Karen Ullo, author

Copyright Karen Ullo. All rights reserved.

From Chapter 2 of Jennifer the Damned

            ...Despite a lifetime's observation and questioning, it was not until that first day of kindergarten, when Jeremy Higginbotham used the word, that I began to suspect there might be something evil about my peculiar family.  Of course, when I asked my mother about it, she gave me a cold stare and told me not to repeat gossip.  The subject did not resurface until second grade, when all of the children in my class at Prompt Succor were preparing to receive First Communion.  I did not know I had never been baptized, and I could hardly wait to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, if for no other reason than I would get to wear a new dress.  My wardrobe consisted of school uniforms and a few play clothes for after school and weekends, and that was all.  I had begged my mother for such things as hair bows, frilly skirts, and ridiculous high-heeled sandals like all the other girls wore, and she had flatly refused.  Such things were “impractical,” a cardinal sin according to my mother's worldview.  However, the beautiful white First Communion dress appeared to be part of our school uniform.  My mother could hardly refuse me that.  So I waited in blessed hope for the coming of the sacrament.

            When she sat me down at the kitchen table one night, about a month before my class was scheduled to receive Holy Communion, I had no idea she was about to tear my world apart.  My mind could not conceive of anything worse than that she was going to have to work a double shift again.

            “Jennifer, you won't be receiving Communion with the rest of your class.”

            Tiny shards of pink crystal hope exploded inside my heart, lacerating my dreams.  “Why?”

            “Communion is not meant for us.”

            “Sister Joan says it's meant for everyone, to save our souls from the devil.”

            My mother smiled her crooked, perverse smile.  “Jennifer, you and I… we don't have souls.”

            That night, I learned that everything I had ever thought or dreamed or hoped for was a lie.  I was doomed by my very nature. 

            I sat now in fifth hour physics, ignoring Sister Diane's introduction to Newton’s laws of motion, telling myself that I could stay at Prompt Succor if I wanted, regardless of the danger to the nuns.  What did it matter if I woke up one day in a frenzy of thirst and killed my friends, the holy sisters of the Lord?  I was no more responsible for my hunger than a tiger or a shark or any other man-eating predator.  Morality meant nothing to me.  I did not have a soul. 

             Immortal, the legends call the vampires; ironic, since only humans can live beyond the grave.  I might survive on this earth until some far-off day when meteors or gamma rays obliterated it out of the sky, but I would end, poof.  Nothing of me would remain.  There would be no judgment, no heaven, no hell.  In the end, there would only be an end.