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Chapter 24: I know who I am but Do You?

Daniel’s hand froze in mid–air. Not sure whether he had the nerve to knock. On the way to Cayne’s flat, he had gone through every scenario, from her being overwhelmed to see him to finding both her and Karl together. Now, as he stood staring at the peeling red paint of her front door, he was not sure he wanted to know what was on the other side.

He closed his eyes and knocked on the wood. He listened to the sound echo through the stairwell and waited patiently for it to be answered. It was too much. He could not do it. He began to turn away, as the door opened. Cayne stood facing him. Her eyes red and swollen, arms hugging her body. She stepped back and opened the door wide enough for him to enter. Gone were her funeral clothes. Now she wore grey sweat pants and a large woollen cardigan that swamped her body. The sight made him uneasy. What had happened for her to change her clothes? He waited for her to sit and he followed.

‘Are you alright?’ he asked, nervously.

He then regretted asking such a stupid question. Of course she was not alright. It was clear that she had been crying. He watched her curl into a ball, pulling her sleeves over hands and wiping at her wet face.

‘Has Karl gone?’ he asked.

‘I couldn’t do it,’ she whispered.

‘What couldn’t you do?’

‘I thought I wanted it. I thought I wanted him to touch me, but I couldn’t let him,’ she continued to mumble.

Daniel felt his mouth dry. He knew what she was trying to say and he was torn between not knowing and hearing her say the words.

‘What would you not let him do, Cayne? Did he hurt you?’

Cayne shook her head as she began to sob once more. She hid her face behind her woollen sleeves so that they soaked up tears. His heart was pounding so hard that it hurt.

‘He had his mouth and hands all over my body and I wanted so much to give myself to him.’ Daniel started to wring his hands in desperation as she spoke. ‘But then, I realised the only reason I wanted it so much was because I wanted it from you.’

He was so sure he felt his heart stop briefly. Had he really heard her say that she wanted him or had hope caused him to misunderstand?

‘I know I can never have you and I accept that, but if I don’t say it, I will never forgive myself. I’m in love with you.’

Daniel hurried to his knees at her feet and went to take her hands, but she pushed him away and got to her feet.

‘Daniel, please don’t,’ she begged. ‘I know where you belong and it’s not with me.’

He got to his feet and grabbed her so she faced him. He held onto her shoulders so she would not move away from him. If he was going to say this, he needed to make sure she understood every word.

‘I need you to listen to me, Cayne. Since I can remember I have lived my life for God and the Church. There was never any room for anything else. Then I met you and you have done nothing but tear my whole world apart.’ Cayne dropped her hands from her face and her dark eyes looked intensely into his. ‘All I have done is fight feelings and my need for you and all the while the answer has been staring me in the face all the time. I was destined to serve God and by loving you that’s what I am doing.’

Daniel let out a huge breath as he finished. He had been so scared he would not say it that he had rushed it all out in one breath. For what seemed like hours, silence filled the room. Cayne now stopped crying and her pale face seemed shocked and full of disbelief. Then as quickly as the silence started it was over. He felt her mouth on his and melted with relief and pleasure. The kiss started soft and clumsy, but the hunger of the moment soon took over, causing them to cling onto each other as though their lives depended on it. He wanted her more than anything and in that moment all he cared about was giving her anything she desired.

She started to stumble backwards as she led him to her bedroom, but taking control, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to bed. Laying her down, her hands started to pull at his shirt stopping as her fingers found the collar. He closed his eyes convinced the white cardboard would act like a barrier and reject him, but she whispered that it was no longer needed as she ripped it from his neck. He began to slide her out of her t-shirt and sweat pants. He had never felt so nervous, and yet it was the most natural thing in the world to be with her.

As his mouth kissed the skin of her neck, she closed her eyes. It felt so different from Karl. Maybe not as fiery, it was just better. His shaking hands explored her body and she found herself feeling just as nervous as he obviously was. She just wanted to be consumed by him and for a moment she forgot everything that was going on in her life.

Between his kisses he murmured that he loved her and normally she would never have believed it. This time she did. As he struggled out of his own trousers, she pulled him on top of her and reaching down she touched him. Hearing him groan made her smile with satisfaction. There was urgency in him that she found contagious and, unable to stand the waiting any longer, she helped him enter her closing her eyes in ecstasy.

Never in her life had she ever felt so connected to anyone and with him inside her it was as though they were of one body and soul, and she wasn’t sure that couldn’t be true. The rhythm they soon found with each other matched the very beating of their hearts, as though they truly were one.

Daniel gripped the sheets above Cayne’s head in order to keep up with her. He felt like he could barely breathe as their motion became more frenzied. Beneath him, Cayne was starting to cry out and at first he thought he was hurting her and for a moment he nearly stopped. But Cayne held him tighter and begged him to carry on. He soon began to mirror her and the room was soon filled with them crying each other’s name.

One of the things Henrick had been taught as a child was how to recognise significant events through the actions of animals. Unlike humans, they were so much more attuned to their environment and the changes within a world. Today was no different. As he stepped from the church, with Trebey behind him still ranting, he felt the smallest of tremors beneath his feet. His eyes looked up at the sky as the sound of a flock of screaming seagulls flying overhead. There was a change in the atmosphere and he could feel it. The hair on his body started to stand on air as the air tingled with static electricity. Something major was happening and he guessed that he was far too late to stop it. If at all else fails, he knew he needed to get to the girl. They were all doomed if he’d interpreted the signs correctly.

At Ben’s, Michael and Ben were also leaving, and as Michael helped Ben walk down the steps they both stopped suddenly.

‘Did you feel that?’ Michael asked, his eyes searching the floor.

Ben nervously looked around him and held tighter to his walking sticks.

‘Yes, I did. Look!’

Michael looked to where he was pointing and watched in amazement as a surge of rats suddenly appeared, despite the hour, and seemed to be communing somewhere beneath the streets. Other shopkeepers threw things in disgust at them, but what puzzled Michael more was what was the hurry? And why were they spooked? Adding to the confusion, the air filled with the sounds of a multitude of dogs barking and, in some cases, howling. Michael had never in his life heard anything like it. It was as though the animals, no matter how big or small were sensing something, and for them all to react together meant something big was on its way.

‘We need to find Cayne and Daniel now!’ Ben said, his voice filled with urgency.

‘Why? Do you think this has...?’

Michael stopped as he saw Ben’s face nodding. He grabbed hold of him and helped him into the waiting taxi.

Daniel smiled as Cayne snuggled into his arms. It felt good to see her smiling face. It had seemed all they had both done since meeting was argue and be sad, but now was the first time he felt so relaxed in her company. As she lifted her face to his, he saw how her eyes sparkled and danced. It was something he'd not paid attention to before. How a flush of colour in her face made her even more beautiful. He kissed her once more as she curled her body around his. He didn't think he could ever not get used to this. The feel of her soft warm body naked against his. The heat and need reverberating from every pore in response to his.

His stomach grumbled with hunger and he realised he had not eaten since that morning and the afternoon sun streaming through the window told him it was getting late. Knowing she wouldn't have eaten either made him move. Slowly Cayne began to untangle herself from his grip and he tried to hold her tighter.

‘I need a drink, I’m thirsty,’ she giggled, as she went to grab his shirt.

He grabbed her by the waist and held her down onto the bed smothering her in kisses.

‘Daniel,’ she protested.

‘Stay there I’ll get it,’ he said.

Getting out of the bed, he pulled on his trousers and gave her one last look before disappearing through the door. He padded his way to the kitchen and pulled from the fridge a chilled jug of water. As he closed the door, he suddenly felt a dry wind blowing around his feet. Puzzled he looked around to find it source. Shrugging, he continued to pour the glasses and then he realised he was no longer in Cayne’s flat. He looked down and saw he was in the body of a woman and he was standing in a dusty street that he had seen in his dreams before.

The buildings near where he stood were made of sandstone and bleached from the heat of the sun’s rays.

The same heat burned his head and he reached up and pulled the shawl that had fallen to his shoulders back over his head.

The stench was foul and he could smell it so deeply that he could taste the shit and blood in the back of his throat.

Why was he in such a desolate place?

The screaming and shouts were getting much closer now and Daniel found himself drawn towards the noise.

His heart was beating fast as he neared the crowd.

He knew he did not want to see, but he was compelled to do so anyway.

The smell of shit and blood growing stronger every step he took, so much so he used the shawl to cover his mouth.

He pushed his way through the throng and for a heart stopping moment he caught the sight of dark curly hair.

His hands went to his mouth to stifle a sob.

He should not draw attention to himself.

He had to remain hidden.

He knew that for certain.

This place was dangerous.

The crowd had started to move forward and he had no choice but to follow.

The dark haired man that they followed was now struggling to walk while being whipped by Roman soldiers.

The man’s hair had matted to his head with dried blood and sweat caused by the crude crown that had been made for him.

He wanted to reach out to the man, but he could not, instead, as the man fell, another woman was at his side wiping his face.

For a moment, he felt jealousy at their contact, which he quickly shook from himself for being so selfish.

Daniel struggled with his emotions at what he watched through the woman’s eyes.

He could feel her pain and her heartbreak coupled with a strange stirring from within.

He heard the whistling from the whip as it sang in the air, finishing it song as it hit flesh.

He begged someone to help this poor man, but no one was listening.

Everything seemed to be blinding white as the sun shone harshly onto stonewashed buildings.

The only colour came from the red of the centurions cloaks as they billowed.

Where was everyone?

Why was he here alone?

What could he do to save him?

He suddenly heard a scream that seemed so far away that he barely heard it. Then it happened again. He tried to turn to see where it was coming from, but could not see anything. He was blind. Then he remembered the jug and could feel its chilled handle in his hand acting like an anchor keeping the ship at bay. Suddenly, the jug shattered in his hand and he found himself still stood in Cayne’s kitchen.

It was then he realised that the scream had come from the bedroom. He hurtled towards Cayne’s room and stood looking at her in shock. She was laid upon her back, with her arms stretched out as though she was pinned down. Her legs kicked as she struggled with an unseen force. Daniel could see her eyes were closed, but wet with tears. He tried to grab her in attempt to help her, however the strength of whatever was holding her down was like nothing he felt before.

Helplessly, all he could do was watch as her kicking legs were pulled together by invisible hands. He held his breath waiting for whatever was going to be inflicted on her next and then he got his answer as with an almighty scream, blood splattered from her feet, hitting him in the face, causing his stomach to nearly heave. Daniel fell onto his knees in desperation.

‘Please, I beg you,’ he called out. ‘You have made your point. We know who she is.’

Cayne’s body suddenly stilled and her head snapped round so her eyes looked at his.

‘But, do you know who you are, Daniel?’

Time stood still as Daniel tried to comprehend what that meant. He knew exactly who he was. He was Daniel McNeish. Priest of Vatican City.

A bang on the front door startled him and hurrying to his feet he hoped it was Michael. He would know what to do. He rushed to the door only to fall back in surprise at who stood in the doorway.

‘What are you doing here?’ he spluttered.

‘Naturally after your phone call I was extremely worried,’ Trebey said, stepping over the threshold. ‘I am here to offer some help.’

The man that followed Trebey into the flat Daniel recognised as the one that had bumped into him outside Ben’s.

‘This is Henrick,’ Trebey added, in an offhand way.

The man called Henrick towered over him, dressed in a dark blue suit, which contrasting with his complexion made him look almost dead. This had been the one that had told Cayne that they wanted her dead. The one that Cayne described that met her in the cafe.

‘I appreciate your concern, Cardinal, but I meant what I said on the phone.’

Trebey looked his way and Daniel found himself standing between his Cardinal and Cayne’s bedroom suddenly aware at his state of undress and how it must look.

‘I am sure you do, but you see Daniel, you are no longer a priest and Cayne is Church business. So you cannot stop me taking her.’

Trebey nodded towards Henrick who responded by grabbing Daniel and holding him tight as Trebey strolled past him to Cayne’s bedroom door. The strength of the German was immense and he found it less painful not to struggle. As Trebey opened the door his face changed from disgust to fear and finally satisfaction. Daniel could see through the door that his shirt that Cayne had put on had burst a few buttons and showed how naked she was beneath. She struggled, but was still pinned down onto the bed.

‘You see her true nature has started to emerge,’ Trebey said. ‘I can see the stigmata and she obviously has seduced you, a priest. These are all works of Satan.’

‘You’re wrong,’ Daniel cried. ‘We know who she is. Ben Shaw told us everything. She and Joshua have the blood of Jesus running through their veins.’

Daniel was not sure, but at his words he could have sworn that Henrick’s grip lessened slightly and he began to wonder what agenda Henrick truly had. More to the point did Trebey know that his henchman was maybe not as stupid as he thought? Trebey on the other hand looked as though he had been slapped as he spun round to face him.

‘Ben Shaw is nothing but a heretic and if he had done his job in the first place then we would not be here having this conversation. This girl is everything that is evil and she will bring the world and Joshua down to its knees. It is our job to take her to Rome where Joshua will be equipped to defeat his enemy and prevent a holy war.’

‘Then you are robbing the Lord out of his Judgement Day by making it easy for Joshua. If you’re right and he is the Messiah then he will not need the help of mere mortals to defeat his sister,’ Daniel threw back.

Trebey stood in front of Daniel so they were now eye to eye.

‘I am doing the work of the Lord,’ he said calmly.

‘And which one is that? Jesus or Joshua?’

It was like he was looking at Daniel for the first time. Trebey did not recognise the man that stood before him. Before he referred to him as a boy many times, but there was no longer any boy left in him. He had turned from a lapdog eager to obey, to someone who was prepared to fight for this girl. But fighter of not, Trebey had been around much longer and was not prepared to allow Daniel the upper hand. Trebey turned away and went to the bedroom door. The power inside the whole flat was strong, but within this room it was so ripe that he could smell it. The scent of flowers mixed with blood and maybe a hint of something vile. The static energy in the room seemed to crackle and snap as he moved causing hairs to stand on end. She really was out of this world.

On the way to the girl’s home, he had discussed his findings with Henrick who convinced him that killing the girl was enough and reluctantly he agreed. The boy would be destroyed anyway without being killed. Life within the Church was an institution and rarely did those who left survived intact. Daniel had no skills other than those utilised within the Church and the real world would eat him alive. So he'd given the German his request. After all the man was rarely wrong.

Henrick had been at his side throughout his career and at one time held his trust. They had met at university in Hamburg and shared an interest in the teachings of the Occult within the Church and formed an unlikely friendship, but just before graduation Henrick disappeared only to turn up again nearly thirty years later. It had been he that directed them to Joshua’s whereabouts, but had been elusive when it came to finding the girl. Trebey had grown impatient with him and they fought, causing him to disappear then reappear like a bad penny and honestly Trebey no longer trusted him. But they had already come this far together that to drop Henrick just yet would be irrational.

Trebey turned his attentions to the half-naked girl wearing a priest’s shirt and felt disgust. From where he stood, he could see that the blood from her forehead had dribbled down to an exposed breast and for a moment there was an urge to touch her young skin and with it another stirring of his own. He would not give in to his carnal desires. He was better than that. Instead, he grabbed the sheet that was strewn on the floor and threw it over her. He did not want to look at her tempting female body any longer.

‘Henrick, come and get the girl,’ he instructed. ‘She is still unconscious so you’ll have to carry her.’

Daniel felt his body being released and took the opportunity to grab at Trebey only to find himself laid on the floor as Henrick knocked him down.

‘Do yourself a favour, Daniel forget her and move on. You are very intelligent boy and there is a new vocation for you to find,’ Trebey said.

He couldn’t do a thing, but watch helplessly as Henrick picked up Cayne’s limp body. As the door closed behind them he curled himself into a ball and began to sob. He had fulfilled the prophecy, he had handed her over to Rome and now as he looked down at his hands he saw her blood staining his palms. He bore the name of the prophet and had the Messiah’s blood on his hands.

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