Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen – Prayer of St. Michael the Archangel
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12
The huge rod iron gates that were the entrance to the Rosewater Correctional Institute seemed to loom imposingly over him as he stood in front of them for the last time. Staring at them, he couldn’t help but think that Rosewater had earned its less than affectionate nickname of Blackgate prison. As the bright light of the afternoon sun shone through the bars of the gate onto his face as his attention turned towards the guard not ten feet behind him in the control box. Slowly, the gates bean to open, emitting a soul shuttering sound as they did. Something about it sent a chill up Carlos’s spine, but he pressed on through the now opened gates.
He inhaled deeply through his nose. The air on the other side of the gate seemed somehow sweeter than it had moments ago. It was the smell of freedom. Despite being free, he didn’t like the feeling of being so close to those black gates, so he moved as far as he could away from them, though he wasn’t sure if he would ever be far enough away from them. The gates began to close behind him. He refused to look at them, but he could hear them squeak as they inched shut. Then, in all finality, they slammed shut loud enough to cause him to jump. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, he could see what looked like a yellow car in the distance, driving towards Rosewater. As it made its way closer, he could make it out. It was his taxi.
Finally, the cab reached him. As it was the only prison in the county, it was a fairly easy place to find. Carlos took his few belongings and got into the cab. The interior was what he’d expect from any cab. “Where to?” asked the driver as he hummed along with the music playing over the cab’s radio. “Home” said Carlos as a small smile began to spread across his face. “Uh…where’s that?” asked the driver. Carlos gave him the directions and they were on their way. The music seemed to grow harder to hear for Carlos as the cab filled with silence.
He ignored it as best he could, though it wasn’t easy. He refused to let the smile fade from his face. The moment the cab pulled away from the prison, the clouds began to darken as a thunder storm began to form. The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was unceasing as it pelted the cab; trickling down its windows. The drive, much like the rain seemed to last forever as the cab drove the twisting, turning road that led from town proper to the house he’d grown up in. “Just keep following this road for a little longer” said Carlos. It had been two years since he had seen his home, but he could never forget the way there, though the churning feeling in the pit of his stomach now made him wish he had. Finally the cab pulled up to the house. He got out, stomach still uneasy and grabbed his things; setting them on the ground outside of the cab. “How much do I owe you for the ride?” he asked the driver. “That’ll be 50 bucks” he replied. That was nearly half of the money Carlos had in his wallet, but he handed it over none the less. Paying the driver, he shut the door and grabbed his things from off the ground.
Despite the rain, he was sweating. He didn’t know what he would say to his family; to his mother specifically, or how he’d handle being under that roof again. Standing where the cab driver had left him, he stared at the house. It hadn’t changed in the time he’d been away, no matter how much he’d hoped it would. It stood there picturesque and quaint; its white paint making it stand out against the small stretch of land behind it. A handful of gnarled old trees stood on either side of the house, as they always had; waiting for him to come home. Swallowing his desire to be anywhere but there, he walked up to the house. Sitting his belongings down on the front porch, he knocked on the door. He could barely hear the sound his knuckles made, rapping against the door as the rumble of thunder overhead sounded. Lightning danced across the sky going this way and that. ‘I hate country storms’ he thought to himself, as he often did growing up. Unable to tell if anyone inside heard him at the door, he decided to ring the doorbell instead. After a few moments waiting and getting soaked by the steady rain, he heard movement downstairs. Then the front door opened slightly; just enough to give a view of who was at the front door. The chain of the security lock kept the door from opening any further.
She looked him up and down from behind the partially opened door, closing it a moment later. Carlos wasn’t sure what to expect. His mother had shown up at his hearing, but she’d never came to visit him or tried to write him while he was gone; not once. Still, she was his mother and he was sure she had her reasons; whatever they were. The sound of the security lock sliding free of its hold eased his mind a little, then the front door opened. His mother stood there in the doorway, looking at him. She sighed. “Well, don’t just stand out there in the rain mijo, come in.” she said, holding the door open for him. He picked up his belongings and headed in; the door closing behind him. A pair of eyes stared down at him from the stairs that lead up to the second floor. His little brother Joey stood quietly at the top of the staircase. “Hi Carlos” he said, his cracked with the words as he ran away from the stairs and back into his room.
“Give him a little time” his mother said. “You’ve been gone for a while, you know.” He quietly nodded his head. “You can have your old room back if you want…I haven’t changed anything around. Oh, before I forget” she said, unsure of how to continue. “there’s a box for you on your bed.” Carlos looked at her questioningly. “It belonged to your grandfather. There’s a letter addressed to you from him on top of it.” Kissing him again lightly on the cheek, she added “I’ll have your brother get you when dinner’s done.” Turning to head towards the living room she stopped for a second. “I know he wasn’t your favorite person in the world; your grandfather, but he did love you.” That said, she left him to his thoughts. Carlos stood there for a few moments, then headed up the stairs to his old bedroom, lightly closing the door behind him.
There on his bed, just as his mother had told him sat the box with a white envelope on top of it. As he got closer to the box, he grabbed the envelope, tearing it open. A single piece of paper fell out, landing onto the floor. He slowly picked it up, opening it.
“Carlos, I can only imagine what’s going through your mind right now as you read this. All the questions you must have floating around in your head that you want or may even need answered. I know things weren’t good between us and that’s my fault. I treated you so differently from your brother and your mother, but I had my reasons. We are, each of us brought into this world for a reason and no matter how much I tried to fight; to change things for you, I failed miserably. I tried to destroy it, but it couldn’t be done. My only choice now is to let things happen as they will and pray that you survive.”
“That’s it?” he said aloud. “That’s his explanation?” Crumpling up the letter and envelope, he threw them into the small wastebasket in his room. His attention turned to the box. Looking it over, he noticed that there wasn’t a key sitting anywhere beside it. He had mixed feelings about the box that were no less mixed than those he had about his grandfather. Sometime after his tenth birthday, he had gone to stay with his grandfather. He remembered that night, but only as he would have remembered a dream; fragmented and disjointed. All he remembered for sure was his grandfather standing over him; a look of sadness and terror on his face. He remembered yelling and a strange green glowing light coming from beside him.
Carlos took the box and sat it in the closet, determined that he would try to open it another time. The grain of the wood felt strange against his fingers as he lifted the box to place it in his closet. He was tired, and the funeral was still set for the next day. As he sat on his bed, he somehow lost track of time. He was hungry, but more than happy to wait for his brother to get him. He needed a distraction from his hunger, so he grabbed his headphones and put them on before lying down. As he lay there in his old bedroom, he stared blankly at the sealing. He didn’t want to bother anyone with his music so he had put on a pair of his old headphones and plugged them into the radio. The music drowned out his thoughts of being hungry, being home again, his thoughts about his grandfather’s funeral and about the strange locked wooden box his mother had given him; now sitting in the bedroom closet. It drowned out almost everything.
The headphones began to cut out as a whisper of static broke through the music. Then there was nothing. The music had altogether stopped, causing him to sit up on the bed. He reached for the headphones cord, ready to yank it free of the radio, but stopped for a moment to turn the volume down. It was late and he didn’t want to risk waking anyone up. Taking the headphones off, he sat on the bed in silence. All the thoughts that the music had kept at bay drifted back to the forefront of his mind, and that was when he heard it.
The static returned; even without the headphones on. It sounded as though a television had been turned on to a channel without programming, but his television set was turned off. He hadn’t moved from where he sat on the bed, unsure of his next move. As he sat there, quietly thinking, the doorknob began to jiggle slightly, as if someone wanted to get into the room, but couldn’t operate the door; then it turned slowly, until it stopped. The door crept open slightly as a dark figure moved past his bedroom door, heading in the direction of her bedroom. He breathed a sigh of relief. It was just his mother, though he didn’t understand why she hadn’t said a word. Still, he figured she must have wanted to speak to him, so he got off of the bed and slowly walked out his bedroom door.
The hallway was dark, with the only lights coming from passing cars that drove by and from downstairs. He reached for the light switch on the wall so that he could see his way into the hall, but it didn’t seem to work. Carlos headed down the hallway to his mother’s room, curious. He knocked on her door, but there was no answer. Slowly he turned the knob and pushed it open. He stood in the hallway looking around his mother’s room, but she was nowhere to be seen. He figured his mind must still be adjusting to life outside of Blackgate so he closed her door and went back into his room.
Closing the door behind him, he turned, facing his bed and froze in his tracks. There, on the bed sat the locked, wooden box that he had left sitting in his closet. “Maybe she wanted me to open it” he told himself as he cautiously walked up to it. It was a rather ordinary looking and unassuming wooden box. The only thing that stood out about it was that it was locked. He couldn’t for the life of him understand why there wasn’t a key
He picked up the box, taking its place on his bed. Again, he heard the whispering sound; only this time it hadn’t come from the hallway. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once. “Open” the whispering voice suggested, over and over again. No, it wasn’t one voice; it was several different voices and all of them tempting him to open the box. The last voice was his own. “Yes…open” the whispers all said; one after another. Running his hands along the smooth lines of the box, his finger caught on a splinter. The box dropped from his hands, falling onto the bedroom floor. As it landed, the top of the box slid open.
Carlos wasn’t sure what to expect or what he would find in the box, but when he got off of the bed to look inside the box, he noticed a book sitting inside of it. Looking at his finger, a drop of blood had pulled up where the splinter had slid through his finger. Running to the bathroom, he grabbed some ointment and a bandage, patching up his bleeding finger. Returning to the bedroom, he looked closer at the box. A gust of cool stale air blew into his face. Blinking, he couldn’t explain the air that’d just hit him in the face. Undaunted, despite the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach, he noticed strange looking symbols carved into the inside of the box, surrounding the book. He had no clue what any of it was or what it meant, still he picked up the book, closing the lid of the box.
Slowly, he opened the book to the first page; it was completely blank. He turned to the second, then skipped ahead to the middle of the book. Every single page he saw was blank. He didn’t understand the point of keeping a blank book inside of a strange wooden box. With his bandaged finger, he brushed the page of the book he’d stopped at in its middle. A slight streak of blood trailed behind it. Somehow a little of his blood had seeped through part of the bandage. Just as he was about to close the book, an image began to take form; it was his face. The longer he stared at the pages; the image began to change from his face so something unrecognizable. Instead of his face, there was a mass of writing, swirling black tentacles, taking up most of the space on the two pages. In the center stood a figure draped in a long, tattered, hooded robe; its face shrouded in darkness. It was a figure of pure terror. All around the image, strange words and symbols seemed to swirl, making him feel dizzy. He dropped the book onto the floor, unsure of what was happening. Quickly he picked the book back up, placing it back into the box, sliding the lid closed; placing it back in the farthest part of the closet. With that, he closed his closet door and went back to his bed to sit.
No sooner had he sat down than his eyes began to close and he began to drift off into sleep. A vision more disturbing than anything he’d dreamed before flickered across his mind. As he stood floating in midair, there was a massive, swirling vortex of a burning red-black liquid that went down beneath him. Arms and other body parts flailed about as faces screamed in agony and torment as they burned within the substance; without end. From where he floated, the vortex seemed bottomless to him, but he knew differently. He could feel the thing that lay at the bottom of the vortex watching him, hungrily and he could hear it. It was almost as if it was slowly making its way towards him. What he’d seen had shocked him out of his sleep. His eyes opened and he noticed that the ceiling seemed a lot closer than normal. It was almost as if he was suspended in mid-air, flat on his back.
Turning his head slightly to look at the rest of the room, he realized what was happening. He panicked, trying to move, but the rest of his body wouldn’t respond. He began to bend backwards slightly, then more and more it bent till it couldn’t bend any further. When he finally managed to open his mouth, not a sound was made as he screamed silently. The burning, almost alien smell of the substance he’d seen in his nightmare still filled his nose. He could almost taste it. In one final jerk, his body arched backwards one last time as he spasmed in the air; only to drop to the bed with a thud, and then he was unconscious. Carlos woke up, startled by the form of Joey standing over him. “Dinner’s ready” he said quickly. Something about his brother made him not want to be in the room any longer than he needed to be; something he couldn’t put his finger on.
Carlos’s eyes slowly opened on the sight of his brother back as he left the room. “Thanks” he manage to mumble. His mind was all a blur as he couldn’t remember anything after he’d dropped the box and went to look inside it. As he moved to get up, his stomach growled angrily so he left the room and headed down the stairs and into the dining room. He breathed in deeply, taking in the aromas coming from the dinner table. “Smells good” he said to his mother with a smile on his face. She returned the smile. They all sat down to the table and started to eat. Joey made sure his chair wasn’t too close to his older brother’s.
Dinner went silently as all three sat there eating. Whenever he noticed Carlos looking in his direction, Joey looked away from him; leaving Carlos confused and a little hurt. Just as their mother was about to comment on Joey’s behavior, she noticed something fall into glass of fruit juice. It was a drop of water. She looked over at Carlos, only to see him staring blankly at his little brother. “Mijo, you’re scaring your little brother looking at him that way.” Carlos only continued staring blankly at his brother. “Carlos, you don’t ignore me when I…” letting her last words drop in surprise. Carlos stopped staring at his brother and quicker than possible was staring at his mother with the same blank look he had given Joey. It started getting colder in the dining room as the temperature began to drop. Then, as if waking up from a deep sleep his eyes returned to their alert self. “What’s everybody staring at me for?” he asked confused. “Funny mijo…funny” his mother replied, but there wasn’t a smile on her face.
As his mother was getting ready to take her plate and leave the table, she noticed something fall into her glass of fruit juice. It was a drop of water. She looked up as another fell; followed moments later by yet another drop. Drops of water began to fall from the ceiling at other parts as well. Leaving the table, she ran upstairs; determined to find where the leak was coming from. As she neared the bathroom, she could hear the sound of running water. Thinking the bathtub or sink had been left to run and then overflow, she pushed open the bathroom door and turned on the light. Everything was normal. Neither the sink faucet nor the bathtub was on. There wasn’t even a sign of the toilet overflowing.
She couldn’t figure out where the leaking water was coming from, but decided she’d have to call a plumber in the morning and left that at that. Turning off the bathroom light, she could hear Joey calling her from downstairs. “Mom, mom” yelled Joey, “it’s the wall, it’s leaking.” “What do you mean the wall’s leaking?” she asked, rushing down the steps. “There’s water running down the wall” he replied. When she got back down into the dining room, she saw what he was yelling about. Water seemed to be running down the dining room wall behind where Joey sat. All of a sudden, the drops of water from the ceiling increased in frequency till it looked like it was raining inside the dining room.
The feeling in the dining room seemed to grow still, despite the strange raindrops falling all across the dining room table and floor. As moments then minutes went by, it intensified to the point where flooding became a possibility. “I’ll be right back boys” she said as she ran off in the direction of the water shut off switch. Within a few minutes she’d found it, eager for the torrential downpour in her home to stop. Without hesitation, she flipped the switch. Within a few more minutes she was back in the dining room. The water continued to fall at an alarming rate, despite her shutting it off for the entire house. “Dios mio!” she yelled, unsure of what to do next. It became obvious that her problem might be beyond a plumber’s ability to fix. She could find no rational explanation for it and it scared her. With no other option she could think of, she called to her local priest for help.
“I came as quickly as I could” said the priest as he looked at Maria then past her to her sons settling on Carlos. He couldn’t help but notice the chill in the air inside the house. “Thank you for coming on such short notice father Mendoza” she said, her voice worried yet hopeful. “I…I can’t explain it, but it’s raining.” The priest looked outside behind him then back at her, a look of puzzlement on his face, then he heard it; the sound of raindrops hitting a hard surface.” “Is that…the rain?” he asked. She shook her head. “May I come in?” asked the priest. The Alvares family all stepped back from the door, allowing the priest room to enter the house. At once, all of the downstairs lights began flickering wildly. Closing the door behind him with his empty hand the priest turned back towards the family. Slowly they all walked towards the dining room. The priest was at a loss for what to say. The lights could be easily enough explained away, but the water? He had no rational explanation for that. Before he could say anything there was a sound like a roll of thunder and the rain stopped.
As quickly as the rain had stopped something even more bizarre began to happen. It was as if someone or something was having fun at the expense of everyone in the house. Water began to seep out from every crevice it had only moments ago filled, flowing up back into the ceiling where it had fallen from. Even the water that had ran down the walls began to retreat back up where it came from. The priest gasped in surprise as he stepped back. It was that moment that he knew he was dealing with something unnatural. He’d seen much in his time as a priest, but never this. Regaining his composure he sat his bag down where he stood, opened it up and grabbed a crucifix. “When I say amen, you all say it with me” he said and walked towards the dining room slowly. “Peace be with this house and with all who live here. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Carlos, Joey and their mother joined the priest at the last. “Amen”
“I need you for this first part. I will say Our help is in the name of the Lord. You will reply Who has made heaven and earth. I will then say The Lord be with you. You will lastly reply And with your spirit” said the priest, leaving his bag where it sat. He said his part and Joey and his mother responded and the priest began praying. “We humbly beg of you, Lord the Father almighty, to bless and sanctify this home, those who live in it and everything in it. Be so kind as to fill it with all good things. Grant them, Lord, abundance of blessings from heaven and the substance of life from the richness of the earth. Direct the longings of their prayer to the fruits of Your mercy. Be so kind, then, as to bless and sanctify this home at our coming in, just as You blessed the home of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. May Your angels of light live within the walls of this house, and guard it and all who live in it, through Christ our Lord.” When he was finished, they all said “Amen” once again.
The water ceased rising up into the ceiling and he ceased his prayer. He turned to face the family. Despite his blessing, the room remained cold. The priest couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something dark still lurking in the house, but for the time being this was all he was authorized to do. “I won’t lie to you…” he said, facing the family, “there is a presence in your home still…and it’s dark. If I’m not wrong, it’s growing in power, even as we speak.” Almost as if on cue, the lights went out completely with a bone chilling yell. Joey grabbed his cellphone out of his pocket, using it as a flashlight. “Do you have any flashlights?” asked the priest. “Joey” his mother said, use your phone, go grab the emergency flashlights from the closet. Without a word, Joey went to find the flashlights, quickly returning with three. No longer needing the light of his phone, he turned it off. “Carlos!” his mother yelled, “something took him. You have to help him; please” she begged.
“I’ll do what I can” said the priest, his flashlight now on, sweeping across the lower level of the house. “We’ll cover more ground if we split up” said the priest, handing Joey a rosary. “You and your mother stay together. If you find your brother, yell out for me…and pray. Don’t do anything foolish.” With that, the priest left them to check the lower level for Carlos as he searched upstairs. As he walked up quietly up the stairs, he silently hoped that he would be the one to find Carlos. He knew the other two were ill equipped to handle him in whatever state he may be in. Reaching the top of the stairs, he shined the flashlight ahead of him, down the hallway. It seemed to stretch on forever in front of him. The light from his flashlight could barely reach the end. “Enough of your tricks!” he demanded, but to no avail. He sighed, resigned to find Carlos and put an end to whatever had begun to plague the Alvares family before it was too late.
Joey could hear the sounds of footsteps ahead of him and his mother, but whenever either of them would shine their flashlight where they thought the footsteps were coming from, there was nothing in front of them. They stopped; the door to the basement was wide open. Hesitantly, they moved towards the basement door. “Think he’s down there?” Joey asked his mother, whispering in as hushed a voice as he could. As they stood there unsure if they should go into the basement, they both heard what sounded like a creaking sound. It was the basement stairs, leading away from them. Taking the lead, Joey held the rosary firmly in one hand and his flashlight in the other. With each step he and his mother took, he said a silent prayer for protection. It was a prayer taught to him by his mother.
The squeaking of the basement stairs stopped as Joey and his mother shined their flashlights down into the darkness. Cautiously they stepped down the noisy basement stairs, Joey’s mother’s hand firmly on her son’s shoulder. Each sound that came from the darkness around them made her shiver nervously. Finally, they made it to the bottom of the stairs without incident. Joey swept his flashlight ahead of him and his mother as she did the same on either side of them. There was a slight movement to their left and he thought he saw something almost at the edge of his flashlight’s light. Whenever he moved the light, it seemed that whatever had moved was coming closer and closer to him and his mother at the foot of the stairs. He didn’t know what to do, so he began to pray; knowing it was his and his mother’s only chance for any protection. His grip on the rosary the priest lent him tightened. As he stood there in front of his mother in the darkness, the air seemed to finally shift, becoming lighter and less oppressive. Before either of them could breathe a sigh of relief, the door to the basement slammed shut behind them. They were alone in the darkness, with only their flashlights and their faith to protect them.
They could hear noise coming from the floor above their heads. Grabbing Joey’s shoulder, his mother began praying; Joey repeated after her. “ALZARÉ mis ojos á los montes, De donde vendrá mi socorro. Mi socorro viene de Jehová, Que hizo los cielos y la tierra. No dará tu pie al resbaladero; Ni se dormirá el que te guarda. He aquí, no se adormecerá ni dormirá El que guarda á Israel. Jehová es tu guardador: Jehová es tu sombra á tu mano derecha. El sol no te fatigará de día, Ni la luna de noche. Jehová te guardará de todo mal: El guardará tu alma. Jehová guardará tu salida y tu entrada, Desde ahora y para siempre.” Over and over they prayed in the darkness of the basement, hoping their prayers would be of some help.
He stopped where he stood, the light of his flashlight illuminating a single point on the floor. In front of where he stood, there was a single shoeprint on the floor. With the limited light he couldn’t tell for sure, but it almost looked like blood or oil. He couldn’t tell. Continuing on, he found another shoeprint and another; till he finally began finding sets that were side by side. He followed the shoeprints, knowing full well that they might be some nefarious trick set to lure him to some dark fate. The shoeprints stopped abruptly outside a bedroom door. Lifting the light higher he could see shoeprints on the door as well; leading up to the ceiling above him. Quietly he followed the shoeprints and once again they stopped; his back now facing the bedroom door. Holding the crucifix he wore around his neck as he lowered the flashlight in front of him. There, stood Carlos, covered in the same red-black substance as the shoeprints on the floor. The priest stepped back, caught off guard.
The surprise of seeing Carlos sent the priest stumbling backwards, hitting the bedroom door behind him. As he hit the door, it swung open; landing him on the bedroom floor. He could hear the sound of footsteps approaching him as he lay on the ground. They were heavy, far too heavy for someone of Carlos’s bearing. Before he could even blink, Carlos stood over him, the reddish-black substance dripping from his body onto the floor around the priest. Every fiber of his being told him to yell out, cry out for help, but he didn’t. The last thing he wanted was to appear weak in front of Carlos…no, the thing inside of Carlos; whatever it was. His mouth opened, emitting what sounded to the priest like low static. The sound became louder and louder till it was no longer static, but voices. There were so many of them that the priest couldn’t keep count of them. In the midst of the voices he heard one above the rest. It was deep, it was filled with a darkness the priest had never encountered before. It was if Satan himself spoke through Carlos. He began to pray. “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May…” before he could finish the prayer, the thing that stood over him was gone.
He heard a sobbing sound coming from behind him. Shining his flashlight in the direction of the sound, he saw Carlos sitting on a bed. No longer was his body covered in that strange substance. “Help me…please” he cried, seeing the priest on the floor. “Father, I don’t know what’ wrong with me. One minute we’re all downstairs and I’m fine and then the lights went out and I…I can’t remember anything between that and sitting here. How did I get up here father?” he asked, afraid of whatever answer the priest might have. “Before I passed out there was this static and…” he stopped, grabbing his head as if in pain. “I don’t know how long I can ignore the static. Help me; please.” Tears ran down from his eyes as he wept; afraid for himself and his family. The priest stood as calmly as he could. “I’ll do what I can. Give me a second here, I know something that could help us.” Digging into his pocket, he reached for a large black marker, pulling it out. “This is serious father, how’s that supposed to help me?” asked Carlos, uncertain. “Have faith” is all the priest said in reply. His back, turned to Carlos, the priest knelt on the floor of the bedroom and began to write something on the floor. Once he was done, he stood up and pulled a chair over to where he had been kneeling. “Have a seat over here if you don’t mind” said the priest. Carlos hesitated for a moment, then did as he was asked. The moment he sat in the chair, he passed out.
Moments after passing out, his eyes shot open. They were completely white, devoid of any color. A shadow seemed to lightly shroud them. His face contorted as he smiled maliciously causing father Mendoza to slowly back away from him.“Duérmete niño, duérmete ya… Que viene el Coco y te comerá” he sang, but not in his own voice. It was the voice of an elderly woman. “Who told you that song?” asked the priest. “Abuelita” replied Carlos, his voice no longer that of an elderly woman. His voice now had a dark, icy chill to it. More and more he changed till he only barely resembled Carlos. “That’s the song she sang to you when you were seven…isn’t it?” he said, with a chuckle. The skin of his lips, now a cold blue, cracked a little as his smile widened. His entire body seemed to have grown as pale as a corpse. “Always afraid of el Coco, ey?” the chuckling continued. “No, it’s a lie!” demanded the priest. “Of course…it’s there in your face, as plain as day. You do remember me, don’t you priest, don’t you? No? Well… I remember you.”
Carlos opened his mouth wide, causing his jaw to unhinge. His lips never moved, but suddenly, words came from his mouth. “I’m scared grandma, I’m scared. El Coco is in my closet.” As suddenly as his jaw had unhinged, it came up; reattaching itself. His voice was no longer that of the priest’s younger self. “I was there priest” he said, chuckling to himself. “Every night I would come to you especially. I could smell the piss on you every night you heard me in your room…poor…little…Mikey Mendoza.” “Lies!” demanded the priest. “You are a liar and deceiver. Is that the best you can do, bring up some imagined childhood boogeyman?” asked the priest. “I expected better.” The priest tried to laugh. “Everyone knows…” Carlos said trying to stand, taunting the priest; though it knew it couldn’t leave the circle inscribed beneath its feat. “there’s no such thing as the boogeyman.” Undaunted, the priest sprinkled the vial of holy water onto Carlos, forcing him back down into the chair. The bedroom began to shake as Carlos opened his mouth, letting out a ferocious yell; almost a roar. The priest began the prayer he’d prayed not minutes ago. All around him, the air in the room grew stale and heavy; as if a heavy weight was being put on him. Despite the feeling, he still prayed; sprinkling Carlos once again with the holy water.
Instantly, the room was still and the lights of the bedroom were on. Even Carlos’s eyes returned to normal. Both he and the priest breathed heavily. “What’s happening here?” he asked, still seated. He looked around, confused and afraid. “Father?” he asked “Wha…what am I doing here?” The priest sighed, knowing that his job wasn’t nearly done. “Please, I didn’t do anything wrong…you’re hurting me.” Ignoring his plea, the priest made the sign of the cross with his hand. “I speak now to the evil, hiding itself in this innocent’s body. Your presence is revealed in the light of the Lord.” There was a pause. “But…but I am Carlos. Who else would I be?” he asked. The priest prayed. “Through the cross of the Lord, be gone your hostile powers which have assaulted this servant of the lord and clouded his mind with darkness and terror. I cast you out, unclean spirit; along with every satanic power of the enemy…God arises; His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked perish at His presence…” The light in the bedroom began to flicker wildly in protest.
“…it is He himself who commands you. He who cast you from heaven to the depths of hell…” Once again, the chair began to rise. “Nobody commands me!” said Carlos, his voice filled with hatred and anger. The priest slammed the chair back down to the floor as Carlos kicked and yelled in protest; hitting the priest several times. His anger sent objects flying around the room, crashing into the mirror that rested on the far side of the room. The priest managed to dodge them till a shard of glass flew by him, cutting his arm. Determined to end this, he leaned over so they were nearly face to face and looked at him. “Tell me your name” he said, his voice quiet, almost tired. Carlos only laughed as the lights continued their erratic flickering. “Demon, your name?!” the priest demanded, this time his voice was louder and more filled with strength. Carlos began convulsing in the chair. “From the snares of the devil, deliver us O Lord. Demon! What is your name?” Blood began to pour from Carlos’s eyes, staining his cheeks and his shirt. Yet again, the chair began to rise from the ground, though higher and quicker than before.
Carlos went to hold out his right hand, but stopped as if he had hit some invisible wall. Looking at the priest, he sneered angrily, though he wouldn’t stop trying to raise his hand out towards the priest. A fiery hot pain shot up the priest’s leg, causing him to drop to the floor. Carlos laughed at the sight of the priest laying there on the ground in pain. From the floor, the priest could see the circle he had made on the floor beneath the chair. He had no idea how long he could keep Carlos there before he could break free. Slowly picking himself up off of the floor, despite the pain in his leg, the priest demanded the name of the thing within Carlos “Your name, tell me your name!” Carlos began speaking gibberish; his voice even deeper now than before. “By the authority of our lord and in his holy name, I command you…” the priest breathed tiredly. “I command you to tell me your true name.” Unable to resist, Carlos replied “Phath! A’thot! Eseb! Asael!!” The room was completely silent except for the sound of the priest and Carlos breathing, then Carlos spoke again. This time, his voice was deep enough to cause the floor beneath him to shake and the priest to nearly stumble. “There is no name for me, priest.” The last word was said with contempt.
The priest was surprised. He had come across demons that would refuse to give their names for as long as possible, but he’d never experienced a presence that had no name. Never before had he come across anything in scripture or in his studies mentioning a demon that had no name. ‘It has to be a lie’ he thought to himself. “Tell me your name!” he demanded again. “I have told you, priest…there is no name for me.” If what he was told was the truth, he would have to think of something, and fast. Then it came to him. He made the sign of the cross, then took the crucifix from around his neck and held it in his outstretched hand towards Carlos. “Exorcizamus te, Omnis Immundus Spiritus, Omnis Satanica Potestas, Omnis Incursio Infernalis Adversarii, Omnis Congregatio et Secta Diabolica.”
Carlos began laughing hysterically. Exorcizamus te, bestiam sine nomine…” The laughing stopped and the priest continued. “…omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica… Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te … cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare… Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis… Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei; contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili nomine… quem inferi tremunt… Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine. Te rogamus, audi nos…
Carlos began to cry out in pain as the closet door swung violently open; slamming against the wall. The strange wooden box flew out of the open closet, landing between Carlos and the priest. Its lid slid open, revealing the book inside. The book lifted up, out of the box and opened, flipping to the two middle pages. “Nameless one, you do not belong here! Release this vessel of the Lord at once and depart! Depart from whence you come and do not return!” yelled the priest as he wiped away a small segment of the circle that bound the possessed Carlos to the chair. “Non est super!!!” roared the voice. Before he could close his mouth, he vomited up a dark liquid that covered the pages of the floating book. Then, with a snap, the book shut, falling back into the box; the lid sliding closed. “Carlos?” asked the priest, “are you able to stand?” Carlos looked at him confused. “I think I can” he replied. Shakily he rose out of the chair; nearly falling over himself as he walked towards the priest, then fainted.
The basement door swung open as the lights turned on. Gasping in surprise, Joey nearly dropped the rosary beads he’d been clutching in his hand. He looked as his mother and she returned his questioning glance. “Do you think it’s over?” he asked her. “I…I don’t know Joey. We can only hope.” The two of them left the basement this time Joey’s mother in front. The atmosphere around them seemed to grow lighter and less oppressive. They made their way through the living room and upstairs where they found Carlos and the priest. “Is he…is he ok?” asked their mother. The priest, kneeling on the ground looked over his shoulder towards the two of them. “He is free of the darkness that was inside of him. I think he’s just a little weak from the experience.” Turning back around, the priest removed his stole, carefully wrapping it around the box. “Where did he get this?” asked the priest, indicating the now stole-wrapped box. “His grandfather left them for him before he passed. Why?” replied their mother. The priest gave no answer. “Have you or Joey ever opened it?” “No” they both replied. “It didn’t have a key or any obvious way to open. Besides, my father left it for Carlos. There was a letter with it, but…I’m not sure where it is.” “That’s ok” replied the priest, “If I’m right, this may be safer in church hands. If I’m wrong, I’ll bring it back to you right away.” “If you say so, father” said their mother, ready to put the night’s events behind her.
“Joey, help me lift your brother onto his bed, would you?” asked the priest. “Sure father” he replied. “No..no..I’m fine” said Carlos as he began to get up off of the floor. The two let him get up on his own. “I heard you asking about the letter that I got with the box” he said. “It’s in the waste bin over there” he pointed to the small bin. The priest reached into the mostly empty bin and grabbed out the crumpled up piece of paper, reading its contents. “I see” he said, “I may be right after all. I’ll be back in a few weeks to re-bless your home, if that’s ok with you. I’ll have the box with me as well if I’m wrong about it.” Everyone nodded their approval. Once Carlos was laying in his bed, the priest walked out of the room, followed by Carlos’s mother and brother. Once they reached the front door the priest stopped dead in his tracks. “If anything and I mean anything like this happens again, don’t hesitate to call me. Alright?” he insisted. “Of course father” Joey’s mother replied. “Thank you again.” With that, the priest left with his things and the stole-wrapped box.
Two weeks had passed since father Mendoza had been to the Alvares’s home to help save Carlos’s soul. They’d called him the week before, thanking him for all his help once again and he graciously accepted their thanks. He’d hoped that by bringing the box and the book inside onto holy ground that he could ensure that the book and its evil remained bound. Never before had he heard of a demon without a name. The thought of it still unnerved him as he sat at his desk, loosening his collar which seemed a little tighter than usual. ‘It’s over though’ he thought to himself, staring out his open office door. Whenever he was in his office, he liked to keep the door open. No problem was too small that he would shut his door on it.
He’d called his superior the moment he’d returned to his parish with the box. He knew that covering it with his blessed stole would suffice for a while, but he’d never experienced anything like this before. He just wanted it disposed of properly. Days had gone by without a response from Rome about what to do with the box and the book it concealed. The days turned into one week, then another. Patience was never his strongest virtue, but he’d learned through the years that it was none the less a good thing to have. Just when he thought he couldn’t wait any longer, the phone rang. ‘Lord, let this be Rome’ he silently prayed, hopeful. Lifting the phone off the hook, he put it to his ear, but there was silence. “St. Jude parish, this is father Mendoza, how can I…” he was cut short by what sounded like low static on the phone. “Hello?” he asked with no response. “If this is a prank call, it isn’t funny” he said, annoyed. Just as he was ready to hang up, the sound of static increased more and more then he heard it. Through the static on the phone he heard a single voice singing slowly in a hushed tone; his grandmother. “Duérmete niño, duérmete ya… Que viene el Coco y te comerá.” His office door slammed shut.