It took her a few minutes, but Samantha was able to get Bethany to fall asleep. She waited patiently for her father to walk back into the apartment, knowing it would only be another minute. When he finally did, he was carrying Father Michaels over his shoulder. After he dumped the priest onto the couch, he fixed his gaze on her.
“You didn’t have to threaten him,” she said.
“You didn’t have to be in that bank,” he retorted. “You knew that was going to happen, yet you went in there anyways.”
“Knowing the future and changing the future are two different things. I can’t always back away from bad situations just because I know they’re coming. Some things are just meant to be.”
“Then you know what I’m going to ask of you, and that you can’t change my mind about it.”
“I’ve already called him. He’ll be at your place tomorrow morning.”
“Will he be able to do it?”
“I don’t know. I won’t look for you, either. I learned long ago not to look into what you are doing.”
Christian looked as if he was about to protest, but changed his mind. He went into Bethany’s bedroom, kissed her on the forehead, and picked Father Michaels back up on his way out of the door. “What are you going to do with him,” she asked, pointing at the priest.
“Don’t worry. I’m just going to drop him off in front of his church. He’ll wake up with a headache, but other than that, he’ll be fine.”
Bradley Whiting had been waiting in front of St. Gabriel’s all day, and there was still no sign of Father Michaels. His station manager had already called, berating him for not coming back in already. They needed the footage he had shot earlier to lead their 11 o’clock broadcast. He had only a few more minutes until he had to leave to get there on time, and he wasn’t going to leave a second sooner than that. It seemed his patience had paid off when a nice car pulled up. “Start filming,” he instructed his cameraman.
A man exited the car, opened the back door, and pulled someone out. Whiting watched the camera feed on one of the van’s monitors. As the camera zoomed in on the pair, Bradley saw that it was the priest that was being carried by the other man. There was something off about the other man, so he turned to his cameraman. “What’s wrong with the camera? There’s a bunch of distortion on his shirt.”
“That’s not distortion. Those are holes in his shirt.”
Whiting smiled. He hit the jackpot. After exchanging a knowing look with his cameraman, he turned his attention back to the monitor. Father Michaels laid on the steps in front of the church, but the other man was gone. The man’s car was still there, but he was nowhere to be seen. Bradley swore under his breath and instructed his cameraman to get the license plate number on the car while he went out to go check on the priest. As soon as he opened the door, a fist struck him right between the eyes and he fell backwards onto the floor of the van.
Christian couldn’t believe he had been so sloppy. Normally, he would have circled the block in front of the church at least once before pulling over. His mind was not focused on looking for potential witnesses, as it should have been. Instead, he was preoccupied with the sudden reappearance of his daughter into his life. He didn’t notice the news van until he saw its reflection in the window as he was pulling Father Michaels out of the car.
As soon as he dropped the priest onto the ground, he ran off, finding a place to block the van‘s view of himself. He hoped that the news van would be more interested in Father Michaels long enough for him to get close to it. Nothing was happening in the van, that he could see, as he made his way towards it, taking cover where he could. Christian arrived at the door, but, before he could get a look at who was inside, the door opened. On instinct, he swung at the man.
When he finally saw who he had just punched, a smile crossed his face. He did a quick scan of the van, to see if anyone else was inside. The only other person he saw was the cameraman, and he looked like he was too frightened to move, so Christian relaxed. “I’ve wanted to do that for years, Whiting,” he said.
Bradley regained his composure quickly. “You and everyone else who wants to hide the truth.”
“Bullshit. You don’t care about the truth. I doubt anything you have ever reported has been true. You’re nothing more than a tabloid reporter who happens to work at an actual news organization.”
“If you’re going to kill me, just do it. I don’t need to be lectured first.”
“Who said I was going to kill you?”
“What are you going to do to me, then?”
“First, I’m going to destroy your life, then I’m going to kill you. It wouldn’t be fun otherwise.”
A look of confusion covered Bradley’s face as Christian punched him again, this time rendering him unconscious. He looked up at the cameraman. “You, however, I’m going to kill now.”
Father Michaels awoke in confusion, floating among the clouds. He drifted along peacefully until he came to rest before an empty throne. It was made of gold and covered in shimmering jewels of every color. Looking around for the owner of such a beautiful thing, he was startled by a loud voice. “Though you have not served me long, my son, your dedication to helping your fellow man has not gone unnoticed.”
The priest dropped to his knees, bowing before the still empty throne. “I am glad that you are pleased with me, Lord.”
“I have a task for you that will test your dedication.”
“I will do anything you ask of me, Lord.”
“You met a man earlier today and you thought him a demon. He is human, but not as you are. He is immortal, but that displeases him. You can change that, my child. You can save him.”
“How will I do that, Lord?”
“When the time is right, my son, I will show you the way.”
“Wait,” Father Michaels cried, but it was too late. He wanted to talk more, but he felt himself slipping back to consciousness.