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  • R. S. Lachrymose

Pursuit (Rectory IV)

My pleasure melted away to raw fear. I sunk beneath the window, hoping against hope that somehow this new terror hadn’t noticed. Silence filled the courtyard and hammered in my ears, joined in unholy union by the hammering of my heart to create a hellish symphony. Do I run and risk being run down like an animal wounded in the hunt? Or stay, but for how long?

I was spared my dread choice. Through the rectory window, the dark was extinguished by the roar of heat and light of a fire. Wretched curiosity compelled me to this inferno now blazing just above my head.

Though time may pass, though a thousand lives of insight and wisdom fill my mind, nothing, nothing can comfort or bring an adequate explanation to my soul of what I witnessed.

I feared this rectory had become engulfed in flames, and this would have been by far safer than reality. Can I call this nightmare reality? No, the flames emanated from a being dripping in darkness snd power that its fire must be from hell itself. She stood at least seven foot tall with the voluptuous, uncovered body of a woman, though covered in a cold, bluish skin. Dark taloned hands held a cruel whip, fashioned by some thorny vine. Held with such fervor that dark rivulets of blood dripped slowly. Could this possibly be an unholy mockery of the Priestess?

This being, what I can best call some Demoness of hell, strode across the room with unnatural gait. Looking lower, I beheld why. Clawed feet, like some bird of prey, carried her. Her legs surrounded by some corrupt, crystalline material that seemed to crawl up her lower half, even onto a swaying tail. If this was indeed the Priestess, gone was the tortured, burdened woman. This Demoness held herself with utter power and surety. Perhaps her eyes reflected this; they burned with a flame that had no affect on her skin. But the fire in her eyes paled in comparison to the crown held aloft over her head, wreathed in flames and framed by otherworldly horns.

Bringing her hand high above her, she paused for one moment where all the world seemed to hold its breath, then brought her whip down to the ground. A pause. Then chaos. The windows shattered raining down glass in a macabre shower. Hands over my head, I sprinted away. Looking back. I saw the Demoness, with authority in each step, march to the door of the rectory, wrench it off its hinges, and cast it aside as easily as a used garment. Her flaming crown and eyes now illuminated the courtyard, bringing my fear and panic to crescendo.

Leading off from the side of the rectory, perhaps twenty yards away, stood a covered walkway, flanked by stained glass. My only escape from this walled courtyard. I confess, a dark part of me, one that seemed to be slowly amplifying during my journey here, wanted to know my fate should I be captured. But deep, primal fear squashed it down and I ran. Though my legs burned and the Demoness followed at an almost leisurely pace, she kept up with me, close enough to feel the best emanating from her.

The walkway drew closer, leading to what would by my only salvation, if such a thing exists in this land. A mere few yards away. Somehow, part of me felt that this held safety for me. The Demoness coiled her whip and laughed, knowing her quarry was near. Were these my last moments? In desperation, in a fool’s hope, I dove over the threshold and turned, hoping to at least let her see my eyes before the end.

Yet my hope wasn’t misplaced. As the Demoness crossed the threshold, she began to smolder and burn, like a letter from an unfaithful lover cast into a roaring fireplace. Her face held for a moment, a smirk on her mouth and a gleam in her fiery eyes that I shall not forget to my dying day. Her domination over me complete, she vanished in flame and smoke, leaving me to collapse on cobbled stone in exhaustion.

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