Originally published in Unberbelly Magazine on Oct 31st, 2018 at: http://underbellyzine.blogspot.com
“I’m going to make you believe in God,” Jakin whispered in the man’s ear, “but by then it’ll be too late.”
It gets old fast. The first time is like nothing else. You feel invincible, like the entire world is in your hands. And the rush of euphoria takes you higher than you ever thought possible. High, but in complete control. You do it again and again, but it’s never like that first time. The high becomes your level, so you’re always chasing the next time and the next time. Always chasing that first time, but only ever finding the need for the next.
After two hundred years, Jakin was constantly in withdrawals. He needed that thrill, it was the only one left to him. He couldn’t enjoy food or drink anymore. And when your blood stops flowing, you lose other pleasures too. Jakin needed a way to make the next time more like the first time.
It was harder at the start, that was part of the problem too. It was too easy now. When he was turned first, people had so much power against him. Where Irish girls wear necklaces with their names in cursive now, they had all worn crosses in the past. He remembered his first attempt.
She was milking a cow by a shed at the edge of a field. He skulked up quietly behind her and dragged her off her stool. Her scream was lost in the cries of the cows who despised his presence. Jakin dipped his head in towards the girl’s neck, and suddenly he felt a burning pain throughout his body. It reminded him of the beginning, when every drop of blood was drained from his veins. The silver cross at the nape of her neck glowed brightly, and he ran from it. She believed in the cross at her chest, and the cross bearer came to save her, His spirit flowing through Jakin’s veins like acid.
But her God is a jealous God. He only comes for those who believe in Him. God is weak, in this world anyway. He has no power other than that which we give Him. The Cathars were no heretics, they were prophets. The god of the Old Testament is Satan, he created this world to test and torture God’s children. Only the souls on this Earth were created by God, the spirits of the angels that Satan dragged down to earth and imprisoned in physical bodies. There is no other hell than this hell on Earth. Our souls are condemned to it in perpetuity through reincarnation, until they find unity with God. The only power God has is through the soul, and if your soul drifts from God, God drifts from you.
Jakin was one of Satan’s most beloved creations, a body of evil devoid of his God-given soul. In the beginning, the utterance of a hail Mary was enough to send Jakin fleeing. Now, a rosary, a crucifix, and a Bible did nothing, because so few believed. Truly believed.
He brought the man back to the bomb shelter. It was just a hole in the ground with walls and a roof that some fool had built in a field in Kildare during the cold war. It could protect you from a strong wind, but not much else. Jakin drank that gobshite dry in the seventies. The secret of the bomb shelter had died with him.
He kicked aside the bones of the disappeared as he dragged the man over to the steel chair that was welded to the floor. The chloroform had begun to wear off on the drive from Dublin to Kildare. The man was beginning to regain consciousness as Jakin cut the ropes that bound his hands. Jakin sat the man on the chair and wrapped a rope around his arms and chest, binding him to the chair.
Jakin tapped his face lightly as he began to groan. “Come on, wake up,” Jakin said. The man continued to groan and squirm. Jakin lost patience with him and slapped him hard across the face. The man jumped slightly, bound too tightly in the chair. His eyes shot open and looked straight up at Jakin. It took a moment for his confusion to turn to fear.
“Do you believe in God?” Jakin asked.
The man’s eyes were wide and terrified. They searched Jakin’s gaze, looking for an answer. “What?” he asked.
“Do you believe in God?” Jakin repeated.
“Y…es?” he said, like a schoolboy called upon for an answer to a question he hadn’t heard.
Jakin wore a solid gold cross around his neck. He wore it as an affront to God. Testament to His lack of power. It was what had given him the inspiration for his game. Jakin had been hunting in the city centre on a busy night. There were always those who gave up on waiting for a taxi and took the long walk home. Jakin did the decent thing and made the walk a little shorter. This one little fella, in his twenties but hardly five foot seven, had given him pause. He pulled him into a council estate underpass. Jakin held him down, looking into his eyes, savouring the moment.
“Help!” he had cried. “Oh, please, God, help me!”
The cross around Jakin’s neck had begun to glow, and he felt His power. The little runt had found God in his final moments. But the moment was too final. Jakin didn’t give his faith a chance to grow.
In the bomb shelter, the cross sat coolly against Jakin’s skin.
“You’re a terrible liar,” Jakin said. “I’ll know if you’re lying, so don’t bother. Now, tell me, do you believe in God?”
The man visibly shook in the chair. He couldn’t hold Jakin’s awful gaze, so he looked around him. He saw the greying bones that littered the floor, the fetid remains in differing states of decomposition. He saw the red, black, and green death that covered the floor. Suddenly, Jakin’s gaze wasn’t so awful. He looked him dead in the eye.
“What do you want me to say?” he whimpered.
“The truth. The truth will set you free. So, do you believe in God?” Jakin asked.
“Good,” Jakin said. He dragged the only other chair over to him, letting the bones clatter in its wake. He sat down in front of him, inches from his face.
“Why not?” he asked.
“What?” the man replied.
“What do you mean, ‘what’?” Jakin asked. “God is your one and only saviour. Satan put you on this Hell-on-Earth, and only God can save you from living in this hell forever. You better have a good reason not to believe in Him.”
“Well, it doesn’t make sense—God.”
“Like, the whole creator thing. Who created God? If He doesn’t need a creator, why do we? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Fair answer,” Jakin said, “But you know you’re wrong, right?”
“I don’t know! I don’t care!” He burst into hysterical tears.
“No, no, no,” Jakin said, getting up off his chair. “That’s not the game we’re playing here.”
He started to pace the floor, from one side of the narrow room to the other. He kicked the bones as he walked, kicked them so hard they hit the man’s legs.
“You people are so narrow minded. He gave your soul life, and yet the dead have to teach you the lesson. Logic, that’s where you all go. You’re not the first person I’ve asked, and that’s not the first time I’ve heard that answer. You’re so fucking full of yourselves.” Jakin picked a femur up off the ground and lunged at him with it.
He cracked him across the face with it and didn’t stop until each wall either side was sprayed with his blood. Jakin’s nose tempted him with the smell of fresh blood, but he’d learned decades ago to delay gratification.
He broke the femur over his knee and pressed one jagged end against the man’s neck.
“Did you ever stop to think that your creator is more complex than your fucking mind is capable of conceiving?!”
“I doh know!” he cried, the blood and the broken nose muddling his speech. “I ‘ust annered yer keshchun!”
Jakin removed the bone shard from his neck and stepped back. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I was too hard on you.” He turned his back to him and flipped the femur round in the air and caught it again. “So, do you believe in God?”
“’Es! ‘Es! I beheeve!”
But the crucifix stayed cold at Jakin’s chest. Jakin shook his head and flipped the bone shard again and caught it.
He let his fangs bear down out of his jaw, got them slick and wet with saliva, and opened his eyes so wide he might lose his eyeballs. Then he flashed round and hissed in the man’s face, wetting his cheeks with his venom.
He opened his mouth wide and went down for the man’s neck. The man screamed so shrilly it pierced Jakin’s ears. At the last moment, Jakin drew up from his neck and whispered in his ear. “What about now?”
It took a good thirty seconds for his pitiful whimpering to form words. “I… I b-beheeve.”
The cross got warm, but only that.
“God, you’re pathetic,” Jakin said, falling back into his chair. “You’d honestly rather perpetuate your living hell than sacrifice your beliefs? Beliefs that I’ve proven false, just by my own fucking existence.”
The man was crying full on now, shaking his head from side to side.
“You’re going to die tonight,” Jakin said, but the man kept swaying from side to side, not listening. Jakin grabbed him by the jaw, pulled him close, wrapped his mouth around the man’s and bit him. The man screamed, and Jakin felt the exhalation of air rush through his mouth. He breathed in his pain.
The pain snapped the man back to reality. Jakin kept the man’s face in his hand. “You’re going to die, you know that, right?”
His face dragged softly up and down.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere. We’re in a bomb shelter that no one alive knows about. You believe me, don’t you?”
The man let his head fall in a nod.
“But you won’t sacrifice your beliefs? There’s no one on this Earth who can save you, you know that?”
The man’s face, streaming with blood, tottered forward again.
“There’s another life after. I’m proof of that. You know what I am, right? You’ve seen the movies. You get to decide, right now, which life you choose. Who knows, He might save you from this hell. All you have to do is believe.”
The cross grew hotter at Jakin’s chest, but it was nothing. Jakin placed two fingers under the man’s chin and levelled his head with his own, but the man kept his eyes closed. Jakin grabbed him by the jaw and shook his head until he looked Jakin in the eyes.
“He can save you. All you have to do is believe. Believe. It’s all you have left. It’s all you ever had! Believe, you ignorant fool.”
The man’s eyes drifted away, but the heat of the cross rose to a burn and began to emanate through Jakin’s chest. When the heat burned his every corner, he relished it like the first time. He felt it like a cutter dragging a razor blade across their forearm. God was intervening, He was entering Jakin, trying to rip him from the world to which he’d been bound.
He soaked up the pain. God had him in his grip. He was at one with God.
“Too late,” he said, and shoved the jagged femur into the man’s neck. The blood leapt into the air, and God lost his grip on Jakin. Jakin let the stream of blood fall on his face for a moment, and then stemmed the flow. He took little pleasure in drinking blood anymore. It was like living on bread and water for two hundred years. Taking away God’s power tasted much sweeter.
Come back next week, Nov. 7, 2019, for Part II as God seeks his vengeance. Subscribe below or follow my social media to get a reminder: