Do you have a place that makes you feel comfortable and safe? Mine was my grandfather’s house, God rest his soul, and if I was so bold I would say it was like touching a slice of heaven.
As I trudged up the hill, I saw Father O’Leary’s slice, his church. It was as if the Lord willed it into being, created in time long past, grown from the hill itself.
The Vatican saw fit to send me in person for his messages, likely because this place was untouched by technology, as the ‘no signal’ on my cell phone showed. I was not shocked to find the church lit by candles , but was warmed as I walked in from the dreadful damp by two large fireplaces. I made the sign of the cross and walked down the empty pews.
“Father O’Leary? It’s Father Jacobs, from the Church.”
There was a door placed in the back, at the bottom of a set of stairs, just barely open. It smelled of long dead wood inside, and was measures colder. I pulled my coat tighter against me, and followed the steps down. This crypt was certainly deeper than many I’ve been to, and lit by oil lamps with incense that gave off that wood smell. Sage perhaps, too.
I was surprised to meet another door, this one with a number of markings both carved into its solid wood surface, and other metallic pieces inlaid. It too, was open and that’s where I found Father O’Leary, sitting against the wall.
His blood formed a pool so large I stepped in it immediately upon entering the room. Holy Mother, he was still alive. He was attempting to write something on a piece of paper with his one good hand. I say one, as his other was missing, along with most of his face, glasses perched precariously on the remains of his nose.
“Father! What in God’s name happened to you? Where is a phone? What…”
He shushed me with great effort and a gurgle of blood, intent on his paper. Within a moment his body released tension and he let out a sigh, handing me the paper.
“seal broke, release swords”
I had heard stories of fierce conviction and sermon of Father O’Leary, and despite his condition, the fire in his eyes was still lit as he spoke.
“Take my…hand…get out”
I grabbed his good hand as he offered it, but he pushed me away with feeble strength and pointed.
“Take..my HAND…you…dumb cunt.”
I noticed then his hand lying across the room, part of a circle of strange runes, symbols, and candles on the floor. Had I seen these had glimpsed such runes before and noticed the other side of the parchment he had given me had the same types. A book lay on a small altar nearby, a torn section where the page would likely match.
I drew closer to the circle and saw the thing that tipped me over the edge. Something writhing in the middle of the circle of runes. Swirling. And edging out in breaks in the circle. It avoided his arm like the plague. His arm blocked the greatest hole in the circle. I looked at Father O’Leary again, furrowing my brow.
He straightened up a bit, and nodded once.
The moment I grabbed the arm, there was a surge of activity. The shadows of the room converged. I snatched the book as well and rushed to the door, risking a look back.
A nearly glowing beautiful man in a black suit stood in front of Father O’Leary.
“Weee’ve been waiting Father.” his voice vibrated the room, his words each stretched out.
“Backup?” He looked at me, then at O’Leary. “This. Won’t. Doooooo…” as he spoke his arm stretched toward me. And continued stretching, held by shadows crossing meters of distance.
The arm suddenly stopped. His face stiffened.
“Run you shit” Father O’Leary coughed. He held the figure’s leg with the beads of his rosary.
I took my leave with sprinter’s speed I hadn’t known was in me. The stained glass shifted, a glimpse of something watching me through it. Hundreds of eyes, but I admit my fear and did not look.
The door had shadows wrapped around it, but I held my faith firm for once, and Father O’Leary’s arm in front of me.
Rain and damp nipped me and the Lord’s weather never felt so good.
I did not turn back, as the laughter followed my flight from that place.