Wrapping up my posts about werewolves (man, this took AGES!) I’ll be continuing the tradition of offering up a little piece of writing. I have no idea where this came from or what the hell was in my head when I wrote it (I was watching over the Sprogs while they had bath when I wrote this) but hey . . . I quite like it.
It needs some work—this is the ‘brain vomit’ version, but following some positive feedback from my buddies at the PWG, I’ll be working on it a bit more in coming weeks.
“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. More than ten months have passed since my last confession.”
Father Oliver Bowman sat straighter behind the textured screen between himself and the whispering figure on the other side. “I’m glad you’ve come. Please use this time to speak with the Lord, that he may hear the full extent of your sin.”
The words rolled off his tongue now; so easy, day after day. Week after week. Month after long, painful month.
If only his own sins could be so easily forgiven.
The shape on the other side of the screen shifted slightly. He seemed to be thinking. Deeply.
“Don’t be nervous—you’ve taken the greatest, most important step in coming here. Now unburden yourself and seek absolution.”
The stranger sighed. The heavy exhalation sent a gust of onion-scented air through the divide.
Oliver wrinkled his nose, tried not to think about who sat on the other side. And yet, with each puff of air, each whispered word, the image became clearer. He had such a distinctive scent and voice, after all.
Oliver gazed at the open bible spread across his lap. He touched the golden lettering, almost worn away in places. “I’ll read you a piece of scripture. Perhaps that will help.” He choose a passage from the gospel of John, one discussing the necessity of confession and how every man, woman and child was tainted by sin.
Beyond the divide, Bruce wept. He sniffed and, at last, spoke. “Father, I’ve . . . touched people.”
Oliver allowed the silence to stretch.
“Young people. Very young. Children.”
A lump filled the back of Oliver’s throat. He fumbled in his cassock for the figure of Christ dangling from a slender chain about his neck. “Go on, son.”
Bruce sighed again. This time, instead of pain, the sound held wistful introspection. “I work in a school—I see them every day—I—I mean they—I know it’s wrong. But they’re my special friends. I love them. How can it be wrong?”
Oliver gritted his teeth. His sense of duty battled with the fury tingling across his palms.
“There are so many.” Bruce’s voice dropped lower. “This week, at least four. Before that, more. And I know it’s wrong. I know. But I can’t help myself . . . I’m like an animal.”
The bible slipped off Oliver’s lap. It hit the floor face down with a loud slap. He left it there, breathing heavily as he understood. He knew what had to come next.
Bruce continued as if he hadn’t heard, his voice now breaking. “I just want to feel whole again. To be clean.”
With effort, Oliver cleared his throat. “Then begin with an Act of Contrition. Then I shall give you the appropriate penance.”
The phrase felt slick on his tongue. Appropriate penance? He knew what the appropriate penance was and the mere thought of it made his stomach turn. But he had a job to do.
Eyes closed, head resting against the back of the confessional, Oliver listened to Bruce speak his prayer of sorrow knowing that it would never be enough.
Night fell early. A full moon hung low in a cloudless sky, leaching colour from the street. Trees, cars and buildings bore a silver edge, beautiful yet ghostly in the darkness.
Oliver Bowman crouched low in the bushes, hidden by shadows thrown by the ugly block of flats on his right.
He listened to the song of the city; rumbling cars, distance voices and scuffling nightlife. So many souls, so much life . . .
A woman with a Jack Russell on a long lead walked by, three feet from his hiding place. She didn’t see him, but the dog growled low in his tiny throat and strained to get at him, angered and confused by his presence.
He glared at the creature until it backed down, scurrying closer to his mistress with his short tail tucked between his legs.
Though Oliver hated to frighten animals, he knew it was best. No good would come of him being discovered tonight.
He hated this part of the city. The stench of it slammed his nose and set all his senses tingling; like the smell of human souls rotting. Anguish and despair made tangible.
He thought of his sister as he sat in the darkness. The sadness in her eyes when he told her of the work he had planned that night.
She didn’t agree. She never did. Yet, she pulled him close and pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek. “Tonight?” She glanced out the window at the blue-black sky.
Her features slackened. Understanding dawned and sucked the colour from her face. “Haven’t you been through enough?”
“The Lord tests my faith. I mustn’t falter.”
“You won’t need dinner, then?”
She stepped back from him, building a three foot chasm between them. “I won’t wait up.”
Oliver shook his head to clear the memory. Sure, Barbara never complained, but their relationship had become strained over the last ten years. Tense. Full of awkward silences.
But she never complained. Just prayed.
A figure stepped through the communal front door of the flat across the street. The familiar scent of onions spiked into the crisp, night air.
Oliver stood. Shook himself. Stalked after Bruce.
Though he hated to admit it, the chase excited him. The physical act of chasing down sin thrilled him in a way that made his mouth water.
His nostrils flared at the stink of corruption and wrong-doing. It seemed to fill the air with tactile shadows that screamed with the voices of a dozen children.
As he moved, Oliver began his own confession.
Forgive me father, for I am about to sin.
Oliver thought the well-rehearsed words as he crept closer, slowly closing the distance between himself and Bruce.
It has been 28 days since my last confession.
Bruce stopped outside an old hall on the back of a working men’s club. Gleeful shrieks from inside told Oliver this must be youth club night.
Closer still. Every muscle tensed. Ready to spring.
I have hunted . . .
Bruce cast an anxious glance over his shoulder, scratching the back of his neck. His shoulders hiked high towards his ears, every limb tight with tension.
. . . I have tracked . . .
A golden rectangle of light illuminated the ground as Bruce pushed at the door.
. . .And I have used the gift you gave me for one foul purpose.
By some bizarre fluke—or the grace of God?—the children within chose that moment to crank up their music.
Oliver sprang from the shadows, closing the last few feet between himself and his prey.
While the preppy, synthesised tones of Justin Bieber filled the night, Oliver opened his mouth. His long, haunting howl filled the air and Bruce cowered in the dirt.
Father, I have killed.
Oliver bit down on Bruce’s tender throat. The stink of onions made his eyes water.
. . . I have maimed . . .
Blood pooled in his mouth with a thick lump of hot, savoury flesh. He swallowed and savoured the taste of sin as it passed over his long, pink tongue.
. . . I have eaten human flesh . . .
Though Bruce’s body continued to twitch and gurgle, his mind was already dead.
. . . Father I have committed murder, knowingly and willingly. I beg your forgiveness.
Oliver dragged the floppy sack of meat away from the hall and into the privacy of an alley at the back.
There, behind a pair of huge black bins, Oliver ate. And prayed.
The following morning Oliver woke to Barbara’s gentle hands on his face.
He lay in the garden, naked and shivering, the metallic tang of human flesh still clinging to his teeth.
She said nothing, merely handed him a coat and a wet towel.
He took both with a nod of thanks.
“Is it done?” she whispered.
“Yes. For now.”
“But what about next month?”
Oliver sighed. “There will be another. The Lord always sends me another.”
Aaaaaaand that’s that! Hope you enjoyed it. Next time I’ll be chatting vampires.
Mwa h aha ha hah ah ah a aha hahaaaaa!