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A Halloween Hymn

by Eric James Stone

Maria was dead, and Father Nicholas had not tasted her.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” said the young woman.

In the confessional, Nicholas fingered the silver cross that hung on a chain around his neck. The metal felt red-hot, but decades of practice had taught him to ignore the pain. Posing as a priest helped him avoid the occasional vampire hunter who came to Seattle.

Maria was dead: she had slit her wrists and wasted her blood down the bathtub drain.

“It has been five days since my last confession.”

Yesterday some of the older parishioners had frowned their disapproval at having a funeral mass for a suicide, but they came anyway: scandal attracted. But what if it was not suicide? What if another vampire had hidden his feeding by staging a reason for the loss of blood?

Maria was dead, but it was her voice on the other side of the partition.

“I have committed one mortal sin: I killed myself.”

She had to be lying. The other vampire had killed her, then raise…

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