A/N: I watched the movie and couldn't get this idea out of my head. The date is just something I guessed at - the movie seemed like it would take place in the future. The setting is after the war, and Priest is trying to make sense of his life again.
Logbook Entry: 12/25/2153 in Cathedral City
The war with the vampires has been over for two years, and I'm starting to understand what it feels like to be a survivor. When you fight, every fiber of your being is alive and focused. You have a clear purpose and a goal. Now, in peacetime, that energy is gone. Someone once told me that survivors don't remember how to live any longer. I think I finally know what that means.
I met a handful of survivors during the war, but there's only one I still think about. She was a survivor of the massacre in Arial Township - the first survivor I ever met - and perhaps that's why she remains in my thoughts to this day. This is her story, and maybe if I tell it I can find some peace from the memories.
By the time we got to the town, it was daylight and the vampires were gone. Our job was to look for survivors. I found this sort of annoying - I mean, it was my first assignment. I wanted to kill vampires, not be part of an ad-hoc mop-up operation. But those were our orders; check for survivors and interview them to discover what happened.
The problem was, there didn't seem to be any survivors. There were drained corpses as far as the eye could see, but not a single living being. The vampires hadn't left anyone alive. I tried not to look at the bodies, but as I was soon going to figure out, its not a problem to look at bodies. It's the survivors. They are the ones you shouldn't look at.
We split up into groups of three and kept searching. My group arrived at one house that was completely wrecked. It looked like a bomb had gone off inside of it. We went inside, and that was when we saw the corpses. There were seven of them; three dead humans, and four dead vampires. The vampire corpses were shriveled from the sun, but it wasn't the sun that killed them. They all had identical, gaping wounds in their chests - like someone had reached into their rib cages and pulled out their hearts.
The human corpses were drained. A man, a woman, and a small boy - an entire family. I kept walking, trying not to look at the bodies, and I stepped on something. It was a picture frame with a picture of the family in it. Except in the picture, there was one other person.
I showed the photograph to my mentor. "This girl - you think she survived?"
"It's unlikely that a teenage girl was able to kill four vampires," my mentor said. "So unlikely that I daresay it's impossible. Perhaps a vampire turned her into its familiar, or it dragged her off to feed elsewhere."
My disappointment must have shown on my face, because my mentor patted my shoulder and said, "Or maybe she beat the odds. Let's keep looking."
I probably should have put the photograph back, but I didn't. Instead I kept picking my way through the ruins of the house, studying it. The missing girl had dark hair and dark eyes, although since the picture was black and white, I couldn't tell their exact color. She was smiling into the camera, but her eyes seemed like they were a million miles away.
Did you know? I wondered. Did you know what was going to happen to you?
There were stories about people like that - who left towns on a whim mere hours before an attack occurred. They all said the same thing when asked why they fled; variations of, "I had a bad feeling about it." During my training, when the Clergy was trying to cram seven years worth of lessons into my head in one year, a recurring theme was trusting your instincts. If you had a powerfully bad feeling about a place, don't go there.
I was so lost in thought examining that picture that I tripped on something and sprawled myself over the wreckage. I clambered back to my feet, face red, hoping that neither my mentor nor the other priest - nicknamed Seven, because he so often preached about the seven deadly sins - had seen me fall. They'd never let me hear the end of it. Then I took a good look at the object that had tripped me up.
It was an overturned couch, flipped forward so that the front of it rested on the ground, leaving a small, dark space underneath. And I was sure I saw something moving down there.
I called my mentor and Seven over. "There's something alive under there."
They both peered at it, not willing to get too close.
"It could be a vampire," said Seven.
"Why would a vampire be under there?" said my mentor. "It's either a familiar or a human. Shine your light at it and see if its eyes reflect the light back at you."
If it was an infected person, its eyes would be reflective like a cat's. If not, it was an ordinary human. I watched with some trepidation as Seven crouched down a few feet away and aimed his flashlight at the dark space beneath the overturned couch. We all saw the moment when his light hit the person's face. The person's eyes were bright green, but not reflective in the slightest. It was a human.
"It's a human," Seven said unnecessarily. "A girl."
"It's her!" I said, pointing to the girl in the picture. "She is alive!" Then, with some confusion, "Why is she still in hiding? The sun was up hours ago."
Seven sighed. "This is what they don't teach you in training. Survivors of vampire attacks, even if they aren't infected, usually don't last long. Call it what you will - shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder - but either way, they don't remember how to live anymore. It happens especially in cases where the whole family gets taken out. They just give up."
"Maybe this one will beat the odds," my mentor said, glaring at Seven. He turned to me. "How about you see if you can get her to come out?"
"You're younger," he said, "and consequently less threatening. Based on that picture of yours -" he indicated the one in my hand "- she seems to be about the same age as you. She'll see you as a friend, trust you more. Give it a go."
I dropped down on my hands and knees and held out a hand. "Are you all right?"
There was movement from the space. She stirred, and I glimpsed her face, a pale oval framed by darkness.
"It's okay," I continued. "It's okay. The vampires are gone. You can come out now. It's safe. Look, the sun is out. You know they can't come out in the sunlight. No one's going to hurt you, I promise."
At this point, I was babbling like a grade-A idiot, but I didn't care. I was completely focused on the only survivor. I don't know why - maybe it was because, surrounded by all this death and destruction, I was desperate to feel like I'd succeeded at something. Desperate to know that, because of me, at least one person had been saved.
My voice seemed to reassure her. She moved forward slightly, so that she was right at the edge of the shadow cast by her hiding place.
I extended my hand again. "Take my hand."
"I won't let anyone hurt you," I said, barely able to believe myself. I had said those words to Shannon, the girl I loved, and now here I was saying them to a girl whose name I didn't even know. "Trust me."
She stretched out her hand and took mine. Her hand and forearm were covered in dried blood. Dried vampire blood.
I looked up at my mentor. "It's impossible for a teenage girl to have killed a vampire, hmm?"
My mentor nodded brusquely, but he was smiling. "She's responding to you. That's a good sign - if the shutdown happens, it's impossible to break them out of it. See if you can get her to come out of there."
Hesitantly, I tugged on her hand, and slowly she unfolded herself from her hiding place. She put her free hand on the couch to use it as a handhold on her way to standing, and I saw that her other hand was covered in vampire blood as well. She was looking around like she didn't know where she was, and then she took off through the wreckage.
"Wait!" I chased after her, but I didn't have to go far. She was on her knees, next to the corpses of her parents and brother. After a moment, she reached over and shut her mother's eyes. Unsure what to do, I said, "I'm sorry for what happened to your family."
"Don't be sorry," she said. Her voice was low and clear. "You didn't kill them."
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Trinity," she said.
Trinity followed us on our search for survivors, picking through the rubble and pulling out objects. Most of them were guns, and by the time we reached the ruins of what Trinity said was the town hall, she had quite a collection of them tucked under one arm.
"There's the town charter," Trinity said, pointing to a charred book. "That'll do for a list of the dead. Only, wait a moment -"
Trinity rummaged through the debris and pulled out a pen, which she used to draw a line through her name. Then she handed the charter back to Seven and straightened up.
"I guess I'll be going now," Trinity said.
"Going where?" my mentor said.
Trinity shrugged. "East, maybe? I don't know. I'll just keep walking, I guess."
"It's not safe out there," I said. Call me stupid, but I felt bound by the promise I'd made to her. I'd said I would keep her safe, and I didn't plan on breaking that promise.
Trinity smiled slightly, sadly. "Sweet of you to worry, but I'm about a thousand times stronger than I look. I'll be all right."
She started to walk away, but I wasn't ready to let her leave. "Wait," I said, holding out the picture of her family. "You forgot this."
"You keep it," Trinity said. "Please. Keep it safe for me. And who knows? Maybe we'll see each other again someday."
"All right," I said. And then I watched Trinity walk away toward the east, a collection of guns tucked under her arm and bullets in her pockets, her hands covered in vampire blood. I felt this vast, hollow feeling settle into my chest, as though I'd lost my heart and had nothing to fill the space.
It's been fourteen years since I last saw her, and I know it's unlikely that Trinity is still alive. But I like to think of her out there, walking across the desert until she reaches the place from which the sun rises. I hope that wherever she is, she's found some kind of happiness. I hope she's done better than I have.
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