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{ Soundtrack to the story }




The Clan

A song for Sofia

Babylon's Theme

Father Holden

Bartholomew's Theme

Elizabeth Mary

Seeing Sofia in the Steeple

The Fallen

Theme No. 1




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There were twelve gourds placed against the edge of the porch, just slightly touched by the chubby snowflakes that had begun to fall. It wasn’t often that winter came so soon in Missouri, but the autumn had held a chill and sogginess that couldn’t be shaken. Tomorrow, there might even be an inch of white crusted around the town. But Elizabeth would never know; for today, her father planned on killing her.

She shuffled past the nubby edges of the kitschy decorations, letting her feet drag down the steps. Ahead was her mother, shivering with the minivan door propped open. An immobilized breath hung in front of her gently sloped mouth—the same mouth that had pecked her forehead the night before and had thanked her for saving them all. That had been after their last supper together, when the discussion had turned to which method would she would want for her sacrifice. She had chosen poison—for it sounded the most romantic and would leave her looking like herself after it was all over. Now they just all sounded horrible and painful and long. Elizabeth coughed away the tightness that was swelling upon her chest—maybe she could just run, turn back before they got to the church and go somewhere else.
Anywhere else.
“Come on dearest, we better get going.” She glanced up at her mother as she spoke.
Too late to run now.


>>



The Holy Crossings Church was located across the street from an old railroad cart, rusted and fallen half back into the earth. Back in the earlier days, when the town was filled with every type of festering heathen as her father had described, there had been a bustling train station, which ran to all the cities. Now the tracks were overrun with thick bushels of weeds and didn’t go anywhere.

Elizabeth had been ushered inside, her white gown smoothed away from her hips to create a less sexualized appearance. After all their plucking and adjusting of the dress on the mannequin, they still couldn’t quite hide the womanly figure that the girl had managed to obtain over her nineteen years of life. Not that it would matter any more; she wouldn’t be seducing anyone in the grave. Down the aisle was her father, a heavy bible in one hand and a Styrofoam cup in the other. He smiled, waving her over like he had done in all the sermons before he did his preaching’s. Some of the parishioners were there; filed into the pews, thick wooden crosses dangling from their necks. They were all waiting, anxious for a show. She could even see it in her mother’s eyes as she prodded her down the aisle, her hand clipping against the enclosing aisles. A tremor ran past her shoulder, making her rhythmic heart beat bounce in her ears.
And then, they stopped. Between the two of them, her father looked, smirking in all of his wisdom. He had created a truly wonderful sacrifice and had kept the girl clean in virtue for so many years. Now, all the diligent work was about to save them. Father Holden bowed his head, his brow grazing upon the book he feverishly held.
“And here we gather today to witness a truly divine miracle. Elizabeth Mary Holden, my blessed child, in your earthly parting you will bring us peace and protection from the dawning evil. For that, we thank you, now step forward my daughter.”
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

Laban watched quietly from his perch at home. No ordinary human would be able to find it, as was traditional for a demon's residence. He peered into what looked like an overdecorated black birdbath in the attic; in the water he could see the goings on in the city - his city. From the round window he could see the church where everything was happening on the outside. From the pool he could see everything on the inside.

The folk of the small city were religious, a thing that both attracted and deterred demons. They were infuriating in their blind belief, but also very... fun to lead astray. These particular people were almost cult-like in nature; there they were, about to sacrifice a girl. Was it to him? Did they think that by killing her it would protect them?

He almost laughed.

The girl was indeed beautiful, and also the priest's daughter. How ironic! These people really were too much.

In the pool he saw the family load up into a mini van to take her to the church outside the demon's window.

The more he thought about it, the more Laban didn't really want that. Didn't want the girl to die, that is. It was amusing, to say the least, but it would happen and then it would be over. Perhaps... perhaps he should have a little fun with his people.

His mind made, Laban swept out of the attic and down the cold steps of his home. He left as he was; dressed in dark pants and a loose jacket. His attire was ordinary enough, yet there was something menacing about him. It could have been his light, off-olive grey skin or the maroon tattoo-like markings he sported (one almost a stripe across his nose and below his eyes).

But most likely it had something to do with the short black horns tucked behind his ears and light flaxen hair resembling those of a young deer.

Regardless, the demon was lucky to make it to the church just after the van. Through the doors he could hear the priest speaking as if he was giving a sermon on a sunny Sunday morning, “And here we gather today to witness a truly divine miracle. Elizabeth Mary Holden, my blessed child, in your earthly parting you will bring us peace and protection from the dawning evil. For that, we thank you, now step forward my daughter.”

He could barely hear the small steps the girl was making before violently pushing the doors open. The hinges were on the outside. With the help of a little magic push, the doors had broken clean out of their frames and crashed to the floor. Their sound was amplified by the design of the church; every whisper was meant to be heard. Every person screaming. The near silence as the people took in the sickly image of our demon.

Laban's steps echoed, the hushed squeals of both women and men tickled his ears. Husbands held their wives. Wives clamped their hands over their terrified children's mouths. "Forgive me, father, for I have sinned," Laban said, sarcastic voice deep and muted. His mouth hardly moved when he spoke. His footsteps came to a stop in front of father and daughter. "I've sinned a lot."
              For all his crooked studying of the scriptures, he had never even seen a sketch of a demon.
              Yet, the priest knew what stood before them.
              “You are not welcomed here,” The sign of the cross was mimed from his forehead to chest, creating a stillness that allowed his mouth to move fluidly against the will of his trembling breaths. This wasn't supposed to happen. The events of the afternoon had been carefully aligned with the charts he had hunched over for years. A virginal plum at the peak of ripeness--or his nineteen year old daughter as he had determined--and a willing sacrifice at the right moment, on the correct day. Now, there was a threat. An intruder--a demon. He exhaled sharply. “Get out of my church.”
              It had been difficult enough raising the girl to be virtuous and keeping prying hands away from her. Now, there were new factors in play.
              Ones that he had overlooked completely.
              He moved the bible forward, violently bright notes peeking from around the binding, scribbled with sayings and rogue ideas—as if he had been rewriting the book with his own thoughts. His narrowed eyes shifted to where the creature had looked--his daughter, who had drained to the color of her own gown.
              Smooth, white. A beautiful specimen of divine fear.
              His wrist buckled under the stiffness of his own posture as he took in his child on the day of her deliverance--it had been so hard to keep sins at bay for nineteen years. To watch her sleeping, to hear her voice in the shower, muddled by the water that simultaneously bled over her naked skin. Temptation could weaken even the holiest of men--but now, it was all about to be over.
              “Elizabeth, you are the lamb. Drink it.” Shoved into her hands was the poison, a thin liquid sloshing over the edges. It smelled of acidic grapes, a heavy sweetness that rose to her nostrils.
              Cool-aid?

              Her father had turned the hue of the wine he passed around every Sunday as he waited, his arm out stretched with the book as if it were a shield.
              Beyond him was the stranger.
              Yes, she knew what he was--a hell beast, the kind that her father had warned them all about—the evil on the horizon.

              So he had been right.

              The porous cup still remained in her palm, barely raised to her shuddering lips. It wasn’t nearly as romantic as she had envisioned—no vibrant, bubbling solution, no goblet to sip it from. Instead it was a milky pink, sitting in Styrofoam.
              Somehow, her papa had managed to make even her death bleaker.

              “Drink it, girl!” A pause as she circled the room with her gray eyes—the pale ceilings, the unadorned walls, and the demon that patiently stood, watching. His stare scorched at her skin, licking at the place where her cross should have hung. Today, she had left it on her dresser. Now she wanted it back—she needed to feel that familiar cool of metal as it draped past her collarbone. Could they see that it was missing?
              Elizabeth scratched at the irritatingly high rim of lace that danced on her throat— letting her fingers linger. Realization was beginning to dawn on the faces of those that had come; she wasn’t going to drink it.

              But Elizabeth already knew that.
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

"You are not welcome here," the priest all but muttered, "get out of my church."

The demon could have laughed. His church? Please.

Her father forced the poison into the girl's hands, ordering her to drink. The girl, Elizabeth, was in shock. Her fear was evident, as it was with all of them.

"Drink it, girl!"

Laban almost offered a contradictory "Don't.", but it had become apparent as she stared at the church, at the people, at her father, at the cup, at him; she wouldn't. No matter how she'd been conditioned or taught, this girl wouldn't take her own life.

This time, the demon did laugh. He swept passed the father and took the Styrofoam cup from Elizabeth. Styrofoam? Laban thought, Pathetic. They could have at least provided a glass or something more ceremonial in nature. The cup in one hand and Elizabeth's forearm in another, the devil tipped his head back...

... and drank the poison himself. It was surprisingly sweet, not the sort of thing you're expecting when taking the draft of death. He licked his lips, savoring the flavor. "Thou art a good and faithful servant," Laban mocked the priest, "with whom I am well pleased." he quoted none other than the God in the book which he held as if it would protect him. Her arm in his powerful grip, Laban turned Elizabeth to face him. With one hand he tilted her chin, with the other he held her back and pushed her closer to him than was comfortable. He opened his mouth and placed his lips on hers.

It wouldn't have been altogether unpleasant had he not been a devil. He was forceful but hardly abrasive or exploratory with his claim. She was his; they'd given her to him. And I will take what is mine.

He finished and let her pull away, though still kept the girl in his grasp. "Say your goodbyes," the demon instructed, "for you will never see her again."
            It burned.

            Elizabeth was a faithful child—to the scripture and even to all her father’s strange whims without contentment or questioning.
            She had followed blindly her shepherd.

            But now this touch, the brushing of raw flesh against raw flesh, scorched down her throat. She coughed ferociously, bile rising quickly to her tongue. It loitered with the metallic sweetness of a droplet of poison, which had bled through her lips at the demon’s kiss. Over the hammering of her pulse, she heard the wheeze of her mother and the guttural moan of her father, as if someone had forced the venom down his own throat and then kicked him in the loin.

            “Leave her,” The words managed to equalize themselves, gaining some of the strength that had slipped away. “She is for the lord, not the devil.” He grasped at his daughter, stumbling forward over the book that he had thrown to the ground. Everyone was watching, eyes dancing between the dwindling light of their beloved priest and the lure of the devil.
            All the glares, he could feel upon his shoulders. They taunted him, but the worst belonged to that of his daughter.
            Those pearlescent gray eyes—he could sense them, tracing around his huddled figure. He knew when they left the tracks of his spine and focused on their captor, the demon.
            There was no way to retrieve her now.

            In a glance, she had been lost.
            The devil had won.
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

"But you've given her to me." Laban said, reveling in their fear, their disgust, their intrigue. "So she belongs to me. A devil. Thank you again, father, for the lovely gift."

The devil put an arm around Elizabeth's shoulders and guided her forward with him out of the church. The demon couldn't stand to suffer another moment in the holy building. He would never breathe the information to a soul, but in a blessed building his (and other demons') powers were stripped down to that of a mortal. Degrading, really. He was anxious to leave.

When they stepped over the rubble of the entryway Laban breathed a rejuvenating sigh. The people still inside the church stared, not daring to move as they seemed to materialize into the gently falling snow.

---

Laban's home was eerie, unsettling and filled to the brim with the arcane, though if one looked past the Gothic aspects (as difficult as it may be) they may find the home quite comfortable and well-decorated. "Elizabeth, they called you?" he confirmed, for the first time speaking to the poor girl.
            The familiar streets faded into a house she had never noticed before, perched atop a low crest, as if preceding over the entirety of the small town. After all the years of patrolling the avenues back and forth to school, there was never once that Elizabeth laid eyes upon the building, nor did anyone ever mention it.
            Before today, it hadn’t existed. At least not to the priest’s daughter who stood, shivering before the demon, clumps of snow teased into her plaited auburn mane.

            He had asked her a question, the words far off somewhere in her mind. They drifted between the images of the recognizable—a cross laid upon a crocheted doily, the church doors shattered at the hinges, her mother’s face as she was taken. She was stolen from Death’s scythe by the unholy. Elizabeth blinked; the day hadn’t quite gone according to plan. So close to the end, but tonight, her casket would remain empty. In all the dampness of the house, she felt peculiarly comforted.
            A prisoner of war, yes, but still breathing.

            Finally, his voice came back to her. “Y-yes, Elizabeth Mary, after the holy mother.” She wrapped herself deeper into her gown, suddenly too aware of what she had been brought to. A demon’s lair, a billowing of hell upon Earth—although it just appeared to be a house in need of a good cleaning. The room was cool, seeping into her limbs. All the comfort had vanished now. For the time, her physical self remained unscathed, but her soul was yelping. There was a searing heat that radiated out from the demon, threatening to blister her pale skin.

            She should have worn her cross necklace today.
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

"After the holy mother"? Laban mentally sneered, What a joke.

He glanced down at her; poor little thing. Her dress was white, symbolizing her purity, no doubt, though it hugged her form in a particularly enticing manner. It was almost old-fashioned with the high lacy collar and didn't look like the most comfortable thing they could have given her to wear on her dying day. And something else was wrong; was she cold? The demon could not tell if this was the case or if she was shivering because of her situation.

"Well make yourself comfortable, Elizabeth Mary. This is your home now as well as mine, though I am its head." He paused, thinking of what else would be wise to tell the girl. He turned to her, "Let it be known that you are not allowed to step foot outside of this estate without my consent. Ever." His tone was dark, dangerous. "Now come and sit; you must be overwhelmed."

The demon gestured for Elizabeth to follow him into the kitchen; if she was hungry she could help herself to his stores, though he didn't mention it; Laban wanted to see if she would act on her own just yet.
There had only been once in her life when Elizabeth disobeyed a command; and it had taken place that afternoon, with the refusal of the toxin. Now, the demon had possessed her consciousness and his instructions were law—but yet, her feet would not move at his gesture. Tightness overwhelmed her form; she would not budge.
“What am I now?” It was a blurted thought, one she had not thought to even speak. But the questions were overwhelming. Was she to stay there till she was old and withered, decaying from age?
Had she a duty to fulfill?

The rampant pangs of hunger could be ignored until an answer came. Starvation was no enemy to her; she feared the unknown more. Elizabeth stared at the demon, who had given her no title of his own--although, she wasn’t even sure if they took names or just were. He appeared at ease in his own surroundings, the edges of his darkness blurring with the shadows of the room. There were black things dripping from his skull, a pair of horns, that she had not noticed in the blinding light of the church. From the tales her father told of demons and hell beasts, she would have expected him to be a monster, rotting and disgusting to even glance upon.
Yet, he wasn’t.

The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

She didn't follow him and he didn't complain. He was testing her, looking to find out exactly what Elizabeth Mary Holden was. He peered into a cupboard, a tail that went unnoticed before whipping about in his search for something for himself to eat.

"What am I now?" came her small voice from the foyer.

Laban straightened to see her from the kitchen and noticed his classically pointed tail had escaped. "How embarrassing," he muttered. Even as he said the words the appendage appeared to melt away from view, hidden once more. Satisfied that it had disappeared, the demon turned to the girl. "Well you're mine," he said it as if it were an obvious fact (which, in all fairness, it was), "but don't fret, child. I'm not going to kill you..." he left the words to hang to remind her of her father who had attempted to sacrifice her life.

The devil reached into the back of the empty cupboard and muttered a few words. A muted pink light surrounded his hands and lit a symbol into the bottom of the cupboard. The color was not unlike the poison he'd taken from Elizabeth, a thing that his stomach was regretting. It wouldn't kill him - not by a long shot - but he shouldn't have quaffed the entire cup. The faint scent of cinnamon and bakeries dissipated about the cupboard as Laban pulled from its depths an unhealthy pastry for himself in hopes that it would both calm his stomach and entice the girl to join him.
          And what sort of answer had she been expecting? A cryptic message from an archaic prophecy foretold by the disciples, no doubt. Instead it was a clean wound that the demon had sliced into her mind—she was his.
          Their attachment simplified. Yet, it was still uncomfortable in its plainness.

          She could run and see how far she made it. Perhaps to the door, even past its’ bolts if she moved deftly enough—then where to? Evensboro was a good days drive away from any other town, and all relatives had been swept aside over the years, forbidden. From behind her bow shaped lips, a sigh. Once again she was defeated by her own inabilities.
          There would be no escaping today, not without a plan at least.

          Her eyes drifted about the walls, slowly making their way to the kitchen were the beast had disappeared to. All of her senses were on alert. Trust was not something that had been built between them; nor would it ever be. She craned her neck around the edge of the façade, the cupboards less obscured the further she scooted—then the smell.
          A hot blister of embarrassment flew up her neck as her stomach gurgled helplessly at the sight of the pastry. Yes, she was starving. There hadn’t been a breakfast that morning, in preparation for her funeral. Easier embalming her parents had prompted, munching away at their bran cereals. And no, sweets were not something she ever had. Any decadence had been shaven away from their humble lives—including the doughy goodness she so yearned for.
          Any strength to escape would have to come from somewhere, Elizabeth cautiously reminded herself. Her feet lurched forward, carrying her far more quickly to the kitchen then expected.
          No words came from her mouth as she stood at the edge of the room, gazing in. Like a child at a candy shop, it was pretty obvious what she had come for.
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

Elizabeth peered around the hall [[opening thingy I don't know what to call it]] (as there was no door to the kitchen). Her eyes were large, full of hunger and her face had flushed a deep pink. Those grey eyes were fixed, not on him, but on the pastry. It was of the pumpkin variety; filled with pureed pumpkin, cinnamon, sugar and things that would put on the pounds. It was steaming, though it wasn't hot enough to burn. Laban couldn't help but look back and forth from her to the food in his hand.

He smiled for a flash and mentally laughed. "You want it?" he offered and held it out to her, palm up. If she wanted it, she would have to take it from him. If she didn't, she should hurry up and tell him so that he could eat it while it was warm.
"Just a bit," Her tone was hushed--she wasn't used to asking for anything. Everything had always been provided for her; just enough for survival and worship, nothing more or less. "What is it?" Not that it mattered. Already her tongue was salivating, her stomach urging her forward until she was at the other end of the counter, an arm's distance from the beast. She did not want to appear like an animal, begging for a morsel of food, but yet, she couldn't help it. The sweet had more of a spell over her than the demon did.

It was so tempting.

Timidly, a pale hand reached from beside her hip, every inch of her forearm covered in an antique lace. Her father would never allow her to show skin, apart from her face and fingers. It had been a rule in the house since she had turned twelve. Everything was to be baggy, oversized and running from chin to wrists, hair pulled back--leaving no room for suggestion. One of her father's strange whims that they had gone along with. Then and now, it still seemed silly to her.

"May I?" Elizabeth questioned, the habit of politeness proving to return even amidst a devil. It was becoming more difficult to rejuvanate the sense of hatred for the beast; he had shown her more hospitality than even her own father.
The Amazing Flying Circus's avatar

Eloquent Elocutionist

What is it? The demon didn't follow. "It's a sweet roll." Laban didn't know the technicalities of his food, just the generalities.

"May I?" she asked, timid as a church mouse.

His eyes with off milky-white irises and inky scleras peered down at her. "Yes." he could see her hunger. Why she wasn't jumping at him for the food was only explained by him himself. Give her time, Laban thought. In time she would grow used to him and his ways.

He waited for her to take it.
          If the stories had been correct, a girl named Persephone was once in a similar position as Elizabeth was, many, many years ago.
          In her younger days, the priest's daughter would sneak away to the school's library. For how limited it was, the haphazard shelves held tales she had never even dreamt of before. There was a worldly psyche contained within that room, that she would, for the moment, tap into.
          Ancient mythology especially fascinated her. Who did these foreign, heathen names belong to and why were they simultaneously connected to the title of God? It was basic knowledge that there was only one--and he didn't go by Zeus.
          The last time she went to the library was when she was thirteen. Bubbling with information, she had shared her knowledge with her father over a plate of boiled carrots and potatoes. He had set down his knife gently, chewing, inwardly imploding. The rest of the meal passed in quiet. It was not until she was in her room that her father approached her, setting a heavily annotated bible in front of the girl.
          "Read this and then tell me where you find room for such silly tales." His tone had not been threatening, yet steady in his calculation. Elizabeth had happily agreed--she could read the book over and over, it would always be pleasing. It was not until her father left the bedroom that she knew this was to be a punishment. The sound of the door being bolted and Elizabeth craned her neck around. She was alone. For three days she sat in that room, a few pomegranate seeds being pushed under the carpeted flooring, just like the story.
          Starvation ensued.
          A bathroom had been constructed in the furthest corner from her bed, within a tin can she had created an instrument out of in elementary school. Yet, as the days progressed, she did not use it. There was nothing left in her body when her father opened the door, pleased with himself.
          "You see child, these myths could not sustain even those condemned by the ideas." She understood then, that the only just truth came from the holy book and her father.


          Now, Elizabeth stood in Hades' domain, being offered a sweet roll.
          Her mind raced against the memories--would this taste bind her to the demon for all eternity? Down a little and to the left from her brain was her stomach, disregarding any logic that she was trying to swim backwards through. Twitching, her fingers grabbed the item from his hand, feeling the give of the dough and the stickiness of whatever was basted all over it. She bit and chewed, letting the unknown flavors play at her tongue. Once, in grade school, she had been given a tootsie roll by a substitute teacher--but this was not like that at all. It held a depth in the taste, different textures collecting with various spices and sugar. Elizabeth glanced up at the demon, trying to mask her joy with contempt. If this was a trap, she had fallen bitterly into it.
          It was not long until the sweet roll was gone, devoured in several smooth unhinges of her jaw. She could feel the goo still resting on her lips, dotting the delicate pinkness with splotches of pumpkin.
          Her stomach gurgled up at her with thanks.

          The three pomegranate seeds had been offered, and she had accepted.

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