Eric and Mr. Burns
The priests of St. Andrews no longer lived in the old brick house next to the church. Though the official reason for its demolition was 'mold contamination', few did not know that it was the strange, supernatural occurrences there, which had prompted many priests to request a transfer from the parish and caused one elderly vicar to literally die of fright. But, during its years of service, the old house had served not just as a home for the shepherds of the flock, but a covert armoury stocked with weapons to combat the UnDead.
Eric arrived in the late afternoon, when the winds were rustling the dieing Fall leaves. The windows were dark and boarded. A sign had been hammered into the browning lawn: 'Condemned'. Eric dismounted his bicycle and walked it over to the bushes, where he stowed it safely out of sight. He looked over his shoulder, then walked cautiously to the door, a blue duffel slung over one shoulder. He tried-it was locked. No matter…luckily Bart taught me a thing or two about prying and jimmying… Eric set the bag down, looking around to check if anyone was watching him. He opened the bag and pulled out 'Old Blue', one of Bart's old crowbars from his wilder days. Eric rammed the straight end of the bar into the crack of the door and pulled. The door resisted, but, gradually, the wood and metal began to give. The fibres split, and the door swung open. Picking up his bag, Eric entered.
In the kitchen Eric found a trap door hidden beneath a filthy rug. He opened it, and followed the creaking wooden steps it opened onto down into the darkness. Eric took out his lighter so he could see. At the bottom of the stairs Eric found another door, a heavy one made of steal. The old bomb shelter…Eric opened the door, and stepped inside the dusty confines of the man-made cavern. Spying an old lamp, Eric took his light to it. The lantern lit, Eric could see the shelves of books and archaic weapons. Bows and crossbows, ranging from simple wooden models to modern compounds made of space-age materials, swords from every age and continent; guns of various calibres and models. But Eric had no need for such. His goal was not to slay hundreds of the Devil's legions. That he would leave for the adults, the priests, those whose duty was to defeat the vampires. His only thought was Felicia. If it would guarantee her life, Eric would assassinate the president himself. Setting his bag on protruding shelf, Eric set to filling it with what he needed. He remembered what Fr. O'Flaherty had told him, when he asked how Burns was able to enter the chapel of Castle Dracula, even though it was a consecrated.
"True, the vampyr can not enter a sacred place-such would kill him in an instant. But he can, sometimes, if the place 'as been descecrated by evil deeds. A church, for example, if no longer used for the Mass, can be made habitable if all relics and blessed objects are removed, and the Black Mass celebrated there. But a thing once blessed is God's fore'er, and all it needs is a bit o' remindin'."
Eric placed several crucifixes in the bag, along with several white candles and gold-plated candlesticks. A white altar cloth, a censer filled with incense, and a vial of holy water. He zipped his bag up. With a quick look around the strange and empty room, he extinguished the lamp and left.
Eric raced along the river's edge as quickly as he could. The weary sun was lazing lower and lower in the sky. As he rounded a bend, coming to a spot where the river was at its slowest, he saw a terrifying sight: a corpse floating in the river. Leaping from his bike, his bag flying to the ground, Eric ran into the river. He grabbed the body, turning it over, to find that it was Arlene, Arnie Skinner's sister. Biting back his terror, Eric drug her back to the shore. He laid her body out, arms folded across its chest. He shook his head, his heart spilling like a goblet of molten lead in his bosom, and he crossed himself. He took up his bag, and set off once more.
By the time that Eric reached the church the sun was already setting. He slammed the doors behind himself, and set a large crucifix in the handles. He stormed to the front of the altar, and looked up. The hideous black banner hung threateningly, the eyes of the hideous silver goat seeming to stare right through him. Eric set down his duffel and ripped the black cloth from the altar, sending the silver chalice and knife clattering to the stony floor. Eric opened his bag and pulled out the white, blessed white altar cloth. He laid it neatly over the altar, then knocked the black tapers from their holders, and replaced them with the white. He sent two more candles on the altar in gilded. He walked around the altar, and for a moment stood, transfixed by the strange arras hanging before him. He let out a faint cry and seized it, pulling at it with all his strength, until it tore and fell to the ground, revealing the image of Christ upon the Cross. Eric returned to his bag, and took out the holy water. Muttering 'Name of the Father…Son…Holy Spirit…Father…Son…Holy Spirit' he traced the cross in the air with the bottle until it was empty. He took out the censer, lit it with his lighter, then swung it about, letting the thick fumes rise curling towards the ceiling. He hung the censer on one of the altar rails, then stepped back, marvelling at his work.
"Felicia!" he called out, the echoing walls making his shout sound hollow. "Felicia! It's Eric! Felicia! I'm here for you Felicia! FELICIA!"
The sun passed below the horizon. The bells high up in the bell tower began to clang. A fierce roaring filled the small church, like the wind in the trees during a storm. Eric screamed and clapped his hands across his ears. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the roaring ceased. All was quiet.
"Hello Eric," Felicia purred seductively, stepping out from behind a pillar. Eric turned to see her. Before he could speak, with a rustling of his cape, Burns appeared. Eric looked at him, then leapt for the altar, seizing the crucifix and holding it out at Burns.
Burns hissed and was thrown backwards. He cringing against a pillar, growling and gnashing his teeth, all the while moaning "Put it away! Put it away!"
"You must give that to me! The Master will be angry!" Felicia scolded, trying to wrest the crucifix from Eric's grip.
"You're free, Felicia! You're free to choose-good or evil! You're not his slave anymore!"
"Give it to me! He'll be mad!"
"You aren't one of them yet! You can still choose!"
"He's my master!"
"He is not! He is not!"
"RAAAAAAH!" Burns roared, stepping as close to the crucifix as he could, arms raised over his face. Eric flinched, and Felicia took the opportunity to seize the crucifix from him.
"I got it, Master!"
Burns roared and took Eric around the neck. He lifted him above his head and hurled him headlong into the pews. He dusted off his hands, then made for the door.
"Was that okay? Did I do well, Master?" Felicia asked, running alongside Burns.
"Fah! Stop being so needy! If its one thing I can't stand, it's a co-dependant!" Burns said, knocking her down and striding away. Felicia was stunned. She suddenly remembered all that she had seen, all that she hade been. Her friends, her school…Eric…her family…her…father. Oh God! No! no…! I killed him! I killed my own father!
Burns reached the door, only to be repelled by the crucifix Eric had set through the handle. He shrieked and ran to the other side of a pillar, placing as much distance and marble between himself and the Cross. Felicia saw this, and realised that she was still holding the crucifix. She threw it at Burns, meaning to hit him with it. Her nerves and hunger made her throw fall short. Burns squeeled. He was trapped between two crucifixes. The main door was the only door he could reach without having to pass the altar, and it was sealed with a cross. He lifted his gaze skyward, and let out a terrible, gurgling scream. He dashed around the corner and up the stairs to the choir loft.
Felicia rushed over to Eric.
"Eric? Eric! Please, wake up!"
The two looked and saw Burns standing on the railing of the choir loft. He lept down, tore a pipe from the decrepit organ, and lobbed it at them. They barely moved fast enough to avoid it. Eric reached for his bag and produced another crucifix. He held it up. Burns had already gotten another pipe. He screamed, averting his gaze and throwing blindly. The throw went right over their heads.
"Go Felicia! Run for it!"
"I won't leave you!"
"Go! Get my mom and dad! I can handle him!"
Another pipe, this one clattering at their feet with a strangely musical clang.
Burns had climbed from the choir loft to the windows. He broke the head from an angel and pitched it right at Eric, who escaped receiving concusion by a hair's breadth. Burns raced along the window ledge, until he was directly above the altar. He spread his cape like wings, and prepared to pounce, but suddenly screamed and turned. He was standing in front of a stained glass window depicting the Crucifixion. Letting out a scream of rage, he punched the glass, shattering the image. He began to step out into the cold night air, when he heard a strange sound coming from the church. He saw light radiating from something behind him. He turned. Burns could scarcely believe his eyes.
The church was filled with light. Thousands of candles hung from the ceiling. The red sanctuary candles glowed softly behind its red glass cover. The sound of an organ rose to the ceiling. Incense filled the air. And a voice was calling out.
Qui es en caeli,
Sanctificater Nomin Tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum,
Fiat voluntas tua,
Sicut en caeli et en terram.
Panem nostrum quotidianum, da nobis hodie.
Et demitte debit nobis sicut et nos dimmitimus debitoribus nostris,
Et ne nos inudcas en tentationem,
Sed liberas nos a malo,
Burns eyes welled with tears, then blood. With a scream, he fell to the altar. He writhed in pain, blood flowing from his eyes, ears, nose and mouth, bubbling and evaporating when it touched the altar, as water on a stove. His hair thinned and greyed; his nose grew thinner and more distinctly curved. His eyes shrunk and withered into empty sockets. His skin melted from the bone, and bone caught fire as though it were wood. In the end, all that remained was a cape, a chain, and two rings.
Eric and Felicia stood, terrified and bewildered. Eric crossed himself. Felicia looked at him. He nodded. Eric kissed the feet of the figure of Jesus on his crucifix, then set it down on the floor before the altar. He took Felicia's hand, and they left together.