He knelt over the body of the still bleeding corpse. The sound of approaching footsteps echoed in the dark hallway behind him, but he didn’t turn around. A hand touched his shoulder as he heard a female voice say, “You shouldn’t have done that, Father.”
“What are you doing here, Samantha,” he asked as a look of sorrow crossed his face.
“Do not call me that anymore. My name is Claire now.”
“Samantha is the name that I gave you when you were born and I will address you as such whether you like it or not.”
“You’re right, Father. I’m sorry. What name do you go by now?”
“To you? Father. To everyone else? Christian. Now, I ask you again, what are you doing here, Samantha?”
“I need your help.”
“Obviously. You never visit me otherwise. What do you need from me this time?”
“To save your granddaughter.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“She’s being held hostage in a bank with her babysitter. The terrorists are threatening to blow it up unless the government will allow their families to immigrate here.”
Christian began laughing. His daughter’s face filled with rage. “What is so funny,” she demanded.
“You can see the future and you still couldn’t keep her out of that?”
“That is not funny, old man. Yes, I saw what was going to happen to her, but I don’t always get the vision in enough time to act upon it.”
He stopped laughing. Her explanation made sense. Christian thought it over for a few seconds. When he was done, he looked at her and asked, “What’s in it for me?”
Samantha was shocked. “Saving your granddaughter isn’t enough for you?”
“Do you know how many children and grandchildren that I have lost over the years? It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. “
“But she is only a child, Father!”
“And she will still beat me to Purgatory!”
She wore an expression of disbelief as she lowered her head to look at the ground and cried. After wiping away her tears, she looked her father in the eyes. “What do you want?”
“You know damn well what I want.”
“And you know I’m never going to tell you.”
“Then set up a meeting with DS for me.”
“You know I won’t do that either.”
“If you want my help, then it’s one or the other.”
She began to cry again. It looked like she was completely torn. Finally, she said, “I’ll set up the meeting.”
Christian took a long look at his crying daughter and began feeling a little guilty. Then remembering his task, he got her to tell him where the bank was and left. The bank was not far from his house, so he made it there quickly. A police barricade was set up two blocks away from the scene. Realizing that he would compromise his identity if he just charged in, he looked for a way to disguise himself. Ten feet away from him sat a SWAT team van. Calmly making his way towards it, he grabbed a riot helmet and a few smoke grenades as he walked past. After putting the helmet on, Christian jumped the barricade and sprinted towards the front doors of the bank. Just before he hit the door, he pulled the pin on one of the grenades and the area in front of the door filled with smoke.
The sound of breaking glass filled the lobby as he came crashing through the door, tackling one of the terrorists in the process. He grabbed the man’s head and, with a quick twist, broke his neck. After the initial shock wore off, the five remaining gunmen opened fire. Bullets were hitting hard against his skin as he tried to think of his next move. Christian jumped up and walked to his closest opponent. That man died with a look of confusion on his face, as he couldn’t figure out why the bullets didn’t prevent him from having his nose put into his brain. Another terrorist soon found it hard to breathe after having his trachea kicked shut.
Seeing that bullets weren’t working, the next gunman decided to try to pistol-whip him instead. The attack was easily blocked. In one quick motion, Christian took the man’s gun and punched in two of his ribs. Sensing the futility of fighting, the two remaining gunmen dropped their guns and ran towards the smoke covered door. They did not make it too far before the bullets caught up to them. With all of the gunmen down, Christian began to look through the hostages to find his granddaughter. He didn’t see her. “Get out of here,” he said to them.
Not needing any more prodding, all of the hostages ran out of the door, except for one. Christian noticed that a priest had stayed at the doorway and was watching him. He decided to ignore the priest and began to check the terrorist’s bodies for the bomb. The two that he shot had nothing on them, so he moved on. When he made it to the man whose gun he stole, he noticed that the man was still alive. The man looked pleadingly at Christian. In rapid Spanish he said, “I need a doctor. I can’t breathe.”
“That is because I put your ribs through your lung,” Christian replied in fluent Spanish. “There are two things that I need from this bank: the bomb and a little blonde girl. Where are they?”
“Our leader took them to the office upstairs,” he answered as he coughed up blood.
“I don’t know.”
“Fine, then I’ll just leave you here for the police.”
“Please, sir. I need a doctor. I am suffering.”
“Then I shall end it,” Christian said as he snapped the man’s neck.
With his questions answered, he started off to the stairs. When he pulled open the door, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the priest was still watching him. He decided to ignore him again. The second and third floors were empty. As he neared the fourth floor, however, he began to hear a man shout in broken English. Cautiously opening the door, he took a look around. The hallway was clear. Christian began to follow the sound of the man’s voice. He found the office that the noise was coming from and quietly cracked the door open. Inside was an older Hispanic man. With one hand he was roughly holding the girl’s arm, while holding a phone with the other. The bomb was sitting on the desk in front of him.
“You stay away, “ he yelled into the phone, “or I kill girl.”
A look of rage covered Christian’s face. He kicked the door down and pointed the gun at the bomber’s head. “You just made a fatal mistake,” he told the bomber in Spanish. “I kill people who threaten my family in front of me and that little girl is part of my family.”
The Hispanic man dropped the phone and let go of the girl. She turned around and looked at Christian in confusion. “Is that you, Grampa,” she asked.
“Come here, Bethany,” he instructed her. And to the man he said, “Turn around! Now!”
They both did as they were instructed. Not wanting his granddaughter to see what he was about to do, he covered her eyes with his free hand. Switching back to Spanish so Bethany couldn’t understand what he was saying, he told the man, “You have five seconds to tell me why I shouldn’t kill you.”
Christian didn’t wait five seconds, however. As soon as he finished speaking, he pulled the trigger, but all he heard was a click. The gun was empty. Before the Hispanic man realized what had happened, Christian took off the riot helmet and threw it at the man’s head. The helmet only grazed the man’s temple, but it bought Christian enough time to figure a way out. He threw the empty gun through the office window. Picking Bethany up, he made a mad dash towards the glassless window. By the time they reached it, the bomber was oriented enough to hit the button. As they began to fall, the building exploded.
Father Michaels watched as Christian went up the stairs. Then, remembering the danger he was in, ran out of the bank, heading towards the police cruisers parked across the street. The officers there instructed him to go see Detective Peppers, who was questioning people over by a SWAT van. When he closed in on the van, he heard a man yelling. As he got closer, he knew that someone was being questioned. “Why did one of your guys go in there,” one of the men yelled.
“It wasn’t one of mine, Peppers,” another responded.
“Well, if he wasn’t one of yours, then how in the hell did he get your equipment?”
Deciding this was an appropriate time to cut in, Father Michaels asked, “Are you Detective Peppers?”
“What do you want,” Peppers snapped.
“I was told to come talk to you. I was one of the people held up in the bank.”
“Well, hold on. Let me finish with this one first. Be right with you.”
The priest, content to let Peppers resume his questioning, turned his attention back to the bank. He wondered what the helmeted man was doing in there. For some reason, a reason he could never explain, his gaze went up and locked onto a fourth floor window. A second later, the window broke and a man clutching a small child jumped out of it. A second after that, the building erupted. While everyone else on the street dove for cover, Father Michaels held his ground, watching the pair in flight. The force of the explosion propelled their bodies across the street and sent them through a second floor window of the adjacent building.
After the bomb went off, the streets were chaotic. Panic and confusion swept over all who witnessed the event. Father Michaels used this to his advantage. While the detective was busy trying to maintain order, he snuck away. He fought his way through the crowd, trying to reach the building that Christian had landed in. It took him several minutes to reach the building, but when he did, he found it empty. They must’ve cleared everyone out, he thought. If that’s the case, then he won’t be using the front door to get out of here. He’ll use the rear entrance.
Quickly making his way to the back, he stopped suddenly as he heard a loud bang. Slowly creeping up to the corner, he peeked his head around and saw Christian and Bethany walk out of a broken door. “That was fun,” the little girl said. “Can we do it again, Grampa?”
“No,” he responded. “Let’s get you back to my house so I can get your mother to leave.”
“You’re funny, Grampa.”
The priest watched the pair in confusion. The man looked barely old enough to be her father, yet she called him ‘Grampa’. As he continued to watch the pair, he suddenly realized that he was following them. He wanted to stop, but something was making him continue on. Father Michaels stayed with them as they twisted and turned through streets and alleyways. They finally entered a building just as the sun set, bathing the sky in the silver light of the moon. Not daring enough to follow them into the building, he stayed across the street, staring at the building. One thing jumped out at him. Only one room in the entire building had a light turned on. Shortly after the pair entered, it went off only to come back on a few seconds later. That’s the place, he thought.
Detective Peppers, after the streets had finally calmed, began his investigation once more. He once again found the man he was questioning when the bomb went off. When all of his original questions were answered, he finally remembered someone he forgot. “Hey,” he began, “Where’s the priest?”
“I don’t know, sir,” was the reply.
“Go find him, then. Now!”
As that man ran to carry out his orders, another man walked over to the detective. “Could you tell me what happened here, Detective?”
“Christ,” he swore. “How’d you get past the barricade, Whiting?”
“I have my connections,” he replied smugly.
Peppers grabbed him by the front of the shirt and threatened, “ Not after I find out who they are.”
Whiting regained his composure after he was released and repeated his question. “I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know,” answered Peppers.
“Off the record?”
“The same. And before you ask, any and all questions will be answered with ‘no comment’.”
Undaunted, Whiting asked anyways. “Who was the man who ran inside the bank? What of the reports that state that the man survived the blast by leaping to the building across the street? What about the missing girl and the unaccounted for terrorist?”
The detective was beginning to become angry. “You ask one more question, smartass, and you’re out of here.”
A smile crept over Bradley Whiting’s face as he asked, “ Is that a threat?”
Detective Peppers called a patrolman over and instructed him to take Whiting away. As they were walking, Bradley noticed that Peppers’ partner had come back to talk to him. Before they walked out of earshot, Whiting slipped the patrolman a couple of folded hundred dollar bills. The smile grew even wider as he listened to all of the details.
While Samantha and Bethany had their joyous reunion, Christian shut off the lights and looked out the window. When the lights came back on a few moments later, he shot his daughter an angry glare. “What do you think you’re doing,” he demanded. “We were being followed.”
“You’re paranoid in your old age, Father. It is only a priest.”
“The priest followed me,” he asked with a slight chuckle.
“He only wishes to speak to you. Nothing more.”
He threw a key to his daughter. “Take Bethany to the apartment upstairs and both of you stay the night up there.”
“You rent the apartment above yours, too?”
“I own the entire building, girl. I own quite a few buildings in this town, actually.”
“How is that possible? With that kind of money built up, you leave yourself open to investigation and a high profile.”
“Not really. I keep all of my money spread out over my several hundred identities.”
“How much are you worth, old man?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Now, go. Get her to bed.”
Samantha did as she was told. Christian began to make arrangements for the priest’s arrival.
Father Michaels wandered through the building, trying to find the room with the light on. Pretty soon, he found it. When he got there, the door was left slightly open. He hesitated for a minute before entering, a feeling of fear overtaking him. Able to control it, he pushed the door open and walked in. The next thing he knew, he felt cold metal against his neck and heard a man laughing. “Let’s discuss death, shall we priest?”
“Tell me what you got,” Peppers ordered his partner, Detective Holcombe.
“We can find nothing on our party crasher or the little girl. There have been pieces of the terrorist leader found and the coroner has sent us his preliminary results on the others.”
“There’s no doubt about it. They were dead before the bomb went. He says whoever did it was a pro, too. Says that it was done too precise.”
“Great, so what we got is a professional whack-job offing bad guys now?”
“There’s more. All of the witnesses have said that they saw the mystery man take 50 bullets from the terrorists, yet we found no blood that didn’t match the dead guy’s and he was able to run upstairs afterwards.”
“Great. He’s bulletproof, too. Did our witnesses have any other good news for us?”
“Yeah, one of them was able to ID the priest. His name is Father Michaels and he runs St. Gabriel’s over on Main Street.”
“Let’s pay the good priest a visit in the morning. He’s got some questions to answer.”
Bradley Whiting had heard enough. Running from the scene, he soon found his way to his news van. After instructing his crew to pack up, he pulled out his cell phone and called his station manager. A smile crossed his face as his story was approved. The station manager said something after that, but Bradley was too excited to listen. “Come on,” he said to his crew. “We’re going to church.”
“Why do you want to talk about death,” Father Michaels questioned.
“Because,” Christian answered, “death is what overtook the last man who came into my home without my approval.”
“There is no need for that, my son.”
“I am no man’s son, priest!”
“I’m sorry. I meant no disrespect. I just wanted to ask you some questions.”
“This should be interesting,” Christian remarked as he lowered his gun. “Fire away, padre.”
“Are you a demon?”
Christian burst into laughter. “Why do you ask that?”
“Those men shot you and it didn’t affect you at all.”
“Didn’t affect me,” he repeated while opening his shirt, revealing numerous bullet-sized bruises. “No, priest. I am no demon. I am human, just as you are.”
“I don’t know. Next question.”
Father Michaels wanted to continue with his question, but decided not to anger the volatile man. “Why did you kill those men? If you knew they couldn’t kill you, then why not just disarm them?”
“I didn’t kill them. I freed them.”
“Freed them? You killed them in cold blood.”
Christian was becoming upset. “I did them a favor, padre. I spared them my fate. I’ve saved them from having to watch all that they care for wither and die. I have ensured that they didn’t suffer the way I have suffered. I cannot end my suffering, but I will continue to help others avoid this never ending agony. Do not judge that which you don’t understand.”
Father Michaels heard the pain in the man’s voice and, forgetting where he was, started to turn around to console the tormented soul. Before he could face the man, however, a great pain exploded in the back of his head. The room soon began spinning and he fell to the floor. Christian regretted having to knock the priest out, but he didn’t want him to see his face. He picked Father Michaels up and, after grabbing a ski mask, took him down to his car. Another problem presented itself when Christian realized he didn’t know which church this man belonged to. Deciding to drop him off at the closest one, he drove towards St. Gabriel’s.
After sitting in front of the empty church for over an hour, Whiting and his crew were becoming impatient. They were about to leave when they spotted a car pull up in front of the building. Bradley ordered them to start filming and he wasn’t disappointed when he saw what was happening. A man dragged a priest out of the back seat and dropped him at the front door. When his delivery was complete, the man began scanning the area, looking for anyone who was watching. Whiting held his breath as the man stopped scanning when his eyes met the news van. A sigh of relief escaped his lips when the man resumed his scan. Apparently satisfied, he hopped back into his car and drove off.
“Continue to watch the front door,” Bradley ordered the cameraman. “He might come back. The rest of us are going to see if we can see this guy. If he’s not back in fifteen minutes, we’ll go help the priest.”
A few of the crew seemed angered at the decision to wait to help the priest, but held their tongues and did their jobs. When ten minutes had passed, Whiting and his crew were rewarded for their efforts when a clear image of Christian appeared on their screen. Excitement bubbled inside of Whiting as he asked, “Can you print that?”
“Yeah,” his technician replied.
“Then do it. This is going to be gold, boys.”
His crew chuckled at the ambitious man, but he was too engrossed with the image on the monitor. “Wait a minute,” he said. “Pull up the footage of the man who ran into the bank. Wasn’t he wearing those same clothes?”
The tech scrambled to do what he was told. He put the image up on the screen next to their other monitor. They looked in amazement as they noticed the similarities. The crew looked at Bradley in astonishment, wondering how he had remembered what the guy was wearing. There was no way to be certain, but the man was wearing the same clothes and had about the same build. Before they could celebrate, however, a man in a ski mask broke the windshield of their van and jumped in. Quicker than they could react, Whiting and his crew found the man recovered and pointing a gun at them.
“I‘m afraid you guys aren‘t going to live long enough to tell everyone my little secret,” Christian declared as he cocked the gun.
Father Michaels awoke in confusion, floating among the clouds. He drifted along peacefully until he came to rest before an empty throne. It was made of gold and covered in shimmering jewels of every color. Looking around for the owner of such a beautiful thing, he was startled by a loud voice. “Though you have not served me long, my son, your dedication to helping your fellow man has not gone unnoticed.”
The priest dropped to his knees, bowing before the still empty throne. “I am glad that you are pleased with me, Lord.”
“I have a task for you that will test your dedication.”
“I will do anything you ask of me, Lord.”
“You met a man earlier today and you thought him a demon. He is human, but not as you are. He is immortal, but that displeases him. You can change that, my child. You can save him.”
“How will I do that, Lord?”
“When the time is right, my son, I will show you the way.”
“Wait,” Father Michaels cried, but it was too late. He wanted to talk more, but he felt himself slipping back to consciousness.