Church was becoming a more mind contorting experience each week for Tara. It wasn’t necessarily just the Sunday service, but the religion classes she was forced to take at her college as well. On one hand, she was terrified that she believed in the wrong system, but on the other, she questioned whether there was anything to believe at all.
The struggle for Tara arose from hundreds of interpretations of exactly how helpless the human race was. Had Augustine been right, with his theory of original sin (in that case, Tara was definitely heading to Hell), or was Zwingli correct in his belief that Christianity was almost a choice? Either way, Tara got headaches when she tried to force herself to choose. Her biology major didn’t help the situation.
Tara simply couldn’t dedicate herself to a single line of belief. She tried for years, but her scientifically inclined intellect wouldn’t allow her to commit to religion, while religion and what faith she did have wouldn’t allow her to bank on evolution. Even worse, she couldn’t ask for help, because her father was a devout Catholic.
At 19 years old, Tara was ready to give up. She stopped going to church service, and she stopped cross referencing creation with her biology books. She felt that logically, if there was a God, he had planned all of this contempt specifically for her, and that there was nothing she could do. If there was no God, it really didn’t matter what she thought. Despite her conclusions, she felt angry at life or God or whatever higher being there was, because her angst had been planned out, her supposed Savior had condemned her. It kept her awake at night, her analytic thought process desperate for an answer. Then she met Skylar.
Skylar seemed to just appear one day, in the middle of Tara’s biology class. There were only about 30 people in the classroom, so Tara wondered why she had never noticed him before. Maybe he was just good at blending in. Or maybe he really had just arrived.
A few days went by, and for some reason, Tara just couldn’t tear her attention away from Skylar. It seemed the opposite for everyone else- they didn’t even acknowledge his presence. Finally, Tara decided to make conversation.
Skylar turned out to be impressively articulate. He spoke as if he had lived in the 18th century, which Tara thought was odd, but she didn’t mind. It was actually kind of nice to meet someone who still maintained chivalry and was perpetually polite.
They eventually began seeking each other out before class to talk, and would often stand outside afterwards and converse for an hour or so. They would talk about almost anything, and Tara found that she had developed an almost unnatural trust in Skylar in a very brief period of time. Skylar seemed to have developed the same for Tara.
Six weeks down the road, Tara and Sky had begun meeting outside of school for coffee and other miscellaneous activities. Tara didn’t really consider it as dating, and Sky didn’t seem to either. Again, Tara was pleasantly intrigued with the concept of always being on the same page. It was almost too good to be true, like having a free psychiatrist.
At last, Tara felt like she had someone she could talk to about her struggles with faith. Sky was always understanding, almost inhumanly patient. Sure, it was strange that he never wanted to meet at night, but maybe he had a job. Tara didn’t care.
They were sitting in Tara’s apartment, about to eat lunch, when she began to slowly delve into the subject that was the bane of her existence. At first, Sky seemed indifferent and collected, but when she arrived at the part about pre-destination, his eyes seemed to brighten, and he began to tap his fingers nervously on the table. Tara continued on, despite the strange look on Sky’s face, and when she was finished, Sky sat quietly for a moment, before changing Tara’s life forever.
“What if I told you that it will no longer be necessary for you to struggle with what you choose to believe in, that there was a way out, at least if you choose to accept it?” Sky said, slowly, as if he didn’t sound trivial.
“I would definitely say that I would be glad to hear an explanation… because you really aren’t making a lot of sense to me.” Tara replied.
What came out of Sky’s mouth next would likely get him sent to the loony bin if he tried to force it on anyone, but for a moment Tara believed him. That was Sky’s special quality. He was convincing, no matter what point he was trying to get across. Sky proceeded, as if he had been preparing a speech.
“What I can offer to you is what many might deem a type of purgatory, a place in between Heaven and Hell, if indeed they do exist, where you will have plenty of time to decide what exists for yourself, if you even choose to ponder such a thing.”
“That sounds fantastic, Sky, but I have to call bullshit.” Tara said. “You really expect me to swallow all this? If I didn’t know you, I would think you yanked this right out of a movie script. The joke is over, unless you’re just being clever with your words.”
“You can think whatever you would like. But I implore you to at the very least allow me to finish my delusion.” He replied.
Tara stood there, almost laughing in disbelief, but allowing him to continue. Did Sky really think he could pull this on her? This was something out of a comic book. Not only that, but Tara had trusted him with information that was extremely introspective and confidential, and now he was mocking her. She considered kicking him out, but then he began to speak again.
“There is no easy way to elaborate, so I suppose I will simply state the truth. I’m what today’s civilization would most probably call a vampire.”
That was the last straw. Tara was about to unleash her fury, her mouth half open, but then Sky spoke again, and Tara felt it was necessary to keep listening.
“But, do not mistake me for one of those horrid things on television. They are simply a terrible misrepresentation. I, obviously, can tolerate sunlight. I have no allergic reactions to garlic or silver, and I am currently unable to metamorphose into any kind of winged creature. However, I must admit that I do possess the gift of eternal youth, and I am cursed with having a thirst for blood and no reflection. These traits have simple explanations. Of course, I am positive that you will want to validate all I have said for yourself. Please proceed.”
The closest mirror was the compact in Tara’s purse. She dumped the contents of her bag out onto the table, and finally found it under a bag of hygienic products. She flipped open the mirror and angled it appropriately. Before she looked, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She opened them after about three seconds.
Where she should have seen Sky sitting in his stool, there was only the wall and picture frame with her parents in it behind him. She dropped the compact and took Sky by the arm, dragging him into the view of the full length mirror in her bathroom. Still, there was no Sky in the mirror. Tara felt faint. She lost consciousness and her knees buckled. She struck her elbow on the sink on the way to the ground.
Two hours later, Tara felt cold water on her face, took a fraction of a second to remember why she had fainted, and then sat bolt upright, almost striking Sky in the process as he leaned over her. She looked at him for a second, and finally found a few words.
“Alright… so you definitely have my attention… and thank you for bandaging my elbow.”
“You are quite welcome. That was the reaction I was expecting, and I do apologize for administering such a shock. But at the very least, I have authenticated my story. Would you like to hear the rest of my proposal?”
“I have to hear it now,” Tara said, “I’ve seen too much not to know the rest.”
“As I was saying before you almost removed my appendage,” Sky began again, “I am much like a vampire. But without most of the typical qua-”
“Wait.” Tara said. “If there are vampires in the world, how come no one has found one yet? That seems very unlikely.”
“That is a fair question. But we have already been discovered on many occasions… unknowingly of course, but nonetheless we have been witnessed. Any time you hear someone say they have a guardian angel, saw a ghost, or witnessed an exorcism, one of us is at work. We are the imaginary friends that children often have, and we are the fantastical creatures that people claim to see in the wilderness… the illusive Jersey Devil for example.”
“But if I can see you, how do you pull off not being seen most of the time? No one is that good at hiding.” Tara said.
“That is because we are largely a need based class of organism. Something, or someone, makes us only visible to those who truly need our assistance. You, for example, have questioned the existence of a higher power for some time. I’m here to offer you a chance to make that a moot point in your life. But the choice, as always, is yours.”
“What choice?” Tara questioned, “I’m still not grasping how you can help me. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is all pretty amazing, but I have so many questions, and I fail to see how you will change my analytics.”
“Any questions you have about how I found you, or you found me, I can answer later, for they are not pertinent. As for the questions you have about how I can help you, please inquire at will.”
“First of all,” Tara started, “in what way are you going to help me? Secondly, and maybe more importantly, what happens to me if you do help me?”
“I will answer your questions in reverse order, because I think that chronologically, it would make less sense.” Sky replied. “If you so choose to accept my offer, you will become one of us. You will be forever at the age of nineteen, but you will have no reflection, and only those that need your help will be able to see you, aside from us of course. Also, you will be able to see the rest of us as well. There are thousands of us. Of course, you will need to get your affairs in order… your family and friends will of course miss your presence. While this is regrettable, perhaps the most important acquisition will be piece of mind. You will no longer need to ponder where your spirit ventures to following death, for you will never experience it. You will make new friends among your new kind, and live forever. Of course, there are accidents that have caused us mortality, but those are rare at most. The only price of all this, besides revamping your social life, will be the requirement of human blood. The reason I do not meet with you at night is for the necessity of hemoglobin and glycogen. Some of us believe there is a spiritual contribution, but that is your prerogative if you so choose to believe such a hypothesis.”
Tara stood in a dumb struck trance, amazed still at the information that had just fallen from Sky’s tongue. She stuttered- “A-a-a-nd what about how I become one of you?”
“That is elementary. I don’t have to bite you, as most humans are incorrect in believing. All I require is an open wound, and I apply a small amount of my own blood. I know it sounds barbaric, but I assure you my blood is quite clean. The process is painless, and only takes a few seconds.”
Tara sat down on her stool, and put her head in her hands. She thought the offer was intriguing, but didn’t know if she had the strength to give up her own life, despite all the superiorities of what was lying before her. She needed time. And that is what she requested.
“I will allow you one week to make your decision and make arrangements, should you choose to.” replied Sky. In one week, if you have chosen to remain in this plain of existence, you will no longer be able to see me, and you will surely never encounter me again. If you decide to broaden your horizons, I will be here on Friday.”
With that, Sky left. Tara decided she needed to sleep on things. She did. She woke up the next afternoon, having felt no need to go to class. Life seemed to have no purpose, now that Tara knew there were people in the world that never stopped living it. Either that, or its purpose was infinite. She needed something more exciting, she was done contemplating the afterlife. That Friday, she walked into her apartment, and took the bandage off of her elbow.