Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
Read part one here
Father Carroway wandered about in the ever-extended void of subconscious. Unable to feel or perceive anything anymore, he wondered if he had indeed perished through either the means of the serpent’s venom or the trauma of the crash down the spiraling stone stairs. “Am I dead?”, Father Carroway pondered as he continued to survey the void. “Is this the entry to the kingdom of heaven?” “Nay”, a monotone voice called to him, answering the Father’s internal query.
Caught by surprise, he spun around to face the speaker. To his horror; the priest stood face to face with the ginger haired Irish bar maiden whom he had seen hanging by the neck in the bell tower. She stood before him in the dark subconscious plane completely bare; her milky-white skin and grassy-green hued irises projecting the visage of life. “The entrance to heaven is closed to us, as it always was.” Father Carroway closed his eyes; trying vainly to assure himself that this wasn’t real. “This is real, Father, unlike the horseshit you spouted about “God’s forgiveness”.
Father Carroway struggled to attempt rebuttal to the specter’s abrasive claim as utter dread clouded his abilities of reason. “G-God forgives all who repent.” The phantom let out a scoffing laugh that echoed throughout the void. The Father felt compelled to cover his ears as the chuckling devolved into what he could only perceive as a cacophony of tortured wails that appeared to emanate from all directions in the encroaching purgatory. “If that were true, Father; why not repent yourself for your continued heresies?”
The elder priest found himself, amidst his immediate sense of shock and dread in the ghoulish ethereal plane he found himself within, confused at the ghost’s insinuation. “What are you talking about, what falsehood have I spoken?” As soon as the defiant query left Father Carroway’s lips, his blood chilled as two serpents began to take form in the dark void. His jaw went helplessly slack as the serpents; one whose scales were as dark as the nightmare plane it birthed from, the other whose scales were the hue of burning embers reminiscent of the depths of Tartyrus; slithered their way to the maiden’s feet. As the malign creatures coiled themselves to her legs, the phantom spoke again; her vocals taking on a tormented ethereal echo: “If God’s forgiveness is divine, how are we so many that are condemned?”
Before any rebuttal could be offered, Father Carroway’s tongue froze and his lips trembled as the depraved vipers journeyed their way up and around the maiden’s nude form. His eyes widened at the unholy display enacted before him in petrified disbelief as he began to witness the serpents start to violate her. The phantom maiden began to moan with unrighteous pleasure as the dark-scaled serpent inserted itself head-first in between her legs; the crimson serpent coiling around her torso and seeming to fondle her. The moans of sinful pleasure began to devolve into screams of damning agony; as if emanating from the throats of many as the apparition appeared to near her climactic release.
Revolted as the elder priest was at the abhorrent nightmare, he felt as though the clutches of some manner of malign will force him to witness the events to their completion. “Come now, Father, why deprive yourself? I see the way ye be watching. You’d like to fuck me, wouldn’t ye?” Father Carroway, now bearing the strength of will over his body; clamped his eyelids tight and clutched his ears as the wraith-like voice echoed through his head. When he opened his eyes, now full with tears induced by the abysmal madness, he saw that the phantom maiden’s appearance had decayed into the same necrotic image he’d spied in the bell chamber at the peak of Black Rock Chapel; complete with the word “fráochun” carved into her bosom.
“GOD GIVE ME STRENGTH!”, Father Carroway cried aloud, futilely attempting to free himself from the dread that crippled him. The wraith let out a devious cackle that echoed through the black void before, in the same voice she formerly bore in life, she lashed out; “Listen to ye,still thinking Christ cares for ye. Poor little lamb, for ye truly have lost yer way.” Another ghastly wail of pleasure rang from the phantom maiden’s lips as rivulets of dark warm blood ran down from her complexion-less legs before crying out in the echoing and apparitional voice of agony; “There is no relief in heaven, no damnation in Hell! No forgiveness, no damnation!” The burning red serpent began to work its way from her mouth as the abomination’s vocals became entirely inhuman altogether.
His blood now frozen in mortal terror at his seemingly inescapable fate at the hands of the malign entity before him, Father Carroway lifted a trembling hand to clutch the crucifix around his neck as he again attempted to choke out the Lord’s Prayer. The elder priest was cut off before he could even finish the utterance of “Hallowed be thy name” when legions of painful screams of perpetual sorrow reached a deafening pitch that echoed from around him, as well as within him; forcing his eyes closed from strain and his hands to reflexively cover his ears. Through his fright-induced tears, the elder priest opened his eyes to witness the torso of the unholy phantom begin wriggling as the protrusions of other human faces began to form themselves into her pale, decayed flesh. When the writhing mass of face took form within the phantom maiden’s body, they cried out in unison in wails so deafening; Father Carroway was forced to his knees, eyes clamped tight and his palms covering his ears. “No salvation!”, the tortured ethereal voices screamed out as one, “only condemnation awaits us all, for all are debased!”
The words echoed through the elder priest’s shattered mind. “No salvation”, he tried to hide away the thought, as to attempt to keep his psyche from complete collapse. With great strain, Father Carroway opened his eyes to a small squint; merely enough to perceive from a rudimentary level the mortifying sight of a multitude of serpents advancing upon him from all directions; just as they had in the bell chamber in the Chapel’s peak. Stripped of any will to mentally or physically resist, Father Carroway watched helplessly as long, writhing black and red serpents exited the mouths of the tormented screaming faces that were conjoined to the abomination’s body. “Though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death; Thy rod and thy staff…”, he faintly whispered as he finally resigned himself to whatever damning fate that awaited him at the whims of the abhorrent phantom.
Just before the darkness could overtake him, however, the elder priest found himself lying in cold sweat within his bed chamber. His eyes were stitched wide open; the first image he perceived was that of a young maiden. Still in a state of perpetual shock, Father Carroway stared at the maiden before him, attempting to distinguish the presence before him now from that of the wraith that menaced him in his slumber. When his eyes studied the olive complexion of her skin, coupled with the long brunette hair beneath her head robe, he realized that the maiden standing before him now was none other than the budding Sister Merideth. As his vision slowly strained itself into clear composition; he could see the young fledgling’s eyes glistening with tears and her face was red. “Oh Father, thank God you’re awake, I thought you were lost forever!”, exclaimed Sister Merideth through tear-filled relief.
In an exhausted voice, Father Carroway questioned the young fledgling nun as to where he was and what had happened; for in the current moment, he could not immediately recollect any of the previous phenomena outside of the demented nightmare he’d only narrowly escaped from. “It was awful; after I came back with the authorities for the woman we found in the bell tower…”, she took in a shuddering breath before continuing, her voice cracking again with frightful tears, “we found you sprawled unconscious on the stairs. You kept muttering the Lord’s Prayer and something about serpents and poison. I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find Father Edwards. The body was missing, too. Me and a few of the other sisters moved you into your bed. You were out for most of the night and into this morning, I only awoke you when you began thrashing about.”
A tumultuous wave of dread washed over the elder priest’s face as, all at once, the horrors of the previous afternoon came crashing back into his memory like a devastating avalanche. “Oh Father, I’m afraid”, cried the young Sister Merideth, “ something unholy is happening in the Chapel! What are we going to do?” Father Carroway winced and drew a deep breath, once again grasping the right of his forehead, attempting to both ease the throbbing pulses inside as well as regain some semblance of composure of his abilities of reason. His head was drowning in a black whirlpool of insanity and cold, crippling, unforgiving dread.
“What AM I going to do?”, the bitter question crossed Father Carroway’s mind followed by another, far more disheartening query: “What COULD I do?” Father Carroway began hopelessly attempting to connect the ghoulish events to possibly identify the source of the abominable phenomena and, with the aid of the divine, combat it. “Archbishop Marcus”, Father Carroway whispered, unconsciously vocalizing his thoughts as his mind traveled back to the encounter in the Chapel’s peak. “What was that, Father?”, questioned the fledgling nun, unsure yet hopeful that his response to her might be the foundation of a plan to either drive away or to flee the evil that presently menaced them.
Awakened from his thought-induced trance by Sister Merideth’s voice, Father Carroway began to rouse himself from his bed. “Listen child”, he gestured to the young Sister in an exhausted voice that bore the nature of a man far more elder than he, “fetch my priest’s garb and my overcoat.” “Where are you going, Father?”, pressed the young fledgling nun, unsure as to the elder priest’s intentions. “There may be one that could provide us with aid, for he’s dealt with many an evil in his day; he’ll know what to do. Now, do as I say, Child; make haste!”
The young fledgling Sister Merideth was slightly puzzled, but simply offered a small bow of her head before making her way to the wardrobe. Father Carroway struggled as he slowly moved his aching body, still weak from the serpent’s potent venom. When his legs finally found the strength to stand, he slowly trudged over to the vanity mirror that hung to the right of the entrance of the bedchamber. It was an average size mirror that was joined on either side by vanilla scented candles that would provide small tastes of added luminescence to entirety of the bedchamber. Above the vanity mirror hung a shining silver crucifix bearing a molded image of Christ’s executed body fixed upon it.
Gazing at his image in the aged mirror, Father Carroway felt a sense of nausea creep upon him as, where in reality he had lived only forty-five years; the face that returned his gaze from the mirror had the appearance of one who had lived closer to thirty years longer. The reflection in the mirror bore thin, silver strands of hair, unlike the thick, vibrant brunette hair he bore outside of the mirror. The skin on the döppelganger’s face also appeared gaunt and concaved, as though the flesh it bore was too excessive for it’s bones. The wearied elder priest became unnerved at the sight; tugging at the skin on his face to reassure himself through tactile perception that the image in the mirror was indeed some manner of visual hallucination. It was then that the reflection began to shift within the mirror’s confines.
The face that posed itself as the elder priest began to offer a most sinister grin while the rest of the room surrounding the being began to take on a scarlet-red filter. For a moment, his blood chilled at the sight of his reflection acting outside of his own will. Placing his palms over his eyes, he softly whispered to himself, “No… it’s not real… God be with me…” “Old fool”,Father Carroway looked once again at the döppelganger from his palms and saw the sinister reflection of himself begin to decay; the loose skin hanging onto his skull now falling away to expose the skeleton underneath. “God cannot save us…”, lashed the vision in the mirror.
His jaw fell as he watched the image in the mirror slowly continue to devolve into a more grotesque appearance. More of the false reflection’s flesh slowly decayed and peeled away as if it were but mere paper to reveal the skull; bearing jagged teeth that could rip and crush flesh and bone alike with ease without worry of dulling. The sockets of the demon were dark and cavernous voids that swallowed all semblance of light, save only for a tiny crimson speck in the middle of either socket respectively that appeared to serve as its retinas. “Let me ask you something, Father”, chided the beast in the mirror, voicing the elder priest’s title in a tone of mocking reverence. Father Carroway covered his ears to attempt to resist the abomination’s lying tongue. “Why did your so-called “loving father in heaven” execute his own son?” Father Carroway screamed in his head at the abhorrent creature to silence it’s blasphemies, to no avail. “Christ himself was no more than a holy bastard!”, the words crashed as boulders in an avalanche in Father Carroway’s head; motivating him to press his palms tighter to his ears and tightly closing his eyes, “His execution achieved nothing more than penance for his birth as such!”
The last exclamation rang out in his mind with such ferocity that he could feel his knees attempting to buckle beneath him as if he were being weighed down by an unseen force. “You know it’s true, Father. Just look at me; I AM HUMANKIND in it’s purest state! WE ARE THE CONDEMNED! Humankind itself, Father, are the very beasts that were sentenced to damnation, salvation is only the lie you spread!”
Nearing his wits end, Father Carroway slammed his fists upon the surface of the vanity and shouted defiantly at the apparition “ENOUGH!” The mounted crucifix, shaken from the tremor, fell from it’s place above the mirror and landed onto the vanity’s surface in front of him. Hearing the faint clatter of the crucifix’s descent, the elder priest found himself awakened from another trance. He saw that, instead of the detestable spectre that occupied it’s confines only moments before, his reflection revealed the middle-aged man that existed in reality. Father Carroway again closed his eyes and began drawing in deep breaths to relax himself once again.
Upon opening his eyes, he decided to refix the fallen symbol back to it’s original perchance above the vanity mirror. As he held it, however, a searing pain shot through the palm of his hand that caused him to drop it again, letting out a cry of pain. Tightly grasping his right hand with his left from reflex, he gazed once again down at the image of Christ’s sacrifice as it began to glow a hot, burning orange. The oppressive odor of brimstone permeated the air within the bedchamber as the elder priest saw, in revitalized terror, small streams of blood begin to ooze from the wrists, feet, and head of the mold of Christ. “Are you alright, Father?”
Father Carroway spun around and was met with the slightly relieving sight of the young fledgling nun, priest garb and overcoat in hand. “I heard shouting… did something happen?” “No, child”, replied the elder priest, unsure how to explain the unholy phenomena that occurred in her absence. “Everything is fine, but there’s no more time to be lost. Come now, you will accompany me to the Archbishop’s home. He may be the only one who could help us.”
Credit : Corpse Child
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