“I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Why didn’t you leave a note so I would know where you are?” I asked the Father the next morning. I had spoken briskly and I knew I had sounded like my mother. Ugh! But I still was quite angry I had woken up alone. I had expected to see Father Michael’s handsome face first in the morning, especially after what had happened last night.
The Father was standing in the nave of the church next to a wooden bench, leaning forward and fiddling around with something.
“What are you doing? What’s all that stuff?” The boxes were filled with wires, screws and lots of black metal. The Father was so busy playing with his toys, he didn’t even answer me. “I’m waiting, Michael,” I said after a few minutes, staring at him.
“I’m installing some cameras above the portal.”
Fantastic news: he hasn’t forgotten how to speak!
Confused, my eyes followed his fingers when he pointed at the door. I couldn’t help it, but I thought he was crazy! First, he clung to me like a leech and now he was installing cameras?
“If we see something’s waiting for you in front of the portal, you won’t go outside. Simple as that,” he said firmly.
Immediately, I began protesting. “You can’t lock me up in here for the rest of my life, Michael!”
“Why not? I wouldn’t mind you being near me each and every moment of the day,” he said, shrugging and twisting two wires.
“That’s totally irrational!” I shouted.
He just shrugged again. I took a deep breath, trying to calm down.
“Okay, let’s pretend the two weeks are over and you aren’t letting me go. Let’s suppose the siege in front of the church withdraws at some point. Would you never let me go hunting, even though you know there’s chaos in the streets? You would never let me fight to save people’s lives?”
Father Michael’s head shot up. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes, which told me hadn’t slept last night. For a second I felt sorry for him as I knew it was because of me. My compassion didn’t last very long, when I saw the red eyes and the madness in them.
“Listen, Ada!” he said, pointing at me with the wires. “Every time you go outside to protect strangers, a part of me dies. The thought of you being outside alone drives me crazy! I always worried about the hunters, yes. I remember being warned not to have a close personal relationship with them. That’s difficult, if you have lived for centuries and are alone with your thoughts most of the time. It’s easy to become friends. You talk with each other and that closeness is nice. Before you came, I was empty inside. For years, I felt nothing. It changed. It’s never been like that before. Now, I walk up and down, counting the minutes until you come back. Secretly, I wish you wouldn’t go hunting at all. Am I selfish? Yes, bloody hell! I love you and I want you to be safe at my side. If that means you are not hunting any longer, then so be it!”
The words came gushing out of him. The monologue ended with another shrug, which made me sick – to put it mildly.
I couldn’t believe what he said. He was the one who constantly reminded me I must fulfill my destiny.
“I don’t think your boss, both worldly and heavenly, would be thrilled about his best man preventing me from hunting the monsters. It’s not about me, Michael. How often did you tell me, I have a job to do?” The dark brown of his eyes was surrounded by red veins. It looked painful.
“Of course it’s about you, damnation!” he yelled, hurling the wires back into the boxes. There were angry creases on his forehead and his hands were clenched. “Have you already forgotten what the vampire said? He wants you! They have never demanded the hunter openly. They feel threatened, they know how good you are. They fear what powers you have. I will not allow them to execute you!”
Father Michael looked more determined than I had ever seen him before but also dangerous. It scared me.
After a few moments the Father took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. He came to me and touched my face. Gently, his thumbs caressed my skin.
“I know I have no right to keep you from your job. That makes it even worse for me. I can give you no good advice. I feel useless. No matter how hard I think about all of that, I cannot think of anything better than that,” he said, nodding in the direction of the cameras. “At the moment I’m just acting emotionally. I know it’s just a drop in the ocean, but if I cannot fight with you side by side, then please let me do that. I need it.”
“I will,” I said sighing, taking his hands off me. “But unlike you, I won’t be here forever. I’m going to die, Michael. At some point I’m going to die. That’s the way it goes.”