GRIEF - THE HORSEMEN TETROLOGY

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 3 (v.1) - PROMISES MADE - PROMISES KEPT

Submitted: June 25, 2016

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Submitted: June 25, 2016

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PROMISES MADE – POMISES KEPT

 

Another blink brought another addition to the years.

Daisy was growing like a weed and was almost as hard to control. The death of her nanny some six years earlier affected her deeply as she had been regarded as the mother she had never known.

Her grief had taken the form of rebellion and I feared I would loose her a darker side, but since my demons last visit all had been quiet.

 

Daisy had become popular with the local girls, and of more concern to me, the boys, and was by and large happy in her life. We would butt heads over certain things such as the afore mention boys and the way that she chose to dress in public. It seems that is a prerequisite that all children of varying men of the cloth will take an opposing stance against the beliefs of the said parent just as a way to annoy them. This was the case for Daisy. Although I had instilled in her a sound knowledge of the Bible and the requirements of a God I had chosen to go to war with, she had still turned her back in favour of the lusts and temptations of material things. I was not too concerned at this, for the young need to experiment in order to find their own truth, and Daisy, like her namesake flower, had strong roots in which to hold her firm. The most important thing was that she knew she had a home to go to, a warm dinner to fill her belly and a parent who loved her.

 

The promise of a new enemy making themselves known to me did not eventuate and I began to hope that this was one final attempt by my demon to put the fear of God himself within my heart. For the most part this had worked for I had spent the intervening time looking for ghosts and watching the shadows.

Edmonds Wilson had not become the aggressor he had been proficied to be, for he had left the village shortly after our first, and only conversation. It was rumoured that he had met a young lady from the nearby town and that they had married. This went someway in explaining his sudden change of persona, and it gladdened my heart to think that he had finally found happiness. News of his death sometime after the tragic circumstances that befell Mrs. Lewis saddened me. He was still a young man when he had succumb to a heart attack, a congenital condition which also put to rest the rumours about the death of his father.

I made contact with his wife who informed me that he would often have bouts of depression about a promise he had made. I did not let on that I had knowledge of such things but instead told her of my joy that he had found happiness in his final years within the arms of a loving woman such as she, and expressed my sadness that it was all to short lived.

 

In the years that followed I had taken it upon myself to instruct a successor to my role as parson and was now in the final stages of handing over my flock to the very capable Miss Andrea Johnson.

After our encounter on that chilled autumn evening so many years ago, I had reached out to her as a way of building a foundation of self-respect and acceptance to her Gods plan, something to which she had latched onto with eager hands. Together we had destroyed her inner demons and brought out a confident young woman whose issues had been laid to rest.

All this meant that in six months time I would no longer have to live this lie, and with Daisy’s blessing I made plans to leave the village and settle for a new life in France. But in these quiet, perfect years, Heaven and Hell had been moved, and they had other plans for us.

 

*****

 

It was as I were heading home one afternoon, with the weekly grocery shopping, that I had my car flagged down by a little girl standing at the side of the road. As has been mentioned before, our small village is serviced by the much lager town, which in turn is supported by the great city of London. This support come in the form of medical, legal and higher forms of entertainment such as the theatre, and my personal favourite, the opera. The nearest town was as much as most of us here wanted to see of ‘big city life’ and was mainly visited by the younger members of the village and those of us who wished to shop for a larger variety of food.

It was on one such return journey that I encountered the lone girl.

I pulled my car to the side of the road and wound down my window.

  “Are you in need of help miss?” I enquired.

She smiled at me and actually curtsied.

  “I see your trials have started already parson,” she said. I looked at her with confusion until I realised that my demon had returned.

  “Your friend rests with us now – she sends her love”

Anger grew within me at this possession of a child. This invasion of an innocent soul was surly against whatever perverse rules this depravity applied to its followers.

  “How dare you foul this pure soul with your filth” I cried, “leave her at once and face me in your true form you coward”

The girl simply smiled at my rage.

  “You think me a demon Parson?” she said.

  “I think you an abomination”

  “I see that you also think of this as a possession – a taking of a child maybe, but no. This is my true form, or the nearest approximation I can achieve here on Earth”

I opened my car door and stepped out onto the dusty road.

  “An angel” I scoffed, “Is this what you are claiming to be?”

  “A warning is all that I am – and all that I am claiming to be” came her cold reply. As with the demon before her in that hospital room so many years ago, the little girl seemed to face me without moving – even as I circled her.

  “It has been said that you have dealt with your enemies in order to solve the problem of my daughters soul”

The girl smiled, although it was not a smile that held any warmth.

  “There is no problem – we do not want it – or her. To allow it into paradise would be an abomination to us”

  “She is not tainted – her soul is pure” I replied.

  “She is dammed parson, as well you know. Your daughter should have died but your selfish actions have now caused her to become something else”

The look of confusion on my face was enough to prompt the angel to continue further.

  “She is dead to us, as there is no blessed spirit to harvest when she leaves this mortal coil, but she is unable to be taken by the side that holds claim to her soul due to the wording of your contract”

  “So when she leaves us, where will she go?”

  “Until she reaches her eightieth birthday she will walk in limbo amongst the living, but as you have already stipulated, her years and her birthdays will not be regarded as the same”

  “If she is taken from us, then where would she go?” I said with the coldness of this stark realisation starting to settle within my own blackened soul.

  “Then she will walk in limbo amongst the dead until your contract meets its end, and then she will go to those with whom you have made the deal”

  “Are you saying that my dealings with Hell have been for nothing?”

The angel continued to face me.

  “In profiting the dark lord you have been most successful, but it was only when he found out that we would not accept her that he realized the folly was yours – although they cannot end her life it is not guaranteed that someone else would not, and in order for you to have a limited time in which to solve this problem, this someone could be employed to take care of this for them. You have had evidence of this already I fear”

The memory of Mrs. Lewis in her beaten and broken form flashed in my mind, and for the first time I noticed that there were no sounds to be heard around us. The usual noises of animals and birds seemed to come to a standstill at the presence of this most holy of messengers.

  “You spoke of trials that I have to endure – is this a way to save her?”

  “There are two ways in which she can join us.

The first involves you, and the second is her sacrifice to make”

 

For some time after the angel had left me I sat in my car and stared out of the window. The lateness of the afternoon drew into dusk as I contemplated the actions that had dammed my own daughter to walk the Earth as one of the undead.

Had the angel been correct?

Had my own selfishness and grief clouded my judgement so much?

She would have a happy and long life, and without demonic incident – those were the terms and conditions of the contract. But to gain her access into heaven I would have had to rescind on my deal with the demon and offer him something new to take its place.

I was half aware of a set of lights heading towards me from the direction I had been travelling. After a while they identified themselves as the headlights of a police patrol car.

It pulled up beside me and so I wound my side window down.

  “Sorry officer, I came over a little queasy and so stopped to rest”

The policeman shook his head.

  “A lie parson? You really have left your past life behind you now, haven’t you”

I sighed wearily, as I was in no mood for a further taunting. The angel had made it very clear to me that I could not rely on any celestial help, and that my daughters only salvation now rested in having further dealings with someone whose only barrier to dragging Daisy off into a pit of fire and brimstone, was time.

  “Do we play this game again demon?”

  “Game parson?” said the demon. A look of mock surprise came over the face of the policeman who then laughed at his own joke. After a while he settled into a more relaxed conversation with the air of someone who knew that they had the whip hand.

  “Cheer up parson” he said, “All is not lost – well, not for us anyway”

He laughed again, enjoying my predicament. To be fair I did not blame him, for I had mocked and sneered at him for nye on fifteen years and so I found it hard to begrudge him this opportunity to gloat, for what else had I done?

  “What will you have me do in order to undo what trouble I have caused you?” My question was a trifle sycophantic, but I had to appear as weak as I felt. This was no time for bravado – this was a time for surrender and negotiation, for the everlasting life of my daughter was at stake.

When he stopped laughing the mood changed dramatically. The familiar taste of tin and the heaviness of the air drew me back to our first encounter.

  “So it’s a new deal that you want from us parson?”

  “Is this possible?” I swallowed my fear – not of my demon, but of the answer he was about to give me.

  “Possibly – we shall see” he said.

I closed my eyes. Whatever was to be asked of me, whatever pain that the continuation of these ‘trials’ that the angel of spoke of would bring, would be met with the knowledge that Daisy’s soul would be cleansed – that would be the only condition to me agreeing to what was about to come my way.

  “Do you need any help getting back to town sir?” said the policeman, for the demon had gone, leaving me alone with my thoughts as to what would be demanded as payment for Daisy’s soul.

 

That night I was plagued by dreams of death and wonton destruction. Images of a burnt world full of lost souls that were mine to harvest.

From the smoke of desolation, kicking up ashes from the fires of Hell appeared the four horsemen of old. One by one they dismounted, and one by one the led their horses to four people, of which I was one. As Death approached he offered me the reigns to his mount in exchange for the return of my daughter’s soul.

To die on this very night and to ride dark until the end of days.

To replace the horsemen and add flesh to the bones of myth.

Grief, Violence, Hatred and Lust.

When the moon was at its highest then I would mount the horse, and from that moment I would shed my mortal body and become the embodiment of grief – the first to ride from Hell, with payment made in full.

 

 

*****

 

I had arranged to meet Daisy for lunch on the last day of my life and she arrived all smiles and hair at the small café in the centre of town.

She reminded me so much of her mother and I grew solace in this and tried not to show her my sadness – this being the last time that we would see each other.

  “Hey” she said, “What’s up?”

  “Does something have to be ‘up’ for your old man to want to buy you lunch?”

She kissed me on the cheek before she sat herself down in the seat opposite me.

  “Normally” she said still smiling.

  “Well far be it for me to break with tradition” I half laughed at my own joke but Daisy had lived with me too long to know when I was hiding something. She ordered a coffee, another sign that she was growing up for not twelve months ago she would have been content with a milkshake. I had my usual mint tea; something that Daisy said made me sound pretentious, and thinking about it now, she was probably right.

  “I have been given an opportunity to study abroad,” I said as Daisy delicately dapped the coffee foam from her top lip. Even at this young and tender age she had begun to mature into a beautiful woman. I could see why she would be the envy of the other girls and sought after by the boys.

  “That’s good news – isn’t it?”

I blew on my tea before took a sip.

  “Well yes, and no. You see it will be in a monastery”

  “In France?” she said hopefully.

I shrugged apologetically.

  “I am sorry to say that it is not”

She pulled the sunglasses from off of the top of her head and put them on against the glare of the summer sun.

  “You always do this,” she said. Her voice was measured and restrained against the obvious anger she felt. Her excitement about moving to France had been the main driving force in our relationship over the past few years. At first she resisted the idea, but as the romance of Paris infected her, she had spoken of nothing else.

  “I always do what?” I said.

  “Make promises that you can’t keep – or won’t keep”

  “Are you hungry – I can order some lunch for you”

She leaned forward, barely containing her feelings.

  “No, I don’t want any lunch,” she hissed, “and don’t change the subject”

I took her hands in mine and held firm as she tried to pull away.

  “Daisy, nothing has changed – we are still going away. It is just that I will be going somewhere else for a while. When I have finished my studies I will join you in Paris”

A look of confusion softened her face against the disappointment she felt.

  “In the meantime you will stay with your aunt Becky”

  “I have an aunt Becky?”

I smiled.

  “Yes, I have not been in contact with her since your mothers death, but of late I have been writing to her and she is very keen to meet you”

There was an uncomfortable silence between us as Daisy fought between conflicting emotions, as it seemed that I had only broken half of my promise. Our plans that involved her had not changed; I on the other hand had to leave her to face this new adventure on her own.

We finished our beverages in silence, which was eventually broken by Daisy.

  “I’m hungry”

I smiled and handed her the menu.

  “No”, she said, “I have to think – I’ll see you later”

And with that she got up and left me alone.

So lost in my world was I that I did not notice the waitress standing next to me and waiting for my order. I looked up at her, shielding my eyes against the glare of the sun.

  “I am sorry, my daughter had other plans. So I guess I will just pay for the drinks,” I said as I removed my wallet. “How much do I owe you?”

  “Much more than that parson” and at that the waitress sat in the seat that had been recently vacated by Daisy.

  “It’s hot today – don’t you think? She said as she unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse, she shook it in order to create some cooler air.

  “Excuse my immodest behaviour, you would think that I would be used to the heat by now”

  “You do not have to torment me any longer demon, my debt to you will be paid tonight” I said with a weary tone. My patience had grown threadbare, and I had no time for games. The waitress leaned back in her chair, seemingly basking in the suns warmth.

  “Well – that’s not entirely true is it parson?” she smiled a shark of a smile. ‘If you think we are going to let you leave this life with good grace, hearts and flowers - a life that you built on a lie, then I’m afraid to say that you have completely underestimated us”

  “To leave my life, my daughter and to serve you and your kind as a demonic harvester of souls – this is not enough for you?”

She put her hands up in mock protest.

  “No, no – that is very good of you, or bad – whatever. What do I know?, bad is kind of my thing. No, what I am saying is that the memories you leave behind should be bad. The sound of your name should leave a bad taste in the mouth of whoever speaks it.

How much will you be missed then I wonder?’

I returned her smile.

  “I am not going to sully my name demon. I have agreed to your terms and will take my seat as the harbinger of grief at midnight tonight”

Again with mock concern on the face of the waitress, the demon leant in a little closer.

  “Oh, I don’t expect you to parson – let us take care of that”

At this she stood up and walked back over to my side, presumably in readiness to return control of the body back to its owner. Instead she raised her voice so that the rest of the café could hear.

  “I SAID NO”, she called whilst stepping back from me and hurriedly doing up the buttons she had unbuttoned earlier. At this the manager came over amidst the stares from the other customers.

  “Is there a problem here?” he said. His manner was one of trying to handle the situation a quietly as possible, in the hope that the fuss would not deter his customers from spending more money.

  “I asked the gentleman if he wanted anything else, but what he wanted was more than I am prepared to give” She held her hands to her bosom in an attempt to cover her modesty. The manager looked at me with disgust, a look reflected by the other patrons of the café.

  “Sir, my staff are NOT on the menu”

  “I saw him with another girl earlier – she left in a hurry too, and not in the best of moods” This came from an older woman who had been sitting opposite my table.

  “That was my daughter madam,” I said, tying to defend myself against the growing tide of hostility.

  “She was certainly young enough to be” came the call of another customer, “you should be ashamed of yourself – dirty old man”

I stood up and removed my wallet from my back pocket, at which the manager said,

  “We will take care of the bill sir, if you would kindly leave my premises” He gestured the way out and then escorted the distraught waitress back inside. As I left, amidst the disgusted stares from my fellow customers, I wondered what the waitress would make of all this when the demon finally left her, and if she would make a complaint to the local police, a complaint backed by no memory of the incident but at the insistence of her superiors. I shook my head at this futile attempt by the demon to discredit me, especially in a part of town that I did not frequent often, and in front of people I did not know. I made my way to the carpark across town, stopping only to collect my thoughts by taking the long way through the public park. Having purchased a couple of fresh rolls from a little bakery, I sat on a park bench opposite the pond and proceeded to feed to multitude of ducks that seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to the procurement of food. As the feeding frenzy began, with ducks of all shapes, colours and sizes scrambling over one another as if this was their last meal, I looked around at the various people that populated this town. As the ducks, there were all manner of colour shapes and sizes. I noticed in particular a pretty red-haired girl walking towards me from the left; her oversized sunglasses did well to hide the fact that she was blind, something only given away by the fact that her canine companion had a harness in which to lead her with. From the right approached a young man, and from his mannerism I guessed that he had more than just the warm summers day on his mind. As they passed he smiled at the young woman seemingly unaware that she could not see him. I was warmed by the fact that he appeared only to see her beauty and not what others would describe as a disability and between these two star crossed lovers was the fact that is was not only the young lady that was blind – for love happily shared this condition. His smile dropped as they passed one another, and a small cloud of despair seemed to follow him home.

How many people such as this would I come to visit in the years to come?

How many would plead their innocence to the shadow that I was to become?

A wave of sorrow swept over me and I began to bathe in self-pity.

What had I allowed myself to become within that one moment of weakness fifteen years ago?

What price would be been paid, and how many would pay for my folly?

But Daisy was safe, and that’s all that mattered, and it was something I would have to keep repeating to myself, almost as a mantra against the loss of my humanity.

 

As the sun began to set, I left the park and made my way back to the carpark. Through long shadows and a low setting sun I found it hard to make out the figure, standing by my car, clearly as the evening was beginning to darken by the time I arrived. As I drew closer I saw that it was the waitress from the café I had frequented earlier and whose unexpected guest had caused so much unpleasantness for us both.

I could not be sure if the demon had left her, and so I waited until she spoke.

  “Hi” she said with a small wave, seemingly out of embarrassment. I felt quite sorry for her as I could only imagine the confusion she must of felt when she had been allowed control of her own mind and body.

  “Hello” I replied, “I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression back there but..” My words faltered, for as I drew closer I could see that she had suffered an assault. On her face I saw three deep gashes torn into her cheek, and her nose, so evidently broken sat swollen and caked in a mixture of blood and mucus. From these wounds blood flowed down her face and onto her clothing. It was as if something had torn at her with savage ferocity, which had not ended at her face. Her arms and legs bore the signs of this attack, and her clothing had been torn away in a bid to inflict more damage, for from the hem of her skirt a small trickle of blood was visible and ran down the inside of her leg as evidence of her sexual assault. I moved quickly toward her in the hope of helping in some way.

  “Who did this to you?” I cried, but my concerns were cut short when she reached out and raked her nails across my face. I pulled away at the sharp pain that sang in my head and cried out as the blood from my own wound spilled onto my shirt. I watched in horror as she opened up the remains of her shredded blouse and drew her nails across her bare breasts, carving gashes so deep that they actually spat blood as they opened.

I recoiled in terror as this woman mutilated herself in front me and stared in horrid fascination as she smiled through blood stained teeth – seemingly enjoying the pain she was inflicting on herself, and the mental anguish she was causing me.

  ‘I said we would take care of it didn’t I” she said spraying blood tainted spittle at me. And then it came – the scream that would bring all those that would bear witness to this woman’s assault. It filled the air and pierced the sky with its terror. Sealing my fate as a monster in this life and adding to the irony that I was to be a monster in the next.

From the surrounding streets came the shouts of concerned citizens. I fell to my knees, weak with shock as this opera of evil played out before me. I watched as the waitress half ran, half stumbled across the carpark and towards her saviours with pleas of help whilst begging them to save her from the depravity that now stood on shaky legs in an attempt to flee to safety. I took three or four steps before I was brought down, my head crashing against the ground causing my conscious mind to stray fuzzily from my body. Two men pinned me to the floor whilst calling for someone to summon the police, ignoring my plea of innocence, which was wildly contradicted by the evidence around them.

 

In less that four hours my time would come no matter where I was, be it in police cell, or at home in my bed.

My demon had won.

I would leave this life behind shamed and broken.

The parson that had raped a young waitress.

The parson who had ‘found’ his housekeeper murdered.

The parson who had made plans to leave the country with his daughter, only to change his plans at the last minute.

The escaped convict – the wanted man.


© Copyright 2019 Dimpra Kaleem. All rights reserved.

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