, but he had no idea how much he should divulge, since he couldn't just come out and tell Larry that he was a vampire. That would be awkward, and it would most likely cause Larry to become concerned for Scott's mental stability. Scott considered that brevity was the soul of wit (at least according to Bill Shakespeare, anyway) and decided to keep it as vague as possible. Scott knew he had to talk to someone about his "lifestyle change," someone not a vampire, someone who was more than just a friend, and someone not his mother—God love her; the poor lady had enough to worry about. Larry agreed to let Scott wait for him at the church. So Scott sat in the chapel as it emptied and the last of the stragglers and volunteer custodians completed their tasks and left to enjoy what was left of their Sunday. The church was now completely empty except for Scott.

He sat there, alone. And just because he was alone didn't mean he was any more comfortable. Scott looked up at the cross that stood by the altar. He could not help but to remember the line from Psalms, quoted by Christ upon his cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Scott then got a weird idea. He rose from the pew and approached the rugged cross. He walked the steps of the dais, briefly stood before the cross, and then dropped to his knees, wrapping his arms around the wooden structure. He embraced the cross and felt the heat.

God? Hey, God, Scott prayed, I don't know if you take prayers from vampires, but here goes: I know I'm supposed to be some demonic hell-bound monster. But I just don't feel it. I don't want to be that way. So, my question is, am I eternally screwed? Have you really abandoned me? You do know this wasn't my choice, don't you? It wasn't my choice. And if I had a choice, I'd have said no. Not only no, but hell no. Sorry. I know you're down on cussing. Anyway, you are taking that into consideration, right? Right? God, take me back! Make me human again! Please! I'm serious! God, please let me know you're listening. Send me a sign! Any sign will do. Okay?

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