Talk of the Devil

darkmonk

The house was always cold.  It didn’t matter what the temperature said on the thermostat.  Troy begrudgingly took his coat off and put it away.  For years he had assumed his house was simply cold, but it had been getting worse over time.  Now he knew why.

Floor boards moaned and squeaked as he walked down the hall.  He could hear noises from the boy’s room.  It sounded like the television as usual.  Troy slowed his pace until he stood outside of their closed door.  He could hear the chilling voice in the movie perfectly.

“Your mother is in here, Karras.  Would you like to leave a message?  I’ll see that she gets it.”

He was about to knock on the door when Mary called to him as she walked through the front door.  “Troy, are you home?”

He went to her and pulled her into the kitchen.  “Mary, we need to talk about the boys.  I think they’re getting mixed up in something horrible.”

Troy pulled a handful of pages out of his case and placed them on the granite counter top.  “Do you know how many times they’ve seen that movie in there?  Do we know what else they do while we are at work?  Carson is only 9 and Scott is 7 for hell’s sake!”

Mary looked at him skeptically.  “Troy, they are just boys watching movies.  What harm can come of that?  I think you are blowing this out of proportion.”

“Oh yeah?” Troy asked as he pointed to his papers.  “I’ve spent the past few weeks reading and studying at work.  ‘Talk of the Devil and he is presently at your elbow.’  Have you ever heard that expression?”

“No I haven’t,” replied Mary with growing concern.

“It’s an old English proverb.  Did you know that there are similar phrases in over 50 different cultures?  This shit is real, and I think the boys are inviting the devil into our home.”

Mary picked up the papers and glanced through them.  “Just what are you saying, Troy?”

“Have you taken a good look at them lately?” He asked.  “Have you heard them talk?  Watched them eat?  I’ve looked at dozens of cases of possession and exorcism, and I’m telling you that we have a problem.  If you don’t call a priest, then I will.”

Mary placed a hand on Troy’s shoulder.  “I can’t stand to see the family torn apart like this.  There is a group of priests that have been close to my family for generations.  I’ll call them.”

Troy sat down as Mary walked away and talked in hushed tones on her cell phone.  He could only hear bits and pieces of her side of the conversation.

“… so tired of this.”

“… need this exorcism so we can be a family again.”

“Come tonight.  Bring them all.”

Mary finished the call and stepped back into the kitchen.  “They will be here tonight.”

Troy grabbed her hand, surprised at how quickly she believed what he had been talking about.  “I’m so glad.  I didn’t know if you were going to believe me or not.”

“Don’t worry, everything will be okay,” she said as she placed a hand on his chest and traced wary circles around the crucifix under his shirt.

***

He had fallen asleep on the couch.  Troy opened his eyes and couldn’t see.  It was completely dark.  Fear pressed him against the soft couch.  Strange sounds and hushed whispers had woken him up.  “Mary?” he called out.

There was no response.  He started to see faint outlines of furniture when he heard the footsteps.  Mary came around the corner with a candle in her hand.  “Ah, you woke up.  The power has been out for a while so I let you sleep.  It’s sure nice to see you boys together,” she said with a smile.

Troy turned his head and jumped off the couch.  Scott and Carson had been sitting on either side of him the whole time.  They sat on the couch and looked at him with vacant eyes.  Carson looked like he was barely breathing.  His lips were torn and bleeding, and a ghastly smile threatened to tear his lips even farther.

Scott sat on the other side of the couch and simply looked at his father.  The little 7 year-old’s chest moved quickly as if the boy were hyperventilating.  Scott’s face was as blank as his eyes.

“What about the priests?” asked Troy as he stood next to Mary.

“They should be here any time.  I want you to sit down in this chair and try to relax, okay?  It will be okay soon enough.”

Troy sat in the chair across from his boys.  Mary turned around and walked down the hall, casting the room into darkness.  Troy tried to see his boys through the darkness.  He gripped the edge of the chair as he hissed a threat to whatever had possessed his children.  “The exorcists are coming for you.”

“They are already here,” Carson said in a voice that wasn’t his.  “We are ready for the exorcism, Troy.  Are you?”

The front door opened and people wearing long black robes came into the house.  Troy relaxed a little as he watched the hooded priests carry in various items.  A few of the priests lit large, white candles and began to place them around the room.  Carson and Scott just looked at Troy from the couch.  Their faces occasionally flashed with the ugly images of the heinous things inside of them.

Priests positioned themselves around the room.  Troy felt the tension build when the priests started to chant.  The temperature of the room plummeted as Carson began to speak in another language.

Troy stood up and yelled.  “Shut up and get out of my boys!”

Scott got off the couch and held up a small hand.  Everything in the room became quiet.  Scott looked at Troy and an ugly sneer spread across the small boy’s face.  “Don’t interrupt the exorcism.”

Troy was confused.  It was as if the demons wanted the exorcism.  Deep laughter rolled out of Scott’s little mouth and shook the walls of the house.  “Yes, we want this exorcism.  But it’s not the kind of exorcism you are thinking of.”

Mary came around the corner.  She was wearing black robes.  “The boys need a father that can accept his unique role, Troy.  This exorcism was never for the boys.  It’s for you.”

Troy looked around the room.  The priests each pulled off their hoods, revealing beautiful and grotesque masks.  The white candles burned, showing the black wax underneath the white façade.  The horror of it all was too much to understand.

“Let’s begin,” said Scott.  The little boy stepped in front of his dad.  “Sit,” he commanded in an infernal voice.

Troy sat in the chair and grabbed the crucifix under his shirt.  Mary flinched and looked worriedly at her sons.  Scott chuckled before he spoke to his father.  “That artifact only works for those with faith.  Let me show you something easier to believe in.”

The priests began to chant again.  “Veni, omnipotens aeternae diabolus.”

Troy’s wife stepped closer and spoke softly.  “Don’t fight it, Troy.”

“Agios o Satanas,” chanted the priests.

Carson stepped closer to his dad.  His voice returned to normal as he pleaded.  “Please, dad, join us.”

Troy was sweating, but his crucifix felt cold in his tight grip.  He watched as his little Scott held out his hands.  The priests around the room started to chant more quietly.  Doubts festered in his mind.  He should be with his family.  Scott’s eyes turned completely black as he spoke in a loud, demonic voice.

“Dies irae, sovlet saeclum in favilla.”

Carson stood next to his father and translated.  “The Day of Wrath, will desolve the world in ashes.”

Troy felt conflicted as he listened to his sons.

Teste cecidurent, quantos tremor est futures, quando Vindex est venturus.”

Carson translated again.  “As foretold by the Fallen, how many tremors will there be when the Defender will come?”

Scott’s voice became thunderous and deep.  “Tui sunt caeli et terra.”

“Yours are the heavens and the earth.”

Troy was in a daze.  His mind had grown cloudy.  He needed a sign to tell him what to do.

“Oriens splendor lucis aeternae, Lucifer veni, illumine sedentes in tenebris!” screamed Scott.

Carson took out a knife and cut his palm, then spread the blood on his father’s face as he translated again.  “East of eternal light, come Lucifer, illuminate the dark!”

Unlit candles that had been placed all over the room burst to life, their flames a deep purple.  Scott put his hands down and looked at his father.  His voice echoed across the room and the walls shook again.  “Is that enough of a sign?”

Most of Troy was ready to give in, ready for peace, ready to do what needed to be done to have his family back.  But a small part of him stood relatively firm.  He couldn’t do it while he had even of a sliver of faith.  Troy shook his head wearily.

Carson and Scott began to speak in unison, the demonic and false cherubic voices sounded like a choir of the damned.  Troy closed his eyes and began to squeeze his crucifix as he heard and felt what his boys were saying.

“Open to us, accept what we offer.”

Troy squeezed harder, unsure of what he wanted, but aware that he had made up his mind.  He pushed his fury into his trembling hand.  The boy’s voices filled the house.  “As this emblem is changed…”

Silence filled the room.  There was no movement.  If felt like he was falling through a dark hole.  A single voice spoke clearly.

“… etiam muta cor meum.”

It had been his voice.  He spoke those words.  He knew those words, and he translated them himself with a hoarse whisper.  “… so change my heart.”

Troy lifted his head and looked at his wife and children.  They had never looked so perfect.  Troy stood up, pulled the broken cross off his neck and embraced his new family.

~ Zack Kullis

© Copyright 2014 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved.

Mercy – The Final Chapter

(continuation of ‘Mercy’ chapter 3 http://huntershea.com/2012/10/31/a-gothic-tale-for-halloween-mercy/)

The striking of our grandfather clock woke me from a deep, bottomless sleep. The sky outside the lone window was still a dark gray, lightened ever-so-slightly by the threat of the dawn. I stretched my arms above my head and rolled my eyes, attempting to shake off my slumber.

My heart thudded in my chest.

I was alone, and on the opposite side of the parlor from my sister.

All of the candles were out.

How did I get here? The pile of books we had been reading lay a good seven feet from where I sat.

Jessamine was in the far corner, asleep and on her back.

I felt a tug at my ankle and stifled a yelp. I instinctively recoiled. In the dark, I couldn’t see what had gained purchase of the bottom half of my nightgown.

There followed the sounds of hurried clacking, as if a pair of rocks had skipped across the wood floor.

The ghoul!

Despite my inability to see it, I knew it had to be in the room with us. It must have waited until Jessamine fell asleep, then separated us so it could do its dirty deed.

“Jessamine,” I hissed, wanting to wake her, yet terrified of alerting the ghoul, lest I become its latest morsel.

There was no answer.

Willing my legs to stand, I inched my way upwards, using the bookcase shelves to hoist myself up inch by inch.

I heard a tearing sound, followed by something far worse.

The smacking sounds of mastication, broken by eager, glutinous breaths, filled the parlor.

“Jesssamine!” I shouted.

Still no reply.

I needed light. It was impossible to face the ghoul in the dark. My spirit wavered between bravery and death by panic. I fumbled around the desk until I found the matches.

I struck one against the desk. It sputtered for a moment, then fizzled out.

The sounds in the corner stopped.

I could feel the ghoul’s penetrating gaze cut through the dark.

I grabbed another match, and with unsure hands, tried again.

The match stick broke in half, falling to the floor.

Clack, clack, clack, clack.

Those odd footsteps again.

Now a gurgling sound, a bubbling death rattle of a cry.

“Please, dear God, help,” I whimpered as I reached to pick out another match.

My cry was answered, as my thumbnail flicked across the match head, a brilliant flame roared to life.

And in that same instant, I wished I’d never brought light into the parlor.

“Lucy!”

My doll, my porcelain companion, stood on two small legs, leering at me. Its face had turned a mottled green, and bloody teeth sprouted from a mouth that was never designed to open. Weeping warts covered it from head to toe.

Worst of all, a strip of flesh, Jessamine’s flesh, hung loosely from its mouth.

I yelled in horror upon seeing my sister’s exposed throat. She lay, still as death, as her blood pumped onto the floor.

The demonic ghoul had truly left my poor, dear sister.

But it hadn’t gone to hell.

It had made a vile home within Lucy.

The ghoul clenched and unclenched its gnarled hands and slurped up the shredded flap of Jessamine’s throat.

I don’t know what overcame me then. I had been living for half a year under the specter of Satan and his damned minion. Fear, as much as Lucy, had been my constant companion.

There was no longer room for fear. This abomination had destroyed my family, and I knew at that moment that I would never again be the same. My heart turned cold while my temper flared like the center of a great bonfire.

Snarling like a mad person, I grabbed the candle and leapt for the ghoul. Cackling, it tried to sidestep from me, but I snared one of its slimy legs.

Warts burst open like blossoming flowers and a vile, hot fluid leaked onto my hand, burning my skin.

Still, I held on.

It shrieked. It hissed. It chomped its jaws and just missed snagging its teeth into the back of my hand.

With a flick of my wrist, I managed to get it to flop on its back.

Lucy’s blue eyes had been replaced by obsidian pools of hate. I moved my hand that held the candle onto its throat. Once I had a firm grip, I transferred the candle to my other hand.

“This time, go back to hell where you belong!” I shouted.

I brought the flames tips to its eye and heard a satisfying sizzle as the onyx orb melted. I moved the candle to its other eye and didn’t stop until both eyes were gone.

Suddenly, the ghoul’s protests and flailing stopped. Its tiny body twitched once, and was still.

Reluctantly, I let it go so I could rub the burned skin on my hand. The ghoul was dead.

Keeping a close eye on it, I walked on unsteady legs to my sister. Her face looked so peaceful, as if she had died in the midst of the most wonderful dream.

The tears came in a torrent, and I held her head in my lap, ever watchful for signs of the ghoul’s return.

I stayed there in the corner with Jessamine’s cooling body for two days.

When father returned, I was too weak to run into his arms.

His face was aghast.

“What…what…what?” he stammered.

“It was the demon in Jessamine. It became a ghoul. When it left Jessamine, it hid inside Lucy. You can see it, right there!” I screamed, pointing at its lifeless body.

But when Father picked it up, he held only my Lucy, her little head fractured but still the Lucy I’d always known. Her eyes were tiny points of ash, but Jessamine’s blood had somehow been cleansed from her porcelain face.

Despite my anguish and exhaustion and vexation, I began to laugh.

I laughed while my father pulled me away, and in his carriage, all the way into town. I laughed when he brought me to hospital, and even when they carried me to a room that smelled funny and was so bright, it felt like I had been thrown into the center of the sun.

And I still laugh now, ten years later.

They think I did it.

Esther passed on from infection.

Jessamine perished from her wound at the ghoul’s hand.

Mother never regained her sanity. In fact, she’s in a room not very far from my own. I pass her in the yard sometimes. She spits curses at me and blames me for the evil that befell our family.

Only I know it was the ghoul; the demon that slipped into our Old Manse and within my departed sister, the dearest person in my life. And when it tired of a human host, it found Lucy.

I tell everyone but no one will believe me.

Evil is real.

The ghoul was real.

And Lucy is still somewhere, outside these four walls. If you see a doll with burned eyes, run. Run and pray your soul hasn’t been tainted.

Run.

And pray.

~ Hunter Shea

© Copyright 2012 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved.