“What, who is that? What’s going on?”
Alex found himself in a dark room, all alone. He had no idea how he had gotten there or why. A dark voice beckoned him forward.
As Alex slowly walked, the floor became less and less stable. It was extremely muddy and what looked like vines were coming out of the wall. Ahead, Alex could hear whimpering, like someone was in pain. He didn’t know what to expect, so he pressed himself against the wall of the muddy cave as he moved.
Slowly and cautiously, he moved into the next chamber, not knowing what to expect. He had no weapons and feared that an attack was coming. It was an eerie feeling as he moved.
His feet treaded as lightly as possible to prevent making noise, until he kicked something metallic on the ground. He looked down to see a flashlight on the tip of his right foot. Convenient…
Alex picked it up and continued moving into the next chamber. He didn’t turn the flashlight on, not at first. Letting whoever or whatever was waiting for him know exactly where he was, was ill-advised when he was heading into a potentially hostile area.
As he entered the room, the voice called out to him again, “Alex…”
Alex recognized the voice and immediately flicked on the flashlight, “Tersa?”
The light illuminated a pale body in front of him. She was clad in torn clothes and it looked as though she had been stabbed all over her body by what looked like vines hanging from the ceiling. It was a grotesque image that he could barely stand.
The flashlight moved up to her face. Her eyes were soaked with tears and completely bloodshot. He didn’t know what to do or how to save her. He had nothing to cut the vines with. In a panic, he looked around for something, anything, sharp enough to cut through the vines, “I’ll get you out… hang on…”
“You’re too late.”
Alex’s eyes turned back to Tersa as the sound of giggling came from her direction. Her eyes began glowing orange and her teeth had been replaced with sharp fangs. She was hideous.
Alex stepped back, “You… I know you… you’re not Tersa…”
The creature cackled as it flicked its wrists, causing the vines with withdraw from its skin. At that moment, Alex realized that they weren’t vines at all, they were roots! Where was he?
Before Alex had a chance to comtemplate the horror unfolding in front of him, the creature broke loose of its bonds and jump at him, screaming in an almost reptilian voice, “Surprise!”
Startled, Alex opened his eyes and found himself in his childhood bedroom, once again in a puddle of his own sweat. His hands were shaking and his eyes were filled with tears. My God… my God… what have you done to me?
Was it a dream, a premonition, or some sort of twisted imagery that was being inflicted upon him? This was not the first time that he’d experienced dreams like this before, but why were they now all revolving around Tersa? What was he missing?
Alex got out of bed and looked at the clock.
He’d successfully slept through the night for the first time in a while. Unlike most mornings, he felt energized. He hoped the feeling would last.
Looking at himself in the mirror, it was clear that he needed a shower. His skin was a slimy mess and his hair was greesy. He quickly stripped off his boxers and headed to the bathroom.
The steam soothed his tainted lungs as the water cleansed his skin. When he was finished, he grabbed a towel and turned off the water. As he slid back the shower curtain, his eyes widened. His mirror had completely fogged up. The words ‘leave now or die’ were written into it.
An annoyed look appeared on Alex’s face as he wiped the mirror clear, “What more do you think you can do to me?”
No response. Alex had nothing left to lose, so he certainly wasn’t about to be intimidated by hallucinations, if that’s what they were. He still had too much to do.
Alex got dressed and headed out the door. He really didn’t want to go to the McConnel home. He was afraid of whatever was going on with Tersa. He was convinced that something evil was at work there and he didn’t want to be party to another tragedy. Still, like a moth to the flame, he went outside and got in his car.
Within minutes, he pulled into the McConnel’s driveway. He got out of his car and looked up at the house. It was a raised ranch, not all that disimilar from his mother’s, except that this one was painted a mustard color with black shudders.
Alex made his way up to the door. How was he going to do this? Armed with neither a piece of scripture or a crucifix, or even the faith needed to combat evil, he believed that he was walking into a spiritual trap.
Alex stood on the front stoop and rang the doorbell. The door immediately opened and Alex found himself looking atTersa. Her face showed a blank stare until she realized who it was.
At seeing Alex, her eyes lit up. Immediately she put her arms around him, placed one hand on his back and the other on the back of his neck, and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you.” She whispered.
“I just did what I had to.”
“You saved my life.”
She closed her eyes and squeezed Alex tightly as though she were too scared to let go. Alex wasn’t used to this type of affection. At first, he refused to touch her. Getting too close could open him up to more pain, which he didn’t need. However, Tersa was persistent and the beating of her heart against his chest slowly wore down his resistence.
Alex ran his hands over her back and gave her a slight squeeze in return, “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
At that moment, her father’s voice could be heard behind them, “Ah Alex come…”
When he saw that Alex was unable to move, he quickly turned away and sighed, “Take your time.”
After one more surprisingly strong squeeze, Tersa let go and beckoned him inside. Alex was led up the stairs, into the kitchen, and offered a seat. The room was all dark wood paneling, with a sort of galley style stove and sink off to one side. It really showed the age of their home.
Tersa sat next to him on his left while Sgt. McConnel sat on the opposite side of the wooden table. “Can I get you anything?”
“No thank you, I’m fine.”
Sgt. McConnel nodded and turned to his daughter, “You want to tell him what’s been going on?”
Tersa lowered her eyes, “I’m hearing voices at night when I try to sleep. I have a hard time eating, it’s like my stomach just tightens up so I can’t keep much down. I black out for hours at a time, only to come out of it and realize that I’ve somehow still been active.”
“Have you heard anything back from the doctors about possible mental problems?”
“No… we’re still waiting. They did several tests, but the results haven’t come back yet.”
Tersa’s mother, who had been in the next room over, came in and joined them at the table. She remained silent as they spoke. He faced had a very detectable amount of worry and her eyes looked bloodshot as though she had been crying.
Alex shook his head, “Look, all of those are symptoms of potential psychological problems. I think maybe we should wait until…”
At that moment, Tersa’s mother placed a small, golden crucifix on the table in front of her daughter. Tersa immediately smacked it off the table and glared at her mother, “Accipe a me!” (Get that away from me!)
Alex stopped in his tracks and sat backin shock. Tersa’s eyes were black and she was breathing heavily. Alex repeated a question he’d asked before, “Qui estis?”
She looked up at him, this time, electing to speak English, “You’re too late.”
The voice wasn’t hers. Alex’s blood ran cold as he looked at her. The malicious grin was so wide that it must have been straining Tersa’s face. He partially expected to see fangs in her mouth. The tears in her eyes were the only way he could tell that she was still in there at all.
Alex couldn’t stand it, “I asked you a question, who are you?”
“Someone from below, looking for someone from above.”
“Give me a name.”
Tersa’s body fell limp. Alex shook his head as he quickly stood up, “I’m sorry… I don’t think I can help you.”
Mrs. McConnel immediately got to her feet, “You’re giving up?”
“No, but she needs a priest, not a reject like me.”
Alex knelt down next to her and tried to wake her, “Tersa, Tersa, can you hear me?”
Tersa’s body immediately came to life. She jumped at Alex with a growl. Alex jumped backwards, out of the way, narrowly avoiding her teeth hitting his left eye. She fell to the ground on top of him. He could hear her crying as he moved to grab her, “Alex, please help me.”
Alex shook her head, “This is… way beyond me… We need to get her to Father Moran. He’s a good man, he’ll know what to do.”
Sgt. McConnel stood up, “All right. We’ll all go. My SUV is in the garage. Let’s get her downstairs.”
Alex picked her up and allowed her father to lead him down the stairs and into the garage. A large black Chevy Suburban was waiting for them. Alex quickly pushed Tersa on to the seat behind her father before going around to the other side. Her mother was about to climb in to sit with her daughter, but Alex spoke up, “Perhaps I should sit with her… if she has another episode…”
Her mother paused a moment and nodded, “All right.”
As soon as everyone was in, Sgt. McConnel started the car and backed out of the garage, heading for the church. Both Alex and her mother kept an eye on Tersa. She remained motionless with her eyes closed the entire ride.
They arrived at the church a few moments later. Alex dashed out and ran around to the other side before anyone else got out. He quickly opened the door and picked up Tersa.
The front doors of the church were shut, but never locked. Alex, followed by Tersa’s parents, pushed the doors opened with his side and ran in. He proceeded quickly down the isle and placed Tersa on the front pugh. An uncomfortable look came over her face. Alex had a feeling that this was the demon that they were dealing with and not Tersa herself, though he also did not feel comfortable there.
Father Moran appeared from the back of the church to see who was there. His eyes focused on Alex as he was the first one the old man recognized, “Alex what can…”
His eyes focused on Tersa, “What’s going on?”
Sgt. McConnel stepped forward, “Father, we need your help. Tersa isn’t well we think… well…”
“We think she’s possessed.” Alex said, finishing his sentence.
Father Moran’s brow furrowed as his eyes examined the sickly looking girl resting on the chair. He scratched his white beard gently as he spoke, “It looks like she needs a doctor.”
“She’s been to the hospital.” Mrs. McConnel replied. “They can’t find anything wrong with her.”
Father Moran knelt down next to her and put his thumb against her eyelids to see her pupils. He shook his head, stood up and turned to Alex, “My friend, I recommended you to the seminary. I know that you were fascinated by cases like this, but I hope you’re not…”
“Father, that was two years ago. I’ve seen too much in that time. Believe me, I don’t even want to be here right now.”
Father Moran sighed, “Very well, bring her back to the rectory. She can rest on one of the couches.”
He then beckoned to Sgt. McConnel, “I assume that you’re her parents?”
Sgt. McConnel nodded, “Yes sir.”
“Has she been seen by a psychiatrist?”
“Do you have his name and number?”
Father Moran nodded, “All right. Let’s go into my office.”
The old priest led them back behind the altar to the residence. It was an old apartment with an odor of must and cigarette smoke. The walls were dark wood paneled and looked like they were in serious need of updating.
Father Moran beckoned Alex to rest Tersa on the couch. He then turned to her parents, “Come back with me. Let’s give this doctor a call. Alex, you stay with her. I’ll speak to you seperately.”
Alex nodded as they disappeared, “Yes Father.”
Christ, Alex, what the hell are you doing? He thought to himself. He meant it when he said that he didn’t want to be there. Every saintly effigy, every crucifix, and every single concecrated item made him feel uncomfortable.
His thoughts were interrupted when Tersa began to stir and slowly. A wave of relief overtook Alex when she opened her eyes and they were brown. “Hi there.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Weak… I feel like I haven’t slept in day.”
She quickly looked around the room with a confused expression on her face, “Where am I?”
“St. John’s. Your parents are talking with Father Moran.”
A look of fear came over her face, “I can’t be here. It won’t like this…”
“What are you talking about?”
“Alex, I need to get out of here. Being here is making it angry. Please get me out of here before it punishes me.”
“What, what is it?”
Before she could answer, the door to Father Moran’s office door opened. Her parents came out, followed by the priest himself. Their faces brightened up when they saw that she was awake.
Father Moran smiled, “Tersa, good, you’re up. Mind if we talk for a little while?”
Tersa shivered as she looked at her parents and then Alex, “Can we talk outside, please?”
Father Moran looked at her oddly for a moment before nodding, “Of course, follow me. The back porch will suit our needs.”
Tersa stood up and followed Father Moran to the back door. Alex sat quietly as he waited to hear what was about to come of these interviews. Tersa needed help and if there was a priest that could, it was Father Moran. Would he believe her though? The looks on her parent’s faces made him uneasy. It looked as though they had just been through an intense dressing down and weren’t sure that he would help.
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