He ghosted through the graveyard. Ancient tombstones crowded around him like vultures waiting for his death. The stones even seemed to lean in as if they could not wait to have him. A few trees were scattered among the graves. Spanish moss hung thick on the branches casting eerie shadows.
He knew he was in the right place when he felt the presence. It hung in the air as thick as the mist rising up from the surrounding swamps. That presence was what he needed to find. The priestess said it would be in a place like this. Somewhere out of the way. Forgotten.
The old monastery rose up out of the shadows and mist like a gargoyle in the gloom about to launch after an unsuspecting victim. The spirit he felt had to be in there as there were no other options and his dawn deadline was fast approaching. The black shroud of night had just begun to lift when he made his way through the ironbound doors of the monastery’s inner gate. It was here, of that he was now certain.
He tracked that spiritual presence into the church at the center of the monastery. As he made his way past the first alter into the nave, he swore the spirit was laughing at him, though he heard no sound. The rows of mushrooms and lichen growing in the pews reminded him of parishioners waiting for the priest to arrive. He paused, listening to the rats scurry in the darkness, trying to determine where in the church the spirit hid.
A sense flared to life within him and he just knew, without any doubt, that the spirit was waiting in the scriptorium. Making his way through the detritus time left on the nave floor, he approached the scriptorium and pulled several items out of his pockets.
The spirit burst out of the room and wrapped itself around him, dissolving into him before he had a chance to react. His body went rigid. His eyes fluttered beneath bluish-purple eyelids. His hand moved to touch a bracelet, fighting for every inch gained. Bite marks appeared on his hand and arm. Blood splashed onto the floor. As his fingertips brushed the bracelet, the movements got easier. He wrapped one hand around a necklace and the other pressed against his left shirt pocket. An inhuman scream left his lips as he collapsed to the floor. Claw marks slashed his chest and down one side of his face. Blood sprayed the nearby pews. As he lost consciousness, he noticed blood dripping from the alter. It seemed somehow fitting as the void swallowed him.
He woke to the sensation of small, clawed feet scrabbling for purchase upon him. Darkness robed the nave. He sat up shaking the creature free from him, not wanting to know what it was. He’d been there for most of a day at least, the growing darkness told him that. He hoped it wasn’t longer. The priestess was waiting and he needed to make that deadline. Groaning at the ache in his body, he made his way to his feet and staggered out into the last remnants of light.
He grimaced at the new scars on his arm and chest. He was thankful the marks on his face hadn’t scarred. Then again, there were already so many scars crisscrossing his body that a few more weren’t even noticeable.
He pulled a small, worn photo from his left pocket, “You saved me once again, baby.”
He scrubbed at his face and shook his head as he returned the photo to his pocket. Feeling so much older than he was, he made his way back to his car.
Maybe this time the priestess would finally set him free.