The Faust Syndrome: scenes 7-10

*sorry this is late*

 

Scene 7: open to Sam attempting his entry into politics.

Sam

(narrating)

After the death of Frankie’s girlfriend, I deemed it necessary to back off from my mischief in my own community. Instead, I decided to start my climb up the political ladder. I knew, being young, I would face a hard climb but I had an ally no one else had. I was backed by the very Devil himself and I had been given my first mission. Infiltrate Congress.

Sam

(campaigning)

…And I promise that I will do what is best for this community and the state as a whole. We will prosper as a state and a community. Let’s move this state forward.

The crowd cheers, drowning the rest of his speech out.

Sam

(narrating)

Many in the community saw sending me to Congress as a way to banish me from their midst without incurring my wrath. Indeed, most were so frightened of me that they thought I would visit them in the night if they didn’t do something that was in my best interest even if it meant betraying their country. So, they sent me away to Congress. And in my delusion, I believed that they had seen my true worth.

Pan from Sam packing to his arrival in DC.

I didn’t realize, nor did I care, that they would ultimately use this extended time to find all the damning evidence against me they could. I  did not care  because I believed that those who had evidence would be too terrified to give any testimony. I merely thought that the Devil would keep me from harm. I would be wrong in both respects.

Scene 8: Sam’s first day in Congress. He is observing, looking for the weakest members. These will be the ones he will blackmail and/or pull into his sphere of influence.

Sam (from San Diego)

This bill concerns me. Nowhere does it explain who benefits and who does not. It is a disaster waiting to happen. (gesturing) Our dear colleagues across the aisle expect us to simply accept, not to debate. In good conscience, I cannot back such an endeavor.

George (from Miami)

I agree  with my esteemed colleague from San Diego. This is the biggest cluster fuck I have ever witnessed…and to think that my dear friend Mike was involved in the formation of this pile of shit. How can my Republican colleagues believe that this could ever do America any good.

Shelly (from Maine)

(waving her arms wildly)

We need to work together on bills like this! This is not a partisan problem or a partisan subject. These affect everyone. When we treat these things as partisan privileges, we play God with the lives of millions!

Mike (from NY)

(Objecting to the debate)

I call for a vote!

Sam

(indifferent)

I second.

Senate Majority Leader

Sam Machivala, You are out of turn. (returning his attention to the rest of the Congressmen/women) Vote denied. We will be resuming tomorrow to debate and possibly submit for rewrites.

Fade from assembly. New scene: Sam’s apartment. He has just walked in the door .he loosens his tie and throws his suit coat onto the nearby couch.

Sam

(with relief, to himself)

Home sweet home. (sighs) Never thought legislating was so tiring. Or stressful. Not really hard, just tedious.  

As narration begins, continue with various scenes of Sam  debating in Congress.  

Sam

(narrating)

I would spend six years as a junior senator, then the last three as a senior.I backed several beneficial bills, but they only covered many more “greed” bills that I pushed my fellow senators to pass. And pushing was something I was very good at. Very good.

Fade to scene of Sam hiring a group of private investigators to shadow his colleagues. He gives them specific instructions as the narration continues.

My first year in office, I spent a lot of time researching my colleagues. Their  vices. Their family lives. Their deep, dark secrets–those things they tried to keep hidden.

I found each weakness and began to exploit it to my own benefit. I found out which senators were sleeping with the wives of their colleagues. Which ones frequented prostitutes.which ones were sleeping with underage interns. And so on.

I found, though, that no matter how different both sides believed they were, there was always something I could use against them. They were the same, under the private lamp. None had true family values.neither one was truly conservative. Neither were truly liberal. Both lied. And lies could be used as blackmail.

It was all so exhilarating! The thrill of discovery. The thrill of the threat. The follow through. The watching as a career ended in a crash.

Ah, but I came to realize that it was an everyday occurrence in Washington. The power players had already set that wheel in motion, but I learned to use it much more adeptly than the rest. And I used it to its fullest potential. Often.

Fade to scenes of Sam sing every conceivable piece of information as blackmail against his colleagues as narration continues. End of scene.

Scene 9: it has been about a year. Sam stumbles into a young lady at a social function. It is a gala party being held at her father’s house. He assumes that she is in her 20s, she is not. She is more like 17/18, but looks and dresses older.

Sam

(narrating)

I was barely a year in my first term when I met her. She was the eldest daughter of one of my esteemed colleagues, but I knew I had to have her. I didn’t want to make her my wife, though I would temporarily just to further my career, but I had to have her sexually. I didn’t care if she was willing, I just wanted her.

Sam

(seductively.)

I want you. I have to have you.

He pins her to the wall.

Lil

(willingly)

What’re you waiting for? I won’t fight you. I want it too.

Sam

(grabbing her wrist)

Come on. Let’s get away from this place. Somewhere quiet. Secluded.

Sam and Lil leave the party in his car. He drives her out into the country and pulls off on a backroad. Zoom out of the interior to an exterior shot of the car as the occupants crawl into the back. As the scene fades, the car begins to rock.

Sam

(narrating)

To my surprise, though she was barely eighteen, she turned out to be very willing. Even more, she was much as I was. Filled with malice and hate for all. She did not love me, no. rather, she grew to hate me as much as she hated all in Washington. But she knew a power to be reckoned with when she saw it. And I was.

Fade in on wedding scene, then morph into scene of Lil playing laying with a cabana/pool boy. Sam acta as if he doesn’t notice.

We were married after our second tryst. I looked the other way as she dallied with pool boys and other members of the elite, including many of my colleagues–which she would record so I could use the tapes as blackmail. Oh how she loved that trait in me! But she also looked the other way as I led my colleagues’ wives into lustful orgies and much more. I, too, recorded every tryst to use as blackmail if needed.

Fade from scenes of Lil laying with and kissing on various senators, with the final scene panning out to reveal a camera concealed in a closet, to scenes of Sam doing the same with those senators’ wives. Again, pan out to reveal a camera concealed in the closet, then fade out.

Yet, as much as I hated my wife, and as much as she hated me, we decided to try for an heir. We wanted our union to look good. I wanted someone to carry on my legacy of evil, she just wanted a child.but our attempts were unsuccessful, for very obvious reasons. Yet, the reason had not dawned on me.I merely thought that it was natural that she and I were having this kind of trouble. I had never paid very close attention in health or science classes.

Sam and Lil are discussing something as the camera fades in.

Sam

We need a family. We need to look normal, even though we are nowhere near being such.

Lil

(nodding)

I agree. Just because we hate each other, we can at least try to be as normal as possible in appearance. Besides. I wanna baby.

Montage scenes of Sam and Lil trying for a baby. End of scene.

Scene 10: Sam watches as Lil leaves to visit her parents. After she is gone, he sits down on the couch. Leaning back, he closes his eyes. After less than 30 seconds, he sniffs the air and sits up, opening his eyes and sits up. He gets up and looks  down the hall toward the bedroom. Belial stands in the hallway, hidden in the shadows.

Sam

(narrating)

At one point early in my career, on my birthday, Belial visited me. My remaining childless was weighing heavily upon my mind, as were a few other questions. His appearance, at a time when she wasn’t around, was so opportune.

Belial

(with a beguiling smile)

You look a little long in the tooth. Is there something I can do for you?

Sam

(irritable)

Yes. you can tell me why I cannot have children.

Belial

(with a hint of surprise, his eyebrow raised)

Is it not obvious?

Sam

(getting more irritated)

No, enlighten me.

Belial

(sighs)

You have no soul. Soulless people cannot propagate. They are sterile. You will either have to go childless or adopt. (shakes his head in wonderment, muttering to himself) I swear. Some humans are so dense. They just don’t get all that they are giving up until they want something to carry on their name. (Sam winces in pain, the comments made by Belial having their desired effect)

Sam

(half in retaliation, half in frustration)

You did not explain this to me, Bea. you stated, and I quote, ‘you will have everything your heart desired.’ And my heart desires a child.

Belial

(heavy and dark, venomous)

Never call me Bea. There are no pet names between us. I am your friend, true. But nicknames between business associates is very disrespectful.

Sam

(remorseful)

I am sorry.i did not realize that I could not use terms of endearment.

Belial

(with a pleased smile)

There is more than that on your mind, isn’t there?

Sam

(warily)

Yes, but I need you to not become angry.

Belial

(quizzically)

And why is that?

Sam

I have some (he pauses) philosophical questions that are, shall I say, a little on the religious side?

Belial

(sternly)

You were warned about these kind of questions.

Sam

Just bear with me, please.

Belial

(sighing, disappointed)

I will have to check with my master.

Belial vanishes for a few seconds, then reappears.

OK, but just this once and no more.

Sam

My beguiling friend, why must there always be a war between Heaven and Hell?

Belial

(mortified)

This question is forbidden! Why must you ask questions of such a manner? Do you know that my master could strike us both down for such blasphemous questions?

Sam

(remorseless)

Please, I beg you, I ask only for philosophical purposes. To fully understand my own part in this whole thing.

Belial

(rolling his eyes, hissing in disapproval)

Alright, but no more of these kinds of questions after this. We need no goading from you to hate all things of Heaven. The war between Heaven and Hell has been an endless one. We fight because we hate all that is good and right. All that Heaven represents. When Heaven created man, we resented the newly created man and vowed to destroy Heaven and rule man as we desired.

Sam

(pressing his luck)

What of the Bible? Is it really the truth?

Belial

Your truth is whatever the truth of our lord is, not the truth of the life you abandoned or that most hated book. (he grows impatient and angry)

Sam

(still pushing his luck)

Is there anything such as redemption?

Belial

(icily)

We are lords over all the earth. Not God. Not man. We determine who is and who is not worthy of your so-called redemption.

Sam

(acquiescing)

Then I am completely satisfied. No more foolish questions.

Belial

(with foreboding)

Let me warn you. There will be no more questions on this subject. Remember, Faustus was a real man and he was torn to shreds for his infractions of our golden rules. But your fate could be far worse if you continue to pester me with such detestable questions.

Sam grows quiet  and visibly abased. He bows his head for a few seconds. Then Belial speaks again.

(in a softer tone, but commanding)

Come kneel at my feet. It is time for something important.

Sam

(looking up momentarily, then rising and going over to do as he is asked)

What?

Belial

(smiling maliciously)

Why, it’s time for you to take the oath, pledging your complete loyalty to Hell and it’s Dark Prince.

Sam raises his right hand to swear the oath. Pan out from Belial and Sam as the narration begins.

Sam

(narrating)

And so, i pledged my undying loyalty. Yet, I had never been so loyal that I had never betrayed those I was supposed to be loyal to, and I would find that Hell’s minions were the same. At nineteen, The Devil had gained my soul. At twenty-three, he now had control of my very actions.

Fade to black. End of scene. End of act 1.  

Advertisements

The Faust Syndrome Act 1, Scenes 3 through 6

Scene 3: Pan to an event that happens before the library scene as narration continues Sam is in bed with the woman next door when his girlfriend (Sandy) walks in and catches them. A fight ensues and she walks out. lines here are ad libbed for sake of spontaneity. the argument is heated, but muted, being behind the narration. 

                                                     Sam

                                              (narrating)

                          I must digress a little. I was nineteen when the

Devil became the owner of my soul. In facts, the

                       eve that Belial came to visit me was the very eve

                      of my birthday and I had all but squandered the day.

                      I remember it all so well because I had just broken up

                      with my girlfriend for what I thought of as a betrayal.

                     She had not betrayed me, no, but my purposes.

She had caught me in a tryst with a married neighbor.

That was her only crime, and it really wasn’t a crime at all.

I had wronged her. I had destroyed her faith in my “love”.

But I didn’t love her. That was the problem. I didn’t love anyone.

fade to montage of scenes where Sam is with different women and chasing women as the narration continues.

                  I was far from being a loyal lover. Women were my greatest

                    vice. Or, should I say, my greatest weakness. I lusted after them.  

I stalked them. I even lusted after the ones I could not have.

And all I wanted from women was, well, sex. That, to me, was all

they were good for. Otherwise, they were a big waste of money and

time. Wine them, dine them, but make sure they go to bed with you in

the end–that was my philosophy.

It didn’t matter  whether they stayed or not, just as long as I got what

I wanted from the. I didn’t realize that it was all wrong, I just knew

that I wanted what they had to offer…even if they really weren’t offering.

I scoffed at my Christian upbringing, I was from wealth and privilege, I

didn’t need God or his rules.

Pan to scenes of Sam wining and dining women, then bedding them.Fade to scene of Sam making lewd gestures and laughing as he is driven past a church. Adlib lines to match scenes. 

In my young mind, women were there to do as I bid. My word,

where they were concerned, was law. If they didn’t give willingly,

I would take it. If I couldn’t take it, I would slander them. Shame them.

You might say that evil had already taken a fair root in my heart but not enough but not enough to destroy my soul. Yes, I had committed crimes against so many young ladies up to this point,but I had always been able to repent my evil away until I signed my soul away.

Scene 4: an hour after the pact is signed. Sam’s father’s fever breaks and he regains his health over the days that pass. Sam’s mother and father watch as their son begins to change. At first, it was subtle, then more apparent.

Sam

(Narrating)

Before I go on, I must tell you that my father regained his health in the days that followed. He had been near death for about a week,but for some reason, the fever broke and he was well almost within hours of my signing away my soul. He would remain a thorn in my side for over ten years and I would grow to loathe him. Yet, he was a good man and in the dark recesses of my mind, I knew that he just wanted to save his youngest son. Mama, too, could see the changes in me. How hard they tried to regain my soul for me!  

Fade to scene of Frankie’s bedroom. A dark corner. Frankie’s back is to the corner, he is getting ready for bed. Sam , in spectral form,appears in the dark corner and Frankie turns and jumps, spooked.

My first deeds, though, had nothing to do with my parents or women. It had everything to do with a friend who had “betrayed” me. yet , much like the situation with my ex-girlfriend, he had not really betrayed me.

Frankie

(spooked)

Jesus! Where did you come from?

Sam

(with an evil smile)

Nowhere. What are you nervous about, Frankie? Afraid I might do something?

Frankie

(starting to grow fearful)

How did you get in here? All the doors are locked. And the windows are all shut down tight with the shutters closed.

Sam

(maliciously)

Not everyone has to use doors or windows, Frankie. Sometimes all it takes is a guilty conscience or thought. Maybe I will visit your girl after I am done here.

Frankie

(defiant, yet fearful)

I don’t know what I have to be guilty of.I didn’t do anything to you.

Sam

(evilly)

Think, Frankie. Hard. You betrayed me. You told Susan where I was. She found me with Marla.

Frankie

(in desperation)

What the hell were you doing with Marla?

(suddenly realizing what the answer is. Shock suddenly registers in his eyes)

Oh God! Why’d you do that?!?

Sam

(coldly)

None of your business, Frankie. But I know you told her where I was. She told me.

Sam

(narration)

Of course, this last part had been a lie. She had not been told, nor had she told me that anyone had told her where I was. She had just simply stopped to see Marla and found us.

Frankie

(defending himself)

I did not tell her!!! Hell! I didn’t even know where you were! I swear it!

Sam

(coldly)

Too late, Frankie. No amount of swearing will absolve you this time. This time, you have betrayed me one too many times.

Sam forces Frankie to sit down and write a false confession  and suicide note. Sam forces Frankie to make a noose and hang himself.he waits until Frankie stops kicking and breathing, then leaves.

Sam

(narrating)

Over the next hour, I made him write out a false confession. It was a beauty,even though it was all lies. I made him write out a suicide note, then made him make his own noose. It had to be believable. Then, I made him hang himself. I waited until he stopped kicking and moving before I left.

Pleased with myself, I felt I needed to find a woman and celebrate. And who better than the girlfriend of my late friend? I smiled in anticipation.

Sam seeks out Frankie’s girlfriend and attempts to seduce her.  

Fiona

(angry)

Knock it off, Sam. I don’t love you. I never will. Go away. You can’t have me.

Sam

(viciously)

You will live to regret this.

Enraged, Sam returns home to plot fiona’s death.

Sam

(narrating)

I did not expect her to reject me. Devastated, I went back home to plot against her as well. Yet, I refrained from carrying it out right away. I wanted to let the shock of Frankie’s “suicide” go away. I wanted to punish her in other ways. I wanted to really hurt her.

Scene 5: fade to a later date. The sadness of Frankie’s death has seemingly eased for Fiona. Sam has been watching. Waiting. His eyes reveal that he believes that the time is right to bring his plot against her to fruition. He appears, one night, in her bedroom after she returns from a date with some friends. She is undressing when he appears.

Sam

(evilly)

Hello, Fiona. Have you missed me?

Fiona

(panic stricken)

Dear God, Sam! How the hell did you get in here?!?

Sam

(maliciously)

Magic!

Sam begins trying to force himself on her, pushing her toward the bed. As scene fades, she screams. Fade back in on scene of her lying on her bed, her hair messed, her face battered and bruised. She is crying. Sam stands where he had appeared earlier, an evil smile on his face.

Sam

(with an evil laugh)

We’ll continue this tomorrow night,  

(vanishes, leaving her to cry inconsolably)

Shakily, she goes to her desk and pulls out her diary and begins writing every event that has led up to this misfortune, including the rape itself.

Sam

(narrating)

Little did I know that she would be a witness to my crimes in ways even the Devil could not know. Yes, she would keep a detailed diary about me. The flags I raised in her mind. The horrible truth about what I would become.

She would keep a detailed record of every time I would visit her and every time I raped her. In the end, it would be one of the few documents that would seal my fate (pause) twenty years after her own death. The last night I would visit her, I would leave her a shattered mess. She lay, motionless, in a pool of her own blood after the beating I gave her as I made her do the things that would make her unravel. Unashamed, I left her that way.

Fade to scene of Fiona in a puddle of blood, Sam leaving. She regains consciousness after he leaves and seeks out her diary. After writing one last entry, she hides it where she knows Sam won’t find it. After this, she sits at her desk and writes a suicide note and hangs herself.

Sam

(narrating)

At some point in the night, after she had made one last entry in her secret book, and after hiding it well enough for me not to find, she wrote a suicide note and then hung herself to end the pain I had inflicted upon her. In her note, she left her family a clue as to where she had hidden the book but warned them not to look for it until I was well out of the community.

That night, I called upon a host of succubae to give me the pleasure I wanted in bed. I was addicted to their touch and their ways. So amazing were the nights they visited me that I forgot about women for a while. I had not been told that to call upon their pleasures would age me greatly over time, but I would not have cared anyway. I was young.what was a long life if I could not taste all the pleasures Hell had to offer?

Unashamed of the deeds I had committed, I went on with my life as if I had done nothing wrong. The town began to wonder what was going on, though. Two of their most beloved children had been taken from them for no reason. One had been savagely beaten and assaulted until she committed suicide, the other had simply committed suicide for no apparent reason. And I was the only one who knew why.

Fade to scene of Sam in his bedroom, surrounded by succubae. They are crawling on him, kissing him, and arousing him. Fade to black as the remainder of the narration continues. End of scene.

Scene 6: one year later. The anniversary of Belial’s first visit. Belial has returned.

Sam

(narrating)

I would spend the rest of my nineteenth year breaking into the houses of those I had gone to school with, taking all of their belongings and leaving clues that pointed away from myself. Small, petty stuff, but still another step in the direction of my own eternal damnation. I had no reservations. No pride. Just a vengeful  heart bent on hurting everyone around me.

I would receive a visit from Belial, once again, on the anniversary of our first meeting. Every birthday would be another friendly visit, goading me deeper into evil. Yet, he waited until all were asleep but me. I had stopped sleeping after Frankie’s death.

Belial

(hissing malevolently cheerful)

I see you have created quite a stir! Not bad!

Sam

(raising an eyebrow)

By whose measure?

Belial

(grinning evilly)

My master’s, of course. But he wants more. And he wanted me to deliver another message.

Sam

(looking at Belial quizzically)

And that might be?

Belial

He wanted me to remind you that, if you read the fine print, and I hope you did, that he will come for you at the appointed time. This means that he will come himself or send some of my coworkers to collect your body once your time runs out.

Sam

And how much time do I have?

Belial

(shrugging)

Roughly twenty years.

Sam

(frustrated)

Not enough.

Belial

(sneering maliciously)

No? You presume to tell my master how much time you need to do things?

Sam

(frowning angrily)

No, but if your master expects me to get into politics, he needs to give me until I am fifty.only one man has made it into the White House before they were forty.

Belial

Do you doubt the power of my master that you think he cannot influence enough to get you there before you are forty?

Sam

(shaking his head)

no , but I doubt the human willingness to follow his lead. Too many astute people who can’t be fooled by the likes of me.

Belial

(soothingly)

You tell a big enough lie and you can fool anyone into selling anything. Besides. We need you in office to raise our membership. We have fallen on some hard times and need you to recruit. Oh, and you won’t be in the White House until you go to Congress.

Sam

And you are telling me that I will be doing that soon, I take it?

Belial

(smiling evilly)

Sooner than you think.

 

The Devil, Chapter 23

“And the devil he’s in trouble/I can see it in his eyes/If you don’t give him shelter/He’ll have no place to hide.”

Michael watched as the cabin burned rapidly. Soon, there was no evidence that a cabin had stood there except a pile of ash and a barren spot. Soon, grass would grow, and maybe a tree or two, and make it seem as if no one had ever lived there. The memory of Patrick would be lost to the ravages of time.

Michael took three steps toward the pile of ash. Without warning, a pair of angels appeared and barred his path.

“You shall not pass,” one of the angels stated, “with your shoes on.This is Holy ground.”

“Erect a fence,” the second angel began, “around this land to keep mankind from building upon it. Build a monument within the fence as a memorial to Petros Kerikos, the first guardian of mankind. Only guardians shall pass through the gates and into the sanctum within to visit the monument. Man cannot be allowed in.”

“As you wish, angel,” Michael replied, bowing, “I shall do as you say. But who will guard this?”

“There will be four of us guarding,” the second angel replied, “one for each gate. Each gate is to face a direction.”

Michael nodded. He removed his shoes and set to work. Before he was made a guardian, his powers had been phenomenal, something out of this world. When he left the mountains, he had forgotten that they existed. But coming home had reawakened them.

He concentrated on what he wanted. In his mind, he saw an ornate wall. It was no so much a wall as it was a sort of ornate trellis that met high above the monument in the center. It was so beautifully carved that it was as if no man had done it. At the center of the ash pile, he saw a Celtic Cross atop an altar. Pavers covered the ground inside the enclosure and led out from each gate to where a large stone shoe block sat.

The ground began to shake and stone began to grind as the earth where the cabin had been began to shift and change.Stone shot up from the ground and rose high above the hallowed spot, intertwining at the top, while an ornate Celtic Cross rose from the center along with a massive ornate altar. The four posts took on the forms of trees, their branches forming a protective canopy over the altar with intertwined branches. The fence sides were ornately carved and lower to the ground.

Michael smiled. He entered the sanctuary to inspect it. So precisely carved, beyond what any man’s hand could ever do. So wonderfully formed. It had formed perfectly, just as he’d envisioned it. He would have to bring his siblings here.

***

Tori watched Michael’s doings in her mind. She was saddened to know that the priest had passed, but understood why.

“Father Patrick is no longer with us,” she stated, “But he has been memorialized. We are the bearers of his legacy. Michael is the priest, the rest of us the hunters.”

“The correct term is guardians, sis,” James corrected, hugging her, “and we are supposed to create a family of guardians. Michael is supposed to do as we are. He is supposed to have a family as well.”

“Come,” Phillip interjected, “We’re being called to the sanctuary. We know the way.”

As one, Tanner included, the whole family moved toward the door and out of the cabin. Once outside, they continued in the direction of the new sanctuary. Tanner took gently took hold of Tori’s hand and she accepted his advance. She knew that he was to be the one she married. Phillip, David, James, and Harkiss still needed to find mates, but Thomas already had one.

***

Michael had erected a new abbey near the sanctuary. Massive, it had a Gothic cathedral look to it that was both foreboding and inviting all at the same time. This would be his home. He would operate from here. He would gather his flock, bless the comings and goings of the guardians, call meetings of the guardians, and whatever needed to be done.

The sanctuary would only be accessible to the guardians only. Any man, any human not one of the guardians, would die at the hands of the angels at the gates. He smiled. So this was how it was to begin. This was how heaven would keep evil in check.

He looked up in time to see his family, and Tanner, appearing  from over the ridge. Good. They had come. Did they know?

“Hail, Brother,” Phillip called, “greetings to the priest among the guardians.”

So they did know. Michael smiled.

“Hail, Brother guardians,” he replied, “and welcome to the sanctuary and the abbey of the guardian. This is our home. Here we will come and go as we keep our vigil.”

***

Satan saw his chance. An opening had appeared where no angel stood guard. His bindings no longer keeping him, he made a break for it. Slipping out through the crack, he vanished into the darkened world beyond. He was free at last. He looked back.

The crack he had slipped through was now gone. No other had been lucky enough to escape with him. No matter. He had a war to wage.

Lucifer would pay for deceiving him. His king would be stripped of his title and power. He would make sure of it. After all, he would make a better ruler of the demons than Lucifer. He knew how to control them. He smiled.

But, first, he had to find a way out of these infernal mountains. The gates here would soon be sealed and disappear. After that, perhaps in a century or a millennium, new gates would appear somewhere else in the world. Of course, a demon or two would escape through a crack here or there. But the hosts, the armies, would not have a chance to flood the earth with such chaos again for a long time.

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!

The Devil, Chapter Twenty-One

“I loved a lovely lady there/She opened up my eyes/She ran a dancing school/It was a front, she loved the Lord…”

L.A. was a wreck. Between the storms, the attack of the living dead, and the sudden earthquakes, the city was darkened and chaotic. No one seemed to know what was going on. News channels were off the air but that was due, in part, by the power outages that ravaged the city. Only battery run radios were picking up any signal, but those were spotty at best.

T-Bone had stopped praying to defend his family against the perils they had just been through. He felt a bit guilty for doing so, but he had feared for his family. Especially when he heard the screams of his children.  The sound of shattering glass hadn’t helped ease his mind either.

Would God be mad at him for not keeping his promise to pray no matter what? Would Michael? Exactly how had the events in Appalachia concluded, anyway? Had his mentor succeeded in defeating the enemy?

He shook off the feelings of guilt and took to the streets. Perhaps someone out there needed his help.  Perhaps he could make up for his moment of weakness.

***

Jesus also took to the street. People were in need of his help. He didn’t care if they were Christian or not. he didn’t even care if they were gay or straight. Or trans. None of it mattered now. All had suffered. All had been in peril. All needed help.

He noticed that Ali, his Muslim neighbor had also taken to the street. Hell. Everyone who was able, even the homeless that hadn’t been killed, were pitching in. He smiled sadly. There was a lot to be done.

He joined Ali. “Need a little help?”

“It would be appreciated, yes. Thank you.” Ali smiled. “Seems my Imam is missing and I am trying to find him. No one else even seems interested in helping me.”

“Just a second,” Jesus replied, then turned and whistled, “Hey! Hombres! Need some help over here!”

Jose Ferra approached with seven tough looking Mexicans. “Si, Amigo?”

“Ali needs help finding the Imam,” Jesus replied, “we need to help him. Once we help him, we’ll come back and help others.”

Jose nodded and turned to his companions. He rattled off the translation of what Jesus had said to them and they nodded. One of them spoke, and Jose turned back to Jesus. “Alright. We’ll do it.

***

Lucifer sat on the spire of The Dome on the Rock. He’d been bested and he knew it. He should have cursed that whole family. No, scratch that. He didn’t want to have to face that girl again. She had found a way to deflect his best attacks. She had been far stronger than he had estimated.

And that damned Irishman! Of course, Irish really wasn’t Irish. He was…he was actually on of the original Christians, a Greek. But Irish had long since shed his original Greek appearance. He had become Irish.

Irish had watched as he, Lucifer, continued to twist the precepts that had been of pure love.  And the oaf had done nothing to stop him. Lucifer smirked. He had been powerless to stop him.

Correction. He had been powerless only when it came to stopping the perversion of the “faith”.  When it came to saving souls, Irish had been more than capable. He had saved millions over the millennia. But it wasn’t the saving that modern Christians thought of when they heard the phrase ‘saving souls’. No, Irish was well versed in protecting those Lucifer wanted as his own.

Irish had played shield from that very first moment they met in battle. Even as a nasty little Corinthian, Irish had been a thorn in his side. But then, Thracians and Ionians had always been nasty, free spirited, and free thinking. They had found solace in Christianity. they had been the original designers of Democracy, that form of government that modern Christians seemed to believe was created by Christ. The fools. Christianity had nothing to do with Democracy. It had nothing to do with America’s beginnings either.

Sure, the first colonies had come across in search of a place where they could observe their own way. But they had also been tools for the empire that had allowed them to explore. Still, Christianity had nothing to do with the formation of the colonies. The colonists had left a “Christian” kingdom. Europe had all been “Christian” at the time of the colonies.

No, Christianity’d had no part in the colonies. It had always been freedom. Freedom to believe as they wished, observe their belief in safety, Among their own, without having to fear for their lives. But that freedom did not have the belief of others in mind and Lucifer had been able to expose their hypocrisy through the convenient events of the witch hunts that had swept the colonies. His plan had went without a hitch. It had been perfect.

What was ironic was that the descendants of those who had been guilty of shedding innocent blood in the name of religion had learned absolutely nothing from their past. In fact, they refused to learn. They were content in their ignorance, not realizing that they were headed for the same fall that their forefathers had been headed for.

They had grown arrogant in their ignorance. Well, a growing minority of them were. And they wanted to destroy their country and build a monument to him. He smiled. Maybe Irish had failed after all. Maybe his enemy had failed to save all the souls after all.

“Still thinking yourself as being smarter than everyone, Lucifer?” A voice made him snap out of his thoughts and almost made him fall off the pinnacle. He turned to find Azrael standing behind him.

“How’d you find me?” He demanded.

“Not hard,” heaven’s avenger smiled, “Since this was the scene of the first crime against man’s salvation.”

“So you here  to take me in?” He demanded.

“Nope,” Azrael shook his head, “Not my mission. I only bring a message.”

“Which is what?” He continued to demand.

“Your time grows short, Prince of Darkness,” Azrael replied, brushing off Lucifer’s rudeness, “The end draws near and, soon, Abaddon will return for you and you will not escape.”

The Devil, Chapter Twenty

“L.A.’s in California, Lord /I been there many times/It is an education to be sure…”

They had been walking for what seemed to be miles, even though it was just far enough to hide the cabin. Michael had just witnessed Patrick passing his immortal mission on to Harkiss and David. He had witnessed the fall of Satan and the revelation that Satan and Lucifer were, indeed, two separate demonic presences. Now, his head was swimming as he walked with Patrick to who-knows-where.

“Ye know that ye cannae go back now,” Patrick began, “not to California. Ye have to stay here and take the preacher’s mantle. The one I am leaving behind.”

“What do you mean?” Michael had suddenly been pulled out of his thoughts. “I have to get back to my flock in California.”

“No,” Patrick shook his head, “you don’t. You are needed here. Besides, there is a letter of transfer coming to your sister’s home. For some strange reason it was diverted here. The new priest for the church you were over is already on his way and may already arrived there.” Patrick stopped and turned to Michael. “You need to realize that this is not a negotiable contract. You were sent back here to finish what was started. I cannae do it. I am old. Too old. I need to be allowed to leave this life. Believe me. I have lived way too long as it is. Between you and your brothers, you can guard the gate and make sure no one else opens it for as long as you can.”

“But what of all the prayer?” Michael objected.

“Don’t you get it, yet, Michael?” Patrick frowned. “Prayer has become meaningless. All it is now is nothing more than the wishlists of selfish children who have missed the whole point of prayer. Even the most well-meaning prayer has become nothing but selfish desires and attempts to control what the Father does here on earth.

“We have lost sight of the truth. And with our loss of sight, we have strayed from the path. Lucifer has made sure of that from the very moment he convinced a lazy, apathetic scribe to condense down the books that became Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers so that the histories held in those books were reduced to nothing more than allegory legends.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is still truth there, just not a complete truth. It was distilled and distorted. Completely convoluted. For all intents and purposes, it is incomplete at best. Even I know this, and I was a priest a long time before most of the modern distortions got thrown in for flavor. Now, we have to return to the path as part of the creation.

“We have to return to the underlying message of all that Christ brought to us. Believe it or not, it was the same message given to Mohammed, but soon seen as a weapon of conquest. Just as Christianity had. All Lucifer’s doing, of course. But man has never needed much of a nudge to do most of what he has done.”

Michael bowed his head. this was a hard truth to swallow. Man was no closer to salvation than he had been when Christ was crucified. Prayer was basically meaningless, meant to make the doer feel good and expect something that was not for them to expect. It was all enough to make a man walk away from all belief.

“Don’t let it strip you of your faith, Michael,” the Irishman continued, “but rather search your soul for the undeniable truth. The underlying path of the three major systems of beliefs, the ones that have become religions and ceased being faiths or ways of life, If unconditional love for one’s neighbors and enemies because, in the eyes of God, we are all brothers no matter what we believe. Unconditional love cannot abide hate, greed, or any of the traits popular Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have accepted into their doctrines.

“Man wastes his time hating his fellow man, chasing earthly treasures, and judging and condemning others for not being exactly like him. He hides from the fact that those around him are mirrors of his own soul, showing him what needs to be fixed in his own lifestyle and thoughts, preferring to believe that his mission is to fix those around him…when it really isn’t.

“You cannot fix what is wrong around you without first fixing what is wrong inside you.  Once you fix that, then what was around you seems to disappear simply because it is not a part of you. The world isn’t as evil as we perceive it, it is our perception that is evil. Our hearts darken what we see because it is what we are but projected onto others.”

“Then,” Michael began, stunned but still thinking through it all, “What is the use in remaining a part of church or a priest at all?”

“Michael,” The Irishman said, smiling sadly, “Someone has to remain a witness and an example. Besides. They need teachers who know the truth and aren’t guessing or placing their own meaning to the clues. They need men like you and I.

“Did you ever ask yourself why, of all families, yours was picked to wield the powers you have? Have you ever asked yourself why so many have begun to fall from the embrace of the mainstream and make the decision to return to the roots of all belief? I believe you call them pagans, wiccans, witches, and so on.”

“I had always thought of my family’s power as a curse,” Michael replied, “and that those you mentioned were losing their religion because they had never really had it.”

Patrick shook his head in dismay. “No, Michael. Your powers were never a curse. They were a gift meant to guide you in the way you were to go. And those people have always had faith, even when the rest of the world has lost faith and replaced it with religion. And, no, religion and faith are not the same. You can be religious, but not have faith. Just as you can have faith, but not be religious. You see, faith is not placed in a physical. It is a spiritual thing. It cannot abide physical expectations. Religion, on the other hand, tends to be based upon the seen and the self.

“Those leaving the fold of religion are returning to faith. They have realized exactly what I have just told you. The need, now, is for someone who can lead a church out of the grasp of the physical and back into the faith, the spirit. Remember. The commands of the Old Testament led only to death. That is the principle that the followers of the precepts of popular Christianity have forgotten. The laws damned us all, not just those who didn’t follow them. Christ came and lifted the condemnation, giving us the grace of the Father which forgives all.

“It isn’t salvation for some, and damnation for others. It is not Christians ruling, oppressing those who are not. The law was done away with, replaced by the grace factor. The rigid ‘must-follow’ dogma was replaced by a dogma of choice, forgiveness, understanding, and unconditional love that emits kindness, generosity without expectation, willingness to suffer for belief’s sake, and the inability to judge or condemn those around us. Does this mean we have to like what they do? No. It just means that we do not stand in their way through judgment or condemnation of their lives.”

The Devil, Chapter Nineteen

“And some you win /And some you lose/And the winners all grin /And the losers assay/Deal the cards again/Oh won’t you/Deal the cards again?”

 

Lucifer knew he was beat. His target was lost. She had emerged from his spell and was now joining her family in their ritual. Refusing to admit defeat, he continued to try to weave his spell over her again. Each attempt failed, infuriating him.

Abaddon smiled, knowing that the devil would soon attempt an escape. He knew that the ruler of all demons was close to giving up. They had done well, waiting him out. Forming the circle had done the trick.

The prayers had done their work as well. Although they had not added to the strength, or even broke the spell Lucifer had cast, they had caused enough of a distraction that it had broken Lucifer’s concentration. And his concentration had been broken just long enough to weaken his hold on Tori.

Lucifer had lost enough control that Tori had begun to become aware that she had not been in control of her actions. This awareness had caused her to wake from the spell and strike back at the devil. And she struck back hard. The devil reeled from the sudden psychic punch he had just taken.

Damn the girl could fight back! He had been right to try and claim her. She would have been a valuable asset. Her power would have heightened his own.

Had he used it well, she could have helped him take over heaven. But it was too late for those thoughts now. She had discovered the weakness in his spell. Hell. She had found him out.

Now he only had one recourse. He had to destroy her. He couldn’t allow heaven to acquire such a powerful weapon. He couldn’t run the risk of heaven making an attack on hell.

He made his attack, but his attempts seemed to dissipate harmlessly before they reached her. How could that be? It just was no possible! No human had that much power!

He had to get out of there. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t effectively attack Tori. Or any of the others, for that matter. It was as if they were being protected.

“Your illusions no longer work, Lucifer,” Abaddon stated coldly, “Give up.”

***

No one saw the change happen. Lucifer had fled and Satan had replaced him. Satan smiled. His ruse had worked.

He wasn’t ready for the outcome of the switch when it happened. without warning, Abaddon laid hands upon him and bound him. Suddenly, Satan found himself captive. Lucifer had neglected, once again, to tell him something. He did not like this lack of communication. Hell. He didn’t like being taken away.

Curse his bad luck! Once again, his king had duped him into taking a fall. Once again, he would have to escape the pit as he had done for centuries. He frowned.

One of these days, Lucifer would not have him to take the fall for him. One of these days, he would rebel and take hell away from the prince of light. He snickered to himself. Prince of light. What a joke. Lucifer could only feign light. He was really the prince of darkness.

He looked up at Abaddon. Did heaven’s jailer know that he had been made a fool? Did he know that Lucifer had gotten away? Or was he clueless?

“Quit thinking so loud, Satan,” The angel said coldly, “You give yourself away.” He smiled coldly. “I will catch your king soon enough, don’t worry. But his time is not yet.”

“Ah, shit,” Satan spat, “You always know.”

“Of course,” came the reply, “It is my nature. Besides. I heard your thoughts.Just as I heard his when you two switched. I have spent this whole visit listening to his thoughts as well as those of the rest of your ilk. I knew where all were at what time. Now come along.”

Tori collapsed to the floor. She was completely drained. The battle had taken all she had. God, she needed sleep. She needed…

She looked up to see Michael and Patrick rushing to her side. To her surprise, she saw Harkiss, James, and the rest of the family. But hadn’t Harkiss been dead? Was she now seeing the dead as well as the living? Or was she going insane?

“You’re not seeing things, Tor,” Michael said quietly in her ear as he knelt next to her, “Harkiss and David are both alive and well. The devil had imprisoned them so he could attempt to take you. He believed that you would be easier to take if the rest of us weren’t here.”

“So I didn’t just dream all of this?” She asked.

“Nay,” Patrick shook his head, “Nay, all’s real.”

She looked up and saw Abaddon near the door, Satan in tow. “And him? Is he really an angel?”

“Aye, lassie,” Patrick replied, a smile in his voice, “that ‘e is. And I need me a talk with ‘im.”

“I was just leaving,” Came Abaddon’s cold reply, “to do what I was sent to do. I have a demon to deliver back to the pit.”

“And the devil?” She inquired.

“Unfortunately,” Abaddon replied coldly, “he remains loose but he will not bother you anymore. Once he loses, he never shows himself to that person again. My dear, you shamed him by besting him.” He smiled coldly. “You were able to break his spell on your own. he won’t soon forget that. Even more, you were able to render his attacks useless. Powerless. From now on, he’ll avoid you at all costs.

“Rest well. You deserve it. As do all here. They all did their parts well.”

Abaddon walked out the door, followed by Patrick. Patrick had risen as Abaddon was speaking to Tori. He wanted to be free of this curse. He had lived long enough. He had lived far too long for his taste.

Outside, he called to the angel. “Abaddon! Hold!”

The angel stopped. “Yes, Irishman?”

“Please,” He began, “I beg o’ ye, Please remove this curse from me. I don’t want to live any longer. I need rest, and I do mean rest.

“Of course, Irishman,” the angel agreed, “You have fought valiantly over the centuries the devil has forced you to live.” He turned to the priest. “Go back inside and pick one of those within. With a touch, you will be able to pass your legacy, your immortality, on to them. And rest well. You will know nothing more, after tonight, until you rise in the afterlife.”

“Thank ye,” Patrick stated graciously, “Dear angel.”

Abaddon smiled. “Not a problem. you deserve a rest.”

Patrick watched as Abaddon vanished with his captive, then reentered the house. He looked at Michael, then to David and Harkiss. He walked over to the latter two.

“Would ye like to do the service I have done for five centuries?” He asked the two of them, laying his hands on their shoulders.

“Yes, Father,” came their collective answer, “You know we would.” At their acceptance, they felt power surge through them. “Use the power I have given ye for good only. That means ye cannae make yer moonshine anymore, Harkiss. It means ye must be ready to battle Lucifer when he returns.” The brotehrs nodded in acknowledgement.

Michael looked up at the question and opened his mouth to object, but was too late. He watched as Patrick transferred his immortality to his brothers. He suddenly knew that Patrick would not be with them much longer.

“Michael, me boy,” Patrick started, looking over at him, “come. Walk with me. Help me home. we must talk.”