Different Gods

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful


Tales from beyond the shadows.

Submitted: August 22, 2018

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Submitted: August 22, 2018

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For the first six months his domestic needs were tended to by the former parish priest’s aging house keeper. Ms O' Mahoney a stern spinster who did little to hide the fact she thought he was not suitable for the job. Everything he did appeared to strengthen her belief that he was too young to run the parish. He did his best to appease her but she could not or would not hide the fact she thought he was a disappointment to the collar. It was a constant battle to even be allowed to do the job he was sent here for. The old woman would openly undermine him in front of the parishioners. She treated him like a child that could not be trusted to do the right thing. She felt he needed constant supervision and she made no secret of this fact.

 

Kevin had tried to broach the subject with the old curate. But he made it painfully obvious that not only did he not want to get involved. He had even hinted that maybe Ms O' Mahoney’s thoughts on the subject were probably correct. It finally came to a head when she took a red pen to the sermon he was preparing for the next Sunday. She had scribbled out whole sections of the sermon and changed others. When he went to his study to put the finishing touches to the sermon he finally lost his temper. The ensuing argument saw the old house keeper storm out of the parochial house. She left muttering under her breath. Most of her words were lost to him but he did clearly make out “Ungrateful little heathen pup". Those were her parting words, before she slammed the front door. He was left wallowing between complete frustration and furious anger with her behaviour.

 

She did not turn up for work over the next couple of days. He was torn between a feeling of relief and niggling guilt. When she still had not turned up by the third day he capitulated and decided to go and mend bridges. He stopped at the supermarket and purchased a small bunch of flowers before driving to her small cottage on the far end of the town. The small white washed cottage was surrounded by a walled garden. The garden was beautifully maintained with rose beds and shrubs, giving a picture postcard effect. He paused with his hand on the gate and marvelled at just how nervous he felt. He had to mentally prepare himself before approaching the brightly painted front door.

 

Now that he was here he realized he did not have a clue what to say to this woman. He wanted to start fresh with the old lady but he was also aware that he had to establish rules and boundaries. Taking a deep breath he knocked on the door and rehearsed his words while he waited. He was shocked at just how nervous and jumpy he felt. Time seemed to have gone into slow motion mode and he felt he had been standing there for an eternity. He was now undecided between knocking again or turning and leaving with his tail between his legs. He had just raised his hand to knock again when the door swung open on creaking hinges. The old lady looked smaller and feebler than he remembered. But in her eyes a fire burned as she looked him up and down on the doorstep.

 

For some reason the look in the feeble old woman's eyes left him feeling vulnerable. He cleared his throat and prepared to greet her. But before any words would form, she spoke in a rasping whisper. “So you have come to apologize and beg me to come back. You are just like all of the rest of the young people; you think you know it all. Ye think that everything that is not new is wrong and useless, that the older generation were fools. Ah! But you had to come crawling back to me, you could not manage by yourself. Well I will tell you something young man, that collar does not make you a priest. It certainly does not make you fit to run this parish or any parish come to that". He was so taken aback by the outburst from the small figure he stood staring at her with mouth agape.

 

She paused briefly but he was dumb founded and lost for words. Then she was in full flight again the bitterness dripping from each word that passed her lips. “I wrote to that foolish bishop when I learned they were giving the parish to a child. I told him that he would be responsible for putting the spiritual wellbeing of the parishioners at risk. But no, just like the rest of the new so called liberal minded clergy he was too blind and foolish to see. They send a young arrogant pup like you to tend to the work of god". He wanted to reach out and shove the old crone back inside and slam the door on her. But the vitriol that poured from this small old woman left he rooted to the spot.

 

Father Kevin Riley was caught like a rabbit in the headlights of a car and the onslaught continued. “You and your sermons full of jokes, the light heart side of god's word. Well I will tell you, my foolish little pup do you seriously think that laughter will defeat Satan. Did Jesus crack jokes when he drove the demons out? No he drove them out with the power and might of his righteous anger. It will be a cold day in hell before I will ever put the future of my immortal soul in your hands. Now father turn and walk away from my door and take your bleeding heart liberalism with you. I will tend to my own spiritual needs from here on, until the day I stand before my maker. I will not set foot in your house or your church again as long as I live".

 

She turned her back on him and made to go inside the front door. He was shocked to his very core and cut a forlorn sight standing there. At some stage during her attack the flowers had slipped from his hand and lay at his feet on the pathway. He turned and began to walk back to the gate in stunned silence. His mind could hardly comprehend what had just taken place. He had just reached the gate when he heard her call out to him. He turned towards the bitter woman without any conscious effort like a moth drawn to the flame. “Hell is coming to this Parish father and it is you who has invited it in". These last words were spat out at him like poison and spittle sprayed from her lips. Then she quietly closed the door and he was left standing there badly shaken.

Kevin found himself outside the clerical retirement home, without any conscious memory of the drive there. One moment he was standing outside the little cottage staring blankly at the brightly painted front door, and now he found himself in the grounds of the big old country house. He had just driven over thirty miles with no recollection of the journey or for that matter the reason he had decided to come here. The hand that he reached towards the ignition was trembling badly and a covering of clammy sweat clung his upper body. He sat there for what seemed an eternity before he felt calm enough to get out of the car, the reason he had travelled here slowly dawned on him. He had come to see the original curate that had hired the old woman first.

Kevin’s immediate predecessor had appeared to hold the same sentiments as Ms O’ Mahoney, and it would be futile to speak to him again about her behaviour. A part of his mind told him to forget about the old woman, he could always advertise for a new housekeeper in the parish newsletter. But the truth of the matter was that the old crone had frightened him badly, in his thirty five years of life he had never experienced such vitriol. Kevin now held a deep seated belief that the old woman was in fact capable of making his life a misery, he may be being irrational but he could not shake the feeling that she meant him harm. He needed to know what the story was with this old woman; the truth was that Kevin needed someone to convince him that she was really only a harmless old woman.

The nun led him up the grand staircase and along a wooden panelled hallway; the whole place smelled of candle wax and furnish polish. Kevin had tried to engage the woman in conversation but she seemed too distracted to even notice, so he was left to his own thoughts and they only served to heighten his feeling of anxiety. They eventually halted outside a door at the far end of the long hallway. The nun knocked softly on the door before opening it without waiting for a reply; she stood back and beckoned Kevin to enter. Just as he set foot over the threshold of the room she grasped his elbow. “Do not over tax him with your conversation, he gets unwell if he is pressured” she whispered softly and was gone before he could reply.

The room was north facing and little natural light entered through the big window at this time of day, the corners of the big room were lost in shadow. For a brief moment Kevin thought he was alone in the room, just then a hand rose above the winged back chair facing the window and beckoned him forward. His first impression of the man was that he was not who he had come to see, the figure in the chair was younger than he had imagined. As a matter of fact he was a number of years younger than the curate Kevin had just replaced.

 Early sixties at most was the thought that entered Kevin’s head, with the shortage of priests these days the man looked far too young to be allowed to retire. Perhaps Kevin had misread the name on the parish register; this surely could not be the man who first employed the old woman.

“What can I do for you young man?” The voice sounded far, far older than the man himself, he had spoken without taking his eyes from the grounds outside the window. Now that he was here the foolishness of the whole thing seemed obvious to Kevin, he had badly overreacted to the whole thing. His first instinct was to offer his apologies and leave but for some reason he could not find any words to say. The impasse was broken by the man gesturing to a chair next to him; Kevin sat down but still could not think of what to say to the man. In the end it was the older man who broke the silence by repeating his question again, this time Kevin bit the bullet and told the reason behind his visit here.

The older priest listened to everything thing Kevin said without interruption, only glancing in his direction when Kevin repeated the woman’s words about hell coming to the parish. Even then it was the briefest glimpse before he turned his gaze back to the window, outside the fading light had plunged the room into almost complete darkness behind them. Now they both sat in complete silence in the ever diminishing little pool of daylight by the window. The silence began weighing heavily on him again, and the feeling that it was a mistake coming here became overwhelming. He felt as if the growing darkness in the room was going to suffocate him, the old priests breathing became louder now until Kevin thought it would burst his ear drums.

Kevin was halfway to his feet when the thin hand shot out and clamped around his forearm, the speed of movement and the strength of the grip took him completely by surprise. The fright caused him to sit abruptly back down, a small involuntary yelp escaping from his lips. “That old woman is anything but harmless my friend, she is the reason I gave up my parish and the reason I no longer leave this room”. The words were softly spoken but carried huge commitment; the light was so low now in the room that the face that turned towards him was nothing but a pale blur.  A pale blur apart from the eyes that shone with an almost manic glow, the silence descended again almost as quickly as the outburst that had broken it moments earlier.

This was not what Fr Kevin Riley had come here to be told, but now even more than ever Kevin needed to hear the whole truth about old Ms Mahoney. The burning intensity of those eyes in the gloom began to raise the feelings of anxiety; he had felt since he walked through that cottage gate.

 Kevin eased the man’s grip from his forearm and got up and turned on the standing lamp in the corner of the room, the sudden brightness appeared to diminish the burning intensity of the man’s eyes. However there was still a disturbing quality to the stare of the older man, and something else that took Kevin a while to figure out. It was a deep seated look of fear that haunted that intense stare, and Kevin felt that fear adding to his own.

“That woman turned up at my door out of the blue one Friday evening, she told me that she had just moved into the area. Bridget O’ Mahoney was quiet persuasive when she wanted to be, I had just taken up the position and had hardly time to get my bearings. Without even realising it I had somehow agreed to employ her as my housekeeper, pretty soon it was hard to tell just exactly who was running the parish.

 There was a large vibrant congregation when I went there first, but the old woman soon began drive them away. People would come to me in the privacy of the confessional and warn me about her, but I could not find it in me to get rid of her. When it finally came to a head and I confronted her about her meddling, it was she that got rid of me. Strange things began to happen in my church and home, small things at first like items being moved from where I left them”.

The older man paused now and reached for a glass of water that stood on the table beside him, it was hard to believe this was the same man that had gripped his arm minutes before. The hand that held the glass trembled so much that he could scarcely get it to his lips to drink, when he did the water sloshed over the rim and down his shirt front. Kevin waited for him to resume his tale once he had returned the glass to the table, it was completely dark outside now and the old man’s features were reflected in the window pane.

 The eyes that had burned with such intensity earlier now had resorted to a faraway look. For a moment Kevin thought the man had forgotten he was not alone in the room, even the man’s features had taken on an older weaker look. Kevin leaned over and touched him lightly on the shoulder, he felt the man stiffen in his seat.

It was as if the old priest had been dragged back from a great distance, he turned towards Kevin with a haunted look before resuming. “It did not take long for things to escalate I would open the church in the mornings to find hordes of rats swarming all over the altar, a putrid smell of rotting flesh clung to my clothes no matter how much I washed them. A whole flock of starlings flew head long into the front of the church and lay in a mangled heap at the door. At first I put all the strange occurrences down to just unusual coincidences, but any time I saw the old woman she would stand and stare at me with knowing grin on her face. In the end I confronted her, and it was then that the horrid dreams started. The rest is history and I have not set foot outside this room in over ten years”. The long silence that followed told Kevin he had outstayed his welcome.

He had just reached the door when the priest uttered his final words. “Leave that parish young man and never go back, that woman’s god is not the same as ours”. It was those last words that played a constant loop in his head on the journey back, he was torn now between taking the advice of what was obviously a very ill man or confronting the problem head on. By the time Kevin got back to the parochial house he was exhausted, he went straight to his room and lay on the bed fully clothed immediately falling into a deep sleep. Kevin awoke in the early hours of the morning, one moment he was in a deep dreamless sleep the next moment he was wide awake. The glowing figures on the clock face told him it was four thirty a.m.; he tossed and turned in bed for another thirty minutes. It was to be the last night Kevin was to get any more than an hour of unbroken sleep for a very long time.

The church was practically empty again; the few worshipers that continued to come were made up mostly of very elderly women. Hardy souls that crept closer to heaven with each passing day, but even these die hard individuals would hardly make eye contact with him not to mind enter into conversation with him. After evening mass and when he opened the church each morning, Kevin would catch a glimpse of the small figure watching him in the distance. Even though the figure was too far away to identify, he could feel the malevolence the old woman generated. Malevolence that he knew was having an effect on him and his environment, the house and church stank to high heaven of death and decay.

The short walk to the house left him gasping for breath and utterly exhausted, he slumped in the armchair in the study hoping for a quick nap. When he did fall asleep the horrid images in his mind brought him instantly awake after no more than a few minutes. In the shower the boils that covered his upper torso burst and the yellow pus ran down his legs, he could hardly dress himself once he had patted his body dry with a soft towel. Things had been progressively getting worse and when the he went to the fridge for the meat he had purchased earlier, the fact it was crawling with maggots was the final straw. Something in Kevin’s mind just snapped, the fatigue and weakness that had plagued him for the past few weeks was replaced now with anger. He found himself driven with a righteous anger that caused all pain and fear to vanish.

This time there was no feeling of anxiety or nervousness when he reached the cottage; he flung open the gate and strode purposefully in. The brightly painted door shuddered in its frame with the impact of his fist. The door was opened hesitantly and she peeked out, a red haze suddenly descended over his mind when he saw the old lady. Everything suddenly went into slow motion the anger now filled his head to bursting point, it was if he was just a witness as the events unfolded. He watched as his foot collided with the door and the old lady was lifted off her feet, her frail body was thrown through the air and landed in the centre of the room like a rag doll. Kevin found himself kneeling over the old woman his hands clamped around her scrawny neck, it was when she gave him that evil grin he felt something burst inside his head and everything descended into darkness.

The nun fussed around fluffing his pillows before wiping the food from his chin and his pyjama top, the Sippy cup she held to his lips contained tepid water but even this was difficult to swallow. Nothing really worked on his body anymore; he could not walk or talk and had no use of his hands He had heard the doctors discussing his condition, apparently the part of his brain affected by the aneurysm was responsible for all movement. The only things that appeared unaffected was his hearing and mind, he was in a living nightmare. The soft knock on the room door started his heart thumping in his chest, he wanted to scream in terror but all he could manage was a whimper. Mrs O’ Mahoney sat by the bedside with an evil grin, for the next two hours she would preach to him about her vengeful god. Just like she did every day seven days a week, she always parted with the same words. “I told you hell was coming Father Kevin”.

 

 

 

 

 


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