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“OH, GOD!” SAMANTHA gasped in shock, feeling her limbs going numb where she stood. “Oh God!”

Alan Prince’s demon turned at once and silenced her with a cruel and repulsive smirk on his face. “Why bother your Lord, anyway?” he asked impatiently. “You think He gives a freaking shit what happens here, Samantha? No, He doesn’t give a damn, you pathetic wretch!”

“No,” Samantha sighed in despair and anguish. “Dear Lord, please help us!”

Alan growled menacingly and swiped his hand forward, unsheathing sharp, deadly claws the way a lion would. Then with his shoulders lifted and his face surrealistically twisted out of shape, he inched forward towards Samantha.

Totally horrified at that moment, Samantha trembled fervently and turned her head sideways in hopeless resignation as Alan got closer with his hands raised.

Then the sound of gunfire shattered the stale tension in the hall, startling everyone. Samantha shuddered and caught her breath in alarm, lifted her eyes in the direction of the explosive sound even as she craned her eyes to see through the shades.

Three more shots were fired.

But with the smoking gun still in his grip, Lee Davies recoiled in dismay, almost dropping the weapon when he saw that the well-aimed shots had had no impact on the demon.

Alan Prince spun round quickly with venom brimming in his bloodless eyes and struck the weapon from the grasp of the detective, – with a single swipe of his hand through the air from where he stood about 20 feet away! – hurling him backwards with the force of a tornado.

Davies crashed into the wall, tried to pick himself up again but was caught in the air by a diabolic force and tossed away like a puny ragdoll. But the onslaught persisted as, still not making any physical contact with the detective, Alan seized and hurled him up by his throat, lifted him clean off the ground in a deathly grip.

As Lee Davies hung helplessly in the air, struggling for breath, the color began to leave his face. He became pale and limp in the grip of the demon as he struggled for a life-saving gulp of air, yet the torture he was suffering just then seemed to offer profound gratification to Alan, fuelled his rage like wildfire.

Then the Sisters picked up the solemn, heartfelt prayer again, silently at first, and then it assumed a high pitch fervency that the demon found distressing. With their faces set and eyes fiery, the Sisters issued potent words that pelted the demon like flaming pebbles.

He turned slyly, contemplated the women within the sacred circle with cruel contempt for each of them as if they were abominable. As he stared, a waft of sulfuric smoke issued from his hands and face, and his skin creased like rumpled blanket on a bed. With an uncomfortable and beastly growl he shifted his attention from the detective momentarily, letting him fall to the ground in an exhausted heap, coughing and retching violently.

Then he darted towards the women in a fury of violent wind, with a vile curse on his twisted lips. But the Mother Divine had achieved a moment of respite from the interruption of the gun shots, to gather her frayed bearing; she rushed to the fore just then to intercept the advancement of the evil force with a soul-rending command and alarming agility belying her age. She had the silver chalice in hand and immediately splashed the content of it on Alan Prince.

“I bind you now, Demon,” she shouted violently, “by the power of God and in the name of the Son of David!”

Alan shrieked wildly and fell back as though under immense torture with the pronouncement of those words when the Holy Water touched his body. He let out a most horrendous, murderous roar as he wriggled on the floor in torment. Then a moment later, he burst into flames, sinking into the floor until he finally disappeared from sight, leaving behind a veil of repugnant, choking smell of ash and sulfur.

Heaving and sighing uncertainly, everyone in the sanctuary stared in apprehension at the spot from where the demon had combusted and disappeared into the earth beneath. The young girl gasped, stepping forward weakly. She turned uncertainly to consider the others around. She was spent, sweaty and frail after the intense spiritual show down.

For a moment, a nervous and strained silence hung in the atmosphere.

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