Slaughter Vampires! - Alfred Bekker - ebook

Slaughter Vampires! ebook

Alfred Bekker

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Slaughter Vampires! Alfred Bekker Horror Collection Everything you never wanted to know about vampires... Bloodsuckers are the theme of the stories in this book, whether humorous or brutally romantic. Alfred Bekker is a well-known author of fantasy novels, crime novels and books for young people. In addition to his great book successes, he has written numerous novels for tension series such as Ren Dhark, Jerry Cotton, Cotton reloaded, Kommissar X, John Sinclair and Jessica Bannister. He also published under the names Neal Chadwick, Henry Rohmer, Conny Walden, Sidney Gardner, Jonas Herlin, Adrian Leschek, John Devlin, Brian Carisi, Robert Gruber and Janet Farell.

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Slaughter Vampires!

Alfred Bekker

Horror Collection

Everything you never wanted to know about vampires... Bloodsuckers are the theme of the stories in this book, whether humorous or brutally romantic.

 Alfred Bekker is a well-known author of fantasy novels, crime novels and books for young people. In addition to his great book successes, he has written numerous novels for tension series such as Ren Dhark, Jerry Cotton, Cotton reloaded, Kommissar X, John Sinclair and Jessica Bannister. He also published under the names Neal Chadwick, Henry Rohmer, Conny Walden, Sidney Gardner, Jonas Herlin, Adrian Leschek, John Devlin, Brian Carisi, Robert Gruber and Janet Farell.

copyright

A CassiopeiaPress Book: CASSIOPEIAPRESS, UKSAK E-Books and BEKKERpublishing are Imprints by Alfred Bekker

© by Author / COVER TONY MASERO

© of this issue 2018 by AlfredBekker/CassiopeiaPress, Lengerich/Westphalia in arrangement with Edition Bärenklau, edited by Jörg Martin Munsonius.

The imagined persons have nothing to do with actually living persons. Identical names are random and not intended.

All rights reserved.

Alfred Bekker

NO MIRROR IMAGE

"You have to excuse the lighting conditions," said the head of the institute, regretfully raising his shoulders. "One of the lamps is out of order. The caretaker should have been here by now, but you know how this works...  And unfortunately, my office has no access to daylight."

"It doesn't matter," said the young man who had entered and kept his sunglasses on despite the little light. "I can't stand the glare anyway. An eye disease..."

The head of the institute looked at the young man thoughtfully for a moment, then he shook his hand. "Please sit down. I'm Dr. Lutz. And you must be Peter Radvanyi."

"I am," nodded the young man. "I hope that my application documents were in order," he added, but Dr. Lutz did not go into it.

"A rare name - Radvanyi", the head of the institute muttered thoughtfully and rubbed his nose root.

"Hungarian, I think," said the young man.

"Ah, yes," Dr. Lutz did. "That name looks familiar. There was this story in the paper a few years ago..."

Radvanyi sighed, "Yes, yes, I know. VAMPIRE DRANK GIRL's BLOOD - that was the headline. That still depends on me today. If my name was Meyer, it'd be different. People would have forgotten by now. But Radvanyi - that sounds like the Balkans, bats and dark castles. You keep something like that! At least in connection with such a headline! And it doesn't help if you get a counterstatement on one of the back pages at some point!" Radvanyi bent over a little. His pale lips had chapped open and formed a tortured facial expression. "Do you know what the real background to that headline was?"

Dr. Lutz raised his eyebrows. "No, but I'm curious!", he said a little bored.

Radvanyi breathed deeply before he pressed out: "It was during my studies. To be able to examine plasma under the microscope, I took some blood from a fellow student. That was all!" And then Radvanyi suddenly tried to appear cheerful and went on with a light touch: "If you had a mirror here in your office, I could immediately prove to you that I am not a vampire, because they do not have a reflection.

Dr. Lutz obviously didn't like that kind of humor very much. He ticked with his fingers on the desk pad and avoided looking directly at the pale young man.

"Nevertheless, Mr. Radvanyi", the director of the institute finally stated, "someone comes to our institute with one - how shall I put it? - a dubious past. You know the task our organization has set itself. We accept blood donations and ensure proper preservation, storage and distribution. In our daily work we are largely dependent on the trust placed in us. And if it now became known that one of our senior employees has a point in his past that does not seem to be completely free of knots..."

Radvanyi was outraged. "You can't be serious!" he shouted.

"You're using this two-year-old filthy article to...?" He just shook his head.

"I'm sorry," Dr. Lutz explained firmly. "It doesn't matter if there was something to it or not, I can't be interested in you making the headlines about this institute. I can already see the headline in my mind's eye: VAMPIRE IN THE BLOOD BANK! For the press, it'd be a fine thing to eat. To be honest: I'd have liked to have you. Your credentials are excellent. But when you just confirmed to me that you were the Radvanyi, my verdict was final."

"Too bad," Radvanyi finally said resignedly. "I could have imagined working here."

"As I said..."

"I get it!" Radvanyi rose and barely said goodbye. The disappointment was noticeable to him as he took a quick step out.

He seems a bit strange after all! the head of the institute had it in his head. This pale face with the tortured expression...

Dr. Lutz looked at the clock. Closing time. He got up, took his bag and went to the dressing room to get his coat.

He always passed the large wall mirror, which unfortunately was mounted there, particularly quickly. There would only be a lot of stupid questions if someone knew Dr. Lutz didn't have a reflection.

Alfred Bekker

WAY CONSUMPTION

"Discover the Costa Brava! - Room for two more participants. Not a sales event!"

It was a small, inconspicuous advertisement that gave us the idea of taking part in one of these cheap bus trips to the Costa Brava. From Germany, more or less non-stop to Lloret de Mar or Blanes, at the wheel an over-nightly bus driver with dark rings under his eyes, who sat on a ram for 22 hours trying to stay awake with a mixture of coffee and brandy, stayed in hotels that weren't exactly of the top class, and a breakfast that didn't deserve the name -

that was one side of the coin. The other was the incredibly low price of the trip. It was practically a gift.

"I think it was a mistake to go with him," my wife told me quietly in my ear, but then we already had the short toilet break at Macon in France behind us.

"That comes to you a little late," I replied.

"I know we can't go back now, but I just have a bad feeling. Did you see the red stuff the driver drinks? "There was no label on the bottle, but I bet it was red wine!"

"Well..."

"I hope we don't end up in a ditch!"

"This ain't the first time the man's driven, honey!"

"And then the people! You have to admit that we travel here with some strange people," she whispered - and she was right. Right at the beginning I noticed that all the other participants of the trip obviously knew each other well, including the bus driver. From the conversations I learned that it was apparently not the first time they went to Spain together. The fact that all passengers were rather pale was of no importance to me at first. Finally, I assumed that they were looking for the Spanish sun to change this.

On the other hand, they apparently avoid any contact with sunlight. The bus already had smaller windows than usual - apparently a special design - and these windows were covered with roller blinds all day long, so that there was always a kind of semi-darkness inside.

Only when it was already quite dim outside, a short stop was made. Years ago my wife and I had been on a similar journey and experienced that - the further into the night hours - a lethargic mood began to spread among the passengers until the first fell into a short, light sleep. One could only pray that these sleeping periods would not last longer than one or one and a half seconds for the bus driver... Anyway, this trip was different. The later it got, the more lively the passengers became.

And the more often they looked in our direction. It was strange looks that I only knew how to interpret later...

At some point we nodded. I fell into a dull, dreamless sleep. When I woke up, it was dawn and we had the Spanish border in front of us.

My wife was waking up too. "My legs fell asleep," she muttered, and then suddenly she cried out. "Some mosquito stabbed me! Twice, even!" I saw the two red spots on her wrist, and she continued: "I'm sure they'll be huge! It's always the same with me! "Whenever a mosquito bites me, it always gives me an infection!" Then she fixed me with big eyes and said: "You have two punctures too!"

I smiled. "So?"

"Yes, on my neck!"

The hotel in which we and the other participants of the trip were accommodated was not as bad as I had feared.

The first day we spent more or less on the beach. In the evening we met some of our fellow travellers in the hotel bar, had a drink with them and then went to our room. Lead fatigue attacked us and we went to sleep. I had strange, confused dreams. I dreamed that the door to our room was opened. I dreamt of voices, but I could not understand what was said.

When I woke up bathed in sweat, my wife came out of the bathroom.

"Look at me," she said desperately. "Stabbed from top to bottom!"

When I got up and saw my arms and legs, I noticed that these bloodsuckers had apparently visited me just as much. I counted almost two dozen puncture marks.

"Strange..." I muttered. "The stitches always seem to be arranged in pairs. And they don't itch either!"

The punctures healed quickly. Later in the day.

But the following night was similar to the previous one -

with confused dreams and an awakening with fresh punctures. And this, although we had been awake half the night to listen to a mosquito buzzing. But nothing had been heard, and we had kept the doors and windows closed.

The days went by. Suddenly we hardly had the urge to go to the beach and expose ourselves to the sun.

Our sleep/wake rhythm shifted. We increasingly slept through most of the days and lived during the nights when we slept for only a few hours in an increasingly light sleep. But the confused dreams remained, and they only came at night.

One of them made me jump up and I saw that our room was full of people.

Our fellow travelers stood around our bed.

"They're with us now," said the bus driver, smiling broadly. So wide that its unusually long canines became visible for a short moment in their full size...

Addendum: We now go regularly to the Costa Brava.

The time will come again next week. I just hope that someone will report the ad we placed before then. After all, food should always be fresh!

Alfred Bekker

THE LINE-VAMPIRE

Gisela was anything but thrilled when I told her where we were going to spend our holidays. But I knew her well enough to know that she would rage first and then come to terms with it. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," I told her.

"Peter of Varoshy has invited us to his house in Austria.

We don't even have to pay for anything!"

She stroked her hair off her face and said: "Well, that would be even nicer! My goodness! How I hate that Peter von Varoschy, even though I've never met him! But since you've been writing your thesis about him, you're not a normal person anymore!"

She had a point. Peter von Varoschy -

Peter Varoschy -  the 'von' was not real - was undoubtedly an unusually talented writer who managed to put himself in his characters' shoes, so that one could almost get the impression that they - and not Varoschy - had written the novels. A worthwhile topic for a doctoral thesis, especially since no one had ever tried it before.

At a symposium I happened to have the opportunity to talk to Varoschy and when he learned that I was working on a dissertation on his work, he invited me to his estate near Klagenfurt. "I can tell from your ring that you're married," he added. "You can bring your wife, of course..."

"Isn't it too much trouble?"

"But no, my house has so many empty rooms... Be my guests. I'd like that. And it would certainly do your work good!"

There was no doubt about it. We were still chatting about this and that before I finally got to the point that interested me the most. "How do you put yourself in your place like that? Take the homeless guy in your last book. You'd think you'd lived on the streets for years yourself..."

Varoschy's lean, somewhat pale face showed a dull smile. "Who told you it wasn't?" he asked back.

I leaned forward to him and checked: "No, seriously!

I've suspected for a long time that your main characters have real role models!"

Varoschy raised her eyebrows. "You're right," he admitted.

"So, how do you do your research?"

A half amused, half diabolic smile played around his bloodless lips. "The solution is very simple," he claimed in a tone of voice of which it was impossible to say how high the proportion of seriousness was in it. "I have the ability to absorb the souls of people I care about. All the people my books are about really existed, and in a way they sat at my desk with me."

I laughed. "So you see yourself as some kind of vampire? A line vampire, so to speak!" I found this bon mot then tremendously successful, especially since Peter von Varoschy gave me a kind smile.

"Vampirism of this kind has undoubtedly existed for centuries," he continued, appearing to mean every word seriously. "Popular belief has written all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the phenomenon itself, like drinking blood, the long canines and so on." He smiled. "And not all the vampires in history were writers!"

Varoshy had invited us for the summer. It was still a few months before then, which I did not want to let pass unused. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. For what good was it to live under one roof with Peter of Varoschy for some time if you didn't know how to ask him the right questions? His talk at the symposium where I met him personally was an example of his profound humour. The vampire as a picture for the writer. No one had ever said that before.

Like a man possessed, I set to work and found something that both worried and fascinated me.

Varoschy had admitted that his characters had real role models, and so I tried to get to know some of them if possible. Identifying them was not very difficult, because Varoshy had often not even bothered to change names and places - and if he had, then this had happened so carelessly that the actual identity was easy to find out when searching for it.

Strangely enough, all of Varoschy's role models seemed to have died. Even stranger was that some of them had disappeared in unexplained circumstances after being found in a strange, mummified state.

In summer Gisela and I went to Klagenfurt.

Peter von Varoschy lodged us in his manorial country house. Varoschy treated us with the courtesy that was his way. He said he had to work all day, but in the evening he would be at our disposal.

On the very first evening he invited us to a sumptuous meal prepared by his butler, who seemed to be the only inhabitant of this house except Varoshy himself. He himself sat at the table without eating. Stomach ailment, like he said.

Gisela had initially still grumbled, but Varoshy's perfect charm took it for him right from the first encounter.

"It gives me great pleasure to meet you, too," Varoschy said. "I can imagine that it isn't always easy to have a man trying to write a doctoral thesis."

"You can say that again! I hardly see him anymore!"

"Rest assured: It'll pass!"

"I should hope so!" And then Gisela suddenly asked: "You are not married, Herr von Varoschy?"

"She died very young," Varoshy replied.

Gisela blushed. "Oh, excuse me..."

"There's no need to apologize. I wrote my first book about her."

The next few days Gisela wasn't well. She stayed in bed and felt very weak. A doctor, whom we had come from Klagenfurt, could find nothing, except a general exhaustion.

So I spent the days writing my work and the evenings having long conversations with Varoshy. I spoke to him about the strange fates that the idols of his characters had suffered.

"They've been very hardworking," Varoschy said unaffected. "But didn't I say I was some kind of vampire?" His joke was out of place here, I thought. That evening he had strongly awarded a dark red wine, which had probably loosened his tongue quite a bit, and so he continued: "I suck the souls out of my victims until only a mummy-like, powerless shell remains of them. Mostly the corpses are found, but their death only lasts for a short time, then they rise to a new, uncanny life...

Some of them even win literary prizes in their new existence!

"Most, however, live in the shadows."

Varoshy had an amazing suggestive power at these moments.

My laugh sounded a little tortured. "You've got to be kidding me, right?"

"Hundreds of thousands of hobby writers are driven by a terrible urge to write, and every day more... Have you ever wondered where the root of this evil lies?"

"An undoubtedly unconventional view," I replied ironically.

The days went by, and when I felt Gisela's arm one night, for a moment I thought she was dead - she was so cold. But her open eyes lied to me.

In the next few days, however, her condition visibly improved. A few weeks later - we had long since returned home and I had made good progress with my work thanks to the time at Varoschy's country estate - I noticed the first signs of inner emptiness and exhaustion. With all the work I've been doing lately, that wasn't really a miracle.

Then one day I found a small, narrowly described booklet among Gisela's things. I had never noticed that she was interested in literature, let alone that she wrote herself. I began to read and it was as if a cold hand lay on my shoulder. Gisela's notes were about me...

Alfred Bekker

A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP

"Well, was it bad?" Dagmar asked as she lifted the champagne glass they had given her. Her husband, Dr. Peter Horstmann, just rolled down his shirt sleeves and put on the jacket of his tuxedo again. He smiled.

"No, honey. But it's a little weird."

Dagmar raised his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"

"Well, the one with the blood donation as a wedding present!"

"I'm fine with it," Dagmar said. "You know how often there is a lack of blood donations in the summer months! Wilfried has often talked about it. And you're a doctor too, Peter! I'm sure it's the same at your clinic!"

"Yes, that's all right. I'm not saying anything against it. Nevertheless, it is a bit eccentric to lead all wedding guests to an adjoining room where the groom personally takes blood from them..."

"Wilfried is a doctor - and it's for a good cause," Dagmar said. "And those few drops won't hurt you or me!"

Somebody handed Peter Horstmann a champagne glass.

Peter sipped on it for a minute.

Then they looked together in the direction in which the bridal couple appeared: Dr. Wilfried Gerber, an internist, he still looked quite youthful for his 38 years, and his bride Franziska, a dark-haired beauty with a pale complexion and an expressive look. They shook dozens of hands and were congratulated on their decision to spend the rest of their lives together.

"Have you noticed that we hardly know anything about the bride?" Dagmar suddenly said.

Peter Horstmann shrugged his shoulders and drank his glass empty.

"Can be made up for," he replied laconically.

"Things must have been going pretty fast between the two of them," Dagmar said. "You're Wilfried's friend. Did he ever tell you how he knew her?"

"No."

"Nothing at all?"

"Well, he once mentioned something about a relationship that was right... complicated, yes, that's how he put it... was. And he asked me - but in general - what I think of a relationship between two people separated by deep opposites."

"And you mean he meant franziska?"

"Who else?" Peter shrugged his shoulders.

Dagmar looked at him questioningly and seemed very thoughtful.

"What did you tell Wilfried?"

"I have told him that all contrasts must be overcome and I have tried to encourage him."

Dagmar took a deep breath. "Looks like you've succeeded!"

Peter grinned as he put his arm around Dagmar's waist. "A certain degree of contrasts is also quite appealing, isn't it?"

"Depends."

Now everyone was invited to the table. After a short speech the festive time began, followed by dance and a cheerful get-together. The guests had quite a lot of stamina.

At midnight a small snack was served, and the last participants of this celebration left the banquet hall at dawn.

Dr. Wilfried Gerber was dead tired, while his bride seemed to make out the late hour less.

"Everyone went along and made their donation," Wilfried said with satisfaction.

"How much blood does it collect?", Franziska suddenly asked.

"In liters? Well, it's definitely gonna last a while, I guess. We'll have to wait and see if we'll make it through the summer." He looked at Franziska with love and then added: "I would hardly have dared to hope that despite our differences this wedding would still take place.

But opposites seem to attract..."

"Whether it goes well, will only show the future", Franziska said.

"Sure."

"I'm afraid a complicated relationship is going to be a complicated marriage now, my darling!"

"I guess you're right. But do we really want to think about it?"

They hugged each other dearly. He pressed her to himself, and she put her head on his shoulder. His throat was right in front of her full-lipped mouth, and she involuntarily felt a hunger all too familiar to her.

Her lips opened so that for a fraction of an instant her inhumanly long canines became visible...

Wilfried stroked her over the head and asked: Would you now like one of the blood products, my darling? You've waited long enough for this!"

Alfred Bekker

A VAMPIRE AT THE DENTIST'S

Nobody likes going to the dentist, and for us that's especially true.

Dr. Weston was a small, somewhat rounded man with hardly any hair left on his head. His face seemed pale and bloodless - just like mine. He seemed almost like one of us...

I took a look at his hands, which made a skilful impression on me. That calmed me down a little.

"You know I only charge privately," asked Dr.

Weston's looking at me straight.

"Yes. But that's not a problem."

Weston was the only dentist in town who had an evening appointment. That's why I chose him.

I sat down on the dentist's chair and a moment later Dr. Weston's very young doctor's assistant put a paper napkin on me and turned on a bright light.

"Ah..." I heard myself moaning.

"What is it?" asked the young woman.

"I am very... light-sensitive."

"It has to be," Dr. Weston interfered in a tone of voice that tolerated no contradiction. He looked into my mouth and I saw deep furrows forming on his forehead. "My God..." he whispered. "Her fangs..."

"Yes, I know I should have come sooner,' I replied when I was allowed to close my mouth again. "But I can't during the day. And you are the first dentist to have his consultation at this time of night sleep..."

"I've never seen teeth with canines this long," he confessed frankly. He smiled. "I hope you don't mind, but if I didn't know there was no such thing, I'd think of a vampire..." Before I could say anything back, he made a conciliating gesture.

"I hope you don't misunderstand me!"

I was pretty upset.

"Make sure you get my teeth back," I hit Dr. Weston a little harsh.

"I'll even fix your teeth for free, if I could use the work on your teeth for research. Everything is, of course, completely anonymous. But dentures like yours are so unique that..."

What choice did I have? And what was the chance of ever meeting a dentist with night-time opening hours again? I depended on Dr. Weston, so I said yes.

He was downright delighted, babbling about genetic disposition and the like, while I remembered that I hadn't eaten anything yet today.

So before Dr. Weston took action, he let me get out of the chair again and instructed his doctor's assistant to take x-rays of my teeth.

The doctor's receptionist was quite young. She led me into an adjacent room and then had some difficulties with the X-ray machine.

"After the procedure was over, I asked her, "Is a practice with such opening hours worthwhile?

"Sure," she nodded. "There are plenty of freelancers, self-employed people and the like who wouldn't be able to go to the dentist during the day."

"Ah yes...?"

A few moments later, I was back on Dr. Weston's chair looking at my canines like they were already gilded.

"This phenomenon must have existed in earlier times," Dr. Weston said. "And maybe this is how the vampire myth was born...?"

I didn't disagree with him. How could I, since I was kept opening my mouth as far as possible.

And while Dr. Weston bent over me with the drill in his hand, I saw out of the corners of his eyes the rosy cheeks and the naked neck of his young assistant, standing on the other side of the dentist's chair, helping her boss. An insatiable hunger filled me.

She seemed so much more alive, younger, more bloodied than Dr.

Weston, whose ashen face was so close to mine...

Then I felt the drill eating into my teeth, and for a few moments all other thoughts were gone.

When I was finished, he let me sign a short handwritten declaration that I agreed to a publication of my x-rays. Then he bid me farewell very politely and left me alone with his helper.

"It wasn't so bad, was it?" she smiled.

"No."

"We have another appointment to make about the calculus."

"Oh, it's not urgent."

I wondered why someone like you chose a night job. Other young people went out at this time - she had to hand in spittoons...

I stood up and stepped next to her as she looked up her schedule. As I said, I hadn't had a meal that day. Her neck shimmered rosy and inviting.

I opened my mouth but immediately closed it again.

All desire was blown away from one moment to the next. She had chewed around on her pencil, exposing the view of one of her very, very long canines for a moment.

© by Alfred Bekker

www.AlfredBekker.de

[email protected]

All rights reserved

Blood Empire - Revenant

by Alfred Bekker

The size of this book corresponds to 108 paperback pages.

A vampire shocker.

Raven black, bloody, cruel, cynical - and as cold as a crypt!

The world is ruled by hidden vampires. They're organized like the mafia and they've divided the world among themselves

copyright

A CassiopeiaPress book: CASSIOPEIAPRESS, UKSAK e-books and BEKKERpublishing are imprints by Alfred Bekker.

© by Author

© of this issue 2017 by AlfredBekker/CassiopeiaPress, Lengerich/Westphalia.

All rights reserved.

www.AlfredBekker.de

[email protected]

1

"The man in that coffin is a damn!", the sonorous voice of the tall, corpulent man boomed. With his long grey beard and somewhat confused hair, he looked like a biblical patriarch. His clothes resembled those of a reverend. With his fist he ticked against the dark oak coffin, which was laid out in the middle of the stage. There was absolute silence in the hall. The eyes of the audience were spellbound by Moses Jordan, one of the most charismatic preachers America had ever seen.

Moses Jordan let his gaze wander over the rows of spectators. "Norman Guthridge, the man in that coffin, is physically dead. But his soul is still suffering. She suffers from the guilt our brother Norman, this stray sheep before the Lord..."

Organ music began.

Moses Jordan opened the oak coffin. A creaking sound arose as he pushed the lid aside. The bearded preacher looked at the pale, waxy-looking corpse inside the coffin.

"I will bring you back to life now, Norman!", Moses Jordan announced. "So you can publicly repent of your sins before all these people here and hope for forgiveness..."

The organ music swelled to a dramatic crescendo.

The light changed. It got pitch dark in the hall. Only Moses Jordan was glared by floodlights. His face now seemed downright spooky.

Jordan closed his eyes.

His moves distorted, as if under an undefined torture. It seemed as if the preacher had an incredible effort to make. He bent over the dead without opening his eyes. Then he laid his hand on the corpse's forehead.

"The power of the Lord go into you, Norman! She's here, right now, right now! May the power drive through my body into you and open your eyes one last time so that your damn soul may find peace..."

Moses Jordan opened his eyes.

He turned his head jerkily towards the audience.

The organ music was accompanied by a swinging rhythm. A gospel choir sounded from the background.

"Grab hands, brothers and sisters! Grab your hands and pray that this sinful soul will return to life one last time... Let the Lord be among us and perform a miracle of mercy. Hallelujah!"

"Amen!", the audience replied.

"Lord, awaken our brother Norman," Jordan shouted.

He raised his hand. The light changed. It got bluish and cold. The scenery on the stage looked like a view into the underworld.

Something was moving in the coffin.

The people in the hall held their breath.

The gospel choir fell silent.

The organ remained in tremolo.

The body sat up. Jordan always held his hand on the dead man's forehead, so that the waxy face of the dead lay in the shadow of his hand and forearm.

"Norman, can you hear me?"

"Yes..." it came back dull.

"Norman, you have led a sinful life in the service of Satan..."

"Yes..."

"You were a pimp at the Bowery in New York City. You forced young women to sell their bodies! You made her docile with drugs. Besides, you've had insolvent debtors brutally beaten up! Norman, your mother, who sits here with us and led a godly life in Wrinkleton, Massachusetts, won't like hearing it, but there's no point in glossing things over! You were a criminal!"

An unarticulated sound was the answer. He sounded like a moan. A sound of pain.

Jordan continued: "Norman, you would have been lost if your mother had not had this strong faith and made sure that your dead flesh is here today, in this place. Hallelujah!"

"Amen!" the congregation replied.

"The power of God can raise the flesh. It is written in the Bible - and you all are already witnessing this miracle that anticipates the coming Kingdom of Heaven! Hallelujah!"

"Amen!"

"Norman, do you regret what you've done? Do you repent of your sins? Do you regret serving mammon and fornication in unbelievable ruthlessness?"

Another groaning, moaning sound.

"Yes, it hurts to hear such a thing! The cleansing fire of God hurts! Your soul is in terrible pain! You thought that the heart attack that ended your miserable earthly existence was all over! But you were wrong... You must go through the fire of damnation, to the light of the forgiveness of our only Lord! Hallelujah!"

"Amen!"

"You regret what you did, Norman? Then tell everyone who's here! Tell your parents who are praying with us for you! Tell your sister who has always tried to dissuade you from the path of evil that you regret! Tell us all so that we can finally face your Creator! Hallelujah!"

"Amen!", the audience muttered.

"Norman, do you truly regret?"