Mystery and Crime Fiction posted August 2, 2014 Chapters:  ...66 67 -68- 69... 


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The Clash

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Wotawe Moon, Part One

by Writingfundimension

"Malachi (Martin) and I were both in agreement about the vital point that possessed people are not evil; they are in conflict between good and evil. Were it not for such conflict we could not know there is such a thing as possession. It is the conflict that gives rise to the 'stigmata' of possession. Thoroughly evil people are not in conflict; they are not in pain or discomfort. There is no inner turmoil."

--- M. Scott Peck, Psychiatrist and Exorcist
     from his book: Glimpses of the Devil

**********

Previously:

"With renewed vigor, Rick gathered the sticks of dynamite and proceeded to stuff them into every orifice of the pit's entrance. Snipers don't give a rat's ass about me, but they won't take a chance on losing their prize: Miss Danika Marten.

Rick looked down at her body and felt no remorse. You aren't worthy of a hair off my sister's head.

He located a clean spot to sit and rest his head against the stone at his back. I'm ready. Bring it on, Mr. FBI.

Exhaustion, then sleep, claimed Rick, rendering him unaware of the black-clad figure clutching a worn leather valise who slipped from where he hid in the mine's interior. 

**********

 

Father Brian strained to keep his presence undetected until he could reach the kidnapped woman. The gloom in the cave deepened as the sun moved above the trees, casting shadows serving to cover law enforcement's approach. He had a flashlight in his bag, but hesitated to draw attention to his presence.

He'd watched with mounting anxiety as Rick Morales, moving in the manner of a reluctant puppet, rigged the entrance with sticks of dynamite. I know what's pulling your strings. I will not let that thing have you.

To his surprise, Rick did an about-face by collapsing onto the floor and falling asleep. I've seen this before. One minute the possessed is manic and the next, unconscious.

Seizing the opportunity, Brian moved out of the shadows, side-stepping hacked-out boulders and loose granite which threatened to twist an ankle or break a leg. The woman who'd been tossed aside like a bag of trash made no sound or movement. Brian feared she might be dead, but held the hope the detective was not, yet, a murderer.

I will appeal to the part of him that remains holy, no matter the possession. That sweet-faced altar boy who talked of being a priest exists.

Reaching Danika Marten's still form, he bent to check her pulse. Erratic. Skin clammy and cold. He surmised she was drugged, and, on top of the shock from her terrible wounds, he feared there was only a slim window of opportunity to save her life.

Brian removed his jacket and laid it across Danika's body. At least I can keep her warm.

He opened his satchel and found a vial of holy water. I'm sure she's dehydrated, but pouring water down her throat is too dangerous.

Instead, he transferred a few drops to the surface of her lips. His throat tightened at  Danika's weak groan in response to the simple act.

A consuming cold moved through him. He whirled to find a painted dog seated on Rick's chest. The demon's temporal facade. Eyes bulging into the shape of bullets, the beast tracked his movements with avaricious intelligence. Its voice was mellow, even gentrified.

“At last we meet, Father.”

“I know you lust for my soul, Demon. Rick is just another one of your misguided victims – a pawn. What a feather in your cap to claim the soul of a priest!”

“Don't flatter yourself. I don't need another priest in hell. You might say that, of late, I've more than met my quota.” An accompanying shrill laugh bit at Brian's conscience.

Sensing an advantage, the beast lunged, jaws snapping. “You whited sepulcher! Your own Master condemned you. You've held his body and blood in your hands, praised him with your tongue while hating him for abandoning your mommy.”

Brian knew that to argue with a demon was both pointless and treacherous. He bit back the repulsion he felt in meeting the demon's gaze, while reaching into his bag for the desired object. I've got maybe five seconds to do what I must.

Brandishing a crucifix, he advanced on the beast. The animal emitted a howl as the priest clamped the cross onto its back and pressed with all his might.

“Snatch from damnation and from this Devil, the one who was created in your image and likeness. Throw your terror over the Beast, who is destroying your child Rick.”

A kick to Brian's ribs sent him flying across the cave. Pain coursed through him, but he would not allow defeat. He dug his fingers into the stone wall, straining to stand. When he turned, Rick Morales's gun was up and aimed to blow the priest's brains out.

“Now you try to help me?" Rick screamed. "I came to you months ago, begging you to do something to help my sister, and all you could offer were your stinking prayers.”

“Don't punish others for my mistakes,” Brian pleaded. “There's still time to salvage this situation. Turn yourself in and let them get Danika to the hospital. For God's sake, Rick, please!”

The devil dog hopped around cackling so that the very air seemed filled with demonic glee. “Rick is here.. he's somewhere... he's nowhere. Balls to the walls, boys. Lies, flies, lies, flies...”

Rage, forged by the fires of impotence and grief, sent the priest hurtling towards Rick. Remarkably, the crucifix remained clutched in his fist, and when it made contact with the man's chest, he staggered backwards.

Behind the malevolent mask and dead eyes was a suffering, pleading soul.

"Hold on Rick! Don't give into the Beast. Fight... fight for your soul.”

Rick mouthed the words, “Help me...” and then the mask dropped back into place. Skin drawn taut across his cheekbones and the tight line of his lips gave him the appearance of a reptile.

Snatching the crucifix, he ground it beneath his boot. He raised his gun, and though his hand trembled, Brian had no doubt he was a dead man.

A flash of movement caught Brian's eye. Standing at the mouth of the mine was his only hope.

“Stop, Rick,” Jana Burke pleaded. “I'll do whatever it takes to make this right. We'll get through this together, Partner.” She extended her arms as a mother would in offering solace to her child.

The beast roared, “I'll destroy you, bitch,” and leaped at her.

Jana's compassion appeared to touch a chord in Rick. In a defiant act of courage, he turned his weapon on the dog. His first shot hit the beast in its hindquarters, but the animal just changed direction. It crawled up the stone backwards, its hideous grin taunting them all.

Brian screamed, “Jana, the walls are full of dynamite. Get back!”

Rick continued firing on the demon, his mind too far gone to understand the threat. The weapon's discharge set off a cluster of dynamite, sending rocks like death missiles in every direction and bringing down the ceiling of the shaft.

                                                             ******

Brian felt himself lifted above his body. An irresistible force pulled him through a dark tunnel with a point of light at its end. The light grew in size and intensity until nothing but radiance surrounded him. He felt warmth and peace fill his being.

My beautiful boy.” The words were that of his long-dead mother.

Tears coursed down his cheeks as he took in the beauty of her serene face. She stood at the head of a line of people waiting to greet him, but hers was the only one that mattered.

"They told me you couldn't be here," a sob broke through, "because of the suicide."

She pulled him to her chest and whispered in his ear, “I am real, don't doubt that, Son. Remember always.. every mistake is undone by Grace.”


 


Book of the Month contest entry

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The clash is that moment, during the exorcism when the demon has come to surface and revealed its presence. It is then the priest and everyone else in the room is in the greatest danger.

Cast of Characters:

Jana Burke: Homicide Detective and Rick Morales's partner.
Brian DeShano: Catholic priest and pastor of St. Matilde's.
Danika Marten: Kidnapped News-Anchor
Rick Morales: Homicide Detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department.

For Clarification:

Whited Sepulcher: A term used by Jesus Christ to refer to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
Holding the body and blood in your hands refers to the daily mass, required of every priest, and the moment of transformation of wine and bread into the real body and blood of Jesus Christ.
A google search reveals there is a good probability that dynamite can be detonated with a bullet.

Sioux term:

Wotawe: Consecrated armor

Thanks to Angelheart for the great artwork: All Hallows Evil.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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