The Last Days of Christ the Vampire

by J.G. Eccarius

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"A unique underground classic. Combining unusual conspiracy
theories with archetypal suspense/thriller techniques, Eccarius
creates a compelling novel that propels the reader forward through
a maze of blasphemous mystery that winds its way across the U.S.,
to Europe, and back again.  Last Days is a real page-turner and
makes the fangs of Anne Rice's vampires seem as dull as a butter
- Jennifer Joseph, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Free Sample Chapter

                            Chapter 1

                      THE BATTLE IS JOINED

         Hobgoblins are the consistency of little minds.
               -- Professor Holbach

     Providence is a quiet town. It has the aura of a graveyard:
life is a daylight interlude of sadness and calculations of
inheritance between nighttime orgies of witchcraft and tomb
robbing. Official histories state that decay set in after World War
II when competition from cheap foreign labor destroyed the costume
jewelry industry, which itself depended on cheap Italian and
Portuguese immigrant labor. But the truth is that when H. P.
Lovecraft lived there in the 1920's the city was hardly more
lively. More than one local sage has wondered if there might be
some truth to Lovecraft's story of a Vampire entombed beneath the
cellar of one of the pre-revolutionary houses along Benefit Street.
     Professor Holbach liked Providence, which was quite unusual,
since he was not a native. It was a comfortable place for him to
live, with mild weather, affordable housing, an Ivy League
University, a few movie theaters, and a reasonable supply of lazy
children from well-off families.
     He was a tutor; Professor was only a nickname. His paying
students were of two types: the rich, who could afford hand-holding
the year round, and the middle class, who could afford only to cram
for exams. He did not work at tutoring particularly hard; he worked
only to maximize his free time and comfort. He did not make a great
deal of money and needed to spend even less. He had no great
ambition and was not particularly fond of adventure, having tried
it and found it more annoying than exciting.
     If he had known where accepting Cynthia Wass as a student were
going to take him he would not have done it. He was compassionate,
but he believed that trying to do too much good was prone to
reversal. There was no warning. She appeared to be a nice,
intelligent but unmotivated teenager good for fifteen dollars an
hour in tutoring fees; that was all.
     Cynthia had to cram year round in several subjects to have a
fighting chance of advancing a grade level each year. Her parents
wanted her to get a high school diploma before she was married off.
Her father was from a twice-removed female off-branch of a wealthy
Rhode Island family which had begun with piracy, advanced to the
slave and rum trade, and then graduated to banking and
manufacturing. He had not been overly well-endowed financially or
mentally, but survived as a well paid, mediocre accountant in one
of the firms that kept track of the family fortunes. Her mother
focussed her intelligence on keeping her affairs from her husband's
     The Professor's sessions with Cynthia were not something to
look forward to, but they helped pay the rent. If her parents had
beaten her or psychologically or sexually abused her he might have
taken a more professional interest; mainly hers was a case of dull-
ness and lack of aspiration. For a while she had a crush on him and
dressed up for the lessons, but that passed without incident. Then
one rainy Providence afternoon she came in more attentive than
     "Do you believe in Jesus?" she said when she had the chance.
     "Do you believe in Jesus?" he replied.
     "Mary Avakian says she saw him. He talked to her. She says
it's not like church. She says now she's happy."
     The Professor twisted a strand of his beard with his fingers.
"You never told me about Mary. Was she pretty unhappy before this
     "Like most of us, only she . . . let a boy get her pregnant.
Then her parents took her car and allowance away. So she started
drinking and her grades went down and her parents got really mad at
her and they were fighting all the time. But now she's stopped
drinking and says she loves her parents."
     "And Jesus just came to her all by himself? No one was trying
to convert her?"
     Cynthia's face turned inward for a moment before she answered.
"This guy Paul. She met him by the Wall. There's some kind of
church down in Fox Point, but she only went there once. Her parents
won't let her go. Paul says she should obey them."
     "Well. Whether you should obey your parents or anyone else
depends on what they tell you to do."
     "She saw Jesus. He talked to her."
     "Have you ever had a hallucination?"
     "It's pretty much like a dream, only it happens when you are
awake or maybe only half asleep. You see or hear something that is
not there. It starts happening regularly, psychiatrists call it
schizophrenia and you end up in a nuthouse. There are a lot of
causes, but in your friend's case it was from stress and
depression. The dream or imagination circuits in the brain get
shorted into the waking perception circuits. The reason she saw
Jesus and not Mother Mary, the devil or her dead grandmother is
because she was talking to this guy Paul. If she was talking to a
Satanist she probably would have seen Lucifer."
     "I guess. I never liked church except to see my friends. But
I'm a Christian. I mean, everyone is a Christian. I mean, there
really was a Jesus and all."
     "Sure." Finding himself tempted to become vicious, he paused
and entered a reassuring voice. "And there was a Mohammed and a
Buddha. But that is no excuse for Christianity. Christians are
always killing non-Christians and other Christians in the name of
Christ. It's a sick religion. Be nice to Mary and I'm sure she'll
get better of her own accord."
     "Do you believe in God?"
     "There isn't a God. This is a real world with real people and
real problems. When someone gets killed they really die, they don't
go to heaven, and when someone suffers they are really suffering,
they aren't building up brownie points to please Jesus Christ. And,
by the by, you really have a test on Friday and praying to Jesus is
not going to get you a good grade. So let's hit the books."
     On Friday Cynthia got a B- on her test with very little help
from Jesus. She decided to humor Mary by going with her to the
church. Mary's behavior had been so ideal that her parents had
given her permission to see a movie that night. Jesus was more
important to her.
     Cynthia held Mary's hand tightly; she was as scared as Mary
was excited. She had not been in Fox Point before. To her parents
and friends it was a slum filled with thieves and rapists. In
reality it was home to working Italians, Portuguese, blacks, and
students, and had a very low crime rate.
     Appropriately the church was located off Redemption Street.
Mary led Cynthia down an alley between two old wooden houses
towards a bare light bulb outside an unmarked door. The door was
unlocked. Standing inside the Church of the Living Christ, they
could see rows of folding chairs facing a pulpit. Three of the four
people already in the church were black. Mary hugged each of them
in turn, which Cynthia found rather unchurchlike. She was relieved
that she only had to shake hands. They sat while more people
drifted in announced by blasts of cold air. To Cynthia they seemed
mostly old, but few were over thirty years old.
     She did not notice the organ until it began to play. At that
point there was no way to miss it. Attached to the front and rising
above it, a glowing red neon sign said "Jesus" in foot high
letters. Everyone was singing. Cynthia would have been terrified if
Mary had not taken her hand again.
     Three rollicking gospel songs later Paul, a tall, thin white
man in his twenty-fifth year stepped up for a few Hallelujahs and
Amens and to introduce the Reverend Bob. He was a barrel chested
black man with a creased but unwrinkled face, a crew cut, and a
short mustache. His voice was deep and solemn.
     "Welcome to the Church of the Living Christ. We are gathered
here for Love, not the love of mortals that waxes hot one day and
wanes cold the next, not the love of the animal half of ourselves,
but the eternal love of the Living Christ.
     "There are people who will tell you all sorts of lies about
Jesus Christ. They will tell you: you must suffer. Have you not
suffered enough? There is no suffering for the Living Christ. You
won't find this living Christ in books, you won't find him in the
churches of the rich or of the pious hypocrites. But if you open up
your heart to Him He will come to you. Eternal love, eternal life!
Many here can testify to this glorious truth . . ."
     The rest of the preaching was punctuated by Amens and
Hallelujahs from the congregation. The closest Cynthia had ever
come to being in such a tide of emotion had been at school pep
     She resisted, she was frightened, she thought them crazy, but
the red neon JESUS pounded on her soul.
     After an interlude of singing they all started shouting
"Testify! Testify!"
     A tall light skinned woman with red hair went to the front. "I
was a prostitute," she said as if she were shouting Hallelujah.
     "Tell it sister!" yelled a black woman sitting beside Cynthia.
     "I was the lowest sort of prostitute. I was despised, I was
desperate, there was no act I would not perform for money or drugs.
My parents had beat me and my customers beat me and my pimp beat
me. I tried to drown my sorrows in alcohol and drugs. Only they
were drowning me."
     "Then I met Reverend Bob, and he told me it did not have to be
that way. He showed me the way to the Living Christ. He did not
berate me or tell me to give up drugs or prostitution. I left those
things behind after Christ saved my soul. Now I have eternal life
and Christ as my guide. Now I don't need drugs and I have an honest
job to earn a living. Sisters, I am saved."
     The organ struck up "Spirit in the Sky." Cynthia was thinking
how she was not happy, even though no one beat her and she kind of
liked drinking and marijuana.
     Almost everyone in the church testified, including Mary
Avakian. Cynthia half expected to fall down on the floor and see
Jesus as the chorus reached its climax. But it was over. She was
introduced to Reverend Bob and then left with Mary.
     A few days later the Professor should have known something was
wrong when Cynthia did not try to evade her algebra lesson. Instead
he attributed her increased concentration to the benevolent
influence of his teaching methods.
     After the lesson she looked straight into his eyes.
     "He came to me," she said.
     I don't need this, he thought.
     "Jesus," he said.
     "He's eternal life. I'll live in him forever now."
     "What did he look like?" The Professor asked confidently.
     "He was surrounded by light. He had very kind eyes and a beard
and long hair. He said to lie down and keep calm, then he kissed me
and I was filled with light. I was! And all the pain and sadness
was gone. I'm free."
     "Congratulations. I'm just curious. Do you remember what color
his eyes were?"
     "They were blue."
     "And he had white skin?"
     "I'm sure what happened to you was very important, but if you
had been taken in by nuns you probably would have seen Mother Mary,
and if it had been Hare Krishnas you would have been saved by
Krishna. We know the historic Jesus was a Jew, and at that time
Jews had not interbred with Europeans, so they had dark brown skin
and eyes. Your mind manufactured its own salvation, and you won't
really be free until you understand that."
     "I love you Professor. Christ loves you. You'll see."
     Seeing that she was temporarily beyond the reach of reason he
gathered up his things. "Like the Pope loved the Albigensians. You
aren't the first to try to convert me, so don't be disappointed if
it does not work. I'll see you on Tuesday."
     The Professor was only briefly disturbed by Cynthia's
conversion. He had been brought up Lutheran, and having rejected
that he considered himself immune to the more virulent forms of
religious dementia.
     He had met born-again Christians often enough, and once even
spent a day at a Unification Church camp in California in order to
see a cult from the inside. He had concluded that some of the sects
were therapeutic. They took in social disasters created by sick
parents and saved them, if not from hell, from drugs, brutality,
and loneliness.
     On his way home he walked along a street that ran through
Brown University, which is to say over an ancient Native American
burial site. He had two courses and two incompletes to go before
getting his bachelor's degree in Sociology. He had not even
attempted to take a course in three years. The thought that he
could go back at any time, get his degree, and go on to become a
professor, lawyer, doctor, or businessman reassured him that he had
chosen the correct course in life.
     "CIA out of Brown" was spray-painted on a wall, reminding him
of the early seventies, when he had entered as a freshman and
received A's in upper level courses. The rich could not even keep
their own kids in line back then. But usually the bulk of students
were conservative. Brown had educated Rhode Island's gentry for
generations before football was introduced and Ivy League became a
designation. With time it had become more of a national
institution; in the 1950's it supplied the government with most of
its CIA agents. One eccentric the Professor knew claimed the CIA's
secret leaders met in the vast tunnel system that lay beneath the
     He did not consider giving Cynthia up as a student. He tutored
her four hours a week, sometimes more before exams. That alone paid
the rent. Mainly he taught her what she could have learned in class
despite the incompetence of some of her teachers. The advantage of
tutoring for her was mainly that she could not sit daydreaming of
flirtations and improbable romances in foreign lands. Also she
could not pretend to be stupid; the Professor knew better. She had
no problems with English, though she did not excel in it. Her
mother, however, had indicated to her repeatedly that math,
accounting, and her father were bores and a waste of time. Her
resistance to math and science was quite high.
     The Professor was seldom willing to believe that the slowness
of some of his students was genetic. That was against his world
view. He was willing to admit that if a fetus were exposed to
alcohol or cyanide the organic brain damage would seriously impair
mental function later in life, and rare genetic defects might have
the same result. But, From his experience and reading, he thought
most retardation was social in nature. Parents and teachers were
infants' gods: a phrase from their lips could strike like a bolt of
lightning, leaving a mortal permanently disinterested in (or afraid
of) math, talking, genitals or life.
     He did not feel social that evening. He ate at home, talked to
his girlfriend on the phone, and refused an invitation to play
cards. He watched some basketball on TV, listened to the Talking
Heads album he had received for his birthday, and read several
chapters of a book on Native American mythology.
     When he went to bed he fell asleep easily. He liked to be
conscious of his dreams and was a student of the writings of Freud
and Jung. He regularly dreamed of his childhood or of such
archetypal figures as the Old Man, the Charcoaler, and the Shrink.
That night his dreams started in the house where he had spent his
     Eventually he was walking up a spiral staircase in an old
castle. He was going to get ice cream out of the refrigerator for
his father. He found the refrigerator: it was tall, white and wide.
He was not sure how to open it.
     He remembered he had not said his prayers and knelt down. He
made the sign of the cross and the door began to glow. Then its
front dissolved into a pulsing red gate inscribed with the words
"HUTE DIE WELT, HORTLAK KANLI." A figure appeared behind the gate,
dark skinned and brown eyed. It extended its hand. "Come with me,"
it said. "I am the Living Christ. Rest your head on my breast and
join me in eternal incorruptible light."
     There was something sinister about the apparition. "Mama,
Daddy!" the Professor screamed, waking himself up. It was dark and
the sheets were drenched in sweat. For once the heat in the
apartment was more than adequate.
     Clearly, he reasoned, it was an anxiety dream from his
abandoning his parents' religion, and it had been triggered by his
dealings with Cynthia. Still, he had seldom had such a vivid dream.
He thought that it might have been interesting to go through the
gate given that Christ was an illusion. On the other hand people
went mad and became Jesus freaks somehow. The light of reason was
counterweighted by the darkness of centuries past.
     Providence is both sleepy and informal. People are apt to drop
by for a visit unannounced; there is no need to buy an answering
machine and set up appointments with friends two weeks in advance,
as in New York City. The Professor wanted to get some outside
perspectives on what had happened, and it was easy to arrange to
have a few friends over the next evening.
     Sophia was a girlfriend, a Greek American who had come from
New York City to teach at a junior high school. Libby was a black
leftist who worked at a shelter for battered women; she was his
only close friend who had grown up in Providence. Jack had gone to
Brown with the Professor, lived in Providence off and on, read a
great deal, and dabbled in smuggling and muckraking.
     After a suitable period of time catching up on minor gossip
the Professor related his experience with Cynthia and the dream.
     "It's pretty creepy, if you ask me," said Libby. "A lot of the
women who come into the shelter are Christians, and it sure doesn't
keep their husbands from beating them. It's just one more form of
slavery. Pretty soon you won't be able to have an abortion. The
Nazis didn't allow abortions, you know."
     "Sure you've got your Falwells out there, but this particular
incident hardly seems like a Republican plot," said Sophia.
"Christianity has been on the wane since the French Revolution, but
it's like drugs: it appears to offer something for nothing. But
this born again Christian stuff seems on a different level, like
hypnotism or some form of hysteria."
     "My problem in understanding this," said the Professor, "is
that Christ appears to be a sort of archetype. If I am right then
it could appear with another name but the same effect. Everyone has
seen pictures of Abraham Lincoln, but he doesn't appear to people
and tell them what to do. Maybe Christ is part of the collective
     "Maybe in some sense Christ is alive," ventured Jack. "Christ
is a pattern, maybe even a conscious pattern, that uses human
brains as a host."
     "A parasite," added Sophia.
     "Don't you think you're getting a bit mystical?" said Libby.
"And isn't that the problem in the first place, superstition and
mysticism? I don't think that Jesus would still be causing trouble
today if religion didn't serve the real material interests of the
rich. Taxes, tithes and profits, sometimes I think we'll never get
them off our backs."
     "I don't disagree with you, Libby," said Jack, "but there is
something more going on with this born again stuff. Maybe it is
just an induced psychosis, maybe American bankers want psychotic
Christians for workers. Maybe we should check out this church
they're going to."
     "No thanks," said Libby and the Professor simultaneously.
     The Professor continued. "It's hardly the plague, and probably
Cynthia will recover. Most important, I saw Christ in a dream and
I'm still sane, so it isn't like a vampire is stalking people."
     The discussion eventually shifted to other matters. The
Professor was cheered because discussing the topic in a rational
manner soothed his fear that his unconscious might be getting out
of control. Just in case he slept with Sophia that night.
     In his dreams he was back in his parents' house, sneaking
downstairs to get ice cream. His father heard him and asked why he
was up. He said to go to the bathroom, but instead he went to
Cynthia's house.
     "You don't believe in him," she said.
     "He isn't real," he said.
     "You don't have to believe in him. He is real."
     "You don't need him to be happy." He noticed she was wearing
green eyeshadow and heavy black eyeliner.
     "But you do need love. Do you get enough love, Professor?" She
came over to him, gazing seductively into his eyes. She sat down on
his lap and kissed him. He pulled off her shirt and felt her
sucking into his neck. He pushed her away, afraid they would be
discovered, but she just said "You can have me, Christ is eternal
life, everything is permitted."
     He ran for the staircase but it was the stone spiral and he
knew he did not want to go to the top. "I'm dreaming" he said, but
he touched the walls and they were solid. He ran down the stairs
and started to relax, for they were the stairs of his happy
childhood dreams leading to a pleasant meadow.
     He could see the gate to the meadow but there was a white
freezer along the wall and he remembered the ice cream. He lifted
the door. Inside, a bearded man in a gray three-piece suit beckoned
him into his office.
     "Yes, you can go far with us, Professor. You've had your
problems in the past, but we would like your unique talents here.
We are a rapidly growing concern. You can have money, power, women,
complete research facilities and freedom to publish, whatever you
want. And best of all, eternal life. Just a kiss on the cheek and
you're in."
     I've seen this before, something is wrong, thought the
Professor. I don't want this job.
     But he was mesmerized, unable to move. As the man was about to
kiss him the Professor saw fangs behind the parted lips.
     The Professor screamed, struggled, and awoke in Sophia's arms.
     The next day he was walking on College Avenue and noticed that
Paul was there, preaching to a small group of people. Most were
cynical Brown students amused at his rantings.
     "... is not the answer, money is not the answer, drugs are not
the answer. None of these can give you eternal life. Jesus is the
     "Excuse me, sir," said the Professor.
     "Yes?" responded Paul.
     "Are you talking about Christ the Vampire?" said the
     "Christ the Vampire. He was a magician in ancient Palestine.
The Romans tried to kill him." The Professor noted the confused
horror in Paul's face and the amusement and disgust of different
onlookers. "Only they didn't know to drive a stake through his
heart. So he has lived ever since, appearing to people who are
weak. Whoever accepts his kiss gets sucked into the whole trip and
becomes a mindless zombie wandering around trying to suck in the
living by saying things like `Jesus is the answer.'"
     "Lucifer, this man is possessed by the devil," screamed Paul,
pointing his finger at the Professor.
     The onlookers were exiting quickly. The Professor had not
anticipated the violence of Paul's reaction. He said very calmly
"You'll get better if you stay away from the other zombies."
     He walked away, purposefully casual but very aware in case
Paul should attempt a physical attack. He was able to contain his
laughter only for the distance of half the block. But as Jack had
said, "If you could kill that vampire with laughter alone Voltaire
or Twain would have done him in."