Author's note: This story is rated R for violence and sexual content, including a mention of incest. Please do not read if this could be a trigger for you.
Story inspired by J.R. Hull's "Midnight Terror." Character reference and line of dialogue used with permission.
I had lost track of so many things.
The number of real-life monsters who had met justice at my hands.
How many times had I delivered death to those I felt most deserved it? Just precisely when did I stray from carefully choreographed justice?
When did I progress from striking and feeding only when necessary to treating my prey with the same regard that the street-corner wino does his bottle?
And when, for the love of all that is holy, did even that become no longer enough?
I don't want to remember.
Perhaps it's justice that I'll never forget.
I welcomed the lashing cold rain as I strode blindly down the streets of Chicago. I could feel the cold of it, but I wished it were stronger. I wished it would cut me open and wash me clean.
I wandered without a destination in mind. Searching.
There was something I craved now more than blood, more than violence.
I remembered perfectly the silent screams for mercy from last night's prey. He lacked the vocal apparatus to make a sound. I had made sure of that. My body remembered the powerful ecstasy, a feeling I had not experienced before my creation thirteen years ago.
Four years of preying upon humanity's predators had taught me a great deal. I knew the minds of those I killed and I had experienced—at first vicariously and unwillingly—lust in all its forms and varieties.
What I felt last night and what my body remembered now was not the aftertaste of someone else's feelings.
The lust for pain was mine.
My blind footsteps carried me up a short flight of steps. The heavy door swung open easily at my touch. The sound of the rain was replaced by quiet, the cold gave way to warmth, and the scent of rain faded in the presence of new scents: candle wax, polished wood, incense and flowers.
It was a peaceful place and a futile gesture to come here. Peace has become an alien concept, a commodity available to others but not to me. Even so, there are reminders of home here in the peace and stillness, the pleasant scents.
I finally recognized the craving for what it was. Home. I wanted to go home.
I did not deserve a home, any more than I deserved peace, or the love and respect that Carlisle and Esme gave me as if I were born from them and not created.
I did not pause to pay homage, but turned away from the center aisle to a row of doors along the right-hand wall and went inside.
I remembered the ritual words from my childhood, but I could not find it within myself to repeat them now. By all rights, I should not even be here. I defiled this place with my very existence, let alone the multitude and magnitude of the sins I had come to confess; the unseen presence on the other side of the partition knew only that I was a penitent, nothing more.
"I cannot ask you for absolution; I can only ask that you hear my confession. Will you?"
"I have killed."
"Were you a soldier?"
"No." I had wanted to be.
"Did you kill in self-defense, or to protect those you love?"
"No." I killed the guilty to protect the innocent, but I did not do so out of love. I had been driven by baser needs.
"I killed those who deserved to be killed."
"And who might that be, do you think?"
"Murderers, rapists, child abusers."
"We do have a system of justice in this country. You could have simply turned them in."
"A justice system that makes mistakes, that lets monsters out on technicalities or fails to catch them at all. How many innocent lives are destroyed in the meantime? I knew I could find them. I knew I could stop them. Permanently. I did."
"You sound almost proud of that. Are you truly repentant? Have you no remorse at all for your sins?"
My whole existence is a sin, I thought.
"I'm afraid," I said, finally. Soulless creature that I am, I am terrified.
"Of getting caught?"
"Of losing—myself. My humanity." I lost it in 1918, to the Spanish Influenza.
"And what of your soul?"
"I don't know. I don't believe I even have one any more."
Carlisle believed that we have souls. Would even he believe that of me now, if he knew? I think he might have tried to understand, even if he didn't condone. He would have known that by taking life, I was also trying to save it, however misguidedly.
"Each one of us have a soul," he said gently.
If I have one, I have surely lost it.
"Please. I asked you to hear my confession, not to pass judgment. I'm already damned."
"Go on, then."
That night in Grosse Pointe was the beginning of the end. I had no idea where, or when it would end, or what I would become in the end.
I closed my eyes in the darkness and thought of Carlisle as I began. I tried to speak the truth even as I edited it. I spoke slowly, so the torrent of my words would not be unintelligible to my confessor.
"One of the-men-I killed had seen me kill his partner. He knew I would kill him next and he laughed at me. 'You've turned into what you think you're ridding the world of!' he told me. 'You're no better than I am!'"
He also knew too much, I added to myself.
"I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to face it. I didn't want to believe that this monster-this excrescence—knew the truth about me better than I did. I killed him to shut him up. The next time I killed someone I believed deserved it, I heard his mocking, dying words. Again and again. And I kept –on—killing. Every one I killed reminded me. I killed quickly, lest one of them speak those words again."
It wasn't enough.
"That taunt became a cancer, eating at me from the inside out. I couldn't stand it, but I couldn't stop. It would have given me too much time to remember. So even though I continued to choose carefully those whom I killed, when I did it, I tried to distract myself with how it felt—the attention to detail, the planning, how—powerful-it made me feel."
It still wasn't enough.
"I began to crave their pain. I studied my prey—for that is indeed what they ultimately became—to discern what would cause the greatest agony for each and every one of them. I needed their pain, you see, to distract me from the knowledge of what I was surely becoming."
"I killed again last night," I continued. "I heard a child crying and went to investigate. I found her father-"
Emotion closed my throat and I had to take a deep breath to continue.
"He was molesting her." I managed to choke the words out, and took yet another breath.
"I ripped the incestuous son of a bitch off of his daughter and threw him down the stairs. His wife was in a drunken coma. She never heard a thing. I rendered him helpless while still carefully keeping him alive and I put a mirror in front of him so he saw exactly what I would do to him. I made damn sure he still had eyes to see with. That was important, even if he couldn't close them any longer."
I had to pause. Not for breath, but to keep hold of my rapidly waning control. I felt the priest shudder. I heard his wordless revulsion in my mind.
"But that wasn't the worst of it," I continued. "I'll spare you the graphic details of what I did, but what I felt as I did it was not mere satisfaction. The more I did to him, the better I liked it. I was- stimulated. Aroused. Killing him was—release. I was so caught up in the feelings that I didn't realize the child had left her bed and had come downstairs. I heard a noise –a cry he was no longer capable of making-and looked up at the mirror. At the faces in the mirror. Mine—and hers."
"The child saw you?" The priest asked, horrified.
"Yes. I don't remember anything but her eyes."
"And then?" he asked.
In the seconds before her silent, terrified, innocent eyes rolled up into her head, they showed me what I had become. I drowned in that knowledge, barely managing to catch her before she could fall.
"Did you hurt her?" he demanded, alarmed. /Did you kill her?/
The priest's horror and loathing beat at me. His thoughts battered me.
/Heavenly Father, forgive me. I don't want to hear this. He doesn't deserve Your sacrament. I don't even want to honor the sanctity of the confessional. You—whatever you are—get out. Now./
I could not shed tears, but I knew the priest would interpret my ragged breaths correctly for the sobs that, in truth, they were.
"No," I answered in a hoarse whisper. "No." I repeated.
I did not. I could not. But I so easily could have. So very easily.
"I left and called the police from a public phone across the street," I added, when I finally regained enough breath to speak. "I watched them bring the child and her mother out."
There was a long silence, broken by a sigh.
"I'm sorry," the priest finally said. "I've heard your confession, and I'm afraid that's all I can do for you. I cannot absolve you, nor is there any penance I can give." /Nor will Heaven ever take you in./
The priest's unspoken thoughts silenced the words of that petty loan shark once and for all and replaced them with new ones I would carry with me for the rest of my existence.
No, I agreed silently as I rose to leave without a word and closed the door softly behind me.
Outside, the rain had stopped, leaving behind a dark and overcast sky.
If there is an afterlife for our kind, as Carlisle believes there must be, surely Heaven will not take me in.
But would Carlisle and Esme take me back?
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