Jimmy woke up with a nasty headache. He found himself in the cold, damp cave. Opening his eyes didn't help, he couldn't see a thing. Complete blackness surrounded him. He fumbled around to find the flashlight but after a few minutes he gave up. He had no memory of what could have happened to it.
One thing he could remember though, he had some matches in his pocket. Jimmy searched for the matches and found them. After striking one he tried to look around but there was no light. He stubbornly tried to find it until the flame hurt his fingers and he had to throw away the match.
He had to accept the truth, his vision was gone. Either by hitting his head after he fainted or by...He didn't even want to think about that. All he knew was that the demon from the pit could inflict terrible curses or illnesses on those who lock eyes with it. Jimmy witnessed this when he had first made contact with the foul creature. It cursed one of the town's folk and in a few days had driven him into raving madness. The man disemboweled himself believing that there's a big spider inside him that wants to eat his organs.
Jimmy had to accept the truth but the most important thing was to escape this cursed place and warn Kerrigan. He had been foolish to come here. He had also been foolish not to believe the sheriff. Now he is paying the price for it. Jimmy tried to get up but his legs were shaking. A serious hangover combined with the trauma to his head made this task hard. After a few tries, he succeeded but didn't know where exactly he was.
Lights were dancing in front of his eyes but those were only illusions. Figments of imagination which were caused by his throbbing head. His bladder was also throbbing, all of last night's whiskey was waiting to come out. No time to piss now, he thought, damn bladder can hold up a little longer, I guess. He shuffled carefully with both hands extended in front of him, searching the surroundings. The main problem was the pit, there was no way that he could detect it by hand. With a little luck, Jimmy muttered to himself, I can find one of them columns.
His legs probed the ground step by step. No rush Jimmy, you old bastard...this is no way to die. Talking to himself made him feel less lonely and encouraged him a little but his next step was a decisive one. Under his foot, he didn't feel the ground but something round, probably a shin bone or something similar. The floor was littered with bones. His foot slid forward and he fell on his ass then begun sliding downward. With a quick turn, Jimmy tried to get on his belly and somewhat succeeded. There was no more ground below his feet, it was the pit, he knew it.
Jagged stones were all around the pit's edge. This was where he dug his fingers. Just when he thought that he found purchase, one of the stones came loose and fell on his face then down into the blackness. He uttered a cry of pain and tried to grab another one but his other hand couldn't bear the weight. His muscles and sinews were much too old and worn down by alcohol. With a desperate cry, he fell into the pit but didn't reach the bottom alive, given that it had one. His heart gave up on the way down due to fright and Old Jimmy Slade was no more.
Kerrigan went straight to the church that morning. Three more officers were with him. Father Matthew told him on the phone that the priest is nowhere to be found and that he had found a gun and strange pictures.
Matthew was waiting for them in front of the church. His face betrayed grave unease and concern. He led them straight to the basement and from there into the crypt. The foul smell of decay had left the place. Only a faint smell of earth and mold stayed in the air.
'There it is,' said Father Matt and pointed his flashlight toward the revolver on the floor, 'and the pictures are all around, scattered.'
The sheriff crouched down near the gun and examined it without touching it.
'Looks like it's been fired several times.' he said then instructed one of the officers to take some pictures of it.
'I don't know,' said Matthew, 'I didn't look at it too much. The only things I saw were those pictures.'
He showed Keith a cluster of pictures on the floor, near the door. The sheriff examined them and his face turned first pale then red. His heart started pounding faster both from the anger he felt towards Jonathan at this moment but also excitement. He became excited because the evidence for who knows how many unsolved murders or disappearances lay before him.
He instructed the officer with the photo camera to take more pictures of the place then turned to Matthew.
'What the hell happened here, father? Please pardon my speech, it just came out without thinking.'
'Don't worry,' Matt replied, sighed deeply then continued, 'I don't know because I was at home.'
'I've seen some strange things in my life, but this...' said the sheriff, scratched his head and kept looking around as if trying to find something.
'Hey, sheriff!' shouted one of the officers and gestured for Kerrigan to come to him.
Kerrigan went to the far right corner of the crypt where the officer was standing. The young man was pointing his light toward the wall. They were staring at dark patches like something had been splashed on it.
'Are you seeing it, sheriff?'
'Yes, looks like blood to me. Call forensics to sweep this place. This is more than we can handle.'
'Oh, my dear God!' exclaimed Father Matt upon looking at the wall, and put one hand to his mouth.
'Look, boss,' said another officer, a little older than the first one, 'it's on the floor too.'
'Looks like somebody had been savagely cut or shot while standing right here.' said Kerrigan and stood on the spot where the hole had been.
'Yes, but from all directions?' asked the other officer.
'Who knows,' said the fourth one who had been silent until now, also a young officer, 'maybe somebody found out what the old creep was doing to the kids and killed him with a little more style. Ritualistic murder, you know...'
'This ain't no joke boys,' said the sheriff, 'let's go and leave it to the professionals.'
The policemen and the priest left the basement and went out into the yard. The fresh air felt good as it filled their lungs. Kerrigan left them to go see his old friend, Jimmy Slade. He went to the little cabin and knocked on the door. No answer. He knocked again, still no response. After peeking inside through the window, he saw that the old man wasn't at home.
What now, he thought, then decided to go and search for him in the cemetery. Jimmy might be working on something, he was the caretaker after all. Keith had been walking for some time but he saw Jimmy nowhere.
He even went into the far end where the grave of Jimmy's wife was. There he found the flask, it lay empty on the headstone. Jimmy, you poor old bastard, muttered Keith under his mustache then turned back. He barely made a few steps when the Hershey crypt caught his attention.
His heart sank at the sight of that cursed building. Twenty-five years had passed since he'd been inside it and down at the pit. Anyway, he decided to check it out.
The iron door was locked, he could see that from a distance. The chain and padlock were in their place. He went closer and grabbed the padlock. When the cold iron touched his skin, he shuddered. It wasn't from the cold, it was from the cold memories it brought up inside him. Kerrigan pulled on the chain several times just to be sure that it wasn't broken.
Why am I lying to myself, he whispered to himself, that thing can alter reality as it wants to, nothing is certain. The only way to be certain, he continued and looked deep into the darkness through the barred opening on the door, is to go down. He shuddered again, no way I'm gonna go down, no chance in Hell.
Keith turned and headed back to the church to wait for the guys from forensics. As he was walking among the graves with the sun beating down on him, he kept thinking. He tried to somehow make sense of all the events that have happened in the past few days.
He fiddled with the idea that Kevin had somehow found the book and managed to summon the demon. The demon had dug up Tyler on the same night who had taken Karen somewhere and killed her. This was, in his mind, impossible because the book was on the bottom of Clearwater Lake. And then there is the fact that Jimmy and the priest are also missing. As far as he knew, the demon took one life every third night. Jimmy might come back, who knows where he's wondering. What happened in the church basement, looked more like a murder out of revenge but without a body.
It was a complete jumble of events. His mind fell into darkness and he felt helpless. Nothing made any sense. Logic and analytical thinking, his most powerful tools were of no use here. The pressure was mounting both from the inside and the outside. Some of the last events troubled him deeply but he couldn't give in because a whole town was relying on him. He had to find something to be able to solve these mysteries.
The same morning, Jack was heading towards Dale's Car Service. Until now, he had arrived earlier every day because there was a lot of work to do. This time, after staying awake to wait for Jess, he overslept a little. It didn't matter much because it was Saturday anyway, weekdays were much busier.
He arrived at Dale's but, to his surprise, Dale was nowhere outside. He used to spend a lot of time outside talking to customers. What the hell, Jack muttered, then saw the reason why. In the yard he saw a black Chevrolet from Texas, at least that was what the license plate showed. He had seen this car on Tuesday but somewhere else. It made him grumpy all day. So you've finally found me, dickheads, he thought and hurried towards the right where the main building was. Two mechanics were already busy in the yard but one of them was under a car and the other was working on the dashboard wiring of another. They didn't notice Jack. He peered inside Dale's office but couldn't see a thing. The curtains were drawn in order to keep the sunlight out so nobody could have seen him. Voices were coming through the open window, Jack listened carefully.
'So you say he left town?' a strong, manly voice was asking.
'Yes,' replied Dale and his voice was shaking a little, 'he left about three weeks ago.'
'Are you sure he left,' asked a younger voice, 'lying to us is not a good idea, I'm telling you.'
'Y-yes, he left. Uhm, more correctly, I had to throw his ass out.'
'H-He had stolen some money from me and I caught him...the damn loser. He took 300 bucks from me, can you believe that?'
'Is that so?' asked the stronger voiced man, 'Why am I not surprised? Charlie, you surprised?'
'No, boss. Not at all, why should I be?'
'Yes, the f-fucker wanted to rip me off. H-He was the best mechanic I've ever had b-but nobody steals from me so I kicked him out.'
'Any idea where'd he go?'
'To hell, I hope,' the two men laughed at Dale's reply.
'We hope not,' said the younger one, 'we still have some unfinished business. From us, he had stolen much more than 300 bucks.'
A door opened inside the building, the three men were leaving. After the door closed, Jack ran to the other side of the yard and hid behind a car. He raised his head just a little and was looking at the door of the main building through the car windows. His colleagues still didn't notice him. He was on a knife's edge, if somebody spots him at the wrong time, he'll have serious problems. Dale and his two guests came out into the yard. One of the guests, the older one, Jack recognized. They knew each other for a long time. He was broad-backed, had short greying beard and mustache. His balding head reflected some of the sunlight contrasting with his jeans and black shirt. The other one was tall and young. No facial hair was present on his face but his hair was dark, short and thick. In contrast to the two visitors, Dale was short and fat. His beer belly was hanging morbidly over his belt and his fat, puffy face was hiding small, keen eyes.
'Thanks for your help.' said the older guy.
'Maybe we'll see each other again,' said the younger man and patted Dale on the shoulder, 'who knows what the future might bring?'
'Ha-ha, yes. Who knows, right? answered Dale but couldn't wait to see them gone.
Jack came out of his hiding place after the two men climbed into their car and had sped away. He hurried to Dale but kept looking towards the front gate.
'What the hell, man!?' asked Dale and threw a questioning but resentful look at Jack.
'S'ry for that!' replied Jack.
'Sorry? Really, man? That's all you can say? Come, let's go into the garage!'
'All right, but...'
'Save it, man! The garage, now!'
He pulled Jack by his shirt around the building where the garage was. Here they kept their tools and spare parts. Also here did they work on things which needed more complex jobs.
'Man, who were these people?'
'Some guys I knew a long time ago.'
'Some guys? They said you ripped them off, man.'
'No, it's not...'
'Not what? I had to lie to save your ass, man. I don't even know why I did that.'
'Thanks, but I didn't rip 'em off.'
'Then why were they here asking about your wellbeing? Concerned citizens, huh?'
'I worked for them and they didn't pay me as they should have. I only took the money that was mine.'
'And what work did you do for them, man?'
'Just what I'm doin' for you. Nothing more, nothing less.'
'Bullshit, they looked like gangsters to me.'
'Naw, they ain't gangsters.'
'I don't give a shit, man. From now on, you work here. I will swap you with Lenny until the waters calm down. Next time, if they catch you, I'll tell them that you had snuck in again to take my money. The rest will be your business, man.
'All right. Thanks.'
'Don't thank me. You're the best, I think that's why I lied. You made my business the best in town but be careful. You don't have another shot.'
Jack was furious but he tried to hide it. After Dale had gone back to his office, he started cursing and kicking things around. He even managed to scare Lenny, who just came back with coffee and snacks from the store.
Nate woke up at noon. His sleep had been troubled. Sunlight was filling his room which made him feel better. He was thinking back to last night's events. All he remembered was the monster and its eyes. He couldn't have known anything else because he passed out. Had he known that a monster was dwelling in there, he never would have gone near the church. How was that even possible, he thought. A monster in the house of God? How can that be? He didn't yet know more details. His friends didn't tell him anything yet.
He went down into the living room and found it empty. The kitchen was empty too. As soon as he realized that he's most likely alone in the house, he started to feel afraid. He imagined the monster jumping on him from every corner or every closet. With a final gathering of remaining courage, he ran up into his room, grabbed his beloved Bible and ran back down.
The boy had decided to visit the library. After all, his father was working there and there are people there all the time. The library was open on Saturdays too, many people came in the weekend because they had more free time. For Victor, it was also good because instead of spending time with his annoying wife, he could spend it with Christine.
Nate left a note on the kitchen table to let her mom know where he went, then left. The monster soon left his mind and he kept walking on the sunlit streets until reaching the library. After greeting his father, who had served him a few cookies in his office, Nate proceeded to a table and opened his Bible.
He read for about an hour or so then his stomach urged him to go home. Nate was walking home on Main Street with the Bible in his hand when he heard shouting from close behind him.
It was Frank, the only one he really didn't want to meet. Nate gasped and felt his heart beating hard in his chest. When he looked back, he saw Jim who was reaching to grab him with one hand. Jim got a hold of Nate's shirt and pulled him back. Frank was coming from behind.
'Where do you think you go, you four-eyed prick?'
Nate's feet turned to stone, he wanted to run but couldn't. Even if Jim didn't hold him down, he couldn't have run away. Frank caught up with them and threw Nate a piercing, hateful look. Nate's eyes were wide open, his pupils dilated, even in the intense sunlight.
'I have a message for you and your shitty friends.'
'W-what m-message?' muttered Nate but it was barely audible.
'This one!' said Frank and pulled the Bible from the boy's hand.
'Give it back!' shouted Nate but Jim slapped him on the back of his head.
Frank uttered a gurgling, snorting sound and gathered all the snot and saliva he could. With his angry gaze still on Nate, he opened the book and spit a huge clump of goo between the pages. He closed the book then slapped the boy on the face with it. Nate staggered to the side and fell on the ground, he broke up crying. Frank threw the book on the sidewalk then he and Jim went on their way.
The boy went home but didn't tell anybody what happened. His cheek was red but he went up into his room and waited until the redness faded away. He tried to clean the pages of the book as much as he could then left it near the window to dry.
Today the Gang didn't meet up in the Shed. They all remained at home, shaken and disturbed. Nate was waiting for a phone call from Andy, who was rallying the Gang all the time. But the phone never rang so he remained at home.
In the evening, the Whaymans had a nice family dinner. It looked idyllic from the outside. Truth was that Sarah loved her family with passion, her kids were everything to her. She felt that her husband became a little estranged lately but tried to accept it. They were both aging so it was somewhat normal for Victor not to desire her that much. Sarah was a devout Christian and a good wife so she loved him anyhow.
Victor was a good pretender and always made choices to suit his needs. He loved his family in his own way but they were only superficially on the first place for him. Victor had chosen Sarah as his wife because he knew that she will be a good mother and wife due to her religious upbringing and she was coming from a wealthy family. Victor was more preoccupied with his job along with the social status that came with it, and his mistress. He knew very well that the flames of his youth are dwindling and intended to take out as much as he could from the last few years.
Not long after dinner, Nate went to bed. Sarah read to him from a children's book. He was delighted whenever his mother was reading to him. It was his favorite part of the evening. She kissed him good night, switched off the light then went down into the kitchen.
The boy tried to sleep, he was still imagining the story his mother had read from the book. It was about Jesus and the possessed man and how he had cast out a legion of demons from the man. He was wondering if Jesus could vanquish the demon with the yellow eyes which they had met the night before. Was it even a demon? He didn't know, only supposed. Jesus would destroy the demon, he thought, by only raising his hand. But Jesus is not here now so if he sees it again he will have to pray to God to help him.
Then another thought struck his mind. Why did God let those kids die? The ones who were on the pictures and clippings they had found in the priest's office. And why did a priest do such things? He surely must have been possessed or something because a true servant of God would never do such things. In his little mind, a reasonable answer was forming. Those terrible things could have happened precisely because Jesus is not here, he died for our sins so we will not be damned. He remembered something about free will. God gave us free will so we do what we want, he was thinking but had sent his only son to pay for our sins. It started to get complicated for him and he abandoned the subject. He told himself that one day he will visit Father Matt and ask him about it.
Pale moonlight was shining through the window so the room wasn't completely dark. Nate didn't like darkness but with the moon casting its grey light inside, he was able to bear it. He opened his eyes and looked out the window. Shadows of nearby branches were dancing on the glass.
Nate's bed was adjacent to the right wall and the window was to his right. As the shadows were dancing their nightly dance, from a crack between the windowsill and pane, a greyish-white smoke started to creep inside. It resembled cigarette smoke but it was thicker. The boy watched with growing interest this event but didn't think of it as being a big deal. His mind was still elsewhere. It was only some minutes later that he became aware that the smoke seemed like gathering. In the shadow of the corner which was to let from the window, a clump of smoke began to form. It wasn't scary for the boy until it started to take a human shape. This was when little Nate's heart sped up. The shape resembled a human only in a vague fashion but when a pair of empty eyes and grinning mouth appeared on its head, Nate knew he has to do something. His first reaction was to scream but held it back. He didn't want to alarm his parents but most of all his sister who will laugh at him for a long time.
Then he remembered what he had decided earlier, that he will pray for help since Jesus is not here to cast out demons. Nate closed his eyes and said a prayer. When he opened them again, the shape was still there. It seemed more solid than before, it resembled the thing he saw in the window on the night when they had visited the church.
Panic struck him and out of desperation, he jumped towards the nightstand and switched on the lamp. He was breathing heavily and almost crying from fear but when he looked at the corner again, he saw nothing. The shape was gone.