Saturday, October 29, 2011

John 1:4

Morning called upon the waking world with a blanket of sunshine that enveloped the open real estate, where a grand cathedral once rest. The sun crept higher to the east, while a full moon continued to linger, resisting the dawn of a new day, fading behind an ominous arrangement of clouds overhead. Construction had already begun for a new site, but no one had seen the first sign of dump trucks, bulldozers, cement trucks or the first worker in months. The last time anyone had seen another person was on the last day of May, when the final bricks of the church were hauled away by curious looking men who looked nothing like construction workers, donning hazmat suits and strutting EPA logos on the sides of their vehicles. All that remained of the church was a dirt field that would pool rainwater and attract geese from all around with its instant watering pools, most people choose to avoid the work site because of the stories that grew from its unfortunate demise, nearly a year before. Then, one day, a lone black Cadillac drove along the roadside, turning right into the muddy drive and continued until it was about center ways of the property. The car idled for several long minutes before the engine shut down. The passenger side door opened and a large black man, wearing a pressed gray and black suit, stepped out and walked to the backseat of the vehicle, opening the door. A second man, dressed in a black tuxedo, wearing a fedora hat and fur collared jacket with polished white loafers climbed out from the back, placing a cigarette into his mouth that his assistant lit for him. He took a long drag from his cigarette, snapping his fingers at the much taller assistant, who took from his pocket a cellular phone.

As he waited for the call to connect, he knelt down and jabbed a stiffened finger into the soft mud. His finger easily pushed down to the knuckle, which most mud would not allow with such effortlessness, but this was not exactly wet dirt. It was something much more precious and rare. Those within the Black circle knew it as Lament. Corpse Sand was another moniker of the phenomena that had not been seen by humans in over two thousand years. Its growth was fertilized by blood, which gave it the reddish clay like texture and color it now had. In a few short weeks, the foundation would be fully transformed and ready for the first phase of Genesis.
"Where is my Motel Loki?"
"In a week, sire. I am testing the soil as we speak."
"Another one of your games?"
"Hardly. I have spoken to the good doctor and he has assured me that everything will go accordingly to plan."
"For your sake, Loki, I sure as hell hope so."
The call ended. Loki had never liked direction and listening to his master made sense only when he could be as mischievous as possible. In a weeks time, his playground would be among the living. Loki could barely contain his excitement.

Father Neight was accustom to darkness, spending much of his time with the Black inside the Quiet Room. An 8 x 8 coffin of a room cast inside total darkness, with only a chair to sit in and a small bucket that collected water from somewhere above that doubled as both a place to piss and shit and quench a heavy thirst brought on by severe heat exposure. The temperature of the room never fell below 89 degrees and the bucket was collected only periodically, when he had either fallen asleep or past out from the intense physical test that was his initiation and own personal hell. There was no food, he remembered, for the first week and after clinging onto the cusp of starvation by ingesting roaches and the occasional insect, food came only once every three days. It was the Black's pestilence, to walk among filth and emerge from the cesspool into society stronger, more determined, with a keen sense of survival where only death roam. But he had survived and spat in the face of all evil that touched his soul for that infinite summer so long ago. Now, as his eyes opened to a new darkness around him, one thing was certain, wherever he was he was not alone. He could feel the occasional hot breath at the back of his neck. He heard the dull growl that crawled up his spine and settled. But it was the smell that shook him the most, an old familiar scent of brimstone and seared flesh that propelled his youthful spirit back to the Quiet Room years before. He knew what he was up against and that somewhere around him was a demon and a very old and powerful one at that.
     "I remember you." He said to the darkness.
     "The Son has fallen into the Black, where demons and devils roam stand at each others backs. In His holy church Four shall seed, to rise against the Lord's chosen Breed. To poison the well of all His people, stripping and raping their children beneath his holy Steeple. When the call of the Black sends forth its Soldiers, who shall bring Hell upon Earth and watch its world Smolder," the slithering voice speared through Father Neight's skull, gripping at his conscious like nails against a blackboard, "Finish the lines to enter the Black Circle."
They were words said hourly and the only words spoken to him for that long sentence inside the Quiet Room. They branded his deep consciousness like a brand against the hide of sheep, which he could not forget no matter how long he had not said them.
     "The Four shall stand by the side of their Dark congregation, bringing upon the Lamb's people eternal damnation."
     "Indeed. Welcome back, Josef."
The world exploded in a deep orange hew, sucking up the darkness with its radiant sheen, thickening and pouring alongside him, stretching outwards running along the emptiness in front of him, bending into a corner and then another and another, until Josef found himself inside a great hall. From within the walls, hands pushed through the veil and stepped into reality in human shapes with a variety of animal heads; a deer; a frog; a bull; a snake; a wolf; a eagle and a beast of ancient decent that sat upon a throne at the end of the hall. All of the beast migrated towards the giant being sitting, with its thick scaly arms crossed at its chest, its head was that of a dinosaur, a tyrannosaurus with gaping jaws and rows upon rows of jagged knife-like teeth. A huge tail coiled around the throne down towards the floor and rattled at its thick hoofed feet. What kind of demons were these abominations? Josef felt the hand of a demon push at his back. As he took a step forward, the foundation rippled like the wind kissing the surface of calm water. His feet were no longer human, each step taken sent another vibe across the floor that met the base of the throne and exploded into a spring of color, much to the delight of the High Demon waiting. Josef then noticed his hands, cracked and peeling as though the flesh no longer mattered to the leathery hide beneath, his fingers fused together, pinkie to ring, middle to index and his thumbs fattened proportionately forming his new twin-fingered hands. Josef realized then that his true form, a demon like the rest, had decided to shed its human clothing and join the rest of the horde. 

Father Day had never been a big fan of Halloween. He often wondered if the parents of the children, who dressed up as demons, monsters, vampires and Ghost, knew what significance this seemingly harmless time of year brought to everyone. Books and Hollywood movies touched on the magical theme of Halloween with wicked witches wardrobes and demonic possessions be it spooks, kooks and other nasty things that went "bump" in the night, but no one ever came close to what this day truly meant. If they had, the day would have been grossly under appreciated. No candy. No costumes. No pumpkin carvings. No trick or treats, just another day to mourn and dress up to soothe the wound with the spirit of the holiday. He had never liked any of the traditional holidays most observe; Christmas; Easter; Thanksgiving and the list of other man-made observances that meant something only to those with 9 to 5 jobs and who have old war stories to share and battle scars to display. He had a few stories himself to tell, but was never one to openly speak about his tour in the Middle East. In fact, it was because of his wartime service that he joined the clergy, once he returned from his tour of duty, to escape the awful truth of war and seek solace in God, for the numerous lives his M-16 rifle took without mercy. The church was to be the one place he could escape within and lose himself inside the gospels, seek penance for his sins and humble himself at the feet of the Almighty, all forgiving, God. But this peace never came to his heart and his soul never rested the moment he met his tutor and spiritual guide in Father Neight.

Father Neight was the oldest, next to Bishop Verelli, among the priest. A motivated man and scholar with several degrees in Demonology, Theology, Cosmology and linguistics, which stuck out like foam fingers at a pep-rally to the Bishop, who gave him house reign over the rest of the parish. Father Neight never spoke to anyone not named Father Day, or Father Emilio. The three were very close and rarely seen by any of the other Priest, outside their own little circle of trust. But it was on the Sabbath that the three men all found a common goal, during the morning confessional of sin, with a fourth influential figure, who had spent much of his priesthood under the radar of the Vatican and his bishop, Father Sims. Each, unbeknowst to the other, had confessed doubt and prayed guiltily day in and day out because they felt their own faith waning. Doubt had always been the beast of burden for anyone of the cloth, especially among the Cardinals and Bishops of the world. And it wasn't so much doubt as it were the feeling that came with doubt. The feeling of hopelessness that too often anchored those drowning in its wake. Doubt is a powerful tool, inspired by the dreams of man and carried out by the crafted hands of their personal demons, the sins that slowly wash the world asunder. But, under the roof of the holy, doubt held a much deeper grip on those within the clergy. Doubt was the makeshift insignia painted along the surface of alley walls, above the doorways of secret organizations and beneath the bridges and overpasses of highways that told of a dark underground, a society of misfits that grew in number each day. Outside the rules of the church and its often outlandish doctrines, these signs would warn of gangs, but inside, among the ranks, doubt was the villainous hand of The Black that quietly recruited souls, while awakening sleeper cells. On that cold wintry sabbath day in January of twelve, The Four were woken from their trance-like states. By the time the afternoon mass had come to an end and the covenant gathered inside, along with all of the Priest, addressed by their beloved Bishop, the moment would come upon them as the Archangel, Marquis Sabnock, appeared before them all and spilled the blood of the guilty and called out to the four priest who lay dormant among the church's pews.

And now, on Hallows Eve, Father Day sat alone on his porch looking up to a blood red moon hanging overhead as little children, dressed as ghost and goblins, call out the words that send shivers of joy down the spine of Loki himself. "TRICK OR TREAT!" The poor misguided fools, he thinks to himself as he hands out a fist full of candies to the children. They had no idea what they say or what it means. Father Day could not help but to laugh. After all, what more could he do? It was not that long ago that he had walked among demons and ate with the enemy of the Lord at his own table. The guilt of pledging to The Black ate at him till this day, but he was here now, free from the watching eye of Loki, Baphomet, Marquis Sabnock and the horde of hell. But it was only a matter of time, before his own trickery would be discovered. The real Father Day left the parish years ago, after seeing the final sign himself. He knew then, the tide would turn in favor of Lucifer and hell would unleash without a single ray of hope in sight, which is why he chose to leave The Black. He had promised his friend that no harm or trouble would come to him and that his transfer from the Church of Saint Lucius in Mexico would be a smooth transition to Saint Thomas. Since the two looked so much like the other, and the fact that each of the Four never really knew what the other looked like, spending much of their time shrouded in secrecy and separated by a confessional booth, having someone stand in for him was not a difficult task to achieve. He lent down and grabbed the glass of wine, drinking it down in a series of gulps, finishing it and setting it aside. He then reached for the newspaper. The news made the front page: "Church Burns Mysteriously to the Ground!" If the headline was not chilling enough, the story detailed how everyone inside had managed to make it to safety with the exception of the church's bishop and Four Priest whose names he knew all to well. The fact that it had happened almost a month ago left him with some sense of safety, but there was never enough distance between him and the four that he felt safe enough; especially, on a night like Halloween.
     "I'm sorry my friend." He said as he poured himself another full glass of wine.
By nine o'clock that night, the children had diminished from his doorstep and the empty bottles of wine had taken effect. Father Day drifted off for a second, before hearing another "Trick or Treat!" but the words did not originate from the mouths of kids. They were low and vibrated against his chest. His eyes sprung open and he saw before him demons. Each one stood in the open night, a goat-headed fiend whose scent burned his nostrils and a second whose face was marred by a thousand years of penance in the deepest reaches of hell. He attempted to move, but his body lay frozen in his seat. Fear had a way of managing one's bodily functions and Father Day no longer controlled his, pissing himself and attempting to speak.
     "You've been a bad man, father." 
     "Your double sends his most precious jewels as a thank you for your deceit."
Father Day winced and wretched at his lap, a bloody scrotum lay in a small pool of blood before him that he swiped off into the bushes along the porch as an involuntary action.
     "Fiends!" He attempted to reach for his cross tucked inside his shirt, but felt the hot grip from one one of the demons at his throat. The air was immediately cut off from his lungs.
     "Trick or Treat!" Said two voices from behind them.
There was a tense moment of pause among the demons and Father Day, who tried to speak but forced himself into silence to retain the few precious seconds of air he had remaining, before the goat-headed demon reached down past Father Day and took a plastic pumpkin filled with candies. The demon turned to the teens, each covered in fake blood and torn plastic skin that hung from their faces, and studied them. The teens, who excitedly complimented the level of detail to the demon's costume, eventually realized there may be more to this house than first thought as they strolled up the driveway. Before any had the chance to react, the demon reached into the pumpkin and pulled out a swath of chocolates, dropping huge handfuls into each of their pillow cases, and then snorted thick grey smoke from the end of its ringed snout. The teens turned on their heel and raced down the drive and away. This would be the most memorable Halloween of each of their young lives, because neither knew how close they both had actually been to being dead on this night rather than pretending to be. The demon turned its attention back to the priest who had started to lose the color to his own face and said: "The Archangel wishes to see you."
The porch caught flame and burst into a bright ball of orange glow that spread across the front of the house and engulf it too in hell fire that burned it to the ground before the first firetruck ever rolled up to the scene.

Finally, the Four were once again among each other and beset among the court of the dark prince sitting atop his throne. Father Day, now seen in his truest form a bat-like demon with torn wings and scars plaguing over his entire body. The Archangel, Marquis Sabnock, stood up from his throne and pointed to his treasonous demon with haste.
     "You offend me, Pagan. Your exile was not to become one of them and turn your back on your horde. Lucifer will be most dissatisfied with your transgressions and, I hope, stern in your punishment."
     "Marquis, I-"
     "Josef has told me all that I need or want to know, Pagan. Your one role was to bring forth the Bishop and, once disposed, return to hell with the others."
    "For what? Raise hell and then do what?"
    "You question?"
    "Is that not what He did?"
    "I tire of this. Josef, take Pagan away. Perhaps there is something you can do for him that he once provided you. There is much to do before the first snowfall."
As the demons drug Pagan into the depths of hell, his words echoed the hall. His doubts fermented the air with uncertainty, but it was quickly dealt with by the Archangel.

Somewhere a fire raged out of control. It mirrored the same intensity that Saint Thomas church fell victim to and it brought the attention of the Holy Bridge to the forefront. A panel of men who only knew the other by their own rank gathered across the world wide web via video conference. Their location was known only by the one in charge of the entire operation and their faces were never shown, just images that represented each of their sects who listened intently to the heated conversation.
One said: "We can no longer wait for the Judas Priest to come around on his own."
One said: "What about the nun?"
One said: "She has confirmed that The Four are no longer among us. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt her, then hell marches onward."
One said: "If we cannot bring the Judas Priest, everything we have done up to this point will have all been for nothing."
Another said: "Without my son, the Judas Priest will only be a minor threat to Lucifer and his horde. Without my son, there is no hope for you. Without my son, there can be no existence for any of us."
With this, the conversation ended. A decision would be make to expedite the Judas Priest's resurrection. Far off in another place and another time, a car screamed along a wet and slippery road. A heated argument among husband and wife took the wheel and coached it off the road, just enough to send it into a tailspin that ended with the car a twisted heap alongside the road.

"No, please God, No!" Shouted John. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

John 1:3

The world was insanely loud all around him. Things, images, faces, spun like hamster wheels inside his intoxicated head, reaching for anything solid and stable enough to hold his weight as the tour bus rolled along the dirt road highway. He stumbled towards the back of the bus, where his bunk waited for him, along with a naked girl, legs spread and calling to him. She could not have been no more than seventeen years of age. If he was lucky, she would yet have been mauled by the rest of the band, sickened at the thought of sloppy seconds and thirds, his stomach churned violently as he fell into the bunk and into her embrace. Even if he had wanted her, sex was the furthest thing on his mind, swimming in a sea of darkness and dread, the events from the Motel still fresh and vivid. He rolled off to the side, his back against the side of the wall, pushing her from his bunk. In the instant his eyes caught the face, he had sworn that the girl was the very same from the Motel. Her face was pinkish red, like a rare steak served to him on a platter of mortal sin, her lips pink with strawberry lip gloss that soothed his stomach for a moment. She took him by his scruffy bearded chin, pulling him closer to her. It was then that he saw her face morph into the scowl of a angry and mauled corpse, licking at his cheek with the tongue of an Asp. He ran his hand under her chin and shoved her out from his bunk, which caught fire to the curtains hanging over the entry to his bunk. He fall back against the wall again, kicking at the curtain with his feet, ripping it from the rod. He then noticed the girl was no longer there, pulling himself from the bunk to find that both the front and back ends of the bus had caught fire as well. Wade had been trapped inside a burning moving coffin. From the fires emerged the other band members, their flesh burning away from the bone as they walked towards him, agony echoing inside the bus geared towards seeking out redemption by sharing their pain with him. He dropped to his knees and threw up his arms in defense, begging mercy for what was about to unfold. He then caught a glimpse of another presence that was neither there and all around him at once. "This is not for you." A voice said. And then, Wade Keller woke.

His bunk was saturated heavily with his own sweat, piss and bile, his head burned along the top of his scalp, his skin crawling still from the vividness of his dream. He was also crying. His tears flowed freely as though they were not his own. He rolled out from the bunk, stumbling along the walkway to the front of the bus. The driver, Steely, was staring straight ahead, an Ipod plugged into his ears, as he drove and took pulls from his tallboy.
     "Stop the bus."
Wade tapped Steely onto the shoulder, stuttering through a second plea: "sstop thhe busss."
When Steely refused to acknowledge him a second time, Wade then ripped the headphones from his ears.
The doors unfolded to the bus. Wade jumped from the bus onto the gravel median. There was a chill in the air. At some point, during the night hours, it had rained and left behind a dense fog that hugged the one lane highway, veiling over the side of the road and the tree line running alongside it. The others watched, shouting to Wade, as he made a mad dash into the woods. The fog swallowed around him, his voice trailed off somewhere beyond the eerie curtain of mother nature never to be seen or heard from again.

In the foggy bathroom mirror, a man stood, his face partially shaved, looking at the transformation occurring before his very own eyes. It was amazing to the man how a shower and a shave altered one's appearance, along with a haircut to complete the makeover. He leaned closer, placing the razor against his cheek, next to his ear, and removed the scruffy side-burn, washing the hair from his razor in the sink.
     "What is your name?" A voice asked.
     "Where are you from?"
The man thought about this.
     "A man of God answers only to The Father. I am from the dust of ages, created by the love of the Lord, to serve His will and lead my fellow man to His Kingdom, recruited by the light to hold back the dark and seek out the truths of our Fallen Son."
His razor slid smoothly along his cheek, then up in single careful strokes back to where he began. He looked in the mirror and greeted a total stranger. The face looking back was a youthful one. The wrinkles of drug abuse and long nights had magically erased from his eyes. The man he knew was a man teetering on the line of death. A man who had long lost the will to live and walked among his peers as a dead man walking. Now, he had buried that corpse, born anew and given life back to the person he had so selfishly abused.
     "Whom do you serve?"
     "I serve no one. I act on the impulse of truth. I seek out the light and wrap myself inside its warmth. I fear no man. I fear no demon. And I stand against The Black."
     "Good. You have come along wonderfully, Wade."
Father Jessley stepped up behind the man in the mirror, helping him with his black flowing cassock, and snapping together his neckband to complete his outfit that stretched over his broad powerful shoulders.
     "I feel like a new man."
     "As you should. Now, finish up and join me in the kitchen. I have something I want to show you."

John, he thought as he wiped his face clean. Of all the names in the world, he got to be the next John. he conducted his Dear John letter to himself, while he cleaned up his mess. His life as a rock star was now in the past, buried with the man who fled into the woods several months before. That life was no longer. Now his life consisted of enlightenment and knowledge, the hidden truth buried beneath a mountain of lies that poisoned the parishes of the world. He had been introduced to a life that was both unsettling and inspiring at once, terrifying while satisfying a rush that no drug could come close to fulfilling. Deacon Jessley had opened a door to him that, once stepped through, did not offer any return. the benefit was absolute truth, but the pressure of having such responsibility had too often overwhelmed others who had attempted this same path. He had almost ran from this role, but he had something that those before him had not. Deacon Jessley had called it, Guardianship. The blessings of an Archangel that no man had known since the First Possession. What little he knew of this sent frozen chills down his spine. No one knew the whole truth of the First Possession, only that it reached well beyond the understanding of men, even those who were there to witness it. The rumor mill had successfully banished the truth deep within a thousand years worth of deception. Not even the Pontiff knew for sure what it was or how it had happened. Because of this lack of knowing, a uniquely developed faction of men were fashioned from the Ideals of Peter. The only human to ever grace the doorstep of heaven and return as a Godsend: "See you on the flip." John said to Wade as he turned the other cheek, shutting of the light as he closed the door behind him.

When John walked into the kitchen, Deacon Jessley sat waiting at the table, a thick brown leather bound book rest in front of him,  with a silver polished metal briefcase to the side of the it. On top of the briefcase was an emblem, a gold Crown of crowns, separating two keys that crossed over the other; one made of gold and the other of platinum. A white sash hung from the crown and wrapped around the teethe of both keys, while a red cincture, looped into the shape of a cross, bound the ends of each key loop.
     "Have a seat, John."
     "What is this?"
     "The only things you will need from this day forward." Deacon Jessley said unlatching the lock on the briefcase.
He lifted the top of the case and turned it to John. Inside was a 13 inch LCD display built into the casing, its screen blank for the time being. The lower half of the briefcase contained a keypad and keytop, with a slot for scanning documents to one side and a second bay to scan objects which created a 3D panoramic scale of the object."
     "This is your sanctuary. Everything you will ever need is here. Treat it as though it were a living thing, and never lose site of it, for this briefcase holds a knowledge base of two thousand years of human history. All that you come face to face with form here on will be found within its data banks. If you do not find it here, it's because no one before you has ever seen what you will undoubtedly discover. It is a direct link to the Patriarch and his many factions. Once you receive this, you will no longer be under my supervision. You may not contact me. You may not speak of me. You may not ask of me. Upon your first linkup, you will be assigned a Bishop. It is he who you will report to and carry out the orders of. Do not question your orders, regardless of there direction. Do you understand?"
John sat back in the chair, his eyes never leaving the emblem.
     "John, do you understand?"
     "Yes. And the book?"
Deacon Jessley touched the book, his eyes closed for a moment like it had connected with his very soul the moment he touched it. It brought him great comfort. The words contained inside its pages were older than anything he knew. A kind of power man only dreams of, an instructional blueprint in how to understand all things. It was the Alpha Codex, the most holy of books. Every known story in all capacity of religions took root from its pages. Whispers that turned to rumor the moment they left the mouths of those who knew of its words, spawned an endless root from the tree of knowledge that had evolved throughout time.
     "Those of us inside the Holy Bridge know it as the Alpha Codex, but you, as well as all people outside us, know its watered down version as the Holy Bible, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah, the Avesta and all others like them."
     "You speak like Moses spoke after his journey down Mount Horeb." John said with a smile that was quickly removed at the glare from the Deacon.
     "You will notice this thumbprint on the side of the binder. You shall carry this with you at all times inside the sanctuary. If you take it outside, you will never lose site of it. In the event that you are mortally wounded and this Codex is not safely inside your sanctuary, you will engage this thumbprint at which point it will release a corrosive agent from its bind that will destroy it. Do you understand?"
     "Yes. But why would you give me such an important historical artifact, if it must never go beyond the scope of my own eyes?"
     "Because you will not be able to continue your path without it. The Alpha Codex will challenge you in ways no other man can. Its words will question things you never took the time before to consider. It will take you beyond the horizon of modern thinking and propel you into a world that cannot be explained, only visited. This book is the link between you and God, my son. I bequeath it to you as both a gift and a curse."
     "But why a curse?"
     "Knowing the truth is never a pleasant thing. Even with the knowledge I possess, I remain uncertain."
     "About what?"
     "The future."
They shared a few long moments of silence with one another. Then, leaning in and taking the Alpha Codex, John nodded to the Deacon, placing it inside his sanctuary.
     "I don't believe in fairy tales, Deacon. But I do believe in those things which I can see and feel, and I have taken an oath to you and the Holy Bridge. What is it that my Brothers have me do?"
Deacon Jessley got up from his chair. He walked over to the door and opened it, ushering John onto the porch.
     "Go. Live. Though you serve the Priesthood, you do so as an observer and given pass by the highest of authority. Find a place to call home, nest within a parish of your choosing and live. Study the Codex as often as you can and make it part of you, as if it were your own hand that inscribed it. When the time is right, seek sanctuary and linkup with whomever your Bishop is. Then your true potential will finally be revealed, whatever that may be."
He hugged John as he would his own Son or Brother.
     "Never forget how you came to be here on this porch, my son. You were called by God for reasons yet unknown to us, but you also have the guidance of an Angel. That must count for something."
He grabbed John's hand, shoving a set of keys into his hand.
John turned and started down the steps of the porch.
The sunlight has cast a line of brilliance over the young man.
     "What is your name?"
     "John...Writhe. Father John Writhe."
     "Tell me Father, do you believe?"
     "I believe in those things which I can see and feel. I believe God has a purpose that eludes those not looking. I believe I can find this purpose and deliver it from evil." He said. John carried on towards the Jeep in the driveway, setting his briefcase in the passenger seat, climbing into the driver's chair. He adjusted the rear-view mirror, greeting the man looking back at him. His smile now matched his own.
Deacon Jessley clutched at the emblem of the Holy Bridge on the front of his dalmatic tunic: "Let your disbelief be your guide, my son." He then stepped back inside the house, closing the door to the outside world. He could only pray that Father Writhe continue to question what he would see before him, for the moment he began to suspend his disbelief would be the moment in which he too failed, like so many before him had done.

The world continued to spin. 

John had spent the better part of a month traveling across the country, stopping only to sleep and seek solace inside his sanctuary, learning more about the Holy Bridge and the reason of its existence. During his travels, John decided to follow his instincts, as well as his curiosity, stopping to see some of the relics and miracles the codex mentioned as footnotes, left by those who wrote them, within its pages. This was not a requirement given to him, but a need to see the things which often left the masses to push aside as clever human manipulation that preyed on the devout followers of God. First he visited Boston, where a statue of the Madonna rest, said to have blinked its eyes as it was carried through a religious procession. Since the procession, thousands of people flocked to the chapel and clubhouse of the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca Society where the statue was kept. He did not spend much time here, for the priest, who ushered him inside and allowed him a more close and personal encounter with the statue, were asking questions that he was not yet prepared to answer. As he was leaving, an elderly man, kneeling with his head touching his chest, reached out from a pew and grabbed him by the hand.
     "You're new here." The man said without looking up from his apparent prayer.
     "Just passing through."
     "A sight-seeing priest, is it?"
     "More like one miracle worker greeting another." He said as he politely pried his hand free from the man's grip. "May the Lord be with you."
     "Oh, he is. I do not doubt that at all, father."
It was how the man had said this that disturbed John for the remainder of the day. He wasn't sure why as it was an innocent enough reply, but there was something more to his words, as though each of them had been dipped in malice prior to saying them. As much as he wanted to leave the man in Boston, his words remained with him to Kentucky, for yet another weeping miracle, which then took him up to Ohio for more tears from paintings, statues, paintings of statues and one account of a woman who wept blood at the feet of the Sacred Heart. All accounts without conclusion, and those within the church were locked down as though millions of dollars worth of diamonds sat on a satin pillow. And yet, not a single mention of the Virgin Mother graced the pages of the Alpha codex. This left John at an impasse, where one direction was down a slippery slope of blind faith and the other a gauntlet of suspicion marred with heretic implications if he mouthed the slightest disagreement. By the time John had reached his destination, deciding on a permanent place of residence to call home, outside Mesa Arizona, to a town called Peeblelark, his head was swimming with more questions than a life of answers could satisfy. Just as Deacon Jessley foretold.

In another place, at the exact moment of John's deluded epiphany, a warm and gentle hand reached out and touched the shoulder of a woman, desperately in need of consoling. She reached up and felt the hand of the Angel and pressed it against the side of her face with her shoulder. It had nearly been a decade since she last seen the Angel.
     "You came."
     "You called."
     "I am lost. I have seen the face of my enemy and it is wretched and more evil than anything I have ever seen...or felt."
     "A demon?"
The Angel lightly squeezed her fingers.
     "Fear not, my child. There is someone waiting for you. He will be a great ally in our cause. Perhaps more so than I."
The woman looked up to the face of her Angel and shielded her eyes from his radiance.
     "Who could be greater an ally than my own guardian Angel?" She asked with a playful laugh.
     "The Judas Priest." He answered her with uncertainty trailing his words.