A Prayer for the Dying

The door opens and a group of robed figures wheel in a gurney. This is no hospital room. It looks institutional like a dorm or a prison. There are no windows.

On the gurney there is a young man with sandy blonde hair, loose around his head. A scruff of fashionable stubble shadows a face locked in sad understanding.

The bloody point of a wooden stake juts from his chest, still glistening with his blood.

A young woman enters the room. Her hair falls in waves of black ringlets aound her shoulders. Her skin is very pale. She is dressed as a woman of power, but something in her posture implies she is unmoored, terrified.

All the robed people leave, but one. She turns to the young woman and says, “Ivy, you will be safe here during the day. You may leave to hunt tomorrow night, but you must wear this at all times.”

She offers Ivy a silver wristwatch. Ivy takes it, fastening it with nimble fingers around her wrist.

The robed woman has no need to explain the consequences if Ivy “loses” the tracking device in the watch. But really, there is no need for the device in the first place.

“Be back here by midnight, no matter what. Understood?”

Ivy nods, clenching her teeth to keep her feelings hidden.

The robed woman watches for several seconds, as if waiting for Ivy’s resolve to break. Then she turns and leaves, closing the door quietly behind her.

Ivy turns and steps quickly to the gurney. Her face quivers and dissolves into sobs. She takes the young man’s hand, holding it to her cheek. Many minutes pass as she finally lets go of the terror and uncertainty building up over the last week.

She made it through so far. Cam was still alive, though incapacitated in a way that was both humiliating and horrifying. But he was alive.

Frozen. Possibly still conscious.

The tears subsiding she speaks to him. “You’re going to hate me. I didn’t know, Cam. I didn’t expect to get off so easy, baby, I promise you.”

She reaches out her own hand to caress his cheek, rigid in a way that’s different from the daily death they share. She never liked seeing him like that. Always waking before him, it was unnerving to touch someone beloved and feel no warmth of live. It scared her.

When Ivy was 12, her grandmother died overnight. Ivy had gone in to see her in the morning and felt that same chill, that same fear that someone who meant so much was gone. That was the first time she’d seen a corpse. Now she woke beside one every night.

She closes her eyes tight to drive away the visions of death.

“I hate seeing you this way. But this is our only way out. You’re going to hate me, but I don’t care. As long as you’re alive I will have hope that this fucked up world we live in has some beauty in it.

“I promised I would keep you alive and I will. Even if you never want to see me again.

She tries to be strong, but her words wobble as the thought, the feeling, of his coming hatred came clear; of what she’d given up to save him.

“Dammit, why couldn’t we have met a year ago? We would be somewhere else. We wouldn’t have been easy prey for Vixie and Grisham. We would have a fucking life together. Not… this

She hisses out the final words, descending for a moment back into tears. But with a deep breath that feels like pushing back all the rage and anger she has and stuffing it into her gut, she quiets her grief. Big families provide lots of practice weeping for the dead. Especially big Italian familes.

“And he is not dead,” she tells herself. “No more than usual.”

She crawls up onto the gurney beside Cam and rests her head on his shoulder. The smell of his blood is strong, but hunger is not. Ivy closes her eyes, focusing on the smell of Cam himself. Thinking about their moments of passion; how no one has ever made her feel so beautiful and loved.

She prays, whispering to the night:

 Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
liberate the souls of the faithful,
departed from the pains of hell
and from the bottomless pit.
Deliver them from the lion's mouth,
lest hell swallow them up,
lest they fall into darkness. 

The lights stay on. She has no idea of the time. But some time after the “amen,” the sun rises and she joins Cam and all the other Kindred in death.

Just after sunset, the halls fill with a mournful violin, weeping beautifully to the night.