Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Ritual

It had been raining the entire evening. The shops had been closed early and even the stray cats and dogs had settled themselves for the night under some piece of unwanted furniture or the odd garbage can. The small houses on either side of the street were en-robed in darkness. Not a speck of light could be seen peeking out of the cracks under the doors and the windows. It was all quite except for the relentless splatter of the rain on the casements. But, from within the dark void a small source of life was visible at a distance. A faint, solitary beam of light was visible at the very end of the shadowy street as if like a beacon to guide a ship on a stormy night. The house at the end of the street belonged to a young man. The neighbors hardly saw the young man leave the house except once a week to buy groceries. He was extremely pale and thin. His hair was as black as a new moon night and eyes line moon stones.

 He had moved into the old carpenter's house a year back. He told the town council that the carpenter was his uncle and he was the only living relative. The council did not question him seeing the great resemblance he bore with his late uncle. The councilmen were happy for the fact that, at least, the house would be of use to someone......

For the past one year he had never slept the night. When he had moved into his uncle's house his only belonging was an old moth eaten trunk. The townsfolk thought he had his clothes in it but not even the most inquisitive could say that the trunk contained books, lots and lots of books. Most of these were old books, leather bound, torn yellow pages and some were in tatters. But all the books had one thing in common, they were all about one thing....The Dark Arts. He had a gift which he had inherited from his mother. He could talk to the darkness around him, and they listened to him. For the past one year he had read his mother's books. Every last word was embedded into his head. He was going to take revenge for what they had done to him and his mother. The ignorant townsfolk....not even the slightest suspicion had crept on their minds. That was probably because most of the old folk were dead. He was only a boy of six then, he  had changed since then.

The storm was raging now. The candles light flickered with every gust of wind that seeped in under the window. It was almost time. Everything was at had. The incantation was etched into his mind, the candles were placed all along the corners of the pentacle and sacrifice was ready. The blood of an infant was required to invoke the darkness from within. The human body could be used as a portal for the soul to move into the other world, the world of darkness, Hell, and come back into the body of the mortal infused with dark powers but if the ritual went wrong somewhere the soul would be drawn into the depths of Hell leaving behind a life-less shell. He knew the dangers of the entire process but it was worth it. He needed the power to take revenge for what they sis to his mother. It was time........

It was the twelfth hour. He seated himself at the center of the pentacle and  repeated the incantation. As per his mother's diary he concentrated hard on his enemies, the hatred would enable him to endure the pain of the process. Time flew by as he uttered the devil tongue but to him time was standing still. His senses were at their peak, he could even hear the mouse scurry across the roof beams. The infant was not easy to procure. The beggar mother had to be disposed off with a quick slit across the throat. The blood still soaked his robes. The knife was very sharp, he made sure of it, the whetstone was almost eroded away buy his effort to produce the perfect blade. He was successful. The spell was over, his mind was free of all the bonds of the earthly realm. He could feel the heat creeping out from inside him. The portal was ready, the sacrifice was the key to unlocking the gates of Hell. He raised the dagger high into the air and with all his might he plunged it into the infant's heart. Everything went dark.

He woke up with a start. The thunder had woken him up. He was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. It seems it had been hours since the ritual had been completed but the clock showed that just half an hour had passed. He felt nothing, no change in himself. He cursed the fact that he had failed in the ritual, he had gone wrong somewhere, but where? He had read the diary over and over again. How was this possible. He cursed the fact that he was not too careful with the procedure. It had cost him dearly but at least failure was not at the cost of his soul. It was still raining outside. He decided to shake off the dissappointment  and get the hut back in order. The disposed of the child's body into a sack and went outside into the rain carrying it on his shoulder. The roads were water muddy and slippery. He just could not wait till the morning to get rid of it cause during daylight people may become more suspicious, it had to be done then and there. He headed towards the river which was a torrent during the rainy season. The force would wash away the body to the next town he thought. It was the same way he had gotten rid of the mother. Slowly he made his way towards the river bank. The rain was extremely cold and the wind was scattering the rain all over in a haphazard way. He was having trouble getting a proper footing on the mud. At last he was there, all he needed to do now was to throw the sack in. All his troubles would be washed away. As he approached the bank he noticed a small silhouette at a distance.   At first he thought that it was the rain playing tricks on his mind but then he realised that it was moving towards him. He started panicking, he thought it might be one the magistrate's men, they must have seen him leave the house and became suspicious. But it was too late to run now. But when the figure approached him he realised it was a a young boy, not more that eight years old. The boy had slick black hair which was absolutely soaked and fell on his eyes and most of his face. He asked the boy what he was doing at the river in the middle of such a night? The boy did not utter a word, just pointed at the river. "You want to swim now!", he shouted. The boy shook his head and again pointed at the river. Then before he could do anything the boy dived into the river and disappeared into the darkness. He was absolutely shocked. Why would the boy do such a thing. He shook his head, it had been a long day, he needed to rest. He came back into the hut, his mind still reeling at what he saw, the cold rain was dripping down his body, he felt like all the heat had been sucked out of his body. The logs in the fireplace was still burning. He sat in front of it to soak in the warmth. He shed his clothes and put on something dry. The storm it seemed grew even more furious. It was time for him to sleep, he needed the rest. Before he knew it he fell asleep.

He was woken up by a knock on the door. He had just slept for a few minutes. Even though the sound of the storm was loud he could clearly make out a crisp knock on the wood. Who could it be at this time of the night and in such a weather.  Must be an emergency of some kind or it could be the magistrates men, he thought. He slowly opened the door and to his amazement he found that he was standing facing a long corridor. He was no longer at the end of the town street, there was no rain and the lane was replaced by a long narrow passage. At first he felt like he was dreaming, one of those dreams where reality and the subconscious were overlapped at places. But then he could feel the coldness of the passage, an eerie feeing that made his skin tingle. This was not a dream. He tried to turn back towards the house door but there was no door, just a brick wall extending into the night sky as far as the eye could see.

He could not believe what he was seeing.How could the passage just appear out of nowhere in front of his house. This had to have an explanation. Perhaps this was a test, he thought, the test of his ritual. But he clearly remembered that nothing like a test was mentioned in his mother's diary. This is something entire new and he needed to find out what it was. The only option left was to  move on. He walked on for what seemed ages through the darkness. He could not tell whether the weather outside had improved or not. The darkness absorbed all the vitality out of his body, he was walking blind and he felt as if the walls around him were closing up on him at times as if an invisible arm was trying to choke the life out of him. He kept on walking, not a sound could be heard, even his footsteps were muffled. When he had almost lost hope of finding his way out of the labyrinth, he noticed a speck of light in the darkness. The light was very small, but it was light none the less. He felt hopeful. As he came nearer he noticed a staircase leading up to a door, a very old rickety wooden door. He felt a sigh of relief. He pushed forward and opened the door. The door lead into what seemed like an old court house. It was daytime and room was filled with people. They were all waiting for the judge it seemed. He was absolutely shocked as he could not comprehend how he ended up at that place. The funniest thing was that none of the people present in the room were even giving him a look, as if he was invisible. On the stand was a young and beautiful woman. She must have been in her late twenties, not more than that. Even though she was being tried, she did not have fear on her face, she was standing proud and defiant. Then all of a sudden everybody in the crown rose to their feet, and the large gates at the end of the room flew open and a man in long black robe briskly walked in followed by two similarly dressed men. They took their places at the head of the table and announced that the woman was being tried for witchcraft. He was shocked on hearing this, it was all to familiar to him, just as he had heard from Nathaniel, just as what happened to his mother. Then it all came to him like a gust of cold air, he was observing his mother's trial. Nathaniel had told him how it had happened, he was too small to attend it, he was at home, all alone. The judge asked the woman whether she would go through the process of purification and embrace Christianity again. The woman spit at the floor and told the judge, that would never happen. The judge sentenced her to death by the Iron Maiden. He tried to yell and scream but no one could hear him. He tried to force his way towards his mother but his feet would not move. The faces in the crown were converted to grotesque figures, too abhorred to even look at. He watched in utter horror as two magistrates with demonic faces bring in the iron maiden. They dragged the woman towards it. She was kicking and screaming. He only watched as tears of blood began to flow from his eyes. It was too late but he then ralised it, the spell had gotten awfully wrong, his soul was trapped in Hell, Dante's Inferno. The guards threw her into the first unit and he could hear her deafening scream and could see the blood pouring out on the floor of the courtroom. The second piece was placed over the first. Still she struggled for sometime but it stopped. He could no longer move from shock. All of a sudden everything went quiet and the image of the courtroom started fading away. Now he was in the midst of a dark abyss. Standing is front of him was the dark haired boy, it was him, his younger self. Beside the boy stood the fiercest figure possible. The personification of the seven sins, empowered by the pain and grief on the damned souls stood Lucifer. "The power which you seek is not yours to take. Greed is the greatest sin for which you must be punished. Your soul will rot in Hell forever.", he heard Lucifer say. The next thing he realised was that he was falling into the great abyss of Hell, something worse than death awaited him at the bottom.

He woke up with a start. It was still dark and the rain was falling harder than before. He looked around, he was still in his house. It was all a dream. He got up, put some water on his face. He looked tired and worn out. Just as he looked into the mirror again the bloodied and deformed image of his mother came in the mirror. "Welcome to Hell, my son", she said. A group of hands came of out the mirror and dragged him into a dark void.

Nobody found out where the young man went. But on cold rainy nights some people saw the flicker of a candlelight through the window of the house.

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