In The Night
Chapter 4 - Man in the Mirror
Carl dreamt that he was looking in a mirror, but the reflection was different from what he knew his appearance to be. The reflection had the same face, but hardened and framed by longer hair.
“Who are you?” Carl demanded.
“I’m you,” the reflection replied.
Carl shook his head adamantly. “I would know if I was you, so don’t try to fool me.”
The reflection immediately scolded him, “Don’t be obstinate, friar. Where do you think you learnt the sword? Where are these dreams coming from? I am you, hundreds of years ago.”
“That is…most peculiar,” Carl commented, not really sure what to say. “Then surely this is none of my business. Van Helsing is always saying to leave the past, in the past.”
His reflection’s lips twitched. “But past history is what makes you who you are. You are fooling yourself – you are no friar, but a hunter like the aforementioned Van Helsing.”
Carl thought it most unusual to be arguing with himself, if indeed this reflection of a warrior was him. Carl knew he wasn’t the bravest of men so found the idea of being a strong soldier most foreign. He managed to sound controlled, “I am no hunter. I construct weapons, I suppose, that the Holy Order gives to people like Van Helsing to slay monsters.”
“Monsters the rest of the Order will never hear the dying cries of,” his reflection said bitterly.
Carl was startled to hear one of his most buried statements issue out of the stranger in the mirror. He’s seen the tortured expression on Van Helsing’s face after every assignment and wondered why the Cardinal let it happen. Carl asked again urgently, “Who are you?”
The man in the mirror drew himself up. “Can you not remember?”
“Faramir…” Whispered Carl in reverence.
A loud roar of fury brought Carl to the waking world with a jolt. The friar threw himself out of bed and tried to smooth out the robe he’d worn while he slept. Carl opened his door and followed the sound of heated voices back down in the bowels of the headquarters.
He saw Van Helsing glaring in a hostile manner at Cardinal Jinette and saying vehemently, “I abhor the killing of children, ones innocent of any crime their parents may have committed.”
“No tree of evil can bear innocent fruit,” the Cardinal remonstrated, clearly disturbed by the attention the argument was drawing.
Van Helsing clenched his fists. “The child can be turned to God. It could be the will of God that the child repents for his own sins.”
“It is the will of God that you are a knight of the Holy Order,” Jinette answered back firmly. “That you rid the world of those who are evil.”
Carl was silently cheering on the hunter. He nervously twisted his hands this way and that, though, waiting for the Cardinal to beat down Van Helsing as he always did.
“You’ve never seen the monsters you send me to hunt,” Van Helsing snapped. “They’d give you nightmares – that’s why you don’t go yourself.”
“Yes!” Carl exclaimed, then hushed as everyone stared at him.
The friar cleared his throat and repeated what the man in the mirror had said to him, “Monsters the rest of the Order will never hear the dying cries of.”
Van Helsing threw him an unreadable glance. But Cardinal Jinette was unmoved and simply stated, “I expect you out on assignment within half a day.”
As the quiet crowd dispersed to make it look like they hadn’t been listening, Carl fought his way over to the hunter. Van Helsing looked quietly infuriated now, making an obvious attempt to calm himself down. His eyes were glowing gold still.
Van Helsing noted sarcastically, “That was sweet – I really appreciated it.”
“No. Ever heard of sarcasm?”
“Not lately,” Carl was forced to consider.
His taller friend began walking briskly out of the main headquarter area. The friar followed him in concern, but dared not say anything. Once out of sight from anyone else, Van Helsing turned and punched the wall. The hard surface caved in under his unnaturally strong hands.
“Blast!” he said fiercely. “It is against my morals and better judgement.”
Carl tried to be complacent, and failed. “You’ve killed children before.”
Van Helsing spun to glare at him, jaw lengthening and not because he was about to yell at Carl.
“Or you could just leave this place?” The friar nervously backed away, watching the hunter’s snarl become a wicked canine grin. “I thought you said you could control when you became a werewolf.”
The hunter replied fearlessly in more of a growl, “I can.”
Carl resisted the urge to whimper. “I’ll try to talk some sense into the Cardinal. Please don’t transform…I just swept this room of fluff yesterday!”
Van Helsing snorted with laughter. His appearance returned to normal but he flashed his eyes at Carl to make the friar even more anxious. It had the desired effect.
“I’m off!” Carl declared and ran the opposite direction as fast as possible.
Carl found the Cardinal poring over huge texts almost feverishly in the small study that accommodated his work. Carl hovered near the doorway, uncertain. He couldn’t really knock sense into the religious man with a club, and he was awful at any sort of verbal confrontation.
“C-Cardinal,” he stuttered.
“Brother Carl,” Cardinal Jinette answered. “Have you talked sense into Van Helsing?”
Talk sense into someone like Van Helsing? Carl mentally demanded. About as safe as poking a gargoyle in the eye.
At least there is already sense in the hunter, said a nasty little voice in the back of his brain.
Carl willed it away as he spoke to the Cardinal with slighted respect, “Van Helsing is a moral man and you have challenged his morals, not just with this latest assignment, but by sending him out to kill monsters, some of which could be innocent.”
Jinette laid aside his books and stared up at him sternly. “Your perception of this matter is clouded, Brother Carl.”
Exasperated, Carl stormed outside and slammed the door as hard as he could. He shook his fists at the door. It gave him an oddly satisfying feeling – that was until he saw Van Helsing leaning against the wall and grinning at him in amusement. Carl felt his cheeks flame.
“That was short lived,” commented Van Helsing. “Here I was thinking you’d stand up for me a little more valiantly.”
Carl straightened his back and pointed at the door. “You do your own talking.”
“Alright. You can disappear off to your lab now.”
“No – this I’ve got to see,” Carl said eagerly.
Van Helsing shrugged without a trace of good humour. “Fine.”
And kicked the door open with a well place boot. The Cardinal stood up instantly. “I must protest in regards to this intrusion, Van Helsing.”
“Oh, really?” the hunter asked dangerously, his eyes having the beginnings of gold in their irises. “Let me tell you this, Cardinal, I will not slay a child incapable of making his own decisions.”
Jinette’s face was unravelling from calm to indignant. “You are a servant of God and will do His will. You came to us at His call.”
Van Helsing covered the short distance between them with a bound and slammed him against the wall by the throat. “Don’t you mean your will and call? From today, I will not fell one life form at your bidding. I remove myself from your service! And I pity the next man who comes crawling in here to be at your mercy rather than God’s!”
He strode out, clearly not to be trifled with. Carl followed him hurriedly, making sure the door shut behind him.
“That was some display!” the friar complimented cheerfully.
Van Helsing slowed his pace somewhat. “And now I’m out of a job. I’m free of this curse at last – Carl, you’re not particularly caught up here are you?”
Go with him! insisted the part of the friar that Carl identified as Faramir.
Carl hurled himself back to the ornate door and peeled it open. He yelled inside, “Damn you to Hell!”
Hastily running to Van Helsing (who had raised an eyebrow) he said breathlessly, “I’ve always wanted to do that! Where are we going, then?”