The Forsaken-Part X
As Lucas and Lizzy track the church murderer, and Archbishop Rogers makes a deal with the devil to learn about what’s happening in the states, the creature inhabiting a local promises to keep Lucas distracted, and picks another victim.
Father Rogers sat on a grand deck behind a mansion in the tropics. It was his first trip to the tropics since becoming an Archbishop, and Jeff was unnerved by the timing. Meeting one of the church’s most generous benefactors was a great honor, usually. In the case of Steven, being summoned was more daunting.
As he sat and sipped tea, Jeff watched the boats in the distance. Even as the warm, reddish sun dipped beneath the horizon, Jeff couldn’t relax. How could he? The estate was quite a magnificent place to visit, and Jeffrey knew the stories about the owner.
He was leary of meeting Steven. Steven was a church asset. He possessed a degree of knowledge that the church kept for themselves and a few chosen members, such as the Pope, heads of state, and the hierarchy. The Diocese warned Jeff that he must be on his guard because of all the members who were privileged to visit Steven, not all returned. Those who did return were seldom the same as they were when departing on their journey.
Just after sundown, one of the house staff greeted Jeff.
“Might I bring you a cocktail,” an older man in formal wear offered.
Jeffrey wanted to calm his nerves. He agreed and requested a scotch on the rocks. He knew something stiff would calm him the quickest.
“Good choice, Father,” the man smiled as he left to prepare the drink.
When Jeff turned his attention back to the ocean view as night fell over the island, he jumped from his chair at the site of a man sitting across from him. His heart was racing now, and his pulse pounded in his arm. Jeff tried to calmly sit back down, looking at the man in the pressed black shirt and pants.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone else was out here,” explained Jeff.
“No, no. I’m sorry. I did not mean to startle you,” said Steven. “You’re Archbishop Rogers, correct.”
“I am,” answered Jeff.
“I’m Steven,” he said, introducing himself.
When the servant brought the drinks, Jeff quickly took a swig. Feeling the comforting effect of the scotch, Jeff thanked his host.
“Wow, that’s quite good,” admitted Jeff.
“I’m glad you approve,” said Steven. “I’ll arrange a case to send to the states with you.”
“That’s very generous.”
“It’s nothing, Father Rogers. The least I can do for a warrior,” laughed Steven.
“May I ask…why am I here?”
“You have a man from the inquisitors assigned to you. I understand that he recently was in LeClaire, Iowa,” said Steven. “As it happens, I may have some knowledge of what he’s dealing with, and what he should be cautious about.”
“Might I ask,” Jeff cautiously hesitated, “Are you referring to the seven?”
Steven’s laughter seemed to fill the air. His ominous voice echoed around Jeff as Steven stopped sharply and tapped his fingernails on the table between them. Steven took a sip from his drink, swishing it in the glass, contemplating his following words.
“No, not the Seven. What I am talking about is something else. The seven are evil incarnate. Don’t mistake my meaning, but there’s something worse than the seven,” explained Steven.
Jeff felt a chill down his spine as he contemplated what he heard. Besides the devil, the seven were the worst entities to have walked the Earth. Now, something worse was out there in the darkness. His anxiety was outmatched only by his intellectual curiosity.
“I’ll trade what I know,” promised Steven. “For a price.”
“And, what might that be?” Jeff inquired.
“We have a man, Mr. Ketterman,” explained Steven. “If I share with you, you have to share with him. I mean, every detail of Mr. Shaw’s investigation.”
“What do you mean, why!”
Jeff felt uneasy at the tone coming from Steven. His bark was powerful, practically shooting through Jeff like a thousand mini-daggers. As the pain subsided, he apologized.
“With all due respect, I simply wonder what you’re interest is in the matter,” explained Jeff.
Steven explained. The last time the princes walked the Earth, there was an emissary. The emissary possessed the power of the seven. That power wreaked havoc on Earth that was undreamt of since the war in heaven. The signs were there again.
“So, the Seven Princes are returning,” sighed Jeff.
“Yes, unless your man can stop them. The emissary on Earth will aid each one in their return. Their mission to free the seventh prince and break the seal has started, and we’re several steps behind them.”
“And, you know about the emissary, the thing that makes it all happen.”
Steven laughed, “I know exactly who the creature was, and I can tell you, if we have an accord.”
As the Archbishop, Jeff didn’t like getting into bed with Steven and the darker side of the church. The inquisitors were a dark faction rooted in ancient history. Getting even further into the darker side of history wasn’t what he signed up for, and Steven wasn’t someone he fancied doing business with.
“Might one inquire how you came into possession of such critical information?”
Steven wasn’t shocked. Outside the Pope and the Cardinals, the rest of the church was in the dark about who and what he was. He reached to the center of the table and lit a candle. In the slight breeze, the light flickered, dancing atop the black stick of wax.
“Surely, you’ve heard the stories,” suggested Steven.
“Humor an old priest,” suggested Jeff.
Steven went on to tell the tale of a deal made with the church. His work with the church and his secret arrangement with Pope Gregory VII brought more people to the church than the word of God.
“That would mean…”
“Yes,” laughed Steven, suddenly behind Jeff.
Steven put his hands on Jeff’s shoulders, leaning down next to Jeff. His cool flesh against Jeff’s was unmistakable.
“What are you?”
“Do you really want to know?” asked Steven.
Jeff looked at Steven, seeing the coldness in his clear blue eyes. Up close, it was unmistakable. Jeff suspected that his host was not alive, at least not in the traditional sense.
“Not as old as what’s coming, but certainly old enough not to want the world to plummet into the darkness they will bring,” promised Steven.
Suddenly, Jeff agreed to the deal.
“We have an accord,” sighed Jeff.
“Good, very good,” beamed Steven. “Welcome to the group.”
In Texas, Lucas and Lizzy found the truck stop and were scouting out the different rigs, aimlessly trying to figure out which was driven by the last victim.
“Jesus,” Lucas sighed. “There’s six of them that haven’t moved in four hours.”
Lizzy knew a little about truck stops and how truckers would linger during long hauls. Her father was a truck driver for many years and admitted when he was older, that it was a lonely life. She knew that truckers would, on occasion, enjoy the company of working girls.
“There probably in there showering, playing the slot machines, and hoping for one of the local talent to come in for some fun,” suggested Lizzy.
“Hookers, Lucas. Out on the road for days at a time, some of them get a little lonely and want some attention. They pick up a hooker,” she explained.
“You really think that’s the hold up,” Lucas wondered, surprised she suggested such a thing.
“I’d bet that there’s a few of those trucks with a happy driver getting his kicks as we sit here waiting for them to move,” she suggested. “I’ll be right back.”
Lizzy got out of the Explorer and walked inside the business. Lucas could see her at the counter as she spoke with one of the staff. The older-looking lady and Lizzy carried on a while before Lizzy came out with two cups of truck-stop coffee. She handed one to Lucas and invited him to follow her.
Lizzy walked over to the large red and blue rig. After talking with Megan, she learned that it was on the lot for a couple of days. The owner and the staff expected the driver to be in town visiting a resident, so they didn’t find it suspicious.
“That was easy enough,” Lucas admitted, complimenting Lizzy’s interviewing ability.
Lizzy checked the door to the rig, surprised they found it open. The drivers didn’t leave the trucks unlocked for a couple of days. They were responsible for their loads. Lucas went around to the trailer and found it wasn’t secure. He opened the doors to see an empty container.
“Whatever he was doing, he didn’t have a load to deliver,” Lucas told Lizzy.
Lizzy climbed inside and compared the information found on the body to the information in the driver’s log. Seeing they were a match, she was satisfied they had identified the driver, even with his head missing.
“We need to see if there’s surveillance video of the lot for the past couple of days,” she suggested.
“We’ll need local law enforcement for that,” Lucas told her.
“Why,” she told him, holding her badge up with her identification.
“Iowa badges aren’t going to do much for you in Texas,” suggested Lucas.
“So, I won’t tell them I’m from Iowa. Besides, you’d be surprised how little attention people pay to such details,” explained Lizzy.
While she went inside the business, Lucas continued checking around the truck for any signs of what happened to the driver. Both sides of the semi were clean, and there weren’t a lot of footprints. The inside of the semi was clean, as well.
Lizzy came out with a flash drive, holding it up with a smile. She’d seduced the manager into copying the video of the lot and giving it over to her as their way of aiding in a police investigation. When Lucas asked how she managed that so quickly, she chuckled.
“I told the manager that the driver was under suspicion and a suspect in a child trafficking case.”
It was a good call. Lucas knew the one thing that universally irks people is anybody involved in trafficking kids. An investigator doesn’t need to mention sex trafficking. Saying that there are kids involved prays on people’s morals. Even in prisons, offenders against children don’t fare well.
“You’ve got skills,” said Lucas.
Lizzy smiled. She’d only begun showing Lucas her skills. The majority of the time they worked together, Lizzy was possessed. Now, she was using her experience to lash out at the things that controlled her.
“Thanks,” she said, “but we’ve got about 72 hours of video to look through.”
After searching through the truck and the area around it, Lizzy and Lucas went back to their hotel. Lizzy grabbed her laptop and started watching the footage from the parking lot. She would be at it for a while, so Lucas went to the diner and picked up two dinners.
When Lucas returned with dinner, Lizzy smiled. She was famished, and the smell of bacon cheeseburgers was too much to resist. Lucas was a man after her own heart.
“My favorite,” she admitted.
“That’s good to hear,” he said, a little surprised.
The insatiable urge inside her took over, and Jennifer was out looking for another male companion. She heard the voice inside her, driving her to lash out at men. There was a lack of particulars in the men. Any of them would suffice.
In the South, even in modern times, some passed through small towns, and Walter Warren was one of those pious types that were passing through, pushing the message of Judgment Day. Jennifer sized him up, hearing the voice in her head tell her how yummy he’d taste. She didn’t revel in the bulbous-bellied fatty putting his hands on her, but the thing inside her promised to keep it brief.
‘Let’s make him beg, he seems like the type that mike like it,’ the voice laughed, echoing loudly between her ears.
Jennifer couldn’t fight the urge, the thing telling her to walk over and say hi. She stepped off the stool at the counter and sauntered over to where Walter Warren was sitting. The fact she said hi was shocking enough that he had to wipe soda from his thick, seventies pornstar mustache.
“Well, hi there,” the lonely older fellow said, smiling ear to ear like a lottery winner.
“I haven’t seen you around here before,” she commented.
“I’m from Pascadalia,” he told her. “This is my first time here.”
“So, what’s you’re name?” she asked. “I’m Jennifer.”
“Well, I’m Walter,” he anxiously said, offering his hand.
“Listen,” she said, “I wonder if you’d like to get out of here?”
Walter looked around the diner, wondering if he was the victim of a prank. He hesitated, eyeing Jennifer up and down. She was alluring. Her taut, firm breasts were nearly on display. Her long, shapely legs seemed to go endlessly up her body.
“Are you serious…with me?” he asked.
“Sure, sexy. I bet we could have some fun.”
Walter was giddy with excitement, contemplating the first young woman he’d seen without clothing since marrying his wife. He quickly paid the check and walked Jennifer out to his Escalade.
“Nice car,” she commented. “I’ve never driven one of these. How do the handle?”
“You want to drive, sweety?”
“You’d let me?” she coyly asked.
Walter threw Jennifer the keys, and she climbed inside. Walter got in the passenger seat and sat sideways, staring at the girl thirty years younger than him.
“So, what did you have in mind?”
“Just a quick excurssion, then I’m going to make good use of you,” she commented.
“How’s that, sweetheart?” said Walter, starting to rub himself.
“You’ll see, darlin,” she said, “I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.”
The engine in the Escalade revved up, and Jennifer tore out of the parking lot, passing a sign that said Montgomery was four miles away.
To be continued…
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.