The Baptism of Sabbath Bauer
For once in her life, Fiona was unhappy with receiving front row seats. Even though she could see the stage clearly, she didn't like it. She felt exposed and vulnerable, a feeling she knew was more than anxiety. They were here for more than the ritual—they were hear to identify a god, a malicious being capable of wiping them from existence with little effort. A being that could very well be planning the end of mankind. She knew that her motives were likely no secret to Dheania, and while the Goddess of Fear would probably not take action in a crowded room, nothing could stop her if she chose to do so.
Still, she watched the ritual, looking for some clue as to which twin Dheania might be. It was a long shot—she knew it was unlikely that either Sabbath or Twitch would so any reaction to the baptism. After all, they weren't demons, and if one of them was a god, they would likely be a very skilled actor. She watched anyway, gazing intently as Twister called Sabbath to the sign of the fountain, ready to begin the ritual
“Almighty and ever-living God,” he said. He spoke with a lack of enthusiasm, disguised enough that only those who knew the situation could sense. Still, Fiona began to worry that Dheania herself would pick up on it, that she would be aware of his apathy.
“You sent your only Son into this world to cast out the power of Satan, the spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness and bring him into the splendor of your Kingdom of Light.” He beckoned Sabbath to stand on the edge of the fountain, guiding her toward the waters edge. Then, he stepped in himself, reaching out to hold her hands in reassurance.
Fiona studied Sabbath's face. Just as she expected, Sabbath was unaffected by the situation, except for a hint of glee that could easily be explained as eagerness, one that every soul in the room could see in her eyes.
“We pray for this child,” Twister said, “for you to set her free from original sin, to make her a temple of your glory, and to send your Holy Spirit to dwell within her. Through Christ our Lord.”
With that, he led her to stand inside the fountain, placing his hand on the back of her head. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, waiting with anticipation. “I baptize you in the name of the Father,” he told her, gently dunking her head beneath the water, “the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Each time he lowered her head beneath the surface, allowing her to come up briefly for air. As she emerged the last time, she mouthed the words Amen hugged him. She then stepped out of the fountain with a renewed vigor.
Nothing had happened. There wasn't a single clue as to who Dheania might be. Fiona held in her disappointment. It wasn't as if she was expecting the water to boil; the Christian God seemed more likely a wishful fantasy, one contrived to ease the fear of what lay beyond death. But she somehow had expected something to happen, some sort of hint or clue. But as Sabbath was led back to change her clothes, she remained frustrated, and she closed her eyes and sighed.
When she opened them however, she saw something so blatantly obvious that she chastised herself for not noticing it sooner. It was just a few seats to her right, a young hybrid with a black patch of fur on her chin, one all-too-perfectly forming the shape of a crescent. It was partially obscured by her arm, upon which her chin was resting, her lips curved in a sarcastic grin that to Fiona seemed typical of the child.
It was Twitch.
She's marked by the crescent. Princess' words echoed in Fiona's mind, far clearer than they had been the previous night. It seemed so obvious now. Twitch Bauer, the crude, foul-mouthed young girl that for years had given her the chills, was the goddess Dheania. That ominous sensation she had felt the day Anne died was her own mind picking up on this fact.
She'd never tried to obscure her identity. Fiona had simply assumed that a god would be a far better actor. At least, she thought, the god would pick a more saintly disguise, rather than a creepy brat who listened to death metal against her mother's wishes, and talked about death at the dinner table.
Then, to her horror, Twitch's eyes turned to meet her. Her twisted smiled widened, and her eyes seemed filled with sadistic glee. “Don't tell daddy,” she mouthed, nearly laughing in the process. As the congregation went to leave, she rose from her seat, passing Fiona without a word.
She knows, Fiona thought. She knew Fiona was onto her and just couldn't care less. Fiona turned to glance at Twister, whose eyes conveyed a similar horror. Had he witnessed it? She didn't know, but it was clear he had come to the same conclusion.
Grabbing her bag, Fiona pushed past the congregation, rushing as fast as she could toward the exit. She passed her father, who stared on in bewilderment, and she burst through the door without saying a word. She only made it halfway through the parking lot before her sickness overwhelmed, and she bent over and vomited onto the asphalt.