Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 7 - A Shadow in the Darkness

  • Father Marcus placed himself on the right side of the marble table, his waist in line with André’s chest. It was an odd position for an exorcism ceremony as normally priests, rabbis, imams and other religious leaders either place themselves on top the head of the victim or at the foot. Nevertheless, no one was complaining.
  • Regina, after pushing the button, returned to her husband’s side and sat rather anxiously in the solo sofa next to him. Still, Ysabelle continued to silently observe the development, keeping her breaths deep and controlled.
  • Yes, as per reported, the blue and violet flames didn’t burn when Marcus placed a hand on André’s chest. He didn’t feel anything at all. No tingling sensation or searing pain. It was odd, but Marcus found it beneficial for him. True enough, the Holy Pope was right that this exorcism might be easy; however, Marcus chose not to let his guard down. After doing a sign of the cross, he uttered his first word that had completely left Ysabelle dumbstruck.
  • “...xdxse...” (“Demon.“)
  • It was foreign on the audience’s ears, except for her. It was so clear, so precise a pronunciation that she had to ask herself, why does he know that particular ancient Aramaic language? How had he gotten to learn the dialect? She indeed wanted to find out the answer, but in the end assumed that it must be from the Vatican exorcism training he had undergone in the past. It was a possible scenario. But still...
  • Marcus went on to speak, reciting a powerful verse as his eyes closed.
  • “Ebhd skdhak bhdkha dknbdae dhe abhida ehbi dlahe hbldia hdnbie hbladhnb nd bha dnie”! (“Lick the flames of Hell you have cast upon this poor soul. Banish the pain. Ease his soul. By the Heaven’s above, I command you!“)
  • As a result, a vacuum of air coming from his hand escaped and created a cold, cold draft around the room. The flames tossed wildly even more and this time, Marcus felt a slight burning sensation on his hand and waist. It was the demon’s act of aggression it seems and it was fighting around its way on the binding words.
  • Once again, the ringing in Marcus’ ears that bothered him when he first stepped inside the room returned. It was an odd occurrence as he had never experienced such objective symptom ever since he started dealing with the entities of the dark. Not even once. ‘So this job wouldn’t be easy after all, ’ was what his subconscious realized after being subjected to an intensified high-decibel ringing in his ears. This time, it buried the ancient language from his mouth almost to the point that Marcus thought he was deaf.
  • He cringed with the loudness, but nevertheless, went on.
  • ‘Demon. You, who is the scourge of man, leave this mortal body alone!’ Marcus shouted in his thoughts in straight English. ’I bind you...to eternity in Hell! I exorcise you!”
  • With the last word, Marcus felt a current of electricity bound his hand on André’s chest. He flinched and wanted to pull it out, but some unusual force kept his hand right on spot. It seared his palm immediately and the surrounding skin reddened first before it charred.
  • To be subjected to physical pain was only puny a problem for him. Immune he was as he had experienced far worse as a matter of fact. A grin only emerged from his lips then. ‘Good. Finally, a challenge, ’ that thought crossed his mind.
  • The whole room shook with the strong vibration appearing out of André’s body. Light fixtures flickered wildly, the curtains suddenly burst out in blue flames. Regina, frightened, stood up and clutched her husband’s shoulder, while the latter showed a stern, but surprised face. Ysabelle, on the other hand reacted differently. She saw the effects of the demon’s power, but wasn’t frightened. She kept a cool regard with it, not until she saw the priest’s charred right hand. Apparently, that made her flinch and worry immediately.
  • ‘Something wasn’t right, ’ she thought to herself, ‘definitely not right.’
  • Attempting to keep pace with the ceremony, Marcus threw his free hand over the jailed one and pressed it tightly on André’s chest. He may not have powers the same as the previous exorcist priests have, but he had the devotion and the Holy Light to guide him through this trial.
  • A smell of sulfur and rotten fish tickled his nose for a moment. Then, it was followed by a black oily liquid seeping out of André‘s skin: from the head down to the foot. When it contacted Marcus’ charred hand, he immediately growled in pain. The liquid seemed to have a life of its own, generating an acidic sensation.
  • Finding it dangerous, Marcus countered it with another ancient Aramaic verse and this brought out a white blinding light which consequently surrounded the victim’s body.
  • “Dbhdkn eihd albid bh abhidne blhaid bhidea aahbieh eifmbn nflehyb hdiey.” (“Through light and dark. I bind thee. I take thee out of this man’s body! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.“)
  • The trio audience watched in anticipation and awe. Hope was in their thoughts, wanting for André to live through the ordeal. However, with the sudden blinding light enveloping the marble table and the two men near it, they couldn’t see how the exorcism rite would end.
  • Black sea. Black sky. Black soil. It was a lifeless obsidian of an environment Marcus found himself in whilst standing near a sandy shore. Although it was his first time in a questionable place - if it was even called one - there was not a hint of fear in his eyes.
  • ‘Where am I?’ his thoughts asked, for a moment curious.
  • He scanned the surrounding area, turning from right to left and found not a soul in sight. It was only him alone...together with his shadow. But weird, he thought, why would there be a shadow when there was no sun and the ground was as black as it?
  • “Marcus...”
  • A woman’s voice filtered through the air without warning. It was soft and resounding, nonthreatening at all.
  • “Marcus!”
  • It called out again with considerable emphasis. More like panicking. Trying to focus as to where the sound came from, he heightened his sense of hearing by closing his eyes.
  • “Father Marcus!” shouted the voice once again, but this time, it had a clear effect on him. He didn’t even knew that he was in a dream until he was pulled out back to reality...until Ysabelle’s sweet but worried voice broke through it.
  • ‘A dream?’ Marcus thought soon when he saw his interrupter standing near him with her hand on his right shoulder. She had concerned eyes and a thinly pressed lip, but as their gazes met, it immediately softened.
  • “Father, are you all right?” was her first question.
  • Finding it odd, Marcus scanned the whole area first before answering. Except from the blue and violet flames in the curtains and in André’s body gone, everything was in the exact order, not to mention the master and his wife still keeping a safe distance. The unconscious André was still the same, except he had more color on his face. This, Marcus took as a good sign that the exorcism rite was a complete success. He heaved a breath and nodded slightly on Ysabelle’s way.
  • “Yes, I am, ” was his calm and collected answer.
  • “But your hand!” she exclaimed, throwing a distressed look on the charred skin.
  • Marcus watched the damage and though he found it alarming, he answered anyway to lessen her worry, “This is nothing Ms. Ysabelle.” He stepped backward and made a sign of the cross in his chest, kissing the pectoral cross thereafter silently, but all the while he could feel the woman’s burning stare on him.
  • “The ceremony is done, ” said he when he turned to look at Regina and Alfon. “You remembered what I told you earlier?” he asked which immediately granted him a nod from the two. “Good. When he wakes up, attend to him quickly.”
  • “Thank you Father, ” Regina answered with a shaky voice. She crossed the room and went on to stand in her eldest son’s side in silent tears.
  • Marcus watched the reunion and found it a blessing to look at; however, he still didn’t miss Ysabelle’s curious eye on him.
  • “What do you want?” was his stern inquiry. For a moment there, he felt his temper break, easily.
  • “I should tend to that Father, ” Ysabelle offered with strong conviction.
  • A battle of icy stares ensued, each on their own stubbornness. Marcus, still dismissing his burnt hand as nothing, would have quickly refused it, but Alfon swiftly interjected.
  • “Yes, I think you should have that tended Father Marcus.” He stalked towards them and watched the seeping fresh blood under the blackened skin in tight disgust. “It doesn’t look...good at all.”
  • “Hmmm...this is just a momentarily setback on the exorcism, Sir Alfon. This is nothing.”
  • “But still you should have it bound. I implore you Father. It is the least that we can do to pay for your services.”
  • It was a waiting battle, with the three both in silence, but with the majority on the winning side, including Regina who was now looking at him too, he conceded.
  • “Very well, ” he said, growling low thereafter as he examined his hand in more attention, but as soon as he did that, his eyesight dimmed...
  • “How is he Father Julien?” The master of the house asked, standing outside the hallway near Father Marcus’ selected temporary chamber in the second floor.
  • “He is fine, Sir Alfon, but he is still unconscious and with fever, ” was the priests reply after a careful thought. It had been three hours since the exorcism rite ended...since Marcus fainted. He would have fallen directly on the floor if not for Ysabelle’s quick reflex of supporting his weight.
  • “Goodness! Does this happen always when he exorcises a demon?” Alfon asked, raising his brow. The men were of the same height, so Alfon could see clearly the deep contemplative spark in Father Julien’s eyes.
  • “As far as I know, this is new, ” the priest answered after a passing minute. “In all of his jobs, there was not one that got him in a feverish state, Sir Alfon. This is the first for me too.”
  • “Hmm...I see, ” said Alfon, with wrinkles so visible it showed he was analyzing something serious too. “Well then, you are welcome in my house. Stay here until Father Marcus’ recuperates.”
  • Father Julien bowed his head low and said, “Thank you Sir.”
  • It wasn’t Ysabelle’s duty to tend to the exorcist priest in particular, but she opted herself to do so. Her uncle and aunt didn’t order her to do it nor did Father Julien asked for help. She chose to volunteer, finding it a polite way of returning back the favor of saving André’s life. In reality though, it was her simple excuse. She couldn’t tell them of course that she was downright worried on the priest’s health more than she did with her cousin. She couldn’t tell them too that she felt the same guilt with what has happened with Father Marcus. This guilt was her burden to take especially because her stupid wish was the root cause of it all.
  • After wrapping Marcus’ weeping charred hand with a loose bandage, she felt her eyes water as she sat in a stool at the edge of the bed. For the first time ever, the impact of her hopelessness racked her greatly. Alfon promised to look for ways in order to fulfill her wish, but she thought if this were to happen to other innocent people, if their lives would be the cost then she would prefer to let it go. She would be willing to sacrifice herself and her freedom just in order to stop future events like this from happening.
  • Marcus was lying in the mattress, half of his body covered with the bedspread and his head propped up with two white pillows. He looked to be sleeping peacefully, but Ysabelle could see he was battling his fever inside. The sweat in his naked torso and chest was enough evidence.
  • She had nursed quite a lot of men and women -- young, old and even robust, virile men -- back in good health in her lifetime and she knew pretty well the signs and symptoms of any discomfort, both mentally and physiologically. It was commonplace for her to see a show of nakedness. Very common. However, this man in her front was no ordinary man mainly because he is a priest and also because this priest made her feel unlike her usual self. So, with that said, it was understandable that his naked form didn’t so much as help her. A woman as she is, it took her pretty much a great deal of effort not to look and admire the priest’s manly physique.
  • For the most part, religious servers were expected to have either bulbous bellies or matchstick bodies, but no, Father Marcus was not the same. He almost looked like an athlete; a very lean and fit one. He had small blotted scars on the right flank of his torso and a clean diagonal scar on his chest area, stretching all the way to the sternum. A worrying sight as it was, it however decorated the well-toned sinews of Marcus perfectly. No, not bulbous or anorexic, but hard muscled slabs.
  • “Are you all right Ms. Ysabelle?” Father Julien asked as soon as he stepped inside the room. He noticed the short tears on her immediately and the blushing of her cheeks that was why he asked her that.
  • “Oh, Father Julien, ” Ysabelle spoke, quickly wiping her tears dry with the back of her hand, “Well, uhmm, I’m fine. I just found it overwhelming to see an exorcism ceremony like earlier.”
  • The priest slowly nodded once as if he was affirming the statement. Walking the length of the room towards the foot of the bed, he chose to sit in a sofa chair readied for him. “Hmmm, that’s why I chose not to witness it every time I accompany Father Marcus, ” he explained.
  • “Have you known him for a while now Father?” she asked, wanting to change the subject, but mostly because she was curious on Marcus’ background life.
  • “Who? Father Marcus?” he clarified.
  • “Yes, ” answered she, whilst trying hard to keep her heartbeats in rhythm.
  • “Well, let’s see, ” Father Julien stated. He leaned backward and comfortably pressed his back on the backrest. “I guess we are friends for ten years now. I met him in the priesthood training at a seminary in Italy. That time, I already knew he was specifically trained to become an exorcist priest.”
  • “Oh, really?”
  • “Yes, it is his calling I think. Anyway, I believe he is perfect on this job. He seems to deal with demons quite well.”
  • And then, there was a dull spark on Ysabelle’s eyes. She shifted her attention on the sleeping man and went to express her sadness.
  • “But now this, ” she spoke, voice with a small rasp.
  • Father Julien easily saw the change of mood. He shook his head and released a calm sigh.
  • “Don’t worry, Ms. Ysabelle. Although this is a first, it is just minor. I’m pretty sure Father Marcus will recover quickly. Let’s just pray for it.”
  • A fleeting smile emerged from her lips then.
  • “Uhmm, thanks Father, ” Ysabelle stated, “That somehow eases my worry. Thanks for explaining it to me.”
  • “No big deal, Ms. Ysabelle. To help is my pleasure, ” the priest concluded.
  • “Well, now. I should go, Father. I’ll leave you to your prayers. If you need anything, just pull this rope. It will ring the bell on the kitchen side, ” she informed, whilst standing up. After receiving a nod and a thank you from Father Julien, she cast a last look on Marcus, silently wishing him to be well soon.