Chasing Darkness – First 100 Pages


The image of the sorcerer in Classical Literature is almost uniformly dark: Circe the seductress, Medea the Murderess, Ovid’s Dipsias, Apuleius’ Oenothea, and especially the Canidia and Sagana of Horace, who with pale and hideous faces, naked feet, disheveled hair, and clothed in rotting shrouds, meet at night in a lonely place to claw the soil with their taloned fingers, rip apart a black lamb, eat its flesh, and invoke the gods of the underworld.

(—A history of Witchcraft, Jeffrey B. Russell & Brooks Alexander)

25,000 feet above some Midwestern state…

The things you think about when you’re staring blankly out of the window about an hour into an airplane ride are normally comforting and pleasant. It’s a place where you can gaze out into the softness and infinity of the cottony clouds and impossible blue. I could be thinking of any number of comforting images: a cute boy who I saw jogging by our house a couple days ago; how funny my mom acts when she gets so much as a grain of sugar in her system; how awesome a pair of converse sneakers feel on my feet. A normal 16 year old girl wouldn’t be thinking about drowning.

I’m not too normal, I guess.

The less comfortable you are with air travel, the more pleasant the images have to be. But there’s a point where no amount of positive self reflection and affirmation and images of cute little puppies and gorgeous European soccer players can make you feel better—especially if you’re deathly afraid of flying and you want to think of anything other than the probability of a water landing and the complexities of getting out before the obese woman in 24C blocks the escape, damning the rest of us to claw our way out of the front escape door.

Not that a water landing would be anything more than a series of cartwheels where every possible part of the plane is stripped down to tiny fragments, like dropping a raw egg out of your car while driving down the highway. The yellow part that gets painted across several hundred meters of concrete, that’s us.

Clouds and surreal blue, that’s what I need to focus on. Sometimes, right as they start the speech about putting on your oxygen mask and life preserver—a term I never much bought into—I pretend I’m a mutant with the ability to fly. Once I’m sure that the plane is spiraling on it’s path down to ground level, I’ll just punch right through the tiny oval window where thousands of people before me have made foggy evaporating breath splotches like I am right now.

I’ll smash my small fists through the tiny plastic window and escape the chaos, floating safely above. I might, in some cases, try and save some of the other passengers. Like the boy with the spiky black hair and perfect tan sitting in that first row of seats that is on the embarrassing border with first-class, but not actually in with the rich people.

I’ve seen him glance back a few times, looking for a flight attendant, or just seeing what the back of the plane looks like. Every time he does so, my eyes lower. Something about him is frustrating to me. As if he has no idea how gorgeous he is. He’s like a monkey wielding a gun, with no appreciation for what kind of damage he could do.

Not that he’s the kind of boy I could like.

I would need somebody more subtle. The last thing I’d want is a guy who every girl drops their jaw for when he’s around. My life is far too complex to have to worry about stuff like that. I’m not a jealous person, but you can only push a girl so far . . . right.

Unluckily for him, he gets to spend his whole flight watching the flight attendants open and close the curtain so that the rest of us can’t see what really goes on up front in the fancy part of the plane.

I would definitely save him, freeing him from certain death and we could joke about the frivolity of being stuck in first-class, and how good they really have it. The parties, the fantastic wines and cheeses from all over the world . . . what good it is to them now?

My teacher, Gabe, says that the front of the plane is the worst place to be. He says, “You know, the front of the plane is the first point of contact with the earth in the event of a disaster. Leather seats and expensive purses, they still meet their demise first.” He’s got a very dark sense of humor.

The captain just muttered something about us being at cruising altitude and that it didn’t look like we would meet any turbulence on our way into Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.

I’m feeling much calmer now, my fists tired, beginning to open from their previously clenched status. Now I don’t have to concentrate on things just to sate my nervousness. I noticed the beautiful boy glanced back at something or somebody sitting around me. And even though I realize he was far too cute to be staring at me I felt this warm pressing sensation in my chest.

I swallowed a few times and put the silly notion out of my mind. I needed to think. I need to concentrate on the task at hand.

As I settle—the sounds of cellphones and iPads and nooks and children are fading into the background—I let the other things creep back in.

The drowning.

The darkness.

The monsters.

Oddly, because I am now less worried about the flight, not forced to focus on happy thoughts, I find the darker memories creeping back in to my mind. I look down at my wrists, normally concealed under one of my many long-sleeved jackets or sweaters. I have bracelets that aid in the cover-up…. lots of them on both wrists, but I know the twin crescent moon scars are there. It seems like they have been there forever, a gift from my fourth year of life.

My mom always said I looked like Punky Brewster with all my bracelets. Not knowing who that was, I googled it and all I could find were clips of an obnoxious looking girl who dressed like she lost a bet with Fashion Week, always smiling like she was high on pills.

The marks, which I call scars but Gabe proudly proclaims are “symbols of prophecy,” bring back the taste of water in my mouth.

My symbols of prophesy come with the incredibly lucid memories of being choked by cold water. So cold I couldn’t even take a breath. So cold that the pain that shot down from my neck through my back paralyzed me so much that all I could do was watch myself drift off into the abyss without so much as a whimper.

Screaming underwater . . . it’s useless. Nobody hears you. You don’t even hear you. But worse than the cold and the pain and the choking . . . it’s the fear of what comes next. It’s the uncertainty of those next few minutes that bothered me the most. Bare in mind, I was only 4 when all of this happened. I still only remember colors and pictures, not really any kind of state of mind I might have been in.

Before that morning, I was like any innocent little girl. I liked to play at the beach near our house. I liked to paint with my mother in her art room, the windows open and the salty sweet air blowing off the ocean and into our house. Soft yellow curtains fluttering silently in the wind, so delicate they might have been made with mist instead of silk. I liked to dip my thumbs in the paint and touch whatever my mother was working on, when she least expected it. The concept of life and death and danger, they were as foreign and impossible to understand as my physics lessons from last year.

Before the water consumed me, I’d have never considered the monsters that were lurking among us. Nor the war that is raging so close to us that we can hear it sometimes if we really listen.

No, before the morning when the storm rolled in so quick that my mother couldn’t even see where the water had crept ashore to kidnap me, I couldn’t imagine a world as turbulent and chaotic as ours.

I used to love horses—unicorns especially—and I had a doll named Sarah Joe, that cried if left alone and said “mommy” when I picked her up. I would put Sarah Joe in a black and green antique rocking chair at just the right angle so that with a fair push she would say “Mommy,” over and over until I could tell that my mother wanted to pull Sarah’s electric heart out and stomp on it. That was my insurgency, my little Improvised-Annoyance-Device to get results when my mother was painting and I was bored.

And that doll, that’s what my mother held on to for those hours when I was in the darkness. My mother standing there on the beach, surrounded by police, clutching Sarah Joe while I was being shown things that a four year old can’t possibly comprehend, but that an adult wouldn’t be able to believe.

Gabe tells me, “So young and uncorrupted by life, you were, that I had no choice but to show you these things. Such a mature young child.” He showed me a world that I just accepted without argument. I didn’t have the ability to dismiss things that were beyond the confines of normalcy. I wasn’t old enough to know what was crazy, and what was perfectly normal. So I just blinked my eyes over and over.

While I grew up, after that morning, I wasn’t scared of monsters in the closet or under the bed. I didn’t fear the dark. I learned quickly that the real monsters don’t hide at all. They’re sitting in the corner of your room. They ride with us in the back seat of our cars. They make our dogs bark for no reason at three in the morning, and send smaller, more sensitive animals running for cover.

It’s a lot to ask you to believe that I hunt monsters. It’s really too much to ask anyone. You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to believe in Demons any more than you should believe in snakes or trains or knives or sunsets. But they’re all real. Depending on who you are, and what you do . . . they could all end you.

The drowning.

The darkness.

The monsters . . . that’s just the beginning.

If I fail, if we fail, that’s the really scary part.

Like I said, I’m not asking you to believe me. I’ll tell you what I know and you’ll see for yourself, just like I did. My name is Muriel Chase, and about an hour and twenty-six minutes from now I’ll be on my way to finding out if I have to die again tonight.

Michael Harmon’s Personal Diary

Diary Entry: Saturday morning, 9:53 am:

The things you think about when you’re strapped into a seat about 25,000 miles above the earth:

1) At least I have plenty of leg room sitting in the first row behind first class—Which I guess means, technically, I am second-class.

2) When is the food cart coming through that first-class section so that I can get something to eat? I imagine sitting in 1st class is like living in Beverly Hills, and every other part of the plane is like living in Mexico—not quite 3rd world status, but might as well be.

3) My air vent is clogged by some piece of plastic that makes it sound like a lung transplant patient trying to spit on me—almost moaning as just the tiniest fraction of air spews out in my general direction.

I could be thinking about any number of things but my mind is stuck on a little slip of a girl in the back of the plane. Muriel . . . Muriel Chase.

I’ve been told about our special connection, but this is the first time I have laid eyes on my destiny. She reminds me of a pixie or even a fairy from the picture books my mother used to read to me each night as a young boy.

She’s so unique that she could be imagined into existence.

She’s the kind of girl that you have to take a second and then a third look at because she is that dynamic.

She grabs your attention to the point that you want to study her like a new species in biology class. She’s dramatic in all that black with those bright searching eyes and bright bangle bracelets—she probably has no idea how striking she is.

You can tell at a glance that she is intelligent. You can see it in her eyes and the way she moves. She squints her eyes and tilts her head when she is considering something. And as she computes, her eyes shuffle around as if she’s grabbing bits and pieces of information from all around us and just sticking it all together.

She’s a brain—actually brilliant—according to the others. “Just like her mother,” he says.

Every time I look back to try and catch her looking this way, she averts her eyes like she is purposely avoiding me. They must not have told her about me.

Not one word about us.

No mention of our destiny.

My father is a Sargent Major in the marines, stationed in Oceanside, California. He’s tough and rugged, and the skin near his eyes looks like beef jerky. In his constant quest to make me the “Best of the Best,” he had me wrestling by the time I was five.

I was learning how to box at age 7.

For my 10th birthday he gave me shin pads and a set of heavy leather Thai-boxing gloves and had me kicking trees in the back yard.

On Saturday and Tuesday nights a thin, mean-looking Brazilian man would come to the house and teach me the nuances of submission fighting—like they do in Brazil. I guess in Brazil kids are choking each other and breaking each others arms by the age of 3.

This was child rearing, as far as the Sargent—my dad—was concerned. Simper Fi and all that.

He had the value system down pat: Marine Core, then God, then family. It was inconceivable to try any shenanigans with the Sargent. He never had to yell at me because the low, base-filled thunder of his voice was enough to scare statues into looking the other way.

I think he runs the base single handed. And, come to think of it, so does he. This is the kind of guy who, most likely, chews saddle leather and picks his teeth with railroad spikes. I figure he brushes his tight-cropped hair with a steel brush. The veins in his neck look like strands of coaxial cable.

Seriously, if he was ever to have an arm chopped of and they discovered that he was made of titanium or something, I wouldn’t be surprised. He uses his teeth like a pair of pliers, and his hands might as well have been catcher’s mitts they are so big. With him, you don’t get out of line because you know that the consequences are just to painful to fathom.

He did have one soft spot, though, and that was for my mother. Everything about him softened when she was around. He wasn’t the Sargent then, just Phil. Phil would smile and be playful and on the rare occasion . . . he would attempt a joke. He even looked different when she was alive.

Thank God she lived long enough to help him accept me and my unique talents. Now I’m 18 and I would have to say he respects me . . . at least in his own way. I couldn’t ask for more from my father. If I made mistakes, he told me in such a way that made it clear what I had done and how he felt about it.. If I did good, he’d nod a few times.

In his gruff voice he would say, “You don’t get a pat on the back for doing what you’re supposed to do. You’re expected to do right . . . so do right; do wrong and you have to pay the Man.”

And trust me, you do not want to pay the Man. When I was younger, he kept busy with the Core. He kept me busy with school and fighting and reading, and then more school and more fighting. Our relationship, and my upbringing, is based on a rigid set of morals:

  • Be first.
  • Be better.
  • Maintain honor and respect.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • You go until you collapse, then you go some more.
  • There is an answer to any and every obstacle.

And then, to add to my childhood, came the dreams and the visions and the premonitions. Dreams so real I could taste the water when I awoke. Visions that left me hurt and sore. Premonitions that echoed far beyond the darkness they hinted at.

It started when I was six. It first happened after a rather nasty boating accident. My father loved to sail and my mother loved picnics so that became our family outing and bonding time, according to my mother.

It was the one time each week that my mother wouldn’t allow the Sargent to mention the military. If he even grunted, she put him on probation for an hour where he wasn’t allowed to eat any of her snacks. She was so good in the kitchen that such a probation was like telling a drug junkie he can’t have his fix.

It’s funny the things you remember. I remember we used to rent a 40′ sailboat—white with a turquoise stripe running down the side, and the name “Angela” painted in blood red script on the back. Mother made all our favorites: honey-fried chicken, potato salad, spicy baked beans, and an assortment of pickles and olives. The Sargent was definitely Phil that day.

It was just the three of us, the wind, the water, the impossibly blue sky, a few feathery clouds, and a fabulous picnic basket. It was perfect! The sky was missing a rainbow, and that was about it.

We sailed to Catalina Island and enjoyed our picnic on the beach. I spent most of my time gathering shells along the shoreline, having this wild theory that I would find oysters full of pearls and would make a fortune. When that didn’t pan out I decided to make a castle with a yellow plastic bucket and shovel.

It was warm that day but the real warmth came from the comfort that comes with knowing that your parents love each other and you are on the inside of that circle of love. As mom would say, we were bonding.

When the late afternoon approached, we gathered the picnic remains—towels, bucket, shovel and my shells—and boarded the sailboat for our return trip home. I remember looking at all the impossible colors in the sky as the sun was making it’s final exit for the day.

“Just look at that,” my mom said. “Have you ever seen such an incredible sky?” Every shade of pink, purple, orange and red flooded the horizon as we sat on the bow of the boat totally mesmerized. It was as if somebody was on the other side of the sky, painting wild colors with a giant soft brush.

Our eyes were so transfixed on the sky, that none of us saw it coming. The wave that hit us and capsized the boat came out of nowhere.

Just one random roll in the otherwise placid ocean.

The culmination of math and physics.

I remember my mother screaming my name as I sank under the water and then zipped, like lightning, into the depths. The sound the water racing past my body was accompanied by this warm, comforting voice in the back of my mind.

I didn’t know if I was dreaming or awake. Was it a fantasy? Or just the lack of oxygen to my brain? I still don’t know. But I certainly remember. I remember every tiny detail.

“You’re fine, Michael,” he assured me. “You are safe. Do not panic. Do not worry. I have a special gift for you.”

It all happened too fast for me to comprehend at the time. A mixture of push and pull, I felt my body accelerating and decelerating over and over, until I was left with horrible images all around me. An underwater prison of monsters.

That was when I first saw flashes of the gate.

The gate that can never be opened.

To the hideous monsters.

The beautiful lost girl.

To the unending night that is our eternity.

The things I saw that day were prophecy of our ending.

And as quickly is the images came, they whisked away. They found me the next morning floating peacefully on a life preserver, still appearing to be the little boy who played on the beach the day before. But I was different. Forever changed. I would never look at the world the same.

When you get all of the facts, or even just some of them, the world is a much scarier place. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Now I am here, in this moment, as this beautiful creature pretends I don’t exist. This wonderful girl who is more important than she can possibly imagine.

I have to protect her. That is the promise I made to Gabe. It is a promise I must keep. I am here, now, as her backup . . . her support. I can’t . . . I won’t allow any monster to take her from me.

She may not know I’m here, but very soon she is going to fight against an evil presence and I’ll be there for her.

My name is Michael Harmon, and I’m in the demon demolition business. I fight with the kinds of horrible things we all don’t want to believe in. I fight against the things that want to eat you from the insides.

And right now, sitting in this plastic and steel seat, close enough to smell the microwave that the flight attendants are using to heat up our shrink-wrapped meals, I can’t stop thinking about her—about the imp of a girl in black in the back of the plane.

That girl just wrecks me.


I got clear under water and immediately struck out to reach the surface, only to go farther down. This exertion was a serious waste of breath, and after ten or fifteen seconds the effort of inspiration could no longer be restrained. It seemed as if I was in a vice which was gradually being screwed up tight until it felt as if the sternum and spinal column must break.

(—1892Edinburgh Medical Journal, Dr. James Lowson)

12 years ago, San Diego, California . . .

The drowning.

The darkness.

The monsters.

Well, it all started with just the most perfect day you could ever imagine. The kind of day where I wouldn’t have questioned it if a bunny had hopped by, or if there had been somebody playing the harp on the beach. It was that kind of perfect. I remember things more as pictures and emotions, and less as any kind of exact time line. I was 4, give me a break.

My mother woke me up, as she always did, really early. The sun was only breaking it’s little yellow fingers through the clouds every now and again. The honey colored lasers, “god’s fingers” my mother would say, were descending from the clouds behind our house, and out into the darkness of the pacific.

Our house was at the foot of the beach, and in the morning as the night gave up it’s struggle for dominance, the most incredible color of blue would awaken me. I remember it like being submerged in the water, but being able to breathe. I liked all things mermaid. I had mermaid sheets, from the movie. I had little stuffed fish dolls and mermaid figurines. Any chance I could get, I’d be playing at the beach.

Picking up strands of seaweed and collecting tiny crab shells was a regular morning ritual of ours. We’d get the occasional piece of wood or plastic that would wash up to the shore near our house, but mostly it was bits and pieces of the ocean.

My father was never in the picture because, as I learned later, he had a hard time dealing with a woman more intelligent than he was. Now, to be fair, this was my mother’s explanation and I’m sure he would have a point of view that is somewhat different. But I never saw him, other than an occasional letter or post card. He does missionary work, I guess. Just when you’d think he didn’t exist anymore, another post card would arrive. That was the extent of our relationship, pieces of flayed paper with a few sentences scrawled on them.

So, my mother had her teaching and her research and her artwork. I had mermaids and fluffy Nemo, Sarah Joe, and postcards. We both had our walks on the beach. On that particular morning, what I remember most was the smell. It was electric.

You know that smell, right after the lightning. It’s a clean, orderly, charged scent, and it wakes up all your senses. As we walked, Sarah Joe tucked under my arm, me sniffing my slimy green rope I was weaving with a few strands of seaweed, my mother stopped, squinting back towards the house like she was trying to see something in particular.

Every now and again a seagull would dive down, looking for a quick breakfast, singing on it’s way back up to the safety of the sky.

“Muriel,” she said, “look at that.” She was pointing her thin fingers back to the house. Her body was slender and graceful without being gaunt. She had the frame of a model, and she walked with a kind of cadence that seemed like she floated. Her steps were slight and perfect, and she was like a cat sometimes in the way her head would turn and study things.

I turned, Sarah Joe reaching the angle of speech, tossing out a muffled “Mommy,” and saw one of the suns bright fingers pointing directly at our house. It was in just the right angle to come in through her window at the front of the house, and push all the way through and out of my window, landing just a few feet into the water beside us.

The one, single bright spot, cutting a tiny pinhole in the clouds—now darker than before.

“Do you know what that means?” she asked, turning to me and kneeling.

I looked at the beam of light, my eyes slowly following it to the water’s edge. I shrugged.

“It means that God thinks you’re very special,” she said, her light brown hair falling across her face. With her light white blouse and the sunlight making the side of her face too white, she seemed like an angel. Or, at least, what I thought an angel would look like.

Had I been more than 4, I’d probably have said something deeply thought provoking and profound. What I ended up saying was, “Pretty.”

“Very pretty,” she echoed.

It was a few seconds later that we heard her cell phone calling out from the back deck.

“Hold on, baby, let me go grab that.”

As she glided back to the house to grab her phone, I turned for some reason back towards the water and with the force of a linebacker I was tackled by an enormous wave.

No more seagulls calling out.

No more color.

The songs of the ocean and the birds were gone. The beautiful blue of the morning had been replaced by darkness. The wonderful smell had been traded for a cold, wet blanket that wrapped my entire body in a chilling, choking embrace.

Fifteen seconds ago I was looking at the face of an angel. Now, all I had was the black abyss. I didn’t know enough to be frightened of dying. But I’d certainly lived enough to be afraid of choking.

But you can only hold on so long. At some point, you have to take that breath. You fight it as long as you can. Past tears. Past pain and panic and fear. But you succumb eventually.

And when my entire body was shaking and freezing and the salt was burning my eyes, I let go.


Exorcism (from Greek ἐξορκισμός, exorkismos—binding by oath) is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed.

Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.

Leaving DFW International Airport . . .

All three of the men glance around furtively, checking the periphery to see if I’m being followed. They’re tense, but practiced. I can tell it’s probably their first case like this. The first time, when your faith really gets tested, that’s the most difficult. That’s when you decide what you’re willing to believe or not.

“You’re alone,” the short one says. It’s more a statement than a question. He doesn’t look like I thought he would, talking to him on the phone. But then again, I don’t look like he thought I would either . . . black jeans, black tank, black sweater . . . black . . . well, you get the drift.

I wear black, it’s not just my favorite color—it’s my only color. I like to think of it as my camouflage since my hair is black and long and straight, I’m hard to find in the darkness. This is a plus for lots of reasons.

He glances down at my wrists, waiting for me to show him the markings. He studies them, his eyes darting from wrist to wrist, then to my face, then to the wrists again. “. . . do they hurt?” he adds.

“Yes, Father . . . sometimes,” I say, shaking my sleeves back down over my wrists as I study his sharp features—pointed nose, intense jaw and cheeks, beady suspicious eyes set below a brow that seems carved out of stone. His skin is olive, but pale. Like a Spaniard that spends too much time indoors, tucked away in some small room doing really boring religious things that I can’t even imagine.

I’m never exactly sure what the proper amount of grace and respect is that I’m supposed to show to these priests. I’m not even really religious. Maybe I accidentally got some religion from my invisible biological father, like a gene, like my black hair. I normally lower my head and extend my thin hands, we would shake firmly, but not so firm that they felt superior to me, or so softly that I didn’t respect them. Situations like this are very delicate. Everyone is on edge and it’s best to let them dictate the pace . . . at least until I have to do my thing.

This is like walking on a sea of egg shells. Nobody in the church likes to admit that the monsters are here. They whisper about them—referring to them as “dark entities” or “Demons.”

I call them “Cancers.” But they’re more horrible than any kind of medical illness you can imagine. You won’t find my kind of cancer in the Physicians’ Desktop Reference Manual. You won’t hear about them in medical school, nor in biology class.

The other two men, obviously bodyguards, hustle us towards the first of two identical black suburbans. Standing next to the second suburban are 2 more bodyguards. As I get into the backseat I ask, “who’s in the other van?”

It seems as if no one heard my question, because within seconds the Airport is disappearing in the background.

“I’m Jose Alvarado,” he says calmly as he climbs in the backseat with me. He starts unzipping a black canvas folder case. He’s wearing a black button up, and I can see where the starched white clerical collar would normally be. I’m guessing it’s been removed for the sake of discretion.

He and I were in the back, him just behind the driver, with me pressed into the passenger side. A small mountain of files, boxes, and papers made a kind of barrier between us. He looked me up and down a couple of times, clearly uncomfortable that I’m so young and, well . . . a girl.

“I’m good at this,” I told him pleasantly, “even if I am a girl.”

He nodded unconvincingly as he thumbed through some file folders inside the canvas case. Stopping on the one about halfway through the pile, he paused for a moment as if to decide if he was really willing to go through with this.

“You understand,” he said hesitantly, “. . . nothing like this has ever happened around here.”

I nodded, my hand extended to take the file.

“. . . I don’t have a lot of experience in these matters,” he continued. I was now picking up the hint of a Spanish accent.

I nodded, my palm open and slightly curled as if he was about to pour coins into my hand.

“. . . It’s very dangerous, but you’ve done this several times?” he said, more of a hopeful question than a statement.

I placed both of my hands on his, and in as calm and reassuring a voice as I could muster I said, “Father Alvarado, I’m very good at what I do. I have been trained by the best. I am well prepared for this kind of thing, and I have Netflix on my phone, so I’m always doing research.”

That brought the hint of a smile to his anxious face, although it faded quickly. “How will you know if it’s one of them?”

This is a question I always get on the way to a potential cancer. “The truth is, Father, they usually hide for a little while when they know what’s about to happen. But a little coaxing and they’ll present themselves.”

My mom, before me, and before the accident, was a doctor. Specifically, she studied neurological disorders caused by small tumors of the brain and stuff. After I was born, she shifted more to research gravitating away from patient care because she didn’t want to be cold and separated from empathy. I guess, when you see so many people pass on, you get numb to it. But I would hear her talking on the phone to other doctors and some of the terms stuck.

I try explaining to Father Alvarado that if he, too, can treat the person as a patient, that it would leave him more capable of making good, unbiased decisions. Now I’m beginning to sound like my mother! Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, but after the incident at school, she felt it would be best if she home schooled me so I think differently than other girls…and boys…and, well, just about everyone on the planet.

“You can’t think like a member of the church, Father. You have to be like a doctor, or a scientist.”

The usual three options for a situation like this, a possession, are:

A) Mental Illness

B) Possession by a lower demon

C) Possession by an upper demon

The first one is easy, and the most common. Normally, I won’t get the call if it’s mental illness. Priests and doctors and neurologists usually figure out the psychotics, bipolars, schizophrenics, and such. The schizophrenics have it the worst. Gabe explained to me that they simply hear everything. They hear us, the monsters, cats and dogs, everything. And since they can’t turn it off, they go nut-bag crazy. Imagine all the songs you hate the most, all mashed together, playing on an endless loop . . . forever. We’d probably all be in a rubber room, licking the little window on the door.

The second scenario is the possession by a lower demon. I call them “Yellows.” There are thousands of lower demons. They’re all throughout every religion, movies, television, cheesy horror novels. They cause trouble, basically. Imagine the lower demons like kids just getting into high-school. They aren’t little kids anymore, but they aren’t ready to move out and get a job, either.

Yellows are dangerous because they don’t care about the bodies they inhabit. They’ll get inside of you, smash you around like a stolen car, and leave you at the side of the road. You wake up with a bag full of cash, a shotgun, and a horrible headache. Only later do you learn what you did for the last two weeks.

When a yellow takes control of you, they typically push you just far enough to the side that you can kind of see what’s happening, but can’t wrestle back control without some external help. First sign of serious trouble, they’ll bail out leaving you to pick up the pieces. They’re loud and obnoxious and frightening—in a kind of Blair Witch kind of way—but mostly they can be dealt with if you’re careful and have a good support system for the patient.

Upper demons, now that’s an entirely different matter. I refer to them as “Reds.” Using the previous analogy, the upper demons are like college professors. They can also act as a conduit, using a body or series of bodies to bring forth other demons.

They are dangerous, violent, calculating, and clever. They are almost always more intelligent than the people sent to purge them. Most of the strictly religious exorcists, the ones that are formally trained at the program at the Vatican, they learn all of these religious arguments and philosophical reasons to convince a demon that they have no place here, among the humans. But that never really works.

You can’t successfully reason with a red. They see too much. They have access to all the information. It’s like being on American Idol and arguing when they tell say you suck. They’re right, you’re wrong, end of story. They’re obstinate and clever. Reds are resolved to complete their task, no matter what the cost.

And they really have only one main goal: To open the gate.

A red will take care of its host so that it can continue to do its bidding. They can do something that yellows can’t, though. They can jump into another body if the circumstances are right. Nobody is safe around a red and for this reason, it’s best to go one-on-one. That way, if the unfortunate event that a red wins, at least the next person to follow in your tracks will know who to track.

I’ve only ever faced an upper demon one time. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. Gabe says I acted with a level of grace and skill and compassion that is to be commended.

By grace he means me punching and kicking wildly while the red tried to tear into me. By skill he means me being overwhelmed and tackled while the red fell on my knives. By compassion he means when it was over, our bodies both covered in blood, that I couldn’t stop crying for days. Gabe and I remember that event completely different. My wrists, they burnt for a week after that happened. Like red-hot coals buried beneath the markings.

When evil bleeds on you, there’s nothing you can ever do to forget it. The smell. The taste. The complete and paralyzing panic. It’s on you forever. Like a tattoo that only you can see.

So those are the three basic scenarios.

There is actually a D scenario, but it’s never happened in the time that humans have recorded possessions so I’d rather not talk about it. It’s kind of the nightmare scenario that we whisper about. But they take it very seriously. They’re always wondering . . . when?

Each formal religion has a small group of individuals that share information and reporting about possessions. I think of it like the real men-in-black. Once every couple of days, all the groups around the world combine information from all their sources and make it available to the cardinals, priests, imams, etc. It’s one of those little known secrets that nobody likes to talk about. They do this because, regardless of all the religious politics to the contrary, they do all agree that once the war spills over onto us, we are all finished.

That is why we train, Gabe tells me. That is why you have to be more dangerous than the monsters. They must fear us the way people fear them.

It just won’t matter which religion you are when the monsters escape. I’m not old enough to understand and I can’t even imagine what that would look like. Horror, I guess. Panic. The worst parts of revelations and every other end of the world movie on the SciFi channel. That’s all I can figure. Just complete and utter violence and shock.

None of us would be prepared for what would come.

Anyway, It’s one of those scenarios that I’ll probably never encounter, and I wouldn’t be the one to deal with it anyway. Let’s just say that’s way above my pay grade. I’m a rookie to all this. A newcomer to the world of demons and exorcisms but I’m good….really really good, but it’s not at all the way I would have imagined it.

Father Alvarado hands me the file and I start to study it.

Redding, Peter

Age: 36

Eye color: brown

Hight: 6’2

Hair color: brown

Weight: 218

Location: Carrollton, Texas

Rel. Pref: Non-denom.

History:After sustaining a mild head injury in a car accident, Mr. Redding—a microbiologist who lives in Boston—reported hearing voices. After several months of observation the voices intensified. At his parent’s house in Carrollton, Texas, (during the consul of a youth group administrator—friend of the family) Peter collapsed and began speaking in an unrecognizable language.

The Vatican was contacted by local clergy, and an expert was sent to screen Mr. Redding. Initial screening was performed with three witnesses from St. Andrew Catholic Church in attendance.

Notes: I (Father Jose Gomez Alvarado) was assigned the case of Mr. Peter Redding. My inspection of Peter revealed several aspects of his personality that suggest a legitimate possession. Peter, and the entity I witnessed were both responsive, indicating to me that this is a possible possession by a lower entity/presence.

He responded to the name Maltus—claiming to be a lieutenant under Malthus. But I think it could be lying. I hope it’s lying. Normally an entity like this would never give his name.

When I asked what his purpose was, the entity claimed to be, “Opening the door to a dialogue with humanity,” at which point he began to systematically break all of the fingers on Peter’s right hand before we could wrestle him to the ground.

I believe this case warrants the removal of this entity to protect Mr. Redding and to prevent the local arrival of more entities.

I turned to Father Alvarado, “He broke all his fingers?” Just the thought of that makes me feel a bit queasy. I still cringe when I drive by a car crash. Those movies I had to watch in my driver’s education class, with people all mangled in accidents, they make me feel sick. I sometimes cringe when an ice skater falls. My tummy doesn’t always like my career path…heck…I don’t always like my career path. It picked me, remember?

If I watched somebody break their own fingers, I’d be passing out buckets of puke, for sure.

He nodded, “This is why I believe him to be a lower entity, not at all respecting the body of his host.”

I found myself curling my fingers into fists, as my hands sat above the file. “Opening a door to a dialogue . . “ Hmmm…….not so good.

Father Alvarado sighed slowly, one of the bodyguards glancing back at him with a very subtle, but warning stare.

“A lot has been happening, lately-” he started. The bodyguard turned back towards the front as we continued to drive.

“With this-” I glanced down at the patient’s name, “-Mr. Redding?”

“He is one of many.” Father Alvarado leaned his head back. “In this part of the country, alone, there have been almost ten possessions in the last six months.”

Six months!

Whoa. That’s staggering. “I haven’t been here before,” I said. I hadn’t ever heard of more than one or two a year. At least, not the legitimate possessions.

“I witnessed 3, Peter being the third, right here in this city,” he continued. “You know what that could mean . . . “

I let his words float around the suburban as we quietly made our way through traffic. The obvious danger, when you get a group of possessions in a geographical area, is that there is a red around here. And since they don’t come around often, that means trouble with a capitol T.

We drove without another word, my wrists starting to sting a bit under my bracelets, under my sweater, and under my apprehension. Six possessions in an entire year, all over the world is too many. But if there are six right here in this part of the country, three in this city? Something is coming unglued somewhere.

I’m still learning the ropes. I’m 16. If I stretch, I am 5 feet tall. I barely got my driver’s license because I have a tendency to roll through stop signs. I like bracelets with beads on them that spell stupid stuff in loud colors. I like raisin bagels and double-mocha-lattes and Katy Perry and boys with muscular arms and sincere blue eyes.

And then I can hear Gabe talking to me, training me, “. . . you aren’t a politician. You are a hunter. Don’t negotiate. Don’t console. Don’t try to understand why the monster does what it does. Hunt it.”

The highway and the flat city raced blurrily by us as we drove. I leaned my head on the back of the seat, closed my eyes, and found my wrists stinging more and more.

If Father Alvarado’s notes were accurate—and I believe that they probably were—this one was real.

I might just get to pick a fight with a yellow, today.


Among the necessary properties mentioned by the Book of True Black Magic are the sword, the staff, the rod, the lancet, the architrave or hook, the bolline or sickle, the needle, the poniard, a white-handled Knife and another knife, with a black handle, used to describe the circle.

(—The Book of Ceremonial Magic, Arthur Edward Waite)

Carrollton, Texas—just north of Dallas . . .

As we pulled into the circular white cement driveway, I stared at the bushes and trees, everything so green and peaceful that I couldn’t imagine that somewhere behind a door really close to me a monster might be hiding.

“This is the parents house, where Peter has been staying for the last six weeks,” Father Alvarado said pensively. We all sat for a moment, the suburban stopped but idling in the front yard, waiting for the right thing to say. Truth is, there’s nothing. Fear and rage and panic and sensibility don’t work together. Like four horses trying to run in different directions but their tails are tied together.

I wonder to myself if this is for real. I don’t really get butterflies the way some people do when they get nervous. For me it’s my markings on my wrists, the hotter and hotter they get the closer and closer I am.

I hand the folder back to Father Alvarado. He takes it very quietly, very delicately as if he is handling pages from the original Bible. He places them in the canvas case and slowly zips the zipper, and I can hear each and every metal link that the zipper passes over. Father Alvarado looks up and nods to the men in the front. He sighs, turns slightly toward me, and very gently squeezes my forearm, “It’s time to go work.”

I turned to him, my left hand gently rubbing my right. For some reason my right wrist is burning something fierce. At first it doesn’t feel so bad, more or less like that icy hot stuff you can put on. The closer I get to any kind of real presence, the hotter and hotter they get. At a point when I’m really close—within 10 or 15 feet—it feels like someone has a branding iron and they’re pressing it against my wrist. And this burning makes me excited and electric and angry all the same time… kind of like watching Hell’s kitchen reruns.

“Gentlemen,” Father Alvarado says carefully, “let’s all be very . . . ah, del-i-cate, about how we approach this. This family is dealing with a lot right now and the last thing they need is to have their faith shaken.” He seems to consider his words, “ . . . well, shaken more, I suppose.”

Father Alvarado turns towards me studying me up-and-down, realizing that this is an enormous task for such a slight little girl . . . but he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know what I’m capable of, and he really has no idea what is probably about to happen. The guys that the Vatican sends around the world to investigate the possessions, they’re usually the most skeptical. They’re scientists and psychologists with very formal and impressive educations.

Very grounded individuals.

It’s even rumored that many of the Vatican’s investigators are atheists. The theory being, I guess, that if you don’t have a god and heaven and hell, and all the things that necessarily go along with that, you’ll most likely be a very balanced and unbiased investigator. Father Alvarado looks like a psychologist. I could see him asking me questions about my father, while I lay back on a soft, squeaky leather couch as he scribbles unintelligible notes.

The house was a early 80’s two-story with several large windows on both sides of the front entrance way. A small black and gold mailbox on the right, close enough that you could open the front door, reach your mail, and disappear back inside without much of an affair. The walls were an off pink brick with bright white panels meeting the shingles from the roof.

You could tell this was, or had been, a very happy home. I can imagine a father and son, or sons, running around in the summer, working on cars, throwing baseballs, doing guy stuff. I imagine that Mrs. Redding probably had her hands full then…and especially now.

We all got out of the car and as we approached the front door I could smell jasmine, and the slightest hint of morning glories that had probably bloomed earlier, now refolding and hiding as the midday started to settle in. I wondered how long has this family lived here. I wondered how many times a day walking in and out of this house they smelled the same flowers and bushes and leaves that we were smelling right now.

There must have been one day, when they realized that something extremely horrible was happening with their son. And from that moment on, that exact second in time, everything changed. From that tiny fragment in there long time line, interpersonal histories, no longer was that walk through the front door something to look forward to. Now it was the same as walking into a prison, only much worse.

When a gate like this is opened, it shocks everyone’s faith. It’s not just that your son is sick. It’s never just as simple as my mother is talking strange, or my father is making weird noises, or my brother is peeling his fingernails off and smashing his head against the wall over and over every night.

There’s just much more to it than that. The real fear comes from knowing that somewhere, somehow, a gate has been opened. A gate that, before then, no one even really believed could possibly exist.

As we got to the door it opened suddenly and a small, pleasantly round woman smiled to us, her lips pressed together—half hoping we could help, half lost in the belief that this was futile. She had impossibly dark red hair, the result of age and expensive hair care products. She had on an apron with small bears all over it.

Behind her a tall, lean older man, maybe in his 60’s opened the door further. He looked like he could be a college professor. He had a very square face. Maybe a math teacher. Or history, even.

He spoke quietly, but very firm, “Thank you so much, Mr. Alvarado. I’m glad you—” Seeing me seemed to unhinge his train of thought. I could see the wind seeping out of him, his shoulders noticeably lowering. Hope was audibly ebbing out of him. I hate meeting parents. It’s so awkward. You can’t just say, ‘hi, nice house . . . I’m here to beat the crap out of a demon.’ Usually, I just don’t say anything.

Father Alvarado seemed to pick up on it instantly, “George, I assure you, Ms. Chase is going to help your son.” I raised my finger and half smiled, half nodded.

“Is she old enough to drive?” Mr. Redding snorted.

I walked forward and shook Mrs. Redding’s chubby little hand. Looking up at Mr. Redding I said, “I get that all the time. But I promise you, I passed my driving exam with flying colors.” Mrs. Redding smiled, Mr. Redding shrugged, and I glanced at the cooking apron, “I love bears.”

“I think you’re precious,” Mrs. Redding said, turning to her husband. “Don’t you think she’s just cute as a button.”

Calling me cute is like calling a growling hyena cute. It’s like calling a computer cute. It just doesn’t fit.

Father Alvarado nodded, “Can we see Peter, please?”

We were welcomed in by Mrs. Redding and as she told us about the house, commenting on the ceramic cows that were on every table, shelf, counter, and any other flat surface you could squeeze one on. She had been collecting them, from all over the country, for the last 40 years. There were enough cows for several farms.

As we made our way past the dining room and into the kitchen we all congregated at the back of the kitchen around a glass table where I imagine breakfast was enjoyed while the sun came up each morning. Everyone got silent and Father Alvarado addressed us at a volume just above a whisper.


All witches, men and women, must be accused, arrested, convicted, and executed.

(—A History of Witchcraft, Jeffrey B Russell & Brooks Alexander)

The Redding House, Carrollton, Texas . . .

When we go up there, only myself and Ms. Chase will enter the room,” Father Alvarado said, barely audibly. “Mr. White,” he said, as he glanced at the bodyguards, “. . . and Mr. Green, you two will stand outside the bedroom door. Nobody gets in, no matter what you hear, no matter how—”


All of us were startled by the noise. It was a sharp hammering sound that seemed to resonate through the entire house. Even though Peter—the patient—was upstairs in a bedroom, I was certain that the noise came from beneath us. A yellow throwing a temper tantrum no doubt.

“. . . nobody gets in the room no matter what happens in there. Mr. White, please have the second unit on standby if necessary.”

My wrists were starting to really sting as I considered his words. Second unit?

I thought to myself . . . hmmm. That must’ve been what the second suburban had been for. It had picked up somebody else from the airport too. I guess it made sense to have some backup.

Nervously I was shuffling the bracelets back and forth over the marks on my wrists. The small pouch I carried in with me felt comforting, now. It’s weight a reassuring fact.

Father Alvarado nodded to the bodyguards, both of them much bigger than I had originally noticed at the airport. They both had dirty blond hair and dense muscles that were hardly obscured behind their sports coats. Mr. White had dark brown eyes and olive tanned skin. Mr. Green had water blue eyes, with flatter features. Both of them were probably Swiss guards, sent by the Vatican. Even though guns wouldn’t do them any good in a situation like this, they both had pistols in concealed holsters at their waists.

Father Alvarado turned to me, “Ms. Chase . . . a few words?”

I felt like it was time to give a pep talk or something like that. I never really said too much, but Peter’s family was huddled with us, almost waiting for a prayer, or at the very least, some words of encouragement. My brain is scanning through movies I’ve seen where somebody gives a locker room speech before the big game. And a few pop to mind, but they don’t seem appropriate.

I bowed my head a little, my eyes focused on my wrists, almost expecting smoke to be emanating from the markings. The burning was making me uneasy and edgy.

“Mostly,” I started, “these creatures just want to scare everyone. No matter what happens, just think of all the wonderful things you guys all share. The farther back your good memories go, the better.” Short and sweet, that’s my thing.

Mrs. Redding tried to smile, holding back the first tears of what I imagine would be a real gusher in the next few minutes.

Father Alvarado added, “Your faith in each other is what will help Peter get through this. And like any kind of wound, you guys will heal. Everything will be fine.”

Nobody looked convinced, although Father Alvarado nodded several times, smiling and taking a deep breath. He turned to look towards the stairwell that was just around the corner from the kitchen.

Mr. Redding asked, “What it is, exactly, that you’re going to do, Ms. Chase?”

Father Alvarado was going to answer but I blurted the textbook response, “We’re going to confirm and identify the presence. We will document and verify the event. And we will remove the presence in the safest manner possible so that it may be dealt with at another level.” Even as I said it, I realized that my explanation was a bit sterile.

“That sounds like political jargon, to me,” Mr. Redding hissed.

“It is,” I replied dryly.

“My son is two hundred and twenty pounds, and he couldn’t fight this thing off. How is a little girl going to do it?”

Father Alvarado stepped in, “I promise you, Ms. Chase is much more capable than her appearance would suggest.”

Thank you? I’m guessing that was his attempt at reassurance.


We were all momentarily startled by another series of loud noises. Again, they felt like they were coming out of the walls, all around us.

Ms. Redding lifted a small, leather bound bible to her chest, pressing her eyes closed as she flinched. Mr. Redding wrapped his larger arms around her.

“Please kill that damn thing!” he blurted as he hugged his wife.

“We will help your son,” I said as we moved towards the stairs.

As we left the kitchen I turned briefly back to Mr. and Mrs. Redding, “No matter what you hear, or what you think is happening, do not come up here.” And with that we head

headed up.


As we ascended the stairs, the crashes and bangs were echoing through the house. It felt like being inside a speaker while rap music was playing.

Mr. White and Mr. Green led the way, their arms extended in front of them as if they were making their way through a crowd of people.

Father Alvarado is just in front of me, I guess protecting me from the paintings of cows that we’re passing with each step.


I could actually feel the vibration that time. We are really close. My wrists are stinging so bad, I think they might actually be on fire.

At the top of the stairwell the bodyguards scanned the area left and right. Agreeing that it was safe, they motioned us up as they split apart, Mr. White going left, Mr. Green going right.

“Clear left,” Mr. White barks.

“Clear right,” Mr. Green adds.

“All Clear,” Mr. White adds.


As we reach the top of the stairs, Father Alvarado turns to me, “Is there anything else you need to know so that you can do your job?”

“He told you his name was Maltus?” I ask.

“Yes, a lieutenant under Mal-thus.”

I eye him, a little skeptical, “They never give their real name until you get them angry.”

Father Alvarado suddenly looked very alarmed, “Wait, what did you . . . angry?”

“I need his real name to get him to the surface. So I have to provoke him a little. I have the personality for it. Sometimes I rub people the wrong way. It works. We need to just see what we can see,” I tell him, sliding my bag around to the front of my body.

He glances down, “What’s that?”

“Have you ever seen an exorcism before?”

He shakes his head, no.

I nod, “It’s a lot less formal than you think.”

He looks uncomprehendingly at me.

“Do you ever watch those UFC fights on pay-per-view?” He doesn’t answer. “You know, the guys who beat the piss out of each other in a cage?”

“No,” he answers quickly.

“Demons basically only understand a few things. They don’t listen to reason, because they think they already know it all,” I explain. “So, pretty much, we just have to get it out of the patient . . . and then kick the crap out of it.”

“So what is in the bag?”


He nods, probably deciding it’s best not to ask any more questions. Sometimes it’s best just to let things happen.

Just then we heard a man’s muffled voice pleading, “Please help me get this thing out of me!”

We lined up in front of the door, just to the right of Mr. White. Mr. Green was on the far right.

Father Alvarado touched the door handle a few times, as if he was afraid it might be scalding hot . . . like my wrists were. He slowly opened the door and we entered the guest bedroom.

It was not at all what I had expected.

Michael Harmon’s Personal Diary

Diary Entry: Saturday 12:30 pm:

I can just imagine the reception that Muriel is getting. Mr. Redding did not look pleased. He has no idea how powerful she is because he is just looking at her age, height, weight, and the goth look of her clothes.

All he sees is a screwed-up looking girl who probably listens to death metal or dub-step. He sees a girl, not even old enough to buy liquor or vote in an election. He sees her frail form and figures she couldn’t find her way out of a Buick if it was sinking in the lake.

But he doesn’t really see her at all.

I wish I could be inside that house with her. But that’s impossible this time. Gabe has me stuck to the seat like a bug on the windshield.

“She will be fine,” he whispers in my mind. “This is a test for her. To prove to herself that she is capable, she must do this alone.”

I suppose I should be comforted by his reassurances . . . but I’m not. I can’t imagine her being in there, all alone, fighting that thing. Even a weak demonic presence inside a full grown man is dangerous. I can’t bear the thought of her getting hurt.

So I just get to sit here, watching the house shake. Oddly, there aren’t any birds or bugs or anything flying around. It’s as if they all left hours ago and spread the word that the living have no business hanging out around the Redding’s house right now.

I told the driver—Mr. Blue—to turn the radio down so that I can listen. Truth is, the radio was barely audible, and the other Swiss Guards are radioing back every couple of minutes to give Mr. Blue a report of the action.

We’ve been listening to police scanners and all the medical dispatchers to make sure there aren’t a fleet of Carrollton’s finest heading this way to crash the party.

I have no idea what happens when society finally gets a whiff of the kinds of horrible things that are really going down. All those UFO people and the Sasquatch lovers and every other kind of weirdo will crack the can on this thing wide open.

And that’s only going to make it easier for the Demons to cross over. It will probably empower them. And then, instead of Muriel and I doing this kind of thing every couple of months, we will be demon stomping every couple of days. It will get to a point where we can’t work fast enough.

I don’t even like to consider things like that.

I can feel this rumble shaking the suburban every few seconds. I know there is no seismic activity in the greater Dallas metroplex so this must be the pangs of a pissed off entity.

It brings a smile to my face when I imagine Muriel in there taunting that monster. Over and over I tell myself,

She can do this.

She is tough.

She is gifted.

She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

That demon really has no idea who he’s dealing with.


Swimming a witch. One of the common tests of witchcraft was to throw the witch into deep water. If the water, God’s creature, rejected her and she floated, she was guilty. If she sank, she was innocent.

(—A History of Witchcraft, Thames & Hudson)

12 years ago, San Diego, California . . .

Once you quit holding your breath, and you just give in to the pain, there is a moment where fear and panic give way to this immense feeling of oneness. I remember this quite well, even though I was so young, because I dream about it almost every night. Figuring 12 years at 300-350 dreams a year, and that has me well on my way to 4,000 times.

4,000 times I’ve been pulled out to sea in an instant.

4,000 times I’ve had color and sound and air stolen from me.

And 4,000 times I’ve accepted my fate, even as a small child with no real understanding of what was occurring. Somehow, my body knew that it was a wasted effort to continue holding my breath.

When the burning was too intense, and I finally took that thick, choked, salty breath . . . the fear disappeared in an instant. In a flash, all the horror and fright was washed aside, replaced by this sense of well being. This strangely warm sensation, like those heating blankets, or a really big hug from my mother, seemed to embrace me.

I could feel my body being shaken around, spun, thrust here and there, but strangely, I couldn’t focus on any particular thing. I had this sense that I was being pulled through the water so fast that the different submerged mountains and valleys and all the topography from a hidden earth raced by me in a blur.

Without the fear of having to breath, I no longer was afraid. And again, I could open my eyes to the wonder and beauty of this dark place.

Faster and faster I went, sometimes my feet leading the way, other times my head out front like a fish racing through the water. The light became dimmer and weaker until I was surrounded by nearly complete blackness. An occasional flash of green or blue would zip by me, something like what warp speed looks like on SciFi. Nothing more than little lines and sparks that momentarily alerted me to the speed at which I was passing the strange land that now surrounded me.

Whatever light might have been coming from the surface was a distant memory. My hands were open, feeling the force of the water as I moved through it. Imagine that feeling when you put your hand out the car window, multiplied by a thousand, pinning your hands near your side.

I can’t remember ever having to take another breath. If I had to explain the feeling, it would be that sensation you achieve just after taking in a deep breath. Almost as if you never have to take another breath.




Farther and farther I went, darker and thicker the water felt on my body. I had this sense that I was sinking, at an angle of course, but I could definitely feel a downward direction to this.

The torpedo that was me zoomed quickly and quietly until I started to feel two distinct things. The first sensation was that I was slowing down. The second sensation was this electrical feeling that was bouncing here and there throughout my body. It was like having a bunch of tiny electric eels in my body, darting here and there, bouncing off of bones and giving my nerves little shocks.

Was this the end?

Is this what death feels like?

But 4 year old girls don’t think things like this. So I just kind of giggled and squirmed, enjoying the feeling. Not one time did I cry. The little girl in me did not feel sadness or self pity, or any real emotion other than enjoyment. Like anything, you aren’t scared of what’s in your closet until people start telling you there are monsters in your closet. But for me there were no monsters. No reason to be afraid.

My contented, calm, tranquil passing from life into whatever happens next. With no real basis for terror and panic, this was much more exciting than a normal walk on the beach. Unlike the rides at Universal Studios, this ride seemed to last forever.

My only real context for what happens underwater were my mermaid dolls and books, Sponge Bob, and what my mother told me about dolphins. If Nemo was out there, I didn’t see him. But then, I didn’t see much of anyone else either.

As my speed decreased I felt myself heading more down than across. More like an anchor than a torpedo. And as my trajectory turned to a downward drop I could make out large masses all around me. Enormous black mountains, bigger than anything I had ever imagined, or seen, or could even draw with my mother’s oil paint.

The mountains all around me kept rising as I fell deeper and deeper, creating the most incredible jagged walls on the side of me. Millions of years ago the sunlight would have made it’s way into this gigantic valley. Not now. These mammoths were cloaked in darkness.

The feeling of sinking was actually quite pleasant. Again, I had no need for air. The water in my mouth was salty and sweet all at the same time. My eyes were no longer burning, and things began to be less blurry. The blackness gave little hints of dark blue and green that gained color and brightness until I could start to see the landscape again.

I was in an incredible valley, and as I looked down to appreciate the sheer size and magnitude of where I was, I heard the most comforting sound I had ever heard.

It was a very low humming sound, not quite a rumble. It shook my body, tickling as if I was one of the strings on a harp, or a base drum. My body resonated, feeling energized by the sound and comforted by the vibration. I was music.

Looking all around me, enjoying my place as a note in some exquisite symphony, I was finally brought delicately to the sea floor. It took me a moment to understand what I was seeing all around me.

At the peak of this valley, with mountainous walls that went higher than I could see, I was on a flat field. Strange looking creatures that glowed colors of red and green and blue and gold slowly passed over my head, seemingly disinterested in anything I was doing. Occasionally there would be a spark here or a flash of red there, but the floating giants above me did little more than mind their own business.

As I walked slowly, the sand beneath my feet so fine and soft that it might be silk dust, I noticed that all around me were large, rectangular rocks that seemed to come out of the ground like giant teeth. Teeth so big that they were ten times my size.

This ring of large tooth-like forms made a giant circle and in the middle was a large mass that came out of the ground. I approached, taking my tiny little steps as the form got larger and larger. Oddly, I didn’t feel the effects of walking through water. I felt like I was right back on the beach, just taking a stroll.

The closer I got to the semi-circular form, the louder and more ticklish the humming became as it oscillated through me. I studied this large half disc. It was rough around the edges, and very thick. It seemed to be made of carved stone. It reminded me of a manhole cover that had been buried in the sand.

Several smaller stones were near the outer edge, creating a ring. Inside of that there was an etched line, with a faint bluish glow barely visible from behind it.

I walked closer and closer, the rumbling and vibrations rattling every part of me. But as I got to within an arms length of this massive half disc I noticed all kinds of strange markings. The symbols and marks, all carved in to the huge form were overwhelming.

I slowly extended my hands, fighting with all my might every fraction of an inch. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was completely determined to touch the wall in front of me.

The harder I pushed, the louder it got. The more I tried to extend my arms, the more the world around me shook. At some point, the water around me started to churn and fizz, like being in a coke bottle while somebody was violently shaking it.

Bubbles and dust and my body all vibrating and churning, and then I touched the wall, and for an instant I felt real fear. For the first time in my young life, I knew what it was to experience true horror.

And some force I can’t explain pulled me back from that wall.

I found myself 10 or 15 feet away from the disc, unable to comprehend what had happened. At that moment, the terror struck me and I began to shake. I began to turn in circles, the large jagged carved rectangular teeth around me, the strange creatures floating above me, the disk the seemed to hold the keystone to true fear in front of me.

I turned and turned, without any idea of what was to happen now. I knew what death was…is this death? Is this what comes after? Is this—

“No, young Muriel,” a calming voice thundered. “Do not be afraid. No harm will come to you.”

Blinking, uncomprehendingly, I turned to see where this voice came from. But it emanated from everywhere all around me. This was spiritual surround sound.

I wasn’t scared so much as confused.

“Where is Mommy?”

“Your mother is not here, young Muriel She is waiting for you. You’ll be home soon,” the voice said, calming me in a way I’ll never be able to truly explain.

“Where is Sarah Joe?” I asked.

“Your Sarah Joe is also fine. You’ll see her soon, as well.”

With the important questions out of the way I pressed on, “Where is here?”

“You are in a very special place, young Muriel. A place where only a few humans have ever been allowed to visit. Very special humans . . . like you.”

“Are there mermaids here?” I asked. It seamed like a reasonable question under the circumstances.

“There aren’t any mermaids here, young Muriel. Not that I have seen.”

I laughed, “I’m just kidding. I know there aren’t real mermaids . . . I’m not a little girl, anymore. I’m almost this many.” I held up my little hand to show 4 fingers and a thumb. “I just like them because mommy believes in them.”

“You’re a very clever girl,” the voice said, almost in a fatherly tone. “One day, when you’re ready, you will come back here and we will teach you more about this place.”

“When?” I asked, noticing tiny marks on my wrist that were icy cold. I suppose it was something I touched on that disk that did that.

“Soon, young Muriel. Soon. We will send you back now to be with your Mother and with Sarah Joe, but I must ask you a favor. Can you do me a favor?”

I shrugged, sure.

“You must not speak of this place. This must be your secret.”

“Ok,” I replied. It’s not as if anyone would believe the nonsensical mutterings of a 4 year old anyway.

“One more thing, young Muriel . . . your mother loves you very much—”

“I know,” I said, smiling, “she always tells me.”

“ . . . and your father loves you very much, as well.”

And before I could even respond, I felt my body lifting quickly back above the ring of stone teeth, above the disk, and quickly out of the valley.

Again I was like a torpedo, racing at impossible speeds, in an electrified flash, back across the seas. This time, the trip was much faster. Either that or I was less awed by what I was seeing, and still trying to understand what I had already seen.

In what felt like a few seconds I found myself washed to the beach, soaking wet, seeing my mother yelling at several men dressed in black, with flashlights and notepads and nervousness in their every movement.

I wondered if something bad had happened. There must have been 20 or 30 people all over the beach. “Hi, Mommy!” I yelled, noticing that my seaweed rope was nowhere to be found. It was going to take me forever to find another good piece of seaweed like that.

She looked from the patio, over towards me, screaming, “Muriel, Muriel! Baby, are you—” And instantly I was grabbed by several men who covered me in a warm blanket and rushed me to the patio.

I remember, more than anything else, that my mother was holding onto Sarah Joe. And the relief I felt when she wrapped her arms around me, crying, not able to even speak, was the first time I remember what it feels like to actually be loved. That warm, perfect, gentle longing . . . that was, for me, a perfect moment.

While she held me, police men, and all sorts of other people moving around us, between her sobs she asked, “What happened, baby? Where did you go?”

My mother hugging me, me hugging Sarah Joe, I whispered, “It’s a secret, Mommy.” With that her hug got even tighter.

I decided not to tell her the truth about mermaids. She’d had enough for one day.


First, we must judge whether a person who is not been ordained as an exorcist, such as the layman or a secular cleric, may lawfully exercise Devils and their works. Bound up with these questions are three others: namely; first, what constitutes the legality of this practice; secondly, the seven conditions which must be observed when one wishes to make private use of charms and benedictions; and thirdly, in what way the diseases to be exercised and the devil conjured.

(—The Book of Ceremonial Magic, Arthur Edward Waite)

Guest bedroom at the Redding’s house, Carrollton, Texas . . .

I guess I expected the walls to be bleeding, hellhounds to be circling, or something nefarious like that. But as we walked into the room, father Alvarado and I found ourselves in a very pleasant place. The room was comfortable and bright. Very welcoming, I can imagine—present circumstances aside.

I always figure I’m going to see the walls bending back and forth, monsters crawling about the furniture, paintings coming to life showing scenes of horror and discontent . . . but none of that ever really happens.

Instead what we had was a beautiful taupe colored room with a yellow framed twin size bed—not nearly big enough for Peter who was over 6 feet tall—with a thick blue comforter that had small green flowers sewn into it about 1 million times.

Peter, like a statue, is hunched down in the back corner of the room near a small end table which has a yellow shaded lamp with a simple blue base—the same blue as the comforter. I can see the bandages on one of his hands from where he recently broke all his own fingers.

As we entered the room Peter didn’t even look up at us. His eyes were fixed somewhere out into the distance, looking at things we can’t possibly see, probably looking at things he can’t possibly imagine.

“Peter,” I said very carefully, “we’re here to help you, and we’re here to listen. Everything is going to be okay,” but even as the words were rolling off of my tongue I didn’t necessarily believe them.

The truth is when a person has an entity living inside them, forced to share space in one brain with the creature that’s been around for thousands and thousands of years, it’s very difficult for some people to make the transition back into normal life. Because even when they are repressed and squished down into some tiny little space in the back of their mind while this monster controls their body like a stolen car, they still see the world around them as if they were watching a movie.

They still realize pain even though they understand in some way they’ve lost control and that they are a passenger in a very heinous crime. But that’s not the only thing they see. They also have a tiny glimpse into the knowledge and understanding that the monster possesses, as if they’re linked in a sense.

In a way, it is the closest thing they will get to any kind of universal understanding while still being alive, not having made the transition from life to death into some kind of spiritual rebirth.

I can’t tell you with certainty what it feels like to die, but I can tell you what it feels like to stand on the precipice of death and to fall forward with reckless abandon. I was lucky in that when I died I was too young to be afraid of it. I didn’t have the intellectual sophistication to fear death and to appreciate the kind of loss that my death would have caused my mother.

But anybody who has lived past the age of about 13 or 14—when true understanding and maturity begin to root themselves within our minds—has a healthy fear of death. If a person truly has no fear of passing then they have a relatively vacant soul . . . society labels these kinds of people and psychopaths, but I’m not so sure.

“Peter,” Father Alvarado said, “can you hear us?”

Peter didn’t move.

He didn’t budge an inch.

In the corner of this pleasant room, with the midday sun starting to march his way across the floor and onto the bed, Peter might have been a statue in the corner; little more than a trinket or some kind of antique that was purchased at a flea market.

I noticed that neither myself nor Father Alvarado had stepped more than a couple of feet into the room, and I was also keenly aware that the bodyguards closed the door behind us. I turned to Father Alvarado, nodding, reassuring him in my own way that I knew what I was doing.

“Peter, I want you to pay very close attention to what I’m saying. I want you to listen to every single word, and I want you to repeat these words wherever you are in there until you completely understand what I’m saying.”

No recognition. I couldn’t even tell if he was breathing. Father Alvarado started to say something, but before the first word left his mouth it collapsed into little more than a sigh.

I started again, “Peter, my name is Muriel Chase, but you can just call me Muriel. Can you do me a favor . . . can you tell the other one to speak to us?”

Again we waited for sign of any kind of animation in Peter. He didn’t move a muscle, not one hair on his closely cropped haircut moved. Not one single blink from his eyes. He might have been kneeling for all we knew.

I charge Father Alvarado, “Father, when was the last time you spoke to Peter . . . and he actually responded?”

Father Alvarado stepped forward a little bit, lowering his body to Peter’s level. He was staring very intently at Peter’s face looking for any kind of sign that there was some humanity left in him.

He glanced back at me shrugging, “Yesterday evening, and this morning. I thought it was mental illness originally, but last night he made some statements that confirm my suspicion that he is possessed. Yesterday was when he told me his name.”

I wondered to myself if this happened all at once, or was a slow transition into his own private hostage situation, locked deep away in the recesses of his own mind.

One of the things that none of us still know, not the church and all its brilliant researchers and scientists, not the Vatican experts and historians, and not the few of us who actually fight the demons . . . is how the possessions begin.

Do you drink a glass of possessed water?

Do slip and fall and get cut on some jagged concrete that has demon bacteria in it?

Is it possible to open your mind up enough to accept an entity?

Or are we all targeted?

There are so many questions that people much smarter than me have pondered, I guess, for centuries that I doubt I’m going to come up with any answers for you right now. Still though, I wonder sometimes, will these creatures ever push me aside stealing away my capacity to decide for myself? Will I ever wake up one morning, stuck inside my own mind, forced to watch my body be used as a tool by monsters whose only goal is to bring about the end of prosperity, the end of free will, and the end of humanity?

Because that’s what this is really all about. The forces of evil didn’t conspire to take a research microbiologist, break the fingers on his left hand, and frustrate his parents. All of these possessions have a purpose—whether it’s a child, an animal, a 62-year-old golfer, or a 19-year-old medical student who works part-time at a pet shop to pay off her student loans.

I walked to the corner of the bed laying my small bag down as I sat. Moments like this are very tense because there are several parts to the equation: the monster, the patient, and the Hunter.

I can assume, because my wrists are burning in icy cold same time, that what is inside Peter is a true entity. And in the same way that I can sense them I am most definitely certain that they can sense me.

So the demon, he basically knows I’m here. And I know where he has been hanging out lately. Peter, he’s in there somewhere, in some emotional prison cell, watching a copy of a copy of a grainy copy of what’s really going on—having no real understanding of what’s happening to him.

So it gets to the point where through either cleverness, religious argument, or a series of direct insults—my personal favorite—we can pull it to the surface.

Peter hasn’t started horizontally vomiting blood or green slime yet, so I guess that’s a plus. I look down at my feet, noticing how soft and fluffy the gray carpet is beneath my sneakers.

I turn to Father Alvarado, “Can you please say something religious and appropriate to bring this entity out?”

He nods, clearing his voice. I’m still watching, waiting for any kind of sign. Since we came into the room there hasn’t been so much as a cough. Not one thump or screech or anything. Just silence.

Peter looks gaunt, kind of emaciated and pale, as if the skin on his face is super thin, pulled like pinkish-white plastic wrap over bones. He’s going to need several bags of natural saline to rehydrate his body when this is over.

We will have to do most of the emergency medical treatment ourselves, because there is no way the Vatican people want Peter trying to explain this or any other part of this psychological quagmire to any paramedics or doctors. But doctors would most likely dismiss this is a psychological episode, the paramedics would gossip like schoolgirls, and everybody in 5 counties would be hearing stories about this.

The other guys, like Father Alvarado, who travel around investigating and fighting evil and such, are doing a pretty good job of keeping things quiet. See, people will dismiss talk of demons and monsters and ghosts right out of hand. Especially if it’s one old lady in a trailer park here, or an immigrant from Mexico that speaks broken English.

But . . . if enough sane, believable people—especially microbiologists like the one wadded up in the corner—start talking about what happened to them, more people might glance up from their video games and CNBC and pay it some attention.

If news reports of ‘three more possessions in Alabama,’ and ‘four more reported cases of demon involvement‘ suddenly start to appear each night on network broadcast television and youtube, well, then it starts to seem more like a real epidemic and less like something unbelievable and silly. And that’s when the snowball effect happens and things start to deteriorate.

Do you know the statistics on how many people in America actually believe in zombies? Over 40%! Pretty soon the people that believe in zombies will outnumber everyone else. That would mean that by definition, if you do not believe in zombies you are insane. Sanity is what the majority believes in.

Situations like this are more than just delicate.

I don’t know what the end of the world is going to look like, but I imagine that it won’t be too fun for those of us who don’t see it coming. The end of a species—humans, I mean—doesn’t seem like a good time. If I asked the dinosaurs what their last days were like, I’m sure their account of things would be quite ghastly.

I’m staring intently across the bed, to the corner where Peter’s quiet, entangled body is stagnant and still. I hear Father Alvarado’s words.

“And I bestow unto you the first exorcism. Oh God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these creatures . . .”

My eyes still intently focused on Peter’s, I reached into my small bag bringing the contents out across the bed. I feel the comforting reassurance of the cold edges as they sink slightly into the comforter.

“. . .So that they may obtain virtue and power to discern good spirits from bad . . .”

I scoot off of the bed, and walked very slowly taking the tiniest steps towards Peter. I kneel down almost on my knees, making sure that my eyes are exactly level to his. And I think I noticed a glimmer in his eyes. Some tiny spark.

“ . . .Even phantoms and enemies, through the, oh Adonay, who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.”

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!

Whatever it was about that last sentence that Father Alvarado spoke, it sure heated things up. The entire room is shaking. The blue lamp is vibrating towards the end of the small table. The hidden dust that was hiding beneath the confines of the carpet is now floating around us, the sun making each tiny fragment of dust seem like glowing diamonds suspended in the dense air.

It’s a bit harder to breathe, the atmosphere in this room has become thick and choked—a little like being in the water. And whatever is inside Peter . . . it’s pissed off.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!!


I feel this dizziness, as my lungs fight for breath. I know that the second I part my lips, that’s when the real nightmare begins. My mouth opens, I’m dead . . . end of story.


Full stop.

My air is gone. The fire in my chest is grown epic. I don’t have a choice, now. I can’t find it. I’m shaking and quivering, and in so much pain that I can’t feel the roar anymore period I lose. That’s it. I can’t win.

(—See Jack Die, Nicholas Black)

11 years ago, San Diego, California . . .

Almost exactly one year later from the day of my drowning event I was back in the water being pulled towards that strange place again. A year doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you know it’s coming, when there’s this feeling always sitting in the back of your mind that you’re going to be sucked into the water again . . . it’s pretty ominous.

It wasn’t exactly the same as the first time, but perhaps it was more frightening. The mental capacity of a 4-year-old compared with that of a 5-year-old is staggering. Percentage wise, it’s the same as the maturity of a 40-year-old compared with that of 50-year-old. I know every psychologist in the world will tell you that neither a 4 or 5-year-old has much of a clue about what’s going on around them, but I don’t know any psychologists who’ve been down to the deepest part of the ocean, and seen the things I’ve seen.

The scars on my wrists, which one of the paramedics had attributed to bumping some rocks as I was twisted to and fro in the water during my first drowning event, had healed nicely into what looked more like two small half moon tattoos. At that point in my early life, they didn’t hurt or burn anything like they do now. They were radars for demons. More like a fascinating thing I could talk about with my mermaid dolls and Sarah Joe.

How it started was, late at night I heard the voice. That familiar voice that comforted me when I was on the bottom of the water looking at that strange submerged rock disc. It must’ve been a couple of hours before the sun was to rise, my mother sleeping peacefully in her bed no longer having the nightmares that plagued her for at least six months after my initial visit to the sea floor.

Strange to think that a person who spends their entire life studying the brain could be so susceptible to those kind of nightmares, but I guess we all have that little space inside of our personality that fears the things we cannot control.

I remember thinking, as I woke up hearing that comforting voice, that it was unusually bright outside. The sparse clouds in the sky seemed to amplify the moon’s light by a million times. And that bright giant white orb looming just over the ocean was amplified by the rolling waves that washed ashore with the pleasant crashing cadence.

I decided to leave Sarah Joe in bed. It had been a long day and we had been playing at the beach for hours. She was so tired that I figured I would give her the night off. Besides, I didn’t know how well Sarah Joe could hold her breath.

I didn’t need to take any of my mermaid dolls with me because my pajamas had a pattern of about 6,000 mermaids in every conceivable position you can imagine printed on them. So just me and my mermaid coat of arms walked quietly downstairs, across the hardwood kitchen floor, gently sliding the patio door open, and out across our yard to the beach.

The moment my little feet touched the cool beach sand I could feel him beckoning me. And that’s what I heard him speak, “Are you ready young Muriel?”

I nodded, figuring there was really no need to answer since he was already inside my head.

“You have nothing to fear, for I will be with you the entire way.” His voice was quite reassuring. It was in his deep voice as one might think a voice should sound coming from the other side, or wherever the heck he really was. He had perfect pronunciation, and had a funny accent, which I later learned was distinctly English.

As I approach the water, knowing that that was where this had to begin, the cool night air with the hint of water and salt in it blew by me sending a chill down my spine. One of the things that I’ve never liked is the cold water.

And anyone who’s lived near the Pacific knows the cold water is pretty much all you get. It’s like some kind of universal balancing act—you can have a beautiful beach , beautiful weather and beautiful people, but the waters can be cold enough to take your breath away. But then I guess, if the Pacific Ocean was warm everybody in the whole world would move to California . . . so maybe it’s a good thing.

Still being only 5 years old, I can’t make the argument that I was mentally sophisticated enough to understand the importance of what was happening to me. Or to fully appreciate how impossible this whole thing was. I guess I just never evolved in an environment of disbelief.

Normal kids grew up thinking normal kid stuff. And what’s funny is that the same children who couldn’t imagine traveling through water at hundreds of miles an hour without having to take a breath are the same kids that desperately believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

How silly is that?

“I have something very beautiful to show you young Muriel,” the voice said to me very softly as I approached the edge of the water. “Something very magical.”

Every time I hear his voice, even now, I feel warmer inside. I feel like with Gabe around there’s nothing that I can’t do, and there’s nobody that can hurt me. Obviously the rational part of me realizes this is not the case . . . but that’s how good he makes me feel. I guess in a way he became the voice of a father I never really knew.

He and his wonderful voice and his constant guidance filled a void in me that perhaps I never even realized I had.

As the water came up touching my toes I felt that familiar chill crawl through my feet, ascending my legs like a cool electric eel, working its way into my back and eventually to my neck where I shivered briefly. I could feel that my breath was getting a bit thinner, the teeth of the back of my mouth starting to chatter just a bit.

“Relax young Muriel, you will be fine—” he said, and before I could react, a wave that seemed as big as a mountain top overtook me, sweeping me to sea so fast that only a slow-motion camera could of captured it.

I guess I was like a torpedo, or even faster. It seemed like I could have been a bolt of lightning in the water. I was traveling so fast and as such great speed that everything was a blur. I couldn’t make out any distinct objects—mountains and peaks and valleys were all just gray blue smudges that I left as I went deeper and deeper.

And within seconds this time my speed was decelerating and I was being slowly lowered to the sea floor again. The familiar jagged rock like teeth, and the large surreal looking disc set in the middle of this ring of teeth glared at me as if a giant monster was buried beneath the silky gray sand trying its best to swallow the disk.

As I was deposited to the soft sand below I again heard his voice, “Welcome back.”

I looked up, perhaps more awed that ever before at the beautiful neon colored glowing creatures that meandered here there above. They swam above my head, glowing little beacons like bright blinking birds in the night sky.

And I looked again at the disk. It seemed as if there was a barrier where the fish above me would not cross, as if the area inside this ring was off-limits to them.

“This place is very sacred Muriel. This is a very magical place, and very important for every living creature on this planet. No regular human can reach this place, but you have been given very special gifts. Unlike other people, this place so deep that right now you can’t even imagine it, you have the ability to come here.”

Now that I look at the disk again from a distance I see what looks to be a blue glowing outline in the rough shape of a door. But that doesn’t make any sense to me, because the disk is only a few feet thick, so why have a door that simply leads to the other side when you can just walk around?

I mean, I don’t know if those were my exact thoughts, but I’m sure it was the 5-year-old kid version of that.

“This is the gateway to the other side,” the voice said.

“What does that mean?” I asked. “What other side?”

He beckoned me to walk forward, “Approach the Gateway slowly.” His tone was cautious but calm. “It will all make sense in time.”

I walked slowly forward, my wrists starting to feel cold like two big pieces of ice are pressing against them. The closer I got to the disc the more I could make out that there was a definite outline in the center of it.

Again, with each step I took closer to the object my wrists began to sting more and more. I felt the churning of the water around me and the vibration and the feeling that someone picked up the entire planet and was shaking it between their hands as violently as possible.

“What is it?” I asked as I approach within about five feet. The blue light that’s emanating from behind the outline of this so-called gateway seems full of excitement. It’s almost as if there is something behind it moving around back and forth . . . or several somethings.

I instinctively took a step back, my hands and arms curling to my stomach. I’m not sure why exactly but the idea that there was actually something behind this door scared me.

His soothing voice continued, “This is a very sacred place. A place where no other human can come except for you.”

What does it do? I asked him, especially skeptical of the movement behind the large stone gateway.

“This is a doorway of sorts.”

To where? I inquired. And I’m not sure if I was even saying the things aloud, or just thinking them.

“The question is not to where, but rather to whom?”


“I want you to make your way around to the other side of the gateway,” he instructed.

I did as he said. Who am I to argue with a strange voice that in the middle of the night sucks me into the ocean thousands of miles away from anything that could be considered sanity.

Just as on the front side, a large door seemed to be etched out of the middle part of this half disc. But what was strange to me was that the light emanating from behind the doorway was different. Instead of the cool blue light, I noticed an amber color, similar to something I might see on those cold nights when my mom would make a fire in our small brick fireplace.

The icy feeling in my wrists turn to an intense burning, and it was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes.

The voice warned me, “Pay special attention Muriel, these two doors are distinctly different. It will be your job to guard these doors.”

I’m only five, so how am I supposed to do that? I can barely even reach the microwave.

He seemed to almost chuckle at my thoughts. “Do not worry, we will prepare you. Remember only this: the red door is never to be opened . . . ever.”


“Do you understand?”

Yes, I said or thought or whatever. The red door is bad. The red door is like playing with fire.

“You’re a very bright young girl,” he told me. And then, just as I was about to ask another question I felt myself lifting again, and in a flash too fast to fathom I found myself shuffling up the beach towards my house again. My clothes were wet and I was cold beyond words.

And yet the warmth of his voice made me feel safe and loved. There was still one question I had wanted to ask. Even at the age of just five I felt the need to ask him what was behind the doors.

What or who was so dangerous at the bottom of the ocean that it had to be kept locked away forever?


Secondly, we must consider what is to be done when no healing grace results from the exorcism…This example gives rise to the question, whether there is not any efficacy in other benedictions and charms, and even conjuration is by way of exorcism; for they seem to be condemned in this story.

(—The Malleus Maleficarum, Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger)

Guest bedroom at the Redding’s house, Carrollton, Texas . . .

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!!

Now that the room was shaking, I think Father Alvarado was a little less cavalier about sticking around. I noticed he had taken a step back with his hands reaching for the wall. That little voice in our head that tells us not to walk into oncoming traffic, it was probably telling him to get out of this room. I have a good sense for things like this . . . well, I could also hear his teeth chattering.

Real, verifiable demonic possession is such a rarity that when most people are presented with it their world view starts to change. I wondered to myself as I stared deep into Peter’s cold eyes if he too was soul-searching. In the same way that I’m sure Father Alvarado’s belief was being shaken, was there some part of Peter—a scientist and microbiologist by profession—that was a little bit more open to things beyond science?

“Father Alvarado, you don’t need to be here for this,” I said, my eyes still locked on Peter’s. Eye contact is perhaps the most important thing in dealing with an entity.

“No, no, I’m fine. I need to see this,” the now trembling priest told me through clenched jaw.

Suddenly Peter’s eyes gloss over turning a liquidy black, like wet pearls. And I knew the darkness was looking at me. This is the part that is still scary every single time. Recognition. Awareness.

It’s like getting a strange call at 3 in the morning, and even though nobody is talking . . . you know for certain that somebody, way way on the other side of the darkness is listening.

Well, I had just picked up the phone.

Peter started to smile, his thin pale skin contorting oddly around his mouth. It looked like his jaw was twice the size that it had been just moments earlier. I have seen this a few times before, when yellows try to scare you.

They’re all about the show.

Crack, pop, click, pop, pop!

I could hear each and every bone in Peter’s face snapping out of alignment as his jaw grew even bigger and more grotesque. Within seconds he looked like some strange animal that might have been a distant relative of Peter, but any hint of the human had now been flushed away.

“Oh dear God,” Father Alvarado muttered. I could hear panic and abject horror in his voice.

I started to notice Peter’s head shifting from side to side, his eyes still locked on mine. The cracks and pops and snaps were more muffled now as I could hear his neck clicking while it rotated from right to left. Something about his movement reminded me of a shark swimming through the water.

Father Alvarado was still in the early stages of shock. In the background of all this chaos, words falling out of his mouth as he could muster them, small bits and pieces of familiar Scripture could be heard.

“. . .the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want—”

Peter’s lips started to peel back exposing his teeth, and a contorted voice thundered, “Shut up, human insect!”

I snapped my fingers several times, drawing the beast’s attention back to me. “Over here Peter, pay attention to me. Or is it Maltus?”

I turn my head, my eyes still focused very intently on Peter’s, “Father Alvarado, I urge you to leave the room at this point so that I can do my job. It will be much easier if I don’t have to worry about your safety.”

Peter’s eyes had lowered, and for the first time there was movement in his body as his arms extended to the sides of his body like wings. “Let the Vatican’s lapdog stay,” Peter hissed. Each word that he spoke seemed like it was fighting its way out of Peter’s body.

I didn’t wait for an answer from Father Alvarado, this was getting outside the area of his ability to cope. The fight against evil doesn’t get any better if guys like him spend the rest of their days in an insane asylum—a rubber room and a Thorazine drip won’t help humanity fight the monsters one bit.

I heard the door quickly opened and closed. In the back of my mind now I could hear Gabe talking to me, teaching me coaching me. He had prepared me for this kind of thing. It as frightening horrifying as it was, I was getting better at it. But just like those guys that jump motorcycles across the Grand Canyon, no matter how good you get at it there is a chance that you wont make the jump each and every time.

“What do you want?”

Peter’s enormous jaw started chomping over and over, up-and-down, up-and-down, as if he was hungry. Like a creature who hadn’t eaten in years savoring his first taste of young flesh.

“What a cute little girl you are,” Peter said, the words gurgling out of his mouth. “Have you come to read me Scripture? Shall we hold hands and share a deep love of all things human? Are you here to sing to me . . . to show me the good and grace and beauty of your Lord and Savior?”

With each passing word his eyes seem to get bigger. This was definitely a yellow trying to scare the crap out of me. And I’ll have to admit he was doing a pretty good job. Rarely can yellows have this much affect on the human body. All his movements were insect-like.

“Are you Maltus?” I said calmly.

Peter’s teeth slide back and forth over his tongue, slowly drawing blood. I’ll take that as an emphatic no.

“Can you tell me your name?” I asked, barely above a whisper.

Rather than answer, Peter’s jaw chomped down sharply, and it sounded like a hammer smashing on concrete.

Gabe’s words floated around in the back of my thoughts, dealing with a demon is like dealing with a small child—It is not necessary to argue, and pointless to attempt doing so.

“Should I call you Peter, then?”

No answer, just more of the chomping and biting. Peter started to waddle out of the corner and with each forced movement I could hear tendons tearing and snapping. His body was going to be a mess if I didn’t get this over with soon. He was already starting to look like a rag doll.

But it’s all about timing. I have to get this yellow to the surface so that I can snatch it, otherwise it could disappear into the depths of Peter’s soul, only to resurface days, weeks, or even months later. At this point, with this much physical damage, Peter’s body may not be able to survive that.

The mere thought of him going into a coma would be like being locked away in some horrible prison with that monster in his cell. He would be a life-long mental patient by the time they ever revived him from that nightmare—if they could even bring him back.

“Is this your feeble attempt at an exorcism little human monkey?” Peter asked, almost laughing between coughs and spits, and I could see some blood and saliva mixed starting to come from his nose and mouth.

Instinctively I took a step back reaching for my tools.

Within an instant Peter sprung from the corner, suddenly standing over me, looking much bigger than I had imagined him to be. His twisted face was looking down on me with a wicked smile that screamed insanity. Blood slowly dripped down his jaw, flowing towards the carpet.

Oddly, instead of fearing for my life, I was strangely comforted in the knowledge that my pullover was polyester and nylon mixed. A little club soda and the blood would come right out.

“Are you my gift? Are you my little toy that I get to play with like a cat with a tiny mouse?”

What is your name?

I needed him to say it. I needed to get the word out of his mouth so that I could snatch him up.

“And what would you do if you knew my name?” he said as he hovered over me. He looked like a predator deciding which part of me he wanted to eat first.

“I would ask you what you are doing here, and why did you pick this person to possess?”

“All science and no faith makes a human weak and feeble. A person who believes in nothing can be frightened very easily. Their ego will leave doors open. But I guess you religious zealots know this all too well,” he barked. “It’s how you lead all of the little sheep that follow you blindly.”

“I’m not really very religious, myself,” I explained as my hands tightened themselves around the grips of my knives that were still hidden behind my back.

“A priest . . . who’s not religious? What kind of nonsense is this?” He almost seemed offended at the thought.

I decided to go with it, “I’m not a priest at all. I barely just got my drivers license. I can’t legally buy alcohol, or go to R-rated movies without an adult present—”

“Is this some kind of game to you?” the demon screamed, probably shaking every single house on the block. “Do you think I will not rip you limb from limb tearing each and every piece of your body apart dining on your feeble frame? You have no divine protection in this form. I might delight in tasting your flesh.”

“Oh,” I said, really trying to badger him, “I doubt you could do anything like that. You’re just an immature little boy who stole someone’s body for a while, having a little joy ride around town. The only thing you’re going to eat is your own embarrassment, when the others find out how much of a pussy you really are!”

“Pathetic little monkey, how dare you insult me! I am Nebirot, Lieutenant to the great Nebiros—Field Marshal and Inspector General under Lucifer!!”

And as the word Nebirot escaped his twisted jaw, I lunged at him. My elbow crashed into his face sending him backwards towards the corner where he had been for so long. I caught him off guard and this gave me the upper hand. Now that I knew his name, I had the power to pull him out of Peter’s body.

But I had to act quickly, because Demon or not this is still full-grown man and I’m a 94 pound girl. Physics don’t completely favor me in this battle, so I have to use the skills that Gabe taught me.

As his body crashed down to the ground, I straddled him, my knees across his chest. In my hands were the blades, forged from another place, their edges so sharp that they could cut through electricity. I rained several well-placed elbows down onto the creature’s face as I began to speak . . .

Now it’s time to conjure Nebirot, remove him from this human body, and take him back to where he belongs—imprisoned with the other monsters behind the door of the Gateway.

All around me the room was shaking, everything vibrating violently. Dust and debris was falling from the walls. The bed, the end table, the lamps and light fixtures were all smashing and shattering around me.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Take heed! Come, all spirits! By the virtue and power of your King, by the seven crowns and chains of your kings—”

Back and forth he thrashed, his back arching impossibly high, the sound of bones tearing and breaking beneath the thin surface of the skin. Blood and mucus and spit were spraying from his mouth and nose.

His eyes were now three times as big as they had been, glowering at me. I knew if he had even one chance he would tear me to ribbons.

I continued, “. . .all spirits of the Hells are forced to appear in my presence before this pentacle or circle of Solomon, whensoever I shall call them . . .”

I lowered my body, my knees touching the floor beside him just under his armpits, my arms with the sharpest blades in the universe held fiercely in my grasp as I tried to steady myself.

Gargling and spitting and puking and screaming, he continued to thrash about.

“. . . Come, then, all at my orders, to fulfill that which is in your power, as commanded. Come, Nebirot, from the East, South, West, and North! I conjure thee and command you, by the virtue and power of Him who is three . . .”

One of the creatures arms whipped by my face, his jagged fingernails slicing into my cheek as I winced. I lowered my head even closer to his dodging his attempts to chew into my face and neck. Elbow after elbow I dropped on him, digging the blades of the knives into the wall to steady me.

“. . . Eternal, Equal, who is God indivisible, consubstantial, in a word, who has created the heavens, the sea, and all which is under heaven!”

Suddenly, I could see panic in the monstrous black eyes. I could see the realization and for a split second, maybe I saw a momentary flash of fear.

“I order you, Nebirot, to leave this body for now and for eternity!” I screamed.

The creature’s body instantly stiffened, its arms and knees curling into the fetal position. I raised both my hands high, my grip very tight on the shiny gray blades, their tips pointed downwards like talons.

And with every ounce of force I could muster I brought the blades down on the creature’s face—one blade for each enlarged, liquidy eye. The sensation I felt was like stabbing down into sticks of butter, the creature’s enormous eyes engulfing the blades completely. Luckily for Peter, these blades would not hurt human flesh.

The terrifying scream and howl shook every part of me. And I could feel a kind of electric explosion knocking me away from Peter’s body. I rolled quickly and got back to my feet, still kneeling, finding myself on the other side of the bed.

I raised both of the blades defensively, in case there was something I had missed. Peter’s body thrashed back and forth, his head and arms and legs crashing and thrusting in all directions. And moments later I could see the human part of Peter fall away from the monster.

Like a piece of fruit being cut in half, a faded, translucent image of the contorted twisted monster fell to the left, while the now human form of Peter collapsed in a heap to the right.

The door swung open behind me as Father Alvarado entered, his voice almost in a panic, “Ms. Chase are you alright?!”

Stay back, Father, I warned with one of my blades. I approached the two bodies very slowly, making sure I hadn’t overlooked anything.

Peter, was starting to gain consciousness, still gaunt and emaciated, with several broken bones, ripped tendons and torn muscles, especially in his face. I’m not a doctor, but I’m guessing he’s going to need reconstructive surgery. His eyes were now back to the size of a relatively normal person, and I couldn’t tell for sure but I think they were blue. He was badly mangled, but at least he was alive.

On the left, at a frequency that I think only a few people such as myself can actually see, was the beaten and frightened faded image of Nebirot. I approached cautiously, standing over him with both of the blades directed towards his face.

I could hear behind me as Father Alvarado and one of the bodyguards rolled Peter very carefully onto a small stretcher after placing a C-collar on his neck. Soon some of the Vatican’s own doctors would be caring for Peter, but right now was about getting the necessary medical attention with the least amount of publicity. My guess is they would stage a car accident or something of that nature to cover up what was really happening.

I could see the creature writhing in pain, and probably a fair amount of embarrassment. Still curled in a ball, he turned to me kissing just above a whisper, “You pathetic little girl . . . you have no idea what’s really going on . . . you’re just a silly little child.”

I knelt down above him, my face very close to his, the razor-sharp tips of each blade floating at the edges of his wincing eyes, “Why don’t you go tell all of your friends that you got your ass kicked by a girl who has a collection of Juicy bracelets, and still eats Lucky Charms for breakfast.”

I heard Father Alvarado’s voice behind me, “What will we do now Ms. Chase?”

The tips of the blades still pointed at Nebirot’s large eyes, “ its up to him, really.”

“What is going to happen to me?” Nebirot whispered fearfully.

I whispered back to him, “You’re going back to the Gateway.”

Father Alvarado could not see the demon. He could not hear the demons words, nor could he make out my response. Again, these are things he didn’t need to know.

Not yet, anyway.

Very carefully I pulled up the sleeves on my jacket, exposing the half-moon marks on my wrists to the demon. His eyes blinked furiously, trying to understand what he was seeing. The look on his face was pure disbelief.

“You . . . you are the chosen one?” he said, the words being little more than air as they escaped his mouth.

“Tell your friends,” I warned him, “the earth is not your playground, humans are not your toys. If you come back again, I won’t be returning you to the gateway . . .”

I didn’t have to say it because the warning was fairly clear. I was taking him back to his prison, but if he escaped again I would deliver him to the other door—the blue door—and let the other beings have their way with him.

He turned away from me closing his eyes, dejected and knowing his fate. I quickly placed one of the knives behind my back, the other knife still pointed his face while my free hand grabbed for my necklace. A small vial of sea water was held at the end of my necklace by silver clasp.

I pinched the clasp, freeing the small glass vial, and with the same hand my thumb and forefinger unscrewed the cap. Like a mist being sucked into a vacuum, Nebirot’s faded body was inhaled into the vial and within seconds he was gone.

I secured the top of the vile, placed it inside the silver clasp around my neck and turned to Father Alvarado who was watching in near disbelief.

“And this is what you do?”

I shrugged, “It beats washing dishes and mowing the lawn.”

A weak smile played across his tired face. “What . . .what happens now?”

“Well,” I said as I placed a knives back in the bag, slinging the bag over my shoulder, “. . . now they remodel this room, get Peter a speech therapist and some good pain pills, and we go eat at that cool Asian fusion restaurant I saw when we left the airport.”

I could feel the slight sting from my cheek where the yellow had scraped me, but the feeling of victory was strong enough that I wore my scratches like a badge of courage.


An Archangel is an angel of high rank. The literal Greek translation (arch- + angel, chief angel). Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Whether in the Catholic or the Protestant Bible, the term “Archangel” appears only on rare occasions. Both Michael, Rafael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism and by most Christians.

Some religions believe there are as many as seven Archangels. It is important to note that long ago there was no difference between demons and angels. Therefore it stands to reason that in many cases the lines between the two appear very blurry.

Marianas Trench, near the island of Guam, 9 years ago . . .

My visits to the bottom of the ocean had increased in frequency. From that second time I have gone on that magical water journey, my trips had been occurring every few weeks. Each time I grew a bit more inquisitive. With each journey through the water, it seemed like the trip took less and less time to reach my destination—the Gateway and its ring of jagged rock teeth.

I’ve seen all kinds of fascinating things, although as of yet still no mermaids. What Gabe explained to me about where we were on the ocean’s floor was pretty impressive. I have asked him how is it possible that this place wasn’t discovered by submarines and submersibles and all those people with beards that work for National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Gabe smiled, and explained to me that we were on the very bottom of the Mariana trench. Here are some basic facts: the Mariana trench is the deepest part of the world’s oceans. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. The trench is about 1580 miles long with an average width of about 43 miles. It reaches a maximum known depth of about 6.78 miles—which is about 35,800 feet from the surface of the ocean.

Oh, and one more thing, it’s cold, really really cold. The temperature is somewhere around 1 to 3°C.

Which sucks.

Mostly, I don’t feel the total effects of the cold. I definitely don’t feel the pressure—15,750 PSI. At this depth I would be squished into a tiny little ball that one of those neon fish would probably gobble up.

Where the gateway is located is just south of the area called the Challenger Deep, which is a small slot-shaped valley at the southern end of the trench. Gabe tells me that the Gateway is deeper than the deepest parts of all the oceans. I’ve asked him on more than one occasion how can you be deeper than the deepest part, and that always gets him laughing.

The first time I actually met him was an incredible experience. However, I would enjoy my visits with him less and less as time went on—His training was relentless!

Our first meeting was sometime around my seventh birthday. Again it was a really bright night. I found myself awake and alert in the wee hours of morning.

I made my way downstairs, with a pretty good feeling of where I was going and what was about to happen. It was a really windy night with a cool breeze coming from the south spraying a cold mist across the beach that made my teeth chatter little bit. Having made the trip several times, I dispensed with the pleasantries and jogged across the beach from our patio as quickly as I could.

The moment the splash of salty water lapped against my shins, I sparked into my immediate travel through the water. In essence I was racing through the water almost at the speed of electricity, or so it seemed, toward the the Gateway—which I had been referring to as “Big Mouth” ever since Gabe asked me what I thought it looked like.

Now nearly 7 years old, while still no genius, I was starting to be able to understand things much more complex than I had when I was four or five.

Is I arrived, falling slowly to the floor of the ocean, I had this feeling I was in store for something special. I love the feeling of the soft silky sand squishing in and out of my toes as I walked around the Gateway. Just as before, one side had a door with a faint blue light emanating from behind it, and around the other side was a duplicate door with a reddish amber light.

On the side with the blue door I found myself strangely content, feeling more peaceful than I ever had. On the side with the red door I felt strangely uncomfortable the marks on my wrists starting to sting and singe. Because of this I have never gone anywhere close to the red door, and have no intention of doing so.

As I walked back and forth, waiting for Gabe to enlighten me with more wisdom—simplified, obviously for a small child—I felt the presence of someone else. It was like before where I was waiting to hear a voice coming from the darkness. I had the distinct feeling that there was actually somebody here with me.

I found myself drawn strangely to some markings on the wall, and as I studied them I noticed that a few of the markings were very similar to the burning scars on my wrist. I was holding one of my wrists up, comparing the two when he spoke.

“Hello my beautiful prodigy,” Gabe said.

His voice sounded so close, so clear. It startled me just for a moment, and I turned to see him standing in front of me. He was giant. Without a real frame of reference I would have to have given him every bit of 7 feet. But he wasn’t tall and lanky like a basketball player, but muscular and beautiful—more like a statue, like something you might see in Greece.

He was the most wonderful creature I had never seen. Way better than mermaids. After meeting Gabe I really didn’t care if they ever found Nemo or not.

He was literally like a superhero.

He wore a robe—a very dark fabric that occasionally glistened and shined as if it were somehow metal and silk and cotton all at same time. Wrapped around his waist was a thick brown belt that folded off to the side. His head was shaved, and he had a muscular jaw and very pronounced brow set above two intensely green eyes. I have never seen anything as beautiful as his eyes.

As he knelt down I could see the muscles in his forearms and calves tightening and shifting like steel cable under his skin. He reached his enormous hand out to me and I placed both of my hands across his palm. His touch was more than warm. It felt like safety and love and dedication and loyalty all wrapped together. I guess this is what divinity feels like to humans.

“My name is Gabriel, but please call me Gabe,” he said as he placed his other hand on top of ours. For being such a big man he was incredibly delicate with me, as if he was worried that he might break my hands with his every movement.

“You’re a giant!” were the first words out of my mouth.

He smiled, perhaps the brightest smile that I had ever seen, “I’m not a giant, young Muriel . . . I’m an angel.”

“That makes sense,” I said. But then he must’ve noticed a frown on my face, curiosity flowered as my eyes narrowed.

“What is it?”

“Well,” I asked suspiciously, “don’t Angels wear white robes, with gold halos?”

His smile decayed into laughter, “You’re very clever, young lady. Very clever indeed. One of these days I’ll have to dust off my nice robe and show you. But until then,” he said releasing my hands and standing again, “you and I must begin our training.”

What kind of training? I thought to myself.

“Follow me young lady and I will explain everything.”

And with that we walked and he explained to me that he was going to teach me how to fight. I would learn all of the aspects of the world’s greatest fighting arts. I would learn how to kick and punch and wrestle, and wield swords and knives. I would be a mixture of Jason Bourne, Jackie Chan, and Hannah Montana!

How long is all of this going to take? I wondered.

“We will train as long as it takes. We will train until you are the best version of yourself. Until you are more incredible than anything you could’ve ever imagined.”

Will I be an angel?

“You will be more capable than any Angel, because you will have all the beauty and wonderment of the human—with a soul filled with compassion and empathy and humility.”

I thought about telling him that I didn’t understand half of the words he was using, but I’m pretty sure he already knew that.

“This will not be an easy journey for you Muriel. You will be different than the people around you. You will have secrets that your fellow humans can’t possibly comprehend. To try and explain your life to another human would be very difficult, and most likely result in you being thought of as completely insane.”

He paused for a moment as we were walking, turning to me and kneeling again, “I think for now this should just be our secret.”

I nodded, “Just like the mermaids.”

“The mermaids?”

“Yeah, the mermaids,” I explained, “that my mom believes in. I just don’t have the heart to tell her that they are not real. She took it pretty hard last year when I told her about the Easter Bunny. So I kept the mermaids to myself.”

He winked at me, turned, and started walking again, “The mermaids,” he chuckled to himself.

A few minutes later I found myself in another large open area, which seemed even deeper than before. This large open field with sparse patches of sea grass, rocks, and strange formations would be our training ground for years to come.

“So what’s first?” I asked.

“Before we learn how to fight you must learn when to fight. There times to attack, there times to hold your ground, and there are times when you must retreat. For all of this you must know why you are fighting.”

“Little girls don’t fight,” I explained to him. Everyone knows that.

“When you begin to fight, young Muriel, you will be a woman,” he explained. “More than that, you will be a Guardian of sorts. Something between a hunter and a bodyguard. You will purge the evil creatures that lurk inside human bodies.”

Still no idea what he was saying, but it certainly sounded cool and exciting.

And that was how my training officially began. From then on, week after week, I would touch the water’s edge, voyage deeper than the deepest parts of the cold dark oceans, and train with the angel known as Gabriel.

I’m really glad I started my training early on because doing this and trying to keep up with school and fight evil all the same time would really have been a massive headache.


DFW International Airport, Departures, Gate E26 . . .

There wasn’t much talking after we left the Redding’s house in Carrollton. Mrs. Reading and hugged me, tears mixed with sobs mixed with thank you’s. She had forced me to take a small onyx cow.

In between us leaving the guest room, making our way downstairs, and out to the suburban, Father Alvarado was asking me questions about details he needed to include in his notes. He asked me several times about anything that the Demon said that was interesting to me.

Well, all of it was interesting in a cold, dark, sinister kind of way. Interesting in the same way that an anaconda is interesting, but you’d rather not be in the same room as one.

Mr. Redding shook my hand as if I had just sold a piece of property for him, or fixed the carburetor on his car. He was polite and respectful, nodding and appreciative, while avoiding anything that had to do with the fact that his son was possessed by a demon.

I find that typically older men, set in their belief systems, have a very difficult time accepting this other part of reality. I guess in a way it’s a spiritual sensory overload—Simply too much information to accept.

If your view of the world is one way for 50 or 60 years and all the sudden a 16-year-old girl and a handful of religious clergy from halfway around the world expose you to the nightmare that monsters are actively trying to make their way into our lives . . . perhaps it’s easier to ignore it altogether.

As the suburban slowed to a stop near the curb, I could almost hear Father Alvarado preparing his thoughts. He had been pretty quiet too. Obviously we had done our postmortem of the event analyzing all the tiny little details that had occurred both before I entered the scene, during, and especially after. Every bit of information important; every tiny slice of every fragment of time cut into 1,000 pieces and studied.

I found that Father Alvarado was strangely indifferent to this case, as if he knew more than the rest of us. As if he realized that everything was much worse than we could see, and that one small victory was no cause for celebration.

There were no thank yous traded among us. No high-fives, no backslapping, no ‘ata boys.’ His job was to diagnose, my job was to dispose. He would go back to the Vatican and report his findings. Perhaps showing bits and pieces of the video that was taken—without my knowledge—by 2 small cameras that were hidden in the room before I had arrived.

I can almost sense the apprehension on his face as I opened the door to the suburban and stretched out my right leg to jump down to the curb. He grabbed me on the shoulder.

“You are an incredible girl, Ms. Chase, with incredible skill, but . . .” and he shook his head from side to side, as if he was saying no to somebody just beyond our reach. He looked at me, really studying my eyes.

“I understand, Father.” I shrugged, “none of us are going to save the World alone. The way I look at it is, all of us do our part—you with your research, your diagnosis, and your analysis of what happened here; me with my interrogation, and my knives, and my wonderful bedside manner—”

He stopped me, warning me, “things are much worse than you think, Ms. Chase. If you have any idea of what’s really going on . . .” and as the words came out of his mouth I could see the other men looking at us as if he was walking on dangerous ground.

I suddenly felt a little bit less victorious over my defeat of the yellow. And although I may talk a big game, the truth is that these things scare me to the point of throwing up. I’m horrified by the thought that monsters can come out of the gate a million miles away, from the darkness, and burrow their way into our souls.

The knowledge that our defense system relies on a handful of Vatican employees, some computers, and a few kids like me running around stabbing people in the eyes . . . well it just doesn’t give me warm fuzzies at night. It certainly wouldn’t instill confidence in many people if we did a random poll.

I try to hold it together, especially in front of adults. But it’s not so easy. Maybe I’m not scared of drowning, but everything else terrifies me.

I hate monsters.

I hate the sound of bones snapping.

I hate when one of these things stares at the boundaries of my soul, looking for a way it. Gabe says that the hunters like me can’t be possessed. He’s quite emphatic that our will is too strong and our souls are far too defiant to allow such an intrusion.

And as much as I want to believe that, I’m just not so sure.

We made our way to the back of the suburban, popping open the rear door and Father Alvarado pulled out my bags and handed them to me. One of the bodyguards was behind the wheel of the suburban, but the other—Mr. Green—was at my side, his eyes scanning back and forth.

Father Alvarado asked again, “He claimed his name was Nebirot?”

I nodded, yes. I could see the consternation on his face. I have no idea what that name does or doesn’t mean.

I grab my bags and I could feel Mr. Green’s powerful left hand on my shoulder as he studied the surroundings. I felt very safe for that moment, and yet very exposed at the same time.

Father Alvarado, this strange man in the service of the church that I will probably never see again, paused and looked slightly down staring into my eyes once again, and I could see that he was almost on the verge of tears. And, of course, that put me on the verge of tears. I sometimes cry during commercials, and he was giving me the full–on watery eye thing.

And so now I’m like swallowing deeply, biting my lower lip, doing anything I can to look tough.

Still gazing into my eyes, Father Alvarado tells me, “You are the brilliant product of God. And while you do these things, these violent things, your soul is pure. You are more than the hunter, Ms. Chase. You are the closest thing to an angel that any of us will ever meet. The part of you later tonight that makes you want to cry . . . make sure you never lose it. That is your humanity. That is what will save us all.”

Even though it probably isn’t the proper thing, I dropped my bags and I hugged Father Alvarado. I had a feeling we both needed it.

“Thank you, Father,” I whispered. I sat there moment, letting his black shirt soak in my tears. I then nodded to him, turned and nodded to Mr. Green is a grabbed my bags and we made our way into the airport. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the second suburban pulling up to the curb behind us.

So many things were going through my mind I just wanted to get on the plane, slap in my earphones, lay my head back, and let iTunes do the rest. Mr. Green took me all the way to the gate, showing some special papers and an ID that allowed us to circumvent the normal security line that takes forever to get through. Besides, I hated stripping nearly naked and having some 68-year-old TSA agent feel me up.

Not big on words, and with an accent that sounded distinctly Swiss, Mr. Green held out his hand, palm up, awkwardly waiting for me to slap it. I didn’t know him personally but I have heard stories about the Swiss guard.

The papal Swiss guard (now located in the Vatican City State), was founded in 1506, and is the only Swiss guard that still exists. Originally it’s roots came from mercenary regiments that fought for France, Spain, and Naples up to the 19th century. Men like Mr. Green pledge their life to the service and protection of the Vatican City and its inhabitants. But make no mistake, he and his brothers are very dangerous men.

I slapped his hand, and asked, “What is your rank, Mr. Green?”

He suddenly stiffened bringing his hand back to his side. “Why do you you ask these things?” he said in his thick accent, Th‘s sounding like Z‘s.

“Because, I will probably see you again and I want to address you appropriately. And because I appreciate the risk that you take to keep me feeling safe. And,” I added, “you gave me five.” I smiled.

I could tell he was slightly uncomfortable with this kind of human interaction. He was so used to being a soldier that it was difficult for him to be a person.

He took a deep breath, and like a good soldier he said, “Faldwabel,”he answered.


“Falwabel, this is like, um . . .” He thought for moment, “This is like Sargent-major.” and then he stood proudly.

“Well Sgt. Maj. Green, if I ever need a bodyguard to help me fight evil I’m definitely going to call you.”

He reached out his hand for a proper shake. When my little hand touched his it reminded me of the first time I shook Gabriel’s hand.

“Ms. Chase,” he said sternly, “you will not have to call me, if you’re in danger, we will be there to protect you. This is what we do.”

“And who will protect you?” I asked with a smile.

Without answering his eyes lifted, his gaze tracing up through the ceiling of the airport and out to the heavens above.

I nodded, he nodded, there was a lot of nodding. I let his hand go, grabbed up my bags, and headed to my gate which was now doing the pre-boarding. He followed behind me, making sure I got onto the plane before leaving.

It’s strange that you can form a bond with people that you don’t even know, in a day. And there are other people, who have been in and out of your life for years, that you can feel seemingly unconnected to.

I suppose for people like Mr. Green, Mr. White, Father Alvarado and myself, there is so much under the surface that doesn’t ever need to be said. What we are fighting for, that’s our bond. All of the fluff that normal people communicated in their day-to-day lives, we skipped right past all that. The things that are unsaid are etched into all of us.

I took my window seat, sitting next to a 20 something-year-old girl who was nibbling on her fingernails and wondering aloud how she was going to make it through the flight without taking a cigarette break.

Earplugs in.

iTunes on.

In about 15 min. I would be searching the clouds for puppies, mermaids, and cute boys. And while the girl next to me would be trying to avoid fainting from Nicotine withdrawal, I would be imagining all the ways this plane could cartwheel down to the ground in a fiery heap.

Both of us could probably use some coping skills.


Later that evening, San Diego, California . . .

My mother picked me up at the airport. She immediately asked about the scratches on my face, and how I could have gotten them by going on a church trip.

“We played all kinds of games,” I told her as the dusk turned to evening on our drive back home. San Diego is a city that has it’s own flavor. You taste the sweet smell of the Pacific the second you arrive. You can feel the salt floating in the air. And there is a certain kind of atmosphere here, kind of like an old t-shirt that you’d never dare throw away. This city is new and old all at the same time.

My mother is super intelligent. But sometimes, that can be what makes her so oblivious to the real world. Not that I’m claiming that my world of monsters and secret religious investigators and mercenaries is the “real” world. Just that she can sometimes get so consumed in her research that she looks past the world that’s right here.

“You shouldn’t be doing anything that ends up drawing blood,” she said, checking her passenger mirror about 26 times before changing lanes. Seriously, she checks and checks, and checks again before moving one inch into any lane. Turning left for her is like me trying to solve some complex particle physics equation. Getting on and off a highway is worse. You’d think she was deciding whether or not to drive off a cliff with that amount of indecision.

“It wasn’t on purpose, mom,” I assure her as we drive down the highway, bright street lights racing by like glowing baseball bats that throw strange shadows across the car.

. . . And it doesn’t even hurt, anyway,” I added, knowing she was uncomfortable. I think she still sees me as that little 4 year old girl that got dragged into the water all those years ago. In her eyes, I haven’t grown up at all. It’s cute that she loves me that much, but annoying.

I decided to change the subject, “How is your research going?” I can see the tone in her face soften.

“We are making a lot of progress so far this year. We’re getting close to finishing up our second round of trials on Mimutrol.”

Mimutrol is an Alzheimer’s drug that my mother has been working on with a group of other scientists for the last several years. They been getting into the rounds and rounds of testing that’s required before FDA approval. She says it is going to change the world.

“That’s awesome, mom. When will they actually be able to use it?”

“Well . . .” she considers my question for moment, her eyes glancing up into the corner somewhere as I’m sure she’s crunching numbers. “Maybe, if we’re really lucky, and the FDA doesn’t succumb to lobbyists . . . twelve to eighteen months?”

As we made our way through Pacific Beach, and eventually to our driveway, I noticed how dark our neighborhood looked tonight. Maybe I was just in one of those dark moods. Well to be honest, my life is one long dark mood filled with spits of happiness and laughter scattered along the way.

But mostly just the demons.

Big cold black eyes.

Hungry broken jaws, and jagged teeth.

My mother loves her research. She’s one of those people that get so caught up in her work that she’ll forget to eat. I feel like maybe once I got to be about 9 or 10 years old that I became the parent.

All the time I’m reminding her to eat, take your vitamins, take time to work out—which she really does not enjoy. She’s “genetically” thin, at least that’s her claim. She says that nobody in the Chase family has ever had to worry about their weight. Even our DNA is thin—her words.

We pulled into the driveway, got out and walked around to the trunk to grab my little bag. My mother is an intelligent woman. How she can honestly not know what I’m doing is through a calculated refusal to pay attention, or she just chooses not to believe it. Either way, I’m certain that she doesn’t think that my random church mission trips are to build churches and orphanages for poor people.

It’s one of those things we both agree not to talk about, like sex, politics, and music—3 things that we will absolutely never be able to discuss with each other. My mother is a closet liberal, who hates anything but jazz and classical. She attempted to explain “human reproduction” to me at one point and I just raised my hand up to stop her.

That was one of those lines that I didn’t think either one of us ever wanted to cross. The thought of my mother having to find ways to explain sex to me was just too much to bear.

I learned everything I needed to about the birds and the bees from a mixture of watching FX, perusing magazines that I buy in the airport and immediately throw away upon arrival, and by reading over random profiles on Facebook.

As we headed into the house, the smell of the beach like a sweet embrace, I realized how glad I was to be home. How safe I feel here. This is the one place where everything is constant. In this home of white and gray tile, powder blue walls, soft thick carpet, and silky pink and yellow window treatments with curtains that ebb back and forth slowly in the breeze—this is the place where none of the darkness can come.

No demons.

No black cold eyes staring out from someplace.

No hungry broken jaws, with jagged teeth and a taste for human flesh.

Here, in this house, the one thing I know for certain is how much my mother cares for me. Gabe tells me that the monsters can’t take me because my soul is too strong. But I think the monsters can’t get inside of my head because my mother has shown me so much love that there’s no more space in there. If some entity did snake their way in, they would probably be choked by hugs and kisses and oil paints and mermaids.

And if the demon some how managed to get past all of that, Sarah Joe would probably run up and kick them in nuts.

I’ve noticed, in the patients that are possessed, that there is a feeling of vacancy in their lives. If they been surrounded by the kind of love that I have, the creatures just couldn’t survive.

It’s a theory, anyway.

As we walked into the kitchen I opened the refrigerator and grabbed an orange. My mom, the genius, coordinates everything in the house by colors. This even extends to the refrigerator’s contents. Orange things are together with other orange things, reds with reds, greens with greens, and so on and so forth. Milk, skim milk, almond milk, and every other kind of imaginable milk is on the very top shelf right next to that cold light.

She has this theory that coordinating things by color is the most efficient way for humans to make associations. She says that her research has shown that the ability to choose colors and link those specific choices to memories is one of the ways they have been able to help some of their Alzheimer’s patients that are losing their memory.

Memory loss, she tells me, is like muscle loss when you get older. If you keep working out you keep the muscle. But the minute you stop flexing that muscle on a regular basis that’s when the problems start.

“What do you have planned for this weekend?” my mother asks me as she stirs around in the pantry for some saltines. That’s her guilty pleasure. Once she gets out that little plastic brick of saltine crackers, it’s game over.

I shrugged as I sat at the bleach white counter top that extends from our kitchen. “Nothing in particular.”

“There are a couple of new movies out, the one with . . . oh what’s his name . . . the really cute guy that used to be a drug addict . . .”

“Mom,” I say as I start to peel the orange, “that’s about ninety percent of the actors.”

“The one from Ironman,” she adds.

“ Robert Downey Jr.,” I tell her.

“That’s the one.” She can remember the tiniest, most insignificant details of the brain. She knows the inner workings of neurons and axons and all the other mushy gray stuff. But on simple stuff she’s kind of vacant sometimes.

“Maybe . . . tomorrow, after lunch?” I said, finally getting the skin to come off of this orange. A oranges is like a whole lot of work, for really quick payoff. Just about the point you’re starting to enjoy it, it’s done.

I mother came and sat on a stool just on the other side of the counter top from me. In the time it’d taken me to peel this orange she had defrosted a chicken breast with some broccoli. Fast in the kitchen, my mom.

She blew gently, sending steam off of the chicken towards me. Looking at her, I’m wondering if that’s like looking at me in the future. Her hair is just slightly darker than blonde, her skin pale with a hint of olive in her cheeks. Her eyes are deep blue, bluer than mine. She’s taller than me by a fair margin. Like me, she is thin but athletic. Like me she has a very calm, delicate way she moves around. Like a cat maybe.

She asks questions with her eyes. Sometimes I get a kick out of just watching her study things. The way her eyes move around, focusing very intently on something, and moving side to side and up and down in an attempt to capture every detail.

Me, on the other hand, I look with my hands. I touch things, I shake them and feel them and occasionally break them. One difference between now in our home and when I was a little girl is that there are a lot more breakable things now. Things I would’ve very quickly broken when I was younger.

The steam blowing off of the warm chicken, the broccoli cooling, she looks into me—researching what’s behind my eyes. “Baby . . . what you want to do in life? If you could have any dream job, what would it be?”

I consider her question for a moment, sliding an orange wedge into my mouth. The question kind of caught me off guard because I guess I just figured my life was already chosen for me.


And just as I took a breath to answer her, the phone rang, startling both of us. She narrowed her eyes at me as if I had engineered it this way to dodge her question.

She leaned across the counter and grabbed the receiver, answering while still eyeing me suspiciously, “Chase residence.”

She nods a couple of times, and then answers, “Okay . . . yup, she’s right here.” And with that she hands me the phone.


“We have another task for you,” the all-too-familiar voice told me.

“I just got back from a mission trip, literally fifteen minutes ago,” I explained, as if that made any difference. I can see my mother looking at me, already frustrated that I’m probably planning another trip.

My little adventures usually only take place once every 3 to 4 months. She’s pretty understanding about me working with the church, but like any intelligent person she’s got her doubts. Specially when I come home with scrapes on my cheek that look like a leopard took a swing at me.

“We need you as backup on a case in Mexico,” the woman explains to me. I swear she must be like the Vatican’s travel agent.

“When would I have to leave?”

“Tomorrow morning there will be someone by to pick you up . . .” and I here her keystrokes on some computer that’s half a world away, “. . . they’ll pick you up just before eight am Pacific time.”

“I’ll have to ask permission from my mother,” I explained to her. And even as the words come out of my mouth I see my mother shake her head from side to side as she sits back down on the stool and cuts into her chicken breast. I think she was really looking forward to spending some time with me

“We can have someone call her for you, if you would like.”

“No, no, I’ll ask her,” I said glancing over my mother who shrugged and nodded. Under her breath, with pieces of tender white chicken being chewed I could see the words God’s work between bites.

With my eyes I asked my mother, she nodded, and I turned back to the phone, “That will be fine. I’ll be ready.” And I hung up the receiver without waiting to see if the woman was going to tell anything else.

My mother cut a piece of broccoli in two, and stared at me accusingly. “You have a cellphone. Why does the church insist on calling the house line?”

“I’m not seventeen, yet. They need your permission, I guess.”

She sighs through her nose, again cutting into the chicken breast.

I shrug my shoulders, shoving another orange wedge in my mouth, “What can I say, God’s work is never done.”

She rolled her eyes, never being one for religion, “Well, I guess there are worse things you could be doing. Just call me if you ever find yourself up on a hill and people start asking you to drink punch.”

I started laughing, “I haven’t answered your question, mom.”

“My question?”

“Yeah, you asked what I wanted to do with my life. What I want to be?”

She placed her fork down on the plate, her eyes wide as she kind of leaned forward awaiting my answer.



“Yeah, I’m going to be a mermaid.”

“Mermaids don’t wear black,” she reminded me.

“Black is the new blue,” I informed her. “It’s all the rage under water.”

Both of us started laughing.

An hour later I’m lying in my bed, staring up at the ceiling that’s got thousands and thousands of glow-in-the-dark stars that my mom and I have been putting up since I was little girl. I have my own alternate universe right over my head every night. It had been such a long day, from here to there and here again, but I felt like I was still moving.

Then this strange feeling creeps into me. This eerie feeling that wraps around me like a wet blanket that something dark is coming. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I feel like I need to squirm around and hit something, but there is nothing to hit.

In my wrists are still burning—not as bad as before, but maybe that’s just because I’ve become numb to it.

And then I realize that I’m still wearing the necklace, with a small canister of holy water, where the demon is suspended. In a few hours, when my mother falls asleep, I’ll head out the back porch and down the water and take a trip down the Gateway to send Nebirot back to where he belongs.

But until then, I think I’m just going to sit here and cry for little while. Because, honestly . . . this scares me so much more than people can ever know. If they knew how frightened I was of demons and monsters and creatures from the darkness, I wind up with my own Thorazine drip in a room with rubber walls slobbering like a fool.

If there are mermaids, I’m sure they stay away from the Gateway. Deeper than the deepest parts of the ocean. A gateway to the divine and to the monsters.

The demons.

Their jagged teeth and their broken jaws.

Their taste for human souls.

No, I doubt mermaids want to have anything at all to do with that.


San Diego, California, Chase Residence, 3:27 am . . .

I woke up suddenly feeling as though I’d lost something. Maybe it was a dream I just had, or a sense of something from a long time ago.

I sat up, feeling almost sick to my stomach and my face feels cold and clammy. I’m sweating and my sheets are sticking to me. I blink several times, the green barely glowing stars above my head spinning in circles and I feel something is gone.

I reach for my neck, and I feel my necklace. As my hands trace down each side of the small chain, they find the clasp . . .

. . . empty!

Frantically I start going through my bed, inch-by-inch. Every fold of fabric, every tiny pocket of air. I’m careful not to step all of my weight on the floor for fear that if the canister has fallen down to the carpet, I don’t want to smash it beneath my feet.

Maybe it has come undone and spilled. This would be an entirely different version of wetting the bed. I can’t even imagine what the ramifications are something like that—sleeping in a puddle of demon soup.

I reach over, turning on the lamp just beside my bed. I bump the clock in the process and the radio turns on, adding to the dismay and panic I am now starting to feel. Fumbling, I turn the radio off.

I start to hear Gabe’s voice in the back of my mind, repeating something he said to me a thousand times. The sentence he forced me to repeat, over and over and over,

Once purged, you must harness the soul and bring it to the first connected body of water you can find so that it can immediately be taken to the Gateway.’

By connected he is referring to any of the number of oceans, seas, and rivers or lakes that are in any way flowing into or out of the Pacific ocean. The water is how I travel, therefore I can only travel through bodies of water that lead to the Marianas trench . . . to the Gateway.

This is something I probably should have done when I was in Texas. I should have left the Redding’s house, gotten into that suburban, and made a straight line for the Gulf of Mexico.

Once purged, you must harness the soul and bring it to the first connected body of water you can find . . . immediately be taken to the Gateway.’

I take the thick silky-pink comforter very carefully off my bed. Gently I folded it over my bed, doubling the fabric over several times until it’s no bigger than the size of a large pillow. The canister is not here. It has to be here, but it isn’t.

One by one I take each pillow grabbing it by the closed edge, and dumping its contents in the center of my bed, onto my white satin sheets.

1st pillow—nothing.

2nd pillow—nothing.

3rd pillow—you guessed it, nothing.

Once purged . . . harness the soul and bring it to the first connected body of water . . . taken to the Gateway.’

This is a like misplacing a set of keys, or losing a small note you’ve written yourself. I lost a finger sized canister of holy water with the demon stuck in it. I don’t even know what the ramifications of this are. If it spilled into my bedroom carpet, does that mean the demon escapes, or is he stuck possessing furry bits of gray carpet?

Can he float out into the night sky just by being exposed to the air?

I start folding the sheets up one by one, using my arm as a squeegee, very delicately looking for any hint of that canister. All of a sudden it hits me—my wrists are not burning.

My search is now grown more frantic and worried. I search under my bed and around my bed. I go thru my closet, and look beneath my mattress. I go thru the drawers of my wardrobe, even searching in small boxes that have bracelets in them. I’m searching all the places that the canister can not possibly be. But at this point I have to keep looking because if I don’t I’ll pull a major freak out.

As I continue searching, I realize it’s in vain, knowing I’m not going to find it because I just don’t lose things. I never lose things. And if I did lose the canister, that means somebody came and took it.

And if somebody came and took the canister off my neck, that means somebody else has been in my bedroom. I make a pile of folded sheets and pillows at the center of my bed and I turned towards my windows.

My room is basically a large rectangle at the southwest corner of our home. One of my windows faces the ocean—exactly West. The other window points South—where about 15 other houses are as similarly placed.

I checked the south facing window, but it’s closed and locked. I turned to the right noticing that while the window is open, the screen is still down. I can’t see any signs that someone has tampered with it. Besides, if they did go out this window they would have a long fall to the patio below.

I turned towards my bedroom door, noticing that it is about halfway open. I always close my door. Ever since I was little girl I close my door. I like my room to be really really dark so that I can see all of my glowing stars. My mother has nightlights placed about the house that change color. They’re very pretty but they’re so bright that they overpower my glowing stars. So if I want to see my little universe I have to close my door.

I never lose things, and I never leave my door open at night.

I walked to the edge of the doorway, staring out into the short hallway where my mother’s room is on the left, and we have a small study on the right. I used to spend hours and hours in that study pouring through books about the occult and ceremonial magic and things that go bump in the night. My “Homework” as Gabe would put it.

The Malleus Maleficarum—aka “The Witches Hammer.” It was basically a handbook for the hunting and punishing of witches. It was written by 2 of the original church Inquisitors. The writer Heinrich Kramer, who lived from 1430 to 1505, was an Alsatian clergyman. His co-writer, James Sprenger, lived from 1436 to 1494—he was a Swiss monk. Their sole mission in life was to exterminate witches and demons.

A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics & and Pagans—which is kind of considered the official history of witchcraft. The book has tons and tons of research about the underpinnings of witchcraft, demonology, and religious manifestations.

You have to have all sides to any story, so I read everything I can get my hands on.

The Book of Ceremonial Magic—which is just gobs of information on white magic, black magic, transcendental magic, the names and offices of evil spirits, the Key of Solomon, the mysteries of infertile invocation, and just about everything else you can imagine concerning magic. It was originally written in 1911 but it contains pieces from books that date back to the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

These 3 books, basic reading for any would-be exorcist or Demon Hunter, don’t have any section on what to do if you lose a demon. This is failure on an epic level if I don’t find that canister.

Standing at the threshold of my door staring out into the hallway, the little night light changing from blue to green to red, have this feeling that I had better get my knives. This is the first time I have ever felt unsafe in this house.

I back into my room, opening the 1st drawer on my nightstand and removing the small bag which holds my blades. I very carefully reach my hand in, removing both of the knives. Each one of them has a small leather sheath over the blade. I slide each of the knives out, taking one in each hand, letting my arms hang down by my sides.

I can feel my body lowering in anticipation of something. And Gabe’s words echo in my mind,

‘Trust in yourself. Trust your training and instincts. There is no obstacle that you cannot surpass if you rely on your heart to guide you.’

My hands tightened on the blades, as I listened for a sign of anything. The silence in my house was its own noise. It was thick like oil paint. It almost had it’s own taste.

My eyes were drawn to the edge of the stairs where I could see something . . . something staring back at me.

Chasing Darkness – Amazon ebook Link

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