keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 106: Hastings 128
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 105: Brown 87
Lauren stared at the vampire form of the man she once, in another world, knew and loved, who had been the father of her children and her life companion, now hundreds of years later part of the disease that was killing mankind. She could not move. She could not think.
Phil Hastings, now known as Sparks Fixit, looked up from his paperwork, and puzzlement claimed his face. "Do I know you?" he said.
Bethany's voice came next. "Lauren, this is not who you think."
"Lauren?" the creature said. "Lauren Meyers? I heard you died."
She found her voice. "I've died several times, actually," she said. "But I keep coming back."
"So, it seems your religion wasn't true after all. You don't go to heaven or hell when you die; you just come back here."
"No," Lauren said, "you and I seem to be exceptions to the rule in general. I was particularly chosen, not for any merit in myself but because God saw that He could use me, to fight against wickedness wherever He sent me. I'll rest later. You, on the other hand, traded a chance at heaven for a promise of hell when someone offered you a pale and perverted copy of the eternal life and joy that God had extended to you. Can you repent, even now?"
"Repent? Why would I do that? God offered eternal slavery; I've found eternal power."
"Your miserable unlife is about to come to an end. As to your power, it is you who are the slave, to your vampire masters, your blood thirst, your wickedness and violence. You've bought a lie, and spent all you had for it. If I were you, I'd be demanding a refund about now."
"Where's the love?" he said. "You were always talking about love. God loved me, you said. Well, I'm having a great time. It wouldn't be very loving of God to spoil it now, would it?"
"Lauren," Bethany said, "that's not your husband. That's not your friend. It will kill you, if you don't kill it first. You've got to strike."
Bethany was right. This was not the Phil Hastings she had married. It was playing with her now, trying to keep her talking and put her off guard. She had to kill it, before it did any more damage. Yet at this moment, she found a great reluctance within herself. She could not stop seeing that man she had loved. She could not pull the trigger.
Why didn't Bethany do something? Lauren remembered. It was long ago, now, for both of them; but once Bethany had been faced with the vampire that had been her mother. Morgana la Fey had come in that moment, and had pressed Bethany to kill the creature. What was it she had said? It was something about how Bethany had to recognize this was not who she thought it was, and had to be the one to act. Now it was Lauren's turn. She had killed many vampires, but never one that had been someone she'd known, let alone loved. She had to accept within herself that this was not that person. She had to kill it. She had to find the strength within herself to pull the trigger, to end the existence of the image of the man she had adored.
The strength was not there; but she knew where to find it.
"Perhaps He is showing His love now," she said, remembering the question, "by freeing you from this deception and letting you have what you have chosen. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." With this last she called into herself the power of God that she needed, and pulled the trigger.
The monster was fast; the shot only grazed its shoulder, burning through its shirt. She was going to have to do better. Joe Kondor probably could have put three bullets in it by now; but with this laser she wasn’t going to get another hit yet. She went for the slicer, extending her mind into a swift and sharp blade, and gashing its chest.
"What are you?" it said.
"I am one of the saints of light, an avenging angel, a messenger sent from God to deliver this message." She hit it twice more with the edge of the blade, and shot it with the laser as it stood stunned. "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church. It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment." The force tore into the beast. The laser fired again, and the blade sliced across its throat. The corpse of Phil Hastings fell to its knees, gasped out a dying curse, and crumbled into putrid bits.
"You're good," Bethany said, impressed.
"Thanks for the encouragement," Lauren answered. "I don't think I could have done it without you."
"I didn't do anything."
Lauren smiled. "No," she said. "You did everything. You and God, between you, did it all. I was just the tool."
There was a relief somewhere inside, as if something had been released that had held her. Along with it came the thought that this was Tubrok's fault. She had dealt the fatal blow to Sparks Fixit, but Tubrok and his minions had long ago destroyed Phil Hastings. She would avenge him. Mingled with these thoughts came the reminder that the job was not done.
"Let's find those files," she said, "before our work is discovered." She began opening drawers, looking over paperwork some of which was hundreds of years old, seeking what they needed to understand the operation of the dome.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #202: Verser Confrontations. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: