Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
“Please let me out,” my son David pleaded with me. “I promise I’ll behave.”
“You know I can’t do that David.” I leaned against the wall next to the bathroom I had trapped my 16-year-old son in, the only one in the house without a window.
“LET! ME! OUT!” he suddenly screamed, punctuating each word with a kick to the bathroom door while shaking the door handle.
I jumped at the sudden display of violence. Such fits of rage had become common over the past couple of weeks, but they still frightened me. That’s not my David, I kept repeating to myself while clutching the gold cross that dangled around my neck.
“I’m sorry, mom. I didn’t mean to scare you.” It was eerie how easily he could read my emotions, even when he couldn’t see me. “I’m okay now.” I knew better than to believe him. He was just trying to lull me into a false sense of security so I’d let him out.
The doorbell rang. Finally, I thought, while hurrying to the front door.
“Who’s that?” David’s voice carried down the hall. “Is it Veronica? If it is, you have to let me out,” he insisted, turning the handle back and forth quickly, trying to open the door.
“Good morning, Mrs. Knowles,” the priest standing on my porch greeted me once I had opened the door. The man standing next to him just smiled.
“Father Cooke, thank you so much for coming. Please come in.” I held the door open as the two men entered my home.
“I’d like to introduce you to my associate, Mr. Alexander.” Father Cooke indicated the tall, thin man standing next him. I assumed he must be some sort of clergyman the way he was dressed in all black like Father Cooke, but I thought it was odd that he wasn’t wearing a Roman collar.
“He specializes in handling situations like yours,” he explained, noticing the way I inspected him.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Knowles,” Mr. Alexander said, extending his free hand. The other hand held a small leather satchel close to his side.
“Tell them to leave, mother,” David called out. “They have no business here.”
“I didn’t know where else to put him,” I blurted out, afraid they were going to think I was a horrible mother.
“We understand. Hopefully he won’t have to be in there much longer,” Father Cooke said.
“We can talk in the kitchen,” I said, leading them through the house. “Can I get you something to drink?” I asked after they had taken a seat at my small dining table.
“Nothing for me,” Father Cooke replied.
“Coffee, if it isn’t too much trouble,” Mr. Alexander said after setting his bag on the table.
I quietly prepared the coffee while they waited patiently for me to take my seat. I could tell they were anxious to begin. I know it was important that they start as soon as possible, but accepting that your son needs an exorcism is not easy. It borders on madness.
“I didn’t know who else to call,” I spoke while stirring my coffee staring into the cup before taking my seat. “I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”
“We believe you.” Father Cooke reached out and gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “Your story is not as crazy as it sounds.” He looked over at Mr. Alexander. “Especially to men like us. Possession is far more common than the church cares to admit.”
“I know you’ve already told Father Cooke everything that has happened, Mrs. Knowles, and he has told your story to me, but if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d like to hear it again, in your own words,” Mr. Alexander requested.
I looked over at him. “I don’t know where to begin. These past two weeks have been crazy.”
“Let’s start with the breakup since that seems to be where you first started to notice his erratic behavior.”
I shifted my eyes and gazed out the window for several seconds, took a deep breath, released it, then tried to tell David’s story.
“They broke up just over two weeks ago, the day Veronica returned home from her trip to Florida. At the time I didn’t know the specific reason why they broke up, but I have since learned it was because David was smothering her with attention. Calling and texting her several times a day while she was on vacation.” I paused and took a sip of my coffee before continuing. “Nobody likes being smothered like that, but that was just so unlike David. He didn’t used to be that clingy.”
While I was talking, Mr. Alexander had pulled a pen and notebook out of the inside pocket of his jacket so that he could take notes. “How did David respond to the breakup?” he asked after finding a free page to write upon.
“He was psychotic, to put it mildly,” I responded. “He went crazy. He was obsessed with getting her back. I had never seen him act like that. The things he said and did give me chills just thinking about them.”
“Can you be more specific?” Mr. Alexander asked.
“The first night after the breakup I tried to talk to David, but he just went to his room and slammed the door. I thought it would be best to give him some space to deal with his emotions and that he would come and talk to me when he was ready. I don’t know when he climbed out of his window. All I know is that I got a knock on my door at two o’clock in the morning when the police brought him home.”
“I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG!” David screamed, his voice echoing down the hall. “THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO INTERFERE! I WAS JUST TRYING TO FINISH WHAT WE STARTED!”
A tear welled up in the corner of my eye then slowly rolled down my cheek. Father Cook stood up and grabbed the tissue box sitting on the windowsill above the sink and set it on the table in front of me. I smiled my thanks, then began to sob.
“Perhaps it would be better if I just ask for clarification on certain points of the story you told to Father Cooke,” he suggested, taking note of my fragile emotional state. “I know this is hard, but I need to make sure I have as much information as possible to determine what has taken possession of David.”
“Sorry,” I used a tissue to wipe my eyes. “It’s been so hard. I can’t do this anymore, not by myself.”
There once was a Mr. Knowles, but he decided the family life wasn’t for him and left when David was three years old. I never remarried and never asked for any kind of spousal or child support during the divorce process. I was determined to provide for myself and David without help from anyone else.
“You’re not alone, not any longer.” Father Cook patted my hand. “Take your time. We understand how hard this is on you.”
I took a few minutes to compose myself. “Okay.” I took a deep breath and let it out. “I’m ready.”
“The night that David was brought home by the police, the officers told you he was picked up for destruction of property and disturbing the peace. Do you know what happened that night?”
“Yes, I do, but only because Dawn – that’s Veronica’s mother – called me the following morning to tell me what happened and let me know they would be getting a restraining order. David had taken all of the flowers off of a neighbor’s rose bushes and started to arrange them on the lawn while calling out for Veronica to come outside and stand inside the sigil, whatever a sigil is. That, along with how late it was, disturbed them enough to call the police instead of me.”
“What color were the flowers?” Mr. Alexander asked, “and were you told anything about the specific way he arranged the flowers?”
“I know the flowers were pink. I’ve seen them plenty of times when I would drop David off at Veronica’s. I don’t know anything about what he was making with them. But… if you go and look in his room, he’s drawn this weird star-within-a-star symbol all over his walls. It was probably that. He has been obsessed with that symbol since the breakup.”
“Which room is David’s?” Mr. Alexander asked, standing up and walking over to the hallway.
“It’s the last door on the left.”
I watched as Mr. Alexander walked down the hall and opened David’s door, but didn’t go in. He just stood right outside the doorway peering around the room. It almost seemed like he was afraid to cross the threshold.
“Was that too much for you, magister?” David chuckled as Mr. Alexander passed the bathroom on his way back to the kitchen.
“Do you know what it means?” I asked once Mr. Alexander had returned to his seat.
“I do, but I think it is best to explain everything once I have all of the facts, otherwise we will lose precious time dwelling over things that will not make sense without the proper context.”
“Let’s continue,” he said, picking up where he left off before walking down the hall to David’s room. “Did he try and return to her house after that night?”
“No, he didn’t. The police made it clear that if he was found anywhere near her house again, he would be arrested. That didn’t stop him from trying to contact her, though.”
“That was when you had to confiscate his phone, correct?”
“Yes. He started calling her. Then, when she wouldn’t answer, he would leave voice mail, and when that wasn’t working he started texting her.” I stood up and walked over to the counter and grabbed David’s cellphone out of my purse, then returned to my seat.
“The messages started out with him pleading with her to return to the sigil with him, then as the days passed they got more insistent and threatening, and then they just started sounding like gibberish.”
I unlocked the phone, tapped the instant messenger app, then handed the phone to Mr. Alexander. “Some of the earlier texts have been deleted, but most of the crazier ones are still there.”
“THOSE MESSAGES ARE PRIVATE!” David suddenly yelled while renewing his attempts to escape his bathroom prison.
Mr. Alexander spent the next few minutes scrolling through the text message history. I could tell by the look on his face that he saw something he recognized.
“It was those text messages that convinced the judge to grant the restraining order against David,” I offered while he read the texts.
“Based on what you are telling me, I think whatever happened to David started sometime before Veronica left for Florida. I also think she knows more than she is letting on, particularly about that symbol in David’s room and the language used in the texts.”
“Is this the current phone number for Veronica?” He held David’s phone up so I could see the screen. “I think it’s time she told the truth.”
“It should be,” I responded. “I don’t think she changed it.”
“DON’T YOU DARE CALL HER!” David was becoming more agitated. We continued to ignore him.
Mr. Alexander pulled his own phone out then dialed Veronica’s number, knowing that David’s number would be blocked. As the phone started to ring he pressed the speaker button and set the phone on the table so everyone could hear the conversation.
“Hello…” Veronica sounded wary, not recognizing Mr. Alexander’s number.
“Hello, Veronica. My name is Theodore Alexander. I am working with the Knowles family on a treatment plan for David and I was wondering if I could ask you a question.”
“I don’t know.”
“It will only take a moment, and it would be extremely beneficial for David.”
“My parents don’t want me to have anything to do with David or Mrs. Knowles. They would have a fit if they knew I was even talking to you.”
“You won’t be talking to either of them, just me, and I only have one question.”
“One question, that’s it,” she relented.
“Thank you,” he said, then asked his question. “The symbol drawn all over David’s walls and the text messages he sent you, the ones that look like gibberish, I know you’ve seen them before. Based on the timeline I am working with, I am assuming you encountered them about a week before you went on vacation, and if I am correct they were part of a spell or ritual David performed. For David’s sake, I need you to tell me the name of whatever it was he found.”
His question was greeted with silence. I looked over at Father Cooke, knowing something strange was happening to David, but not wanting to accept the reality that he might truly be possessed, despite all evidence indicating he was.
“Veronica,” Mr. Alexander pressed. “If I don’t find out what he did, its effects will likely drive him insane, if it doesn’t wind up killing him first. You know this is not David. Help me, help him.”
“Iusiurandum aeternum,” she finally whispered. “He found it on the Internet.”
He looked like he was about to ask a follow up question, but Veronica cut him off. “I’ve answered your question, don’t call me again.” Then she hung up.
“Did that help?” I asked. “Do you know what happened to David?” I was starting to hope there was a way out of this nightmare.
“Yes, I know what happened to David, and the good news is that I can help him.” Mr. Alexander smiled, then started to remove several things from his satchel.
The first thing he removed was an old dog-eared book that at first glance looked like a Bible, but the large embossed pentagram on the solid black cover indicated otherwise. Then he removed an amulet that had a similar pentagram hanging from a silver chain with the Latin phrase “ambulamus in tenebris ergo lumen non est caecus nobis” written around its circumference. Finally, he removed a red satin stole that was adorned with an upside-down black cross on both ends.
“What’s all this? Why does he have those evil things?” I demanded an answer from Father Cook. “Why did you bring him here?” I spat at him while jabbing a finger at Mr. Alexander.
“Please calm down, Mrs. Knowles,” Father Cooke spoke softly. “It’s not what it looks like.”
“Calm down? CALM DOWN!?” I yelled. “You brought a Satanist into my home!”
“Please allow us to explain,” he beseeched me. “We came here to help David and based on what you told me, I wasn’t going to be able to help him, but I was sure Magister Alexander could. This is all for your son.”
“I know this may be hard to believe, Mrs. Knowles, but I truly want to help David, and I really am the only one that can help him. When Father Cooke took his vows, he became powerless to interfere with the entity that now possesses your son,” Magister Alexander tried to assure me.
I just sat there, eyes shifting from Father Cooke to Magister Alexander, my mouth agape. I wanted to yell and scream at them, but I couldn’t force the words out. I was too stunned that Father Cooke, a priest I have known for almost 20 years, had brought this man into my home.
“Let me tell you what I know about the being possessing your son. Then, if you still don’t want me here, I will leave.”
I just stared at him, my eyes becoming thin lines of scorn. Magister Alexander took my silence as consent and started to describe the events that he believed led to David’s possession.
“David and Veronica were your typical teenagers in love, thinking they were meant for each other, that they were going to be together forever,” he began, “but something made them fear for their future as a couple, and like all couples that are being forced apart they sought a way to prevent that from happening, using the only thing at their disposal, the Internet. I don’t know how they found the Iusiurandum aeternum, but they did.
“The Iusiurandum aeternum is an Enochian devotion ritual. Its title essentially translates to ‘eternal oath,’ which in the context of the ritual means that they are pledging their souls to one another. In order to complete the ritual, the couple must complete the incantation within an Enochian sigil created out of rose petals. If one of them fails to complete it, the angel that was summoned to oversee the bond will become trapped within the body of the person that initially summoned it.”
“Angel?” I scoffed. “My son is possessed by an angel?”
“Yes, an angel,” Magister Alexander answered, “specifically, a Cherub.” He quickly continued after seeing the look of disbelief on my face. “You may think they are cute and innocent, but that is just an artist’s interpretation of them. They are depicted as babies because of their infantile tempers and obsession with God. They need something to love, which is why they are the ones summoned when this ritual is performed and it is also why they go crazy when they are trapped and unable to express that love.”
I started laughing before he finished speaking, but the insanity of the situation quickly turned the laughs into sobs. The idea that my son was possessed by a chubby little baby with wings was ludicrous. I felt stuck in a dream I couldn’t wake up from.
“I know how ridiculous it sounds, but that is what possesses your son and there are only two ways to save him: Either convince Veronica to complete the ritual and be forever bound to David, which we both know will never happen, or… allow me to perform an exorcism on him.”
I quickly recovered and wiped my eyes with a fresh tissue after noticing the deathly serious look on the faces of Father Cooke and Magister Alexander.
“I am forbidden from interfering with emissaries of the almighty, otherwise I would perform the exorcism myself. That is why it must be Magister Alexander,” Father Cooke explained. He continued speaking, hoping he was getting through to me. “As a priest I have the power to exorcise demons, and a duty to protect my flock from the creatures of darkness. Theodore is a Magister of the Satanic church. He has the power to exorcise angels and a duty to protect members of his congregation from beings of light.”
“Our churches keep each other in check here on Earth, and when a demon or an angel finds itself trapped in a human body it is our responsibility to send it back where it came from as quickly as possible. The longer they are trapped here the more twisted they become, and the less likely it is that we can save the person they are possessing.”
“Does that help you make sense of it?” Father Cooke finally asked, after giving me a few moments to process what he had said.
“It’s a lot to take in, but yes… yes, I do understand. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you can save my son. I just want my David back.” I started to cry again.
“Does that mean you want me to perform the exorcism, Mrs. Knowles?”
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Then there is one final thing we need to take care. He pulled a thick piece of parchment out of his bag and slid it in front of me. “This is a standard contract for services rendered. As a member of the Satanic church I must demand payment for the exorcism, but the payment cannot have monetary value. It must be something you value beyond worldly goods. With that in mind, I just have one final question I need ask you. What are you willing to pay to save your son?”