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(Fic) Back, Foul Fiend!

1st April 2010 (19:44)
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This ficlet is respectfully dedicated to gabrielleabelle  because of her recent post on religious symbolism in the Buffyverse. It got me thinking... is it only crosses that repel vampires?

743 words, rating 12, all characters are OCs.


Back, Foul Fiend!


The night air brought the warm, rich smell of humanity to Carl's nostrils, making him smile in hungry anticipation. His face crunched into its new shape and his eyes glowed yellow as he came up behind the man walking heedlessly down the street. His victim must have heard his footsteps, because he turned - and his eyes went wide with shock and terror as he saw the demon coming up behind him.

But then - no! He reached into the neck of his shirt and pulled out a crucifix and brandished it in Carl's face! The vampire hissed, stumbling back in fear. He'd been touched by a cross once, and the memory of that burning agony still haunted him. Should he lunge forward anyway, risk the pain, try to knock the hated symbol aside? Maybe he could... but it would hurt. Too risky. There would be easier meals tonight.

Carl snarled angrily, then faded back into the shadows. The Christian breathed a shaky sigh of relief, put away his cross, and walked on.

**

The next victim he found was a woman, tall and dark-haired. Once Carl might have admired the curves of her body; now he was hungry only for the arteries pulsing just below the skin of her neck. The sound of his footsteps and heavy breathing made her whip around and stare in horror...

And then she reached into the neck of her shirt and pulled out a Star of David! Carl recoiled in automatic reaction, then stared at her in baffled fear. Would the star burn him? He didn't know. He honestly didn't know. But she was staring at him defiantly, mumbling a prayer as she did, and he decided it wasn't worth the risk. He wanted to feed, not to conduct scientific experiments tonight.

He waved his arm in mingled threat and dismissal and faded back into the shadows. The Jew mopped her brow in relief, put away her star, and walked on.

**

After almost an hour of searching, Carl found another victim. This was a young man with a beard, standing under a streetlamp and reading from a small book. He would occasionally stop, gaze up and down the street and glance at his watch, then go back to reading. Carl smiled hungrily. He probably wasn't the person his victim was waiting for, but that soon wouldn't matter...

As he advanced the man's eyes widened in horror, and he held up his book in front of him as if to ward off the hungry vampire. The streetlamp illuminated the Arabic calligraphy embossed on its cover. Carl prowled forward, then stopped. Surely not? Surely it was just a book, not...? But the man's hands were clutched tightly around it, and the name written on the front seemed to glitter golden in the artificial light, and Carl sighed. Better not to risk it.

He snarled angrily and faded back into the shadows. The Muslim took a deep breath in relief, re-opened his Qur'an and started reading again.

**

Frustrated and starving, Carl drifted through the city streets. He kept replaying the events of the night, his head buzzing, second-guessing himself. Maybe he could have struck aside the cross. Maybe the star wouldn't have hurt him. Maybe the book was just a book. But maybe not. Maybe he did the right thing? But he was still hungry...

Then he saw her. She was young and cute, probably a college student, her hair dyed in cheerful colours that never were seen in nature. A cruel grin spread across Carl's face. This one didn't look the religious type. This one looked like prey.

He walked up behind her, and she glanced over at him then lowered her eyes and kept on walking a little faster. No frantic fumbling in her pocket, no pulling out a symbol on a chain from around her neck. His smile broadened, and vampire-fast, he stood in front of her.

"Please leave me alone."

He almost laughed aloud. Doesn't work like that, girly. He moved forward, and she just stood there defenceless, and then...

He screamed in immortal agony as his entire body seemed to become wrapped in flames, smoke rising from his tormented flesh, a million needle-points of heat stabbing into him. And just before he exploded into dust, he had time for one last thought:

"But she wasn't holding anything!"

The atheist blinked in disbelief, then stepped over the small pile of dust and continued on her way.


Comments

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 19:46 (UTC)

Awesome last line. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 20:05 (UTC)

My word choice there was very deliberate. ;-)

Thanks!

Posted by: gillo (gillo)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 19:57 (UTC)
Go be heroes

Nice one!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 20:04 (UTC)

:-)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 20:52 (UTC)

Heh.

But what about agnostics? Does the vampire end up in a Schrodinger's cat state of dust/not dust until the truth is revealed one way or the other?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 21:05 (UTC)

Interesting thought. :-)

In one subset of all possible worlds, the vampire eats the victim. In the other subset, he's dusted. The victim had better hope she's in the second. :-)

Posted by: phil_k_87 (phil_k_87)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:02 (UTC)

Atheism means without gods, godless. It does not necessarily assert no gods.

So since an agnostic doesn't believe in a god, at best he finds a certain one possible to a certain degree, he thereby becomes an atheist by definition.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:07 (UTC)

??

Strictly speaking, an agnostic is someone who asserts that it's not possible to prove either that God exists, or that God doesn't exist. It's simply beyond human capability to prove one way or the other... just as it's impossible to determine both the location and the speed of a particle at the same time - or whether the cat in the box is alive, dead, or bloody furious.

Posted by: phil_k_87 (phil_k_87)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 12:08 (UTC)

Strictly speaking, an agnostic is someone who asserts that it's not possible to prove either that God exists, or that God doesn't exist.


Yes, agnostic actually means "without knowing". You are right about that. So an agnostic does not believe in a god, and that's all that it's take to be considered an atheist in the broadest sense.

Furthermore, we also cannot know if the tooth-fairy does or doesn't really exist, we just apply a probability to how likely her existence is and then run with it. Either we are an tooth-fairy-atheist or a tooth-fairy-deist; there is no middle position.

And god is not like a particle in the quantum mechanic sense.

Posted by: alexeia_drae (alexeia_drae)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 21:03 (UTC)

LOL! This was great.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 21:06 (UTC)

Thanks! :-)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 21:45 (UTC)
willow lighter

Ha! I'm trying to come up with a "kill you with my brain" joke, but I'm coming up with nothing.

Awesome.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 21:54 (UTC)

Thanks!

I hope you appreciated your cameo role in my fic. ;-)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:01 (UTC)

It was alright. Though a more accurate portrayal would have me using my leet ninja skillz on the vampire. Yep. ;)

Why are there no ninja!Willow icons? Alas...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:03 (UTC)

There are icons of her cunningly disguised as a kangaroo, if that helps?

Or you could take a black brush to a normal icon and block out everything except her eyes...

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:28 (UTC)
kangaroo

Ah yes. The fierce kangaroo disguise.

*prowls ninja-style*

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 23:19 (UTC)

Is there a penguin-kangaroo crossover?

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 1st April 2010 22:41 (UTC)
Buffy - Hee!

I always grin when you say leet! Hee!

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 00:00 (UTC)
seximo

That's cause it sounds sexy when I say it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 01:27 (UTC)

Most things sound sexy when you say them.

Except possibly for "Let me tell you about my colonoscopy" or "I need help filling in my tax form, do you have a couple of hours to spare?"

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 11:45 (UTC)
Buffy Kiss My Ass

"I need help filling in my tax form, do you have a couple of hours to spare?"

Woman says this while naked, lying in a bed full of receipts. Still not sexy?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 13:07 (UTC)

The situation may be sexy, but the words aren't. That's what's known technically as "sending mixed messages". :-)

Although I think you may have discovered a new market opportunity for porn aimed at chartered accountants?

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 13:14 (UTC)

I'm just sayin' that sexy is often more about how you say it than what you're actually saying. Sexy becomes sexy when in context. I mean, isn't that true of all words? Though some words are harder to make sexy than others.

And nope, not a mixed message. The woman lying in bed is roleplaying with a chartered accountant. She's not giving him mixed messages but in fact saying "let's do taxes" and meaning "let's do each other". ;)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 19:03 (UTC)

The woman lying in bed is roleplaying with a chartered accountant.

How do you know? Have you asked her? Are you, um, describing your real life rather than a hypothetical situation here? ;-)

Posted by: and then we lit it on fire (electricalgwen)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 00:33 (UTC)
crucifixion

AWESOME. I have wondered about this myself! *g* Never got as far as the last vignette, though. Nice job!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 01:26 (UTC)

Thanks! As often happens with me, this is at least in part meta cunningly disguised as fic. :-)

Posted by: I write tragedies, not sins (mabus101)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 02:40 (UTC)

LOL! Very clever.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 10:10 (UTC)

Thanks! :-)

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 03:30 (UTC)

Heh! (I guessed the ending from the author's note, but still, Heh!)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 10:14 (UTC)

The question is, could Anya repel a vampire by brandishing a dollar bill?

Thanks!

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 09:47 (UTC)

Heee! I'll make sure to try that if I'm ever attacked by a vampire...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 10:15 (UTC)

Ah, but if you acknowledge the existence of the vampire, thus showing you believe in the supernatural after all, would your atheism be insufficiently pure to repel it?

Thanks!

Edited at 2010-04-02 10:16 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 10:18 (UTC)

Oh crap. *disappears in puff of logic*

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 13:39 (UTC)

OK, that was pretty clever. And appropriate for April Fools Day. :-)

So this means if I'm ever confronted by a vampire, I should just look him in the eyes and recite, "I have no idea."

I always liked the idea you put out there in Hiywan's Story, that the cross symbol has a primal power that far predates Christianity, and it's that the vampires recoil from.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 18:53 (UTC)

Thanks!

We know that in the Buffyverse, crosses affect vampires regardless of the religious beliefs of the person holding them. We also know that Willow apparently never tried holding up a Star of David to repel one... and it's the kind of thing she would try, or at least ask Angel or Spike about. So while there's nothing to actually disprove the scenario I've laid out in this fic, I suspect that in fact it's something inherent in the cross that repels vampires.

Which either means that Christianity is True in the Buffyverse - which I somehow doubt is Joss's intended message - or else the cross's power is independent of its religious status. (Or even, Christianity adopte the cross as its symbol *because* of its pre-existing power against vampires). The latter is true in my own personal canon.

Edited at 2010-04-02 18:54 (UTC)

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 00:31 (UTC)

Tzotzil Maya also have crosses as a central religious symbol and have done so since long before Christians arrived on these shores. Maybe the Christian cross thing was just lucky. (Well, not if You're Jesus, I guess.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 14:51 (UTC)

Interesting!

Hindus and Buddhists, of course, use the swastika as a good luck symbol, and that's basically a cross with, depending on how you look at it, either the arms broken or else drawn inside a rapidly-spinning wheel. Mind you, repelling vampires with a swastika is going to raise uncomfortable questions in the post-WW2 western world...

Posted by: slaymesoftly (slaymesoftly)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 14:05 (UTC)

Well played! Loved that last line.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 18:54 (UTC)

Thanks! :-)

Posted by: riccadonna (riccadonna)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 17:45 (UTC)

A good laugh!
All those philosophical comments went straight over my head, but I always like it when people take any opportunity to use their brain...
By the way, did you see what they did with the Jewish Star on Being Human?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd April 2010 18:55 (UTC)

Glad you liked it!

did you see what they did with the Jewish Star on Being Human?
No?
(I watch very few TV programmes, to be honest.)

Posted by: riccadonna (riccadonna)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 11:54 (UTC)

Well, good for you to pick and choose, but you really should see Being Human because it's a great thing. (Actually, they will soon do the American version with bleached teeth and fashion conscious characters--if it works so fine, why not fix it?)
Anyway, in that there's werewolf George who stops one vampire with it and he's very surprised because his vampire friend Mitchell keeps the Star safe for him when he transforms, without suffering any consequences; so it would fit in with your little piece's idea, as it's the personal conviction that counts.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 14:54 (UTC)

Thanks for hte explanation.

It's interesting that there are completly different ideas of why crosses work on vampires - is it becaue the cross itself is inherently holy, or is it the personal faith of the person holding a symbol of whatever-their-faith-happens-to-be that repels them? Or, for that matter, would it be the religious faith of the person the vampire used to be before they died that's important?

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 01:12 (UTC)

Haha, this is almost like a pun or long joke. I love it - the atheist part especially.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 14:56 (UTC)

Well spotted - it actually was originally going to be just a joke, but it got too long and I turned it into a ficlet instead. ;-)

Thanks! (and welcome back from wherever it is you went!)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 4th April 2010 01:02 (UTC)

Oooh, hooray, I'm clever! :)

Oh, thanks! It was a good break, although unfortunately I was up in Massachusetts, where it rained the entire time with massive flooding, and then got sunny and warm just on the day I left. Life's ironic sometimes.

Posted by: GingerWall (gingerwall)
Posted at: 3rd April 2010 21:52 (UTC)

Awesome premise, hilarious story.

That question is going to bother me for a while now. Why do crosses work? It's not as if Buffyverse explicitly supports the existence of Christian mythology, just the PTB. There was that one reference Luke makes the crucifixion in S2, but Spike says he was lying, so... still no real explanation or evidence as far as other religious symbols go.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2010 11:40 (UTC)

In my fic 'Hiywan's Story' (mentioned in one of the comments above) I speculated that the cross's power against vampires dates back to prehistoric times, long before Christianity. Relevant facts:

In many mythologies, a cross symbolises the sun (presumably because of rays of light spreading out from a central point?). The sun burns vampires. Crosses burn vampires. Coincidence?

The original symbol of Christianity was the fish (ἰχθύς), not the cross. The church only started using the cross extensively in the 3rd century. Was that when they realised its power against vampires?

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