Evil doesn’t come forward as a monster but as a friend.
Brute force and ignorance propelled Colby’s cart along the muddy road. What had started as an excellent day ended horribly. It was a shopping adventure gone wrong.
Somehow, he was ignorant that vampires were so endearing to the folks of the Tyndale market and he ended up in the stocks as a result.
He had encouraged his wife to go home, but she had stayed and now enjoyed the luxury of riding first class on the family wagon.
Taking a break, he sat down on a fallen tree. His wife was fast asleep.
Colby was shaken and confused. The townsfolk seemed murderously resentful of his vampire intolerance, but he had good reason.
Years ago on the farm, his son went to use the outhouse in the middle of the night when the dog started barking.
Crouching near a tree was a pasty white man with little clothing on, sneaking towards the privy door.
Shocked, Colby bolted out the house, the dog a few leaps ahead barking ferociously.
“Son! Get inside and secure the door!” Colby bellowed.
The man fled, and an enraged set of canine teeth chased him up a tall tree. He was particularly nimble and scurried at breakneck speed to the tip-top branches.
Colby sent his wife for help while he waited at the bottom with his dog.
He remembered the man shrieking and hissing, speaking unrepeatable abominations.
For what seemed like hours, Colby waited and the man in the tree finally became silent.
When the sky became grey, the man changed his tune.
“Sir, my name is Gabriel. I wasn’t after your son. You see, we are really good friends and he invited me over.”
“You ain’t Gabriel for sure. The Man with the Shepherd’s Crook didn’t tell you to sneak on my farm half naked. “
“This is ALL a terrible misunderstanding. You see, I have spent a lot of time with your son and have been mentoring him. I implore you, sir, please call off your dog and we can discuss this. I dearly wish to depart from this tree.”
Colby remembered being furious.
Who was this man? Had he been talking to his son? When? How? They worked side by side in the field all day six days a week and went to church on Sundays.
“I am begging you, please let me come down. I cannot last up here.”
“I would stay up there if I were you. I am waiting for the townsfolk and the magistrate to come and pick you up. You were going to kidnap my son or worse, so I guarantee you that you want to relax and let the authorities come to get you.”
As the morning sun began to rise,
Colby heard the sound of horsemen and chainmail approaching. Colby called his dog close and held him to not spook them.
In this moment of distraction, the man in the tree made a giant leap, falling to the ground. Like a cat, he made a mad dash not away, but towards an outbuilding. Colby loosed his dog.
The man never made it. No sooner did the sunlight hit him, than he screamed as one dying and caught fire, the dog biting him all the while.
The townsmen arrived to see a small pile of ashes. Colby called down his son and there was no explanation. He had never seen the man before.
One of the Tyndale watch, old, wrinkled, and wizened, looked at the boy astride his horse.
“Young man, what have you got in your room right now?”
“Umm… a bed, nightstand, a dresser, clothes, my rock collection, ….
“What are you hiding in there?”
Colby, tired from being up all night and quite irritable, was not having it. “I don’t see what all this is about. My son was almost taken by this foul man and … ”
The old man was dismissive.
“What else do you have in your room?
“Nothing… Well, I found this clay tablet with rectangular shapes on it. It is pretty cool.”
“You have been obsessed with it, haven’t you?”
“How about you go get it and give it to me then?”
The young man hesitated, and then went off to retrieve it.
When he returned, the old man nodded.
“Ah yes, a divisive. I found one when I was a child. Give it to me.”
He looked it over with care. “This tablet is powerful and dangerous. You see, a grown eye cannot see the icon unless it is fully in the light, but a child can.”
Colby looked at his son and his son shook his head. “not true dad.”
Colby was inquisitive.
“What is an icon?”
“It is a symbol to be venerated.”
The old man dismounted.
“Watch when I put it up to the light.”
Colby looked at his son. He was nervous.
He, his wife, and the town watchmen looked intently at the tablet.
An image appeared of a strikingly beautiful woman and everyone gasped, that is, except the old man and the boy. It was apparent they had seen it before.
“Wait, there is more.”
With a slight swipe of his thumb, another image appeared. This time, it moved. “They are always so charming and charismatic on the tablet and show their true form when they capture their prey.”
“Give it back,”
Colby’s son exclaimed, reaching for the tablet.
The old man dropped it on the ground and stomped on it, and it crumbled into the earth.
“You broke it! You ARE evil!”
“No, you were interested in what you found and became obsessed with it. Your obsession was trying to meet you last night. It had to be destroyed.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about, old man! He was my friend! I hate you! I hate you too dad! You killed my friend!”
Colby was shocked at his son’s behavior, but the old man shrugged. “he will get over it. What he thought was his friend was his destruction. Believe me, I know.”
Colby’s recollections were disrupted by his wife. “My dearest husband, we must be going. We cannot stay here forever.”
“Yes, dear! Just taking a breather! My neck and back hurt from those stocks. I love you!”
Colby began pushing the cart toward home and his thoughts drifted back to that instance. How long ago was that?
Fifteen years or so.
Everyone in Tyndale knew about it and scoured their homes for clay tablets with icons.
It was the medium the vampires were using to source victims. It was true, they were friendly on the tablet and showed their true form in person.
It was bizarre how soon the townsfolk had forgotten about this and now celebrated the vampires.