Fiona usually liked sitting front-row, but that day, she couldn’t stand it. Despite the benefit of the clear view, the seating made her feel exposed. She knew that Dheania’s avatar was likely already aware of their motives, but while she hoped that the Goddess of Fear would resist taking action inside a crowded building, she knew that there would be nothing to stop her if she wanted to.
Despite this, she watched the ritual closely, looking for something–anything–that might point them toward the Dheania’s identity. She was well aware that it was a long shot. While she felt that one of them had to be Dheania, she knew that there wasn’t much of a chance that either of them would respond to the baptism. They weren’t demons, and she doubted that even a god would react to these rites in a way she or the others could hope to see.
Jacob turned to Ash, who sat in the center of the front row. “Have you chosen a name for the child?” he asked, turned to glance at Fiona.
“And what do you ask of God’s Church for Sabbath Marie?” Jacob replied.
Ash seemed to stumble, and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. He read from it and said, “the grace of… Christ.” He looked at Jacob nervously, only to relax when Jacob smiled. Thank God Ash doesn’t realize that’s not normal, Fiona thought.
“You have asked that your child be Baptized in the name of our Lord,” said Jacob, glancing briefly across the pews. “In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training her in the practice of her newfound faith. It will be your duty to raise her to keep God’s commandments as Christ has taught us, by loving our Lord and our neighbor. Do you accept understand this undertaking?”
“I do,” Ash replied.
He turned to Devon, who stood beside Sabbath near the altar. “Are you ready to help the father of this child in his duty as a Christian parent?”
“I am,” Carter replied. He looked down and smiled at Sabbath, something which Fiona noted was sincere.
Jacob called Sabbath to the fountain. Fiona was surprised he held himself together as well as he did–he could very well have been about to anoint a pagan god. She doubted he felt as comfortable as he seemed to be.
At that point Jacob called on to both Sabbath and those in attendance. “Almighty God,” he said, with only enough enthusiasm as he needed to hide his apprehension, “you sent your only Son into this world to cast out the power of Satan, the spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness and bring him into the splendor of your Kingdom of Light.” He beckoned Sabbath to stand on the edge of the fountain, guiding her toward the waters edge. Then, he stepped in himself, reaching out to hold her hands in reassurance.
Fiona studied Sabbath’s face. As she expected, Sabbath was unaffected by the situation, except for a hint of eagerness, one that every soul in the room could see in her eyes.
“We pray for this child,” Jacob said, “for you to set her free from original sin, to make her a temple of your glory, and to send your Holy Spirit to dwell within her. Through Christ our Lord.”
With that, he led her to stand inside the fountain, placing his hand on the back of her head. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, waiting with anticipation. “I baptize you in the name of the Father,” he told her, gently dunking her head beneath the water, “the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Each time he lowered her head beneath the surface, allowing her to come up briefly for air. As she emerged the last time, she mouthed the word, “Amen,” and hugged him. She then stepped out of the fountain with a renewed vigor.
Fiona hid her disappointment. It wasn’t as if she was expecting the water to boil or Sabbath to scream out. However, she had hoped that something would pointed her in the right direction–something small, at least, that gave her a hint. But as Sabbath was led back to change her clothes, she closed her eyes and reminded herself that there was no real chance for results.
Then she opened her eyes and saw it–something so obvious that she cursed herself for not noticing before. Just a few seats to her right, she caught a familiar patch of black fur against a white chin, one that formed an all-too-perfect crescent. The patch was partially obscured by the child’s white hand, which held up her chin as she leaned forward with a devious grin.
It was Twitch.
Dheania was Twitch–that foul mouthed, bratty child’s body housed the soul of a god. She’d never tried to hide who she was. She simply came across as an obnoxious child, who annoyed her father with loud music and prided herself in misbehaving.
Twitch’s eyes turned to meet hers. Her smile widened, and those wicked eyes gleamed with a sadistic glee. Don’t tell daddy, she mouthed, seemingly stifling laughter as she did. As the congregation went to leave, she rose from her seat, passing Fiona without saying a word.
She knows, Fiona thought. She knows I’m onto her and she couldn’t care less. Fiona glanced at Jacob, whose eyes conveyed a similar horror as hers. Did he see it too? She didn’t know, but it was clear he had come to the same conclusion.
Grabbing her bag, Fiona pushed past the congregation, rushing toward the exit. She passed her father, who looked on in bewilderment as she burst out the door in front of him. She only made it halfway through the parking lot before the sickness overwhelmed her, and she doubled over and retched onto the asphalt.