He sat at his desk with his back to me. The tapestry showing Saint Mary’s image had been moved upwards. The Father looked out of the glass door, scanning our garden.
He jumped at the sound of his name but didn’t turn around. I went to his desk and stopped next to it.
“Are you okay?” I asked. I waited for his answer, but he kept silent. “We need to talk about it,” I said. Again, I gave him some time to reply. “Michael, please!” I begged. Not much was missing and I would have stamped my foot like a small child, wanting to have its way.
The chair creaked softly when the Father turned around. “There’s nothing to talk about, Ada. I cannot say anything to you. I cannot answer your questions,” he said without looking at me.
I saw bitterness and disappointment about himself on his face. “I don’t know what to do,” he whispered, his voice harsh. His black eyes looked up at me, trying to find out how disappointed I was about him.
“I thought about what happened. There’s only one possibility how it ends,” I said. Suddenly, I felt a strange kind of peace inside of me.
The Father’s eyes widened when he realized what I was meaning. In horror, he leapt up and looked at me angrily. “As soon as you leave the church and set foot on the square I won’t be able to help you. I would be able to cope with five or ten monsters but not with such a large number! You know in that moment I’m as vulnerable as everybody else,” he said. As if he would have to remind me of that.
“You,“ I pointed at him, “will not go out there. I’m the one who will go.”
He came closer and looked down at me. I felt like a little child, standing in front of its tall father. But I was determined not to move an inch.
“You mean, I am supposed to watch you die?” he yelled at me. “No, Ada! Never ever! You won’t go! If I must chain you, so be it. But I will not watch you getting killed! You commit suicide!” he said. His dark eyes had gotten even darker and the wrinkles on his forehead were as deep as the Grand Canyon.
“Committing suicide is a sin. Are you afraid I can’t go to heaven, if I do it?” I asked him with a raised eyebrow, folding my arms.
“We are not talking about what’s a sin and what’s not! I’m talking about that your plan is madness and you will die!” he screamed. The knuckles of his hands cracked when he clenched them to fists.
“I could die each night, Michael. The vampire is right. Every time I go out and fight, I risk my life,” I yelled back.
“But this is different!” he said. He breathed heavily with fury.
I sighed. “What do you think what happens if you don’t hand me over? Do you think they just leave and everything’s okay? They will not accept that and their revenge will be so great, that nobody will be safe.”
“Do you really think it’s different if you offer yourself voluntarily? Oh Ada, please!” he said.
I shook my head. “No, I don’t think so. God only knows what the monsters will do with me. The vampire will kill me. And in the end, the creatures of the night will stroll through the streets freely. It boils to the same thing, Michael. It doesn’t matter what we do but how we do it,” I said.
The Father looked at me confused. “So, you want to sacrifice yourself. Why?”
I went to the glass door leading to my garden. My eyes wandered across the green lawn, the yellow and red leaves and stopped at the white shrub. Its leaves were still falling only to return to the branches.
“Have you forgotten about it?”
The Father came over to me and looked at the shrub. “You really think the plant is responsible for all of that, right?”
I looked at him. “I just know it. When I walk through the streets I never know whether I return to St. Mary’s church safe and sound or not. Sure, I cannot really choose the time of my death now, too, but I can stand in front of them with my head in the air instead of hiding like a coward. If this is how it ends, so be it.”
When it was dark that night, I went hunting but I couldn’t find any of the monsters. No vampires, no sexy demon ladies, no slimy, smallpox or long-armed creatures. Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I wondered where they were. I remembered what the vampire had said about they would withdraw. But where were they? I could hardly imagine them sitting in there underground tombs for days without killing anybody. It was impossible they had stopped hunting. They must hunt to eat, to live. Disgusted, I shuddered. While I walked along a deserted narrow street, I thought about whether they had moved their hunting grounds. It was definitely a possibility. The longer I thought about it the more I was convinced it was true. Phew! No attacks for the next two weeks? They just didn’t hunt right under my nose. Smart lads!