The Forsaken-Part IX
Elizabeth Harper has partnered with Lucas Shaw, and they are facing another mysterious challenge after a new horror is found in a small Texas town. As they work to find the third Prince of Hell, this new threat may be their worst.
Flashes of light woke Lucas from a deep sleep. The lights were explosive, coming through the hotel room window. Lucas rubbed his eyes, imagining a Texas storm system. As much as he tried going back to sleep, even hiding his head beneath a pillow, the lights were blindingly bright.
“I might as well go out and enjoy the show,” Lucas sighed, climbing out of the cheap hotel bed.
After sliding on blue jeans and a jacket and putting on his favorite shoes, Lucas opened the door, and a blinding flash of lighting forced him to shield his eyes. Stepping out of his room, he turned to Lizzy’s door. It wasn’t there.
Lucas looked behind him, seeing the hotel was gone. He stood on a bricked pathway, leading him away from the void behind him. The path entered into a grand hall of sorts. It was inherently creepy, with chains clanging from above. A howling blew around him, raising the hairs on his neck.
Following the path, Lucas yelled out for anyone to answer. The cries of thousands were all he could hear as they echoed overhead. The sounds of his footsteps, usually heavy, went unnoticed as he slowly made his way.
“Where the hell am I?” questioned Lucas, looking side to side.
A shriek in the distance caused Lucas to jump nervously. His heart raced as he continued to work his way away from the void and toward the opposite end. Lucas turned and looked behind him, the endless abyss right behind where he stood. Lucas fumbled through his pockets, looking for his phone. He hoped to use the flashlight application to see what was in the darkness.
When Lucas didn’t find his phone, he lit the zippo in his pocket. Nothing behind him was visible, even with the added light. He attempted to break one of the metal rods on the wall away to make a torch. Nothing would budge.
Lucas struggled, eventually losing his grip and falling backward, landing on his butt. He sat there, confused, frustrated, and freaked out. He heard the sound of a baritone laugh that echoed through the open area above. Whoever laughed was taunting Lucas.
“There’s no escape, Lucas Shaw!” the voice barked from what seemed like nowhere.
Lucas got to his feet and turned to the cathedral doors. As he walked, the doorway felt further and further from him. He picked up the pace, yelling as he walked.
All Lucas heard was the same bellowing laugh. He started running toward the giant doorway. His feet felt like small cars attached to his feet. The gravity pulling him into the bricks intensified the harder he tried. Lightning struck the bricks just feet from where he stood, setting the old blocks on fire.
“What the hell is this? Show yourself!” screamed Lucas. “Who are you, you son of a bitch!”
Lucas knew the voice. He had heard the voice before. It haunted his nightmares. The voice came from the thing that killed his wife and son.
“In time, my boy,” laughed the mysterious presence.
Lucas lashed out, swinging his fists in the air as he screamed, “Murderer!”
“Calm down, Lucas. You’ve got company,” said the ominous voice.
‘Knock, knock, knock,” heard Lucas. Someone was pounding on his door.
Lucas opened his eyes to see the sun. He heard the knocking again, grabbing his pistol before answering the door.
Lizzy walked in with two cups of diner coffee and a bag of danishes. She set them down before taking one herself, sipping and gagging slightly.
“Wow, that’ll put hair on your chest,” she joked. “Sorry about breakfast, but there’s not a lot of options in hicksville.”
“I’ve had worse,” Lucas promised.
When he sipped some of the drink himself, Lucas questioned his statement.
“How’d you sleep?” asked Lizzy.
“Okay, I guess,” he told her.
“I’m surprised. That storm was pretty brutal,” said Lizzy.
Lucas was stunned. Maybe he hadn’t imagined everything. He asked her what time she woke up. Lucas realized it was the same time. He told her he thought it was a bad dream.
“When I was at the truckstop, I picked up a scanner. I thought it might help us keep up on anything weird around here,” Lizzy explained.
When Lucas sat across from her, Lizzy could tell he wasn’t okay. His brow was sweaty, his breathing was still rapid, and she could see his fingers trembling. He’d told Lizzy about the nightmares, but to see one linger this long gave her an appreciation for how intense they felt.
She wanted to ask, but Lucas would tell her if he wanted to, and Lizzy wasn’t going to pry. It was too early in their partnership to become a pest, even if it might help him. Instead, she decided to tell him about the scanner traffic.
“So, there’s something in Montgomery. The police were called first thing this morning, to the town church,” she explained.
“Did they say what was wrong?” asked Lucas.
Lizzy took notes, having been a cop most recently. As Lizzy checked, looking at what the dispatchers put over the radio, she felt Lucas’s eyes on her. Lizzy felt silly, but it was a habit that was ten years in the making. She wouldn’t be giving it up too quickly.
“No, just that it was bad,” answered Lizzy.
Lucas excused himself, telling her he needed twenty minutes. Lizzy sat at the table, listening to the portable scanner and scrolling her cell phone. She heard water running in the hotel bathroom. Lucas walked across the opening, wearing just a towel around his waist.
She knew in LeClaire that Lucas was attractive, but now she could see the chiseled features of his chest and abs. His build was like a Chippendale dancer. She admired him, cautiously looking out the corner of her eye.
‘No, no, no,’ she thought to herself. Lizzy had hooked up with other partners, only to see it not going anywhere. She wanted this to be different. After years of wearing a badge, Lizzy knew a greater purpose awaited her. Getting involved with Lucas would only jeopardize that future.
Still, though, Lizzy reminded herself that she was only human. If she gave into her temptations, would it be that bad? Lizzy watched him shaving, staring at the mirror image of his firm, well-developed chest. She imagined running her fingers down his body. Lizzy saw herself gliding her tongue down his abs, not stopping and not being ladylike.
He’d be along soon enough, and Lizzy wasn’t good at resisting such temptation. Feeling flushed, she decided to take her coffee outside and cool off before she found herself in there with him. Walking out of the hotel, Lizzy looked up at the clouds.
“God, I should get an award for not giving in. That was nearly too much to take,” she chuckled.
Lucas and Lizzy drove out to the church. The two Montgomery Police vehicles were in front. Yellow barrier tape hung in front of the stairs. Lucas looked at the two officers, a memorable show about a small-town cop popping into his mind. He didn’t see a problem getting into the church.
“Just follow my lead,” he told Lizzy.
They approached the two officers, and Lucas identified himself as a representative of the Dallas Diocese office. The one officer questioned them about being there, especially within just a couple of hours. The other officer raised the barricade tape for Lizzy, examining her rear as she knelt.
“My son, under the circumstances,” Lucas admonished him.
Lizzy got to the top of the stairs before Lucas and saw the crime scene. She came to a dead stop.
“Jesus,” she sighed.
Lucas stopped, looked at the bulbous-bellied man hanging on the cross, and sighed. The scene was Byzantine biblical. He’d not seen anything so disturbing since his days studying in Rome.
“May I help you?” asked Father Giovanni.
Lucas looked at the priest as he rose to his feet and addressed them. Father Giovanni had been allowed in to pray for the deceased.
“Father,” said Lucas, introducing himself. “I’m Lucas Shaw, and this is my partner, Elizabeth Harper.”
“Are you with the Ranger office?” asked the priest.
“No, Father. We’re here on behalf of the Diocese office. His eminance requested we come here and conduct our own investigation into what happened,” Lucas told Father Giovanni.
Father Giovanni looked at his watch and skeptically looked at Lucas and Lizzy. He knew there was no way they made it to Montgomery that fast. Lucas stood beside him and uttered a phrase in Latin. When he did, Father Giovanni’s eyes opened wider as he looked surprised by the expression.
“Really?” asked Father Giovanni.
“I’m at your disposal,” he promised Lucas.
Lucas thanked Father Giovanni and asked him to tell him exactly how he found the body, who had been in the church, and if anything was disturbed. After, he excused Father Giovanni.
Lucas walked to the front of the church, looking at the body hanging from the upside-down cross. He took out his phone and snapped photographs of the scene, the cross, the body, and the church. He looked at the ground beneath the cross and the body.
“What is it, Lucas?” asked Lizzy.
“Where’s his head?” asked Lucas. “Where’s the blood?”
From a crime scene perspective, Lizzy knew there was no blood on the ground. If the body had any left inside it when hung there, it would have drained from the wounds on his neck. She knew it meant the body had been placed there and not killed here.
“Look around for signs it was drug to this spot,” Lucas instructed.
Lucas went to the rope holding the cross in the air, untied it, and lowered the crucified victim to the ground. When he dropped the cross to the ground, the two officers outside looked at them and demanded answers to what they were doing.
Lizzy hurried along, grabbing them both by the arm. She spun them a masterful tale, insinuating they were there as part of the law enforcement investigation. She questioned why the doors remained open, threatening the two over their ignorance of police procedure.
When she returned a short while later, Lucas asked how she got rid of them.
“You were a cop before working with the church, right?”
“Yes,” answered Lucas.
“I speak their language,” she insisted.
Lucas found I.D. in the front pocket of the victim. It was a pass to the docks. He recognized the style of identification. Their victim was a truck driver.
“Our guy’s not local,” he told Lizzy, holding the documents.
“Truckdriver,” she sighed. “That’s going to be harder to trackdown.”
“Weren’t you just at a truckstop?”
“Yeah,” she answered.
“We go there, look for any truck that has been sitting a while. One thing you’ll learn is there are thousands of ex-cops driving semis. One of them will notice when a driver disappears,”
Lucas snapped more pictures before telling Lizzy he’d seen what he needed. He turned and asked her if she noticed anything odd about the scene. Lizzy focused on the body, the victim, and how it was displayed.
“Do you mean that his head is missing?”
“No, I mean that,” Lucas said, pointing at a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Lizzy looked at the statue, seeing the red tear stains down the face of the stone monument. She felt a chill in her bones, realizing Lucas wouldn’t point it out if he didn’t believe it was real.
“That’s creepy,” admitted Lizzy.
Lucas walked outside, looking at the two officers. He shook his head from side to side, indicating his disapproval. Lucas asked if the town had a chief. The older of the two officers was the town’s chief of a department of two. The police were dispatched from their homes. The town had a garage where they housed their squad cars.
“How many disappearances do you guys get a year, specifically connected to the truck stop?” asked Lucas.
“You’ve got a big problem,” said Lucas. “A really big problem.”
Father Giovanni stood on the stairs, watching Lizzy and Lucas drive away. From across the street, Jennifer watched them disappear in the distance. With a flick of her wrist, the doors to the church slammed shut, causing Father Giovanni to run down the stairs as the two Montgomery officers reached for their guns.
Back home, Jennifer sat in the center of a strange symbol, a bag of crimson red blood in front of her. She chanted something incoherent sounding as she stared into a darkness hovering in front of her. When she heard the howling of winds rushing around the ranch, Jennifer picked up a dagger and drove it into the blood bag, letting it drain into the small box between her legs.
She was attempting to pierce the veil between our world and hell. It was a means of seeing into the demonic plane of existence. When the gateway opened, Jennifer closed her eyes, and she could see the entrance to the world of the damned. It was a deep, dark, and horrific place. She had fought getting pulled into the gates of hell.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s Lucas Shaw.”
She could see the other side. The chains clung to the high vaulted ceilings. The lock on the door barely kept it closed. She was standing inside the hall of princes, a place that trapped the seven for over two thousand years.
Once, the grand hall was adorned with the souls of the damned, hanging from the ends of the chains as offerings to the seven. Her kind brought them one after another, souls of humans, begging to throw themselves into the fiery pits of the underworld in exchange for trinkets, love, power, and money. It was off-putting, even to the creature inhabiting Jennifer.
“He isn’t a priest. I will keep him occupied. Nothing will trace back to me,” she promised.
About the Creator
I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.