I came back to the letter after I'd taken a long, hot shower. It was more of the same, really, and nothing I hadn't figured out on my own, though I suppose it was nice -- in a sick way -- to have my suspicions confirmed.
I was starting to think she really had killed that kid. Given what had happened with Dave's coveralls and my toolbox, the children's toys in the back took on new and disturbing implications. I found myself wondering if she had always worked at that daycare, or if she'd gotten to job to make feeding the car easier.
Blood of the innocent, she had said. Apparently, the greater the innocence, the more mileage you got out of it. I found myself wondering if there were any pet stores that sold in bulk before I realized what I was thinking.
I checked my watch, did some quick math in my head. If I left right now and drove like a maniac, I'd have just enough time to stop by the grocery store before it was too late.
By the time I rolled into the parking lot, it was after 9 pm and the last worshipper was being herded out the door of St. Cyprian's by the priest.
"Sanctuary!" I shouted, sprinting for the door. "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" I think the priest was less moved by my sincerity and more startled into inaction by a wild-eyed, unshaven man hurtling toward him and shouting at the top of his lungs, but nonetheless he delayed locking the door long enough for me to squeeze inside.
"Yes, my son?" he asked, no doubt wondering what particular brand of crazy I was.
"Father," I gasped. "What I am about to tell you will seem impossible. It is impossible. I don't ask you to believe it, just believe that I believe it."
It took over an hour to tell my story and answer all of Father James' questions. He still didn't believe me, of course, but I like to think my air of complete and utter desperation made him sympathetic to me.
"Father," I urged him, "do it just this once, and I'll show you what I'm talking about. If I'm wrong, I'll never darken your door again. But if I'm right, you know what you have to do."
"Very well," he conceded. "But we will do this my way." With that he walked back to the altar, spread his hands, and he began to chant. "The Lord be with you..."
One Liturgy of the Eucharist later, we were out in the parking lot. I was carrying the bottle of wine I had bought at the grocery store. Father James had wanted to carry the elements out on a paten and chalice, but I had managed to convince him that wasn't such a wise idea. This entire endeavor struck me as more than a little blasphemous, and I didn't want to risk profaning sacred vessels as well.
"Stand well back," I told the priest. "This thing has a tendency to lunge." He nodded, humoring me, and passed me the remainder of the sacrament.
I crept forward, slowly, the way you might approach a hungry tiger. I didn't know how the beast would react, and for all I knew it would pull a Linda Blair on me. With a silent prayer, I crouched and placed the elements underneath the demon car in a slow, precise motion. My hand had only just withdrawn from underneath when its undercarriage crashed to the ground, pouncing on the offered meal like some great starving animal.
I pretended not to hear the priest utter an oath.
The Peril seemed to linger for a moment, there on the ground, and I didn't know how it was going to react. Would it refuse to eat? Would it regard this as an attempted poisoning?
If there were any demons in that car, they didn't show themselves to me that night, or any other. But when the car finally rose up on its suspension, something new had blossomed on the hood of the car: a daisy so large it nearly covered the entire hood, and so blindingly white that it nearly hurt my eyes to look at it.
The sacramental elements- the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ - were gone. Jesus, the Lamb of God, He who died to take away the sins of the world... and the most Innocent blood of all.
I promised you a happy ending, didn't I?