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Chapter Eight: His Demon Inside

  • Aurora found herself lying on her bed the next morning with bandaged wrists. She immediately straightened to sit, but an instant shooting headache made her drop in pain.
  • “You should rest Aurora. Don’t overexert yourself,” Sister Clarice kindly said to her, sitting in a stool a few inches away. The nun had been with her the whole night as it was what Father Azrael had strictly instructed. Any unusualities, she must report immediately even if it was in the dead of the night. Luckily, there have been none, to the Sister’s relief.
  • “Sister Clarice? Why are you here?” Aurora looked up, touching her forehead with her palm.
  • “Father Azrael told me to take care of you. He brought you here unconscious and bruised.”
  • “Oh?” With that, Aurora recollected everything that had happened in the school. Whatever she saw that time, whatever she experienced, it was as real as the mattress she was lying. She was truly thankful that Father Azrael had come to her aid. However, there was a question that lingered in her mind, and to answer it, she would have to confront Father Azrael face to face.
  • “All right, I think you are hungry. I should go and prepare breakfast for you.” Sister Clarice stood up and turned to the door.
  • “No Sister, that is not necessary. I can stand up, see?” Aurora jumped up and stood straight, fighting the shooting headache off. She had an undebatable expression and a determined face when the nun looked at her.
  • “Hmmm... I can see that, but you still need to rest okay?” Sister Clarice negotiated.
  • “Yes Sister, don’t you worry,” she guaranteed and then went to pull her bath towel that hang behind the door.
  • Sister Clarice smiled politely as she left. Now, Aurora finally had the room for herself. She had so much in plan to do this day, but first things first, she needed to bathe and get the stink of the demon out of her.
  • Father Azrael was already awake at six early in the morning. After finishing his entry on his journal, he slid his brown leather coat on, completing his ensemble. He had already worn a black clerical shirt with a tab collar inserted and black slacks. The pectoral cross was left dangling on his chest. He immediately set foot, intending to reach the orphanage house riding a cab.
  • The usual hustle and bustle greeted him in the courtyard when he arrived there. This time, he saw Jennie happily playing with the husky puppy and Jessa sitting in a wheelchair looking bright and cheerful.
  • It was good that everything went out right for her. She was so innocent that she didn’t deserve being possessed by a demon.
  • He passed them silently before the little girls could even notice him and went directly to Aurora’s room which had a moss green door. He had expected that she was still sleeping, but he stepped inside the room only to find that it was empty.
  • He heard a door closing behind him and whirled around to find Aurora standing next to the bathroom door utterly stunned.
  • “Father?!” she gasped, clutching her bath towel closer in her chest.
  • Her face looked fresh and clean. Her hair, dripping wet, some strands of it sticking in her skin.
  • Father Azrael was surprised himself. Never had he expected that this would be the scene that would welcome him. He stared at her, trying his best not to let his eyes unconsciously roam on more dangerous territories. Her dripping hair was distracting him however. The beads of water created a curvaceous stream along her neck. It was unbearable not to even notice.
  • He heaved a sigh, wanting to leave her room immediately, but his eyes caught a very familiar brown mark peeking out of her wet locks.
  • What the?! he thought out aloud.
  • Aurora felt tensed when he suddenly stepped closer to her, his eyes blazing with fire. Then, his right hand lifted up looking as if he was going to touch her cheeks.
  • “Father Azrael?”
  • She distanced herself, stepping backwards until her back touched the bathroom door.
  • He didn’t say anything. He just continued to close the space between them and cleared the wet strand covering the mark in her neck. His fingers brushed her skin lightly, and she could feel the warmth on it — a delicious warmth after being in a cold shower. He inspected the mark, tilting her head at the same time. Then, his teeth clenched as he recognized it immediately.
  • “Father Azrael!” she shouted in a louder tone, quickly pulling her hair back to hide the mark.
  • His hand froze in the air as he saw her sending him a frightened glare. This time, he knew he scared her. Heaving a sigh, he stepped backward.
  • “I thought I instructed the nuns to let you rest. Why are you up and about?” he questioned her as if nothing had happened.
  • She took a deep breath and answered in a calm voice, “I have work Father. I need to be there in half an hour.”
  • She crossed the room and into her closet.
  • “Bishop Elliot had already arranged that matter Aurora. Don’t tell me that because I know you are on leave.”
  • “I can’t just lie around and do nothing.”
  • She pulled a pair of jeans, a blue blouse, and then the mint green scarf from the closet. Turning to face him, she flagged her clothes in the air as if hinting something of import.
  • “Yes, you certainly have to do nothing,” he answered not bothered by her obvious inadequacy of clothing, “And besides, I am your employer, so I tell you to rest.”
  • “Huh?” Aurora cocked an eyebrow.
  • “For the time being, I am your boss Aurora. So don’t be so stubborn,” said Father Azrael solemnly.
  • “You know I am not being stubborn,” she countered with a gruff and tossed the garments in the mattress.
  • “Aurora. Rest. Please. I know yesterday drained a lot of your energy. It probably was a nerve-wracking experience for you. Look at that! Your bruises are not healed, yet you took off the bandages.” He chastised her, shooting sharp glares on her wrists to which she hid them immediately in shame.
  • “Father Azrael, I am perfectly fine. You don’t need to worry about me,” Aurora plainly answered, trying to keep herself from blushing.
  • With their heated argument, they didn’t even notice that a nun appeared in the open door.
  • “Ahum, excuse me Father Azrael, Sister Cene calls for you.” Sister Clarice interrupted them promptly, standing in the threshold. “You have a phone call in her office from Bishop Elliot.”
  • Father Azrael glanced over his shoulder and nodded slightly.
  • The old nun felt the awkwardness of the moment. Clearing her throat again, she rolled her eyes on Aurora and gauged the deficiency of her appearance. Aurora averted her gaze and bent her head.
  • “Rest. Aurora. That’s an order,” he concluded after a deep sigh, giving her a daunting look before exiting the room.
  • Sister Clarice was silent, but gave her a lopsided smile before closing the door.
  • “Hah! Since when did priests have been so insistent?!” Aurora complained to herself, sitting on the mattress and crossing her arms.
  • “Yes Bishop?” Father Azrael answered, holding the phone on his ear while leaning on Sister Cene’s office table. The Mother Superior had already left the room to give the priest some privacy.
  • “Father Azrael!” Bishop Elliot started with a jolly tone. “You left so early here I wasn’t able to catch up with you!”
  • “I’m sorry Bishop. I wanted to leave early.”
  • “Have you seen the morning news today? What happened when you were in St. Claire High School yesterday? Why am I hearing that the principal in the school is dead of demonic possession?”
  • “Ah, I will talk with you about that later Bishop.” He gave him a curtailed answer.
  • “I am expecting that Father. Really. Because there are a lot of phone calls Father Zefron are receiving now as we speak asking for my explanation. What should I tell them then? Please do suggest.”
  • “Tell them the truth,” was Father Azrael’s clipped reply. “The news has already known half of it anyway, I assume.”
  • “But that is just too sensitive. There has been no deaths in a demon possession ever before.”
  • “There’s always a first time for everything, Bishop. Anyway, just tell them the truth. That’s what priests are supposed to do. The media had already taken advantage of the condition, and the conclave community and the public already knows that demon possessions are rampant in the city. The last thing you would want to do is cover it up.”
  • The Bishop fell silent for a minute. Father Azrael heard fingers tapping on a desk and then, an exhale that was long, deep and unsure. “I do pray you are right Father Azrael,” Bishop Elliot finally spoke.
  • “I am,” was the answer at the receiver’s end.
  • “All right then. However, I would appreciate your full account about yesterday.”
  • “Yes. Later.”
  • “Good!” The Bishop’s jovial voice resurfaced again. “Do give my regards to the children there!”
  • “Will do, Bishop.”
  • Father Azrael already expected this would happen. He had already explained all of it to the security guard of the school hoping that he would be the one to answer all of the school administration and media’s questions. It seems that people weren’t contented with it. They still wanted an explanation coming from a higher spiritual authority.
  • After contemplating for a moment, he made his way back to Aurora’s room. When he arrived there, his irrevocable disappointment was apparent on his face.
  • Dammit. Where is that stubborn woman?
  • As much as he wanted for her to rest, it seems that she had successfully eluded him, taking advantage of the situation.
  • “Uhm, excuse me Father.” Sister Cene knocked on Aurora’s door twice. When the priest turned, she then handed a letter to him.
  • “Aurora said to give you this,” she stated.
  • “Hmmm, thank you Sister Cene.”
  • Father Azrael hurriedly read it, baffled on what its contents were.
  • ***
  • Father. I deeply apologize if I didn’t follow your order, but I had to work now. Thank you anyway for your concern.
  • Aurora
  • ***
  • “I apologize for her actions Father,” Sister Cene said in a soft voice. Looking at the priest’s disconcerted reaction, she felt she needed to explain on the girl’s behalf. “Aurora is a spirited woman, Father. She prefers to work as much as she could.”
  • “Why?” was Father Azrael’s immediate reply.
  • “Because she wants to help out with the expenses of the orphanage. I have already told her not to do it, however she is very insistent. All of her salary, no matter how small it is, she offers it to me to use for the children’s needs.”
  • It didn’t sound so much as an explanation, but a justification on her actions. Sister Cene moved to stand on the corridor and Father Azrael followed her.
  • “I see. Had she been working for that reason for quite some time now?” he asked feeling less flustered.
  • “Yes Father, since she reached seventeen. I think she had already been in all of the city alleys and streets that is exactly why Bishop Elliot had asked her to chaperone you.”
  • “Hmmm...” A grumble of acknowledgement vibrated in his throat. They were both walking along the corridor now. All of the children had already left for school, so nobody except them was in the corridor.
  • “I have heard the news about what happened yesterday in the school. I am thankful to God that you are all safe,” she continued, feeling alleviated with her worries.
  • “Yes, but still Aurora was attacked. If I had been attentive enough, it would have been avoided.” A hint of dissatisfaction and frustration was on his voice. If he was attentive enough indeed, she wouldn’t have fallen prey on the incubus’ prurient plans.
  • “Thank you for saving her still, Father. You know, she has a tough exterior, but if you look closely, she is frail...and scared.”
  • “So it looks,” Father Azrael replied, remembering Aurora’s state inside the bathroom yesterday. The feeling of wanting to protect her at all cost suddenly burned inside him, and along with another feeling he did not want to entertain.
  • Staring at a beige scarf flowing freely, hung on a wire in a small spot where the nuns sun-dry the children’s clothes, a curious thought crossed his mind then.
  • “What can you say about that mark in her neck Sister?” he asked out-of-the-blue.
  • Sister Cene looked confused at first, but realization quickly hit her.
  • “Oh, that?” she exclaimed. “It is a birthmark Father. Weird isn’t it? It is so detailed. Her friends in here used to make fun of her for that. That is why she kept it hidden now with a scarf. She had that mark ever since we adopted her in the orphanage. In her first year here, we had difficulty with her. She used to scream at night telling me and the other nuns that she could see ghosts and monsters.”
  • “Really?” His brows rose up. “That’s sad to hear.”
  • “Yes, indeed it is sad. It might answer why she is immune to seeing these kinds of demon possessions here in the house. Haven’t you noticed Father? She doesn’t seem affected by her attack yesterday.”
  • “Aye, that is true,” he answered when awareness caught him. She did seem to act as if nothing had happened. She even declined to rest the whole day today and decided to work.
  • “Anyway, I must be going now Sister. Bishop Elliot has been asking me to return to the Palace as soon as possible. I do want to thank you for taking the time talking to me.”
  • The nun smiled and nodded on his way. “You’re welcome Father. It is a pleasure.”
  • Authorities now are looking in another angle. A handful of female students at present had already stepped in and claimed that the principal was using their grades to blackmail them into submission. Two of the school’s female alumna also gave their sworn testimony that Mr. Lafton had raped them during their senior years. Right now, many comments in the social media sites have stated their disgust on the principal and had expressed happiness that he is dead.
  • One might ask. Is this the work of the demon? Was Mr. Lafton driven by its power to harass these poor students? Whatever the truth is, one thing is clear - the terror principal’s reign has finally ended thanks to the efforts of our apostolic society in fighting off the demon’s not only in our streets, but also in our hearts.
  • This is Darcy Cheng reporting live in the Today’s News....
  • Bishop Elliot lowered the volume of the television after the flash report.
  • He sat on his usual office chair while Father Azrael stood across him with a grim look on his face.
  • “I have already sent Father Daniels to the Vatican to send your reports to the Holy Pope in person. Surely, that would clear things up,” Bishop Elliot stated as he stood and walked in a nearby food tray. Pouring a liberal amount of wine from the crystalline decanter in his wine flute came easy for him. He had wanted to ease the tension in his muscles since early morning and the wine was the perfect course for it.
  • “Yes, it would,” Father Azrael responded bluntly.
  • “It’s a good thing that that part of his life was cultivated up. At least it would absorb all the shock about his peculiar death.”
  • “There was nothing I can do. He attacked Aurora with still some degree of human sense remaining in him. The demon was only just feeding on his desire,” he reasoned without any hint of concern. For him, killing a human like the principal was commensurate to killing a demon. These kinds of men didn’t deserve to live. Death was always a preferable choice. But who was he to judge when he had his own tumultuous soul to deal with?
  • “I understand that part now. I, however, don’t understand its presence,” the Bishop replied, sitting back on his chair. “Father Eshamael had already exorcised the demon months ago, but you investigate the school now only to find that it is still fastening itself on the principal.”
  • Father Azrael waltzed across the room and settled himself on his now favorite area of the Bishop’s office — the window — where he could see the orphanage house downhill.
  • “You see Bishop, demons are unpredictable creatures,” he started after staring long and hard on Aurora’s open windowsill. The inside of the room showed no evidence of her presence, hinting that she was still at work.
  • “However, we do know their tastes. And their tastes are the same. Innocence and negativity. Children are mostly the targets because they are easy. They are innocent. Adults, however, is a different matter. Demons live and feed with negative emotions created by humans. The more these negative emotions build up, the more they can harvest... the more they are stronger... and the harder it is to exorcise them. It would be easy for them to transfer from one host to another, but if they have already bonded with a human being, they would return to them without hesitation. Call it parasitism, but that is how a demon’s mind works.”
  • Bishop Elliot’s mouth was agape. “Oh, you do know your craft well Father,” he remarked.
  • “I do...” he answered.
  • Unfortunately.
  • He wanted to add that last word, but refrained. How could he not know the works of their minds when he is a demon himself?