Beneath the Surface (Chapter 10)

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Alex woke up in his mother’s bed. He felt disgusting and his joints were all sore like they hadn’t been moved in days. He was in despirate need of a shower. He sat up, ready to start the day, when he looked outside to see that it was completely dark. What time is it?

The clock next to his bed said 9pm. What the hell?

At that moment, his mind began to clear, “Tersa!”

Alex struggled to get out of bed. His knees ached as he tried to apply weight to them. He was unable to find his balance. Had he been drugged?

At that moment, two men in black and red robes burst through the door. Alex’s eyes went wide, “Who the hell are you?”

The leader, an older man with a gray beard, stepped forward, “I am Father Benson, and this is Father Paul.”

He eyed the two preists suspiciously, “You’re here from the Vatican?”

“Officially, no. We don’t even exist. We are part of an ancient order within the church. We are Papal Knights.”

“The Papal Knights were disbanded back during the 16th Century. They don’t exist anymore.” Alex fired back.

“As far as the public is concerned, that’s true.”

On their black robes, both of them had a small pendant on the collar. It was two sword, one red, one white, in the form of a cross. They each also had a sword at their side, for ceremonial purposes, no doubt.

Alex didn’t know their intentions, but didn’t trust them, “I suppose you two are the ones who have been following me around over the last few days?”

The two priests looked at each other for a moment before Father Benson spoke, “No.”

“You weren’t following me in black hodded cloaks?”

“No.”

“Then who was?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

Alex was growing even more suspicious, “What happened? Where is Tersa?”

“She’s safe.”

“I need more than that, what happened after the exorcism?”

“There was no exorcism. You failed. What were you thinking?”

“I beg your pardon?” Alex asked.

Father Benson pointed an accusing finger at him, “You are not ordained. You went to the church, they turned you down, so instead you go about trying a seat of your pants exorcism? Are you out of your mind?”

“Father Moran’s view was way off.” Alex shot back. “He wouldn’t even consult the bishop on it. She clearly was exhibiting all the symptons of a power possession. There is no way that she would have lasted long. Where is she?”

“Here.”

“Here? In my house?”

Father Benson nodded, “Yes, we took up residence here. Her parents agreed to leave her in our care while we sort this out.”

Alex shook his head, “Sort what out? This struck me as a possession, not unlike any other.”

“Oh but it is different.”

“How.”

“Because, Tersa isn’t the only one possessed.”

“What… then who, Sgt. McConnel?”

“No. Think harder.”

That’s when it hit Alex. The voices he’d been hearing, the hallucinations, the man in the black robes, the nightmares… “Me?”

Father Benson nodded, “That’s correct.”

“Well… that would explain a few things, but how…?”

Father Paul stepped forward, “The failed exorcism that you were a part of. That girl left something with you, didn’t she?”

“No. Nothing.”

“No?” Brother Paul asked. “Tell me, when did the nightmares and your smoking habit start? Almost immediately after, didn’t it?”

“Well… Come on, that’s just post traumatic stress disorder.”

Father Benson nodded, “Spoken like a true psychologist.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Is it?” Father Benson asked. “How long do you think you’ve been laying here?”

Alex shrugged, “I don’t know, 17 hours?”

“It’s been four days.”

“Four days?”

“Afraid so…”

Alex couldn’t believe it, “How… that’s not possible! I was unconscious for three days! What did you give me?”

“Nothing, we knocked you out. We didn’t drug you… and you weren’t unconscious the entire time either.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were up, walking around, speaking in tongues.”

Alex was barely able to process this information, “So why didn’t you exorcise… whatever it is?”

“We tried, twice. It will not leave. We were even able to identify it, but it still remains attached to your soul.”

“What are we dealing with?”

Father Paul lowered his eyes as he spoke, “Adramelech.”

Alex couldn’t believe it, but it made sense. That would explain why Rachel referred to him as such, “But… that demon…”

“Yes we know. It killed that poor girl in Rome.”

“But it was with her after the exorcism.”

“No.” Father Paul replied. “We believe that it did the damage to her that killed her during the exorcism. She died because of those injuries, but that doesn’t mean they were inflicted at that point. It would appear that your exorcism wasn’t a failure after all. You ripped the demon from that poor girl, but you didn’t successfully send it to Hell.”

“So it attached itself to me.”

Father Benson nodded, “Yes… I’m afraid so…”

Alex rubbed his forehead. Suddenly things started to fall into place. Unfortunately, it still left too much unanswered, “But why haven’t I ever lost control? I’ve had hallucinations, but up until now, the demon has never taken control of me.”

“That you know of.”

Alex stopped in his path, “Yes… that I know of.”

“For all you know, it could have taken you while you slept. Or perhaps it was lying in wait for the right moment to strike.”

“Why would it do that?”

“Who knows? Maybe it wanted you to bring it somewhere before trying to take over?”

That made Alex very suspicious, “Somewhere as in here?”

“Possibly.”

“But why?”

“No idea…”

Alex shook his head, more questions that didn’t have answers. He stood up and turned to the priests, “Can I see her?”

The two of them nodded as Father Benson spoke up, “She’s out on your back porch, but for your own safty, we’d ask that you not leave the property. We can’t guarantee your safty or the safry of those nearby if you do.”

“I’m surprised you’re not trying to force me to stay put.”

“We’re preists, not armed guards.”

Alex nodded as he turned to the door and stepped out of the bedroom. He proceeded past the priests down the hallway to the living room. Everything was as it had been before in the living room and the dining room.

His house was very similar in layout to the McConnel’s. Their dining room and slider to the back porch was in the same place, though his mother preferred a different setup of the furnature. Their table was off to the side, giving anyone in the living room an unobstructed view of the porch.

Alex made his way to the back slider when he saw Tersa standing out back, wrapped in a black blanket. He pulled the slider open carefully, trying not to disturb her, but his efforts were in vain. She jumped the moment that she heard the slider open.

A sign of relief exited her body when she saw that it was just Alex. He paused at the door when he saw her, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“You didn’t.” She responded. “I guess I’m just a little tightly wound at the moment.”

“Yeah, I can understand that.”

“Well it’s not every day you find out that you’re the reincarnated mistress of some ancient Aztec God.”

“Aztec?”

“Quetzalcoatl. He was the Aztec God of light. Some say he was one of their Sun Gods. I looked it up when I found out who Rachel worshipped.”

Alex scratched his head, “But I don’t get it, why you?”

“I was born at the right time.”

“Yeah you and how many millions of others?”

“I also lived nearby.”

“Still, there has to be a bit more to it than that. I mean why you, why wait three hundred years?”

Tersa shrugged. Alex saw the sad look on her face and began to worry, “There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

Tersa nodded, “It could be nothing… odd coincidence.”

“What?”

“My mother’s maiden name, Proctor.”

Chills ran down Alex’s spine, “You’re kidding?”

“No, and my mother’s family has lived in this town for as far back as our history goes.”

“Now it makes sense.”

Tersa nodded, “Yeah… Rachel was too young to have children, but according to what I read, she had brothers and sisters, some of whom survived to adulthood.”

“So that would make you her great, great, great, great… great grand niece.”

“Her blood descendant.”

Alex sighed, “Well that does make sense.”

“So you believe?”

“Yeah, I believe you, why wouldn’t I?”

“That’s not what I meant.” Tersa replied. “I was asking if you believe.”

“Then my answer is still no.”

“How can someone who has seen a demonic possession and even now is dealing with one of his own, still not believe in God?”

“Did I ever say that I didn’t believe in God?”

Tersa’s racing mind stopped dead in its tracks. It’s true, he never did say that. Then what did he mean when he said that he wasn’t a believer? This made no sense to her, “Then what don’t you believe in?”

“I don’t believe he cares.” Alex replied. “I don’t believe that he’s infallible.”

“So… what you think he just created us for sport or some kind of entertainment?”

“Exactly.”

“That’s a pretty dismal outlook.”

“Yup.”

“You really have changed. The guy I used to know would never have said anything like that.”

“A lot can happen in six years.”

“I guess.”

Alex’s eyes narrowed, “You sound disappointed.”

“No, not at all.” Tersa insisted. “You may not be the charismatic person you were back then, but you were still the kind person who took a complete stranger in distress in off of the street. That’s the guy that I remember.”

“Well at there’s one person I didn’t disappoint.”

An annoyed look appeared on Tersa’s face, “You know, you put way too much stock in what happened in Rome. Small towns like this aren’t a good place to keep secrets.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that everyone here knows that something bad happened to you over in Rome, not everyone knows what, but we all know that you left the seminary because of something you saw. Rumors spread quickly about what it was…”

Alex rolled his eyes, “Oh great…”

“Alex, we were worried about you. You could have come home, but you were too ashamed.”

“I couldn’t save that girl. She had a family and life before all of this.”

“Yeah she did, but so did you and you still do. Look, from what you told me, you were a student. You shouldn’t have even been put in that situation. You did what you could.”

“It wasn’t enough.”

“No, but you gave it everything you could. It wasn’t for you to save that girl. She was doomed the moment that your teacher was killed.”

Alex couldn’t argue anymore, or was it that he didn’t want to? Instead he feigned a smile, “You sure know how to suck the wind out of an argument.”

“It’s easy when all you have is the truth.”

Alex nodded, “All right, well I’ll think about.”

 



Readers,

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Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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