The Word binds us, guides us, creates us, and destroys us.
Such is the Word and the Word brings fairness.
I've been asked to bring the Word to a home in the woods. Such isolation the home has in such a dark forest which might explain why it fell wayward and cast off. I've always done my proper duty to bring the Word to all that have asked for it and all that require it.
The leaves have changed and crunch under my heel. The shimmering orange of Autumn settling in the evening sky draw me down the path to the forgotten home. The dark, curled bark of the trees creak and groan with every step I make as the delicious cold air bites ferociously at my lip.
We're here for the exorcism.
The Word is powerful but not omnipresent. If a lamb strays, it strays, as much as others proclaim that it can see all. Truth is, it is as blind as the faithful. It can only seek what it hears and smells but it cannot see wrongdoing or bravado.
I've been called because this lamb of mine has strayed so far that nobody will approach it without fear and vomiting. The spirit is powerful but I have certain qualms of the true nature of the beast. Can it truly move objects with the thought? Could it truly cause blood to flow thinner than water from the city fountains?
My interest waned with every warning until they said it could speak dead languages.
Now every crackpot can come up with a fake language. But one word: Abba.
After a long, drawn pause of amazement, I agreed to see the Beast.
An exorcism is often a last resort in order to remove Beasts like the alleged stories told. Spirits trying to stray the body down paths of temptation, of moral disregard. Children were the most likely to need an exorcism as they fell prey to spirits more often than adults.
But if this was the Beast I'd been hearing about, this was no normal spirit. This spirit could move and sway with thunderous power and years of suffering and agony I could only begin to fathom.
The air is still and quiet. The home is tidy from the outside but inside, I could only imagine the chains and breakneck devices they've come up with to contain the Beast. No chains can hold the Beast but it can make it frustrated and pound the walls with tears and sweat and blood.
I knocked quietly. In a moment, the door flew open.
A stout woman, around the age of 45, answered the door in solemn posture. Her face was weathered and yellowed, as if stress was eating her away from the insides. Her hair was turning gray by the minute, it seemed, and the lines in her face were deep. It was as if she was once a carefree and happy woman in the fields of wheat but that memory was so long ago that it lived only in stories and wayward dreaming.
"May I come in?" My voice bellowed somewhat and I could hear a crash of furniture from upstairs.
The Beast heard me. It knew I was coming or it'd put more of a fight on.
Quickly, she nodded and shut the door behind me. The light flickered and a man, already well into his 50s, stood up from his antique armchair. He seemed troubled, despite being able to usually hide his emotions so well. He must be in complete disrepair from the lack of control he could muster over the situation and how helpless he felt.
Suffering is part of life and they had paid into what they owed already from this grievous situation. To them, it was never going to end. The truth was, they were right--this sort of thing never did end.
"Father Shayton." His husky voice was weak and trembled, "There's not much time left."
Removing my hat, I placed it on the countertop closest to me, "I'm a patient man. If the Beast wishes to fight forever, so will I. I just hope your son can survive through our war."
His eyes cast to the floor and his wife clutched his shoulder, trying to hold back her tears.
"He's always been a good boy," she pleaded with me, as if to convince me he didn't deserve this fate, "Always listened and obeyed his father. Always went to his room and remained quiet. Always--"
"Goodness can attract them just as much as rebellion." I wagged my finger, as if to remind her, "It doesn't matter. Temptation leads with offering and then the soul. Take me to your son."
No sooner as I said those words that the loud roar of a what sounded like a lion awoke my senses. The flutter went up around my neck in excitement and fear. I had not been part of an exorcism such as this in quite a while and there was some jittery anticipation in my belly as the mother guided me up the stairs.
"We lock him in his room," she whispered, "He stays up all night, screaming and howling and in pain until he passes out in the morning. He tears at his walls. He burns us if we try to touch him--as if we were touching fire!"
There was a giant padlock on the door and the father withdrew his key, unlocking it with a loud clank. I motioned the father and mother with a wave of my hand.
"I will be in there alone with him. Do not enter for any reason. This is a complicated ritual and a dangerous one at that. Leave us," I instructed and I already knew from the face of the parents that they were most likely not going to listen.
I gripped the door handle and felt a searing, white-hot pain in my palm. It was as if I gripped tightly around a hot iron. The skin corroded into a hot, thick burn welt on my palm and I flexed it, appreciating both the pain and the futility the Beast was going to provide.
The room was unbearably hot. Under my turtleneck, I could feel sweat already trickling down my back and soaking the cloth.
The boy was tied to the bed, his head covered in blood and his lips bitten off from mean-spirited insults. His eyes were a deep, dark brown of swirling agony and inhumane capacity. He looked no more than ten years old, fighting off the lure of sleep and uncontrollable emotions that filled him.
"I've been waiting for you." His voice had no trace of childlike quality or prepubescent nature but rather of a tired and presumptuous old man with the vocalization and range of a bear.
"I haven't been looking for you yet," I responded, taking off my jacket. Much better for the heat.
"We're always looking for each other, Shayton." His words slithered on the 'S', his barely leftover lips vibrating on the sound, "Leave the boy. You've no need for him."
"I have to disagree," I said nonchalantly, taking out the holy book, "You shouldn't take things that aren't yours, Beast. That really isn't quite fair."
"You know nothing of fair, Shayton." Again with the vibrating buzz on his stumps of flesh, "What I've taken, you've taken first. What I am, you've become. Have you become holy? Walked with the footsteps of angels? You are nothing but bone and remnants of flesh."
I chuckle, opening a page, "I've walked with angels. I found some of them agreeable."
A low choking from the boy of ten, as if he was gasping for air.
"Your body is disagreeable with you, Beast," I noted with an air of smugness.
"This is but a vessel I have chosen," he stated solemnly and at this point, I began to believe he stopped using the mouth to speak but said them out loud in grumbling thunder, "A vessel can be broken but I have his spirit now, Shayton. There is nothing you can do."
I wasn't quite expecting a taunting reply.
His head lifted up as if he was smiling. The back of his teeth had fallen off from gnashing and biting and his front teeth were bloody and chipped. If he looked more presentable, I'd assume he was having a wonderful day.
"Soon," he started again, "This boy will be mine. And there's nothing you can do."
Now it was my turn to smile, "Watch and learn, Beast. Even your powers cannot compare to the Word that binds us."
The Word binds us, guides us, creates us, and destroys us...
He begins to shriek as if he was in excruciating pain, fighting his bonds with the tightness and gripping the ropes in effort to block his ears. The walls grow hotter and I sweat more profusely.
We summon ourselves and our greatness into spirit and power, to compel us...
"You are no match! You are nothing! You are lying!" He screamed in agony, his wrists sounding like they were snapping from the weight of the pressure he was applying, "You are lying!"
And we, as servants, command ourselves to obey and--
"Shayton!" He calls out for my name again, "There is no power above mine! You are nothing! Nothing but the grime beneath the shoe, the rust under the nail, the beetles in the sand! You are weak! Stupid! You will not win my subject over, Shayton!"
"Then let his spirit break and henceforth mine if you are so powerful," I replied quietly, "Do it, Beast. Show your power."
The ropes snapped and he rose from the bed, arms outstretched in a grotesque pose. His palms faced outwards and I realized he had been tearing off flesh from them, as if to scratch an itch that lived on the inside of his skin. His body was thin, frail, with his ribs poking out.
"Then may your spirit rest in thousands of pieces," he growled and in a moment's notice, he must have picked up the bed because it was making a one way course towards my head. I threw myself to the side, dodging by a fraction of a second before the wooden frame splintered into nothing but debris.
I trudged myself slowly off the floor, a bit disoriented. The boy was floating in midair, staring at me with such intensity that I thought he'd burn a hole in the floor.
"You have interesting tricks, Beast," I commended, brushing myself off before removing a long splinter from my hand and the thick, red blood came forth from the open wound, "This will not be easy for you."
Another groan. Another gasp of air as if he'd been punctured.
The door flew open and the mother and father stared in amazement at their son's body dangling in air like a puppet. I immediately rushed to them, urging them outside.
"Do not come in here! I sai--"
A crash. A scream later. The boy using a sharp, long, wooden bit to cut into his arm, screaming bloody murder in a desperate voice.
"I baptize you in the name of Christ! I baptize you in the name of Christ!"
The mother screams, her forehead burning in the sign of the cross as she doubles over. Her body slumps--she must have knocked herself out. The father attempts to restrain him but blood gets into his eyes, burning him blind. He sinks to the floor, crying and weeping yellowish bile and blood from his burned sockets.
The room is far too hot now, burning intensely. I shed my shoes and my clothes, allowing my hooves to sit on the floor idly.
"So you are the Son of God," I stated matter of factly, ignoring the screams of the father, "And you've come here, to all places, in order to spread your vermin seed."
The boy's eyes stared at me, dripping with brazen and metallic longing, "Everyone deserves salvation, Shayton. Even those who cast it aside."
I laughed in pity and in humor in reply to his heroic words.
"The boy is innocent," he began to plead, as if it would sway me.
I could only laugh harder.
"Let me have him," he continued, his throat raspy, "You have so many."
"No." I actually didn't want or need the boy but the idea that I could have something that he wanted was deliciously wonderful. Too wonderful to pass up an opportunity.
He didn't speak for a moment, casting his eyes upwards instead. The home rumbled but I didn't care. This exorcism had gotten much more interesting.
"It's coming." His voice jolted me out of my thoughts and I looked up, seeing nothing out of the ordinary.
"He's not going anywhere. His soul is mine," I remind him shortly, curtly, "It's a long way up from here, Beast."
A smile on his lips--the broken smile of teeth and bone--before a light shimmered on him. Blinding, bright white light. I attempted to block it out with my arm but wound up falling back to the floor, feeling the burn. The final burn of the universe laying on my skin.
After what felt like hours, the light faded and I heard a hard thud on the floor. Blinking, I stood up tall and saw the naked boy crumbled on a heap of wooden debris, face down with his head twisted to the side. His face was pale and cold of life with his eyes almost completely white.
I kicked him with the sharp part of my hoof and I must have been so irritated at the situation that my hoof broke into his feeble back and got lodged in there. After some twisting and turning, I was able to yank it out.
The room was destroyed and the mother and father were most likely left for dead. The soul of the boy was gone, I could sense it. I looked towards the roof again.
Damn it. Stolen under my own nose. So that was how it felt like to steal devoted disciples.
I had plenty of others--the whole community of others who would know my name. Dragging my bloodied and non-bloodied hooves downstairs, I picked up my hat again and readjusted it on my head.
Suffering had been accomplished but salvation as well, making the whole point moot now.
The Word binds them here and keeps them and destroys them, over and over again. In a moment, the mother and father will awaken and find their child lost and they will despair and their suffering will satiate for now.
Until then, I must find a suitable replacement. Fair is fair now; one is taken from me and now I will take one from them.
Written by JFSindel