Category: JESUS, Morality, Polity, Psychology, Short Stories, Suffering, Theology
Enjoy this short story. It’s about two brothers, Cain and Abel, whose sibling rivalry catalyzes two breeds of monsters you and I know as zombies and vampires. How will they get along? Will they ever reconcile? Is God helpless to redeem them? All these questions will soon be answered.
The day smelled sweet—a velvety, floral fragrance of fresh jasmine and orange blossoms. But who could’ve known that a stench was coming? A putrid odor that would wipe away the horizon with one flick of the wrist, cutting off the sweet scent of life from its fragile source. Anathema.
With a stone he sharpened his sickle and waited for his brother in the field. He kept his harvest tool so sharp that with one “swoosh” he nearly separated his brother’s head from his body. Cain’s heart broke to do it. But he was overtaken by envy and rage. He was older than Abel but God favored his younger brother and his gift to the LORD. Every day that Abel lived was a reminder to Cain that he was only as good as his last offering. So the history of violence ensued.
Strange events occurred in those days unlike anything that’s happened since then. Terrible lizards called dinosaurs roamed the earth freely like spry monsters, leaping over mountaintops, razing forests, and uprooting palm trees by the mouthful. Fallen angels had sex with humans to create the Nephilim, a rare half-breed of giants in “the order of Goliath.” Satan slithered on his belly, feeling the vibration of every foot’s fall, waiting to strike the heel of the One who was foretold to come to crush his head and reverse the curse.
God had indeed cursed Cain to wander the earth, restlessly, and marked him so that no one would be able to kill him, while his thirst for blood only grew wilder and more manic. Over time, Cain’s body morphed into something so sinister that tales of it still survive thousands of years later, his frame lurking in the dark for his next kill with the body of a demon, the face of a man, and the bloodthirsty fangs of a vampire bat. Cain became the first living vampire. His DNA was marred but still human. His memory was impeccable. And his conscience was also neither seared. With Cain’s mark came a new torture—the ability to remember every victim and feel remorse for every murder.
All the while his brother’s blood called to him from the grave, demanding justice. God had promised to redeem Abel’s death but in His own time and in His own way. But Satan, the twister of everything good and true, heard his cry and avenged him prematurely to create something more wicked than death; he sought to be the mad-scientist of everlasting life from the realm of the dead by possessing Abel’s vegetative brain. The ground opened and the devil re-animated his body. Able became the first zombie. The sibling rivalry continues.
Thousands of years later, each side has amassed a legion of unholy creatures—vampires vs. zombies—set to fight for the everlasting rule of Romania. The year is 1476. The exact time and location remain discreet known only to its unholy leaders alone—Cain, the Prince of Darkness, and Abel, the Prince of the Dead.
As the celebration of Holy Week draws nigh, fevered ecstasy grows in the hearts of every remaining human untainted with the vampiric germ or Satanic possession in hope of Christ’s imminent return to save them from the nightmare they feared would only be a forgotten chimera. Humans are the minority, being food for the unholy and the dead.
Vampires as a whole mock the celebration of Christmas on December 25th, knowing that it’s merely a pagan placeholder on the Julian calendar. But don’t mistake these vampires for blood-sucking atheists. They believe wholeheartedly in the power of Jesus’s blood. They observe Maundy Thursday as the most important day of the year. Conversely, on that day, true believers partake of the sacrament of communion as Christ showed them what it truly means to be devoted to God and to each other. But for these hideous creatures, the body and blood of Christ are a means to an end of survival. They believe Jesus to be the last prophet in “the order of Cain” these last 1,500 years, to save them from one called “the Impaler.”
For most zombies, the 25th of December is a holy date not because of Christmas but because of the prophecy that “the order of Cain” will be annihilated by allying with a sadist called “the Impaler.” Like their fanged foes, they celebrate Passion Week but for a different reason. They observe Easter as the most sacred day of the year because Christ, on that day, proved to everyone that the dead could rise again as examples of what the world could aspire to be—zombies—hungry for revenge for being born.
But for true Christians, their Lord’s birth is their rebirth. Everlasting Life—glorifying Him and enjoying Him—springs forth from His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Dark deeds and dead minds burst forth life even from the darkest circumstances, from the deadliest sins, from closed coffins and seedy cemeteries.
Troops of the living dead march from the East as troops of the damned march from the West all night on the eve of Good Friday toward the sharp silhouette of a gothic structure by moonlight called Hunyadi (Corvin) Castle in the elevated region of Transylvania. Vampires grow famished on their journey. They fall on their victims like a dark cloud descending on a field not unlike the field east of Eden where Cain fed on Abel’s blood. Zombies, looking to proselytize the living, feed off villagers’ heads, all except those disgusting smelling brains of living Christians. The war has not yet begun and already the ground is soaked with blood.
(The mutual understanding is that after the internecine feud, the dominant specie would prevail, calling Corvin Castle their new home.)
Both sides reach their destination by Christmas morn. A crimson trail lies in their wake. Teeth stained red. Recent converts join either side—vampire or zombie. The hillside allows only the selected few closest to the top to see a strange spectacle. The moonlight metes out just enough light to make out a body impaled onto a large wooden stake directly in front of the castle. Ironically, it’s “the Impaler” who’s been impaled, beaten at his own game. But who’s his executioner?
The Prince of the Dead, Abel, tells his army behind him of the forlorn news: “Our savior is dead. And we can’t bring him back.” He knows the grim reality, which he’ll never speak to those in his charge—his army is greatly outnumbered and victory is dim.
Suddenly, a strange sound is heard by both sides. An old groundskeeper, holding a ladder, walks up to the hanging, lifeless body to take it down in order to bury it, while whistling a familiar tune—a song Eve used to sing to Abel when he was young.
The younger sibling points with his decomposed finger toward the overdressed man in a black cassock: “How do you know that song? Are you some kind of messenger from the dead?”
“No, quite the opposite. From the living.”
“Then you will join him,” replies Abel, looking up at the pierced body of Vlad III, sobriquet “Son of the Dragon.”
“I had nothing to do with it,” responds the silver-haired herald. “It was his appointed time to atone for his unrepentant sins, over 80,0000 of them. You must know that One much greater than he is here, awaiting you in the castle.” He turns to address Cain as well. “My Master is tired of the unholy bloodshed.” He steps back to look at both sides, alternating glances at Abel and Cain, or what’s left of them. “He sent His only Son to die for all of you so the dying would stop with Him. But you’ve both given into the lust of the flesh, craving strongholds that will never be conquered—bloodlust for you Cain, and revenge for you, Abel.”
Abel speaks, looking at the mystery man with his rotten eye socket, accentuating its decomposition: “I laid in the ground, rotting, while my brother went on living, pretending I never existed. How’s that an ‘eye for an eye’?”
“Your thirst for revenge is no more innocent than your jealous brother’s act of cruelty. The odor of the carnage you’ve left behind has risen to heaven. Its stench has reached God’s nostrils. And it’s making Him vomit.” He pauses to look at Abel in the eye, his one “good” eye, as good as a zombie’s eye can be. “It’s time you atone for your sins.”
Strangely enough, the old man appears to be needling Abel, inciting him to a fight. But why? He appears neither senile nor stupid. Could he be a goading angel?
Abel grinds his teeth and then lunges at his new adversary. “I’ll make you pay for every word.”
Cain heard his brother’s cry. Deep remorse strikes him like a stake through the heart. The obligation, no, the need to defend his younger brother wells up inside him. He too pounces at the provoking figure.
Together they tear into him with their teeth, biting and sawing their jaws back and forth, ripping flesh off flesh. Both sides cheer on the repulsive act. Breathing heavy, the brothers stand there exhausted over their kill. As they stare at each other, at arm’s distance, something truly astonishing happens. Cain’s thirst for blood is suddenly dead, as dead as Vlad III and his reign of terror. And Abel’s hunger for revenge is also dead, as dead as the priest who sacrificed his life so he could live. With that courageous act of obedience, a dim light, which had been extinguished for over six millennia inside the hearts of the two siblings, ignites. But what catalyst could’ve caused such a supernatural event? Only something divinely inspired could be ultimately responsible.
Surely enough the answer lies in the transformative power of transubstantiation. The old man was indeed a messenger from God, a medieval priest in “the order of Melchizedek,” who accepted the mission to confront the oldest rivalry on earth—brother versus brother. God showed him what he would face at his last hour. In celebration of Passion Week, the cleric chose to suffer like Christ suffered. And like the death of the body of Christ that brings life, so to his dead body would bring life to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. The last rite he performed as priest—just hours prior to his sacrifice—was the liturgy of the Eucharist, offertory to consecration, whereby he offered at the altar the bread and wine to be transformed into Christ’s real presence as His body and blood, and thus he partook of the consecrated elements in Holy Communion. It was the real presence of Christ inside him that transformed Cain and Abel.
Having direct access to the multiverse, God foreknew it was the only way they would forego a terrible war. The priest had to draw them to himself as a mutual enemy so they could literally taste Christ’s forgiveness and life. But he knew what that entailed—he would cease to be a man and become a worm, a worm on a hook, a lure to two brothers who have nothing in common except the overwhelming desire to devour him. God’s plan worked.
On the battlefield, Cain and Abel’s hearts and minds are currently unable to contain the light piercing the darkness inside them. They are instantly changed back to their mortal selves. Brother looks at brother in his glory as a man created in God’s image. But still, even more miraculous is the transformation of every soldier in their army. As leaders, their conversion is credited to the account of every man, woman, and child in their command. Both sides, draw close not to engage in combat but to embrace as brothers and sisters in God’s army. Even the priest is raised back to life.
Cain speaks, “Forgive me, brother. For I have sinned against you.”
Abel puts his arm around Cain and together they walk up the steps of the castle. “I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath waiting for your apology.”
The priest waves on the converted to join him inside the castle at the banqueting table where Christ is ready to dine with them.
Category: JESUS, Poetry, Suffering, Theology
Gentle Jesus. Born a King. You laid in a foul feeding trough, appearing to many as humbly. O Precious Prince, you were hunted down and brutally beaten like a lamb led to the slaughter. O Beautiful Savior, you were so brave to die for me. Prior to your divine…
Category: Poetry, Psychology, Spiritual Formation, Suffering
Not your Precious Moments figurines
but sleep-deprived warriors
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Quick on the draw to conceal lines on their face
and savor the passing whiff of a fresh pot percolate.
Category: JESUS, Literature, Morality, Philosophy, Psychology, Science and Religion, Spiritual Formation, Suffering, Theology
The story of Salvador is complete! It’s taken me 20 years to write it, taking time off in-between to attend several prestigious seminaries to educate myself on the seminal topics of the novel, such as psychology, theology, philosophy and ethics, which have all influenced its themes, such as suffering, hope, doubt, despair, courage, paradox, faith,…
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