The women finished the meal at the cafe and decided to head back to the saloon to meet the men. They convinced Anne to go with them and told her she would be safe. As they approached the saloon, they saw two rows of lighted torches surrounding a pile of wood that was growing larger as men added to the pile. In the center of the woodpile were three tall posts, around six feet in height each.
The town had no electricity, and the only light emitting was from lamps set up on the walkways and from the buildings that lined the main road. The saloon was the most lit up building since it was occupied most evenings until midnight or later. The women looked over at the saloon to see if they could see the men inside from the street, all they could see were stranger’s playing cards at a table near the door.
“What’s going on?” Cara asked. “What’s with these pole and the wood pile?”
“Looks like a witch burning,” Ashley replied.
“They’re burning vampires,” Anne said. As if it were the most common thing in the world.
“What do you mean, burning vampires?” Cara asked.
“Whenever they catch vampires, they bring them out here and burn them in the street. It’s how they try to scare them away and keep them from coming into town.”
“How often does that happen?”
“Not very often, the last time I can remember I was a kid.”
“You still are a kid,” Cara said.
Ashley said,” From the looks of it, they caught three of them.”
“Check it out, there are people starting to come,” Cara said.
Anne replied, “It’s a big deal when they burn vampires. People bring food and they make a big party out of it.”
“Who does the burning? The Chamber of Commerce or something?” Cara asked.
“The sheriff puts it on, look, he’s over there by the jail talking to someone.”
“I figured he’d be out looking for us.”
Ashley said, “Maybe they found three others and pinned the killing on them.”
“That would be nice,” Cara said. “Then we wouldn’t have to hide.”
Then the three women saw Bohdan, Isaac and Rancid walk out of the saloon and head their way. Cara waved at them and got their attention.
As Bohdan approached, he looked over at the gathering and asked, “What the fuck is that?”
“They’re burning vampires tonight,” Cara replied. “Do you want to stay and watch?”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Small towns like these have crazy ideas. They might take one look at us and decided to burn us as well.”
“I don’t think so. The sheriff was looking for the vampires that killed Anne’s family and he found what he was looking for. We’re safe.”
Bohdan looked at Anne and expected her to take off running to the sheriff. “Don’t trust her, she’ll turn us in, in a second.”
Cara knew Bohdan was right, Anne had no reason to not turn them in.
“Maybe I should take her in the alley and finish her off before she becomes trouble.”
“There are too many people here,” Cara replied. “Plus, if she wanted to turn us in, all she has to do is scream.”
Bohdan stepped over to Anne and tried to intimidate her by looking down at her from above. Anne was just a little over five foot and Bohdan was a giant next to her. “If you make a sound, I will snap your neck, do you understand me? You might get revenge, but you won’t be around to enjoy it.”
Anne looked up at Bohdan and then back down to the ground. “I won’t say anything,” Anne replied.
“Good, now let’s go,” Bohdan said.
Isaac spoke up, “I want to watch the burning, and I’ve never seen anyone burned at the stake before.”
“You can stay here for all I care, I’m not sticking around,” Bohdan replied.
Ashley said, “Its best if we stick together, nobody will know the difference, and I want to watch as well.”
Bohdan shook his head in disgust, he had no reason to stay with these people anymore and was probably better off without them. But for some unknown internal reason decided to stay, at least for a while. “Fine, but at the first sign of trouble - we leave.”
“We have to be back by midnight anyway,” Rancid said.
Cara asked, “Why? What’s going on?”
“The gypsy madam is going to get us some slave girls to feed on.”
“I think that’s a real bad idea,” Ashley said. “She’s setting you up.”
“What do you mean? Setting me up?” Rancid asked.
“When you get back at midnight, the sheriff will be there waiting for you.”
“You don’t know that,” Rancid said.
Ashley pointed over to the jail, where the sheriff was talking to a woman in a bright colored dress. “Is that your madam?” Ashley asked.
Rancid looked over and saw the madam talking to the sheriff. “That fucking cunt,” Rancid said.
“Now we have to leave,” Bohdan said. “The sheriff knows we’re here.”
“Yeah, maybe those poles are for us?” Isaac asked.
“No, look,” Cara said pointing to the now open door at the jail. Three black slaves were now being led from the jail to the wood pile. As they walked closer, the torches shined upon two men and a woman. Behind the slaves were white men, possibly deputies, forcing the slaves to their deaths.
“I know that one,” Bohdan said. “The tall one of the left.”
“How do you know him?” Cara asked.
“He’s the slave that turned me. I was in the process of selling him back into slavery when he got to me and bled me. I survived and turned into a vampire.”
“Small world,” Isaac said as a joke. His accent did make it sound funny.
Cara said, “Well, now you get to watch him die for what he did to you.”
“Yes, and I very much want to see that happen,” Bohdan said as he walked closer to the wood pile. He wanted a front row seat at the vampire burning.
The crowd that formed to see the three vampires die grew larger and larger and a table was set up next to the boardwalk with pies and sandwiches for sale. The event was turning out to be almost as good as the county fair, with better main entertainment than they’d seen in years. Kids played and music filled the air as the atmosphere became more festive.
Ashley said, “This is so sick and wrong.”
Cara replied, “Didn’t they do this in Rome? Kill slaves and make a party out of it?”
“Yes, and that was wrong as well. How people can do that to each other I’ll never understand.”
“They dehumanize them, they’re not people, and they’re blood sucking animals.”
Bohdan spoke up, “Like me?”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Cara replied.
“Why do you worship a blood sucking animal like me?” Bohdan asked.
“Because you’re sexy,” Cara replied.
“Sexy? There’s nothing sexy about me. You’re delusional.”
“She’s a groupie, you can’t explain it. It’s a perverted fascination,” Ashley said. “Anyway, I think they’re about to get started.
The sheriff joined his staff and watched as they led the three vampires to the poles and tied them securely. The first man and the woman gave little resistance, but the third fought for his life as they held him up against the pole and strapped him to it. Once they were secure, the wood was spread to cover the open space and make for a more even burn. The sheriff took one last look at the set up and called out for one of his men to spread a little fuel oil on the wood to make sure it lit up and burned as expected.
After the wood was prepared, the sheriff walked over to the mayor and said a few words. The mayor then stepped up onto a raised platform, well lit by torchlight, to address the awaiting crowd. “Hello my fellow citizens, we are gathered here tonight to end the lives of three of the most vile beings to grace our small town and the planet itself. As you well know, vampires are the scourge of the Earth, leaving a path of destruction wherever they go. It is our privilege, and pleasure, to eliminate three of them forever, making our community a safer place to live.”
The group listened intently as the mayor made his speech, and watched as a pastor joined him on the raised platform holding a bible in his hand.
Bohdan whispered to Cara, “If this wasn’t so wrong, I’d find it entertaining.”
“That slave turned you into a vampire, why are you so against this?” Cara whispered back.
“It’s different once you are one. It wasn’t my choice, but I do have a kinship with him now. That could very well be me up there instead.”
The pastor joined the mayor on the stage, was introduced and asked to say a prayer. “I want you all to listen to Pastor John now as he leads us in scripture and prayer at this time in history. This is a momentous occasion that should be remembered and cherished. Pastor John, the stage is yours.”
The pastor stepped up, held up his bible and said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, and by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image, Genesis 9:6. These evil people shed the blood of man, and now we will send them to God for their righteous punishment. Pray with me, moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.”
Rancid shook his head in disgust. “I think he’s cherry picking scripture, I hate it when they do that.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Isaac said. “Don’t bring attention to us. These religious nut fucks will turn on us in a second.
The pastor lowered his bible and looked upon the crowd that was eagerly awaiting the fire and death of the vampires. “Before we do God’s work here tonight, I want to tell you a story, a story that will help you and guide you on a path to God.” The pastor slowed down and timed out his words for maximum impact. He had his audience where he wanted them and wasn’t going to let them off the hook until he was finished. He loved what he did, and the attention fed his ego like no other.
“Once there was a man, a man who had no life, no family, nothing but himself. This man turned to evil, the only way he felt he could make a mark in the world and eventually was caught. This man plead for his life, explaining that no one had ever tried to help him, make him a better man, and that evil was the only thing that he ever found to fill the loneliness in his soul. He was found guilty of many crimes, and on the day he was to be executed, he pleaded before man and God yet no one listed to him. Then a small boy came up to him and asked, ‘Why did you do the evil things you did? Why should I not follow the same path as you?’ The convicted man looked down in shame, and said, ‘If I were not restrained, I would kill you where you stand, for I am God.’”
Bohdan shook his head, “What the fuck was that all about? That made no sense whatsoever.”
Ashley replied, “I’m not sure that bible is the same bible you and I are familiar with.”
“What do you mean?”
“This isn’t just a different time that we were from, but a different place as well. I think they have a different history altogether. They still have slavery, and the civil war never happened. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had an alternate history for everything, including religion. We should be very careful, once this is over, we need to leave.”
The pastor stepped over to the side of the stage, dipped his bible in fuel oil and raised it up for the crowd to see. He put the edge of the book in the flame of a torch and lit it up to the cheers of the crowd. He then stepped to the edge of the stage and tossed the burning bible onto the wood pile and set the fuel oil ablaze. The wood pile lit up and the crowd erupted as the vampires began to recoil from the heat of the flames.