Ethel saw a police car leaving the beach by Sacred Heart Catholic Church as she walked toward the parish rectory to meet with Father Murphy. Yellow crime scene tape flapped in the wind, blocking an entrance to Sand Castle Beach. Something tragic must have happened, she thought as she walked up the parish house steps and rang the doorbell.
A young man with copper-colored hair and a clerical collar opened the door. “You must be Ethel, please come in.”
“Yes, I am,” Ethel said, walking into the small foyer. “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.”
“Not a problem. We can talk in my office,” he said, directing her to the first door on the left.
Ethel sat in a wooden chair across from his desk. She felt a little uncomfortable because she was a seer, not a Catholic. However, when she looked around the room filled with religious paintings of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints, she knew she was in a safe place. Almost as safe as The Feathered Peacock. She turned her attention back to Father Murphy. His black shirt caused the white collar to shine as he placed his youthful arms on the desktop. She had expected someone older, not someone who looked like he was barely old enough to get a driver’s license. She was beginning to feel old. “I just got to the island and I’m going to be teaching classes at The Feathered Peacock and I’m doing a little research.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Ah, yes, The Feathered Peacock. I was in there once. It has quite a collection of . . . supernatural items.”
Ethel was relieved he did not kick her out of the place for being an outsider. A short squeal of a police siren made her look toward the lace covered window. “I noticed that the police are on the beach; did something happen?”
Father’s pleasant smile faded to a frown of concern. “Yes, something did happen. Apparently, a body was found on the beach.”
Ethel reached up and grabbed the beads around her neck. “A dead body? What happened?”
“You would have to speak with the police about it, but from what I heard on the news, a woman died due to blood loss.”
Ethel gasped. “Father, that is exactly what I came here to speak with you about. Please don’t think I’m crazy, but there is reason to believe that there are vampires on the island and that they have been responsible for the rash of missing people. And now that you mention that there was no blood in the body that was just found, I am more convinced than ever that there are undead beings roaming about and they live in that old monastery on the hill.”
Father Murphy leaned forward, put his elbows on the desk, and clasped his hands under his head. He looked at Ethel. “No, I don’t think you’re crazy. For some unknown reason, there have been sightings of strange people in town, who roam around at night, and look rather . . . peculiar, shall I say. The parishioners are scared to death and have come to the same conclusion as yourself, that there are demons infecting the island, especially around Maryville and Monks Hill.”
“So you’re not denying that there really are vampires here?”
He nodded, without actually saying he agreed with her.
“That’s exactly why I’m holding these classes and aside from the usual things we do to ward off vampires—garlic, crosses, holy water, and the like—is there anything else you can recommend?”
“I recommend staying in a state of grace by frequent confession and attending daily Mass,” he said. “Normally, coming to Mass every day is not needed; however, with the unusual state of affairs going on, and they seem to be getting worse, being close to God will ward off . . . unholy creatures.”
Then the doorbell rang.
“Excuse me,” Father said, standing to answer the door.
“Of course,” Ethel said, watching father walk out of the room. She looked along his desktop and noticed a small glass box, no bigger than a matchbox, adorned with what looked like actual gold and attached to a golden chain. It looked so old that she wondered if it was from the monastery when it was still in the Church’s good graces or much older. When she leaned closer she saw that it contained what looked like a bone; a bone of a finger. It must be a relic of a saint, but why would he have such an item? Protection, maybe? She had all the proof she needed to feel confident in the information she was going to give at her class tonight.
Then she heard the front door close and voices approach the room. She stood up, ready to dismiss herself.
“Ethel, I am sorry to cut our discussion short, but the police have a matter to speak with me about,” Father Murphy said, standing in the doorway. “Could we reschedule our meeting?”
“No problem,” Ethel said. “You’ve already been very helpful.”
Ethel walked out of the rectory and stood on the top step where she was elevated enough to see the beach. Since the police tape had not yet been taken down, they must suspect a crime, rather than an accidental drowning, Ethel thought.
Then she looked toward Monks Hill. A cold chill ran over her shoulders and the back of her neck. She had the feeling someone, or some thing, was watching her. As she walked down the concrete steps to the sidewalk, a large bird, or possibly a bat of tremendous size swooped down, scratching the top of her head with its sharp talons. Ethel screamed as she dropped to her knees, scraping them on the coarse surface of the walkway. She looked up at the dark web winged bird. It was looking back at her with black oily eyes. Ethel had the feeling it was intelligent and had purposely wanted to frighten her. Then it flew off toward the old monastery. She knew it was the bird—a bird from the depths of Hell—that had been watching her. The evil thing knew she was on to them and she had to be very cautious from that point on or she would end up like the dead, bloodless woman on the beach.