Airborne, flying toward Frankfurt, Germany
“How do you know my father?” Michael asked.
She stared out at the clouds flying by below the plane and took a deep breath.
“Shortly before your father passed, he actually found me,” she started to explain, and continued, “He met with me and told me everything.”
“I don’t follow.”
“All my life I have been involved in helping people. My last venture was helping people to get out of cults, especially Devil worshiping cults,” she explained. “I wrote several books on the topic.”
“My dad found you because of your books?” He jerked his head back.
“And that’s why you know all about the Thirty-Six, I assume?”
The airplane wheels struggled to get a grip on the cold and damp runway.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and Willkommen in Frankfurt!” the pilot’s voice echoed through the speakers.
“Let’s check into the hotel, and tomorrow morning we’ll go meet with the owner of the book,” Amanda said as she took her bag from the overhead bin.
* * *
Michael’s eyes were staring at the ceiling above his hotel bed. His eyes gazed at the digital radio beside his bed.
A clicking sound coming from the door to his room shifted his attention away from the radio. His room was separated by a small hallway with the door.
Michael sat up and switched on the bedside lamp.
Baal stood at the end of the bed. He was dressed in black, wearing black leather gloves.
Michael grabbed the phone. Baal lunged for his ankles and pulled him of the bed toward him. Michael kicked and screamed for help.
Awoken from the screaming, Amanda staggered out of her room, seeing Michael’s door wide open. She walked in, seeing Baal and Michael struggling. Baal noticed Amanda. He punched Michael one final time in the face and then pushed her to the floor, making a run for it.
“Everything okay?” Amanda said, both lying on the floor opposite to each other.
“Yes, I’m okay,” he said and tapped his finger against his bloody lip.
“How do they know I was here?” Michael said squinting his eyes.
“They must be shadowing us.”
Michael gathered himself and crawled to the telephone.
“What are you doing?”
“Calling the police.”
“No. Better not. What do you want to tell them? I am being chased by Devil worshipers that need me to bring the Devil to earth? They will think you’re crazy,” Amanda said.
Michael stopped dialing. His eyes focused on the carpet floor.
“You’re right. Let’s get that book and end this madness.”
* * *
The rain was pouring down on the people rushing to their offices. The gray skies made it hard to distinguish the exact time of day. Michael knew it was early because he was not an early riser and his head felt heavy.
Michael and Amanda walked down a busy street. Passing one skyscraper after another.
“This entire street was flattened during the allied air raids of World War II,” Amanda said, “Except for this one.”
She stopped outside an old, three-storey Art Nouveau building. The walls were made of granite. The façade was gray, gritty, and had several small platforms emerging from it, breaking it into multiple levels. Two small, grotesque gargoyles stood on a small platform high above, looking down onto the street. At the street level, two large windows opened up to the interior of the building. Behind the windows was a display of different products, dish-washing soap, Tarot cards, and biscuits. There was no clear pattern. The two windows were separated by the entrance in the middle. A big, black sign with OCCULTA printed in white letters hung above the entrance. The door handle was a big black pentagram.
It was clear to Michael that this building did not belong to this modern setting.
“It’s said that this building is surrounded by a mystical aura which protects it,” Amanda said, looking up at the building.
They entered the shop, and a little bell placed right above the door rang.
It was dusty and dark inside. Stacks of books about Occultism and Satanism were lined up against the walls. They stopped at a large glass showcase with a bronze cash register placed on it.
They must have stopped making these in the 1800s.
Michael was amazed by what he saw. Time seemed to have stood still here.
A short old man appeared from behind a heavy satin curtain separating the front with the back of the shop. He was hunching forward. The length of his white hair matched his long beard. His deep wrinkles made him look as old as the building. His fingers were covered with golden rings, each carrying a different emblem or stone.
“Ja?” The old man’s voice was squeaky and heavy.
“Do you speak English?” Amanda said in a low voice.
“Yes. Vat you vant?” the old man snapped, breathing heavy.
“My name is Amanda, and this is Michael. We’ve come a long way to meet with you. We are aware that you possess the original Codex Gigas,” she said leaning in.
The old man’s eyes opened wide but relaxed quickly again.
“I don’t know vat you mean. Please leaf if you not buy anyzing.”
“Please, we need to see the book,” Michael chipped in.
“Zis book no here. I don’t anderstand vat you’re taking bout. Please go.” His face reddened.
“I’m not sure if you understand, but we are being chased by The Thirty-Six Legions of Demons,” Michael said, his nostrils flared.
The man’s mouth dropped.
“Ze Thirty-Six?” his voice shivered.
“Yes, I was attacked last night in my hotel room,” Michael said, leaning toward the old man.
“You haf to leaf now. Please go. Leaf. Ve closed.” The old man walked around the large glass showcase, ushering Michael and Amanda out of the shop.
“Go, or I call police.”
“He has the gift!” Amanda cried out.
“Ze gift?” the old man replied in disbelief, standing still.
“Proof it to me,” the old man demanded.
“How?” Michael said.
The old man walked behind the glass display case and got a toy roulette wheel from below it.
“Vat namba?” he said and spun the wheel.
“What?” Michael said in disbelief.
“You tell me namba. Show me you haf gift.” He pointed the finger at the roulette wheel.
The ball stopped jumping the chambers and stood still at the number five.
“Last chanz, or I call police. Vat namba?” The old man spun the wheel again.
“No, I won’t.”
“Why, if youf got gift, you haf to show me.” He glanced repeatedly at the roulette wheel.
“People will die,” Michael said with a firm voice.
“No one will die, Mr. Adams. Only if you bet money the Devil comes for their souls,” Amanda said and continued, “Tell him what you see. It will be alright. Trust me.” Her voice was soft.
The ball stopped again. The man spun the ball for a third time.
“Tell me. Last chanz.”
The old man’s deep brown eyes pierced through Michael.
Michael started sweating. He glared frantically at the ball spinning along the roulette. The intense ache in his right temple flared up again. Just as it did in Las Vegas.
“Twenty-two,” Michael said, breathing heavily and turning away from the game.
“Haha. Yes, twenty-two. One more time. You could haf been lacky,” the man said.
The ball raced around the roulette wheel.
“Three,” Michael said.
The ball stopped at three.
“It seems you’re nat lying. You got gift,” the old man said, astonished and then continued, “Vait here.”
He went to the front door, snapped the lock, and pulled a curtain to prevent anyone from looking into the shop. He then disappeared into the back of the shop.
Michael and Amanda could hear clicking and squeaking sounds coming from the back.
After a few minutes he returned with a large satin bag. He walked very slowly and carefully toward the glass show case. His arms sagged under the weight of the item he was carrying. He placed it carefully on the display case and pulled two white gloves out of his vest pocket.
“Only looking, no taching!”
He pulled a large leather bound book out of the satin bag.
“The Codex Gigas,” Amanda said and then held her breath.
“I know vat you vant to see,” the old man said and licked his lips.
He turned the delicate pages filled with beautifully colored and crafted letters with great care. The gold on the letters was sparkling as if were newly-gilded.
He turned to the page depicting the Devil.
“It looks so real and vibrant. The copies do not do it any justice,” Amanda said without breathing, leaning her body into the book.
The man pushed Amanda away. “Stop! No taching, I said.”
“We need it.” Amanda looked at the old man without blinking, her eyes bulging.
“Only over my dead bady,” he snapped.
He closed the book and placed it slowly and thoughtfully back into the satin bag.
“You go now. You haf seen enaf.” The old man ushered them again back to the exit.
“No, please. We need it to stop The Thirty-Six,” Michael chipped in.
“Nat my prablem.”
Michael and Amanda heard the clicking of the door lock behind them. The old man looked one last time at them from inside through the glass door, and finally pulled shut a red curtain to block their view into the shop.
“I won’t give up. Not now,” Michael said. “Let’s try our luck again tomorrow. Perhaps he’ll have calmed down by then.” Michael stroked his hand through his hair.