Dia de los Muertos

Beta'd by Vampirethenewblack

Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight

El Pueblo de los Santos was an unprepossessing huddle of adobe hidden in the shade of el Cerro de las Mitras, poor and dusty in the heat of early Fall. Padre Benito Vela was the nominal head of the tiny village, but in truth he had little to do. The population had dropped significantly in recent times. Drought and war, and the disease they brought, had left him with only fifty or so parishioners whose souls he tried to safeguard.

Padre Vela was not an ordinary priest. He was an ambitious young man, determined to escape this poverty-stricken pit and one day take charge of a parish in Monterrey itself. He even dared to dream of more – but immediately chastised himself and prayed for forgiveness each time he did so. Padre Vela was not a terribly good priest, but neither was he bad. His faith in God was real, but did not run as deep as perhaps it should. He was guilty, on occasion, of gluttony. He was also guilty of coveting his neighbor's wife, when she was a pretty young thing of course, not now she was married and careworn. Now she was old before her time from working the fields and bearing children. Life here was hard for all, but women bore the brunt of it. If there was food, it went to the man of the house and then the children. Hard work was expected, whether it be in the home or in the fields.

The only escape for the women of the village was their religion, and the kindly words of the Padre. In the small church, sparely decorated though it may be, there remained a hope that the next life would be easier than this one. After all, had not

It was on one such day, in this very church, that Padre Benito Vela began his fall from grace – although, of course, he was unable to discern the significance of that very moment until much later.

He was sitting quietly, contemplating the heat and the worn state of his robe, when a noise from outside caught his attention. He stood, with the intention of investigating, when the dilapidated wooden door creaked open. A man slipped inside, looking for all the world as though the hounds of hell were on his tail. He was covered in dirt and sweat to the point it was impossible to clearly define his features. He slid to the floor and, in an act of sheer desperation, pulled himself across the dirt until he reached the alter rail.

Padre Vela looked on in amazement as the stranger clutched the rail and began to sob, his voice cracking as he began to recite the Rosary.

The Padre determined that whatever had happened to this man must be of great importance, and felt it was his duty to investigate. Slowly walking up to the alter, he placed a consoling hand upon the man's shoulder, asking "What has brought you here, my son?"

The stranger screamed before backing away to look the priest in the eye. As soon as he looked up, he relaxed slightly, before starting to shake. The man clutched at Padre Vela's robes as if his life depended on it. "Hell, Hell is coming Padre! It comes in the night, the red-eyed demons, they come! They steal souls, they tear, they rip – the blood, the blood! Padre, I cannot run much further. Please, let me stay here in this church? Surely they cannot enter here? Oh Madre de Dios! Please . . . ."

Torn between disgust and pity for the poor, broken man in front of him, Padre Vela simply patted him on the head, as one would a dog, before calmly stating "Yes, my son, you may stay here tonight. But we must talk more. Let me arrange for food and water for you. You will feel better after you have eaten, and then we will discuss these strange beings you speak of."

Backing slowly away from the alter, the priest left the church in search of his neighbor's wife. Asking her to please spare some of her meager rations for the stranger, reminding her that charity is required of all good Catholics, he made his way into his home, determined to think for a while.

Now, Padre Vela was not a stupid man. He had a way of thinking around a problem which had concerned his teachers at the seminary. He took nothing at face value, but strongly believed that even the impossible could be understood, explained, and either ignored or defeated, depending on the nature of the situation one was faced with. This particular situation appeared at first glance to be nothing more than the ramblings of a disturbed mind. That would, of course, be the simple, comforting position to take.

And yet, and yet . . .there had been murmurings before, snippets of talk blown in the wind from villages closer to the town. Hints of red eyes in the night, of strange winds and cold sensations, fires and smoke where no-one lived. Missing people.

The Padre believed that peasants were naturally superstitious, and the years of turmoil needed an explanation, as did the fact that people went missing. He had believed that starvation had killed many, that some simply left to try to find work or food elsewhere. He sat back, determined to make no judgment until he had spoken to the stranger. His church certainly believed in demons, so who was he to dismiss the theory out of hand?

Resolved in his mission to question the stranger, he left his poorly-furnished rooms and returned to his church. Gathering his robe about himself he paused on the threshold, determined to wring the truth of the matter from the man inside, mentally guarding himself from superstition but allowing the fact that there are more things in heaven and earth . . .

As Padre Vela entered the church, pushing the heavy door closed behind him, he was unsurprised to see the stranger cowering in fear before the alter rail.

"My son, you have no need to fear me, I simply wish to know what it is you are so afraid of. What caused you to run? Why are you here in this pueblo? Nothing more."

The stranger looked at him. Padre Vela could see now that he was much younger than his initial appearance had suggested. This was no man. This was a boy. A frightened boy who looked as if he had aged significantly in the last few days.

The boy looked up once more, before collapsing to his knees and gasping "Padre, I will tell the truth, but you must believe me, I have not traveled so far to be dismissed now! The last pueblo I stopped at – they didn't listen! They cursed me as a fool and forced me to leave! I watched as the demons came and destroyed them all. Please, please, let me tell you the truth! Together we may have a chance! Please Padre, I beg of you!"

"Calm, calm my son. Now we will start from the beginning, yes? Where are you from? What is your name? What has happened to you? These are all important things I need to know, but first of all, have you eaten and drunk your fill? I would not have you swooning like a woman before we can talk." Padre Vela felt almost amused at his attempt to make the boy feel better. He had discerned early in the conversation that the less threatening the atmosphere, the more likely to talk the boy would be. The Padre was, if nothing else, a shrewd judge of character.

"I have been taken care of, very well. I thank you for that, Padre. As for my story, it is almost beyond belief, but I swear to you it is true. I am from El Pueblo de Santa Cruz. We were just as you are – poor, hungry and thirsty, waiting for the next war, or the next famine to strike. I am older than I look, I was the head of my family. My name is Pedro. I am twenty years old. "

"We were living as we always do, hand-to-mouth, day-to-day, when we heard rumors of strange things happening in Monterrey. We were much closer than you, and at first we believed it to be no more than talk. Who would believe that red-eyed demons were coming in the night to take our most valued people? The soldiers? We had a few in our pueblo, they knew how to fight – and suddenly, over three nights, they were gone! But it wasn't just that, their families were dead. Not just dead – torn to pieces. Padre, this is a small village – one man hitting his wife is the talk of the week, three soldiers missing in the night, with whole families ripped to shreds? This was not normal, not right!"

"We spent the next week in fear, keeping our houses locked, no-one venturing out after dark. Nothing else disturbed the peace and we began to relax. The consensus seemed to be reached that the attack was caused by wandering madmen; our soldiers must have banded together to hunt them down to take revenge for the loss of their families. I knew then what a ridiculous story that was! I approached el caudillo and asked to be allowed to go to Monterrey. I told him I would ask for help from the authorities there – that if a band of mad men was indeed in the area, we would need the extra protection.

"He agreed, and I left the next morning. It took two days of walking to get to the town, and another day until an official decided to see me. I explained, as best I could, but the man seemed unconcerned. He had too many problems of his own, he said, to be worrying about some peasants with over-active imaginations. He sent me on my way with nothing, no promise of aid or even an investigation. I made my way back to Santa Cruz slowly, feeling as though I had let my pueblo down."

Padre Vela lowered himself to sit on the alter step, as he knew Pedro was coming to the meat of the story. He was unsurprised at the official's dismissal, it was true that the government had far more important things to worry about than a group of superstitious peasants. He would have done the same thing.

Pedro took a deep breath, before continuing his story. "I came over the hill to find everything gone. The pueblo was gone. Burned to the ground. No sign of anyone, just smoldering ashes and broken-down walls. The animals were all dead, I could see the carcasses from where I stood. It was . . .stunning. I was stunned. I could not comprehend what had happened there."

"I made my way into the ruins. As I did so I began to see pieces of clothing, shoes abandoned in the street, torn jackets. And then . ." He paused; gasped for breath. "And then I saw parts of people. They were scattered and burned, but I could see what they were. They were ripped apart, twisted, with broken and splintered bones. I knew, my family, my friends, they were all here. Everyone and everything I knew had been torn asunder by an almighty force. I was numb, too numb to feel even fear, which is what saved me."

At these words, Padre Vela sat up straighter. Pedro's story was horrifying, no doubt, but it didn't make sense. Could this really have happened? A whole pueblo wiped out like this? Everyone dead? How did Pedro survive?

"I was standing in the street, just standing there, when he appeared. El Diablo Blanco. He was tall and pale, an Anglo, and his eyes, Padre, his eyes were bright red. He stood before me and sniffed the air, as though trying to find a scent, before looking me directly in the eyes. He grimaced, and said 'You are lucky today, I cannot smell your fear. I want you to run, tell the others we are coming for them. I will find you.' I did as he said. I ran. I've been running ever since. For three weeks I have been telling everyone I've met, but no-one has believed me. Padre, I can run no further."

Padre Vela sat back, astounded. How could this story be true? This was blasphemous, against all the laws of God and man. There were demons, yes, but only in hell. Not on Earth. Not walking among us. No! This could not be real. And yet, the boy seemed genuine. There was no doubting his fear, it was thick in the air. He truly believed what he was saying.

Padre Vela thought for a moment. He determined the best course of action would be to allow Pedro to think he believed him, thus teasing more information out as necessary. In order to accomplish this, he would need to gain his trust, and what better way than to offer his home for a while?

"Pedro, you must be exhausted. I know that the few morsels you have had here cannot be enough. Please, come to my humble abode and rest. We can eat and talk more about these demons, about what happened to your pueblo. Would that be acceptable to you? You can wash off some of the road dust too."

Pedro looked up at the priest, exhausted. He had nothing to lose, and perhaps – in his most secret thoughts – something to gain. "Yes, Padre, thank you. That would be most welcome."

After Pedro had somewhat restored himself, he sat down in the sparsely-furnished room and prepared to continue his conversation with the priest before him. He was calmer now, and more able to speak in a rational manner, something he was sure this Padre would appreciate. All the other places he had tried to warn had been filled with those who thought him after food, or shelter, and dismissed him out of hand. The last pueblo, not too far from this one, had burned a week ago. Pedro had watched this time. He was so tired, and so scared, that he had almost given up. Hiding in the hills he had seen the arrival of the demons and heard the screams of the villagers.

He had chanced a look at the main street – all he could see – and immediately wished he hadn't. These were not men, they were monsters. The scene below him, hindered though it was, was that of a nightmare. For an intelligent man like Pedro it was almost impossible to comprehend. Shapes blurred from house to house, room to room, dragging the occupants into the street. The first few minutes of the attack appeared to be pure savagery. People were torn limb from limb, several of the demons converging on what remained and drinking the blood spurting from severed arteries. Body parts were tossed around like children's toys, blood was running in the slop channel in the street. It was as if the creatures had been taken over by a feeding frenzy.

After perhaps five minutes, the scene changed. There were still many villagers lined up against the wall of the church – screaming, crying, praying or silent. Piss and shit everywhere. Children terrified and babies wailing. Pedro knew, he knew, what would happen next, but he could not look away.

One by one the villagers were pulled forward. El Diablo Blanco seemed to be giving the directions; pointing at various figures, allowing them to take their turn to – to what? - to feed? It certainly looked like they were drinking the blood of the people thrown in their direction. One of the men – monsters – was tossed an infant. A girl. Maybe eighteen months old with curly black hair and a dress made of sackcloth. She was screaming so loudly it hurt Pedro's ears, no doubt terrified and calling for her madre. With one slight flick of the wrist, the beast took her head clean off and drank from her neck as if he was drinking fine wine from a goblet in El Gobernador's mansion. Pedro vomited, expelling the bread and water he had eaten earlier.

He looked up in time to see another infant, a baby this time, dispatched in a similar manner. He vomited again, nothing left now but bile. He stayed on his knees, shaking, hot tears and snot streaming down his face. Nothing could have prepared him for this. It was beyond anything he could have imagined when he had come across the ruins of his own home. This was hell.

Just as he was about to crawl back and try to run again, he heard a different sound. The speed at which the massacre had occurred had tricked him, he had believed every human was gone, but that was not the case.

The remaining villagers were propped against the wall of the church they had believed in. They were all women. Mothers, sisters, aunts of those children who were brutally murdered before them. Now they were to meet a similar fate, but as Pedro slowly began to comprehend, it was a fate unique to women in wartime. The screams and pleas to la Madre de Dios began to fall away, the sickening sounds of limbs separating and tearing letting him know beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening.

If he was in hell before, this was beyond comprehension. Pedro felt himself slipping back into numbness. He watched, unable to tear his eyes away, as the women were brutally used. It was a scene from the worst nightmares he had ever had, multiplied by thousands. He recognized, somewhere inside himself, that this is what had happened to his mother, his sisters, but was unable to fully cope with that knowledge. His brain would not co-operate with his eyes, with his senses.

The worst thing, though, the absolute worst thing, was that Pedro could not look away. He had never seen a naked woman. He was of marriageable age. Before misfortune had struck his family he had been considered a catch, yet the death of his father and the burden of so many female dependents had left him without a wife at the advanced age of twenty. He had needs – what man didn't? - but no way to relieve them in a culture so governed by the Church. So to see naked women, even in this most horrific of scenarios, had a certain effect on him. It was involuntary, but it happened, and Pedro felt his mind begin to splinter at the realization he was aroused yet utterly, utterly sickened at the sight before him.

A cold breeze wafted across his sweaty neck. A cold body pressed itself into his back, and a cold hand slid down his stomach, covering his cock, and resting lightly against his balls.

Pedro flinched in reaction to the temperature, but he was, oddly enough, unsurprised by the voice of El Diablo Blanco. He stood still, gasping for breath, his heart racing as he listened to the seductive purr in his ear. "Do you see now? Why I let you live? You are disgusted, sickened, horrified, excited, no? There is something special about you, boy, and I will keep you alive until I decide when to make you mine. Now, run."

Realizing with horror that his erection was still present, that he must have liked that hand on his cock, Pedro stumbled away. He would not look back, he could not bear to look into those red eyes and see what he most feared reflected back at him. He would not admit the terrible pull to El Diablo. He could not admit it, even to himself. If he was forced to think about it, he might think that it was not the women that had made his cock react. Maybe it was the male demons. Or maybe just him. That errant thought, that tiny sliver of knowledge, was enough to make Pedro run. Run to the closest pueblo with a church and a priest, run to whatever grace and salvation he could find before his own demon, the demon inside his mind and traitorous body, could claim him.

None of this would he admit to the Padre. Instead, he simply told the tale of what he had seen. The demons and their actions. The burning of the pueblo afterwards. The certainty that they could not be stopped, unless by a miracle. That this was the reason he, Pedro, had come to claim sanctuary in the church. It was his last hope. If he were to die, he would like to die in a place of God, not in the street like a dog.

Padre Vela remained unconvinced by the story, but he recognized the boy believed he was telling the truth. He also sensed that there was more. The slight hesitation before the Anglo's name, the tell-tale flickering of the eyes to the left, the twitching hands. The Padre decided not to press further, but instead asked Pedro why he was so certain the demons would be heading this way. The answer was simple – this was the last pueblo before the mountain, all the others were gone or abandoned, it stood to reason that they would come here.

Padre Vela sat and thought for a minute. He was tired, his nerves were shredded, and yet he seemed to be mentally alert. If this story were true, if this young man was not inventing these demons as an excuse for charity and a place to stay, if this was real – what could he do? He slowly came to one conclusion.

As he turned to look at Pedro, now slumped in the hard wooden chair, he decided. If the loss of one would save many, he would do it. It seemed clear that Pedro had not told the whole truth – why would this Anglo let him live if there was not an ulterior motive? It seemed to Padre Vela that El Diablo Blanco wanted Pedro for some reason. He had been sent running to different pueblos, only to be spared. This did not make sense to the Padre. There must be another reason. Perhaps the boy was working in league with bandits? They would swoop down to take advantage of a town scared to function past sundown? That would make sense. Scaring superstitious villagers into hiding so the villains could take what they wanted without a force arrayed against them. That must be right.

Padre Vela nodded to himself. Come morning he would warn his flock of an attempt to intimidate them, that perhaps bandidos were coming and they should be prepared. If the worst happened, the church would be open for sanctuary, and was more easily defended than the rest of the adobe pueblo. At least it had a surrounding wall and a stronger structure. But what to do with Pedro? He could not be allowed to leave. He had seemed genuine in his fear, but there had been a hint of something else in his words. Acceptance, maybe? Perhaps it would be for the best if he was allowed to stay in the church itself, food and water could be brought in, and a pallet set up for sleeping. If Pedro was innocent, it was the safest place for him and the villagers; if he was complicit, he would be in just as much danger as the rest of them.

The new day dawned with little fanfare. It was as it always was, with one exception. Padre Vela rang the church bell at a time he knew was just before the remaining men headed out to the fields or to tend what livestock was left. After his flock gathered around him, he spoke to them of rumors. Of men who came in the night to take the women and children, to raze pueblos to the ground. He advised them all to be on guard, to take shifts overnight so that someone was always available to ring the alarm. He calmed them with the knowledge that the church would be open to all, at any time, and if an attack were to happen it was the safest place to be. There was even room in the courtyard for the livestock, no-one would starve.

His neighbor's wife spoke up, timid, afraid of making a fool of herself in front of the whole pueblo. Would it not make sense, she asked, to keep a supply of food and water within the church, just in case. Perhaps some bedding, if there was any to spare? The children could not be expected to sleep on the floor, surely?

Padre Vela acknowledged her with a slight smile, agreeing that if it was possible, these ideas should be turned into a practical plan. Pedro, meanwhile, stood to one side and observed. He felt shame and pity for these people. There was no escape from the demons, but if it made them feel better, so be it. All he could hope for was to die in God's grace. His last confession would happen, but only when it was clear that all was lost. Until then, he would keep his terrible secret to himself.

The next few days passed without incident. Pedro was happy to have been given a place within the church to sleep, and he was fed and watered by the women, to the best of their abilities. The pueblo was a different place these past few days. Men returned early from the fields. Women kept the children indoors. Unexpected noises became something to fear; even strong men jumped at shadows, causing near hysteria to spread throughout their families. Sundown was feared as never before, no matter how illogical that may be. The dark exaggerated everything. The horror became real in the dark.

Pedro found himself with plenty of time to spare, and spent some of it in silent contemplation. Some of it in prayer. Some – the vast majority – of it in pondering the nature of the thing that had become his obsession. He could no longer deny the strange attraction to the demon, but was that just a part of his charm? After all, Eve tempted Adam and he fell. Who was to say that this man was not sent by El Diablo himself to lure Pedro into hell?

And what kind of hell was it that the demons were walking the Earth, drinking the blood of innocents and seemingly going unpunished? The more Pedro thought, the more troubled he became. He resolved to talk to the Padre about his unsettling thoughts. After all, he was a man of God, he could be counted upon to explain, could he not? With that determined, Pedro left the security of the church to find the Padre. He had barely left the courtyard when he stiffened. There was something coming. He could feel it on the wind, taste it on his tongue. They were coming. He was coming. Pedro shivered, though whether in anticipation or fear, he could not tell.

Abandoning all thoughts of the Padre, Pedro turned to run back into the church. Desperate to reach sanctuary before he came to end it all. As he moved, a flash of white caught his eye, stopping him in his tracks. With a sigh of relief he realized it was Padre Vela, who was currently rushing into the church. Pedro made to follow him when he heard the old, cracked bell ring out – a sure sign that something was wrong. The Padre had also sensed the threat, or perhaps seen something coming, and instructed his flock to seek whatever safety the church could provide.

Villagers came running, some clutching small children to their chests, others wailing and pulling at their hair. The men seemed more concerned for themselves, the women were corralling children, trying to ensure none of them were left behind. Padre Vela watched this behavior with a frown. He had never truly understood the veneration of Maria, Madre de Dios – after all, she had borne a child, what every woman was put on Earth to do, why should that be so admired? But as he saw the attempts of the women to ensure the safety of the children, all of the children, and the men pushing past and trampling them in an attempt to reach safety, he vowed never to take la Reina lightly again. He was almost ashamed to be a man.

When all the villagers had made it into the church, Padre Vela gave the order to shut the doors. Heavy benches were placed across them, an action Pedro knew was pointless, but he chose to say nothing – why incite more panic? Families were crouched together, children sobbing and clutching their mothers skirts, the men trying to appear brave but failing more often than not. The women, used to life's hardships, held the children and prayed. The men began to curse and lash out. It was ever thus. Padre Vela walked among them, praying with the women, attempting to calm the men, telling them they were scaring the children and women even more, to little effect.

One man, Padre Vela's neighbor, Ricardo, had reached his limit. He was not a bad man, but he was not a particularly clever one. His fear transposed into rage, and he stood upon the alter steps with one aim in mind. To attack the bearer of bad news, expel him from the church in the hope that if the demons were really out there, they would be appeased by the sacrifice. After all, was it not strange that the stranger had been allowed to escape – not once but twice! - and yet here he is, huddled with the rest of the villagers, perhaps hoping he can escape once again?

The men began to mutter amongst themselves. Pedro sighed in resignation. He knew this was coming, he was only surprised it had taken so long. He got to his feet and approached Padre Vela. "I will go, I am not afraid, but I would ask that you hear my confession first?"

The Padre studied him closely. He saw a young man who had reached his limit. A man who had seen and experienced more in his twenty years than anyone should have to. He felt compassion sweep through him. "Of course, my son, come, confess your sins so that you may die in God's grace. I only hope that we will all meet Him in such a state."

Pedro followed the Padre into the confessional and immediately felt lighter. He was going to die tonight. He knew it. Everyone else here would die too. It was a fact, but one he chose to keep to himself. "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a long time since my last confession. I wish to confess . . ." And Pedro told Padre Vela his deepest, darkest secrets.

Padre Vela was shocked, but also intrigued. He told Pedro that he must say the requisite number of Hail Mary's, pray for forgiveness and to go with God's grace. All the while he was contemplating the nature of the demons surrounding them. He was in no doubt that they were, he could feel the shift in the air, the scent of the wind from the mountain had changed. If the demons had really corrupted young Pedro, then what hope was there for the rest of them?

If the demons were real, and at this point Padre Vela believed that they were, then what had happened? Had God deserted his people? Had the angels withdrawn from the fight? It made no sense for the children of Hell to be walking the Earth, killing and feeding and fornicating as if there would be no judgment. There must be judgment, surely. If God were real – and of that the Padre was utterly convinced – then his avenging angels were real too, but where were they? Perhaps they were awaiting the call, or perhaps this whole situation was part of God's plan? As a priest, he would not question. As a man, he wondered why, and determined that he would find out eventually, if his maker allowed him that knowledge.

He was not left to ponder long. As he left the confessional, the doors to the church burst open and he heard a sound like that of wild animals, a strange and fearful growling, loud and foreign enough to strike fear into his heart. There were flashes of movement, pieces of furniture were dashed to the floor, and thick gobs of scarlet splashed onto his robe. The sudden smell of voided bowels and warm metal overwhelmed him.

Screams echoed around the adobe walls, figures blurred and crashed too quickly to be properly comprehended. Padre Vela had a strange image of a child, his neighbor's child, flying through the air, limbless and spouting blood from each socket, to be caught by another and devoured. It was at that precise moment that Padre Vela realized the truth Pedro had been trying to tell. These things truly were monsters, demons. This was no neat blood-letting, this was carnage. Limb ripped from limb, viscera exposed, intestines torn out and thrown casually to one side, heads lobbed away like stones in a game. Gore splattered the inside of the church. Slime, entrails, excreta and urine ran down the aisle; it was splashed all over the walls, the altar, the floor. The demons still greedily feasting on the once-human flesh before them paid no attention to the Padre as he eased himself behind the altar. He was unsurprised to see Pedro sheltering there also.

For a brief time it seemed as if nothing existed but the two of them, looking at each other, both knowing each other's weaknesses. Pedro knew Padre Vela was doubting his God, but was determined to keep the faith regardless, for what else is there? Padre Vela knew that Pedro had resigned himself to his fate. He had confessed, achieved absolution, and was now prepared to face his demon in the most literal way.

As the two men were assessing their situation, the noise in the church had stopped. Pedro was the first to recognize the import of the silence and stood, albeit with shaking knees, to face his fate.

His fate stood in the aisle of the church, drenched in blood from his hair to his boots. El Diablo Blanco stalked toward Pedro as a big cat to a deer. He smiled, terrifying white teeth gleaming against the red, and spoke as he neared. "I told you I would claim you, and I claim you now. You have chosen well, boy, this pueblo has proved to be an excellent hunting ground for our growing army. For that alone I would spare you. I think we both know there are other reasons, hmmm? Tell me, do you become aroused when I am near? Does your heart beat faster? Does your cock react? I think so." He stood directly in front of Pedro and closed his eyes, tilting his head slightly, nostrils flared, inhaling Pedro's scent. "I can feel you. You will be my closest companion, you will learn to obey me but also command others. I see great things in your future, you only have to say yes. Will you do that for me?"

Pedro knew he should be cowering against the wall in fear, but he was not. He should be utterly disgusted at what the Anglo was suggesting, but he was not. His God had forgiven him the lust, the confusion he felt before; could his God forgive this? But surely God had created these demons, they had not arisen out of clay.

Pedro took one last, deep breath and looked El Diablo Blanco in his red eyes. "Yes" he breathed. "I belong to you, and you only. You may claim me, but I will answer to no other."

The demon leaned forward, delight lighting his features, and licked along Pedro's neck. One hand reached out and pulled their bodies tight together, the other brushed through Pedro's hair, tilting his head to the side. Before Pedro or Padre Vela could protest, the demon bit into Pedro's neck, spilling his thick crimson blood and causing Pedro to scream out in pain. El Diablo Blanco was unconcerned, he had changed many men into vampires in his time, and this was no different, apart from his strange attachment to the human. He gently laid the body down and turned to Padre Vela.

The Padre was shivering behind his altar. His flock had been literally ripped to shreds in front of him, the stranger he had taken into his home had betrayed not only him but his whole pueblo as well, and now there was an Anglo demon looking at him as if he was the last meal on Earth. Padre Vela fainted.

He awoke to new noises. El Diablo Blanco was instructing various demons to take out certain members of the congregation – those who were screaming, he noted. The rest of the bodies were to be dragged into the courtyard in front of the church and burned.

As Padre Vela regained full consciousness, he pulled himself up into a sitting position against the rough adobe walls. Not for the first time he wondered why they weren't whitewashed, it would make things so much easier. He was startled out of his musings by the blond Anglo watching him with amusement in his eyes.

"What have you done to my pueblo? Why did you come here? What did you do to Pedro - did you damn him? Is he cursed to hell now? Answer me, damn you!"

El Diablo Blanco merely cocked an eyebrow and walked away. He strode to the open door of the church and called a name, a name the Padre did not catch. There were other words spoken, again, he could not catch them all, but judging by the Anglo's expression it was a satisfactory ending.

"You may call me Jasper, you have earned that right. Your friend Pedro will be calling me Major in three days time. You should count yourself very lucky you are not joining the army with him."

"I, Jasper, I do not understand. Who are you? What are you?"

"I am what your God told you about, Padre, but now, I need you to be quiet. If you feel the need to move or talk, I will end you. Do you understand?"

Padre Vela understood, alright. His entire parish lay dead before him. Men, women and children. Although, now he really looked, there were fewer male bodies than there should have been. They must have been the ones who were screaming and had been taken away, like Pedro. A rustle of clothes made him look up and gasp. In front of Jasper was a woman, the most beautiful woman the Padre had ever seen. She had long black hair and perfect features, she was truly stunning. As the Padre watched, the woman dropped to her knees in front of Jasper, pulling open his pants and exposing his hard cock for all to see. She bent her head and opened her mouth, allowing the liquid she had been holding to trickle down his length. As the blood trailed down his cock, the woman licked it up, curling her tongue around him to catch stray drops, before taking him into her mouth completely.

Padre Vela could not look away. He was so absorbed in what this woman was doing to Jasper that he did not realize he was moaning, and palming himself through his robes. Jasper released into the woman's mouth with a roar before bringing her to her feet and kissing her soundly.

"Maria, mi Reina, meet the Padre. I do not know what to do with him. Shall we let him go?"

The woman, Maria, turned to examine Padre Vela from head to toe. She looked straight into his eyes and smiled. "Jasper, mi amor, I believe that we should send your priest to Hell. What better revenge on God than to condemn one of his true believers to a life like ours? I believe I will do it myself." Maria was standing in front of the Padre as she finished her sentence, and with no other notice she bit into his neck, pulling at his blood before forcing her venom into his system. Padre Vela locked eyes with Jasper, and in his last few moments of consciousness noticed that el Anglo appeared almost sorry that this was happening to him. Then the burning began.

On Dia de los Muertos, three days later, his heart beat for the very last time and Padre Vela awoke to his new life. He opened his eyes to find himself looking directly into the face of Maria, Madre de Dios, and this calmed him enough to think about what he had become, and what he would do now.

The Padre stood, and made his decision. He stripped himself of his robes and his name. He was no longer Padre Vela, he was simply Benito. He would create an army of his own, and when he was ready he would find this dark Maria and her Jasper, and he would get his revenge.