An Immortal’s Tale:
The Man In The Black Suit
My name is Jonathan Ross and I’m here to tell you about the time I almost died. Not much of a tale normally, I know. But here’s the twist that makes it interesting: I’m immortal. Now before you ask the obvious question let me start as near to the beginning as I can.
I was born in the middle of the dark ages in history, back when even calendars were ‘a work of the devil’, so guess who doesn’t know their birthday. I was born as the result of a need for people to combat the evils that were entering this world and stealing away the goodness of mankind, the innocence of the good people. So a deal was struck, a ritual performed, and out popped a vessel for the clergy to fill with the goodness of the church. I grew up in many a monastery hearing many renditions of many passages of many books of the bible. And to this day, some hundred and odd years later, I can still recite each and every single one by heart. Now this was no ordinary education, no, I had to learn spells, incantations, exorcism rights, demon banishing rituals, the fundamentals of physical combat with the dead. Oh, and Latin. From the time I could understand the King’s English I was told I was destined to help rid the world of all evil. Didn’t pan out that way.
You see, these folks that cooked me up didn’t count on three things: That the demonic threat they thought was so imminent was actually just a nuisance barely constituting any attention from anyone, the second being the dark ages ending and the church denouncing all their ‘barbaric rituals’, and the fact that I’d be immortal. Though I’m over a hundred years old I still look like I’m thirty, and if I don’t say so myself, in relatively good shape. Despite these fantastic and mind bending facts I’m as plain as vanilla. I’m of average height, average build, average complexion, with short, brown hair and no visible scars. The only notable part of me is my gray eyes, but that’s about it. It’s really a downer when the supposed ‘Combater of Evil’ looks like your neighbor that mows his lawn every Sunday. With that said the ages have been kind and interesting to me, as have the people and the monsters I’ve encountered.
That’s right, monsters. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, poltergeists, ghouls, demons, imps, creatures from black lagoons, pixies, bigfoot, lawyers and the lochness monster are all real. Don’t let the movies and bed time stories fool you, though, ninety nine point nine percent of them are actually harmless and avoid humans like the plague. Remember that threat I mentioned earlier? Exactly. Turns out that the church and many, many cultures before the guys who created me have had a steady and peaceful truce with the non-human kind, making someone like me irrelevant. The only thing that I can do is help police those who step out of bounds and break the truce that has been in standing for so long. Truth be told, though, the incidents are less than a dozen in the whole of my existence. Disappointing, I know.
But I’m here to beguile you with a tale of danger and revelations so deep you’ll question the moral fiber of the world we live in. Now I could narrate all that happened to you, but I believe the ebb and flow of time is best observed from another vantage point. Welcome to my tale.
“The Beginning of the End”
October was a special month for Jonathan because he believed it was when he was born. He remembered the old priests talking about how the weather was cold, but it hadn’t snowed yet, and how they had to wrap his small frame in extra blankets to fight off the chill in the air. None of the details of his birth were ever really discussed, but he knew and didn’t really mind, the life they gave him was beautiful and so was the world they brought him in to. He also liked October because of the way the color seemed to drain from the world and leave it gray and made the faces on the streets he walked uniform. Seattle, the city he called home, was beautiful when winter started to settle in according to Jonathan and his macabre tastes. Maybe it was due to the time in history he was born, or maybe he just like winter. Either way, the pavement below his feet moved at a steady pace and the cold concrete buildings smiled faceless grins at him as he passed.
The overcast sky was wonderful on such a cold day because it muted the sun and didn’t make his black suit so hard to wear. Another piece of average applied to him, but this one he didn’t mind, a black suit with a white shirt and a plain, red tie, his shoes plain and black leather. He had grown up surrounded by priests drabbed in black and white with the occasional red sash, so his suit was a bit of a tribute to the men that had brought him into the world. It was funny to him to walk the streets and compare the times of now and the times of old. From folks toting bibles and speaking the good word to people toting ipods and shouting their personal situations into cell phones with no regard for the ones around them.
City sounds played into his ears like a symphony of concrete and engines being conducted by the voices of millions speaking at once, and he loved every single second of it because it meant life. He guessed the time was around eleven in the morning due to the smell of hot dog stands being opened constantly and thousands of grills firing up at the same time making the small breeze a scent to remember. Luckily the place he was on his way to was open all day and night to cater to all sorts of customers and their cycles. It was an intelligent way to run a business that served both humans and non-humans. And he’d always like the place because they served sacramental wine and he could drink that. He wanted to know the time, but he didn’t wear a watch and all the signs on the street he was walking were off, he was immortal and time meant nothing. That and he wasn’t very punctual.
After a time and many a turn he arrived at the place he was going, the faded red paint on the thick door marking his final destination and announcing his arrival with a loud and heavy squeaking of the hinges. He stepped into a front hall that was dark and had a single man sitting on a stool next to another door with faded red paint, the real entrance to the bar. The man was thick with muscle and bled the stereotype of tough doorman in every stitch of clothing and in every muscle that made up his scrutinizing scowl. A skin tight shirt, black slacks and a bowler hat, complete with toothpick in mouth made this doorman the epitome of ‘tough guy’. Even the way he regarded Jonathan with a nod, indicating it was okay to enter. Jonathan returned the nod with a smile and pushed the heavy door open and stepped through.
The bar was dark and barely lit, the walls a dark red with mirrors every now and again decorating the dark paint with windows of reflected light. Some old song played on the jukebox in the background, covering conversations and lending an air to the place that was supposed to comfort all who entered. Occupants were scarce and mostly human at this point in the day, giving the bar it’s cast of ‘normals’ for the day. The bar, itself, was pressed tightly against the wall to his right, heavy wood with an oak smell and leather bumpers. Various stouts toting various names of beverages stuck up from one part while behind the bartender glass shelves were filled to limit with glass bottles of liquor and various other concoctions that were ordered by the less than human customers. The bartender, himself, was a short and thin man, tshirt and jeans clinging to a bony frame that was covered in pale flesh. Vampire. Despite what he was by nature, he was friendly and always smiled to his customers, carrying on conversations and serving drinks with a flair. Short cropped black hair sat above thin eyebrows and below them were a pair of light brown eyes, a pointed nose and thin lips below them. And as Jonathan approached those features were concentrated deeply on a cell phone.
Jonathan couldn’t help himself and decided to slink his way around the place, skirting tables and booths alike, making his way slowly to the bar as silently as possible. It worked, he had him. “RICKY!!!” Jonathan shouted while at the same time slamming his open hand on the heavy wood right in front of the unsuspecting bartender. The poor vampire was so startled his cell phone flew out of his hands and skitted across the floor as he screamed an obscenity. “Jesus, Jon! You trying to give me a heart attack?” The two men stared at each other for a moment and then began laughing. “How you been, Ricky?” After retrieving his phone he answered, “I’m fine. How ‘bout you, preacher-man?” It was a joke they shared and if anyone else tried to make it there’d be trouble. “I’m living life to the fullest.” Jonathan spread his arms wide in a show of good health. “Uh huh. And by that you mean you’re still locked away in that stuffy library you call an apartment, right?” Jonathan let his arms flop down, “Yeah. But that’s my life and it’s full.” He said with a grin.
Ricky shook his head and stuffed his mobile device in his pocket while carefully deciding what to say, so instead he asked, “The usual?” Taking a seat and unbuttoning his coat the plain looking immortal nodded his head while taking a quick look around the dark room that smelled of spilled alcohol and cigarettes. After a moment a crystal goblet filled with sacramental wine appeared in front of him along with Ricky, resting his thin arms on the bar and leaning in to start a conversation. A long sip was taken and it seemed that his vampiric friend was having trouble finding the words, so Jonathan spoke first, “So what’s bothering you?” Ricky looked a little surprised, but then let it quickly pass, knowing it was pointless to lie to Jonathan. Not because of the clergy, but because Jonathan always found out the truth. The bartender leaned a little closer and spoke in a low tone that was barely audible over the juke box warbaling away in the background.
“The end of the world is coming.” And with that simple phrase he withdrew himself and stood straight to evaluate the immortal’s reaction. Jonathan thought about all the prophecies and the letters and the various futures told and tried to come up with a date near the current one. Nothing came up and he knew that his friend wouldn’t be spooked by some nutjob in a purple robe handing out fortunes for five bucks. “What does that mean?” he tried not to sound harsh or unbelieving, but it came out that way and it seemed his friend was becoming less and less talkative as the seconds burned away. “Ricky. You can tell me, man. You know that.” The bar tender considered his friend with the goblet of wine before him for another moment and finally nodded, giving in and leaning forward again. “Look. It’s nothing I’m sure of, but it seems that some guys are stirring up stuff with some ancient texts and such that got a lot of people on edge. It looks like they might have gotten their hands on some serious voodoo and have been having a good ol’ time releasing this and that. Well, with that little taste of awesome it seems that they’ve been talking to some folk about bringing about the apocalypse.” Jonathan kept a small smile on his face and waited for his friend to finish before presenting the obvious holes that were always in these ‘plots to end the world’, “Look, Ricky, they’re probably just some wackos that got their hands on a legitimate copy of something that is harmless. So they’re going to raise a few demons, spit out a few incantations, and sacrifice a goat or two and realize that it takes some major mojo to even try to start the doomsday clock. So don’t worry about it, okay?” He gave a reassuring smile and began to take another sip of wine when his friend said words that chilled him to the bone. “They say they have the Spear of Tristen.”
The glass froze on its way to his lips and suddenly some wackos had become some major issues. There are few holy relics that are the real deal around, and there are even fewer unholy ones, most of them locked up by the Vatican and kept under lock and key and guard. The Spear of Tristen was one of those relics that had fallen under the radar, being lost in time and history. It was the spear given to King Constantine by the church and used to slay thousands upon thousands of people by Constantine, himself. In the wrong hands with the right book this spear could also unleash some very ugly things upon an unsuspecting world. The glass filled with wine found the wooden bar again and Jonathan tried his best to not be alarmed. “Ricky, I’m going to need all the information you have. And if you don’t have it I need to know who does.”
The pale vampire nodded and then suddenly froze, his eyes fixated on something behind Jonathan. The immortal sensed it before he felt it and it came suddenly. Icy fingers slowly wrapped around his throat and began tightening as fetid breath joined a raspy voice coming from behind him. “Enjoying yourself, Preacher?” The voice, hands, and horrid breath belonged to a creature that was terrifying to imagine: A zombie with a lot of intelligence and drive called a Wraith. And now one of those creatures had its rotting fingers wrapped securely around his throat, “I hope you are, Preacher, cause this was your last drink. Now I send you to meet your maker.” For the first time in a long time Jonathan got very, very nervous.
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