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The Copper, the Collar, and the Glimmering Blade

The Copper, the Collar, and the Glimmering Blade

Estimated reading time — 22 minutes

I remember well when I came across the strange sequence of events in the odd case of the cellar underneath the Winemaker’s shop. The things I saw that night, I fear I will never forget, nor come to peace with. However, with the strength of my faith and my understanding of this world and beyond it, which comes with age and maturity, perhaps there is hope for me.

I was a proven patrolman and had just begun my days as a detective. I had been given general assignments of crimes of various natures. I was still stationed at the police station near the dock when a young woman won my attention. A miss Annabel Primrose, who was secretly concealing a pregnancy from her family. The man who impregnated her was a sailor who swooned her in an intense ill-fated romance before he was quickly swept out to sea once again by his duty to nation. Leaving the young woman alone, desperate, and scared.

She had voiced many times how she was fearful and ashamed of the pregnancy but was concerned about both the mental and physical tolls on her body and the effects on her spirit. She had voiced that the situation was wearing her down mentally and spiritually and that she was having invasive thoughts. So I put her in contact with our department chaplain at once. The compassionate monsignor was able to convince Miss Primrose that she should birth the child and give the baby up for adoption; so that a couple who was unable to have children, could have their prayers fulfilled; and so the baby would be a blessing.


Miss Annabel received this warmly and it seemed to bring her peace. She sounded confident in her decision to give the child up, and so we expected the young woman to drop off her newborn either at the police station, the firehouse, the church, or a town away at the orphanage.

The weeks became months, and with many cases to investigate and solve, I had nearly all forgotten about the young Miss Primrose, despite her gentle voice and natural beauty. It was not until the department chaplain, Father Henryson approached me one night, seemingly distressed and sweating.

“We haven’t got much time Detective Daniels!”

I was puzzled, and could not understand his reason for the urgency.
“Time for?” I said halting my shuffling of documents.

“Remember the pretty woman Miss Primrose?” he spoke quickly.

Her elegant image flashed across my thoughts, “Of course, the sweet Miss Annabel, did she have the baby? Is she in danger?”, I was unsure what to anticipate.


“Well, I’m not sure, you see she had agreed to drop off the baby this week, she was due last week or the week prior, and although I did not see her nor any hospital records, I was told by a nurse who frequently confesses…and gossips, that Miss Primrose gave birth to a baby boy this week.”

“That’s great news!” I remarked, as he took me by the arm, and made for the doorway exit.

“Please! Let me explain my nervousness and come at once with me,” the priest insisted, and so I yielded to the holy man.

Once outside we shouted down the street for a horse and carman. In the distance, we then heard a commencement of hooves trotting down the block.

As the priest paused a moment in relief that I decided to join him I had noticed the wintery chill in the air assailed me at once, at first refreshing but then consuming. The midnight moonlight silently struck the stone street, as the wind from the nearby shipyard crept further inland. The lamp-man surprisingly had not yet labored down this avenue, and so the street lamps remained lightless. The only visibility was made via a pale waxing moon in a starless half-silver and half-black sky. Remnants of autumn leaves rustled down the alleyways, making it seem as though ghosts lurked in the surrounding shadows.

“Let me proceed, detective,” the priest said as the horse and buggy came into view.

“She has been seeing Doctor Enganador, you know this name?” asked the chaplain.

“I recognize the name, yes, I’ve seen his sign near the wharf, he is a physician is he not?” I wanted confirmation.

“Yes, precisely!’’ exclaimed Chaplain Henryson.

“It is only normal then good chaplain, that a woman who is pregnant should see a physician,” I said, starting to wonder if my time was being wasted.

“Come let us sit in the coach and I’ll have us go to the Tired Tortoise Tavern?” spoke the Chaplain.

I was confused by this action, a man of the cloth, in one of the well-known bars with a rough reputation.

“Is she prostituting herself now? Why would we go here?”

“No nothing like that, she isn’t selling her body? I fear she is selling her soul?”

At that comment, I had lost most of my patience and asked him to speak openly and clearly.
“I believe she has had the infant, yes it would appear that way, based on my sources, but she has failed to keep her promise in seeing me afterward.”

“Okay, well, that’s not as strange as you make it seem,” I said as I was interrupted by a bump in the road which threw our carriage upwards for a moment.

“She’s simply seeing the doctor for the wellness of her child,” I added.

“One would assume so, but she never has broken her promise to me, you see I promised to baptize the child almost immediately, it was her request too.”

“Do you think she panicked and harmed the child, or do you think that Doctor Enganador is the actual father, and not some sailor as she informed us?” I asked frankly.

“No it was a sailor for certain, but harm to the child, that is a suspicion of mine detective, but I believe her too kind to do anything, but the doctor on the other hand.”

“What about him?” I pressed.

“Well, he and I do not like each other you see.”

“How so?”

“Well he declares himself a man of science, and me a worshipper of a superstition; while I view him as a man of earthly science and theory, whereas I see myself as a man of the science of God, the Lord’s historian, and a disciple of Christ.”

“Father, you will forgive me, but I still don’t quite understand why you have taken me from my investigative duties, to vent about a strange man and woman relationship, and about a difference of opinions between a medical doctor and a priest.”

“Let me be clear to you then, I do not trust that man, something deep within me, I believe it’s the holy spirit is compelling me to alert you to this matter, it has been rumored that he has been performing illegal abortions, now perhaps the baby is only but a week away from its birth, would that not be feticide?”

“For certain it would be, as it should be, it is common knowledge, that an emergency cesarean procedure would virtually bring that baby to life at this stage. The child could probably have a detectable heartbeat, could it not? So why would the doctor wish to commit such an act?”

“Why do any of us commit ill acts, it is from weaknesses, fears, insecurities, ignorance, sin, and the influence of both the world and of the devil.”

“The devil…okay,” I said trying not to roll my eyes.

“I know I sound paranoid detective, but I have not been able to sleep.”

I interrupted, “Well perhaps you should sleep then.”

“There is no time, tonight is a full moon, it arose as red as blood over our harbor, and now pours its wicked light upon us. The lunatics will be about, evil will be near.”

“Calm down old man, now listen, I respect you like an Uncle, but I am beginning to become frustrated, what exactly do you want me to do for you, be very clear now, and be careful what you ask.”

“Very well Detective Daniels,” the chaplain said.

“I want us to investigate Doctor Enganador.”

I could not but laugh for a moment, and it was a relief to cut the seriousness.
“For what alleged crime?”

“Not an alleged one, a suspected one.”

“You realize chaplain that this is not how this works, I cannot violate a man’s Fourth Amendment right on mere suspicion, I cannot search his property, his home nor even his person, without probable cause or without the threat of immediate danger to another person.”

“What I’m trying to tell you, detective, is the pretty young miss Annabel Primrose is in fact in danger, she is not the first woman pregnant to find the obsessive attention of the doctor. Do you recall…”

I interrupted again, “Miss McNelly?” I suddenly recalled.

“Yes, Miss McNelly! The same woman found drowned, dead on the beach, without a single explanation.”

“Hmm, and it was never ruled a suicide or a homicide.”

“Nor was she bearing a child, nor was that child ever found.”

I thought about it for a moment, going over the details of that case in my mind, replaying the chaplain’s words of concern and suspicion in my mind.
“Okay father, you have my full attention.”

“Thank you, detective, now I wish to tell you of my plan, and why I need your assistance immediately. I went to the Turtle the other night, to hear a confession privately, for the individual is not a churchgoer, and if he were to be seen going to church after hours, people would notice and become nosey.”

“You, in a place like that?” I asked

“There are plenty of worse places in the world and beyond it, plus did not our savior hear confessions from the worse of sinners, and dwell amongst them in places of ill repute?”
He made a solid point.

“After I heard the man’s confession, I stayed for a pint of stout, where alcohol loosened the lips of the patrons, and rumors and gossip flew up and down the establishment. I then heard of associates of the doctor planning on meeting with him, and ‘the young beauty’ on this night underneath the winemaker’s shop, inside his cellar.”

“The one also near the wharf?”


“What else did you hear?”

“I heard strange rumors of a special ceremony that must not be done within the knowledge of the public, something with black robes to hide identity.”

“You believe she’s going to become forcible unpregnant?”

“I fear it so detective.”

“You realize this is all hearsay yes?”

“I witnessed what I witnessed from their lips.”

“These individuals you overheard; will they be at the Thirsty Turtle Tavern tonight?”

“They practically live there.”

“Very good.”

We paused our conversation as we arrived at the tavern. Bright burning lanterns glowed from within it, pouring their yellow light into the otherwise dark and desolate street. Across the way, we saw the winemaker’s shop sheltered from the moon’s rays by the dense nearby trees, shrouding it in a strange shadow.

As we left the coach and stepped onto the cobblestones we agreed that we would stay at the tavern and observe from there.

Once inside the tavern, we ordered two pints and sat near the windows facing the winemaker’s place.

As I was sipping the beer I felt the father pat me on the shoulder.
“Those two, they’re the two involved.”

We carefully approached them, and they greeted us with what I determined were fake and forced awkward smiles. They were the local master mason/carpenter and his apprentice.
“Care for a drink? I’ll spot you fellas one each,” I greeted.

“Are you running for commissioner or mayor now?” joked the master.

I said nothing to acknowledge his comment but instead spoke, “Barman, another stout for these gentlemen, whatever they’re drinking.”

We made useless small talk for several moments with the master, but as they started drinking their next round I put my words to purpose.

“Heard you two have been doing business for the good doctor Enganador?” I asked.
“No, we haven’t,” said the apprentice, breaking his shy silence.

“Well…that’s not what I heard,” I said firmly.

“We’ve been working for the winemaker, repairing the interior of his cellar, a little carpentry, a little masonry, nothing crazy nor difficult,” said the master.

“Rumor has it though that our little project is being funded by the doctor,” spoke the apprentice.

“That’s none of our business now boy,” the master intruded taking a sip from his glass.

“That’s right,” confirmed the apprentice.

This is where the chaplain strategically intervened.
“You know it is good to work you men do, our lord was a carpenter too, it is truly right and honorable to follow the path he carved out for us. Nothing can be more masculine, or admirable than that type of work. I believe all men can appreciate it. Paul wrote to the churches claiming they should become self-sufficient and work with their hands. He also said in Thessalonians, if a man does not work he shall not eat. You men should be rightfully proud of what you do for yourselves and this community.”

The master and apprentice smiled and nodded, it was clear that they appreciated the words, which lightened them up and relaxed their posture and demeanor.

“What is the project anyway? Barrell making? Stone repair?” the priest continued.

“Well, no, we modeled out and built a room with a stone interior inside using near-flat slabs of white limestone and other stones on the other side of a hidden false wall of wood painted red. The winemaker said it’s for a hidden area where he wishes to keep his best stock safe inside,” the master said proudly.

“How very interesting, must’ve required a lot of labor and strength, you two should have been using that strength on the police force, we could use men of your strength.” I stroked their ego and ordered an additional pair of pints for them.

“Is that all the winemaker has you working on?” I inquired.

“Other than a couple odd jobs, and a few errands,” the master answered.

“Errands? You’re an errand boy now,” I joked.

“Not me, my apprentice,” the master replied.

“Look here, for example,” the apprentice motioned, pulling his work sack from underneath the table.

From the sack, he withdrew two heavy black cloaks.

“I picked these up from the tailor on the doctor’s behalf. He wanted us to wear them and attend a business meeting inside our work area, maybe to go over the results, I’m not sure, it didn’t make much sense, but he said he needed two witnesses. The meeting strangely starts at midnight,” the apprentice concluded before burping.

“Does that sound suspicious to you detective? We thought it odd we were already paid for our work, we finished, so we didn’t see why we should attend but they insisted,” asked the master.

“I’m not sure…but say what, you two give us the robes, and we will see to the matter personally, you two are in no condition to attend a business meeting,” I said.

“Yes, you should go home to your wives, and pray for a good morrow, without the sloth that alcohol may bring you,” suggested the priest.

“Are you sure?” said the apprentice.

“Certain,” I said, “One more pint?”

The barman heard my words and came over to the master and apprentice to hand them two more.

“These are on the house, you men have bought enough to win a free one,” the bartender said.

With that, the apprentice handed over the black robes and they soon departed, stumbling and weaving back and forth amongst the road, and disappeared into the expanding fog of the seaside town.

The chaplain Henryson and I lingered at the bar for a couple additional hours, taking turns watching the winemaker’s shop, straining our sight through the mist, trying to catch a glimpse of anyone who may attend the strange meeting. I felt myself becoming fatigued, and put my head down, only for a moment before the chaplain nudged me with his elbow, bumping me into full alertness.

“Look! Hooded figures amongst the fog!” he whispered.

“Let’s go!” I said at once, it was time for action.

We crept out the back exit of the tavern and hastened down the thin alleyway walls to avoid detection. The fog was so thick within the alleyway that we decided it was the opportune time to put on the black robes. Once we were ready, we ran across the street towards the winemaker’s building. After a moment of searching for an entrance, we noticed that the basement doors located in the rear of the shop had fresh footprints nearby in the mud. I scanned the area constantly but the figures in the fog from just before were gone without a trace.

The priest muttered a prayer to himself as I went to open the basement doors, hoping they were open from the other side and accessible.

Luckily and to my surprise, they were.

“Thanks be to God in the highest! Some prayers are answered faster than most,” the chaplain claimed.

“You know what this means then right? They’re expecting more people, maybe just us two, maybe more, we just have to remain quiet and watch, be a witness to whatever as the two tradesmen said.”

I heaved open the doors and went to go first but the holy man went before me.

“Wait Daniels, I am armed, allow me to go first,” he insisted.


“You are carrying a firearm? From headquarters?” I wondered.

“Firearms are not the only weapons, one needs in this world,” he replied before vanishing into the darkness of the basement.

I did not know what he meant by his answer, but I dared not call out to him through the opaque darkness and break our stealth.

Once we were inside the cold cellar I grabbed his arm and shuffled my way in front of him, it was better that I take point. The area was dark and difficult to see through, there were many moments of total blindness. I felt my eyes strain through the blackness, trying to catch any trace of faint light, but I saw none.

At one point I heard squeaking and whining and a scurrying of pebbles and debris on both sides of me. I noticed at once I was surrounded by hundreds of rats running back and forth mindlessly amongst the walls.

After several moments we came into a room where a torch light was suffocating in the scarce air but still remained. It was a large room filled with dusty barrels of wine, with cobwebs sewn across each one. The ground beneath me was mainly dirt with rocks scattered about the generally flat floor. It was then I carefully grabbed the torch and began to scan the walls.

“What are you doing?” whispered the priest in between muttering some kind of prayer to himself.

“Trying to find the entrance the tradesmen spoke of, look for red paint.”

“Give me a moment and I will,” the priest said as he took a rock and broke open a piece of a barrel which began to bleed wine.

“What are you doing!” I asked him, startled by the sudden noise he made.

“Arming myself,” he said as I realized in the faint firelight he had a silver flask he was filling up with the fresh wine.

“Liquor courage?” I joked, trying to break the intensity of the moment to calm the nerves, but he did not give a reply.

After kicking a few rats aside as I hugged the wall I discovered the red paint along the wall, with a small ditch underneath what appeared to be a door. I brushed my hand across the wooden piece and searched for some way to open it. After a few moments I gave up and glared at the ditch beneath it, it was narrow and shallow. I wondered if the young Primrose was here and how she could have entered so small an area while pregnant without extreme difficulty.

“Do we have to cr…” I began before interruption.

“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring,” the priest said.

“Genesis,” I blurted out loud.

“Yes, we must crawl underneath like serpents now.”

We immediately began to dig out more space using our hands as best we could.

“We have no time to waste, we must haste, I shall go first detective,” the clergyman said.
I held him back a moment, “I’ll go first again,” I said.

“No allow me, they’re expecting the tradesmen, they’re expecting two more, our presence will not be met with danger.”

I let him go first and took to the rear. He then shuffled and squirmed out of sight. Afterward, I placed the torch down in a safe place, took a breath, and then followed.

My body ached as I twisted and contorted to the boundaries of the trench, I monitored my breath, being careful not to allow my adrenaline to increase my breathing. The pass was just narrow enough to allow my rib cage to expand with air, if I were to panic or go too fast, my diaphragm would be restricted to the confines of the tunnel and I would surely suffocate. Ahead of me, I heard shuffling and the cracking of stiff joints, it was the priest changing direction and bending his knees; It meant an opening was near.

Suddenly through the darkness of the abyss, a light appeared, followed by additional lights that I identified as torches. By God’s grace, the pit widened and I was able to move to my knees and eventually stand up.

I dusted myself off and saw the department chaplain Father Henryson was already standing, while a figure also robbed and hooded was facing him and now me.

“Password?” the hooded faceless man spoke.

I froze, unsure of what to do, other than prepare for violence, I very carefully moved my arm toward my revolver, before the man spoke again.

“Password!” the hooded man pressed.

The chaplain was silent, most likely waiting for me to make the next move.
“Password…now!” came a shout from underneath the hood.

My hand was firmly on my pistol now, my temperature flared, and my eyes narrowed, I was ready to defend myself if he made one aggressive move toward me he was going to be blown away. I was ready and he had no idea that the barrel of my gun was pointed right at him inside my robe.

“I am only jesting! Relax yourselves, there is no password,” the man laughed.

I exhaled quietly in relief and stowed my hidden gun.

Henryson could not help himself but let out a nervous laugh for a split record.
“Come brothers, prepare yourself for a real treat, you will witness a true miracle,” the voice said with enthusiasm.

I detected wine on the breath of the individual, and I recognized the voice of the hooded man, it was the winemaker.

He waved us onwards, beckoning us to follow him, and so we did with wide alertness despite the darkness. The winemaker then brought us to a stone wall, and waved his torch wildly back and forth, frantically searching for something.

“Ah ha!” here it is he spoke, and he removed a loose stone from the wall. The strange man then reach inwards and turned what looked for a moment in the fire’s waning light like a knob. The knob was twisted by his long boney stringy fingers. He then pushed forward and the entire portion of the wall loosened and unlocked, he then swiveled it open.
“You gentlemen did good work,” the winemaker commented.

I looked over to Chaplin Henryson who made a gesture of gratitude and bowed his hooded head.

“This way,” voiced the winemaker.

He led us into a circular room, it was the darkest room I had ever been in in my life. The darkness was so great that as strange as it may seem I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them, just to make sure they were in fact open. For it made no difference if my eyes were open or closed, it was as dark as the pit, only hell itself could be just as dark.

“Stand here,” said the voice from the winemaker.

Henryson and I acknowledged and stood still, close enough to rub elbows and shoulders though to maintain contact, his instincts were in sync with mine. We needed to be close enough to know where the other was.

After a moment which seemed a lifetime, a pale bluish silver light broke through some opening above and to the left of me. I fixed my eyes on it, relieved to see it. The light grew and grew in brightness and thickness, and soon inhabited the mostly pitch-black room.
The monsignor and I found ourselves marveling at the moonlight which was now spilled into the circular room. I then realized we were not alone, the room was full of circular rows of black hooded figures, maybe twenty total, filling the smooth limestone room.

I felt the priest tugging on my sleeve so I looked away from the silent and seemingly lifeless figures in black and focused on the center of the room to find out why the priest had drawn my attention. Then I saw it; in the center of the circle where now most of the moonlight was fixated upon was a small stone slab, maybe five feet tall and two or three feet wide, cut out of white hexagonal stones. Upon the top of its smooth surface was a glimmering blade about a foot long. It lay there, untouched and undisturbed, sparkling in the pale blue silver light.
Before I could ponder what the centerpiece was, that strange stone pillar, I heard the increasing volume of a woman’s elegant voice and that of a man, they were in conversation, and soon the muffling and undecipherable uttering became formable words to my ears.

I felt the priest move beside me and forwards, I placed my forearm in his way to halt him. Once his chest hit my forearm he gathered himself. He must have recognized the voice, and soon I did as well.

It was Miss Annabel Primrose, and she was with who could have only been Doctor Enganador, but who were these other twenty or so others?

I stood there, hand on my pistol hidden within my robes, I felt my breathing and adrenaline increase and I wrestled mentally to calm my nerves. Annabel and the doctor then slowly approached the stone slab and stood silent and still for a moment. Both the priest and I observed in tense anticipation.

“I don’t know if I can do it?” Miss Primrose whined.

“Be strong child, be strong,” Enganador spoke sternly.

“What if I’m making a mistake? What if this is wrong?” She contemplated nervously as she held what appeared to be her pregnant belly.

“You cannot afford the child? No one will want to adopt what is not theirs,” said the doctor bitterly.

“What if the father comes back?” she said nearly in tears.

“You do not need him, nor a man…you only need him who truly provides and can grant your wishes,” the doctor said sternly.

“I’m not sure! What if I’m making a mistake!?” Miss Primrose repeated.

There was a moment of eerie silence before a hissing whisper shrouded in the darkness came forth from the near-invisible strangers. The snakelike whisper pierced my ears from afar although it sounded as if it whispered in my very ear.

“You will become empowered,” it hissed.

Its voice was so unnatural and inhuman, it was although some strange animal had suddenly learned to speak, my skin crawled; all over my body I felt my hair stand up. Also for reasons, I still cannot understand, a small tear of terror broke out of the corner of one of my eyes automatically.


“It will be painless for the parasite inside you,” another hissing voice shouted from another direction.

An onslaught of strange voices suddenly blurred out at random, some hissing, some screeching, some yelling in agonizing and twisted vocal cords, as though they were in pain and knew all her fears and heard all of her thoughts, and wrestled with them before she could even express them.

“It’s not fair to you.”

“No one but us can help you.”

“You are not ready to be a mother!”

“How can you afford it, you and this unwanted child will starve!”

“Free yourself from this burden.”

I felt the priest then grab my wrist as I nearly shook. Just knowing a trusted companion was beside me helped me in the struggle to keep my nerve; the bombardments of temptations and arguments from the sinister voices did not end. It was then I realized that without explanation the dark chorus seemed to speak simultaneously and more and more in unity. One voice shouting one sentence now became five voices all shouting the same thing, and then slowly ten then twenty all at once!

“Perform the ritual, it is your right, let no one deny you your destiny!”

“You will live free! Unburdened by an unprepared motherhood you do not want!”

“Put your anger of the man’s betrayal and abandonment to purpose!”

Silence once again followed as the doctor raised his long bony hand in the glooming moonlight. In his hand, he beheld the glimmering blade, and suddenly the screams and cries of an infant suddenly began and echoed throughout the hidden stone chamber.

Thank the Lord my face was hooded, for my eyes widened and I felt my jaw drop with uncontrollable weight. My adrenaline was now on the verge of an outburst, and I gripped my pistol with such force I thought it would crumble in my palm.

It was then when Annabel, the scared mother raised her awoken child from underneath her robe and approached with the fragile baby towards the doctor’s open hand. He then held the child in the moonlight as the volume of its crying greatly raised. A chorus of laughter came at once as though rehearsed from the creatures in the abyss.

“Lay the late-born thing upon the stone slab before me,” ordered Doctor Enganador.

“I’m…I’m scared,” Annabel said peering down at her child.

“DO IT!” the chorus demanded.

Annabel approached the doctor, and as she did I sneakily removed my pistol, undetected, and aimed it directly at the doctor’s chest. Waiting for the precise and opportune moment, although I felt my hand shake.

“I’m not sure!” cried Annabel.

“Hush woman! We don’t want to hear your voice, do not speak against us, the ritual must commence!” shouted the maddened doctor in a type of ecstasy.

The doctor then pinned the baby down against the stone and raised that crude and glimmering blade high above him!

“Kill! Kill! Kill!” the chorus laughed like jackals in the desert, like hyenas in the savannah, all at once, in a multitude of terrible voices.

I knew then I needed to take action but I could not locate the sight on the pistol’s barrel in the near pitch black. I could not be sure, and as I went to charge forwards to rescue the newborn a shout broke out from beside me.

“LEGION!” the priest finally boomed, disrupting his silence and freezing the doctor in surprise.

“There are two here that don’t belong!” the figures howled in anger and fear.

“Back to Hell Legion!!!” the priest then raised a large golden crucifix into the moonlight.
Immediately there was an eardrum rupturing scream beyond anything I could comprehend. The screeching was unbearable and at once I saw in the darkness more than a dozen pairs of eyes of fire burst like scattering embers, like exploding fireworks which suddenly vanished along with most of the nameless black figures. I then heard further shrills of horror and agonies echoing throughout the stone walls.

Driven by instinct and impulse I then charged at the doctor who saw my attack at the last moment and drew his blade against my gun hand, slicing my hand and causing me to drop my gun into the abyss outside of the moonbeams. The pain was immense but I knew more would come to me if I faltered.

I quickly grabbed hold of the insane doctor and drove him to the ground while I held his knife hand down while I proceeded to punch him furiously with my free hand. Making my hand as hard and heavy as I could and coming down upon him with all the speed I could muster. He cried out in pain and in some unknown language as my fists made endless contact with his face and body. Somehow he kicked me off of him, but I had landed on my lost revolver and armed myself again.

It was then in the corner of my eye that I saw Annabel cowering with her baby beneath the sacrificial table which Father Henryson stood upon it and shouted out commands to the remaining hellish foes.

“To hell demons! To hell! Be banished!” he roared out as though he were the Lion of Judah himself.

The screeching and painful cries continued until Henryson himself cried out in pain and fell from the stone stab. I then saw in the silver light the doctor holding the glimmering blade stained with fresh thick blood on the other side of the room.

Without hesitation I began to fire my pistol rapidly at him; my adrenaline had numbed the pain in my hand, and I forced my fingers to pull the trigger, again and again. The sound of each bullet exploded forth from the barrel and seemed to shake the walls and my heart’s own rhythm. Somewhere between the trigger pulls I heard him cry out in agony like a wounded animal caught in a steel trap. I then proceeded to lung at him and disarm him. After some further struggle, contesting strength against strength, I managed to wrestle him to the ground and began to bludgeon him with my now-empty firearm until he was unconscious.

Then to my horror, these formless figures, like humans but something else sprawled themselves upon him as we heard a deep baritone voice fill the air.

“Doctor, your time is expired, you belong to me now, if I cannot have a soul by your hand, then I shall have the soul that guides your hand!”

The forms then leaped upon him as he cried out, “Nooo! Master! Nooo!”

My priest friend then began yelling out in what I only assumed was Latin, and after more moments of intensity he stopped and all was still and silent save the weeping of Miss Primrose.

Suddenly a rumbling like that of an earthquake began and I saw the stone pillar in the center of the room collapse. The walls then began to fracture and the ceiling was starting to collapse. The internal structure perhaps could not handle the weight of the evil it was designed to contain. Or perhaps the evil which hid so well inside, once again was going to make itself hidden, I know not.

“Let’s go!” I remembered shouting, as my department chaplain grabbed Annabel and her baby.

I quickly looked around, remembering then, that another mortal was previously amongst us, the winemaker, but I could not locate him, nor did I have the time to, for the moment called for an immediate escape.

“Lord protect us!” Henryson said with desperation in his voice, as we hurled ourselves down into the dirt underneath the strange entranceway from before, and grinded our knees and elbows through the tunnel. The baby was screaming and crying, but it came to me as a relief for I then knew that the baby was still alive and breathing.

Behind us, the sound of crashing and collapsing seemed closer and closer.

“Hurry!!! For the love of God Daniels! Move!” Father Henryson yelled in panic.

Soon I saw the tunnel’s exit and weaseled my way through. I did not know who was behind me but I saw first a feminine hand raising the crying infant to me once I looked back at the tunnel way. I grabbed the child with my wounded hand while tugging at the hand of Miss Primrose with my other. Her dress was stuck against nails or something I could not see.
“Our father who art in heaven,” I heard the priest begin to pray as the collapsing continued.
With all my strength I pulled the woman from the hole as she yelled in pain and became unstuck.

A moment passed…and then another.

“Henryson!!!” I shouted competing with the crashing.

“Henryson!” I recalled yelling again.

By the grace of God, a hand stretched out and grabbed my robe. At once I grabbed it, it was him! It was the good priest.

I pulled him upwards, and without a word, we all ran through the wine cellar and up its stairs back into the street, into the fresh air. Oh, how the sound of trees and leaves and far-off ship buoys, and drunken laughter from the tavern ahead sounded. They had never sounded more like music than in that moment.

I turned towards the two who survived the ordeal with me, and I could not help but wrap my arms around them and fall into them, completely depleted and exhausted.

“Father forgive me I have sinned!” Miss Primrose was hysterically crying as she handed me her baby and went towards the priest.

The holy man instantly began taking her confession as he struggled to catch his breath.
I beheld the child in my arms awhile, still in shock. I struggled to make sense of all I had just experienced. It was never going to be an abortion, it was going to be some strange and sinister demonic sacrifice.

I took another breath in the winter breeze before I peered once more at God’s little creation.

I looked at the baby, and the baby at me.

Credit: Matthew Keller


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