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Chapter 9: Enter Michael

The afternoon sun shone through the hotel window as Daniel looked down at the streets below. His frustration had not eased since the morning and, if he was honest, he had no idea what his next move should be. Deep down he knew Cayne had a point. Christianity had always been male dominated, apart from its adoration of the Blessed Mother, and the acknowledgement of a possible female messiah would be difficult for the Church to swallow. But it was not for him to judge. His job was to make sure she was the right girl and take her to Rome.

Cardinal Trebey had been insistent on that. Keep his head down and do his task quickly. It was all a matter of urgency, but then Cardinal Trebey would have no idea that Cayne would prove this difficult to pin down and Daniel couldn't risk taking the wrong girl to Rome. His own view was Joshua was the better of the two. He was a traditionalist at heart and though he understood women were part of Christ’s ministry the fact still remained that all God’s anointed ones had been men.

Many people focused on Jesus as the Christ and some even thinking that Jesus Christ as his full name. The fact was that Christ was a title. The anointed one and they had been many chose by god, Moses rumoured to be one too. But he was only the prelude to the coming of Jesus.

His mind gradually moved to his mother. The only woman he ever let into his heart. While being with Joshua, in America, it had been the first anniversary of his mother’s death and the day passed without a thought. So much so that when he remembered he had grieved once more. He loved her with every part of his being and she had been the only constant within his life since his father left them both when he was young. A man he barely remembered even now. He had watched her turn from a vibrant young woman, with dancing eyes, to an over possessive creature that only found comfort in the parish church.

Growing up, he had little to do with other children outside school, but instead he would help his mother in any way he could. The only male figure in his life he looked up to had been his mother’s priest, Father John. It had been John who encouraged him to look into the Church as a career, and Rome was the best place for him to be. His mother had been distraught at John’s suggestion, but after an evening in deep prayer and conversation his mother had agreed. The day he left, he noted looks pass between his mentor and mother. Looks that he never learned to understand.

The theme of The Exorcist filled the room and disturbed him from his thoughts. He smiled as he picked up his phone and saw on the screen who was calling.

‘Michael. Long time, no speak. How you doing?’

‘Doing good,’ the heavy American accent answered. ‘I hear you’ve graced us with your presence in the UK.’

‘You’re here?’ Daniel exclaimed in surprise.

‘Visiting friends in Camden Town. How about catching up?’

‘You mean, you want to find out why I am here.’

The voice on the other end laughed huskily. ‘You know me too well.’

‘That’s because nothing changes,’ Daniel answered.

Sitting down, Daniel began to tell him everything, even though he had been sworn to secrecy. He knew there would be no harm in Michael knowing. He had after all been his closest friend and colleague, and to unburden himself was proving to be a relief. After an hour of talk they both agreed to meet later.

On the outside, Father Michael looked no more a priest than a dishevelled Hollywood actor. His face held a rugged charm that didn’t look like a man hitting his mid-forties. His sun-bleached hair fell ruffled and untidy just touching his shoulders and his heavily stubbled chin hid a mouth that constantly held a cigarette.

Michael’s opinion was Jesus was a rebel so why couldn’t he. Michael had worked with Daniel on many cases and been the first to take him under his wing when Daniel first arrived in Rome. They had spent months together in Jerusalem investigating claims that two families were being plagued by demons. However, it had been two years since they had seen each other, their paths taking them in different directions.

They greeted each other warmly outside the Smokey Jo’s cafe. The night air was moist with a winter drizzle as both men wrapped their wool coats tighter around their bodies. Michael lit up a cigarette and blew out the smoke. The neon lights of the mock American Diner of Smokey Jo’s Cafe lit the street around them. The warmth of the place creating waves in the cold air, tempting passerby’s into the warm atmosphere. Music of the sixties could be heard from inside and Daniel could tell that Michael was eager to go in and sample the goods. Michael loved his food. He didn’t care what or where it was. If it smelt and tasted good that was all that mattered.

‘So, any ideas on how we are going to approach her?’ Daniel asked.

‘She’s obviously very sensitive and considering your people skills. It might be a good idea if we both go and talk to her.’

Daniel shivered in the cold. ‘She lives close by. We could go now.’

Stubbing out his cigarette, Michael sighed.

‘I don’t think it’s a good idea considering the earlier confrontation. Plus I could eat a horse. Let’s go in and eat.’

Daniel smiled at his prediction coming true and let Michael lead the way inside. A young waitress whose name tag said Alaina smiled and nodded towards a free booth and followed them with menus and a coffee pot. Once she had left them alone. Michael told Daniel how he felt they should approach Cayne and Daniel felt himself relax a little. Now he had reinforcements.

Her room was now dark as Cayne rubbed her eyes. She’d not meant to sleep so long, but lately that was all she wanted to do. It was as though her body was desperate for rest, but from doing what she had no idea. A noise from the front room made her sit up. Pulling back the duvet, she slowly swung her legs from the comfort of the bed. She ached so much and she wondered if that was the problem. She was getting sick or the flu. Either would be unwelcome. She didn’t need this.

Then the noise came again. Slowly, she made her way to her bedroom door and peeked out. Drawing a sigh of relief she saw it was Mary. The room was dark, but Cayne could just make out Mary’s hunched figure over the kitchen sink. As she drew nearer there was something not right about how her body seemed to be heaving. There was also a faint smell in the room that she could not quite place. Everything was distorting slightly, like she was still dreaming. There was defiantly an aroma of weed, but an undercurrent of something metallic and acidic. The small hairs on the back of her arms stood up on end as she moved closer causing her to rub some warmth back into them.

‘Mary, you okay?’ she asked.

She moved closer and she saw with horror, Mary’s mangled face as her friend lifted her head slightly. The strapped dress showed bruised arms and with a sinking heart, Cayne could see she had recently taken a hit. Cayne fought the surge of anger at Mary’s stupidity. It was always the damn drugs. No doubt some pusher had taken his money from Mary’s body instead.

‘Mary, please answer me,’ Cayne asked again.

Mary lifted her bloodied face before collapsing onto the linoleum floor. Cayne grabbed the phone as Mary began to convulse. White foam started to spill from her mouth and Cayne had no idea what she should do. She remembered something about the recovery position and pushed Mary into something of that position. She struggled to talk to the operator, who asked her questions. Cayne rushed the answers to her before throwing down the phone and kneeling at Mary’s side.

‘Mary,’ Cayne sobbed.

Mary’s body had started to still and for a moment there was a glimmer of hope that the worst had passed. She willed her to vomit at least if she did then maybe some of the shit she’d taken may leave her body. Cayne lifted Mary’s head onto her lap and stroked her long dark hair from her sticky face. Every now and then she’d check her pulse and she didn’t need a doctor to tell her that the rate it was beating wasn’t good. She told her she was alright while fighting her own tears. She needed to remain strong so that Mary would be able to fight. Cayne looked down and could see her lips trying to move and Cayne leant closer to hear her say one name.

It had seemed to take so long for the police and the paramedics to arrive and then leave. The police had asked questions upon questions, but she had pleaded ignorance, because she knew that mentioning Vince’s name she too would pay the price.

‘We really need you to try and remember Miss King,’ the policewoman said.

‘I’m sorry, I try and keep out of what Mary does,’ she answered.

The policewoman looked at her colleague and both shook their heads slightly. They knew full well what Mary did for a living and Cayne knew that all the questions were just a formality. Mary’s lifestyle killed her and that would be the end of it.

Then the time had come for the paramedics to take Mary away. Her body zipped up inside a rubber bag, no doubt to be taken somewhere she would be all alone. It was that thought that hit her hard. Mary was the only family she had and so she too was truly alone. Falling into a corner, she crouched deep into the crevice and hid there until the morning chased the shadows away.

The rain fell in a deluge as Michael and Daniel dodged the morning traffic. Both had spent most of the evening and night talking and catching up until they had fallen asleep. When they reached Cayne’s building they found the doorway blocked by those trying to shelter from the downpour. Stepping over the lingering bodies, they climbed the stairs to the second floor where the chipped red door waited for them. He had no idea why, but his insides were shaking.

That night, he ignored the constant phone calls from Trebey. He had no idea what he was to say to him if he did answer, plus he knew that Trebey would be furious if he knew he had confided in someone else. His superior and best friend was constantly on opposing sides. Bickering and backbiting sometimes like children. So to know Michael was even sniffing around would cause Daniel no end of earache. It was better to stay silent.

He quickly glanced at Michael, who gave him a nod, and he raised his hand to knock. There was no answer and for a moment he was relieved, but when Michael knocked harder, he knew that it wasn’t going to be that easy. Listening carefully, he was sure he heard movement coming from behind the door. Slowly it opened, and to Daniel’s shock a pair of red raw eyes looked out at him, before he found himself clutching Cayne’s sobbing body. Sensing his discomfort, Michael prised her from him and half carried her inside, closing the door behind them.

The room looked in disarray and it felt very different than when Daniel had first entered a few nights ago. Magazines were strewn on the floor and empty stained cups littered the counter and table. But that wasn't the real change. These where changes unseen. The atmosphere was extremely cold like a tomb and it caused him to shiver. Michael placed Cayne on the sofa before hurrying into the kitchen. Curled in a tight ball, Cayne’s body shook uncontrollably and Daniel felt a strange urge to wrap her up in an embrace. Where were these feelings coming from? And why her? He desperately tried to control his emotions, but was struggling watching her in pain. Moments later, Michael returned with a steaming cup which he handed to her.

Cayne grabbed at it gratefully and took a careful sip, pulling a face as she did. The tea was strong, laced with something else. Something she suspected the older priest had added. She kept her eyes on the floor, suddenly aware of how embarrassed and uncomfortable she had made the younger of the two and she too felt the flush of embarrassment. But his face had been the first friendly face seen since the police had left and became over whelmed with emotions. Through babbled tears she told them that Mary had been killed and that she suspected Vince, along with all her fears, and now with her cup empty and her body curled up into a ball, she felt exhausted.

‘How you feeling now?’ the priest, she now knew as Michael, asked.

‘Tired, I feel like I've never slept,’ she answered.

Michael sat at her side and Daniel found himself sitting opposite, suddenly aware how comfortable she seemed to already be with his friend. ‘I am not surprised,’ Daniel said. ‘You have had a lot to deal with.’

‘Yeah, it’s not every day your best friend gets killed and you find out you’re the Anti-Christ,’ Cayne snapped.

Her initial relief at seeing his face slowly began to be replaced by earlier resentment and anger. It seemed that everything was going to wrong and it had all begun when he had arrived on her doorstep.

‘Interesting,’ she heard Michael say.

Turning her body she now faced him. She hated to admit it but there was something calming about him. His whole physical appearance suggested utter chaos, yet beneath it she knew it was as solid as a rock. Someone to trust. He seemed so laid back that she could sense herself following his lead.

‘What’s interesting?’ she sighed.

‘It’s interesting you automatically assume that you are the Anti-Christ and it makes me wonder what evidence you’re basing that on.’

Cayne let out a stifled laugh in disbelief as she glanced at Father Daniel and then back at Michael.

‘I merely took the facts that Father Daniel gave me...’

‘And what facts were they, Cayne?’ Michael asked.

Slumping into the sofa, she realised that Father Daniel had never said who she was. It was her that got defensive and presumed.

‘It seems you put two and two together and came up with five,’ Michael continued, a smile forming on his stubbled face.

‘Okay, but I only went on the fact that my brother is not only a man, but a Christian also,’ she added.

Michael got to his feet and made his way to the kitchen, lifting the kettle, he started to fill it before holding it towards where Daniel and Cayne sat. Both shook their heads as they watched him grab himself a clean cup.

‘You do realise that the Church has never implied that the Anti-Christ or Satan is a woman,’ he said calmly. ‘Look at all the films out there. He has been a man, a black man, a white man, even an English man, but never a woman... well apart from that one... but we will ignore that example.’

Cayne found herself smiling. It was as though both she and Daniel were not there and he was merely having a discussion with himself in his own home.

‘The important thing now…’ Michael turned around to face them, with a full cup of coffee in his hands, ‘is that we have two people who by birth right are immensely important to the world and it’s down to Daniel to get that right. So give him a break, because as far as I am aware neither sex, nor faith, has anything to do it. At the end of the day Jesus was a Jew, never a Christian.’

Cayne found her mouth opening and closing trying in vain to counter his argument, but couldn’t find anything to say. He was so much better at this than she’d expected. Daniel had been easier to hold some power over and she knew, no matter what, Michael was not letting her go. She was going to have to accept whatever was coming her way.

A feeling Daniel had never felt before struck him and he didn’t like it. Never in his life had he known jealousy, but watching how easily Cayne was responding to Michael, when he could not get anything from her, stung him. It was not the first time Michael had offered and given him help, and he trusted him with his life, but right there and then he began to regret his decision to let him in. The two of them sat so close and responding to each other easily. Cayne seemed relaxed and at ease. Her body not as tense as she allowed her hands to relax into her lap rather than tugging at long sleeves. It was then he noticed Cayne’s bare wrists. They were covered with red lesions that looked sore and angry. Cayne glanced his way and caught him looking and hurried to pull her cardigan sleeves down.

‘What happened to your wrists?’ he asked.

‘It’s none of your business,’ Cayne snapped as she curled herself into a ball on the sofa, hiding her hands.

‘Daniel, can we talk in private?’ Michael asked, placing his cup down. ‘Do you mind Cayne? We’ll just step out in the hallway.’

Cayne nodded and Daniel followed Michael out through the front door. By the look on Michael’s face, Daniel knew he was not pleased.

‘What’s all that about?’

‘She has injuries on her wrists that suggest she self-harms,’ Daniel said defensively.

‘It seems that she is not the only one who jumps to conclusions. Come on Daniel, you know better than this. I had noticed them too and if she does self-harm then we counsel, not attack. It is obvious she is a nervous young lady, whose life is more then she can handle and it is down to you to help her.’

Daniel hated it when Michael was right and he was aware that he was letting his own insecurities get in the way. He took a step back and nodded in agreement. The sound of the front door opening made them turn and Cayne stood with her cardigan sleeves rolled up and held out her arms to them.

‘You’re talking about these and whether I do them myself,’ she challenged.

‘And do you?’ Michael asked taking the wrists in his hands.

He could see that they were not rope marks, but sores that covered the full length of the wrist.

‘Do they hurt?’

‘Sometimes, and sometimes they just bleed,’ she answered.

Daniel took the wrist and turned it over in his hands as he inspected the skin.

‘They bleed?’ he asked.

She took Michael’s fingers and pushed them onto the sores. Both men gasped as blood began to trickle as though she was sweating.

‘Let’s go back in,’ Michael suggested.

‘Could it be stigmata?’ Daniel asked as the door closed behind them and they were in the privacy of Cayne’s front room once more.

Michael took her hand once more and began to look closer, a frown a deepening on his face as he tried to work out what he was seeing.

‘Stigmatic’s usually have actual puncture wounds. This isn’t a wound. It’s something I’ve never seen before.’

Looking up at Cayne, he asked whether she bled anywhere else and to answer him, she lifted her fringe to show them her forehead.

‘And feet?’ he asked.

Cayne shook her head. Michael now began to pace, mumbling to himself, every now and then looking Cayne’s way, before pacing again. Stigmatic’s were people of immense faith, the most famous being St. Francis of Assisi. They would suffer the wounds of Christ as they made their journey to enlightenment to become one with God. The wounds would manifest as puncture wounds on hands and feet, scars on the forehead from a crown of thorns and finally there would be the spear wound in the side. Not many suffered all five and those who did rarely lived. But this was so much different. According Daniel, Joshua showed no such signs and even Cayne admitted that he was much closer to God then she. So the question was why her? And why now?

‘How long have you had them?’

‘About a year,’ Cayne shrugged. ‘Do you think this has anything to do with who I’m meant to be?’

Daniel and Michael glanced at each other, both at a loss for anything to say. Neither could give her any answers, because neither of them knew what the answers were.

‘Honestly, Cayne. That is something we don’t know,’ Michael answered.

Cayne looked defeated. She’d hoped that they at least would have been able to explain what was going on, but now it seemed they didn’t know either. Michael moved towards her and took her hand in his.

‘Will you trust us?’ he asked. ‘Let us help you and I promise we will do what we can to help you work it out.’

For the first time ever she felt safe. In their presence, even with Daniel there, she felt there was no other choice, but to trust them both. At the end of the day they were all she had left now that Mary was gone.

‘So what do you really think?’ Daniel asked, once they were inside his hotel room.

Michael stood beside an open window while he smoked. Deep in thought, it was a moment before he answered. The winter chill that crept through the window caused them both to shiver.

‘I think there is more to her than meets the eye.’

‘Do you think she is the Anti-Christ?’ he asked

Shutting the window, Michael looked at him in surprise.

‘You too seem to want to tarnish her with the Devil’s brush.’

‘That’s not what I meant...’ Daniel spluttered.

Michael sighed and grabbed his coat. ‘I know a man who was once a priest. He was one of the ones to find the prophecy and translate it. He was on his way to jumping from priest to a Cardinal. All he had to do was make sure the babies made their way to Rome. When he failed, he turned his back on the Church and the last I heard he owned a rare book shop near Convent Garden. Meet me at this address tomorrow and we’ll talk to him.’

‘Why didn’t you mention it before? Wait…you knew why I was here,’ Daniel accused.

All this time he thought that he’d asked his best friend for help, but it seemed Michael had his own agenda.

‘Before you get all huffy. I didn’t know for certain. There were rumours that Trebey had sent you to look for these fabled twins. I know this priest and a little of his story, be it not much. I just wanted to be certain. You’ve got admit, Daniel this is all a little beyond our pay grade.’

‘I suppose,’ Daniel grumbled.

Michael handed him a card with an address on and got up and left. Daniel stood staring at the door. It was a moment before he realised that he had been stood aimlessly and mentally shook himself. Why did he feel that he was way over his head? This new development with Cayne put things in a different perspective and he desperately wished that he had got her to Rome before it had become apparent. At least that way he would not have to cope with it. Plus, when did he start to become so defensive? Of course the Church was always filled with rumours and Michael was often astute to this things. He could have not bothered to help at all, but he had. Now, thanks to Michael, he was in deep and he had no idea how to deal with her.

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