he freezing temperature sends a chill thru my bones. I wonder why I decided to go hiking by myself this weekend. I want a distraction to take my mind off Sam, she has packed up and left without warning just T walked right out of my life with no explanation. I know it’s the new coworker. I thought everything was fine, we fell into our usual routine then, she wakes up one morning with the lame excuse, “We need some time apart.” Packs up her things and leaves. I often reflect on our relationship trying to understand what went wrong. I work a lot of overtime but that don't mean I didn't care; it just means I want a little more in the world than a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in. Is that so wrong? I drive along the desolate country road that will soon lead to a cabin that I rented out in the middle of nowhere. That was where I wanted to be, alone with my thoughts. Maybe I can understand what happen to my relationship if I have some time to slow down and think. I’m traveling too fast when I enter a hairpin curve, I panic and step on the brakes, the car goes into a skid. It’s completely out of control, like a magical force has command of the vehicle. The car slides sideways almost hitting a tree then jumping a ditch and slamming into a steep ravine, striking a large rock sending it into a roll. The car rolls and tumbles down a crater. My heart sticks in my throat. I hear a primitive scream escape from my lips, sounding like a wounded animal. My head spins, my hands grip the steering wheel trying to keep my body erect in my seat. I’m sure this is the end, my body tenses as the car plummets down the mountain. I hit my head on the steering wheel, my eyes record the horror as the car careens over the final cliff everything goes dark.
When I awake, I am in total darkness, I try to orient myself. I’m hanging upside down like a bat, looking at the top of the roof caved in inches from my head. I scrunch lower trying not to hit my bleeding head, intense pain consumes my body. I look at my arms scratches and bruises, dried blood crusting on them. The windshield of the car cracked and broken, the night dark. I am alone and cold. I wonder how long I’ve been unconscious. I see a distance light in the valley, I reach for the car horn but when I move, an intense aching pulse through my leg, it refuses to move. I look up, my leg is dangling over my head it looks like it belongs to someone else, mangled, twisted around the wrong way like an old broken doll. The car is in ruins. I take a deep breath and once more reach for the car horn, closing my eyes struggling with the pain.
Feeling its cold surface as my hand makes contact, I press as hard as I can. I
hear a glorious blare in the night, a foghorn announcing its warning. The deep bassy sound penetrates the silence of the night, I hope and pray that someone hears it. I need help, maybe someone will pass by and hear the car horn, maybe the person that has the light on below will come up the mountain to see what all the commotion is. I reach for the round switch on the panel the deformed dash is less than a foot away pushed forward closing the space around me. I feel trapped in the small confines of the driver seat; I pull the lever for the headlight switch. I am excited that it works, I see the lights flash, the brightness piercing the night someone must find me before I freeze. My hands and feet are numb they hurt when I try to move them, an intense pain pulses thru my body, the subzero temperature freezing me alive. I'm going to die here alone on the side of this mountain. I wonder how long it will take for someone to find me. I grab my seat belt which detains me in an upside-down position in the mangled vehicle, my arms ache in protest as I grab the tiny metal buckle on the seat belt. I push the square in the center as firmly as I can, but it won’t disengage. The car is holding me hostage, I can't escape. I feel my head pounding thunk, thunk with each beat of my heart the ache become more intense. Dizzy from hanging upside down, all the pressure from the blood in my body gathering in my brain and pounding forcefully trying to escape. My head aches, I see black dots all around, my world goes dark.
I open my eyes to new surroundings, but, where am I? I look around taking in the room, there are windows of stain glass a pulpit with a large cross behind it, I wonder where I'm at? Maybe I’m dead, the room appears to be a church or synagogue. I try to turn so I can see but the tiny cot that my mangled body rest upon protest with creaking, it is a frail cot it looks like something a child uses at camp. A shooting pain punishes me for my movement, a throbbing in my left leg. I look down, my leg is set and wrapped with torn towels and sheets between two sticks made from tree limbs, looks like a makeshift brace attached to my leg. The bulky primitive brace supplies no relief from the pain, I focus on my foot trying to wiggle my toes on the broken left leg. I am amazed that they move but the pain between my toes and brain make me cry out in pain which brings a man with unkempt hair, dark sunken eyes a sinewy face and a long black robe to my side.
“I wouldn’t try that if I was you. Just lay still and try to relax. You've had quite a spill.”
I look at the man’s lined face, he has big bright blue eyes with a crazed look.
The wild unkempt hair and the big bug eyes makes me feel uncomfortable, how I wish I was at a medical facility.
“Who are you and where am I at?” I demand.
“I am father Peter Costello, but you may call me Peter.” He says with an Irish accent.
“Where am I at?”
You’re quite a lucky man that I found you. It was a good move to honk your horn, it got my attention. When I saw your lights on the side of the mountain, I knew it couldn't be good. So, I decided to go check on you. I got you out of the car and brought you back to the Monastery. I do hope you will soon be well enough to be on your way mate,” he says.
“I sure hope so. Why don't we call the local police or EMS and get me an ambulance to transport me to a hospital?” I inquire.
“I'm afraid that is not possible as we don't have phone service out here. I appreciate your situation and quite frankly no one is allowed on the grounds except for the keeper. Church rules. You’ve put me in a precarious position you'll have to spend the night here. I'll make a phone call on your behalf tomorrow when I go into town. Perhaps when you awake tomorrow you will feel well enough to ride with me, but that is unlikely due to your broken leg.
I'm sure you'll need an ambulance to take you into town to get that fixed. I did the best I could at patching you up ole boy, but I don't have the equipment that is needed to set that limb properly. If you will just relax here for the night, I'm sure I can get you some help in the morning. I wouldn't dare venture out tonight with the sleet and freezing rain that's probably what did you in.”
I grit my teeth, “did you happen to find my cell phone in the wreckage? It could be as simple as dialing a number and requesting an ambulance.”
“There are no cell towers on the mountain. There is no signal that you could possibly receive out here.” He says arrogantly.
“Very well do you happen to have something for pain? I don't think I can get through the night with this intense pain.”
“Sorry sir. This is a monastery not a bar, the best I can do is an herbal tea perhaps that will sooth your salvage beast.”
I’m startled by a loud BANG in the night, it sounds as if a sledgehammer is pounding on the very foundation of the building, “What on earth is that?” I gasp.
“Don't worry sir it will not harm you. It’s best if you don't worry about it.
Just drink your tea and get some rest we will need to move you out of here in the morning. I really shouldn't have allowed you to stay the night it's against the rules.”
I was becoming unnerved by the moaning and loud banging; I hear throughout the night. Sounds of a wild animal howling haunt me thru the night. The primitive cry appeared to be coming from another part of the building. The sounds echoing thru the structure like an underground cavern, maybe there is a dungeon downstairs or a wolf outside. I toss and turn thru the night trying get a few hours of sleep; but the incessant howl won’t stop. I
I lift my lame left leg off the cot placing it carefully on the floor. No matter how delicate the movement I can feel a shooting pain when my foot makes contact with the hard floor. I scoot my body around on the small cot, so I’m facing the side. The building is silent except for the sound of the mournful call, it screams, “help me, somebody please help me.”
I find a stick to aid me in shifting my weight off the injured leg. I drag myself toward the sound moving the stick while using my good leg and placing it down and dragging the injured leg forward. I maneuver down a hall where I find a locked door, barricaded with a large board going across secured by two large brackets. I use all my strength to move the wood board, lifting it carefully so as not to disturb the monk. I slowly raise the board unlatching the lock, placing the two by four beside the entrance. Pulling on the handle of the door with great force, opening the door. Inside there is a large dark and dank corridor. I don’t know what’s come over me, I tremble when I hear the voice.
It’s a soft soulful whisper, “Help me, please help me,” it begs.
A powerful sensation urges me down the musty smelling dark corridor. I use the stick to support myself, it clicks and echoes with each move. Struggling toward the voice, I try to be quite as possible. Slowly I move, hobbling with each stride. I go to the end of the hall finding another locked door, this door has bars on the top like a cage for a prisoner. My curiosity won’t let me turn away. I look inside thru the bars and to my dismay there is a thin, feeble man, chained to the wall with a large medieval cuff. He looks at me with pleading eyes, “Please help me. He has taken me hostage, please help me, I don't want to die here.” He begs.
I put my finger to my lips to signal the man to quieten the conversation, I don't want to wake the monk.
“Sir what is your name and why are you locked in this room?” I inquire.
“My name is Sam, the Monk is mad, he’s insane he has taken me hostage and refuses to release me.”
“Is that so?” I ask looking at the lock, which has a huge impenetrable hasp securing the door in place. I know it will be impossible to pry open the door, the enormous lock is made of steel with a place for a key. I know I can’t force it open. “Looks like they really have you locked up tight. You got any ideas how we are supposed to open this door? It looks to be made of solid steel.” I say.
The feeble man stands in his cell and leans in to talk with me. “You've got to get the keys from the monk, that is the only way.”
The light comes on startling me, I turn to walk up the hall but, in the process, I fall injuring my leg further. I begin to crawl up the hall fearing that the monk will take me captive.
“How dare you, I knew I shouldn't have taken pity on you. I should have just left you in the car hanging upside down on the mountain. No good deed goes unpunished with you,” the monk screams, his face twisted with anger.
I feel my throat swell shut, I’m afraid to say anything that might upset him, I know that in his madness he’s probably hatching a plan to rid himself of me.
If I screw up, I’m going to end up in the cage with that other guy, it’s best to try to befriend him and make him believe I’m on his side. If I don’t, I might end up dead.
There is no doubt in my mind the monk is bat spit crazy and has kidnapped the man in the cage. I need to find a way to calm the monk down. “Oh, Sir I'm really deeply sorry I was just looking around for a bathroom, I saw a door and decided to see if there was one down this way. I guess there is not, perhaps you could be so kind as to show me where I might find one.” I plead.
Changing the subject always helps, maybe he will think I didn't see the guy in the cell that looks like he hasn't eaten in at least a week. Poor fellow, if I can just get out of here, I can get him some help.
“Come on, this way.” Says the monk, grabbing me trying to help me out of the floor. I use the stick to get back on my feet. The monk looks toward the door with the bars at the top wondering if I saw the prisoner. He grabs my arm and pulls me in the direction of the door that I entered. The lighting is poor, I try to keep up with him so that he will let me go. I can always use the stick if necessary, to protect myself. He leans into me and speaks softly in my ear so that the guy in the cage behind us can't hear. “I know what you’re thinking, but this is not like that at all. This is a mission we must keep this confidential.”
He says, the madness in his eyes gleaming.
I shake my head in agreement with him, trying to convince him I’m on his side and will not divulge his evil secret.
I wonder if this man pretending to be a monk is a serial killer? He's definitely taken the guy in the room hostage and is holding him against his will. The poor guy needs rescuing. If I can convince the monk I'm on his side, he won't take me hostage or kill me, maybe that will give me the time and opportunity to save Sam. He leads me back to the room with the cot then walks to a door on the other side of the room, he opens the door and tells me, “the bath is the first door on the right.”
He paces across the floor waiting on me to get to the door. I don't know what I'm going to find when I return maybe the bathroom has a window and I can make a quick exit. That's what I'll do, find a quick exit before I'm his next victim. I enter the first door on the right, it’s a small water closet with a sink and toilet not a bath just the bare basics, there is no window in the room. I close the door and ask myself what I am going to do next.
When I return from the bathroom father Peter Costello is seating on a chair next to the cot, he has his hand on the cot motioning for me to come and sit. I
hobble over to the cot and sit. I’m still holding the stick wondering if I might need it? I have it cinched tightly in my right hand which is the hand that seems to be working the best after the accident. I look at him, he looks like a child caught at something he should not be doing.
“I really don't know where to begin but I saw you talking to Sam, I know it's hard for you to understand this but it's real important.” He confides, in a serious manner. I can tell it's not going to be easy to talk to him, I decide to listen and agree with him. He has an expression on his face like he's going to explain the universe to me and it's not going to have a happy ending.
“I know you think it's strange for there to be a man locked in the other room.” I nod in agreement.
“I want you to know it's not what you think. How do I say this? Do you believe in God and the Devil?” He asks.
I raise my eyebrows trying to look intense like I’m hanging onto every word he is saying, “why yes of course.” I say with sureness.
He takes a deep breath the look on his face relaxes a bit like he accepts my answer. “There is a group of monks who worked very hard to track down the devil to keep him from spreading evil in the world. Someone must remain here and make sure he stays locked up. That is who you were talking to in there.
Oh, I think this is rich, this nut thinks that is a devil in there? “Satan?” I inquire.
He nods his head with certainty, “yes exactly, Satan you know the devil, evil.
He will do anything beg, bargain with you, tell you anything to get you to let him out of there but you mustn’t. He will escape and wreck hell on the earth.”
He says sweat forming on his forehead.
I think he’s convinced himself he is doing good by locking the poor fellow up. He really believes that guy is the devil, oh how bizarre. I need desperately to get the monk to trust me. “Yes, I believe you,” I tell him.
He smiles like he has pulled the wool over my eyes and is relive. What I don't tell him is, I believe you believe that, but your bat spit crazy.
“Then you understand why you mustn't go in there and let him out? You shouldn’t talk to him. He's an evil fellow. Sam can talk you into many things you will end up regretting. So, be a good fellow and leave the door closed, sleep well tonight and we'll go to town tomorrow and get you a cast then you can be on your way free to do whatever you will understand?”
I nod my head yes, “that is an exceptionally clever idea. I will get some sleep and we'll go to town. I promise I will never tell another living breathing soul.
It'll be our little secret. Scouts honor.” I say.
“For centuries, my people worked hard to keep Satan from destroying the earth with all his malevolent, corrupting our youth putting evil thoughts in their minds, all it would take is the turn of a key and he would once again be
unleashed on society. There is a group of monks that take turns guarding his cage. We treat him better than he is willing to treat others, but we just can't unleash him on society, you do understand?” he says pleading with his eyes.
I nod my head, “yes, I'm sure you believe you’re doing the right thing, but may I ask you a question? How do you know that is Satan? He doesn't have horns and a tail; he looks like an old pitiful man.”
He acknowledges me by nodding his head, pausing to articulate his words,
“Yes and that is how Satan works, he makes you believe things that are not true. It makes it easier to accept his truth. He makes sense when he explains these things with his lies, but that is all they are is lies. He is pure evil; you really don't want to know my friend. If you ever unleash him, I guarantee that he will wreck pure hell on you, he will leave you in misery. You know he's killed many a man. He looks normal, so innocent but if you look closer into his eyes you will see the evil that permeates his soul. His pupils are like a snake, oblong with peaked ends. If I was you, I would go on with my life and be grateful to have never gotten that close to such a being.”
I wondered if the monk was mad, he sounds bizarre like a mad man. I couldn’t believe he kidnapped a man because of his eyes! I wonder if I will ever get a chance to save Sam. I decide that I best agree with the monk so he will spare me. “Your probably right I wouldn't want to meet Satan now or ever. I'm sure he must be pure evil.”
I retired to my room for the night, I think of the strange events that have occurred throughout the day. If the creature is Satan, I really don't think I want to sleep in a room next to him. I've heard he possesses magical powers like an angel. If he used to be an angel cast out of heaven, wouldn't Satan have wings and be able to fly? How would a mortal capture Satan? I don't think it possible to capture the devil. All these thoughts lead me to conclude, the poor guy in the cell is innocent. I wonder what the monk means by he's killed before. Surly he deserves a trial if he has. You don’t just condemn a man because of the shape of his pupils, that’s insane. Poor guy is half blind.
I must find a way to free him and get him and me away from this crazy monk.
I spend most of the night fabricating a plan. By morning I feel sure that I can help the poor guy escape.
Early the next morning the monk goes outside to start the truck, the engine don't turn it has a dead battery. He comes back inside the monastery and tells me, “I can't take you into town today, but I must leave so I can get someone to come out and fix the truck. I'll send someone to pick you up. Be warned, don't go back into that room where Sam is and cover your ears if he starts making any kind of sound. He's like a Sirin you won't be able to resist, you must promise me you won't open that door it could be the end of us all.”
“Ok, I won't go near the door.” I say half heartily.
“you absolutely must not open that door. Don't take this warning lightly. You can cause a lot of harm if you unleash him. You’ll be opening pandora’s box you must comply. I have done nothing but helped you, don't that tell you something about my character? Trust me I wouldn't harm a fly please don't open that door.” He roars.
I agree and he leaves on his journey into town which is two or three hours away on foot. I know I have plenty of time to save the old man in the cage. I double check just to make sure the monk is really gone. Looking out the window toward the end of the road, watching until he is out of site. I quickly precede to the hall, where the door is leading to the man held hostage. I can hear him moaning, in a loud high pitched shrill, a primitive sound of pain, soulful and pitiful. I open the first door; the moaning sound pauses. All I hear is the tapping of my stick as I stabilize myself with each step. The tapping echoes throughout the dark hall, a creepy sound combined with the silence. A sensation of impending disaster consumes me.
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