Sanctuary–Blog Hop October 2017

I actually wrote this story a couple of years ago. I had intended to find somewhere to submit it, but never did. So here it is for your creepy enjoyment.

Fair warning… it is considerably darker than my usual fare and some may find it unpleasant or offensive. It’s horror, after all. Sue me. 😉

Sanctuary

He pushed through the entryway, his face hot with exertion and fear. Dear God, he was getting too old for this. Already exhausted, he blinked sweat from his eyes as he struggled to swing the heavy oaken door closed behind him. The grate of the hinges belied the frequency with which the door’s mass was moved. When he finally turned the lock, he allowed himself to collapse against its reassuring, worn surface. His breath came in ragged gasps.

The dark of the night is when the affliction of this city was illuminated most clearly, the unholy dead rising from their graves. And he—he alone—must hold them at bay.

“Bishop?” His heart raced at the voice. He hadn’t realized he wasn’t alone. “Father, is something wrong?” The Abbess had always unsettled him, more so since the creatures had come. He wished he understood why.

He took a moment to compose himself; tugged his frock into place, wiped at his forehead before noticing the grime on his sleeve. “All is well.” He couldn’t bring himself to say more. Despite his unnatural dislike for the woman, he had no intention of subjecting her to his terrors. God gave him this burden. The visitation. The instruction. He would continue to bear it alone. He knew in his heart the dead could not harm him. Surely God would protect his chosen? He only wished his experience… well…. He shook his head. These past months had been a nightly trial.

And yet he stood. That was something.

She rose, gliding toward him across the ancient stones of the floor. “Come,” she said. “I will bear you up.” She maneuvered to his side. “My lord has strengthened me.” She gave him her arm which he accepted without thought, relaxing slightly onto her surprisingly sturdy form. She smelled of soap and orange blossoms, but that was overlaid with something more foul. The creatures, he thought. Have they followed me here? But, no. It had always been safe here.

The linen of her sleeve was rough against his fingertips—his long years had calloused neither heart nor hands. She brushed his hand with her own—he was glad to note he was not trembling overmuch as she guided him into the Nave, tracing steps he had taken countless times before. She guided him toward one of the long, hard pews that would be filled with supplicants come morning.

Discomfort pricked at him. Has God not set me apart? A voice full of certainty whispered in his mind, insisting that he must not acquiesce to this woman, no matter how slight the circumstances.

She grimaced as he dropped her hand and took a step back. “Not here!” he said too forcefully. He saw something in her eyes then that increased his disquiet. Frustration? Anger? His own anger flared then. After all his years of sacrifice, he would not be judged so casually. He pulled back his shoulders and stepped aside. If he could face the non-living, he could face this lone woman. “Give me the strength, Lord.” He whispered it quietly, not wanting her to hear his weakness.

A chill ran through him. The Presence. I still walk in favor. But what kind of favor leaves me battling the dead?

She smiled at him, but he did not return it. Was there falsehood in her meekness? His own uncertainty rankled as much as anything. He drew a breath, flinching at the fetid scent that still lingered, and walked past her toward the front of the cathedral. Her footsteps echoed a few paces behind. Reaching the dais, he paused, not trusting his strength, but unwilling to be weak. He did manage the stairs, albeit slowly.

He trailed a finger along the edge of  the altar—the place he’d sacrificed so much. Finally he turned, leaning on the cold marble, and stared at the Abbess. She climbed toward him until she, too, leaned on his sacred table.

“Woman!” He gasped at her brazenness. “You presume too much.”

The corners of her mouth played into a cold smile. “You,” she said, “have no idea what you are dealing with.”

He growled. “You are the one who doesn’t know!”

“I know dead men walk.” She leaned closer. “I know not every resurrection is sacred.”

His head spun as realization crashed in on him. How long had she known? His prayers were what was important. His dedication. His authority. He would not tolerate her insolence.

“I WILL NOT BE OVERCOME!” he shouted. Spittle foamed at the corners of his mouth; his eyes wide. Wild. Staring.

He felt every one of his endless years in that moment. Tearing his eyes from her, he let his vision stray to the image of Adam holding an apple, the serpent coiled at the feet of his temptress.

He knew, then, the truth of it.

“You.” He jabbed a finger toward her even as his voice lowered. “You caused this. You brought in this evil.” The bitter taste of bile rose in his throat. Oh, God! Why did you not reveal your path sooner? A single bark of laughter escaped him, the sound entirely without mirth. “I will send you to settle your own kind.”

“Good.” The smile the Abbess showed him chilled him to the bone, even as he rounded the altar to settle his hands at her throat. “My Master will be happy to see us both.”

Insensate, he tightened his grip around her slender neck. Choked laughter rolled out of her.

The Bishop’s screams echoed in what was once his sanctuary.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Sanctuary by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Till Death Us by Fanni Sütő
  3. The Cloud by Karen Lynn
  4. Data Corruption by Barbara Lund
  5. Wish Granted by Kami Bataya
  6. The Witch of Wall Street by J. Q. Rose
  7. Grim Reapers on a Field Trip by J Lenni Dorner
  8. Unwelcome Vistors by Bill Bush
  9. A Writer’s Morning by Katharina Gerlach
  10. Unverified by Erica Damon
  11. Tito’s to the Max by Chris Makowski
  12. The Boon by Juneta Key
  13. Recommended Reading @ Raven O’Fiernan

 

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Comments

  1. Yes, a very dark story. Just in time for scary Halloween.
    https://www.junetakey.com/boon-juneta-key-storytime-blog-hop-october-25-2017/

  2. Now I’d like to know if this really happened or if he only thought this was happening. It’s a fine line between reason and madness. 😀

  3. Deliciously dark!

  4. Whoa creepy, well told. Enjoyed reading. Juneta

  5. very creepy, nicely done. I do love the halloween hop, I always need more horror in my life.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks all! Disturbing can be fun. 😀

  7. Oooh, creepy! Very nice.

  8. Chris Makowski says:

    Happy All Hallows Eve…. truly twisted!

  9. Bill Bush says:

    Great Halloween story!

  10. Not safe where you thought you were safe! Oh dear. D:

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