Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
“Our church is no more. Our arrogance and ignorance brought forth our destruction. We are all that’s left of the once glorious church. Christianity now relies on us to survive.”
-Pope Pius IX, addressing the Magisterium in the ruins of St. Peter’s Sqaure
All Hallow’s Eve – 1856
The hollow autumn wind brushed through the dying trees with zealous tenacity. Soft whispers on the breeze called forth spirits long forgotten. Here, in bleak despair, a lone boy sat. He cried over the loneliness of a mother’s death. By his side, an older gentlemen, mid aged, his father.
“Bennett, your mother loved you, you know that, right?”
“She left us here father, how is that love?”
“Don’t talk like she was heartless. We tried to give you a life beyond these cathedral halls. Away from religious fervor and zealous politics. She died giving you a chance to make your own life.”
“It still hurts.”
“I know my son.” Gregor, the boy’s father, said, reaching down and hugging his son, ” I love you.”
“I love you too, father.”
The dark, moonlit halls were still, not even the dust woke upon the chilling winds. Bennett traversed the sanctuary, it’s ruined state brought a strange quiet to his torment. The moon was rising and its pale blue light gleamed through the stained glass windows. Bennett knelt before the alter, looking upon the crucifix which hung from the wall, a radiant golden glow gave it an aura of hope.
“Lord, I am lost. Help me find the light which is lost to me.”
“Please Lord, I ask for guidance. I ask for peace.”
No answer still.
Bennett’s mind raced; foul thoughts brought to the forbearance of radical cognition. Death seemed to be a comfort, a release from the empty company this site gave.
“I love you.” His father’s voice echoed through his mind.
“Lord, help me. I beseech you. I lay down my pride, my guilt, my sin. Show me your benevolent light.”
Bennett sighed and rose from his pious stance. The moonlight dimmed to dark luminance.
Into the sanctuary walked three figures, garbed in black robes with flowing cloaks. Bennett gave no thought to their strange regalia, for thoughts far worse entered his mind. Thoughts of flames, of cities brought to ash, of an evil returned.
“Excuse me sirs, but the sanctuary is closed. My father is in the chapel, delivering the All Hallow’s Eve service.”
“We have not come to pray before the cross young Bennett. We have come to give you hope.” The center figure said, a strange, deep dread in his voice.
“Your release which you so long for.” The figure to the right said, his voice gave a chill of hate to young Bennett.
“Your prayers have been heard, your plea has been granted.” The last figure said, an aura of death radiated from him.
“My prayers, answered. My cries heard. Surely my doubt is mistaken, the Lord has heard his servant.” Bennett said, tears falling upon his cheeks.
Bennett wiped the tears, which blurred his vision, then he noticed a strange sight; black feathered wings stretched from his saviors’ backs, black halos above their heads, which held a black flame, alit in malevolent hate.
“What are you, surely not of Heaven.” Bennett asked, fear overwhelming his spirit.
“We are your saviors dear Bennett, servants of the true light.” The center figure said.
Bennett stood there, his mind affected, his soul shakened.
“Take my hand, let us show you our grace and forbearance.” The center figure said, the other two started a haunting yet beautiful chant which echoed in the ruined sanctuary.
Bennett hesitated, he tried to run away, but his legs couldn’t move, his thoughts raced. He reached out and touched his savior’s hand. Then, darkness took his vision, then there was nothing.
Bennett awoke in the sanctuary of his father’s church, the moon high as it glared at him through the holes in the once beautiful ceiling. Around him, a symbol, a star upside down. Candles at the points where it touched the circle enclosing it.
“What is this?” Bennett asked, his voice raspy and shallow.
Strange chanting echoed through the halls, small flames sparked in the lines of sand which made the foul pentagram.
“Hear our voices, oh bringer of light. We give you a chance to return.” A voice said, it’s speaker unknown.
“A soul, pure and willing.” Another voice said.
“We send it to you, oh fallen savior.” A third voice said.
The three black angels stepped into the dim light of the flames.
“This isn’t right, you lied. What salvation is this!” Bennett cried out, yet his voice still held its solemn quiet.
“Into the darkness we raise this soul. From torment and deprivation shall he be saved. A herald of the new age.” The center angel said.
“All these, we give. Our lives, our souls. So that we may see the coming storm, the wave of retribution swept clean.” A fourth voice said, a woman, as she stepped into the light. Her hood was down, revealing her dark nature. Her eyes were as if they were torn from the sockets, blood dripped down her cheeks. Her voice boomed, torn stitches ran across her lips, as if they were forced apart. Bennett stared at them, shocked at the sight. Foul shadows encased them, their faces twisted in pain and death. His heart raced, his mind panicked.
“Dear God, what have I done.”
Unable to move, unable to speak, Bennett cried in his mind for release. He thought of the life he would leave behind, the love he would never feel.
Then, in unison, the four figures finished their foul prayer, “Into light, we release the one who fell.”
The flames of the pentagram flared, turning into smokeless black light. The moon turned dark. Whispers echoed through the sanctuary as if the damned themselves were released from Hell.
“God, forgive me.” Bennett whispered, sinking to his knees, crying.
The figures then all looked up, their mouths wide open, and jaws dislocated. A malevolent black smoke rose from their mouths, meeting high above the center of the ritual.
“Release, I remember this feeling. It will be fleeting if I do not have a host.” The vile smoke said, it’s voice has foul as its appearance.
Bennett could not help himself, his mind was not his own anymore, “I have given willingly, my soul for the light.” He said.
“Yes, a soul, meant for Heaven. A lost boy, longing for answers. I shall give you what you seek.”
The smoke, now a large cloud of black mist, flew with all haste towards Bennett, whom held his face high, his mouth open, his arms outstretched towards the sky. Into Bennett, the demon flew, a silent scream overpowered Bennett mind, his thoughts clouded by the corruption which was invading his very soul. Around him, the fallen angels dissipated into black dust, which faded into nothingness.
“A world anew, a brother restored.” The demon whispered in Bennett’s mind.
The demon had taken control. It drew upon Bennett’s life force, eating at his very soul. His world grew dark, nothing was left.
Then, from behind, a voice boomed throughout the sanctuary, like angels heralding the dawn, “How dare you enter this place!”
It was Gregor, whom ran towards his son.
“Back to the flames, back to your master!” Gregor yelled, tearing his cross from its chain.
He held it forward, “In the shadows I cast thee, into darkness you shall return!” His voice shaking in wrathful righteousness.
The cross flared into divine light, the windows gleamed as if day had broken.
Bennett screamed in pain, causing Gregor to flinch.
“Oh archbishop, truly you cannot believe mere piety can banish me.” The possessed Bennett said, his voice was as if two were talking at once.
Gregor once again held his cross forward, still illuminating with the divine aura.
Bennett fell to the floor, screaming in agony, bringing Gregor nearly to his knees at the sight of such pain towards his beloved son.
“I cast your faith aside. Your messiah shall fall!” Bennett yelled.
The ground shook, dust fell from the ruined ceiling and the crucifix fell onto the alter, splitting both in half.
“You dare insult Christ. You forget who broke Hell’s grip in the first place.” Gregor said, now standing over his possessed son, “I cast thee away!”
Gregor slammed his cross into Bennett’s chest. The demon’s scream overpowered Bennett’s,
“Shadow’s shall fall, and the sun shall rise. Your darkness shall end.” Gregor said, pushing the cross harder. The ground shook, violently. The walls crumpled, the windows shattered at the sheer force of the battle of wills. Shockwaves sent stones flying into the night, booms of trumpets echoed in the sky. The whispers of the damned turned into deafening shouts and screams.
“In righteous light, I banish thee.” Gregor yelled, the light of the cross sparked as it burned away at Bennett’s flesh. Black veins grew from the skin where the cross touched, Bennett’s skin started to grow pale.
“You think your false messiah can save you. There is no escape from the truth.” The demon said, weak yet all the more arrogant.
“Damn you, let go of my son!” Gregor yelled, tears pouring down his cheeks.
“Never, he was promised to us and to us he shall go.” The possessed Bennett said, breathy yet strong.
Gregor thrusted the illuminated cross deeper into Bennett’s chest, weeping at his son’s torture. Bennett screamed as the cross burned at his flesh, the smell of burning flesh flooded Gregor’s nose, steam rose from Bennett’s wound. Then, a silence befell the destroyed sanctuary. A column of thin dust stretched up into the sky and Bennett rose into the air, his screams now as silent as the night. Gregor was thrown back, landing on his back.
“Out of death, shall life be freed. In eternal light shall Hell be spent. Your master is calling you back, return to the chains!” Gregor yelled as he arose, his final cry to the demon.
Bennett’s screams ended as he looked up, opening his mouth in a manner most unnatural, his jaw dislocating with a painful crack.
The demon rose from Bennett gaping maw. Bennett’s eyes faded to solid black and his skin now was almost snow white.
The demon was wrapped in strips of soft blue energy, golden motes danced around it. Bennett’s skin turned pale and the veins around his eyes and mouth grew black as the demon took more and more of his soul.
Gregor yelled at the top of his lungs, “By the power of Christ, I banish thee back to Hell!”
The demon then flew at top speed into the air, a massive cloud of black smoke, Bennett’s soul dancing around it.
Gregor held his cross high, which flared with golden light, almost as bright as the sun. The demon screamed in pain as a hole formed in the ground, smoke and flame outpoured from it. The demon spoke once more before he flew into the portal to Hell, “This is merely alteration in my master’s agenda. He shall have his prize, one way or another.”
In an uproar of flames and smoke, the demon was pulled back down to Hell by the infernal chains and the portal closed. The scent of brimstone still lingered in the air. Gregor ran to Bennett, who laid on the floor, pale and lifeless.
“Bennett, oh my boy. I’m so sorry.”
Gregor held his son, tears ran down his cheeks like down pouring rain.
Through the tears, Gregor looked past the ruined windows and saw the breaking dawn, the radiance of the sun filled the room. In the sunlight, the ruined alter and crucifix flared bright and Gregor had to shield his eyes. After the glorious display, Gregor gazed as the alter and crucifix were restored. He looked up as the sound of choirs started to sing. A single speck of blue light floated down in a ray of light which pierced the now dissipating clouds. It flew into Bennett’s chest, and he took a deep shallow breath, his jaw snapped back into place. Gregor’s tears turned to joy, and he held his son even closer,
“Oh, my son. You’re home.”