Beneath the Surface (Chapter 9)


It was only 3 in the afternoon. Alex had some time to spare. He would have rather stayed with Tersa to dissuade his fears, but he knew that he needed some time alone. If he was ever to be of any help to her, he needed time to prepare himself.

At first, Alex headed home, but then he had a sudden urge to go somewhere else. He turned the car around and headed towards the center of town. He drove down Main Street and then turned into the cemetery on the outskirts.

After pulling onto the winding road of the cemetery, he stopped his car and got out. There was a gentle breeze that was off set by the warm October sun. It was comfortable enough weather that normally Alex would have been outdoors with some friends, but this was not the time for it.

As he closed the door, he noticed the cigarettes on the passenger’s seat and realized that he hadn’t had one that day. He grabbed the pack and looked at it for a moment. A sudden urge came over him to light up. He was about to open the pack when a feeling of disgust came over him. He threw the pack back on the seat and closed the door. Oh fuck it.

Alex walked slowly up the hill to the grave of his mother. The fresh soil had not yet had grass planted over it. His mother’s stone was in place with her name, Gloria Hendrickson, carved into the center. He felt like her caring eyes were looking at him at that very moment.

Alex wasn’t ready for what he was about to do and needed help, “Mom… I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m such a failure, I’m sorry that I haven’t been home in two years, and I’m sorry that you didn’t have a better son. I tried… you know I really tried, but after what happened in Rome, I just couldn’t bring myself to face you again.”

Tears filled his eyes as he spoke, “I’ve got something to do now… something big. If I fail… I don’t know what’s going to happen. You remember the girl, Tersa? You were friends with her mother. She’s in trouble now and I’ve been asked to do something I swore that I’d never do again. I don’t know how to handle this, Mom. I’m scared. I wish you were here right now. You always knew what to say to make even the worst situations not look that bad. You’d probably say something like ‘just do your best and let God handle everything else’ right?”

Alex closed his eyes as the tears began to flow, “I miss you… Whatever happens tonight… I hope you can forgive me.”

Alex bent over and kissed the top of the gravestone before turning and heading back to his car. He drove home and got to work preparing what he needed. He hoped that he still had everything from the old days.

After closing and locking the front door, Alex ran to his room to look for a specific book that he knew he’d need. He went through his bookshelf and opened all of his drawers, one by one. Come on, it has to be here. Please Mom, you can’t have thrown it out.

Alex opened the last drawer to his nightstand and found exactly what he was looking for. Inside was a small black book with golden letters embossed on the cover. The Roman Ritual… thank Goodness!

He’d had that book since he first entertained the idea of going into the seminary. It should have everything that he needed to perform the ritual. It was an older copy, but it should still work.

With the book in hand, Alex went out to the living room, flicked on the TV, and switched to the News. He wasn’t really watching it, he just wanted some background noise while he centered himself. Ordinarily, this would have been the time for prayer and reflection, but he no longer saw any value in either, not for himself.

After a few minutes, he drifted off to sleep. He wasn’t tired, but perhaps it was withdrawal from not smoking at all that day. He sucked in one last deep breath before losing consciousness.

Alex was immediately surrounded by darkness. His sleep was dreamless for hours until something appeared in the voice. It was a woman, clad only in a white nightshirt that was almost see-through. At first, he thought that it was Tersa.

She walked in a seductive manner towards him. He felt paralyzed and unable to back away. Her face revealed itself to him. It was Tersa, but at the same time, it wasn’t. He couldn’t explain it. Some part of her was in that face, but not all of it.

As she moved, the shirt disappeared, revealing pale skin that was barely any darker. She moved close enough to press her body against his and rest her head on his chest. When she finally spoke, her voice was little more than the subtle hiss of a snake, “Come to me…”

Alex couldn’t move and couldn’t draw enough breath to respond. She lifted her head off of his chest, “Take me…”

Her body rose against his so that she was able to kiss him. Alex couldn’t move, but he felt his body begin to light up against her touch. He was almost completely powerless.

He had to get away. He knew that this wasn’t right. When she began running her hands up his back, Alex focused his mind and pushed hard against his paralysis. Finally, he was able to break free, “Ugh, no!”

Alex opened his eyes and found himself back in reality. He breathed heavily as he looked at the TV. The bottom right hand corner said that it was almost 2:30am. Shit, they’ll wonder where I am!

After quickly changing his shirt, Alex quickly grabbed the book, ran outside, and got into his car. It was raining again and the wind was picking up. The weather beat down on his car as hard as it could as though it were trying to stop him from getting to Tersa.

Alex shook his head, “Throw as much of a tantrum as you want! You’re not stopping me!”

At that moment, a massive tree branch fell in front of his car, causing him to swerve off the road. His car came to a stop in a small muddy ditch. The tires spun as it tried to free itself.

Alex put the car in park and got out. As the wind blew by, he could detect the faint sound of whispering. He couldn’t quite make out the words as they appeared to be in a foreign language that he wasn’t familiar with.

After inspecting his tire, Alex realized that there was no way he could get it out of the ditch right now. He would need a tow, but he didn’t have time to wait for one. The clock on the dash read 2:45.  Not much time!

Having no other choice, he abandoned the car and began running with the Roman Ritual under his arm. It was raining heavily, but he did the best he could to keep the book safe. Thankfully, he was not too far away.

The rain stung Alex’s eyes as he finally arrived at the McConnel house. Sgt. McConnel met him at the door, “Alex, thank God you made it. Are you all right?”

A drenched Alex took a moment to catch his breath, “Yeah… fine… we need to get started.”

Alex tried to push past Sgt. McConnel, but the officer stopped him in his place. Alex looked at him oddly, “What is it?”

Sgt. McConnel shook his head, “Just so there are no surprises… Tersa has taken a turn. It looks like the demon has control now.”

“Then we have no time to waste, come on.”

Alex looked around as they stood outside of Tersa’s bedroom, “Where is your wife?”

“In our room. She’s been through enough.”

“Fine, are you ready?”

Sgt. McConnel nodded, “I don’t know what you need me to do, but I’m there for my little girl.”

“It’s not her that you’re going to be facing in there.”

Alex’s words sent a chill down Tersa’s father’s spine, “What do you need me to do?”

“Stay close, if she tries to harm herself, restrain her. Whatever you do, do not interfere in the ritual, if you feel like you can’t handle it then remove yourself. Don’t engage the creature, ignore it and don’t speak to it in any way.”


Alex nodded, “All right, let’s go.”

Sgt. McConnel’s fingers curled around the door knob. He worked the door open slowly. On the other side, Alex could see Tersa handcuffed to both bedposts. Her knuckles were red and she was covered in sweat.

Alex saw the crucifix above her head and the holy water on the table near the door. The McConnels had done everything he’d asked. Now it was his turn.

Tersa, or whatever had control of her hissed, “So Adramelech, you came. I thought after you pushed me away earlier, you were going to stay away.”

Adramelech? What was she talking about? It doesn’t matter. Demons will do anything they can to throw you off. Ignore it.

Alex began by sprinkling Holy Water in the shape of a cross on Tersa, her father, and himself. Tersa winced in pain as though the water burned her. Oddly, Alex also felt pain, albeit not as badly. Again he chalked it up to the demon trying to play tricks on him and opened the Roman Ritual.

The first section was the Litany of the Saints. First came the invocation of the trinity, and then the invocation of the archangels and the saints. Finally, Alex asked for deliverance from evil.

Tersa laughed through the entire thing, “Your words are meaningless. You don’t even believe them! How can you possibly call on the powers of Heaven when you yourself don’t believe in their worth?”

She had a point and Alex knew it. His own lack of belief could spell doom for this attempt, and for Tersa, but it was the only chance he had to save her, so he once again ignored the demon’s words and continued, “Dwell not, O Lord, on our sins or those of our parents, nor take vengeance on us for them!”

He then continued on to recite the psalms. Tersa’s laughing became even higher pitched. She was clearly enjoying this, “Silly poems and meaningless words won’t save her this night!”

Alex shut out the demon’s relentless taunting and continued to pray. He had to do his best to remain stoic, but his patience was failing. An exorcism was supposed to be a test of wills and he was losing this fight.

The reading of John 1 didn’t help, nor did the blessing of the sick. The demon kept relentlessly taunting him. As he continued reading, it turned to Tersa’s father, “Look at this pretender, not a true defender. He can’t save your daughter! It fills me with laughter! Adramelech won’t harm me, he doesn’t even know who he is!”

That was all that Alex was going to tolerate. He doused her in more holy water. The demon fell back in pain and went silent as though showing some form of obedience.

Alex nodded and began the exorcism rite, “I cast you out, evil spirit from hell, you and all your foul companions. In nomine Criste. Begone from our daughter Tersa and stay far from this creature of God.”

The demon spat at him, “Never!”

Alex ignored her and continued in a louder voice, “For it is he that commands you, it is he who cast your being from the heights of the Heavens into the depths of Hell, he who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the belief, you foe of all things living, you bringer of death.”

The demon fought back, “I am not Satan! You use words without embracing their meaning! You fool!”

“Why, then, do you defy God, you must know that Christ brings your plans to ruin? Fear him, crucified as flesh, yet claimed victory over the powers of Hell.”

“Your words are meaningless!” The demon roared. “You invoke the name of someone you do not believe can help you. How dare you think to bring me down!”

“Begone, then, in Nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti! Give place to our lord Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, our God, forever and ever.”

Alex closed the book. The demon was panting as it stared him down. It was as though their eyes were waging their battle for them.

“What is your name demon?” Alex demanded.

“You’re too late.”

“What is your name?”

“You can’t save her, only a man of faith could!”

“Identify yourself, ancient serpent!”

“I was alone in the sky… I will return… or is that you?”

“In nomine Criste! Give me your name!”

The demon threw its head back and cried out, “I am Rachel Proctor, mistress of Quetzalcoatl! I was imprisoned, but I was released, and you my love, you have set me free!”

Alex’s eyes widened and he stepped back while Rachel let out a scream that no human vocal chords could possibly make. Chills rolled down his spine as he processed her words. Thunder and lightning outside her window added to horror that was unfolding in front of them.

Sgt. McConnel looked up confused, “Alex, what is she talking about?”

Rachel forced Tersa’s body to lie back, “Take me, oh lord, as is your right.”

Alex shook as he tried to continue, “D… depart then…”

“That is enough!”

Alex and Sgt. McConnel turned to see three men in black and red robes enter the room. The leader spoke up, “In Nomine Criste, this ends now! Lord God forgive us!”

Alex was about to say something when he felt a sudden and pain strike to the back of his head. His eyes blurred and he fell unconscious. The exorcism was over.




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