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“Please! Please, stop!”
The woman screeched, biting deeper into her tongue as the knife dragged down her bare chest, clinking into a few ribs before she let out a scream.
“This little piggy went all the way home!”
A jolt of pain crippled the woman, slashing across her breasts. Blood trickled down the side of the blade as she watched in horror, tears caking her skin.
The shadowed man stepped out from the darkness, holding up a hand, “Stop. She’s ready to talk now.”
The woman’s chest beat up and down again quickly, fear illuminating every crevice in her face.
“Where’s the boy?” The man snarled.
The woman’s face became emotionless and sat straight up, her appendages holding up against the chair. Her lips moved quickly, words coming out a whisper.
The man bent down next to her, “What was that?”
Her eyes locked on his, “I said, you’ll never find him. Even if I did know where he was, he’d be long gone by now.”
The man’s eyes darkened, fury clinging onto the edges of his vision. He stood up and turned to the disfigured creature next to him.
“Kill her, she’s worthless.” He growled. A maniacal grin spread across the creature’s face, its black eyes lighting with excitement.
“As you say, Master.” It said, turning to the woman. Her face flickered between horror and relief. There would be no further questioning. Even if she did know where the boy was. Her son.
She looked up at the ceiling, her heart filling with hope, “Oh, God, please protect my son. Please allow him to prosper and grow up to be a strong, wonderful man and deliver him to Heaven on a silver platter.”
She waited a few seconds before continuing, “And thank you for all that I have accomplished. For everything that you have blessed me with. Now please, do the same for my son.”
“September 20th, 2019. A regular day. All except for the dreams. They’re getting worse. The man is now torturing the woman, asking about a boy and she keeps refusing to tell him. But why am I seeing this? What does this have to do with me?”
“Christoph, it’s time to go, honey.”
Christoph looked up from his journal and gazed up at his mother. A smile lit her face, though, he knew that she was forcing it for his sake.
“He’s not getting anywhere with me, Mom. I don’t know why you keep sending me back to him.” He huffed.
She folded her arms, giving him the look. The one that meant she wasn’t having it.
“Fine, I’ll be down there in a minute. I just need to finish this thought.” He replied.
She nodded, leaving him to his frightening thoughts, “Am I the boy they’re looking for? Is that why I keep seeing all this? Or am I supposed to find this boy?”
He pulled his headphones over his head and resumed the song he normally listened to during this time, “Heaven by Warrant.”
“Tell me of your dreams, Christoph. Describe to me the dilemma.”
Christoph rolled his eyes at the man, “You already know the dilemma. It hasn’t changed since yesterday.”
“But you do admit that you have a dilemma?” The man replied.
Christoph snorted, “Why else would I be here? Obviously my mom thinks there’s something wrong with my mind otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
The man pushed his glasses up further on the bridge of his nose.
“And do you think that you have anything wrong with you?” He replied.
Christoph clenched his jaw. He hated these pointless meetings. They did nothing for him. His mom just didn’t understand it.
The shrink told him that his dreams meant that he was subconsciously searching for a new life. That the man was supposed to be him destroying all the remains of his life now. That the woman was his past. His mother.
It didn’t matter that he didn’t feel a need for a change or wanted a new life. It just was because the shrink said it was.
“Honestly, do you know how annoying you sound? No, I don’t feel that there’s something wrong with me! I don’t feel that I need to be here!” He spat.
The man held up a hand, “Just calm down, Christoph. I’m not trying to bother you. I just want to get to the bottom of this.”
The man gazed up at the clock, “Which is why I’m going to recommend for your mother to bring you back for another few weeks.”
Christoph stood up, anger flaring inside him, “I don’t need to come back! I don’t even have a problem! And you know that! You’re just trying to get more money!”
A frown spread across the man’s face, “I’m not out to get you, Christoph. I just want to help. Which reminds me, have you been taking those pills I’ve prescribed for you?”
“I don’t need them! I’ve already tol…” The door opened, interrupting him. His mom stood in the doorway, a stern look on her face.
“Calm down, Christoph. And we’ll talk about skipping your pills later.” She said.
The shrink looked relieved as soon as she stepped into the room. Taking control of the situation. Sometimes he was afraid that Christoph would actually do something. Especially with those unusually dark eyes. They always seemed to reflect what was inside the boy’s soul. Whether it was anger and contempt or sadness.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Fletcher. Sometimes he just loses his temper. I promise, it won’t happen again. Will it, Christoph?” His mom continued.
Christoph bit down on his tongue, “No, it won’t.”
The shrink crossed his arms, “I’ll see you next week then. With his pills taken.”
His mom turned to him, “Are you ready?” He nodded, wanting to get away from that wretched man as soon as possible.
As soon as they walked out the door his mom glared at him, “That behavior was unacceptable. I never want to see that again!”
He sighed, “I’m sorry, Mom, but he’s just trying to get money out of you. He doesn’t actually care what happens. He even has you paying for pills I don’t even need!”
She scowled, “Skipping those pills was the reason for your outburst too! They’re supposed to help with your anger issues.”
He frowned, “Mom, please don’t make me go back on them. They make me feel like crap. They make me feel…trapped.”
She shook her head, “I’m sorry, Christoph, but you’ve proven that you need them more than ever. And it isn’t like they don’t help you with sleeping either.”
His heart leapt. That was the problem. They trapped him inside his dreams. Where all the terrors ran through his mind rampantly.
“So I’ll make sure you take them from now on. You’ll take them in front of me before school and before bed every day.” She said.
His eyes widened, “No, mom! Please don’t…”
“End of discussion, I don’t want to hear any more about it.” She interrupted.
His heart sank, his hopes dropping and fears flooding through him. He didn’t want to be stuck inside those dreams any more than he wanted to go see a shrink.
“Take them. Now.” His mom demanded.
Christoph gazed down at the pills, full of fear. His head throbbed at the thought of being trapped again. Of not being able to control a single thing he did.
“Please listen to me, Mom. They take away a part of me. They trap me inside my dreams!” He begged.
She pointed to the pills, “I’ve heard enough of your excuses. Take them.”
He dropped the pills into his mouth, his stomach churning as soon as they slipped down his throat. The only hopes of escaping, slipping away.
She patted him on the back, “Good boy, Christoph. You’ll soon realize that those pills will help. They’ll keep you from fearing too much.”
He clenched his jaw, tears filling his eyes. How would she know? She’d never have to take those pills! She’d never have to deal with the stuff inside his mind! It was a living nightmare! Literally!
He sunk to the floor, already feeling the effects of the pills wearing on him. They were killing him. Allowing himself to slowly decay inside. The remains of clean flesh deteriorating.
“We might have a match here, Master.”
The man stood up, making his way to the creature hovering over the computer screen.
“Where? Where is the boy?” He questioned. The creature turned to look at him, a gleam in its eye.
“Your message has been intercepted repeatedly in the same location for a few days now. In…Harrows, Ohio.” The creature answered.
The man’s face grew wide with excitement, “Leave me to it, then.”
The creature nodded and left the room before the man could snap at it. The man seemed to be more anxious than usual. Probably because his body was dying. He needed the boy very soon.
The man closed his eyes and sat cross-legged on the ground, his mind floating somewhere else in the world.
Christoph rolled around on his bed, his breath catching with every terrifying moment. A moan escaped his mouth as soon as the man appeared in his dreams.
“You’re here, so it seems my search is over. Tell me, boy, what is your name?” The man said.
Christoph stood there a moment, unsure of what to do. This dream was a lot different from what it normally was. And highly reactive.
“Who are you?” He replied.
The man cackled, his black eyes twinkling, “They haven’t told you? That just makes my job a lot easier. But answer me, what is your name?”
Christoph glared at the man, “Why would I tell you my name if you won’t tell me who you are?”
The man folded his arms, looking amused, “I’m your father.”
Christoph’s rage ran cold. That couldn’t be possible. His mom told him that he’d died a long time ago. And his mom would never lie to him.
“That’s not possible.” He muttered. The man rested a hand on his shoulder.
“She’s not your real mother, Christoph. Your mother died fifteen years ago.” The man replied.
Christoph’s jaw hung open, “How do you know my name? I haven’t told you that!”
The man smiled, “I’m in your head, I can hear every thought that’s running through your mind.”
“Then why did you ask me my name?” He asked.
The man shrugged, “To pass the time. To figure out your location.”
Christoph’s heart stopped, though, he wasn’t sure why. The man was just a nightmare. Wasn’t he?
“I assure you, Christoph, I am not a nightmare. I am very real, and I am coming for you.”
The man’s eyes darkened and for a moment, Christoph thought that something was going to emerge from his already sinking eye sockets. He swallowed hard as the man took another step towards him.
“Wh—that’s impossible! You can’t be real!” Christoph exclaimed.
The man shrugged, “Believe me or not, that’s your choice. That doesn’t change your fate.”
And just like that, the man disappeared in a whirl of darkness, as though shadows had grabbed ahold of his arms and pulled him somewhere else.
Christoph opened his eyes, sharp pains running down his body like rushing water.
He forced himself up into a fetal position, clutching at his stomach, fear that his guts would lurch out if he made another move.
His teeth tore into his tongue, blood filling his mouth like punch. He held back a scream. Forced it back under, but no matter how much he tried to avert his mind from the pain, it still pierced his body.
He gasped in pain, his body twisting in unusual ways. A shout of anger pierced through his body, his eyes flittering back.
“Don't fight it, Christoph. Let me in.”
Christoph writhed in pain, feeling the sweat drip down the side of his face.
“Let me in.”
Christoph shook his head. What was going on? Why was he in so much pain?
“You won't win. Not against me, so just let me IN!”
Christoph felt something snap inside him, a hundred bones cracking at once. A thousand blood vessels erupting in chaos.
He felt as he dropped to the floor, his head thwacking against his nightstand.
Flashes of numerous faces flickered in his mind. Dark images, a man standing in the center, his eyes fixated on Christoph. Wings sprouting from his back. The man cackled as fear ran rampantly inside his chest, destroying every last good thought in his brain.
“Christoph! Christoph, are you all right?”
Christoph's eyes snapped open. His mother stood over him, concern masking her face.
He coughed loudly as her arms wrapped around his chest, the pressure nearly suffocating him.
“I would be if you would release me.” He choked out. His mother let out a small sigh of relief and let go of him.
“I heard the commotion in here...I thought...I thought you'd had a stroke or something. And when you weren't answering me...” She said, her lip puckered.
Christoph's stomach churned at the thought of it all again. All that pain. All the anger. The need to destroy something.
“You will not escape, me, my son. I will triumph.”
Christoph twisted his head, forcing the voice out of his head once again. He shuddered. It gave him the willies just thinking about it.
“Are you going to be okay to carry onto school?” She asked.
Christoph thought about this only a moment before answering. There was no way in hell he was going to sit home all day trying to force the voices out his head. Better to be distracted.
“Yeah I'll be fine. Must've been the pills or something.” He replied. His mother gave him a worried look before nodding.
“Okay, I'd hate to leave you alone just after your 'spell', but I've got to get to work before they decide to find someone to replace me.” She said, planting a kiss on his cheek.
And with that, she left the room. Leaving Christoph to debate on what was going on inside his messed up head.
Uneasiness swept through him as he gazed up at the church in front of him. He didn't understand why. He'd never felt something so strong before. Of course, he'd never been in a church before, but he knew that you were supposed to feel some sort of warmth.
He didn't know why, it just felt wrong for some reason.
“You said that you were fine with coming to church with us, right? My mom can take you back until we're done if you want.”
Christoph shook his head, “No, I'm fine, Evan. I just haven't been in one before is all.”
Evan gave him a look of doubt, but didn't argue the point with him. After all, Christoph was nearly impossible to argue with. As though he had to be right all the time. That he knew he was right all the time. Granted, most of the time he was right, but still...
“C'mon boys! Service is almost starting!” Evan's mom called in front of them.
Christoph took one last look up at the cross on top of the church and stepped in. Feeling something snap inside him. A fury that hadn't been there before. A panic that flowed through him.
His gaze flicked to the side as a man held out a hand, a bright smile flashing from ear to ear.
“Oh, is this a new follower, Evan?” The man asked, turning his attention to Christoph.
Christoph's heart thumped against his chest, a deep pain emitting through his head and stomach. As though he had swallowed the pits of hell.
“Just visiting with the family, Father.” Evan answered for him.
The man nodded, “Well, do tell me if you enjoy. Maybe we can make this a routine.”
Christoph shrugged. He wasn't sure about his faith at this moment. However, he did know that whatever he was feeling wasn't good. A deep uneasiness that shouldn't have been there.
Something that shouldn't have been there at all.
“Is everything all right?”
Christoph swallowed hard and turned back to the Father, “I—yes.”
The Father raised a brow, “Are you sure? The tears in your eyes say otherwise.”
Christoph forced a smile, “It's nothing, really. Just a little headache.”
The Father shrugged, “Okay, go sit down son. Service is about to begin.”
A deep pain erupted from Christoph's stomach as he neared the front row where Evan and his sisters sat. He let out a small gasp, doubling over, tears dropping from his eyes. His insides felt like they were liquefying from the inside out. As though something were trying to eat itself out of his stomach. Something wrong.
A deep cough erupted from his chest, liquid coming with it. Blood.
A hand fell on his shoulder, pulling him up. A priest stood over him, an expression of both concern and contempt falling over his face.
“What're you doing?” Christoph questioned. The priest opened his mouth to respond but before he could, Evan appeared beside him, his eyes wider than a baseball.
“Are you okay? What's going on?” He questioned.
The priest turned to him, “I've got this covered, Evan. Return to your seat and I'll make sure to let you and your mother know what is going on.”
Evan gazed down at Christoph. A look of reluctance.
Christoph tried to give him a look of reassurance, but knew it was lost in translation. His stomach churned and he feared that he would soon throw up. He took a deep breath, hoping to gosh that nothing, but a whimper escaped his mouth.
Christoph clenched his eyes shut, feeling as his weight was lifted.
His stomach lurched at the exchange of weight and when he almost thought that he was going to hack his guts out he was let down. He opened his eyes.
The Father sat in a chair before him, rifling through the brown hickory desk in front of him. Christoph clutched at his stomach once more wishing to God that the pain would just go away. That he wouldn't have to deal with such things anymore.
“Your mother told me that you'd be coming. That you'd need my help. And it looks like that time has come. Tell me, child, have you had any visions of a man?” The Father said.
Christoph's heart stopped. His mother talked to him about his problems? What reason would she have to do so? Did she think he was crazy or something?
“M—my mother talked to you about this? Rosa Keaton?” He asked, grimacing once more.
The Father wrinkled his nose, his eyebrows furrowing, “I'll explain everything the best I can later, but for now, you must tell me if you have had any instances with a man.”
Christoph coughed hard, his breath knocked away and took in a deep breath.
“Yes...in my dreams. A man torturing a woman...and then talking to me.” He replied once he could do so.
The Father's eyes widened and he stood up, “Then we are almost too late! And that explains your situation. Follow me.”
Christoph sat there in exasperation, staring at the Father for a moment before he turned back to him.
“If you want to know what happened to your mother, why you're having these pains, why your dreams are getting progressively worse, then follow me.” He said.
Christoph swallowed hard, letting the Father's words sink in. And he realized, he did want to know why all this was happening. Why the man had known who he was. Why he was living with a stranger.
He followed the Father out a door, stumbling past many doors in the church, and out a back door. As soon as he was out, his shoulders slumped and the pain washed away. Nothing more but a dull ache in his head.
He sighed greatly and watched a grin spread across the Father's face.
“Feels better, doesn't it? That would be your father's side of you, fighting to get out. But don't worry, your mother was prepared for something like this. We all were.” He said.
Christoph frowned, “Are you telling me, honestly, that the man in my dreams was actually my father?”
The father nodded, “I'm afraid so, and you don't even know that half of it.”
Christoph clenched his fists. What was everyone talking about? Why was everything so secretive? Why did his 'mother' lie to him all these years?
“If your father has already contacted you in your dreams, it means that the attacks will start soon. Creatures of wickedness will run amuck, searching for you. Trying to bring you back. But we must not let them.” The Father started.
Christoph gazed at the ground, his mind clouding with the words of the man. They were already searching for him. The man had said so. His throat dried and he gazed into the Father's eyes.
“They already are.” He mumbled, his voice shaky. The Father raised a brow.
“What do you mean they already are?” He questioned. Christoph huffed.
“I mean that the man already told me that they were searching for me! That they had already figured out my location!” He snapped.
The Father took a step back, his face paling. He grabbed ahold of Christoph's arm, pulling him near.
“You must beware. Your father is no good man and he will do anything to get to you. As soon as you return home, you need to pack your things and leave.” He warned.
Christoph glared at the Father. Was he suggesting that he leave his mother?
“And why the hell would I do that?” He questioned.
The Father swallowed hard, “Because if you don't, your father will harm her in hopes of getting to you. If you love her, you must leave her. Leave her and everyone else in this life.”
Christoph's heart snapped in half. Just the thought of losing his mother, his life depressed him. Why would he want to leave everything good he had going in his life? What bad could his father really do?
"My father couldn't really cause all that damage, right? He's just a man.” Christoph replied.
The Father shook his head, “Christoph, do you really know why your body ached? Why it felt like your blood was boiling as soon as you stepped into the church? Why the pain washed away as soon as you stepped outside?”
Christoph stood silent, his jaw clenched and watched the Father pace back and forth.
“Or why the woman in your dreams fought so hard to keep your location a secret? Why your father is searching so hard for you?” He continued.
“Yes! Yes, I do, so stop beating around the bush!” Christoph exclaimed.
The Father's eyes softened and he placed a hand on Christoph's shoulder, “Your father isn't a man, Christoph. Your father is Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, however you want to call him. And he's dying, his body has become old and decrepit...”
Christoph's eyes flared, anger lurching inside him. That couldn't be true! His father couldn't be Satan! He couldn't be such an evil bastard!
“What are you trying to say?” He spat.
The Father frowned, “I'm saying that your father is trying to possess you. He's trying to take over your body so he can walk amongst the living.”
“Why doesn't he do it some other way? Why does he have to mess with me?” Christoph growled.
“Because the only way he can achieve this is to take over an heir's body. Your his only heir, Christoph.” The Father explained.
A flicker of rage passed over him, the urge to slam the Father's face into the cement. The urge to cackle as the life seeped from his dark brown eyes.
He swallowed hard, shaking the feeling away. He didn't like when he got those feelings. Those images. It made him feel evil. Corrupt. Maybe his father really was Satan. It would explain all the inappropriate images flickering in his mind all day. Or the darkness he knew others saw in him.
He felt the energy drain from his body in anguish and dropped to the ground, the stress spreading through him.
“I know it's all hard to take in, Christoph, but it's the truth and you need to be made aware. We can't have you running around with your head cut off while they search for you. We can't allow you to fall into his hands. The world as we know it would forever be gone. Chaos would forever corrupt this world.” The Father assured.
A wave of nausea passed over him, pain flaring through his chest. He sucked in a breath, his heart pulsating.
“My son, I feel you near. Come to me. Come to me and make me proud.”
“...and I will work hard to...”
“Your heart quickens. Does that mean you know? Are you afraid of me?”
Christoph furrowed his brow, “I will never come to you! And I will never help you achieve your goal!”
The Father gave him a look of confusion, “What're you talking about? All I was saying was that I'll help you move your mother to a new location.”
A cackle reverberated through Christoph's mind, “Good! Get angry! It will make it all the more easy to take over in one minute.”
Christoph clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth and hoping to God that his father would just die already.
“Just a little bit longer, Christoph. Just a little bit longer and we'll be reunited. Hold in there.”
Christoph's eyes rolled back, his body tingling and popping. His limbs twisting in unnatural ways. Pain shot through his head, crackling of some kind erupting in his ears.
His mind drifted away, only the image of the man remaining.
“Nice of you to join me, Christoph. I've been meaning to meet with you again. Make up for the lost time.”
Christoph growled, his head tilting back, “Don't pretend you care about me! I know better!”
The man shook his head, “On the contrary, I do care a lot about you. You are my lifeline, remember? Without you alive, my existence would be no more.”
Christoph scowled, “And what if I were to kill myself? What would you do then? How would your precious 'lifeline' carry on then?”
The man grinned, his face twisting into a monster. Horns poking through his skin, “But that won't happen, Christoph. My creatures are already closing in on your location as we speak. And without consciousness, you'll never be able to stop it.”
Christoph clenched his jaw, fighting the urge to split teeth. What was it about this man that made him want to destroy something? Why did he feel the sudden urge to kill someone?
The man, his father, watched him with enthusiasm and a sliver of a grin spread across his face.
“So beautiful. All the anger lighting up inside you. All the anguish and contempt ready to explode.” He said, reaching out to touch Christoph's cheek. But Christoph wouldn't let him. He wouldn't let those vile things touch him, corrupt him. He backed away from the wretched man and let out a shout of frustration.
“You, leave me alone! I don't want anything to do with you!” He spat.
His father snickered, “But that doesn't have to do with anything that's going to happen. You'll be stuck me with whether you like it or not.”
“I won't let it! I won't submit to your wishes!” He spat.
His father crossed his arms, looking very comfortable.
“But you are already, my son. Just by being here, your essence is being absorbed. And your anger is fueling it, but my presence has that effect on everyone.” He said.
Christoph's heart stopped at the thought. How did he get out of there? How did he cut off his anger before his soul was sapped away?
He gulped as his father studied him. His dark eyes calculated, as though he knew that Christoph was up to something.
“You're too late, my son. They will have you even when you wake. We will soon meet face to face.” He said.