The moment had finally come, he was excited and proud yet the thought of standing at this precipice was still terrifying. Enduring so many ordeals to test his faith, he passed every test set before him. And still, he couldn’t help wonder if he had made the right choice. He didn’t care about the tiny details until now, and now they didn’t seem so tiny as they loomed closer from the distance.
It was his Confirmation; his entry, his complete and total indoctrination into his new faith; his new life. Standing at the back of the church, watching the sun fade from the window stained red and blue, he ignored the disrepair the structure had fallen into. The condition was not what made the building so mysterious or rapturous to him; it was only the change that awaited him at the hands of the priest that weighed on him. He tried, failing miserably, to control a sudden trembling that moved up from his hands and across his chest before claiming his tall frame in a shudder. There was no chance to change his mind now; this was the beginning.
His friends gathered, filing into the pews in singular ceremony. He looked down, gathering focus, taking his eyes off the scene that was about to engulf him. In doing this, he noticed for the first time how worn the finish on the floor was; the wood was nearly bare.
Yes, that’s it. That’s what he’ll do. He looked up and realized the ornate caps to the pews were just as worn out from their use. Focus on meaningless things and this anxiety will pass.
The hairs on the back of his neck bristled. A presence was very close to him. She was there, reaching from behind him, touching his waist and giving him a chill but he stayed still, allowing her to continue. She gathered the fabric in her fists and pulled it out of his black jeans, working it into a ball. As she balled the thin cotton of his t-shirt, she gently slipped her hands up the length of his torso. He raised his arms when he felt her fingers cross his sternum and allowed her to take his shirt from him.
His lovely raven-haired friend folded her arms around him, and feeling the furious pounding in his chest, she knew the fear and trepidation in his heart. She too, would soon be worthy of her own Confirmation, a day she likewise dreamt of and dreaded. She stroked his chocolate brown hair hanging thickly below his shoulder blades, smoothing it back into place after her undressing had tousled it. She pressed her lips to his shoulder making a long shushing sound before kissing his skin, trying to offer his heart some calm. He felt her and was grateful for the comfort, but still too nervous to dare turn around and take his eyes off the altar with the waiting priest.
“It’s time. You’ll do well, I know you will.” Her voice crackled and he heard her choked tears. He couldn’t tell if they were tears of pride or fear. He couldn’t dwell on that now; the priest looked up from the altar now and was piercing him with hollow eyes.
“Friends, we’re here for a very special occasion; one that is rare and should be given great consideration. Today, we are welcoming a devout student into the faith; today Dorian becomes a part of our lives for all eternity. His body is forsaken and his soul is enlightened. No longer will he have need for the trappings of common man, for today he transcends through sacrifice and becomes immortally blessed.” The priest bellowed with well-practiced projection, like a prophet on a mountain, his voice rang through every eave of the church.
He gave a quick nod, cueing Dorian to obey him and come forward to the altar. Dorian hesitated for only a moment as if compelled beyond his body’s control, and moved slowly up the rows. His friends turned and gazed lovingly up at him as he passed by and stepped up onto the altar’s platform. Without a second thought, fell to his knees at the priest’s feet and bowed his head, whispering, “Father”.
“Rise and bear witness to Dorian’s Confirmation.” The priest motioned for the congregation to stand with palms up. Two young men, recently confirmed, flanked each side of Dorian awaiting orders. Dorian had seen this ceremony many times before and knew what these assistants were for, he knew they were far stronger than he was and were chosen for just that reason. He also knew they would ensure his completion of the sacrament no matter what happened.
“Dorian, do you swear to relinquish all ties to your previous life, surrender all tenants of previous spiritual devotions and align yourself completely with our congregation and our way of life?”
“Yes, Father, I swear.”
“Dorian, do you vow to honor the elders and aspire, through acceptance of their teachings, to gain the wisdom and enrichment they offer?”
“Yes, Father, I swear.” Dorian’s voice scratched harshly, making him wince as a tear swelled in his eye.
“And you, the witnesses Dorian chose, swear to guide him and protect him, correct him through punishment should he falter along the path to his immortal life, to praise him when his merits are deserving, and to comfort him when needed?”
“Yes, Father, we swear”, said the combined voices, coming from over Dorian’s naked shoulder.
“Then it is time to welcome Dorian with all of our hearts.” The priest took Dorian’s lowered head in his hand, gripping him at the nape of his neck and pulling it back gently, signaling Dorian to meet the eyes of the priest.
“Turn and face those who have agreed to love you and support you for all eternity.” As the priest finished the words, Dorian silently rose and moved to the altar’s step before kneeling before his friends.
Directly behind Dorian, the priest now gently swept the long chocolate hair to one side, cupped Dorian’s chin in his hand; tilting his head sharply to one side. Dorian’s breathing was erratic and shallow; he could no longer conceal the apprehension on his face. He was starting to grasp the gravity of his decision but it was too late now and that fact paralyzed him; leaving him staring blankly ahead, expressionless until the pain burned him.
He gasped as the priest’s fangs sunk deeply into Dorian’s long alabaster throat. His eyes closed tight and grit his teeth. He was not prepared for this part, no one had ever mentioned the burning or the ripping sensation; and despite his best efforts not to, he cried out in a shriek that shamed him. He felt the heat of the blood flow down his neck as his every heartbeat pounded against his temples. Another moment passed before the priest was finished and released Dorian’s neck.
Weakened from the ordeal, Dorian lost his strength to hold himself up and slumped forward helplessly; when the priest’s assistants caught him. They stretched him out on the altar, facing the ceiling, ignoring the bleeding opening in his neck.
Dazed from the blood loss, he struggled to remain conscious. His eyes blurred in and out of focus, large shapes and figures without faces; voices were distorted and seemed deep and slow, but then he recognized the priest. “Father?”
“Are you ready, my child? We’re waiting for you to ask. Do you remember?” The priest carded the hair from Dorian’s eyes and rested his palm on Dorian’s forehead. Leaning in closer he asked again, “Do you remember what you are asking for, Dorian?”
His head cleared enough to remember his cue. He was supposed to ask for his new life from his old and ask to be saved from mortal death. “Yes, Father. I remember now.”
“Then tell all of your witnesses.” The priest straightened up and took a step back. “You have a choice, to ask and receive or say nothing and receive nothing.” The priest smiled at the gatherers like a used car salesman who looked on eagerly, waiting to hear Dorian’s weak and feeble voice.
This was the part Dorian remembered now, receive and be changed or say nothing and be left with not enough blood to keep his heart pumping through the night. He just needed to muster the strength to say it, and it had to be said, not whispered, but the priest took too much from him and he doubted himself.
“Father”, slowly passed his lips with sibilance. “Am I worthy of a new life…from the old?” Dorian paused to regain his strength and continue, “If you deem me worthy, will you be my savior from mortal death?”
A collective sigh of relief passed over the attendants; thankful he had the strength to ask. Even when chosen to receive Confirmation, survival is not guaranteed and this is part of the sacrament. Only those strong enough to survive are truly worthy of it.
Dorian’s raven-haired lovely welled with tears and cupped her hands over her mouth as he spoke, so happy that he made it this far.
“Yes, my child. I will save you from a life of death and give you a new one that is free of such horrors.” The priest, adorned in a black and purple cloak held out his left hand and waited for his assistant to provide him with the ceremonial knife to open his vein.
A short dagger, solid silver with a wavy blade was placed delicately in his hand as the assistant bowed and stepped back. The priest placed the blade on an angle next to his right thumb and slowly pressed it into his flesh as he pulled it down to the other side of his hand, opening the vein enough to let the dark black-cherry blood, blood devoid of living cells, to ooze thickly out of the wound. He placed the dagger on the altar and opened Dorian’s jaw as he turned his wrist and placed it over Dorian’s mouth.
Frightened of what to expect, he kept his mouth open waiting for the first drops to splash the back of his throat. It was thicker than he thought it would be and tasted horrible. Bitter and coppery tasting with another sour sting; acrid and potent, he hated it. Each drop made his dizzy head seem clearer and his fatigue subsided slightly making his body crave this demonic elixir. He clasped the priest’s forearm and pulled the wound against his lips to pull more, to the delight of all who watched, including the priest who stroked Dorian’s hair and encouraged him to drink deeply.
Yet like all things in Dorian’s life, and now in his death, he couldn’t comprehend the notion of moderation. He took more and more until it hit his stomach like battery acid. Suddenly nauseous, he threw the priest’s arm aside. The assistants moved in quickly, Dorian’s Confirmation was to take place now. Up until this point, it was merely the ritual of acceptance and his devotion that was tested. Now, his true Confirmation, his true indoctrination, comes from the blood itself and whether or not it decides to heal him and bring him back from his mortal death or destroy him and rot him like the corpse he became when the priest drank from him.
A guttural cry let loose from Dorian. The assistants stood at the ends of the altar, pinning his wrists and ankles, as the poisonous blood ravaged his insides. The burning and the wrenching agony was more than he had known in his short years as a human and thought he would die again, this time for real.
“Please, Father!” His limbs twisted without control, his body convulsed and his eyes and ears started bleeding. The fire in his core was unbearable and vomited the excess blood he greedily swallowed down a moment ago. Caroline began sobbing inconsolably from the first pew at the thought of Dorian in his final death throes; she couldn’t imagine a world without him.
Ever since their world leaders carelessly allowed the uncontrolled propagation of vampires through ignorance and dismissal of them as nothing more than murderers or cultists, Dorian and Caroline knew one day they’d have to face dying together at the hands of a vampire or transcend death together as vampires themselves. This was the decision they made together and now she feared coercing him to transform was now about to kill him.
Next Episode already here…….
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