» Extreme Beliefs, Extreme Acts
- A July/2003 Special Feature -
by Susan Belmont
Los Angeles, CA…
Roderick Sullivan got out of his car and after taking from it his briefcase, and some important papers, he closed the door shut and walked through the parking lot towards the TV channel building, where he'd been working for 10 years.
He was a man of rigid beliefs who was fighting a crusade against the last crumbs of superstition that burdened the world - or so he thought. He knew he couldn't do much about the "God-forsaken" Eastern lands, but his life objective was to eradicate something he thought was a disease from the bosom of Western society: superstition, belief in God, and worst of all the belief that fictitious monsters like werewolves and vampires existed.
It angered him so much that people could waste their time believing such things and especially giving money to preachers, writers, film makers, etc, to be entertained for a couple of hours on such absurdities!
And at that moment he was entering the building with the haughty posture and serious attitude of a warrior. Gravely he greeted those who worked at the lobby and those who worked on his office's floor.
His secretary handed him the information he needed to make his program, because at the start of each one, he always told the audience about the cases of preachers who beat people in churches "to make the evil get out of them"; the numbers of police investigations of religious families, in which children were molested, women mistreated; the news on sightings of werewolves and vampires, etc.
In summary, he showed the public everything he could to prove his point: that the best thing for everyone is to get rid of stupid beliefs and have total control over their own minds.
In his program, he interviewed priests, religious people, so called "vampire hunters", witches and the like, and basically always managed to bring it to a point when these people couldn't prove their opinions. He didn't really need to ridicule such people, because after forcing the person to pass through a heavy public interrogatory, the person was so mentally tired that he or she started playing the idiot.
This way, his program was climbing in popularity quickly and becoming one of the most controversial and discussed talk shows ever.
For that night's program his primary idea was to bring in a pair of scientists members of the Skeptical Society, of which he was an honorary member, and interview them, for they had very plausible and simple theories as to why God simply couldn't exist and especially couldn't have a human identity.
"16 years old girl in Alabama kills herself after being visited by St. Peter's spirit..."
But the channel's directors decided that it would be too much to be shown then, as days before that, there had been violent manifestations of religious societies in front of the TV building against Sullivan and his program.
So the theme was changed to vampirism, and a young man who claimed to be a vampire was called to prove his point - or better to be demoralized by Sullivan in front of the small present audience and the millions of viewers.
The program's theme was promoted through the week every hour, and the producers were sure it would have one of the greatest audiences of the month.
Roderick couldn't wait to break the boy down. He thought it so funny when people went to his program thinking they could outwit him, while it was so obvious from the start that such wouldn't ever happen.
When he, the director and the producer planned the programs, they made it in such a way that always the one who would win would be Roderick. After all he had them to aid him, plus a science consultant to help him remember of any term or story he could possibly forget.
Night came; Sullivan dressed his elegant dark Hugo Boss three-piece suit, got the last instructions from the cameramen and the director and at 10 pm precisely, the program started.
"Good evening, my friends. This is the 'Delusions' End' program and I'm your host, Roderick Sullivan. My visitor tonight will be the young Mr. Clarence Wildale, who claims to be a vampire" - he gave a pause for emphasis, while some people murmured and laughed softly in the audience. Roderick smiled a little and continued - "Mr. Wildale will tell us his story and his reasons to believe he's such. But before Mr. Wildale is called onstage, let me give you the latest news of our crazy world."
Looking at a teleprompter screen, he started to read:
"16 years old girl in Alabama kills herself after being visited by St. Peter's spirit for 5 years. Huh, what a waste!" - small laughs in the crowd - "Baptist priest is accused of molesting young boys." - murmurs of indignation in the crowd - "I just wonder for how long such things will happen?" - Roderick said indignantly and the crowd clapped - "This is absurd! A poltergeist manifestation shocks citizens of Riverdale, MI." - murmurs of amusement.
Roderick opens his arms and looks right to the camera - "Really! My friends! We got to wake up! There's an entire world out there of people to be fed, to be healed, to be educated and you prefer to give your hard-worked money to these people who only want to enslave your minds!" - claps from the audience - "Please, look at yourselves for the aid you may need! And please, really, don't throw at your children or women the frustrations you can't face nor fight!" - cheers and claps from the audience.
He went to the main stage and turning to the camera, he said:
"Now, please welcome Mr. Clarence Wildale." - Sullivan said, raising his left arm to the side.
The young man slowly entered the stage as the audience clapped.
He looked completely conventional, dressed in a black suit with tie, walking proudly and steady, shook Roderick's hand firmly, looked in his eyes and elegantly and precisely he sat on the left chair beside the host's one.
The only thing that distinguished him from a common American boy, was that he was very pale.
"So, Mr. Wildale, would you tell us your story from the beginning, please. When did you first start noticing that you were different?"
"I wasn't born the way I am. I was changed into it."
"Yes. And how did it happen?" - asked Sullivan with a serious expression.
"It was in high school, I went to drink with some friends in an abandoned house, and when we got out of there it was quite late. As we lived all in the same neighborhood, we parted at a street corner and we went our ways.
"I was walking home and this guy approached me silently from behind, pulled me to a dark wasteland between two houses and drank my blood." - there were murmurs of disgust and amusement in the crowd. Sullivan continued focused on the young man. He asked him:
"How did you feel when he drew your blood?"
"If you don't kill yourself tomorrow, I will!"
"It was…" - Clarence closed his eyes searching for the best words to express it - "…disturbing and terrifying."
"Because it felt as if he were sexually abusing me, and I didn't know exactly what was happening, as I was very drunk. I imagined I was sleeping already."
"What happened afterwards?"
"My mind shut out, and when I woke up I was in a closed coffin." - there were more murmurs and uneasy laughter in the audience.
"You were a vampire?"
"Exactly. He made me his slave and he forced me to tell my family that I had decided to live away from home in another city and that I never wanted to see them again."
"I see. You said he made of you his slave. How so?"
"He drank my blood whenever he wanted, I served as a bait in the cities where we went to, because there are always these powerful and old vampires around and they use to wipe clean their territories of young vampires, so they won't have competitors."
"That's very interesting, but as you are predators then I presume this is a proper way to act." - he smiled cynically.
"Yes." - Clarence continued to speak as if he hadn't noticed Sullivan's attitude - "So I would go ahead and walk through the main streets and places of the city. If no one threatened me, then he would join me."
"And you never tried to run away?"
"He would have easily found me, and I was generally so terrified that I only wanted to do what he told me and not be tormented."
"Well, you've been referring to him all the while as if he's not around. I believe something might have happened to him?"
"Yes, he was killed."
"But aren't you vamps immortal?"
"We are, but there are ways to destroy us."
"Through exposal to fire or sun?"
"And what do you think your fellows are thinking of you, if they're watching this program now?"
"I don't care about it." - he paused and then murmured - "I don't want to live anymore."
"Excuse me?" - Sullivan asked a little impatiently.
"I just don't want to live anymore, so I don't care if one of them will come for me. I just want people to know that such things can happen and take care."
"Your objective is good, but Clarence we'll talk some more when we get back from the break."
Somewhere in Seattle, WA…
Kieran stood up from the coach and went to open his apartment's windows. He had arrived 15 minutes earlier and had turned the TV on, only to have some other noise around him, apart from the sounds of the street.
Then when the young immortal started to speak, he looked astonished at the screen as the boy talked beside that cheap television host, whom he used to call 'The Great Mr. Right'.
He sat down to watch the interview, thinking all the way how foolishly that young one was acting. Didn't he know that people always ended up being ridiculed in that stupid program?
On and on the boy rambled about how he was made a slave and he was starting to anger Kieran. When the boy said that he didn't want to live, Kieran screamed:
"If you don't kill yourself tomorrow, I will!"
So now he was waiting for the next part of the program, which he knew was the most interesting one, as that was when Mr. Right started to slowly demolish his guests.
"Hello again, viewer." - Sullivan said with the auditory behind him - "We're back with 'Delusions' End', and I'm your host Roderick Sullivan. Tonight we're receiving the visit of a 'true' vampire and this part of the program as you know, is the part in which the members of our audience here in the studio make their questions to our guest." - several people raised their hands, as he turned and went to the second row. Then he asked a woman - "Tell us your name and your question, please." - and he reached the microphone for her to speak.
"I'm Louise and I'd like to know if you still eat and drink something apart from blood?"
"No, we all only ingest blood." - the vampire answered from the stage, looking at the woman.
Back in Seattle, Kieran watched the program and sneered at the foolish question.
"If things go on like this, next there'll be culinary programs for blood drinkers! Damn it!" - he muttered.
Now a young man asked Clarence:
"Tell me one thing: if you are indeed a vampire, full of superhuman powers and such, why don't you display one of them to us now?" - there were cheers and applauses from the crowd, as Sullivan only smiled and looked back at Clarence.
The young vampire was about to answer, when he looked beyond the auditory and seemed to freeze in panic. He stuttered for a moment and then blurted out:
"I can't do it!"
"Why not Mr. Wildale?" - asked Sullivan poignantly.
"I…I just can't!"
"Now what?!" - Kieran screamed in his room - "What's the matter, you silly schoolboy! Show them!"
As he kept his eyes on the screen, he noticed that there were two dark-clad figures lurking at the background of the auditory. If he just could see that part of the auditory again…
"That's it! He's afraid of the 'evil censorship'!" - he exclaimed and laughed when he managed to see that the figures were other vampires - "Do something useful and get him, bastards!"
"I'm sorry, but I can't!" - Clarence repeated. He was so nervous now, that he was visibly trembling and standing up, he threw the microphone on the chair and ran away from the stage a lot slower than he could have done, if he weren't so concerned with what the audience of mortals could notice.
Surely he knew that with all the promotion which had been done on that program that 'they' would appear and threaten him, especially because 'they' swore his death.
His master had invaded the territory of another, defied her and been killed by her, and now as the young one had managed to run away, that vampire's followers were after him.
Back in the auditorium, Sullivan showed his astonishment clearly. No guest had ever ran away from him! They had tried to beat him, swore and called him names, but nothing like that. But in truth, he was feeling more than victorious, of course.
The crowd laughed and openly made fun of the poor vampire. The two mysterious people silently opened one of the auditorium's door and once outside the building, they easily started to chase their enemy.
"This is it, my friends." - Sullivan said walking back to the stage - "Our youths need to have better values otherwise the numbers of such befuddled youngsters will grow enormously." - he turned to the camera - "I tell you believe in yourselves, not in God, saints, spirits! Priests are mere human beings like you and me! Don't let them use you!" - the crowd clapped.
Kieran angrily stood up from the coach and turned the TV off, when the commercials started.
Do you want to know what really upset him about Sullivan? Is that Sullivan wasn't better than those he accused of taking advantage of others. He earned millions of dollars per month from the TV channel, sold his books through all means, had a paid hot-line with 'skeptic' attendants whose job was to listen to confused people blather and tell them at the end always the same thing: "believe in yourself". It was just another way of using people's beliefs for gain!
One idea started to grow in Kieran's head as he opened his home's door and went out in the hall: why not make of Sullivan a fool for all to see? It had been Sullivan's specialty for a decade, now it was time for him to be caught in his own spell.
Kieran laughed to himself and entered the elevator.
Sullivan was saying good-bye to his wife and daughters. They were going to spend the weekend at his mother-in-law's house and he decided not to go. It would be better to stay alone in the house for that night.
Almost all the servants had been given a day-off, and only two guards remained watching by the property's gate.
Sullivan went to his library and sat on his favorite armchair and reached with one hand to get the newspaper and with the other he got his cup of Irish coffee from the table at his front.
"What, what test?" - the mortal stuttered.
It was midnight when Kieran arrived in California and it didn't take him long to find Mr. Right's luxurious house on the coastal hills of Malibu.
Silently he walked over the grass, and very easily he put all the dogs that patrolled the house's garden to sleep. The same was done to the two guards, who didn't even get to notice his presence there.
Then he went towards the main door, opened it, entered and closed it without a noise. Slowly he walked through the corridor and past the rooms, towards the library and after entering it, he even had a few seconds to watch his prey before it noticed there was someone else there.
"Well met, Mr. Right!" - Kieran said to the surprised Sullivan.
Instantaneously, Sullivan stood up and was about to move to his desk to get his gun from one of the drawers, but the vampire easily barred his way.
"There'll be no need for it, Sullivan." - he said.
Kieran noticed with pleasure that the mortal was very frightened now and extremely confused. He was trying desperately to explain his presence and his extremely fast movement, but failing to.
"As you can see, you've been wrong through all this time. Vampires do exist, so do werewolves, so do witches, so do spirits and maybe even God exists somehow." - the vampire smiled and grabbed Sullivan's hand, squeezing it so hard that the mortal screamed and tried to draw away.
"What do you want?" - he desperately asked the immortal.
"You." - Kieran laughed - "No, I won't make you my slave." - suddenly he got very serious - "I would never have someone as despicable as you as my slave! I just want to see if you're strong enough to survive my test."
"What, what test?" - the mortal stuttered.
"You'll see." - the vampire smirked - "Pretty soon." - then he put the mortal to sleep too.
Morning came and sluggishly Sullivan was waking up.
It was around 8 am, the sun was entering through the windows of his bedroom and the sound of the waves could be heard, coming from down the headland.
Marine birds flew over his house and towards the sea, the dogs played on the courtyard and the guards talked in low voices.
He thought that it seemed a promising day and he felt rested and motivated. He sat up and stretched, then by chance, his right had dashed on his forehead and he felt something rough on it, as if he had hurt himself.
He tried to remember something about it, but couldn't and out of curiosity, decided to stand up and take a look at himself in the mirror.
Sullivan went to the bathroom, opened the faucet, bent to wash his face and when he looked up, he screamed.
His scream was heard outside the house and the guards rushed to go to their boss' room.
On and on he screamed and tried to take the scars from his forehead, but obviously it was in vain. He started to back up, and fell on the bathroom's floor, crying, yelling, and mumbling senseless things.
That was when the guards entered the room and when they grabbed Sullivan's arms to raise him, they saw the reason of his panic.
There were scars as if someone had got a heated poker and burned his forehead, and these scars formed a clear sentence: 'God saved me'.
As soon as Sullivan was taken to the hospital, the news of what happened to him were spread and reached the media. Plastic surgeons were hired to erase the scars but although they softened them a lot, they didn't manage to erase them because they were too deep.
And it seemed that it didn't even matter to its owner anymore, because when Sullivan wasn't doped, he was enraged. He screamed, broke everything around him, he was mad.
The best psychiatrist of Los Angeles was called and informed the family that Sullivan was a lost case. He had a nervous breakdown, and was totally insane.
The only thing his family could do was intern him in an asylum and as ironic as it may seem, it was the Benedictine Asylum for Mental Disturbed People.
It was spread in the news later that Sullivan was intolerable when he wasn't doped, because every time the bells rang he got enraged and started to scream and blaspheme, so the nuns kept him always sedated.
Another irony is that Sullivan's mishap started to be used by people all over the world to prove their beliefs, whether they were religious or superstitious, had good purposes or only wanted to ransack people's pockets.
Clarence Wildale was never found again, but two Indians found the remains of what seemed to be a bonfire in the middle of the Californian desert and went away from that spot the fastest that they could.
The vampire Kieran went that same fatidic night to London, and when the news reached UK, he read about it on The Times and murmured to himself:
"I knew you wouldn't." - he laughed silently and turned the page to read the next news.
Copyright © 2003 Susan Belmont