Pride

 

 Hell must be painted institutional green. Laying in the fetal position on the cold tile floor, my face inches away from the hideously colored wall, that is what I focus on. With the exception of a suspicious ochre stain in the top right corner of my view, and a brighter yellow splotch directly in front of me, my visible world is overwhelmingly green.

Chrome green I think it’s called. Better to fixate on that than the other thought niggling away at me. I can’t feel my legs.

I can’t feel my legs, and it smells like somebody soiled themselves. Unfortunately, I’m somebody.

My name is Henry Davies. I am a priest, a research psychiatrist, and a tenured professor at Boston College. I am also an exorcist.

That last part of my resume is actually pretty boring. Here’s how it works:

The majority of all demonic possessions occur inside mental institutions. Apparently people with a fragile grasp on reality are particularly susceptible to infernal interference. That, or the Devil loves the taste of chlorpromazine.

Either way, every so often, our hypothetical Jonny Psychiatrist comes to the conclusion that there is something especially wrong with one of his patients. Whether it’s the seeing the future, or speaking in tongues, or swearing, or the swearing while speaking in tongues about the future, he decides that this patient requires special attention, and/or a silver bullet, and he calls the authorities.

This is where I come in. You’ve probably heard about Regan MacNeil, Gail Bowers, and Emily Rose. It’s not normally like that. Usually I go in, flip through my bible, sprinkle some holy water, and wham, bam, Son of Sam,  the patient is back to a normal everyday psycho.

So what made today different?

Sin of pride, baby. I got careless.

In my defense, I’ve been very busy. Finals are coming up, and I’ve got students I haven’t seen in lecture since late September coming out of the woodwork to clog my office. Honestly, when the letter from the diocese arrived, I welcomed the distraction.

Shooing the most recent teary eyed undergrad out of my office, I grabbed my bible, my crucifix, a flask of holy water, and my Taser. The possessed tend to be…unruly. I never had to use the gun before, but I felt better with it in my pocket. I’ve used pepper spray to great effect, but one windy day changed my mind about carrying it with me.

Hail Mary, full of Mace.

I had a few hours during the ride to the hospital to review my patient dossier, but I only skimmed the document. I get car sick.

I did gather that the victim, Leslie Graves, was thirty three, and had been a resident of the institution for ten years. Recent behavioral changes and a newfound obsession with blasphemous art had led to my summons.

When I arrived at the hospital, the local staff were swift to excuse themselves on urgent business elsewhere. It’s always the same. Leslie was my problem now.

I should have brought backup, but I didn’t want to waste time. How much trouble could one doped-up girl cause? I could handle it alone.

Leaving the nurses’ station, I padded down the hall in search of Graves. An elderly fellow shuffled past me mumbling to himself. I tried to ignore him. His robe was open and he wasn’t wearing underwear.

Aside from the world’s slowest streaker, the floor seemed deserted. It was easy to find Leslie’s room. It was the one covered in cartoon drawings of frogs. The Devil’s work for sure.

“Leslie honey? Are you in here?”

The door shot open with a crash that sent amphibian sketches fluttering throughout the hallway, and I found myself face to chest with the room’s occupant. My face, his chest.

“Oh, I’m sorry sir; I was looking for Leslie Graves?”

The giant glowered down at me with bright red eyes. Not good.

“We are Leslie Graves, mother fucker.”

I should have read the whole letter. Leslie is sometimes a guy’s name. “Damn.”

Leslie nodded, his face twisted in an impossible grin. “Exactly.”

Dropping my bible and digging into my pocket, I yanked out the Taser and fired. The top electrode buried itself in the meat of Leslie’s neck; the lower one fixed solidly in his abdomen, spreading the electrical discharge throughout his body. 50,000 volts left the gun, more than enough to drop any human, no matter how strong.

He didn’t even flinch.

Before I could react, hands the size of manhole covers shot out and grabbed me. Spinning with alarming ease, Leslie hurled me gracefully down the hall.

There was nothing graceful about my landing. I splattered against the cruelly resilient concrete wall, and fell to the unyielding floor. Something snapped, crackled, and popped.

Heavy footsteps strode up behind me.

“Do you know how stun guns work, priest?”

“Urgnhhhh.” I’ve had wittier moments, but my shattered bones hurt real bad.

“The electricity disrupts the nerves, severing the signals between your brain and your muscles.” Leslie chuckled, pulling the barbed prongs out of his flesh, “ But Leslie’s brain isn’t sending signals anymore. I am. The name’s Beelzebub, bub. You’ve probably heard of me.”

The demon plucked the flask of holy water from my pocket and took a hearty swig, smacking his lips appreciatively.

“Ah, that’s spicy. You know what it tastes like? It tastes like your world is in trouble.”He dropped the empty flask onto the floor, where it clattered loudly before coming to rest behind my head.

“Your legs are all twisted. If somebody saw you, they might think you’re possessed!” He giggled, “but seriously you should get that checked out. I wouldn’t want you to die without seeing the rest of the show! Later, asshole.”

Spinning on his heel, the monster skipped off down the hall, heading toward the front door, and freedom.

As he passed, each light in the corridor flared and burst, plunging me into blackness. Black, and a little institutional green.

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