The Devil, Chapter 22

It’s been raining in the mountains/And the river’s on the rise/And we cannot hardly reach the other side…

Patrick smiled and looked up. The rain had stopped and the clouds were clearing. The devil had lost and good had prevailed. Though Lucifer was still on the loose, he wouldn’t be attempting anything like this for at least a century. The memory of his defeat at the hands of Tori would remain fresh in his mind for at least that long.

What made this time around sweeter to Patrick was the fact that it would be his last battle. He was going home to die. Finally. Michael and his brothers would take Patrick’s place from this point on. He looked over at Michael.

“You know that you will live forever, don’t you?” He asked his companion.

“I was not aware of that, no,” Michael replied in shock.

“When  you accepted the mantle of priest for these mountains,” the ancient priest continued, “You accepted the same measure of immortality as your brothers and sister. Yes, Michael, You are all the inheritors of my immortality. Tori earned it by beating the devil. Thomas, Phillip, and James accepted theirs when they answered Abaddon’s call.”

“What of Tanner and the Iraqi woman?” Michael asked.

“Their lives are bound to yours,” Patrick replied, “As are your offspring. Unlike the curse that Lucifer handed me, where I would have to watch my loved ones die, I turned it into a blessing and blessed your family and all who were in that house…not to mention all that were to come. You might say that I started a family, a line, of guardians. After all, that was what I was. Now, that is what you are and what your family will be.” He looked down at his hands and noticed that the wrinkling had begun to speed up. “Oh dear. We need to get me home quickly, before I turn to dust before yer eyes.”

Michael looked over at the ancient priest. to his astonishment, Patrick had aged decades in mere minutes. Instead of looking thirty-five, Pat now looked to be about ninety.

“Here,” he stated, stopping, “climb onto my back. I will run the rest of the way.”

“Are ye sure ye can?” Patrick inquired.

“”I haven’t been away from these mountains long enough to know where you live, Patrick,” came the answer.

Pat climbed onto Michael’s back. As soon as the now elderly priest was on his back, Michael took off running. With sure feet, he rapidly made his way to Patrick’s ancient cabin. Opening the door, Michael hurriedly entered and sat Patrick on the bed.

“Mike, me boy-o,” Patrick started, struggling now for breath,  “Set my cabin on fire before you leave, and make sure it burns down to the ground.” He pointed to the shelf in the corner. “But take those with you as you leave. My haversack is in the corner. Put them in there and throw it over your shoulder. Among them is the original Bible as it was before the church splintered and was corrupted. It is yours now.”

Patrick was now too weak to sit up. Michael helped him lay down. The old man closed his eyes, then reopened them. “It took me millennia, but I found the complete manuscripts to the books that were combined to make Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. I translated them into Greek, Latin, Gaelic, then English so that they lost none of their accuracy.  Just be warned, They’re nothing like what they became in the Bible man knows today.  There is literally several million years’ worth of time cataloged that was omitted in several subsequent successive revisions and abridgments. You will also find actual eye witness accounts of Christ and his disciples , written by the witnesses. Guard those scrolls with your lives. Never let scholars see them or they will scrutinize them and reject them.

“Promise me. Even my story is among those accounts.”

“I promise,” Michael averred.

With that promise, Patrick closed his eyes for the last time and breathed his last. As Michael watched, the man disintegrated before his eyes, leaving empty clothes on the bed. Now Michael knew why the Irishman had asked for the cabin to be burned. He turned away from the cot.

Getting off his knees, he went over and picked up the haversack, then went to the shelf. So many scrolls and books. Would they all fit? He started with the books.

Strangely, they all fit. As did all the scrolls. It was as if the haversack was larger than it appeared. After the last scroll had been put in, he picked it up.

The strangest thing of it all was that it was so light! It was almost as if there was nothing at all inside! He carried it outside and set it a safe distance away from the cabin. It would be safe there.

He turned and walked back to the cabin. He had one more thing to do. He found the can of kerosene Patrick had for winter use and the ladder that sat next to the cabin. He put the ladder up to the side of the cabin and climbed onto the roof. Unstopping the can, he began soaking the roof with the liquid. It was strange how the can seemed to have no bottom and the kerosene seemed to flow freely,

From the roof, he went to each of the four walls and soaked them as good as he could. Afterward, he soaked the door and the interior, tossing the can in the corner and leaving the cabin for the last time. Just outside, he turned long enough to take a brass Zippo lighter from his front pocket.

He stared at the lighter for a few minutes. Odd, he had used the lighter for numerous candles at the church in L.A. It had been given to him by a World War II vet who’d taken an instant liking to him. And it still worked! After two wars, it still lit like it was brand new!

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