|Mystery and Crime Fiction posted October 28, 2013||Chapters:||...46 47 -48- 49...|
Father Brian faces the demons
A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road
Father Brian DeShano is in the midst of a personal crisis when a killer pulls him into a twisted world of moral corruption, cover-ups and revenge.
"Your mother killed herself because she copulated with a priest. She broke her wedding vows and committed a sin, with full knowledge and intention. You keep trying to deny it, Padre, but the truth won't go away. She's in hell with the rest of us. Join us. We'll take your soul in exchange for hers"'
"I'll never join you..."
"Oh, but, Padre, you can't resist. It's your mother's legacy."
The connection went dead. Scraping sounds of furniture moving and doors slamming came from the upstairs bedroom. Outside, it sounded as if an army goose-stepped across the roof.
Alyx raced to the foot of the staircase, barking in alarm. Brian roused himself and crossed to his dog. He picked him up in his arms and slowly ascended the staircase, prepared to do battle with the evil besieging him.
Father Brian climbed the oak staircase to the upper rooms of the rectory. A whimper from Alyx, clutched to his chest, brought him back to the moment. He willed his arms to relax, but could not extinguish the violent trembling that radiated from the core of his body.
The stairs were carpeted but creaked due to the age of the wood beneath. Brian paused at the top landing. Every door was shut except that of the end room. He could hear strains of music that sounded like an old L.P. recording of a Wagner opera, stuck on the soprano's high note.
He recognized the music. Monsignor Flaherty, the previous pastor, was obsessed with Der Ring Des Nibelungen and played it at all hours of the night. Brian gathered his courage and opened the door of the room where he thought the sound originated. He was puzzled, but relieved, to find there were no signs of a phonograph or anything to create the kind of racket he'd heard earlier.
Father Brian searched every inch of the rest of the rooms save one: Monsignor Flaherty's quarters. When Brian assumed pastorship of St. Matilde's, he chose not to occupy the room of the man he replaced, despite the fact that it was spacious with a large private bath. He suspected that some of the Monsignor's sexual trysts with young boys had occurred in the room. The de-frocked cleric's furniture still remained which further unsettled him.
The bedroom door stood open in silent invitation, despite the fact it had been sealed with holy oil and locked following Lewis Flaherty's trial and incarceration. Brian approached the room, feeling with every step he was pushing through an invisible curtain. The air was heavy and left a weird sheen where it met bared skin. His lungs labored to pump adequate oxygen to muscles and limbs.
Rhythmic booms came from inside the room the closer he approached -- THREE, one, THREE, one, THREE, one. He knew it had to be coming from a demon that was using the number three as a direct insult to the Blessed Trinity.
Brian staggered slightly when Alyx yelped, turned his head and snapped at the air just beyond his tail. He freed the dog which landed with a soft thud and dropped into a crouch, still snarling at the air.
A black shadow whooshed past them, darting through the room's doorway. It moved so fast, he thought he might be seeing things. But Alyx's reaction was to lunge in the direction it moved. Okay, this is really happening. Humans can be tricked but not animals.
Brian stepped into the room and was overcome by the smell of sulphur. He felt his gut twist, and fought to keep from retching. Slapping his hand against the wall, he searched for the light switch and flipped it on.
The light was short-lived. Bulbs imploded, and the room returned to darkness.
Against the opposite wall, a shadow oozed its way upwards, swallowing the weak light bleeding through the window shades. The temperature dropped to freezing, and he could feel his resolve sliding away along its icy edges.
Brian back-stepped to the foot of the bed, grabbed the crucifix lying against his banging heart and began to recite passages from The Roman Ritual of Exorcism.
"I exorcise you, Most Unclean Spirit! Invading Enemy! All Spirits! Every one of you! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." A wicked howling drowned his lone voice.
The cross warmed the palm of his hand. Armed with a new sense of comfort and safety, Brian advanced on the shadow forming itself into the shape of a horned creature. He closed his eyes to prevent being drawn into its spell.
"God, Creator and Defender of the human race," he challenged with mustered bravado. "You, who made man in your own image: Look on this, your servant, Brian, who is assaulted by the cunning of the unclean spirit..."
'Stop, Brian please, haven't I suffered enough?" A familiar voice, pulsing with pain, came from a corner of the room. He cocked his head and squinted into the darkness. On a console, sat a statue of the Virgin Mary. Astonished, he watched the statue rise and hover at eye level.
"Your words... they burn my flesh. Stop, I beg you." The voice was coming from the statue. It was his dead mother's voice, and her tortured eyes glowed through the marble. Brian groaned and took a step towards her, caught up in the need to heal her.
Those who die by their own hand become mine, Priest. Attack me and you attack her. A different, guttural voice punched its way through Brian's brain and had the unplanned result of bringing Brian to his senses.
He gripped the crucifix harder. The pain where its edges bruised soft flesh further focused his thoughts.
"You are an obscene illusion. My mother's not in danger, but you are, you unholy Bastard!"
Anger burned a path through Brian's body. He'd heard and seen enough. His voice was ragged but clear as he continued the prayer to banish his demonic torturers.
"The Strength of the mysteries of the Christian faith commands you. Get out! Offender! Get out! Give way to the Christ in whom you did not find any of your own doing!"
Brian's legs trembled, and he swayed on his feet. As though sensing his waning strength, demonic forces mounted their furies into a spectacular offense. The Blessed Virgin's statue lifted from the table and moved towards him. It began to spin ever faster. Alyx leaped through the air and knocked Brian aside just as the statue whizzed past his master's head and shattered against the wall.
Though dazed, Brian pulled Alyx to his chest and buried his face in the soft fur. "Good boy, Alyx," he murmured. Alyx bumped his master's cheek with his nose, and Brian lifted his face. A gentle wash of love filled his being. He stroked Alyx's ears and said, "We'll get through this together won't we, boy?"
A doorbell chimed below. Brian felt an immediate lift of the pall of evil. His body felt stiff and sore, but once he was on his feet, he found his strength returning.
"Round one goes to the Lord." He spoke the challenge for the sake of any lingering spirits. The door chime sounded again, and Brian hurried to answer the call.
...to be continued...
Book of the Month contest entry
Alyx: Father Brian's Sheltie
Father Brian DeShano: Pastor of St. Matilde's Catholic Church
Monsignor Lewis Flaherty: Deceased pedophile priest.
Der Ring Des Nibelungen was Wilhelm Richard Wagner's
four-opera trilogy. It is believed that Hitler was enamored of the German composer.
I have included quotations taken from the actual text of The Roman Ritual of Excorcism. These words are to not to be trifled with by laypersons. There is great power in them, and they are not to be used by any but those trained and recognized by the Catholic Church as official Exorcists.
Sioux Term: Wiyaphe (Ambush)
Thanks so much to donkeyoatey for use of his wonderful artwork: Eve's seducer
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