Greg F. Gifune is a best-selling, internationally-published author of several acclaimed novels, novellas and two short story collections. Working predominantly in the horror and crime genres, his work has been translated into several languages, received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and others, and is consistently praised by readers and critics alike. A feature film based on his horror novel LONG AFTER DARK is set to go into production in 2022.  His novel THE BLEEDING SEASON, originally published in 2003, has been hailed as a classic in the horror/suspense genres and is considered by many, including Famous Monsters of Filmland, to be one of the best horror novels of its kind ever written. Greg resides in Massachusetts with his wife and two English Labrador Retrievers, Dozer and Dudley. He can be reached online at gfgauthor@verizon.net or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or through his Film/TV agent at Paradigm in Beverly Hills, California.


by Greg F. Gifune


He swept into the room like a tornado touching down in a library, his sudden presence disrupting what had been an otherwise quiet conversation in the burned out shell of an apartment Bonnie called home these days. All black leather and drama, the heels of his dark boots clacking the floor, white teeth flashing in contrast, the biggest goddamn gun I’d ever seen in one hand and a plastic bag filled with yellow capsules in the other. 

“Tamer of the beast,” he said, waving the gun at me like a bit-player in an old western.  “And enough speed to wake the fucking dead.”

Bonnie rolled her eyes, and with a sigh, forced herself to her feet and moved quietly across the room to a boom box propped on an old cranberry crate in the corner. With a press of a finger Soundgarden was singing a familiar tune. She fired a quick and unpleasant glance in Priest’s direction, then slid her eyes back to me and smiled, narrow hips swaying seductively, arms at her sides, fingers snapping, head thrown back, long razor-straight hair dangling to near the middle of her back.

The sunburst tattoo encircling her navel caught my attention like it always did when she wore half-shirts, and I suppressed a light laugh, reminded of a stoned out girl I’d once seen in an old documentary about Woodstock. It was just Bonnie’s way, always finding an avenue of escape, if only for a while.

Priest shook his head and placed the pills on what remained of the counter space near the hollowed out kitchen. His black eyes made love to the cold steel in his hand while mine took a break from making love to Bonnie. I watched him now; that swarthy skin and leading man build. That outfit: the long leather coat and matching black pants, a large gold crucifix dangling from his neck like always, brilliant even in dull light against the backdrop of an opaque silk shirt. The Priest was fucking deranged, and he dressed the part, like some Apocalyptic Cowboy conjured in the mind of a comic book artist high on crack.

I stayed where I was, on the floor with my back against the doorframe, a cigarette waiting to be lighted between my fingers, a hunting knife strapped to my ankle and concealed beneath the lip of my boot, visible only from my vantage point. I played a quick game of visual tennis, bouncing my eyes back and forth between my partners, and caught myself wondering how the hell I’d ended up in this place, at this time.

Confronted with sudden images of my grandmother—her sad gray eyes and gentle, bird-like fingers—I remembered how her soft voice could soothe me and her love had cradled me through the early years after my mother had died. Those afternoons wandering the fields and dunes surrounding her little cottage near the ocean had deceived me into believing my future was bright and limitless. My mother was a drug addict, pregnant with me at the age of sixteen, back on the streets turning tricks even before I’d learned how to walk and dead in an alley only weeks before her twentieth birthday. My father was some bleary-eyed asshole slinking through the streets picking up teenage girls for pocket change.  I guess.

It all seemed so distant now, like a dream fading to black with each passing hour of consciousness, the details swallowed and transformed into the twisted wreckage of harsh reality. The rest—the here and now and all the bullshit—was little more than fate, the luck of the draw...or the lack thereof.

“Sometimes life is long,” Priest said, as if reading my mind. He swept back one side of the coat and stuffed the gun in his belt, then came back with a match in the other, struck it against the wall and leaned closer so I could use the flame. “The key is to not believe in time.”

I pretended to have some idea what the hell he was talking about while I drew a deep drag on my cigarette and exhaled a stream of smoke at him. “Where’d you get the piece?”

“You let me worry about that.” He spun around, his coat billowing as he turned his back to me and approached Bonnie. “You just worry about pulling your weight when all this goes down, yes?”

“Yes,” I said, although I’m not sure he even heard me.

Priest looked back over his shoulder, and I knew from the look in his eyes he’d seen the spike and tin foil near Bonnie’s dancing feet. “How much this time?”

“Enough to keep her happy,” I told him with a shrug. “What the hell difference does it make?”

“And you?”

“What about me?”

“Are you clean?”

“I’m never clean.”

Priest didn’t say anything, but he knew what I meant and replied with a slight smile and a knowing nod. He strode right past Bonnie and stood at the only window in the place, hands on his hips now, gazing out at the neon lights illuminating the city streets below. Dusk had become night and I hadn’t even noticed, and I found myself wondering if I’d ever have it together like the Priest did.

There were days I’d have just as soon killed him as died for him, but we’d developed our love-hate relationship beyond the simple confines of most friendships. He was in charge, like a father to Bonnie and me, a teacher who seemed shackled to a single lesson. Do as I say and do as I do. We were either too weak or too stupid to do anything else, but the end result was always the same.  Priest had the ideas and Bonnie and I executed them. While sitting on the floor watching him study the streets I wondered if I’d live my life like this forever.

Bonnie just kept dancing, eyes closed, body moving like only hers could. It struck me that once, just like the rest of us, she’d been an infant, a baby swaddled in blankets, innocent and wide-eyed. Goddamn, I thought, Priest’s right again. Sometimes life islong…too fucking long.

“It’ll just be you and me tonight.” Priest turned from the window, his previous smile and relaxed demeanor a vague memory. “We’ll be back before Bonnie even knows or gives a shit. Get your coat.”

I gave my cigarette a pull, held the smoke deep and pretended I wasn’t afraid.

It was a chilly night, and the crisp air snapped me into focus the moment we hit the street. I turned up the collar of my jacket and shuffled along behind Priest, who was strutting across concrete with his typical long, arrogant strides. The neighborhood, at least in theory, was residential, but most people wouldn’t have been caught dead there once night had fallen. Too many dangerous types milling about. But we were the dangerous types, so we moved through the darkness with a comfort and familiarity most people can never know. Besides, The Priest had a heavy rep. Every bit of bad company roaming the city knew who he was, knew what he was into, and knew he was the last guy on Earth they should be fucking with. I was just a scrawny heroin addicted sidekick, a loyal and obliging altar boy to his blasphemous ministry, no longer certain what the hell I believed, or even why. Right and wrong, good and evil, darkness and light—it all blended together when I was with him, and that’s the only reason I could block out what we were all about and separate myself from some of the hideous things we did.

We crossed Lantern Street and trudged up the slope that was Polk Avenue. Most of the streetlights were out—nothing new—and traffic was at a bare minimum. Unlike the rest of the city it was relatively quiet here, the constant buzzing din of city life scarcely audible. As we found ourselves wandering into a better neighborhood, I knew where Priest was leading me, and the knot in my gut tightened. He knew it would be a big job tonight. That’s why he’d scored the speed. We had a lot of work ahead of us, which meant we’d be up most of the night, and he didn’t want either of us running out of gas before the deal was done. If I was right I had less than two blocks to talk him out of it.

“We going where I think we’re going?” I asked, jogging up alongside him.

“Tonight’s the night, Mick.”

I hacked up some phlegm and shot it at the curb, ignoring the burning in my chest and the sick feeling tearing through my abdomen. “You sure this is a good idea, Priest? I mean, we’ve been hitting a lot of yards lately, the cops are gonna—”

“Don’t worry about it.” He quickened his pace intentionally. “We’ve been working the other end of town. Besides, there aren’t enough cops to cover every bone dump in the city.”

“Yeah, but—”

He stopped and spun around in one crazy but fluid motion and grabbed the front of my jacket. With a quick yank I was so close to him my feet were just barely touching the ground and I could feel his hot breath against the side of my face. Those dark eyes screaming evil, or maybe just indifferent, who-gives-a-shit-about-anything anger, he spoke softly, through gritted teeth. “We’ve been planning this for weeks and you’re going to pull out now? This is the big one, Mick.  No more nickel and dime bullshit, this one’s the fucking mother lode. You want to stick that shit in your arm for the rest of your life?  You want that for Bonnie, or do we make enough cash in one night to get both of you into rehab and a fresh start someplace nice?”

I wasn’t surprised he’d left himself out of the equation. If the job worked and he moved the goods we thought we’d find he’d get the bigger cut and be in leather coats, gold crucifixes and high-price whores for years. “Let me down, man,” I gasped, “I can’t breathe.”

“In or out, Mick?  I ain’t got time for games.”

“In,” I managed.

He loosened his grip before carefully lowering me back to my feet, then he glanced around like a street corner drug pusher to make sure we were still alone before smoothing his hair with gloved hands.

“Did you scope it out this afternoon?”

“Yeah,” he sighed, his expression hinting he felt bad about getting physical with me. Like all the times before. “I already hid the tools down by the tree line.”

We covered the next block and a half without exchanging words or glances.  All I could hear was the thudding of my own heart, the shifting of Priest’s coat and the sound of his boots clacking pavement.

The gates were large and ornate, the heavy chain and padlock dangling from them ruining an otherwise Gothic, ancient look. Beyond, darkness blanketed sprawling grounds; rows of headstones and the ghosts I was certain always watched us with helpless, disapproving eyes. The thick curtains of night masking the details of what lay ahead reminded me of my own apprehension, and how it always managed to filter out the voices whispering in my ear, distracting me, at least for a time, from what should have been relentless guilt and shame.

Priest drew a deep breath and scaled the fence with the grace, skill and strength of a commando on a night raid. I fought off a shiver and checked the street again, but we were still alone. He dropped down on the other side and stared at me with those moist black eyes, and I felt the cold steel in my hands, my own weight shifting as I struggled to climb the gate.

Teetering at the top, one leg within the cemetery grounds and the other still dangling in the sane world, I turned and looked out over the enormous spread. Near the back of the yard was a small hill, atop which sat an ornate tomb cradled in a half circle of small trees.  This grave was different than the others that had come before it. Priest had done the research; he’d studied the records. Beneath the fancy window dressing were more than dirt and bones and a few filthy trinkets. This time we already knew that what was waiting beyond the boundaries separating this world from the next would yield more profit than all the others combined.  I looked down at Priest—so eager and edgy like he always was when we did this—and remembered how he’d promised this job would be our last.  Sitting in the cool dark night, perched aloft the gates like some gaunt and sickly bird of prey, I watched the tomb through sufficient moonlight, convinced I would never again go to such lengths to survive. As I swung my leg around and dropped down into the night I found myself wondering why the fuck I wanted to survive anyway.

By the time my feet touched the ground Priest was already off, jogging up the hill through a maze of stones. The bend in my arm ached and I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. Wiping sweat and hair from my eyes, I followed him, already picturing myself back with Bonnie, finding the warmth only her body and my weakness could provide.

I stood a few feet from where lawn became concrete as the Priest slipped behind the trees. The tomb was at least six feet high, book-ended by two small guardian angels sculpted from granite, and on the ground before me a crucifix chiseled into a slab of white rock offered a path to the sealed door. The omens and sentinels created to ward off those like us seemed such a grand and elaborate waste. Just like me, they were powerless against the Priest.

We’d first seen the tomb on what Priest called our “scouting missions”. While the other stones were packed into neat rows—assembly line death markers—this one stood alone at the summit of the small hill in the oldest and one of the wealthier cemeteries in the city.  The flamboyance of the grave itself signaled whoever had been buried there had obviously been well off, and that gave Priest the motivation to investigate its history. The records revealed the person buried there in 1922 was Malcolm Jersavitch, a long time resident of the city who had first emigrated from Europe in the late 1800s. For the first time in years Priest went to a library and found Jersavitch had been an aristocrat of powerful standing in both business and the upper echelon of city social circles. The newspapers reported his servants had found Jersavitch dead in his mansion on the north side of the city but had offered no detail.  Some of the considerable funds from his estate had been used to construct a costly and elaborate tomb, where Jersavitch was laid to rest…until tonight.

“Come on,” Priest said, stepping from the shadowy trees, his arms cradling various tools.  “We’re fighting daylight here.”

I nodded and took a pick and shovel from him. The tools were new—always stolen for each job and then destroyed afterwards—and heavier than they appeared. Priest walked across the granite crucifix slab to the tomb door, dropped the rest of the tools to the ground and removed his coat. He was blinking rapidly and twitching now and then, so I knew he’d already popped a few pills, and I watched as he removed a small vile of acid from his pocket and carefully poured it along the sealed door.  A hissing sound and a bit of smoke wafted from the stone, loosening it for our coming efforts.

Somewhere far away a siren blared and faded; swallowed by the distant sounds of the city after nightfall. My knees felt weak and I wanted a fix bad, but I did my best to ignore it, focusing instead on one of the angels on either side of the crypt. It looked so serious, this angel, not at all like the serene and joyful images I’d grown up seeing in books and etched in stained glass. This angel was frowning, as if aware even all those years before upon its creation, it might be staring down someone like me.

The sharp crack of a pick slamming into stone broke my concentration and turned my attention back to the task at hand. I leaned the shovel against one of the angels, gripped my pick as hard as I could, and took up position on the other side of the sealed door. We worked together for what seemed like hours, smashing away bit by bit at the aged stone, stopping only when the intrusive headlight specters of cars passing along the street nearly a hundred yards away broke the delicate balance between moonlight and the dense surrounding darkness.

With bandanas cinched tightly around our noses and mouths, we jammed shovels as deep into the broken seal and behind the door as we could, then, leaning our weight against the handles, tried to wrest it free from the crypt. When the enormous block of stone finally gave way and fell, actually snapping in the middle before crashing to the ground, it landed with such force the entire area shook. Even with my nose covered I could smell the sudden gust of stale death billowing from the opening, and I turned away, eyes tearing.

Priest tossed his pick aside and leaned forward, hands on knees as he tried to catch his breath. His hair was mussed, his face and neck bathed in sweat. He looked over at me, a smile creasing the bandana and a glint in those opaque eyes.

I glanced at the chunks of fallen stone at our feet, certain I’d keel over and pass out at any second, then peered through the still swirling dust and stone particles seeping from the darkness beyond the opening. 

Priest grabbed his coat and slipped it on, straightening himself up as if preparing for a fucking date. “Let’s go see what we got,” he said, tossing me a flashlight.

He stepped over the quarter door still intact and into the tomb, and for some reason I followed him, even then feeling something more than the usual guilt and morbidity our actions always generated.

“Jesus!” Priest snapped, jerking to the side and waving his flashlight up above his head.  His outburst scared me worse than it had him, and I backed up a bit, training my light on the same area. A single silver crucifix dangling from a thick chain attached to the ceiling of the tomb hung only inches from the entrance, and apparently Priest had walked right into it.  Enough of the beam cut a path through the darkness to illuminate his eyes, and for the first time since I’d met him I saw fear. “Didn’t see it hanging there,” he mumbled.  “Startled me.”

I nodded, moved by him and swung the light around toward the back of the crypt. A lone casket of wood sat in the center of the hollow tomb, a brown leather Bible placed atop it.  I looked back at the Priest, noticed he didn’t have his pick, and knew I’d be the one opening the fucker. “You okay?”

He swept the Bible away instead of answering me and examined the coffin more closely.  “All that fancy shit outside and they put him in a fucking pine box.”

I could’ve sworn I actually heard him chuckle, and maybe it was just nerves, fear, repulsion, or my own addictive demons whispering in my ear, but at that exact moment in time I felt like killing the bastard.

“They nailed it shut at least,” he said. Stepping back a bit, he motioned to the casket.  “Crack the sonofabitch.”

The smell grew worse as I raised the pick over my head and crashed it into the wood. It splintered and gave way easily, and by my third swing Priest had already begun tearing away the newly formed planks and tossing them aside, slowly revealing what lay inside.

It was claustrophobic, dark, and musty here, the arched stone walls surrounding us only making it worse.

I dropped the pick, yanked my flashlight from my back pocket and swung it around.

“Christ all mighty,” I said, or only thought; I couldn’t be sure which.

What had once been Malcolm Jersavitch was lying in the bare coffin, his mostly skeletal remains gawking at us, arms outstretched and hands with overgrown fingernails that more closely resembled talons frozen forever in a clawing motion. Most of his hair remained, attached to the skull in long stringy tendrils, as if pasted there after his death, and one sunken and what appeared to be mummified eyeball still sat within a socket, the other filled with dirt and dust. His jaw was set open and revealed rows of large grit covered teeth, as if he’d been screaming at the time of death. He was dressed in a formal black suit and overcoat, a large medallion around his neck. I’d seen my share of corpses long dead, but I’d never seen anything like this.


“Go outside if you have to hurl.”

“—he was still alive when they put him in here.”

He stared at the remains for several seconds before offering a response.  “Yeah,” he finally sighed, voice muffled by the bandana, “well, that kind of thing happened a lot back then. They must’ve thought he was dead. That’s why they used to bleed people, just to make sure the fuckers were really gone. Didn’t nobody wanna wake up buried.”

“Well this guy did.  Look at him, man, he was fucking screaming and clawing at the lid.”  I moved the light away and ran a shaking hand through my hair. “There’s something fucked up about this, Priest, there’s something—”

“Bring the light closer.” He crouched down and leaned over the body. I did what he said and immediately saw what he’d noticed. A ring with an enormous red stone was displayed on one bony finger. “Holy shit, that’s a ruby, Mick. Look at the size of the motherfucker.”

I watched as Priest reached a gloved hand inside and wrenched the ring free.  He wiped it clean as best he could and I trained the light on it.  He looked up at me and grinned.  “What did I tell you, man? What the fuck did I tell you?  Look at this, it’s…Jesus, between this and the…” He only then seemed to remember the medallion, and he lunged for it like a cat pouncing on a field mouse, yanking it free with such force the gold rope chain snapped.  “It’s solid…solid gold, Mick.  Fucking jackpot.”

“All right, let’s just get the fuck outta here.”

Priest struggled to his feet, leering at the items in his hand, his chest heaving with each excited breath.  “Even moving this through the underground, you got any idea how much we can get for these?” he laughed, his bandana ballooning out from his mouth and stirring the dust that had all but settled.  “We’re talking fifty grand at least.  That’s thirty my way and twenty for you and Bonnie.”

I nodded and glanced out the opening behind us.  “Yeah, let’s just go, man.”

“Hold on.” I felt him press the jewelry into my palm before he turned back to the coffin.  “Let’s see what else old Malcolm took with him.”

I jammed the items into my pocket while trying my best to keep the light steady.  I needed to get the fuck out of there; I needed to get away from this death and back into the fresh air. I needed to get high.  I don’t know why this one was so different from all the others, but for some reason I started thinking about my grandmother.  Somewhere far from here she was buried, and I caught myself wondering how I’d feel if a couple of pieces of shit like me and the Priest desecrated her resting place the way we were disturbing this one.

Fighting off images of my grandmother’s sweet face and loving eyes, I focused on Priest, who was tearing the corpse’s shirt at the collar.  “He might have something else around his neck,” he was mumbling.

It was then that I noticed something odd about the shirt.  Priest had pulled open the topcoat and suit jacket and the collar as well, and the portion near his chest was a different shade than the rest.  I stepped closer, tightening the beam.  “Look at that.”

“What?” Priest said, eyes darting across the body in the hopes I had located another bauble.  “Whattaya got?”

I forced a swallow and nearly gagged, battling a plethora of thoughts and solutions suddenly flooding my mind.  The light quivered in my trembling hand, my palm so slick with sweat I thought I might drop it.  “Look at his fucking shirt!”

Priest turned and gazed at it, and then it hit him too.  “What…the fuck?”

“That’s fucking blood,” I said.

“What’d they…cut his throat?”

I swept the light from one end of the tomb to the next, my panic slowly forming a logical conclusion.  “Priest…Priest, what if all this stuff…the big tomb all off by itself…the guardian angels and the big crucifix outside…the one hanging in here…the Bible laying on top of the casket…What if all this shit ain’t here to keep people like us out?”

Priest stood up slowly, his eyes never leaving me.  “What do you mean?”

His face blurred through the tears welling in my eyes.  “What if all this was put here to keep him in?”

“You’re out of your fucking mind.”  His voice held none of the arrogance it had earlier.

“They cut his fucking throat, Priest,” I heard myself say.  “Then they stuck him in here, sealed it off and laid out enough stuff to keep him from getting out.  Look at him, he was still alive, man…still alive after they cut his throat.”

Priest seemed to think about what I’d said for a few seconds then waved an angry hand at me as if swatting the words from the stale air between us.  “That ain’t possible.”

“I’m outta here.”

“Look,” he said, strutting closer and suddenly remembering his image, “maybe they did murder this guy.  They cut his throat and he froze like that, so what?  Who gives a shit? This is the way to go from here on out, Mick.  It’s these kinds of rich fucks we have to raid, and we’ll be set in no time, but you can’t go getting all spooky on me.”

I’d heard what he said but didn’t want to believe it.  No matter how much we pulled down, no matter how depraved and twisted and evil our game got, the Priest was never going to let me go.  “You said this was the last one.”

“Couple more like this,” he smiled, “and we’ll be set for the rest of our lives.”

There was more than death and fear wafting all around us in that freshly opened tomb.  An evil had joined us.  An evil so hideous—so tangible and real—you could feel it, taste it, smell it with each invading breath, and it pulsed through my veins with a ferocity I had never known previously.  More than the beckoning voice it had once been, intent on luring me to heroin and crime and away from every goddamned thing I’d ever truly believed in, this demon wanted more, needed more, demanded more…much more.

“Okay, Priest.”  I offered a subtle nod, held the light still, and reached behind me for the pick, feeling as if I were being pulled down beneath the granite tomb floor into the moist and suffocating earth, entangled with worms and maggots and all else that resided there.  Slimy entities swarming over me, filling my mouth, scurrying across my eyes, slithering in my ears and laying eggs across what remained of a brain riddled with disease.  “Okay.”


In the dream it’s snowing.  Not a heavy snow, but a slow, fluffy, drifting kind of snow, a peaceful kind of snow.  In the open plane it seems odd, these fat tender flakes sprinkling across such bright and diverse flowers.  The dream is bright and vivid and alive—like right after you mainline and a stoned mind calls the shots.  Almost, but not quite the same.  Bonnie is there with me, lying in the field and cradled in my arms, but they’re strong now, like before they’d become bruised and black and little more than a network of track marks.  We aren’t cold at all, and the flakes tickle our eyes and noses, and Bonnie keeps giggling and catching them with her tongue.  But just the way a shark seems to smile right before its eyes go black and it tears you apart, nirvana becomes agony in the beat of a heart.

I’m watching the Priest hunched over the coffin.  I’m swinging the pick and the snow turns crimson.  He is turning in time to see it coming; swearing and staring at me in disbelief, staggering back and going for the gun in his coat as the pick connects with his throat, bursting it in a tearing, crunching spray of blood and spittle.  And then he’s falling, collapsing forward onto the casket…gurgling and gasping but still breathing, the blood from the wound gushing, pouring into the coffin and across the corpse over which he is now draped.  While he lay dying, I’m pulling free the knife from my boot, plunging it into the center of his back again and again—twenty, thirty times—however many it takes for the wheezing and groaning to stop.  And then the Priest is gone, carried away on snowflakes swirling all around me in a whirlwind, stealing life and giving life, birth and death exploding as one in a dust devil of blood and tears.


I stood in the doorway to the bathroom, watching Bonnie leaning against the sink with her back to me.  I’d gotten home just before dawn but it was already dark again, and I realized I must’ve slept the entire day.  Her eyes, encircled with dark rings, shifted and met mine in the dingy mirror.  “Where’s the Priest?”

When I offered no answer she returned her attention to the syringe in one hand and the small length of rubber tubing in the other.  On the lip of the sink was a used book of matches and a soiled spoon.  She fastened the tube with one hand and pulled it tight with her teeth, watching the vein fill and strain.  “Is he dead?”  Her eyes found me again.  “Did you kill him?”

I watched her without response.

Bonnie stabbed the vein, pushed the hammer then pulled it back, the syringe releasing the heroin before backing up with blood.  She hunched into a slumped shouldered posture; her eyes struggling to remain open as it hit her system.  Pulling free the tube, she let it fall into the sink before turning and facing me, a dreamy smile creeping slowly across her face.

“We’re leaving,” I said.  “Tonight.”

“Where we going?”

“We’re leaving the city.  For good this time.”  I let the doorframe support me.  “You won’t need that shit ever again.”

“You gonna make me all better, Mickey?”  Her lips curled away from her teeth and she laughed lightly before flopping down onto the toilet.  She was already gone, only she didn’t know it yet.  “You gonna make me all better?”

I left her there and moved back into the living room.  A small duffel bag was resting against the counter in the kitchen holding every fucking thing we owned, but that didn’t even matter anymore.  Standing by the window in his long leather coat, staring out at the neon sky, he didn't say a word or acknowledge my presence at all.  It was like I wasn’t even there—never had been, never would be—and I wondered if this was the way it would play out from here.

Moving hesitantly, I slid up beside him and looked out at the night.  In a flash of fear and panic the Priest’s life had been forfeited, but his blood had also given it.  As he died another who had been entombed to save the world had been reborn, and now the fruit of this harvest, cloaked in the same garb, almost looked like the sonofabitch in sparse light.

He reached out to me; the ruby ring returned to its rightful owner brushing my cheek as his fingers delicately stroked the fresh wounds in my neck.  He smiled the way one might consider the unaffected simplicity of a child, brilliant yellow eyes cutting clear through to whatever was left of my rotting soul.

I looked up at my new charge—Malcolm Jersavitch reborn—and realized things wouldn’t be any different than when we’d been with the Priest.

I’d be chasing moonlight the rest of my life.

blue velvet gypsy

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