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IN THE HOURS that followed, Samantha Prince joined the Sisters in their fellowship held in the hallowed crypt of the temple behind the door of the Mother Divine’s office.

It was a fairly large auditorium that could comfortably host two hundred people, although at present there were just about thirty women in the worship session, forming two semi-circles; one small circle within a larger one, while the Mother Divine and two much older worshippers were in the midst of the half circles, their heads bowed and eyes closed, mouthing incoherent words of heartfelt meditation. There were no seats or other furniture in the prayer temple, and the sisters typically sat on the bare floor during services.

The worship of that night was mainly a solemn ritual of prayer made by intermittent hollow cries, weird chants and chorused incantations that resonated ominously in the hall. The women, all cloaked in black velvet robe, swayed their bodies rhythmically, back and forth in sitting postures, and Samantha only watched on uneasily, observing how deeply focused on the ritual each of the women appeared to be.

With her heart pounding desperately within her, she couldn’t help peeking around every once in a while, just to be sure nothing untoward was going on around her. In one of those times when she raised her face to look, she caught sight of the Mother Divine staring in her direction and her blood literally froze then.

The little girl’s eyes were back in her head as her thin lips trembled in fervent prayer. Samantha was terrified at the sight. Then she suddenly realized that the Mother Divine was actually not looking at her, was not even seeing her. She also took note that all the other Sisters in the circles had the same terrifying look in their eyes then, including Agatha. They seemed as though their bodies had been possessed by another spirit.

Then one of the women sitting with the Mother Divine got up slowly, stooping forward, and went about lighting many candles and setting them at different areas of the hall until she must have lit near fifty candles. When she was done, she pulled down a central switch and the electricity went out, leaving the flickering candle lights to illuminate the hall.

The heavy, uneasy silence pervaded the temple as the sisters prayed quietly through quivering lips with their eyes staring blankly into the ceiling. Then the real fetish began. The seeing. The illumination.

It began and ended with Samantha Prince, who sat there spellbound and morbid as the Mother Divine, possessed by spirits, fell into a deep trance in which she recited verses quickly, speaking in an unfamiliar language, her voice growing deeper as she spoke whilst her eyes remained tightly shut. When she ceased speaking the words, she lowered her head and fell silent for a moment. Then slowly, she lifted her sweaty face and opened her eyes, looked directly at Samantha in a way that sent shivers into her gut.

“Come forward, Child,” she said, and the voice was suddenly not the girl’s voice. It was cruel and intense and icy in tone.

Samantha gasped, walking into the midst of the circle, her legs feeling heavy and threatening to give way underneath her. She sat quietly in front of the Mother Divine, crossed legged, heart beating nervously, thoughts running in all directions.

The Mother Divine sat absolutely still and unblinking, just staring forward unseeingly. There were beads of sweat on her forehead. Then she put forth her hands suddenly, reaching forward towards Samantha, who hesitated for a moment before placing her hand gently in the girl’s.

And when their hands touched, the most bizarre thing occurred: Samantha felt separated from herself, felt herself sucked, literally vacuumed from her body in that moment, into an unknown dimension. It happened so quickly, that her projected soul floated tentatively in hesitancy above her natural body for a moment, confounded as to what was happening. Then the projection noticed that the mother, in her astral form as well, was hovering beside her.

The two souls rose slowly into the air like mist in the night, staring at the worshippers and the things below them as they lifted higher, went through the roof and just kept going higher.

“What’s going on?” asked Samantha, staring at herself in awe again, noticing that her hands, feet and even clothes had become translucent. She also noticed that it was so for the young girl beside her, glowing in splendor.

“What’s happening to us, and where’s this place?”

“We’ve travelled from our bodies, Samantha, and here you will find the answers that you seek,” replied the projection of the Mother Divine.

Then she took Samantha by the hand and they both soared on, journeying through the furthermost depths of the celestial plane inhabited and ruled by indescribable elements and terrible beings.

Through an enormous abyss of frightening ambience, the two souls travelled unhindered, shooting forward in their course like comets through a night sky. Soon, they came upon a mass of hissing, horrible forms, one totally gross and sickening and frightening, feasting upon a poor soul the way vultures swooned on carrion. This pitiable soul was wailing helplessly and struggling to ascend, to break free from the slimy bodies overwhelming it in the darkness.

The two astral projections paused to consider the horrific scene. The ugly fiends, snarling and growling evilly, pulled the soul down every time it tried to break free. As she watched the harrowing scene, Samantha soon realized, to her dismay, that the writhing and hissing forms were part and parcel of the soul they were torturing.

The entire mass was intertwined like a grotesque, squirming monster with a hundred limbs. At that moment, just for a second, Samantha’s projection caught a glimpse of the soul being tormented severely, and she cried loudly.

But the projection of the Mother Divine held her wrist firmly and prevented her from intervening to rescue the one in the grip of the fiends.

“No, Samantha,” said the superior soul.

“I must! I must!” Samantha wailed helplessly. “Please. Please let me…!”

Then there was a great, harrowing cry as the vile creatures pulled the soul further down, deeper and deeper, until only his terrified yet indecipherable cry for help mingled with the shrill snarling of the mass were the only sounds that could be heard in the merciless limbo.

“Please!” cried Samantha, stretching a hand desperately forward as though to clutch at the palpable void around.

And ‘please’ was the word on her lips when the scene changed in a flash and she returned to her body in the temple of the prayers. Staring around the place for a moment in bewilderment, she began to cry terribly. The Mother Divine opened her eyes in the flesh and turned slowly, staring at the heartbroken woman in compassion.

“You have seen it for yourself?” she said quietly.

Samantha nodded, gasping and hyperventilating with sweat breaking out all over her body at once. “What place was that?” she asked faintly, feeling greatly exhausted and out of breath from the astral journey.

“It’s the abyss for all lost and wandering souls.”

“I saw him, Mother Divine,” she cried, “my son, Alan, it was him there!”

The young Mother Divine sighed, nodding quietly but said nothing.

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