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Friday, January 25, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 20

Dietrich…

The whisper came from far away,
Its breathy voice a rustling of the leaves,
A stirring of the reeds along a stream.

Dietrich…

It grew louder, filling his ears
Like the roar of a hurricane,
A wild whirlwind thrashing heedlessly
Through the fragile calm in which he slumbered.

Come to me, Dietrich…

He jerked upright in bed, startled
From his dreams. He glanced at Pieter,
Who neither stirred nor made a sound.
He was still in Benedict’s cell,
Still in Vaxen Abbey, and still confused.
Everything seemed unnaturally silent;
Nothing felt real. Could he still be asleep?

In here, Dietrich. Come now…

He slid out of bed and padded
Barefoot down the church corridor,
Following whispers only he could hear.
His feet made no sound on the wooden floor.
The double doors of the sanctuary
Were closed. He searched his memory,
Troubled; they had never been closed before.
He touched them lightly then pushed them harder;
They wouldn’t budge. Neither did he.

Answer the call, Dietrich…

Faintly he heard the howls of wolves,
As insubstantial as a thought,
As fleeting as movement out the corner
Of one’s eye; he struggled to breathe
As a low howl rose unbidden
In his throat. Raspy, inhuman,
It fought its way loose, echoing
Throughout the empty corridor.
Then, as if of their own accord,
The great doors of the sanctuary
Opened noiselessly and dense chilling mists
Spilled about his bare feet. He stepped
Inside. The sanctuary was gone – no,
Rather, transformed into a sacred grove.
Pews melded into giant roots
Facing a great green mound with a pillar
Of stones where the altar once stood.
Only the brazen altar cross remained
Unchanged amidst the roiling mists.

Join the congregation, Dietrich…

Spectral wolves cantered into view,
Their eyes glowing rubies of red.
They gathered around the altar,
On the pews, and behind the roots…
And all their ruby eyes fastened on him.

Do you fear the wolves, Dietrich?

Yes. The word was thought more than said.

He felt compassion… and perhaps
A hint of humor in response.
Ah, my Dietrich. Have you not heard it said:
The wolf shall lie down with the lamb?
Evil stalks the streets of Vaxen, so
I say to you: The wolf shall serve the Lamb.

Dietrich tried to scream but no sound came out.
The voice surrounded him, pressed against him:
I am with you, Dietrich. Evil
Seeks your soul but I am with you.
I have need of you. You can choose to be
The hound of hell or the hound of heaven.
Trust me; I will guide your hunger.
My lambs are in danger. Serve me
By resisting the beast within.
From now on you are marked as mine.

Then two ruby eyes appeared on the cross,
Transfixing Dietrich as they burned
Deep into his soul. Silently he screamed,
His mouth agape with unuttered terror…

Until he awoke in Benedict’s cell,
Pieter still asleep beside him.
He leaped from the bed and sprinted
Down the silent corridor.
The double doors of the sanctuary
Stood open as they always had.
He stepped inside; nothing had changed.
With great relief Dietrich collapsed
On one of the pews and cradled his head
In his hands… then he winced in pain
And stared at his hands in terror.

A tendril of smoke rose from his left palm
From what appeared to be a small tattoo
Resembling a wolf’s paw with five sharp claws…

The fourth claw was shaped like a small cross.

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