“You know it’ll use me against you, right?” he said as he unclicked his seatbelt.
“Yes, I know,” I replied as flashes of the good times with Rachel went through my head.
“But this is what needs to happen,” I added after a brief pause.
“Are you sure you’re going to be alright?” Eric asked.
“Yeah, I should be okay,” I said, then smiled and added, “I hate them more anyway.”
He was taken aback by that last part. I guess my dark humor is lost on most people. I don’t know if God himself really understands it. Good thing you don’t go to Hell for having a twisted sense of humor.
Both of us got out of the car and closed the doors. It was a cloudy day and the gray atmosphere didn’t really help the situation. Piles of leaves sat in the streets waiting to be picked up by some city worker.
The house we approached, however, hadn’t even a single leaf on the street. The house itself was a bit rundown, like there hadn’t been any regular maintenance work for months, which was probably the case considering the circumstances of the family residing in it.
We had been fasting for about a day now, along with praying. But no amount of prayer or fasting can really prepare you for that knot you get in your stomach leading up to something like this. Or maybe it was hunger at this point. Regardless, I did feel a sense of peace despite my physical unease.
We started to make our way up the long driveway to the front door.
“How old is the girl?” he asked.
“She’s eleven I think,” I replied, “though I don’t know that for certain. Her features were a bit distorted when I went in for my initial assessment. I never thought to ask her parents and I only have some photos to go by from earlier this year to guess her age.”
“Always the analytical type I see,” Eric said, “it’s amazing that you’ve even been called to this line of work. I would’ve thought the Good Lord would have had someone more passionate and spiritual in mind.”
“Oh, I am spiritual in my own right, you know that,” I said and quickly added, “just because I’m not shouting out Hallelujah every Sunday or singing hymns on a regular basis doesn’t mean I’m not part of the Body.”
“Believe me, I am well aware of that,” Eric said. He then shifted his focus back to the task at hand by asking, “Are the parents believers?”
“If they weren’t before this happened, they should be now,” I replied, “though what shape their faith will take on after this is as good a guess as any.”
“Did they have anything occult-like in their household?” he asked.
“I didn’t see anything, but then again, they didn’t really want me to look around.” I replied, “although her parents did mention that this all started after a slumber party at a friend’s house.”
“Ah, the old girls sleepover with activities that resemble softcore witchcraft,” scoffed Eric.
“And 99% of the time, those harmless activities are just that," I responded, “but I think there was something more serious in this case. It doesn’t matter at this point since it clearly chose her because of her detachment from reality and vivid imagination, along with a somewhat strained relationship with her family.”
“How big is the family?” he asked.
“The two parents, both worked until this happened, and three kids,” I responded, “the youngest is a boy and is five and the older brother is 14 I believe. I suspect the youngest was a surprise. Also, considering that the youngest gets considerable more attention, I suspect that this girl’s current path started when he was born.”
“Whatever happened to kids using drugs and sex to alleviate their relationship abandonment?” Eric quipped.
We had reached the door. Eric started to reach for the doorbell.
I quickly reached for his hand and said, “Wait, I need you to understand what you role is in this.”
“I know what it is,” he replied.
“I need you to state it because I can’t have you deviating like last time,” I said.
“Fine,” he stated, drew in his breath, and said, “I am to use my gift to guard you from the spiritual forces that may physically or mentally attack you in order to prevent you from accomplishing your task. That is the extent of my role in this exorcism. I am not to touch or talk to the demon directly nor am I to invoke His authority unless you are unable to do for whatever reason. In that case, I’m to only calm the demon down as best I can so I can get you to safety.”
I needed him to state it out loud because he needed to understand the gravity of the situation and I needed reassurance. The last time he deviated, he ended up drooling and muttering nonsense for a few months in a lunatic asylum. The weakness of his gift makes him more susceptible to such things if he loses his focus.
Rachel wasn’t happy about that and was especially angry when I placed the blame on him. I wonder if she was with him then….
I needed to focus. I nodded at him and he reached again for the doorbell. Before he pushed it, however, the front door opened and a middle-aged plump woman answered it.
“Hello Mrs. Scott, it is good to see you again,” I said then nodded to Eric and stated, “this is Eric Braun and he’s going to assist me this time around.”
She looked over him as he smiled and waved at her.
“I thought you were going to get a professional priest,” she said.
“I’ve done this kind of thing with Eric before and he’s much more valuable than a generic man of the cloth,” I replied.
“Well, you are the expert,” she muttered sarcastically. The last time I had seen her was from a hospital bed and it took an hour of convincing to allow me to try again. I think she was frightened I might die the next time around.
“Come on in, we’re all here,” she said, “my husband even has taken a vacation day so that he could help out if needed.”
“I appreciate the gesture, but if things go well this time, he won’t have to do much but pray,” I responded.
There was a taint in the air coming from the house. I glanced over at Eric. He was a little paler now. I suppose he could see the taint itself.
Some days I wonder which of us got the short end of the stick when it comes to our gifts. It looked like today I was the fortunate one.
We stepped into the house.