By Andrew Tyrrell, Editor-in-Chief
“I was at a friend’s apartment, one of the tenements down the street,” Mark began, neglecting to tell the priest that this person was more than a friend. “We were watching some movies, and having a few beers.” The priest nodded knowingly when Mark mentioned the beers. It had actually been wine over a nice dinner, and a romp in the sheets instead of movies, but Mark figured the priest didn’t need to know that.
“So me and my friend Mike were laying around, hanging out,” Mark noted that this had been the first full truth he had told the priest. “And then there was a knock at the door. It was late so we figured maybe we were being too loud and a neighbor was asking us to quiet down. Mike opens the door, and I’m walking up behind him to see who’s there, and before he can say anything, I hear the sound of knuckles on flesh and he’s flying backwards into me. We both get knocked over, and…” Mark started to trail off, the events of earlier flooding his memory in full force. The priest continued to stare at him, listening. Mark could feel despair blossoming in his stomach. He felt sick as he continued.
“So Mike rolls off me and I can hear him gasping for breath, he had the wind knocked out of him. I’m starting to sit up and trying to figure out what’s going on when I see this, this thing walking into the apartment. It walked over to Mike, picked him up and ripped him in half like he was a piece of paper. Blood just went everywhere. I screamed and ran.” Mike could feel the hot tears forming in his eyes. Mike had proposed to him earlier that night. It occurred to Mark that the thing he pulled from his leg must have been the ring. He had left it in his left pants pocket, and it must have embedded itself in his leg when he got hit earlier; he had landed with quite a lot of force due to the blow. The tears started to flow more freely. Mark didn’t need to conclude his story. The priest knew that he ran straight here. He figured that Mark must have been the source of the scream he heard earlier.
“What was this thing?” The priest asked. He was pretty sure he had the situation figured out. He just needed one last bit of information.
“I think it was a demon.” The answer came to Mark’s lips so readily. He didn’t feel stupid saying it. There wasn’t any other logical conclusion. The priest nodded. His suspicions were right. Just another addict breaking into the cathedral after a long night of drinking or shooting up, usually having just committed some other sort of crime looking to steal from the cathedral or “beg” for forgiveness. The priest figured that Mark deserved some bonus points for creativity. This wasn’t like the other situations though. The man sitting before the priest had clearly been in some sort of altercation. He knew the end of the story was horseshit. There was no demon. There are no demons. The Church hasn’t used exorcists in decades, the priest knew that much. His current theory was that this man sitting before him had gone to his friend’s house, gotten too drunk, got into a fight that ended bloody for both. With what appeared to be a stab wound on the man’s leg, the priest was beginning to suspect that maybe this Mike that had been mentioned had been killed.
As the two sat in silence, the priest mulling over Mark’s story and forming his own theory that Mark is just another addict, Mark started to feel uneasy. He had been in here easily for an hour before the priest showed up. This young priest, showing up out of nowhere when Mark was in desperate need of help, trying to evade the physical embodiment of evil. It was too good to be true, wasn’t it?
“Father, can I ask you something?” Mark asked. The priest nodded. “I barred the door shut. How did you get in here?” The priest looked caught off guard. He did not answer.
“I grew up in the area and I used to come here for Mass on Sunday’s. The only doors in or out are at the back, and I’ve barred those off.” Mark looked expectantly at the priest.
“The rectory has been undergoing renovations recently, so I’ve been sleeping upstairs in the old rectory.” The priest answered. Mark wasn’t buying it.
“So you heard someone fumbling around down here for close to an hour and you just stayed upstairs?” The priest laughed at Mark’s question.
“Someone broke into my cathedral late at night. Yes, I waited a little while before coming to see what was happening.” Mark squinted in suspicion at the priest. The priest stared back.
“Mark, I think I see what’s happening here,” the priest began. “I’ve seen it too often in this town. Addiction has done a number on a lot of people.”
“Addiction?” Mark asked. The one time he needs someone to believe that dark, evil things exist, and he can’t even get a priest to believe him.
“Yes, Mark, addiction. You mentioned that you and Mike had been having a few beers. I think it was more than a few. I think you two got into a fight, and I think you did something awful. I think this demon you’re talking about is your way of dealing with what you’ve done.” Mark looked at the priest in bewilderment. He wasn’t an alcoholic. In fact he hadn’t even finished his one glass of wine before Mike proposed, and before they decided to celebrate their engagement shortly afterwards.
“Sometimes when people commit extreme acts of violence or undergo something extremely stressful they experience these kinds of mental breaks,” the priest continued. “I think you and Mike got into a fight, I think you killed Mike, by accident, and I think that to cope with it your brain came up with a scenario where something evil killed him. That’s what I think happened, Mark.” The priest unfolded his hands and rubbed them on his pants. Mark kept staring at him. This was insane. He didn’t kill his fiance, and he’s not losing his mind. How could this priest not believe him? Or at least humor him?
“Wait,” Mark said. His eyes widened, and he felt his heart accelerate. “I never told you my name.” The priest had been referring to Mark by his name for several minutes now, but he was certain he never gave his name. The priest furrowed his brow and did his best to look confused.
“Of course you did. When you first greeted me.” The priest kept a neutral expression. Mark knew the priest had made a terrible mistake.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.