Book One of the Vengeance Doctrine
A Novel by James Harrington
First Printing: April 2016
Copyright © 2016, James Harrington
Illustration © 2016, Jabari Weathers
Printed and Bound in the USA
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
“Nurse, what happened?”
“I don’t know, Doctor. He just started convulsing. We were monitoring him after his skin became discolored, and then he flat-lined.”
Corban McConnell felt his body slipping away and was powerless to stop it. He tried to scream, but Adramelech would not allow him enough control over his own muscles to do it. He was trapped in a cage in his own mind, one that he could not escape from. All he could do was sit and watch helplessly as the demon destroyed his world.
Corban could feel a burning sensation in his chest where the crucifix that his mother gave him used to reside. It had been removed when he had been committed, but the scar from where it had been remained. When Adramelech possessed him, it felt as though someone had cast the crucifix into a fireplace and allowed it to get red hot before placing it around his neck.
The blessed artifact had kept Adramelech at bay, but it eventually began to cause him pain. The doctors had long since removed it, fearing that he could use the chain to harm himself. It was the final nail in his proverbial coffin.
Corban had been cursed with the demon for almost a year and it had been slowly and painfully gnawing away at him. His stomach was so tight that he had not been able to eat much in months. He was emaciated and covered in scars from head to toe, his face bearing the worst of it. The demon had forced him to abuse himself and those around him in every way physically possible. He had been forced to alienate the ones he cared for the most for their own safety and allow himself to be locked away in a safe room at Mclean Hospital. He spent the last few weeks restrained to a hospital bed while doctors wired him with monitors and probes. His dark brown hair had been shaved down to little more than stubble to prevent him from ripping it out.
He was aware that his mental state was continuing to deteriorate. It would only be a matter of time until Adramelech gained full control and was able to cause his organs to rupture. He was soon transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital to deal with his injuries. He didn’t really have the consciousness to care about the difference of scenery. He was too busy fighting the entity within to even acknowledge the new doctors that were looking after him.
Corban wasn’t angry at them for his suffering, they were doing their best, but what he was dealing with, no medical science could save him from. There was nothing any mortal could do to stop Adramelech.
“Get me a defibrillator, STAT!”
Corban watched one of the nurses quickly pull a small cart over with a pair of pads resting on top of them. Another nurse began chest compressions while a third pumped oxygen into him with an ambu bag. The group ignored the sounds of the machines around them as they went to work in a futile attempt to save their patient’s life.
Doctor Morgan grabbed the pads and applied them to Corban’s chest, “Device charging now…”
The doctor waited a moment for the defibrillator to charge. Corban braced himself as he listened to the high-pitched sound of the electricity power up as the device came to life. When the indicator on the defibrillator turned red, the doctor returned his attention to Corban, “Everybody, clear!”
The surgical team backed away as the doctor began defibrillation, “200J…”
Corban’s lifeless body convulsed as the electricity flowed through it. Once the system turned off, the group began CPR again. Every alarm was still sounding off, indicating that he was still flat lined. The monitoring nurse shook her head as she checked Corban for any response, “No pulse.”
“What’s going on in there?”
Doctor Morgan had been with Corban since he was transferred. He knew that Doctor Morgan had read the report on the events surrounding Corban’s transfer and was sure that the whole case had him perplexed. The failed medical treatments which had both therapists and doctors alike baffled were bad enough, but then his psychological report also mentioned an exorcism that had somehow made his condition worse. He didn’t know if the doctor was a believer or not, but he somehow doubted it.
Adramelech had allowed him to live through each of these experiences while keeping him in a comatose state. He couldn’t react, speak, or move, but he could see and feel as that was all that the demon would allow. It was as close to Hell as he’d ever been.
Doctor Morgan’s voice appeared again as Corban tried to shut everything out, “Again, 200J.”
It was the same as the previous attempt. Corban’s body convulsed, but did not respond. He was not coming out of it.
Finally, Doctor Morgan made the call to move him, “No good, get him to OR 2! Page the on call surgeon.”
The lead surgeon, Doctor Teach met Doctor Morgan in the surgical prep room as his team rushed to get Corban ready. He could hear them talking from the next room. Doctor Teach’s voice had a detectable level of concern, “Status?”
“We’ve been administering CPR since he flat lined.”
“All right, once we’re in, let’s get him on the table.”
As Corban’s bed was wheeled into OR 2, the surgeon immediately went to work, prepping him for surgery. His body began to tremble as even more alarms went off. Doctor Teach knew that he was running out of time, “There’s blood coming out of his mouth. He’s most likely suffering from internal hemorrhaging. We need to get in there now or we’re going to lose him.”
Corban fought to regain some control and closed his eyes as he heard the machines nearby begin to beep in alarm. His head turned to the side and his world went completely blank. At that moment, all doubt was banished from his mind. Death was inevitable. Father… into your hands, I commend my spirit.
Adramelech cackled in the back of his mind, “He can’t save you now, no one can! You are mine and you always will be!”
You can’t have my soul, Adramelech. You’ve destroyed my body, but that’s all you’ll ever take. You… will lose!
“Small words… even the priest who tried to exorcise me failed and he is a man of faith. You have always been a man of doubt. What do you possibly think you can do now?”
In a desperate attempt to shut the demon out, Corban thought back to his last day with his girlfriend, Janine. He remembered how her long blonde hair blew in the breeze as she stepped out of his jeep. It was a very bittersweet memory.
The last few months of their relationship had been rocky. They both went to college in different places which put considerable strain on their relationship. In hindsight, that was probably a good thing for them both. Corban would not need to worry about her as much as she would have an easier time moving on. In his heart, he’d known that their relationship would not have survived more than a few months anyway.
A beep on the wall caused Corban to snap back into reality. He was back on the operating table in Mass General’s Division of Trauma. Though not conscious, he was fully aware of what was happening. Adramelech would not allow him to miss a minute of the pain. Even the medications that were being pumped through his body could not keep the demon at bay.
I’m sorry Janine, Corban thought to himself. I have to break my promise. I can’t be there anymore. I hope you have a wonderful life…
Adramelech cackled in his mind, “That’s it, let her go. There is no escape for you now. Let go of all you hold dear and submit.”
That’s what you think I’m doing? You’ve spent this much time in my head and you still have no clue.
“What other choice is there? It’ll only hurt more by holding onto them.”
But it keeps you from winning. Giving up what makes me who I am would be to submit to you.
You already have.
Not yet, just you watch.
Corban knew exactly what he had to do. He dreaded it, but knew that Adramelech would never let him be at peace as long as the demon lurked in his mind. As long as the demon was there, he would forever be a slave. He pulled together what little mental fortitude he had left and blocked out Adramelech one last time. He had regained control of his body just long enough to release himself. He had to act quickly as this was the only chance he’d get. Just one last push.
Corban appreciated everything that the doctors were doing, but he knew that his body was broken. Even if he wanted to remain, he knew that it was no longer an option. If he didn’t vacate, Adramelech would have a chance to regain control.
As Corban braced himself, he could feel the sense of nervousness in his mind. Adramelech reached out to him, “Wait… wait, if you try to cast me out, you’ll die too. We’ve become too intertwined for you to survive.”
I know that. I’m not trying to cast you out. I’m denying you your prize.
“You’ll lose everything.”
No other choice.
“There is always another choice.”
“Janine and your mother will be hurt.”
I know that…
“Wait, listen to me!”
No, I’m done with having you in my head! The game is over!
Adramelech cried out in panic, “No!”
Go back to Hell!
Corban braced himself for the coming shock to his system. No doubt it was going to be painful, but it couldn’t possibly be worse than what he had already experienced. He was spent and nothing that happened now was going to faze him.
At that moment, as the doctor worked, Corban’s eyes shot open and a look of distress appeared on his face, startling Doctor Morgan, “Is he sedated?”
The anesthesiologist eyed her panels and turned back to the surgeon, “Yes, he’s under general anesthesia and everything looks stable on my end. I don’t understand, what’s happening should not be possible!”
“Increase his dosage.”
“I can’t, it’s at the maximum. If I increase the dosage it could do irreparable damage!”
Before the surgeon could continue, Corban smiled at the lights above him. He was unable to speak with the tube down his throat, but he still managed to smile widely. The game is over, Adramelech! You’ve lost, now go back to Hell!
At that moment, Corban’s eyes closed forever. His body went pale. As his world blurred out, he could hear the screams of the scanners hooked up to his body, trying to find any sign of life. It sounded as though they were in a panic.
The surgical team went frantic as they went to work in an attempt to save his life. Yet even amidst the chaos, Corban was able to take solace in the fact that he had won. He had denied Adramelech his prize, but would now face the consequences for doing so.
An hour later, it was all over. The surgical team had done everything that they could, but his body was not responding. Doctor Teach lowered his eyes as he was finally forced to admit defeat, “He’s gone.”
As the group backed away from Corban’s body, Doctor Teach checked the clock on the wall, “Note the time of death, 8:53 PM.”
Doctor Morgan looked over the mess of equipment and blood, “All right, let’s get cleaned up here… I’ve got some bad news to deliver.”
The surgical team had lost patients before. It was something that came with the job, but it never got easier. There was nothing more they could do. As the nurses went to work clearing out the equipment, the surgeon braced himself to give Corban’s loved ones the bad news. As a high risk surgeon, he’d had to deliver this news before, and it was always the part of the job that he hated the most.
As they cleaned up, the anesthesiologist had a perplexed look on her face, “How could he have come out of that?”
Doctor Teach didn’t have an answer for her. He’d never seen anything like that before, “I have no idea. I can’t explain it, but he almost looked like he’d just won a fight.”
“Whatever it was… he actually seemed happy about it.”
Doctor Morgan left the OR, got cleaned up and headed out to the waiting room where Corban’s mother had been sitting with Janine for hours, waiting for news. It was late and the lights in the waiting room were dim. The lighting mixed with the plain colors of the walls provided anyone in the room a rather calm feeling. The dim light also provided the perfect vale for a pair of dark figures that stood in the corner, one male, and one female. Both were paying close attention to the scene that was about to unfold with Corban’s family. The male figure studied the facial expressions of Corban’s mother and Janine while the female one appeared to be completely disinterested. She preferred to hang back, leaning on the wall.
The quiet was quickly interrupted when doors to the OR slowly parted and the two doctors appeared at the entrance. The figures watched intently as Corban’s mother stood up with Janine holding her by the arm, “Well Doctor, did everything go okay? How is he? When can we see him?”
An apologetic look appeared on Doctor Morgan’s face as he shook his head, “I’m sorry…”
Corban’s mother went completely pale, “What? What are… no…”
Doctor Teach hesitantly took over, “I’m afraid he didn’t survive the procedure.”
The older woman looked away as tears streamed down her cheek, “Oh God… please not him. No… my baby…”
Janine’s eyes filled with tears, “No it can’t be true! He’s stronger than that… don’t you dare tell me he’s gone.”
Doctor Morgan opened his mouth to speak, knowing that nothing he could say would make this easier, but Janine cut him off, “Don’t you dare… he can’t be gone! It’s not true!”
Janine buried her head in her hands and sobbed as Corban’s mother looked up at Doctor Teach, tears continuing to flow from her eyes, “What happened?”
“I’m afraid we don’t really know, we were working to repair the hemorrhage and he was responding really well, but then he suddenly regained consciousness. He looked up with a big smile on his face, and then became lifeless. We have no idea how it happened. Our instruments were finely tuned before the procedure and our anesthesiologist double checked just to make sure. All attempts to resuscitate him failed. It’s like he didn’t want to be brought back.”
The female figure stepped forward and studied Corban’s mother. Though she still looked pale and was about to get sick, a small feeling of relief comforted her as she realized what had happened. She was barely able to speak and her words were little more than a whisper, but everyone was able to hear her, “He beat it… it cost him his life, but he freed himself of that… thing inside of him.”
Doctor Teach rubbed his hands together gently as spoke to Corban’s mother, “I’m really sorry that everything turned out this way. We do have on-sight counselors that are trained to help your loss… I could arrange for one to come by if you’d like to speak with them?”
Grief counselors. The female figure thought to herself. As if they’d do any good here.
“Mary, watch the younger woman.” The male figure said quietly to the female. “She’d known Corban since childhood and loved him for almost that long. Their relationship may have been on the rocks, but she still cared deeply for him.”
Mary moved closer, while careful to remain in the shadows, “Why all this interest in her, Mike?”
“I’ll explain later, for now she’s our best bet to learn more about Corban.”
From her vantage point, Mary could see Janine’s face. Though in pain herself, Janine was doing the best she could to comfort Corban’s mother and remain strong. She hugged the older woman and rubbed her arms, knowing that as bad as she felt, his mother had lost the last of her family.
Mary watched as Janine turned to the doctor. She was about to say something when Corban’s mother finally fought through her own pain and spoke up, “Did he suffer?”
It looked like Doctor Morgan was doing the best he could to sound certain, but the quiver in his voice made his words harder to believe, “No, I don’t believe so. He was heavily sedated, so it’s unlikely that he felt anything. As for the rest… well his suffering is over now.”
“He doesn’t know that.” Mary scoffed. “How could he?”
“Shh!” Mike scolded, trying to listen in.
Mary noticed a smile appear on his face as Corban’s mother collapsed back into Janine’s arms, “There was a lot of fight in that one. A lot of fight… this is very interesting.”
“It’s not every mortal human that can stand up to a demon as fierce as Adramelech.” Mary agreed. “Still, I think this is a really bad idea. He’s a possession victim. You remember what’s happened every other time, yeah?”
“This time will be different, I can feel it. Yes, I think he’ll do nicely.”
“You really came out of nowhere after four months of hiding to show me this? Did I really have to be here?”
“Yes. You’ve been with me the longest. I want your opinion.”
“Is that really what you want, or do you just want to hear me agree with you?”
“When has that ever happened?”
Mary sighed, she knew that he was going to do whatever he wanted regardless of what she said, but at least she could voice her concerns, “He’s defiant, yeah? Short-sighted, and extremely jovial with the people around him. Those aren’t the qualities we need. Not to mention his powers could be dangerous! We have no idea what he’ll become!”
“I seem to recall thinking the same thing about you when I first pieced you back together, but you assured me that you wouldn’t disappoint, and in over a hundred years, you never have.”
“Is it really?”
Mary did not respond. She lowered her eyes and returned to her corner, defeated. Nothing she said was going to change Mike’s mind.
Mike’s smile widened as he turned his attention back to Corban’s family, “Yes… Yes I think he’ll do perfectly.”
Hope you enjoyed the first chapter. The rest of the book can be purchased here.
- Series: The Vengeance Doctrine
- Paperback: 520 pages
- Publisher: James Harrington (April 7, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0692608443
- ISBN-13: 978-0692608449
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