Corrupted and Content

Out Of The Frying Pan...
March 12th 2010

Pete sighed. He actually couldn’t decide which he liked less: fighting demons, the impromptu supernatural cram session the mysterious men in black had put him and his new companions through, or the overly long plane ride seated next to one of the most ornery old men he had ever seen, or for that matter heard of. But it was finally over, even walking through the airport was therapeutic because it gave him a reason to use his legs. Transportation after this wasn’t in his plan, the world was moving too fast lately, but there seemed to be plenty of cabs lined up, and he didn’t have the patience to search for more economical transportation. But if there was anything the seminary had never needed to teach him, it was prudence, the south side had done that just fine, and besides, this seemed like a good opportunity to extend Christian charity to those who would seem to be our enemies. “Excuse me, sir, but the transportation in this town is priced ludicrously, and since we’re both headed to the Holiday Inn, I thought I would offer to split the fare between you, my companion, and myself.” The old man sighed heavily, but accepted, and was appropriately gracious. Pete knew people well enough to know he wasn’t necessarily happy about it, but his ethics would never allow him to pass up a deal.

The first cab that opened its doors to them was nothing special, just as dented and grimy as the other dozen cabs lined up in front of the arrivals gate. What was different was the driver. At first he seemed to fit the bill perfectly; a license reading Vidal Alejandre with a picture just similar enough to him to fall below the legal threshold for suspicion, a thick accent, a tenuous grasp on English, and an extroverted demeanor that his work demanded as a prerequisite for keeping his sanity. To the casual observer, he was an immigrant cabbie right down to the stereotypical bone, but something about him just didn’t ring right with Pete, and a few years in the confessional booth had taught him to trust his instincts. Their driver’s choice of radio stations only increased his suspicions, as in a short time the phrases the Father’s half-listening ears had picked up included hunter, holding the candle, blood-sucking leeches, and the vigil, before a new, smooth voice took over to announce “Keep your dial pointed to 1337AM for more on the occurrences all over the city tomorrow night, as every night. And as the sun sets over the City of Brotherly Love this is Radio Revolution After Dark, and we’re locking down for the night. We’ll catch you tomorrow at 6 after 7 in the AM and be with you until 12 after the same hour in the PM. I’m Gumshoe Grimm reminding you to stay vigilant, Philly; and carry the candle bravely into the shadows. Revolution, is coming.” Pete hadn’t been in the monster hunting business long, and he wasn’t sure how well informed or trustworthy the men from Canada were, but they had used almost all of those phrases, those same metaphors for what they did, for fighting monsters, for the hunt. Something was definitely up, and if his recent trials had taught him anything, it was that he needed to get to the bottom as soon as possible. Pete sighed. For some reason, he thought Philadelphia was going to be quiet.

Dylan was starting to relax, at least as much as the recent changes in his life made relaxation possible. Less than 2 months ago, he had everything he ever dreamed of; his own show, fans, a devoted nerdy base, and the prestige of a rising young Hollywood player. Sure, the show had problems, but they could have overcome them, if it hadn’t been for that night…

Dylan shook himself. It was easy to divide his life into 2 sections, everything before the night he had fled Los Angeles as his real life, and everything since as its horrible, unrealistic, genre-shifting sequel. Having a vampire invade your house while you sleep, reveal its true face, then make it very clear that you needed to skip town or die will do that to you. Of course he knew now that all of the tragedies and setbacks that had happened on set were almost certainly orchestrated by the vampire conspiracy that so feared him exposing their true nature, even if it was only in fiction. Thinking back on it, it wasn’t even the revelation that the monsters he had made his name writing about were real that threw him the most, it was that, by entering his home, they proved to follow his rules, and not Joss Whedon’s. Even at the ‘Kindred’’s height, if an interviewer had suggested that he would have yelled blasphemy like the good fanboy he still saw himself as, but with incontrovertible, physical proof… No, it still felt wrong to try to put himself above his heroes. On that subject, he had to wonder if the vampires and other illicit forces had a hand in Buffy, or any of the other horribly inaccurate vampire and supernatural fiction churned out by Hollywood. They certainly had the pull, and he was sure Twilight was a vampire conspiracy years before he knew they existed, but what did this mean for all the shows and movies he had loved so much? Could Joss be a ghoul?

“Excuse me, Sir?”

The voice from the back seat shocked him back to the here and now, just in time to keep his cab in the appropriate lane. Philadelphia drivers weren’t the warm, forgiving types he had gotten used to in LA, who would just riddle your car with automatic fire if you cut them off. No, these people were spiteful.

“Sir? Um, Senor Alejandre?” “Oh, yea… Si, si padre?” Shit. He had gotten so in his own head that not only had he ignored his passengers, he had let his accent slip. It wasn’t the best ruse in the world, but the Dominicans in his new neighborhood didn’t know what a Catalonia accent sounded like, and it let him get away as a non-native speaker in both English and Spanish. “I was just wondering where you’re from, my child” “Oh, uh, outside Barthelona, padre.” “Yes, I see…” Shit shit shit. The priest wasn’t buying a word of his story, he could tell. He couldn’t be a vamp, there was still a sliver of sun, but he wouldn’t put it past them at all to ghoul up a clergyman and send it after him. They probably thought he would hesitate to hurt something wearing vestments, but maybe their ages were finally showing, they were behind the times…

“Hiya.” Dylan jumped in his seat. He was lucky that was all he did, his hand had just been reaching in between the front seats for his 9mm when the young girl had suddenly opened his front passenger’s door and casually gotten in at a red light. Under almost an circumstances, this would have been enough for him to shoot someone, and have probable cause to boot, but something about her jumped out at him, he had seen her before. It only took him a split second to remember where: the boards! She was one of the very few posters to the Netzo forums that wasn’t shy at all about showing her face or giving out her name, that alone made her a little famous. This was Natashia Quaker, local film student, hunter, and eccentric. In another split second, the gun was resafetied and back in its hiding spot. Without even stopping to ask for fare or destination, Dylan started driving. He had to get his fares where they were going, but he wasn’t about to kick the first hunter he had ever met face to face out on the street.

“Excuse me, but who is this young lady and why do you think its even remotely ok for her to poach on our cab ride?” The words were sharp. The rap upside the head with a heavy, metal handled cane was sharper. The old guy in the middle seat looked grumpy, and he apparently didn’t go any deeper than that. Dylan didn’t have the patience for this right now.

“Look, buddy, its not costing you anything extra, and she hasn’t done anything to piss you off, so how about you sit back, be quiet, and we’ll be to your mid-priced hotel before you know it?”

The cab was silent. Dylan, after a very confused 3 or 4 seconds, was the last to figure out why. That hadn’t even been close to his fake accent. Anyone with training could probably even pin that as a north Chicago suburbs accent. One second of not thinking, one inconsequential outburst, and he might have just brought the wrath of an entire kingdom of vampires to his brand new, roach infested doorstep.

“Barcelona, you say?” The Priest mused quietly, walking the line between smug confirmation of a suspicion and moral superiority that they must teach on the first day of seminary. There were two ways out of this. One involved trying to take out at least 3 people in the backseat before any of them could distract him enough to send his cab into oncoming traffic and kill them all. One didn’t.

“Look, I’m sorry about the whole funny foreigner routine,” Dylan said in his own voice, “But you’re going to have to trust me that I’m not a criminal or a terrorist, just a normal guy who doesn’t want to be found.”

“I don’t have to trust you about anything,” the hardened older man snarled, “I need to get to my hotel, get out, pay you a fair share of the price of the ride and not a cent more, then never see you again.”

“I will pay for the girls portion of the fare, sir, there is no need to be confrontational.” Leave it to the priest to calm things down, and for now Dylan couldn’t have been happier. The old guy might have been getting a little gray, but he looked as solid as a rock and that cane was not meant to support his legs so much as to break others.

“Well, as long as we’re being honest with each other now, I believe introductions are in order. My name is Father Peter Radcliffe, My friend Toshi is in the far seat, and this gentleman is…”

“No one here needs to know my name.” Dylan now knew that this cane was new. He just didn’t know what was scary enough to have shoved the old one so far up this guy’s ass.

“Nice to meet you all. Well, most of you. I’m Dylan Kent, and this up here is Natashia Quaker.”

Natashia immediately glared at Dylan with a mix of fear, doubt, suspicion, and a steely preparedness to jump him like a caged animal that it actually stalled him in his tracks for a second or two, before he could come up with a meek “I know you from the boards. My handle is Metrop0lisRefugee. Hi.” It definitely wasn’t his smoothest first words to a girl, but it was far from his worst, and she seemed to buy it enough to back off from throat ripping mode.

“Dylan Kent? The Dylan Kent? ‘Kindred’ Dylan Kent?!”

The outburst was surprising, but by this point in the night Dylan had used up his capacity to be shocked. The Asian guy had been quiet all ride, that kind of not quite in his own mind that makes people look straight through you even if you aren’t particularly trying to hide. A few months ago, a reaction like this would have made Dylan’s night. He never got tired of people becoming so engrossed in his creation that they stepped off the edge of rational literary appreciation, even if they hated it. In a year and a half as a Hollywood showrunner, he’d spent dozens of hours talking to fans and hundreds arguing with detractors. But tonight, someone recognizing his name registered just enough emotion for him to reach back between his seat and the one beside it and begin fumbling for his gun’s safety.

“You’ve got the wrong guy. Common name. I get that all the time” “No, you’re him, I remember your picture!” “Look, if I was a famous and brilliant writer and producer, what would I be doing driving a cab on the evening shift in Philadelphia?”

Toshi paused for a breath, but there was a mischievous gleam in his eye. In a softer, much less enthusiastic tone, he said “I always liked that show. The only thing I couldn’t stand was how they made all the vampires bad guys and kept them out of the sun, sparkling is half the fun of a vampires show.”

Dylan’s toes curled. He bit his lip. He gripped the steering wheel hard enough to feel the cheep pleather start to flake off in his hands. He almost had himself contained until the formerly quiet guy in the back continued “I mean, I know not everything can be as good as Twilight, but…”

“Listen, Twilight is a piece of shit, and Stephanie Meyer is going to whatever Hell Mormons believe in for writing it. But people don’t want a quality story, they want something to follow the current pop romantic bastardizing of fanged monsters. We had real goddamn vampires. Vampires are evil spawn of the pit, they do not go out in the day, and they do not fucking sparkle!”

The cab was silent for what seemed like the hundredth time that ride. Everyone, including Dylan, was taken aback at the sudden display of nerd rage, but Toshi, just reclined in his seat and quietly said to himself “I knew it. Awesome!”

After that, there was a few moments triumph for awkward silence, and Dylan welcomed it enough that he wished he believed in something he could send prayers of thanks to. When the priest, after not even the full playtime of a song, cleared his throat to speak, Dylan immediately withdrew the sentiment.

“So, that is a very interesting radio station you have on there, Dylan. I was especially intrigued by the message about carrying the candle and maintaining the vigil when we first got in. Toshi and I seem to be hearing that message a lot lately.”

Now Dylan’s mind was really moving a million miles an hour. Had he really had the good fortune to wind up with a carload full of hunters after spending 2 months in Philadelphia not finding one? Or was this the most elaborate trap ever set? One glance at Natashia revealed she was thinking the same thing; these guys obviously weren’t with Netzo, but they seemed to know at least the basic keywords of the lingo. Dylan hadn’t even finished processing the Priest’s statement, let alone deciding on a response, by the time that Natashia turned and said “Yeah, really interesting. Look, I have this video project up in Cobbs Creek Park that sounds right up you guys alley, care to tag along and lend a hand?”

Dylan, Pete, and Toshi looked at each other awkwardly, before Pete finally replied “Child, we’ve only just met, and I do not know how much assistance I could be with your filming.”

“Oh no, I’ll film. I just wanted some more people around, you know… experienced people. The park has some problems with dogs. Really big dogs.”

The proverbial lightbulb over their 3 faces could have lit up the care, but in effect it just cast the old man in the middle into deeper shadow.

“I don’t know you people. But you apparently know each other. You are in speaking in code, and the things you are saying make little sense. I am a former law enforcement officer, I do still have allies on the Philadelphia police, and unless you give me a very good reason not to I am about to subdue you all and report your cult to the authorities.”

Dylan was prepared for the shocked silence this time, it had almost become a cliche. But that still didn’t mean he could do anything to convince his body to unfreeze his blood or make his jaw or vocal chords work.

“No need to call anyone,” Natashia beamed, “You’re perfectly welcome to come along and see for yourself that nothing is going on.”

Dylan was either in love with this girl or terrified of her. And which ended up being true greatly depended on whether she was able to stay this much on her toes due to sharp wits or a borderline sociopathic removal from human entanglement. In any case, in the here and now it appeared to have placated the crazy ex-cop in his back seat, and that was a good thing.

“Fine,” muttered the crag in the middle seat, “but turn that meter off, drive straight there, and when we get there, no funny business.”

Dylan took a deep breath. He had asked for this, after all. Two months of writing comics for nothing, driving a cab 10 hours a day, and living on ramen had made him desperate for something to do, something to be able to strike, some way to feel in control of his life. This looked like that opportunity, and now that it had been dropped in his lap he wasn’t sure he wanted it. But with a cab full of 3 hunters and one extremely hard to pleas ex-cop, there was no backing out now. He was about to find out whether he really deserved to be called a hunter, or if all he had to look forward to was a short life of uploading second rate comics and waiting for a vampire hit squad. Oh well, he thought as he steered the cab through the warm Philadelphia spring night, still better than another night of ramen.

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Give Us This Day...
March 15th

Maria’s steps echoed across the floorboards of the church. Her shadow crossed over the image of the blessed Virgin, glowing on the floor as the sun set over the stained glass in the western end of the Holy Name of Mary Cathedral. She left the church, letting the reverberating sound of the door slamming fade as the sanctuary, and beyond it, Philadelphia, grew still. And in the chapel of St. Mark, before the winged lion of the Evangelist, Peter Radcliffe knelt and prayed.

Lord, forgive me for what I must do today. I know that I am your tool on this Earth; your instrument to bring your holy Light and Word to those who suffer in the darkness. To ease those tormented, to remind them that this too shall pass, and that the end is not yet. And for these years I have rejoiced in bringing the hope of faith in Jesus Christ to men and women who bend beneath the burdens of despair. But tonight I am afraid…

Tonight, I fear that I must kill someone.

The Weeping Man in the park. He seems tied to those… creatures, somehow. I cannot know why You, in Your wisdom, have chosen to tie these tortured souls to the earth even yet, O Lord, but I know it is my task to release them. I cannot know what you meant by the dream that you sent me, but I will find the answer. I must. If I can, I will send him to Your Kingdom, to sit redeemed. I know, with conviction, that You will forgive him. He has suffered so, Lord, but he shall be comforted. But I cannot do this while wolves would tear me asunder, while beasts would rip and cut my friends that have nothing but righteousness in their hearts. And so tonight we may kill another person, O Lord, and I am afraid.

Holy Mary, Blessed Mark, who stood resolute against the forces of evil, pray for this poor sinner, who would do the work of the Lord. Protect me and my brothers, and my sisters, and if we must fall, take us swiftly into thine loving embrace. Toshi, who wants only the good in men to triumph. And Dylan, who had the bravery to show the truth when the shadows threatened him with torments such that I cannot imagine. And Natashia, who would help these stricken spirits out of kindness alone. And Arkady, for she has suffered and suffers still. Protect them, O Lord, for they too are bearers of the Breastplate of Righteousness.

The intense young woman, who seems tormented so, tells me that this wolf killed a child. Or that it would. I don’t know, Lord, for she speaks in tongues of angels or demons. Such a heinous crime. But I know You would forgive him, Lord, and so I must as well. As St. Francis said, ‘You have done much evil, brother wolf, such that all folk are thy enemy, yet I would be your friend.’

Forgive him, Lord.

Peter Radcliffe crossed himself and rose from the kneeler. He picked up the folio of the Witch’s Hammer, and strode out into the blood-red sunlight, burdened no longer. His mind, body, and soul were prepared for the Hunt. He fought, and the Lord fought with him.

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Post 001
March 15th

The following are the case studies and patient logs for patients 84092-84356 at Friends Hospital a.k.a. The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason as of 2010-3-15

by Toshinobu M. Nakamura

Patient 84092, N.Q. is proving troublesome. She is showing more self-destructive tendencies, a drug regiment may need to be implemented along with psychotherapy.

D.K. is a troubling case. He is a habitual liar, but is very bad at it. He keeps on claiming to be Glen A. Larson, the executive producer of Battlestar Galactica. perhaps a second personality manifesting. More time with the patient is needed.

Patient 84481, P.R. is experiencing temporal lobe seizures. This has manifested as a feeling of divinity in everything. Combined with the fact that he is paranoid schizophrenic is a cause of concern. His temporal lobe seizures cause him to find significance in everything he sees, a sort of divinity to the entire world. But now with his paranoid schizophrenia he sees omens of an impending apocalypse everywhere. I will attempt to use standard treatment, but as of yet treatment has yielded few results. Electroconvulsive therapy may be implemented if treatments attempts prove unfruitful.

The case of patient 84356, A.S.. She is very attractive, but this beauty is the root of many of her psychoses. She experienced some trauma, when she was admitted there was no record of what happened. her facial expression is disengaged, similar to the “thousand-yard stare” that manifested in many veterans of the Vietnam conflict. When she speaks it is not coherent. Perhaps there is something to be gleaned from the brief moments of when she speaks, but I have yet to find anything revealing. More observation is required.

Patient 84287, A.C. is high functioning autistic. extended time with him has proven fruitful. I have gained his trust and I hope to use this relationship to gain the trust of the other autistic children.

There is one more patient that I am going to be meeting with shortly with some of the most dangerous patients at Friends Hospital. He is very violent, but the reasons for his violence are unknown. There is little in his patient history and he is a puzzlement. The patient is so dangerous that I will be bringing 4 orderlies with me.

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Four Rounds and a Sedan

March 16th

Slam. Steps. 3rd Floor. 2nd Apartment on the right. Shit, 3rd. Not LA. Sorry. Door Closed. Shotgun Loaded.

After that, it was a while before Dylan had another real thought. He couldn’t tell how long, the one room apartment didn’t have a clock. It was still dark, at least. Not that he thought he would sleep that night anyway. The realization of what he had done that night really didn’t hit him until he was alone, riding home in the back of someone else’s cab. Not the spirit being banished, not the werewolf that had showed up to protect it, not even the 4 rounds he had pumped into that wolf to put it down. No, that didn’t bother him. It followed the rules of the new world he found himself in perfectly. What had crushed him in the back of the cab was that he was now a murderer. Even in retrospect, 3 rounds to the howling beast attacking the Father still seemed like a good idea. It was the 4th, to its back, that bothered him. He didn’t even know if it was still its back when he pulled the trigger. There was the shot, then the hole, then the cab, then a dead man lying where the monster had been. He couldn’t put those in order if his life depended n it, and really, he didn’t think it mattered. He took an action. He squeezed the trigger of a gun. There was a consequence. A man with a large hole in his torso and a bloody mess where his face used to be. A freshman business student could block that action, oldest one in the book.

Shit. He had almost forgotten about the cab. Goddammit Arkady, what the fuck were you thinking? The fucking thing was dead by the time she even got there, and there was a reason they hadn’t used the car in the first place. Pretty generous to be with other people’s shit in chasing your prey. Now they weren’t only without transportation, Dylan would have to come up with something to tell his bosses at the depot, and Vidal wasn’t exactly the best liar in the world. Plus, he doubted they would go for the Superbad excuse, and that was about all he had up his sleeve.

Dylan chuckled to himself at what a bastard he could be. He had just taken his first life, and he was worried about his car and coming up with excuses for work. The more things change, eh? If everything he ever read was true, if he was really a hero, he should be inconsolable right now, sobbing in his secret hideout at the violation of his code and the blood on his hands. But he didn’t feel that. Mostly, he just felt charged. He could try to weep for awhile, but without knowing anyone else in the world to perform for, there was no point in lying to himself. For some reason, what he did hadn’t really bothered him at all, and not even because it was a werewolf on the receiving end. He’d seen enough to know that, wolf or not, people were people. Turning into a wolf, sucking blood, magic; that was just power, no different from any other kind, and they used it in just as evil of ways as any human with power. He knew Hollywood agents that he knew for a fact weren’t vampires who would break their clients bones and suck out the marrow while they screamed if they saw an angle in it. Hell, this one time…

That was it. He knew killing that wolf didn’t bother him. Sure, he had never gone for The Punisher, or any of the Dark Age gore that Image churned out when he was a kid. All of the posters in his room were Superheroes with a strict code against killing; Supes, Batman, Green Lantern, Doctor Strange, Spiderman. But there was one poster that had hung above every bed he’d slept in since he was 12, one man who killed a lot of people, and lived to regret none of it: Che. Dylan wasn’t overly political, his Dad had enough commitment for the whole family. It wasn’t his philosophy or economic policy that drew him to Che Guevara, it was his image. If you didn’t look too hard at the facts, che was a perfect dashing rogue, stealing back to his home in the night to lead a revolution against its corrupt government from the jungle, thinking only of his people. But even more than aping Robin Hood, he had something unique. He was a judge, a man possessed of so strong of morals and so sharp of mind that he knew who needed to die to win the people’s rights, who had committed crimes worthy of death. Che had little power, but he used every scrap of what he could scrounge to serve the people. The people he killed had all of the power, and had chosen to use it to kill, steal, dominate. You get a black and white moral conflict paired with a David vs. Goliath battle, and who doesn’t like an underdog?

After pausing to reflect on the irony of calling oneself an underdog against a literal dog, Dylan smiled. That wolf, whatever his human name and identity, had power. Lots of it. And he had failed to wield it responsibly and chosen to menace children and attack a harmless priest. And Dylan had killed him. Kal-El might disapprove, but this was where Che lived and breathed, and he’s a hero the world over.

So he was a hero after all, Dylan mused as his eyes slowly closed and his grip on his shotgun loosened, he just had the wrong genre. Good to know…

Dylan slept like a baby.

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Blood and Broken Glass

March 16th

Peter Radcliffe didn’t suffer his wounds with the stoic reserve of a man of the cloth. He moaned in Maria’s backseat, clutching his shoulders where the beast had raked through the deacon’s chasuble. Blood leaked from his martyred muscles, and he gasped for breath in ragged sobs as the young woman chewed her lip and pushed down faster on the accelerator. Traffic, even at this hour, only caused her frustration to climb higher. And there is no siren for the Lord’s work; no flashing light that cries “Make way! For this way pass the bearers of the light of the Redeemer!”

The beaten old Chevy Cavalier screeched into the alley behind Holy Name, and Peter coughed. There was blood in it. Maria threw the parking brake on, and helped the young priest hobble into the sacristy. Fresh rain struck cold and sharp on his ravaged back, eliciting fresh cries. “Madre de Dios, sálvanos,” she muttered, and heaved the bleeding man into the waiting arms of Brother Remus. They bundled him into the back of the church, and closed the door.

The next two hours were a jumble of bandages, stitches, and the harsh smell of antiseptic. Rushed whispers in High Latin, and fervent prayers for the assistance of St. Luke, the healer who walked with Christ. Peter wondered, fuzzy from pain and exhaustion, whether Luke could hear them over the rain. The rain that God had sent…

After a while, the swelling had gone down and Peter was wrapped in a swathe of white cotton bandages stained with hydrogen peroxide. But he would live. His body now accounted for, he gestured to Maria for his bag. She retrieved it, and the wounded man retrieved his rosary, fitting it between his fingers with an ease that spoke of old habit.

His was a little unorthodox (many things about the father were), in that it held two medallions, not the traditional one. There was the crucifix, of course, the symbol of the sacrifice that He made for us. But there was also a small silver medal embossed with a golden dove, the mark of the Holy Spirit, the aspect of the all-redeeming God that was present in every facet of this imperfect world. Peter slid the beads over and between his hands with a rhythmic clicking, whispering his prayers with head bowed.

“Lord, forgive me, for I have failed you. Though I released one soul to your loving embrace, I could not save the other to be redeemed on Earth. I was not strong enough.”

Click. His hands were steady.

“Lord, forgive that man, for he knew not what he did. I saw a beast in his eyes that I had never known before. There was some horrible curse on him that robbed him of Adam’s gift and made him as an animal. I can hate him no more than I can hate a cat that kills in hunger, Lord, and I know You will accept him into Your Kingdom.”

Click. Peter’s hands trembled. His voice began to shake.

“Lord, forgive Arkady for her hate. She is so scared, I can feel it rise from her soul like a cold tide in the dark. She is drowning in frightened voices, Lord. Rescue her.”

Click. His hands shook more violently, threatening to drop the beads. A crack crept into Peter’s usually measured tone.

“Lord, forgive Dylan, for he has killed someone, and I don’t know if he will grow used to it. I won’t let him kill again, Lord, please. Forgive him this once. Don’t let him…”

Click click ka-click. The rosary hit the floor. Peter Radcliffe’s head dropped into his hands. He sobbed the last prayer.

“Don’t let him lose his soul too, Lord. Please don’t let him be like the little girl.”

Pete broke down completely, his tortured body wracked by pain and grief for the stain on a man’s soul. Blood and tears dripped on the floor of the Cathedral of the Holy Name, and his two comrades embraced him. They thought him naive, untempered. A new candle-bearer in a Vigil as old as sin. But they knew his pain. They held him in silence as dawn broke over Philadelphia, a city watched over by hundreds of monsters, witches and demons. But watched over too by a peaceful carpenter and His bloodied, weeping, brave disciples. The candle burned lower, but it did not go out.

Amen.

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Post 002

March 22nd

The following are the case studies and patient logs for patients 84092-84356 at Friends Hospital a.k.a. The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason as of 2010-3-22

by Toshinobu M. Nakamura

My fears about patient 84092,N.Q. have come to be. She has gone and gotten herself hurt. Her injuries are being seen to; soon I will have implement a new course of treatment

D.K. has had a bad week. On 3-16 A.S. tried to cheer him up by decorating his bed. This did not go well. D.K. and A.S. have been temporarily separated until D.K. has settled down.

Patient 84481, P.R.’s temporal lobe seizures have grown more intense, I have sent him away for a consult from a friend at Johns Hopkins hospital.

The case of patient 84356, A.S. is still incoherent, although her attempted act of kindness is promising, even if it was destructive.

Patient 84287, A.C. and I had a short period where we disconnected from each other, but he has given me a second chance. He has allowed me to take him to the Pharmacy to try a new treatment.

The high-risk patient I was giving a consult for proved to be quite a handful. Two of the orderlies were injured, One was nearly beaten to death but the other two orderlies successfully sedated the patient. However the dosage administered was too high. We defibrilated the patient but to no avail. Although the death of the patient is regrettable, I stand by the actions taken by the orderlies in an attempt to save the life.

Finally there was a new patient, M.P., who has undergone some severe mental trauma. He has symptoms of PTSD and I will pursue treatment for this little boy to the best of my abilities.

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Post 003

March 24th

The following are the case studies and patient logs for patients 84092-84356 at Friends Hospital a.k.a. The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason as of 2010-3-22

by Toshinobu M. Nakamura

patient 84092 has had no change in her condition.

D.K. is still suffering from last weeks’ ordeal. He tried to pull the fire alarm the other day. No doubt he got the idea from watching all of that television. He also has started calling me a cylon… I will have to look into what he means exactly from that.

Patient 84481, P.R. is due back from Johns Hopkins today, I look forward to him joining us once more

A new patient has been transferred to my care B.M.. I took him to the museum today and he had a panic attack which resulted in him jumping into the Dinosaur display. I tried talking him down, but before I could convince him to leave the display he was Tazered by a police officer. Whatever progress that had been made before he was put into my care has been undone. I will have to start all over again

I will be brought in for a consult for a severe burn victim. He is still in intensive care but the powers-that-be have decided that we should start trying to treat his mental trauma at the same time as his physical trauma.

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Therefore Put on the Full Armor of God...

March 25th

Hospitals are paradoxes. On the one hand, they are a culmination of centuries of secular science and logical thought; nowhere else does one find so many men and women concerned solely with the practice of medicine, a discipline that is necessarily divorced from superstition or magical thinking. But on the other, they are houses of hope and prayer, places where thousands of desperate supplications are uttered every day. Where science ends, faith begins. Who said that?

Peter couldn’t remember, as he lay in thought amongst the beeps and whines of the U Penn general hospital. The Asian nurse (such a kind young lady) had brought his cane earlier that day. They said he’d never run again. The damage that the creature had done to his stomach had been too much; they harvested leg tissue to replace what had spilled on the floor of the tomb. This, Peter remembered.

The Padre had come and gone, and they had discussed many things. They had spoken of violence, of Christ who came “not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” (Matthew 10:34). They spoke of faith, how belief in the infinite mercy of the Lord should not be confused with the sin of pride, of which so many were guilty. And they had spoken of courage, the fortitude to do what was necessary in a fight against foes as old as the War in Heaven. And then the padre left, and Peter was left to think.

To an outsider, Pete would seem to be praying. He held his rosary, the dove medallion a little scarred by the wayward sword of the thing in the tomb. His head was bowed and his lips moved. But Peter wasn’t praying. He was just thinking.

How do I get to the Kingdom?, Pete thought. I know and have believed that violence has no place in the will of God, but perhaps I have been too proud. Perhaps I am not only the Shield of God, but his Righteous Sword as well. Perhaps not everything can be healed, but only purged.

The rosary clicked, force of habit taking over. His leg throbbed beneath layers of bandage and antibiotics.

If I had been braver, if I had been less concerned with my purity, with the whiteness of my soul, those poor guards wouldn’t be dead. I would have stained my soul with murder, but is that not better than the death of innocents? I am the shepherd of the souls of men; my own conscience must come second.

Peter’s face hardened. His knuckles turned white around the rosary.

So be it. Redemption is still an option for those that would forsake the path of darkness. And I must offer it. Holy Mary, let some of them choose the way of the Redeemer, for the alternative is dispatch by my hand, as His instrument. And I do believe there is still hope for them: they can still find a path to kindness and hope, through Jesus Christ! But there will be woe and suffering to those who would stand before the will of the Lord, and it is my task on this fallen world to mete it out. I will be the righteous mace of God. He demands it.

Peter began to drift away on a cushion of morphine. Before he fell asleep, he muttered a single heartfelt prayer to God that the creatures in darkness would not force him to kill them, and he resolved to have a word with Arkady about finding the right tools for the task the Lord had set before him…

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The Gnostic Dialogues

March 27th

It is good to see the sun again, Peter thought. He had been cooped up in hospitals and pawnshops for far too long, of late, and the beautiful clear sky reminded him of why he persisted in his sometimes crushing Vigil. He looked about him, in the Cathedral of the Holy Name, as the saints cast their glowing images on the empty pews. Kind faces of pure souls, icons of what the Blessed John Paul II had called “the universal call to holiness”, that beautiful sacred spark that lived in all peoples. Not long before (not long at all), these rows were filled with devout believers, ordinary men and women who turned to the Holy Trinity in these dark times, and were comforted. Here, a community was built, hope was rekindled. It reminded Pete of his time in Chicago, working in soup kitchens and lay missions, and it warmed his heart. The last few weeks, he had been under a doubtful pall in the wake of the events of the pawnshop.

Maria caught him daydreaming. With a sharp ‘whap!’ she brought the padded staff into Pete’s shoulder, and he exhaled sharply in pain. She smiled at him, sweat pouring down her face. They’d been sparring for close on an hour now, but neither of them were quite ready to call it quits yet. Pete grinned through the sting, lifted his mace (wrapped in padded toweling), and counterattacked.

CRACK! THUD! WHAP! The two members of the Congregation pushed bruised muscles and ragged lungs to their limits in the sanctuary of Holy Name. But even good exercise can’t shut off the imagination of a thinker like Father Peter Radcliffe. It just doesn’t work that way, and his mind began to reflect on events once again…

What now, I wonder? Dylan is… upset, of course. Although this wouldn’t have happened without his rash decision, born of panic. He was frightened; he will be forgiven this.

The deacon was starting to wander again, Maria could see it in his eyes. She couldn’t keep the smirk off of her face. The priest from Chicago was a righteous man, and there was no better exorcist in Philadelphia, but he did have this tendency to get lost in his own head. She lined up another temple blow…

Was that creature, that counterfeit, a reflection of Dylan’s darkest urges? For if so, I have reason to fear. Car bombs? Arson? Murdering? We are Hunters as befits the will of The Lord, yes, but violence is not the only path we follow. And to kill without being sure of the righteousness of the act is a grievous sin indeed.

The mace wandered into a lazy defensive position. Here comes the staff.

And Toshi? What next for him? I fear he is slipping, beginning to bow beneath the weight of this vigil. Whence these new allies? And at what price do they hold him ransom to such horrific quotas? He called them with but little hesitation, though that creature was nearly as human as either of us. Had I only been in the room with them, had I only had the chance to show them the Way. Perhaps it would have been impossible. Can you save something that has no soul…?

WHACK! Pete was knocked clean on his ass, and the mace fell beside him, the price for his absentmindedness. Maria pointed the staff at him, the sun glinting off the little gold crucifix around her neck. Her teeth were almost as white as her athletic clothes as she smiled at him, and raised an eyebrow. “Pacis?”

Peter grinned back, sheepishly. “Pax Pacis, Maria”. She helped him up, and the two retired to the basement. They changed and went to lunch at one of the carts, Maria as focused and Peter as distracted as usual. She rolled her eyes. To get Father Peter’s mind to stop humming would be a miracle indeed.

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Post 004

March 28th

The following are the case studies and patient logs for patients 84092-84356 at Friends Hospital a.k.a. The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason as of 2010-3-22

by Toshinobu M. Nakamura

Patient D.K. has taken up almost all of my time this past week. His multiple personalities were gaining dominance and his normal self was disappearing. I had to take him into my care. It seems that in addition to thinking he is Glen A. Larson, executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, a new personality has appeared. This personality is nothing but ill intent, voicing all of D.K.’s innermost feelings of hate. Perhaps the most troubling thing about this new personality is I cannot tell when D.K. is in control or this doppelganger. In light of this new development I entered D.K. into a new experimental drug trial that seems to have worked in some capacity. There seems to only be one personality now, but D.K. is very upset with me for getting rid of his other self and I am unsure which personality remains and which one was removed.

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