Following The Maven - Prologue
As in a mist …
two tall doors opened slowly, beckoning me to walk through them.
I didn’t know where I was, or what I would encounter, but curiosity propelled me forward.
Suddenly, I realized something. I knew this place better than I thought. A quiet familiarity hung in the darkness and, as the path ahead of me began to glow, I recognized the scene instantly.
I was inside our chapel, with its cracked stone floors and empty pews. Only candles lit the way, as I walked forward with no real sense of purpose. It was as if I were being pushed toward something … or someone.
A man with a black patch over his eye and a hat stood on the altar, slowly approaching me. It appeared as though he were gliding toward me in the same way that a ghostly apparition might.
It was Father Caius. The stern expression on his face prevented me from calling out to him. His bright blue eye was not kind, but severe. It was as though I had never met him before.
We almost floated slowly toward each other before he turned toward the right side of the church and faced the confessionals. The boxed rooms looked long and almost menacing in the dim light.
In my mind, I wanted to run - but my feet, similar to a wooden toy soldier, kept moving forward - and I was powerless to stop it.
Before I could make out what was happening, I was sitting in the confessional - not even capable of finding my hand in such blackness.
A slow feeling of suffocation came over me, as the curtain of the confessional whipped itself closed.
It was the middle of the night, and I was in a confessional with Father Caius - but why? Suddenly, there came a rough voice from the empty void.
“What is Andrew Godfrey’s greatest fear?” the voice on the other side of the wall asked. It was a strange question at such a time.
“What is this, priest? Why am I here now? What have I done that I should find myself in our little chapel in the middle of the night?”
Only silence returned my question.
“Priest, please, what is the meaning of this?” I asked, my breath turning both rapid and shallow as the fear grew within me.
Again - I received no response.
Desperately, I tried to push aside the curtain - only to be met with a cloth that felt heavy and weighed down by boulders. It seemed that there was nothing I could do to leave the place!
“Please, Father Caius, please let me out!” I said, banging my fists against the wall. “I don’t understand any of this!”
My voice was breaking, and I felt my throat tighten as the walls seemed to close in on me.
My greatest fear was not getting out of here alive, I thought.
After much effort to escape, I felt my knees cave toward the small kneeler in front of me. It was as though someone desperately wanted me to atone for what I had done - and had come to collect my penance. A lump formed deep in my throat, as my forehead hit the wooden rail of the kneeler with a loud thump. Hastily, I thought up one word … one singular fear. It was the only thing I could think of at that moment.
“Larouche,” I whispered. “Meir Larouche!” I blurted out.
All of a sudden, the confessional window between us slid open slowly. A large hand with a black ring on it slowly opened the window, and I felt my breath catch.
Through the grated panel, I could see a tall and dark figure on the other side. I began to realize … it wasn’t Father Caius at all. The man before me was Larouche himself, smiling cruelly back at me!
“You won’t scare me any more!” I trembled - only it was too late. The panel closed slowly, and the walls caved in, capturing me inside. Like a madman, I began clawing and pushing my way out. Had I said the wrong thing? I panicked. Suddenly, I felt an intense heat take hold of me and crawl its way up my legs.
I looked down to find myself floating above an endless fiery pit, with embers snaking their way up my body.
This was hell, and there was no way out for me.