With a blood curdling scream and a flash of eldritch flame the beast died, leaving only ashes. Father Hemlock dusted off the end of his stake and returned it to the pocket hidden inside his robes. He turned to the woman, the creature’s intended victim. She was still shaking, clearly in shock– but safe and unharmed. Gradually she turned to face him, to register his presence. Slowly realisation dawned in her eyes as she fully absorbed his appearance. She screamed, just as Hemlock dissolved into a cloud of bats and flew away.
The graveyard was quiet, starkly lit by the full moon. The swarm of bats coalesced into the form of Father Hemlock at the door to a large, ornate crypt. As soon as his feet touched the consecrated ground, they began to burn. He didn’t react, barely registering a pain so familiar. It was really no different to the sensation beneath his shirt, the searing sizzle of his crucifix swinging side to side against his chest as he climbed the small staircase to enter the tomb. As he entered, he immediately felt the gaze of the marble Christ upon him, glaring down in judgement from his cross. The stained glass window beneath depicted a beatific Holy Mother, her eyes averted, unable to look at the abomination that called this small stone sepulchre home.
He ran his finger around his collar, and a whisp of smoke escaped. It had been nearly two hundred years since this curse was first visited on him, that night in the seminary garden, when the monster had fallen on him from the deacon’s old apple tree. Two hundred years of penitence and flagellation, two hundred years of unconsummated bloodlust. Two hundred years of his holy crusade, his eternal mission to rid the world of the vampiric stain.
He climbed into his coffin, laid himself upon the silver cross etched in it’s base. Soon, sunlight would come streaming through the coloured glass and bathe the room in a beautiful rainbow. He would not see it. He pulled the lid closed above him.