A few minutes later, the scene at the McConnel house was one of defeat. Tersa’s parents were researching psychiatrists that she could go to, though they all knew it wouldn’t help. Alex had been invited to stay for dinner, which he accepted, but he spent most of the time on their back porch with Tersa as she tried to contemplate her bleak future.
“I was set to move out in a few months… finally.”
Alex turned and looked at her, “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, my artwork had been picked up for publishing in a new children’s book that was coming out. They wanted me to do the illustrations for an entire series.”
“I guess. It’s giving me enough money to rise above the starving artist status.”
Alex smirked, “Who says you still can’t do that?”
“What, go off on my own now, with this?”
“It can’t last forever. Maybe it’ll just go away.”
Tersa shook her head. She knew that Alex was just trying to cheer her up, but it wasn’t working, “You really would have made a good priest.”
“No I wouldn’t have. I should have realized that it wasn’t the life for me. I let my sense of adventure get the better of me.”
“Maybe… but not anymore.”
Tersa bit her lower lip, “What did Father Moran say to you?”
Alex didn’t want her to know. He knew that the priest had suggested more therapy, but not specifically why. Still she had him cornered and he had a feeling that she wouldn’t let him avoid the question, “He basically said that you made the whole thing up.”
“He said that… maybe you might be a little obsessed?”
A look of anger like nothing Alex had ever seen appeared on her face, “Are you serious? No offense Alex, you’re a nice guy, but you’re no Chris Pine or Orlando Bloom!”
“Wow… none taken,” said Alex sarcastically.
Tersa lowered her eyes and released the air from her lungs, “What I mean is that you were a nice guy and I liked hearing about your successes, but I wasn’t pining for you after you left. When you joined the seminary, I moved on and realized that I had lost my chance and I got over it. It was a high school crush, we’ve all had them. I have my own life now and I’ve worked hard.”
“He didn’t think that it was a coincidence that you happened to be outside of my house the other night.”
“Great… so now he thinks I’m an obsessive nut and a stalker? Let me ask you something, Alex.”
“Do you think I know how to sabotage a forty year old car in a way that you couldn’t easily have fixed or identified?”
Alex thought for a moment, “Well… no…”
“There you go.”
“You don’t have to convince me. I didn’t buy his reasoning either.”
Tersa nodded, “Well at least I know that you still believe me.”
“Not that it matters.”
“It matters to me.”
“Well you’re the only one.”
“Isn’t that enough?”
Alex looked at her oddly, “What are you talking about?”
At that moment, Sgt. McConnel came out the back slider door to talk to them, “So we’ve got a few recommendations of good psychiatrists that you can go to.”
Tersa shook her head, “You know it won’t do any good, Dad.”
“I don’t think so either, but I don’t know how else to convince Father Moran.”
Tersa clenched her fists, “I don’t think I want to go back to that church, or see him again. He thinks I’m some kind of obsessive fangirl.”
Alex smirked as she looked at him. There was a look of desperation in her eyes that made him quickly hide the smile, “Alex, isn’t there something that you can do? Anything?”
Alex sighed, “No.”
“But according to your books, in ancient times, lay people performed exorcisms. Obviously…”
“There is no way to know if those cases were actual possessions.” Alex interrupted. “We don’t even know how many were actually successful.”
“But you know the rituals. You know what we’re up against.”
“Yes, I know enough not to mess with something like this. I don’t have that kind of faith anymore. I am not the person you want. I told you what happened last time. I can’t…”
Tersa didn’t know what else to do. She was frustrated, frightened, and annoyed at the same time. She fought back the tears in her eyes as she glared at Alex, “What do you want me to do, beg? I don’t want to live like this. If theirs even a chance…”
“I killed that girl.” Alex blurted out.
“The girl in Rome?”
“No you didn’t. That creature you talked about did. You said so yourself.”
“But I was the one that empowered it. I should never have stepped in to finish the exorcism. I wasn’t experienced or even finished with my training. All I did was make it stronger.”
Tersa kept her eyes on Alex as she spoke, “By the sound of things, that demon already had what it wanted and was fully capable of carrying out its wishes. You can’t be blamed for that.”
“I can and I do… God didn’t help me that day. Who am I to think that he’d help me now? You’d be gambling your life.”
“It’s my life.”
“Yes,” Alex replied, “and it’s my decision. You should go see the psychiatrist and when he says that theres nothing he can do, Father Moran…”
“Will do nothing and you know it.” Tersa said in an accusing tone.
Alex sighed. She was right. Father Moran was too much of a skeptic, especially for a priest. Tersa looked him in the eye again, “I don’t believe that you killed that girl. I don’t believe that at all. You shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. You reacted the only way you could have in that situation and you did the best you could. It was not your fault.”
“Maybe, but it happened.”
“Yes it did, but this is different. You’ve had more time. I… I know that you can do it. I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself. That girl in Rome was not your fault.”
Alex tried to look away, but Tersa grabbed his head and looked into his eyes, “Please?”
Alex looked up at Sgt. McConnel, “And what’s your take on all of this?”
“Like I said, I’m not a man of faith, but what I’ve seen over the last few days has begun to turn my head. If you can help my daughter, please do.”
Alex looked up at the sky and then back at Tersa. He was trying to find a way out. He wanted to say no. A simple no would have put an end to it. Two simple letters put together and he would avoid the issue all together, but it wasn’t that simple. A no would likely spell doom for Tersa if the church wouldn’t intervene.
He finally gave in, “Fine, though I be damned for this. We’ll do it after dark. 3am.”
Tersa smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek, “Thank you, I know that you’re going against your better judgement.”
Alex was about to say that she was welcomed, but a sudden thrust to the side and a sharp pain in his cheek cut him off. He looked at Tersa to see that it was no longer her standing there. Her eyes were black and her lips were twisted into a hideous smile.
Alex didn’t back down this time, “Qui estis?”
“Ego sum, illa qui fuit incarceratus.” (I am she that was imprisoned.)
“Et ejiciam vos.” (And I will throw you out.)
The creature smiled, “I welcome you to try.”
At that moment, her eyes turned back to their normal color. A look of shock came over her when she saw the red mark on Alex’s face, “I… I did that… didn’t I?”
“No… not you.”
“I can feel it in my hand.”
“It was the creature.”
Tersa shook her head, “Do you see? I could really hurt someone… I…”
“I know,” said Alex.
He didn’t want to admit it, but it looked like he was doing the right thing by getting involved. She needed help sooner than Father Moran was willing to provide. So now it was a question of getting everything together.
Sgt. McConnel grabbed his daughter and held her tight by the shoulders as he spoke, “What do you need us to do?”
Alex thought for a moment before responding. He’d need the perfect setup if this would have any chance. He’d also need all the right tools, “I need you to put a crucifix above the head of her bed.”
“I can do that, anything else?”
“Yeah, go to St. John’s and fill a bottle of Holy Water, they usually have concecrated water in a pot near the door.”
Alex sighed, “And make sure that Father Moran doesn’t see you!”
Alex turned and headed for the door to get to his car. A worried look came over Tersa, “Wait, where are you going?”
“I have to go back to my mother’s. I need to reflect and center myself and… theres another tool there that we’ll need.”
Alex looked back and saw the expression on Tersa’s face, “I promise that I’ll be back to do this.”
“I believe you.”
Alex turned and headed out the front door. Good, because I’m not sure that I do…
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