“In a time when men ruled the earth and war waged between religions, Jesus walked the earth. He had twelve followers, apostles. Among them was a man named Judas,” he said.
“I know the story of Judas,” I interrupted. “Judas betrayed Jesus for a handful of silver. Afterwards, his guilt was more than he could bear, so he took his own life.”
My savior’s brows rose in amazement as the edges of his mouth twisted upwards in a smile. “I should have known you knew this story.” He poured himself a glass of red liquid (the color of blood) and took a sip before continuing. “Yes. Judas’s guilt led him to take his own life. But what happened after that is the part you do not know.”
My interest was piqued as he continued.
“Judas’s sin was great, but it was preordained. He was rejected when he met Peter at the gates of heaven, but when he descended into hell, he was rejected there too. Judas had committed a great sin against the son of God, but that betrayal was preordained before Judas’s conception. If he had not given Jesus to Pilot, then the son of God would not have been crucified and Isaiah’s prophecy would not have been fulfilled.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You are saying? Judas was supposed to betray Jesus?” He nods in agreement. “If that is the case, then why did Peter reject him at the gates? And what does this have to do with my past?”
“I’m getting to that, dear wife.” Hearing him call me wife is unsettling. I started to protest, but he continued with his story without giving me a chance. “Judas was rejected from both the higher and the lower kingdoms. He was forced to roam the middle kingdom, the kingdom of man. Neither alive nor dead, his spirit was forever cursed.”
Forced to roam. Neither alive nor dead. What is he saying? “I don’t understand. Why are you telling me this?”
“You need to know the real history before you pass judgment,” he replied.
Pass judgment? What was I supposed to judge? And why did it matter what I thought? I was a nobody, a misplaced nursery worker thrown into a situation that was not of my choosing. My opinion was nothing—meant nothing.
“Judas couldn’t die, nor could he live. He was neither human nor inhuman,” he continued.
“Inhuman? Are you telling me that Judas was a revenant?” I asked. That’s not possible. Judas was born from humans. He died as a human, taking his own life due to the sense of guilt that he felt. Revenants don’t feel guilt. They don’t morn for the humans they have killed. Those feelings are a human trait. Revenants aren’t human. They wouldn’t understand the weight of guilt or the sadness for the ones who had passed on to the next life. “Judas was human. He couldn’t have been a revenant.”
“You are both right and wrong, dear wife. Judas was a human up until his death. After Lucifer rejected him from hell, he cast Judas’s soul back to his body.” He stopped to take another sip of the red liquid in his glass. “Judas awoke from his death as a revenant. He was the first and the father of all revenants.”
Judas was the first revenant. The thought seemed preposterous. Revenants were evil creatures. Judas did an evil thing when he betrayed Jesus, but he was not an evil person. Otherwise, his guilt would not have consumed him. Besides, how could Judas be the father of the revenant? If he was neither alive nor dead, then he could not have children. Could he?
“Let’s say what you are telling me is true and Judas is the first of your race. Then how did the rest of the revenants come into being? A dead man can’t have children,” I argue.
“You are right,” my savior said before he downed the rest of the liquid in his glass. “A dead man can’t sire offspring, but blood is life. Judas was cursed to drink the blood of the living to survive. He was once human, and in many ways, he was more human than most. Judas’s curse kept him alive, but it did not satisfy his human needs.”
“His human needs?” I ask. “What do you mean?”
He laughs as he stares at me. “I have chosen a young wife, haven’t I?”
“I’m not young,” I argued. “I am in my twenties.” He laughs again. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” he replied. “I just didn’t expect.” He trails off without finishing his sentence.
“Didn’t expect what?” I ask.
“I didn’t expect you to be so inexperienced,” he replied. “I knew you were young, but I didn’t know you had never been with a man.
His words caught me off guard as I realize what he was trying to tell me from the start. Judas’s human needs. The needs of men, all men. My cheeks flushed at my own embarrassment. I should have realized what he was talking about before I had asked.
He reached out and touched my cheek. I flinched and scooted away from him. If Judas was the first revenant and he felt human needs, then did my savior have the same needs? He had called me his wife and ordered me to call him my husband. It would make sense.
Panic crept up my chest as I realized why he had summoned me here. I stood and moved back away from him in fear. “The revenants are the descendants of Judas?” I asked. He nods in agreement. “And you are a descendant of those sons?”
“Not quite,” he replied. “Judas is my father. I am from the first generation of descendants.”
“How is that possible?” I asked. “Judas lived more than two thousand years ago. You can’t mean that he is still alive?” This didn’t make sense. My savior looked like he was in his twenties, the same as me. He couldn’t be a descendant of Judas.”
“Remember I told you Judas is neither alive nor dead,” he replied. “My father’s curse runs through my veins and the veins of my brothers. That is why you are so important.”
“I don’t understand,” I replied. “I’m a nobody. Just a nursery worker. I’m not important.” My heart raced and the panic I had felt earlier had started to well in my chest making it hard for me to breathe. My eyes darted from the man sitting before me and the door of the room.
“You are important. In fact, you are the most important person I have met in the thousand years of my existence,” he replied.
“Why is that?” I asked as I mentally calculated my chances at escaping this room without being caught.
“Because there has never been a female born under the revenant’s curse before,” he replied. There it was. I had guessed right. He summoned me here so that I could bear him a child. Savior or not, I will not bear the child of a monster.
My legs moved as soon as the thought of escape entered my mind. I managed to wrap my hand around the handle of the door and started to pull it open. But he was fast, faster than me. His hand closed the door slamming it shut. He grabbed my wrists and pinned my hands against the wood of the door.
“Let me go,” I yelled. “I will not have children with you. I will not be with you.”
“Be with me?” He laughed. His scent surrounded me, and the same feelings of safety and security tried to sink into my bones, but I pushed them away. He was not safe. The illusion I had formed about my savior was just that—an illusion. “Bear my children?” He released my wrists and I started to pull the door open again, but his hands grabbed my shoulders and he pressed my back against the door.
“Look at me,” he said, his voice gentle. “My dear wife, look at me.” He grabbed my chin and pulled my gaze up to meet his. “I will not force you to have a child with me.”
“But you said you wanted a daughter,” I argued.
“No,” he replied. “I said there has never been a female born under the revenant’s curse. The first time I met you, it was because of your blood. The smell of your blood was unlike any other human that I had encountered. It called to me.”
My body started to tremble as fear continued to sink into the recesses of my being. My blood called to him. He wanted my blood. He wanted to drink from me.
“After I carried you home, I took a small vile of your blood and brought it back to the tower to be tested,” he continued.
My fear mixed with anger at the thought of him taking my blood without my knowledge. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me away from the door. I was too scared and shocked to fight against him. He sat me on the edge of the bed and began to pace the floor. He interlaced his hands behind his back and stared down at the floor as he completed several rounds of pacing before he abruptly stopped and focused his gaze on me.
Stooping to his knees, he grabbed my hands from my lap and held them tightly with his own. His fingers were warm against my cold skin, although they did not stop my hands from trembling. “Your blood tested positive. I couldn’t believe it. After all these years of searching for a remedy, I am one step closer. Your blood, your very existence, is a miracle—a gift from the Almighty.”
“I don’t understand,” I replied with whispered voice.
“My father had taught us that the curse would be everlasting. But I have always thought differently. My father’s sin cost the son of God to spill his blood. That is why we are cursed to drink the blood of man. It is the blood that holds the curse. What is blood but plasma and cells? It houses the building blocks of every human—your DNA.” He reaches out to touch my cheek and this time I don’t flinch away. “If I could but alter the DNA of the revenants, then I could break the curse. We could once again become human. Only then would Peter allow us to enter through the gates of heaven.
“Altering DNA? What are saying?” I asked. “I don’t understand how I am a part of this.”
“You very existence is proof that all my years of research has not been in vain. Tell me about your parents.”
“My parents?” I asked. He nodded and waited for my response. “My mother died soon after I was born, and my pappy raised me.”
“What about your father?” He asked.
“My father? I didn’t know my father,” I replied.
He released my hands and began to pace the invisible path on the floor once again. “If I am correct, your father was a revenant.”
“No,” I protested. “My father was a human. Yes, I know I never met him, but he was human.”
“How do you know? Revenant blood flows in your veins.” He grabbed my hand and flipped it over to look at the blue veins along my wrist. “You can hear and smell things others around you cannot, am I correct?”
How could he know that?
“I assume your pappy gave blood in your stead as well.” I nodded bewildered by the fact that he could guess as much. “Your pappy knew about your father. That is the only reason he would not let you give. He knew as soon as your blood was discovered, you would have been taken.”
“No,” I yell. “You’re wrong. Pappy didn’t let me give blood because it was his way of rebelling against you and your kind. He wouldn’t have kept a secret like this from me. Pappy and I could tell each other everything.”
“Our kind, dear wife,” he replied
“Don’t call me that,” I continued to yell. “I am not your wife. I will never be yours.” He pulled me against his chest. I pushed against him as hard as I could, but I couldn’t free myself from his grasp.
“Listen closely,” he whispered into my ear. “The walls have ears. Outside of this room, you cannot say things like that to me. Do you understand?”
“Let me go,” I snarled and continued to try and pry his grip from my arms.
“Stop fighting me,” he demanded. “If you are going to survive, you will need to trust me. Once my brothers find out about you, they will try to take you from me.”
“Why? I am a nobody,” I argued.
“You are my niece,” he replied, and my breath caught in my throat. “And until I can figure out which one of my brothers is your sire, you will stay with me and be obedient.”
“Obedience. If you think I will give you my obedience, then you are sadly mistaken,” I replied. “I will escape from here. The first chance I get, I will take it.” He released me when I wasn’t expecting him to, and I crumpled to the floor.
“Troublesome girl,” he said as he walked over to the cart of food and grabbed a knife from the table. “I didn’t want to have to do it this way. I wanted you to willingly obey me.”
“I will never be obedient to you,” I replied as I scooted away from him. My pulse raced with fear as he brought the knife up to his wrist and placed a cut along the vein. He dropped the knife and reached for me, but I moved quicker than him and found myself running for the door. Faster than I could have imagined, he grabbed me from behind and shoved his wrist into my mouth.
The metallic warm liquid flowed from his body into my own. I pushed against him as my stomach started to churn. The smell of blood mixed with his scent and all the world disappeared.
The room was replaced with a field of golden grasses as tall as my waist. The sun was warm against my skin as I soaked in the beautiful rays of light. Peace washed over me as I walked through the field of grass towards a tall tree. It was the only tree I could see. The branches were high and covered with white flowers. The tree stood taller than any tree I had ever seen before. It was beautiful.
I looked down at my sandaled feet and pulled off my shoes. Somehow, I knew I was walking on holy ground.
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