Authors: V. J. Chambers
Battle not with monsters lest you become a monster,
and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you.
Beyond Good and Evil
April 17, 1990
Professor Weem commented on my paper to
the entire class today. He said it was the best discussion of ancient religions
he'd seen in all his years as a teacher. All of the girls in class hate me even
more than they did before. Everyone has a crush on Professor Weem. Even though
I'm learning more here than I ever imagined, sometimes I just want to go home.
Above me, stained glass windows loomed in the darkness, fractured pictures,
casting multi-colored bits of light over the wooden pews. Back when the
and it was a monastery, and this building was the church. Now we used it for
assemblies and performances. I was lying back on one of the pews. My boyfriend
Jason was kissing me.
I tried to pay attention to the softness of his lips, to the hard curves of his
muscular chest against my body. But I couldn't help but stare up at the stained
It was late at night. Jason and I had snuck out of our dormitories to meet each
other here. Jason could pick locks and get us into pretty much any building on
Except the library, of course.
have picked the lock without any problem. But the library was always guarded.
It was frustrating, because the whole reason we'd come to the
Jason brushed a stray hair out of my face. He looked deep into my eyes.
"Azazel?" he whispered.
"What?" I said, shifting uncomfortably on the wooden pew.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
I nodded. "Fine," I said, attempting to smile.
He kissed me again, closing his eyes. I tried to close mine, but they fluttered
open again. I looked back up at the stained glass above me. We were making out
in a church.
And we'd planned to come here
to do more than make out. I eyed the stained glass suspiciously, feeling ill at
As if in response to my thought, Jason eased his hand under my shirt, his
fingers cold against my skin. I jumped.
Jason pulled away. He sat up. "You aren't into this, are you?" he
I sat up too. "I'm into it," I said. And I was. Hadn't I
to be with Jason for months?
"So, then how come you're so tense?" he asked.
"I'm not tense," I said.
Jason sighed. "Hey," he said, "I thought we promised to be
honest with each other."
Jason had been brutally honest with me. He'd shared with me his darkest secret,
something he'd never admitted to anyone. Something he'd barely admitted to
himself. His mentor, Anton, had come to him one night, telling him that he'd
found out things about Jason. That Jason wasn't the Rising Sun, or the messiah
of the world, but actually a thing of evil. Anton had tried to kill Jason but
Jason had killed him first. Jason had told himself over and over that it wasn't
really his fault. That it was the fault of the Sons themselves,
made Anton believe in things like the Rising Sun or
things of great evil power. But Jason had finally told me about it. He'd been
honest. I owed it to him to be honest too. Still, this hardly compared. This
wasn't some dark secret that I had. This was just something I was too
uncomfortable to talk about.
Jason folded his arms over his chest.
I shot one more look up at the stained glass windows. "Well," I said,
"It's not a church anymore," said Jason. "Besides, what are you
The wrath of God raining down on us or
But, you know, weird
things do happen to us, Jason.
Especially when we kiss."
Like driving a group of men absolutely insane.
Or Jason coming back from the dead.
Jason laughed. "Yeah, okay, point," he said. "But I think we're
okay here. No one comes in here at night. And it's been so long." He
reached for me again.
I ducked out of his grasp, chewing on my lip.
"What?" he said. "What is it?"
I shook my head. "Nothing," I said.
Jason sighed. "Don't do that, Azazel. It's something. It's something or
you wouldn't be trying to get away from me when I want to touch you."
"I'm not trying to get away from you!" I said. Honestly, I didn't
know what was wrong with me. I wanted Jason. I did. I loved him more than life
itself. And we hadn't been able to do more than hold hands since escaping from
younger brother Chance attended.
It was just that in the past couple
had gotten so serious between Jason and me. Everything had been so focused on
what we were trying to figure out. I'd almost forgotten about this part of our
relationship. "Shouldn't we be focusing on how to get into that library?"
I asked Jason.
"The library?" he said. "We are. We're trying to figure
something out. But we've only been at school here for two weeks."
"I know that," I said. "But it's why we're here, isn't it?"
Jason and I were trying to find some ancient documents on the history of the
Rising Sun. We wanted to know why we'd been able to do the weird things we'd
done when we were kissing. We wanted to know if we had supernatural powers.
Jason had been brought up to believe he was the Rising Sun, a savior of sorts
for the human race. It was prophesied that he would unite the world under a
global government and usher in an era of peace and prosperity. My Satanist
family had groomed me as the Vessel of Azazel (a Jewish demon). My purpose had
been to destroy Jason and stop him from uniting the world. Jason and I had
fallen in love. I hadn't killed him. Ever since then, all kinds of very strange
things had happened to us. We'd been chased by one organization or another
Finally, we'd taken refuge here in
seemed that no one had any answers. We were hoping that the answers were here.
"It's not why we're here tonight," Jason said, gesturing at the walls
of the old church. "We're here tonight to—"
"I know," I said, cutting him off. I took a deep breath and leaned in
to kiss him.
His arms went around me, pulling me tight against him. His lips parted mine
with his tongue. His fingers lightly stroked my back, the nape of my neck.
I pulled away again. "What if we tried to distract the guys who are
guarding the library?" I said.
"You're really fixated on this library thing," said Jason.
"I'm not fixated," I said. "I'm determined. We're here for a
reason, and I think we should do our best to try and make sure we follow it
"How do you propose we distract them?" Jason asked. "Treat them
like dogs and throw them a big juicy steak?"
"No," I said. "One of us could pretend to be hurt. Or we could
say that someone had been hurt."
"They'd just radio someone else to take care of it," said Jason.
"You know all of the guards carry around walkie-talkies."
and influential people in the world attended it. The
the Sons of the Rising Sun, a secret society. They housed their secrets in that
library. They didn't want to let anyone in.
Jason or me, if they knew who we were.
"I could flash them," I said.
"Great," said Jason. "You're offering to show your breasts to
complete strangers, but you won't even let me hold you."
I looked away.
Jason touched my arm. "What's going on?" He sounded concerned.
"Is everything okay? Are you mad at me?"
"No," I said. What was going on? Why was I being like this? "We
haven't been together like that since
"That's true," said Jason.
"Since before Lilith," I said. Immediately, I felt as if a weight had
been lifted from my chest. That was it! That was why I was upset.
"Lilith?" Jason reached for my chin and turned my face so that I was
facing him. "Is this about Lilith?"
"You don't still think that something happened between me and Lilith, do
I shook my head.
"Are you sure? Because I told you nothing happened. She tried to get me to
do something, but I didn't. You know that, right?"
"It's not about that."
"So then what is it about?"
I looked down at the wooden pew between us.
At the whirls in
the wood grain.
"She said things," I said.
"Like what?" Jason wanted to know.
Now that I'd started to talk about it, I really didn't want to.
mind. Tell me what you're talking about."
How could I even put this? "She said things about being . . .
Jason looked confused. "Pleased?
I overheard that conversation you were having. You remember.
When she tried to seduce you."
Jason furrowed his brow in confusion. "I don't remember anything about . .
." He paused for a second, a different expression taking over his face.
"Oh," he said.
I inspected my fingernails, feeling my face heat up. I was glad it was dark,
and Jason couldn't see that I was blushing.
"I didn't believe anything she had to say," said Jason. "I know
that we're . . . that you're . . . she was just trying to make me think that
you were cheating on me with Jude."
"Right," I said. "That's all she was doing. So it doesn't matter
what she said."
"Well, it wasn't true anyway," said Jason. He looked at me. "Was
I hesitated. I didn't know how to talk about this. I'd never known how to talk
about this. "Look, let's just forget it," I said. "I don't want
to talk about it anymore."
"Oh," said Jason. "So it is true?"
Flustered, I stood up, folding my arms and shrugging. "What's true?"
Jason floundered. "Well, she said that you weren't . . . satisfied."
I shook my head quickly. "No," I said. "I am. I'm totally
satisfied. I love you, and everything we do is amazing. I'm very, very
"Yeah," said Jason, "but I don't think that's what she meant."
"Let's just drop it," I said.
"You brought it up."
"I don't know why I did."
Jason stood up too. He touched my shoulder. "I told you
he said softly, "I don't know what I'm doing."
"Yes you do," I said. "You're wonderful. Besides, it's not your
fault, anyway. It's like she said, she had to show . . ." I couldn't
continue. My face was on fire. "This is just too embarrassing."
"Hey," Jason said, "you don't have to be embarrassed. It's me.
Besides, we said no more secrets. If you're thinking about this, I want to
"I just worry that what she said is true. That if I can't do that, then
you'll think that I don't appreciate you. And I don't want you to think—"
"No," he said, "this isn't about me. This is about you."
"I know," I said. "There's got to be something wrong with me,
right? I mean, shouldn't it have happened already?"
"Well," said Jason, "and keep in mind that I haven't spent a
large part of my life listening to locker room talk or having many friends that
were my own age. From what I understand, though, it's, like, harder for girls
to . . ." He laughed. "Okay, well, I'm embarrassed too."
I giggled nervously.
"There's nothing wrong with you," said Jason, "but I think I
must be doing something wrong."
"No," I said, "no, I don't think so. I mean, everything's
working okay for you."
"But it's not working for you."
"So, then why are we talking about this?"
"I just wanted to make sure that you knew I appreciated you,
all. And I wanted to tell you that I was . . . I
don't know . . . that something was wrong with me, and I didn't know if
"Stop it, Azazel. There's nothing wrong with you."
I plopped back down on the pew.
Jason sat down next to me. "Look," he said, "if you told me what
to do, you know I would do anything you wanted. I want you to be happy. I
"I don't know what you should do!" I interrupted him. "I don't
know how to do it. And that's what Lilith said. She said she had to show guys
what to do. And I
what to do."
Jason absorbed this for a few seconds. "Okay," he said finally.
"So, we'll figure it out then. We'll just try stuff."
I bit my lip. "You think that will work?"
He grinned. "It's sex, Azazel. Cavemen could do it. It can't be that hard
to figure out."
I tried to smile.
Jason kissed me again. I tried to just let myself melt into him, to concentrate
on nothing but his lips. Eventually, however, I pulled away. "I'm just not
really in the mood," I muttered.
Jason didn't say anything for a while. Finally, he said, "Okay."
"I'm not mad," said Jason. He kissed my forehead. "We've got
time," he whispered. "We've got our whole lives."