“Thank you, Father…” River hung up the phone. Her heart was pounding. Crosses in the windows of another parishioner had lit up. That meant there was a vampire in the area. A vampire near the house. The parishioner had promptly called their priest who started calling people to warn them. River tried tried not to panic. This house was well protected. Every single door and window had a cross or religious icon on it or near it. Some of them, usually ones in front windows and doors, were cleverly disguised as decorative items, but they were blessed items none the less. Such things were common in Sunrise, Fl. Almost every single house had them.
River decided to check all the windows and doors just to be sure. Everything was normal. So, River decided to try and go about her nightly routine. She loaded the dishwasher, set the coffee maker, Swiffered the kitchen floor both dry and wet. River was aware she was muttering prayers under her breath and she worked, “…have mercy on me, a sinner.” Finally, it was time for bed.
When River and Zaida had first moved to Sunrise, their great grandmother affectionately known as Ramoo had still been alive and living with them. During those first few years, all three of them slept in a king sized bed in Ramoo’s room on the first floor. It was only after Ramoo passed away just a few short months ago, that the sisters had started sleeping in their own rooms. Although Zaida did sometimes get into bed with River.
Her heart still beating too fast, River went to Zaida’s room. She had intended to wake her sister, and tell her to come sleep in River’s room. Zaida was sleeping peacefully. River didn’t want to wake the child and frighten her. So, she walked across the hall to her own room, and grabbed the large wooden cross from her bedside table. It was the same cross she had used to repel the monster wearing their mother’s face from a three year old Zaida four years ealier. River returned to Zaida’s room, and got into bed with her sister. All of them had king sized beds specifically so they could sleep together on nights they were feeling edgy. Continually whispering prayers, River eventually drifted to sleep.
Zaida woke up with a start. She immediately noticed that River was in her bed, and she wondered why. Zaida didn’t usually wake up in the night, and she didn’t know what woke up up now. The clock on her bedside table said it was 3:15 am. It was dark out. Zaida realized she needed to use the bathroom, and decided that must be why she woke up. Still wondering why her sister was in her room, she went to the bathroom.
Zaida was about to get up and leave the bathroom when she realized there was light coming from somewhere other than the nightlight. She looked up at the bathroom window and realized the cross in it was glowing. Still clouded by sleep, Zaida just stared at the cross in wonder. She had heard that would happen if there was a vampire nearby, but the only time she’d ever seen it was when River had shoved a cross into their own mother’s face when Zaida was still little. Sadly, it was the only clear memory of her mother that Zaida had. Their mother hissing at River in hate bearing her fangs. Suddenly, Zaida’s mind cleared enough that it really hit her what the glowing cross meant. She hurried back to her bed and shook River awake.
“River! The cross in the bathroom is glowing! There’s a vampire!” River was instantly awake. She grabbed the cross from the bedside table and gathered her sister into her arms, “Don’t be afraid, Little Cat. I won’t let anything get you…” Zaida gazed around her room and realized River had pulled down all of the blinds. “Is it Momma? Did she find us?” Zaida whispered. “No. It’s not Momma…” or Daddy River mentally added.
Zaida did feel safe in the arms of her sister. She never told River, but she thought of River as her mother since she had no warm memories of her real mother. As they sat there huddled together they heard a noise on Zaida’s balcony. Through the shade they saw the cross on the door light up and they saw a light on the porch beyond. They heard a hissing sound and a thud. Zaida had collected a bunch of small crosses that she found in craft stores and such places and created a wind chime out of it. Whatever was out there had accidently bumped into it. Zaida smiled to herself thinking the vampire was hurt by her chime.