In the Vatican City.
Bruised skies gathered .. slowly as it .. darkened the evening sky at the city gates. The smell of fear crept slowly in like a dark fog; it veiled the city’s dark past as it relived its dreary and ominous present. Angry protesters waved signs with disparaging messages on them. They hurled stones at the Swiss Guards, who were finding it hard not to be distracted by the protests. They dutifully stood in attention in a neat row with their halberds, an ax blade with a long spike at the end of it. At the Papal palace, the Pope sat and listened intently while the Cardinals anxiously paced the room. They were in the middle of an intense argument.
The Cardinals, James Nicolas and Thomas Diaz, were scared of the urgency and the real darkness of the danger that was facing the Church and the people.
“Your Excellency, the people demand you handle matters in a just way. Concealing things have always been the proper course of action to take. It is in our best interest to keep the status quo,” said Cardinal James with fear in his voice.
“Only until now!” shouted Cardinal Thomas. “We are making a grave mistake if we do not handle this appropriately. We can no longer sat idly by and continue to sweep things under the rug. As the people’s new Pope, you are expected to do right by them and the Church, not continue the cover-ups of your predecessors.”
“Your Excellency, this will all go away. Eventually, people forget. They always do,” Cardinal Thomas said calmly to the Pope.
The two cardinals were visibly shocked by his bravery to let the Pope know they needed help. The Pope gestured and achieved silence with a wave. He mustered the energy to get up from his seat. A Cardinal went to assist him, and the Pope waved him off and went to the window. He looked down at the mob of protesters, saddened at the scene. He then looked up at the dark and ominous clouds forming above, a worried look in his eyes.
“I’m afraid our past has caught up to us, gentlemen. It is time for us to pay penance for years of misdeeds,” the Pope said in a regretful tone.
“Your Excellency, it is no longer our fate. Let us pray,” said Cardinal Thomas as the Cardinals helped the Pope in kneeling down in front of a crucifix.
The Cardinals knelt, and soon, they could hear the crowd’s anger intensify.
A protestor rushed toward the row of Swiss Guards. A Swiss Guard quickly and instinctively thrust the halberd into the protestor. The blood-soaked spike poked out through the protester’s back. Blood quickly spread around the wound where the spike went through. The gathering crowd trembled with shock as he looked down at his pierced abdomen.
They chanted, “Murderer.”
A look of uncertainty washed over the Swiss Guard’s face as the protestor said, “Murderer,” with his dying breath.
The protestor’s body went limp, and incensed, the crowd yelled, “Murderer!” at the Swiss Guard. They all charged the Swiss Guards and overpowered them. The crowd stormed the Vatican and Papal Palace, tearing through, destroying everything in their path.
Rage in their eyes, they rushed up the main staircase and stormed into the Papal Room. As daylight came, so did the evil that was ever closing in.
The Pope’s body crashed through the window and plummeted to the ground, his body splattered with blood. The Cardinals’ bodies were also flung out the window, their screams of terror echoing. Violently, as they plunged into the patient arms of death, the mob cheered frenziedly. Slowly, one by one, the eyes of each member in the mob glowed bright red, which spread like a virus. Dark, desolate, and dismal, only the lightning strikes lit the area.
As it rained, a dilapidated taxicab with flickering headlights hurriedly evaded the abandoned cars scattered about. The interior of the cab had seen better days … twenty years ago.
Father Helder knew he forgot his iPhone! “Damn it,” he muttered, but he just wanted to reach his destination safely. For now, his phone could wait. Besides, where he was going, it may not have much use. His thoughts were jolted back by reality.
The plump taxi driver perspired profusely, pulling out a stained handkerchief as he wiped the foggy windshield. He wiped his sweaty face.
“Can you turn up the air?” Helder asked, annoyed.
“Air? What air?” The driver, amused by his question, offered Helder the handkerchief.
Helder shook his head in disgust. “Forget it. Thanks anyway.” Holder forced himself to stay calm as the taxi driver shrugged off the rejection with indifference and tucked the handkerchief into his shirt.
In his mid-twenties, Helder Pont looked too young for the job even though he wore the traditional priestly garb. Yet he had a mature air about him.
The taxi came to an abrupt stop. “No, this is not my stop. The Church is just a few more blocks away.”
“I told you, this is as far as I go. You’re lucky I even agreed to bring you out here!”
Helder reached for his wallet and pulled out a couple of bills, as the taxi driver chortled. “Sorry, padre. You know that.”
“Right,” said Helder.
“But I am sure liking that fancy-looking piece dangling around your neck,” said the driver, grinning wickedly.
Helder looked down. Helder protectively cupped his medallion in his right hand as he got out of the taxi. An umbrella popped out, shielding Helder as he exited with a heavy bag in tow. As soon as Helder shut the door, the taxicab hurriedly took off in reverse. Helder looked around, disconcerted, and continued down the street.
Helder went onto the sidewalk, walking at a quick pace. The heavy bag made it difficult for him since it looked heavier than he was. He said a prayer, blinking slowly. A homeless man abruptly stepped out of the shadows of an alley and blocked Helder’s path. Helder was startled.
“Hey, you got some food you can spare?” The homeless, creepy man asked curiously, his repulsive, twitching face alarming Helder.
“No, sorry, I do not,” said Helder, quickening his pace.
The homeless man kept up with him and taunted him along the way. “Come on, man! I know you got somethin’ in that big old bag of yours.”
"I told you already, I cannot help you.” Helder picked up his pace.
"Where you going, Father?" said the homeless man in a deep voice. Helder quickened his pace. “Oh, so that’s how it is? You can’t even get a priest to stick around?” he taunted Helder.
“I’m sorry, I cannot help!” said Helder.
"Come on, Father, you got nothing?” The homeless man asked.
“Please just leave me be!” said Father Helder angrily.
The homeless man shouted, "You will help me!" in a demonic, growling voice.
Helder turned in fear, and the homeless man dropped to the ground and convulsed. Helder quickly rushed to his aid. The man trembled and slowly transformed into a scaly, serpent-like demon. Helder slowly rose, shocked at the sight and the devil’s surprise attack. As he backed away, he made the sign of the cross and said, “Dear God, Helder,” as he sucked in a deep breath.
The homeless man let out a deafening shriek, and Helder looked on with utter fear, grabbing his bag and running for his life. The homeless man evilly chuckled to himself and rushed after Helder.
“Don’t go. Is it something I said?” The homeless man asked as Helder looked around for help, in a panic.
The homeless man gained on Helder as he tripped, fell, and landed in a deep puddle. Helder turned toward the homeless man as he slowly sauntered up to Helder.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name,” Helder prayed loudly.
The homeless man let out a laugh. “How adorable. Your God is out to lunch. Your prayers can’t save you,” the homeless man snarled at Helder, lunging at him.
A whip appeared from nowhere as it coiled tightly around the homeless man’s neck. The homeless man fought with the whip as a dark figure emerged from the darkness, Markus Rossi. A tall, scruffy-looking man, his dark-colored attire made it difficult to discern whether he was friend or foe.