A Red HazeA Red Haze
I nervously sat in the confessional, waiting on the priest. I had not been to confession since I was twelve, nearly six years ago. It's not that I ever had anything against the church or confession, I was just... uncomfortable... I don't know why. I think I was a bit afraid that I would be sent away or laughed at, silly as that sounds. You see, I had never committed a serious sin, at least not until now. This I knew in my heart was wrong - I could feel it gnawing at my conscience, eating me up inside. I had to tell someone, even if that someone was a stranger, like the priest I waited on. That confession would never happen though. I looked down, my small hands clasped, sweating slightly out of nervousness. I was wearing a black dress with a corset top that had short sleeves, and my hair pulled back in a ponytail. My eyeliner had run in streaks down my face from the tears that had only just stopped.
A loud crash followed by a sharp scream snapped me from my dark thoughts to a darker reality. The scream was suddenly cut off and punctuated with a sickening thud. I dropped to the ground, clamping a hand over my mouth, lest I too scream. Opening the door a crack, I crawled through it, sliding under the nearest bench as quietly as possible, laying on my back on the polished wood floor. I heard shouting, then a crash in the direction of the altar. I let out a muffled whimper, catching myself and forcing the whimper to go silent. It was the priest shouting, punctuated by soft whimpering cries from two nuns. That was followed by an uncouth, gravely sounding voice. The voice spoke in Latin, and I only caught a couple of the words.
Looking under the rows benches, I could see three pairs of feet belonging to the priest and nuns in the aisle before the altar. Another set of feet I saw before them appeared to be quite inhuman, like hooves almost. My stomach went in knots and I was paralyzed in fear. They were so close to me! I briefly considered running but that was laughable, I could not move at this moment even if I wanted to. More shouting, then the strange figure rapidly advanced on the three. There was a scream of pure horror from a nun, which did not quite drown out the gurgling thump of the priest hitting the floor. I saw his face, ex
What seemed like hours, though it could not have been more than a moment, passed before the rapidly cooling blood reached me. It soaked into my dress as I lay on my back biting my lip until it bled to keep from crying out. A horrible deep throated laughter, then more speech in Latin.
A nun replied frantically in English "No, no! It was father James' idea! You must spare-"
Her voice cut off in mid speech, her feet rising up in the air, as if she was being lifted up by the creature. Then a crash! She had been thrown into the aisle right in front of me. She landed on her side, her face only a few inches from mine. I stared in horror as her face contorted in a soundless scream. Her head tilted slightly, revealing a brutally slashed throat. Blood pumped from the gaping wound in a fountain that sprayed my face, getting in my eyes and mouth. At that moment I very nearly fainted, and I forced myself not to vomit. Even spitting the blood out might make too much noise, so I did nothing. Streaming tears washed away twin paths of blood on my face, which was replaced by the next rhythmic spray from the nun.
My pulse pounding in my head was unbearable and I could not breath. I struggled to quietly loosen my corset in a sudden fit of panic, spurred on by the woman next to me choking on her last breath, her eyes glazing over in death, her blood mingling with that of the priest and my own tears. I couldn't do it. My fingers shook, my mind raced, my heart raced, I knew only fear. All else was empty nothingness. Fear and emptiness. Death. I lay there in that pool of blood, part of me hoping to somehow survive the day, and part of me wishing I too would die if only this would end. Somehow, things got worse. I had not heard any sounds over the pounding of my own pulse in my ears, so the crash directly above me came as a shock. The last nun had been tossed like a rag doll onto the bench that I was hiding under. I frantically looked around and saw the hoofs not a foot away!
There was a metal scraping sound, then the sword plunged down through the nun's body, through the bench, and into my chest just below my breast. It felt like it was made of fire, and my pulse pounded like my head might burst from the strain. I screamed in agony, blood spraying from my mouth over the bottom of the bench, to drip back down over me. My lungs felt like they were on fire! I tried to breath, but the sharp pain made me scream again. More blood ran from my mouth, and I saw blurs and flashes of light. The blade was suddenly jerked out, and I gave another scream that faded into an excruciating cough, blood pouring from my wound.
Amidst my agony, I became gradually aware of shouting in a strange language and the clanging ring of steel striking steel. Heat washed over me and white light seemed to fill the entire church. Wherever the light touched me, I felt soothed. My bleeding stopped and my fear fled. I got out from my spot, as if compelled, and saw the most amazing sight. An angel stood in the aisle, nearly nine feet tall, with two sets of wings, and a face that was frightening and soothing at the same time. The creature with the hooves lay dead at the angel's feet.
"Do not be afraid, child" He said, "Be at peace. The people of this church made a pact with a devil and were killed for not keeping their bargain. Their own deal with the devil gave it leave to destroy them, but it had no power over you"
"but..." I stammered, "I have sinned as well, lord"
He smiled at me, that smile washing away all that remained of my pain, filling me with peace and love. He replied "You repented the very same moment you sinned, begging our Lord for forgiveness, which He gave to you. You have only yet to forgive yourself." He continued "The devil striking you allowed me to intervene on your behalf. You must go now, and tell the world that the devils are real, tell them what has transpired here tonight."
"But..." I began, but he was already fading from my sight. Pain washed over me in waves, and I realized I was on my back on a stretcher. I heard sirens above me, and realized I was in an ambulance. I cried out as the truck hit a small bump.
"You are one lucky girl" I heard a voice say, "But you're going to make it. Who called us? You don't have a phone."
"An angel" I said, smiling through the pain. "An angel saved me."