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The Fallen Chronicles: Episode 12

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012[Mysteriousheartland.com] Mike, Greg, Aurelia, and Davin stood near their rusted Toyota Corolla under the arching sign that greeted visitors to St. James of the Sag Church and Cemetery in the southwestern Chicago suburbs. A foot of thick, pillowy snow covered the ground. Mike folded his arms across his chest, his black leather trench coat making it appear as though his upper body was disproportionately large.

“You see,” Greg explained as he traced a line across a map with a shivering finger, “I didn’t notice this until just the other day. I think you were on the right track. A church is a logical place for the astral portal, but you missed some key signs.”

“Look at how all these haunted places follow the contours of the landscape,” he continued. “Everything comes together here, at this bluff. This cemetery is the peak, and I bet your astral gate is here.”

“Good work,” Mike complimented. “And I thought you’d given up on me.”

“Never,” Greg replied with a grin. “I just like giving you shit.”

“Let’s get this over with,” Davin pleaded through chattering teeth. “I’m going to catch pneumonia out here.”

Not again,” Aurelia groaned as she gave him a hard shove. “I’m not wearing half of what you are, and do you hear me complaining?”

That’s because you’re insane,” Davin shot back.

“That’s enough, you two,” Mike shouted. He spoke with authority, but his tone betrayed a gnawing eagerness. “We don’t have time for that today. We need to get up to that church and open this gate.”

The four piled back into their car and pulled into the main parking lot, which lay under the watchful eyes of the administrator’s home. Trying not to attract attention, the Fallen quietly stepped out of the Toyota and shut their doors. Aurelia stubbornly slammed hers, drawing sharp looks from the others.

“Nobody cares,” she said defensively.

Greg rolled his eyes and marched toward the gate that led into the cemetery. “There’s no telling where this portal is,” he announced, “so we’re going to have to fan out. Wave if you feel anything out the ordinary. All of us have pendulums, right?”

“I don’t think splitting up is such a good idea,” Mike interrupted. “We don’t know what might happen if one of us stumbles on the astral gate alone. From what I read, we don’t want to find out. Phantom monks reportedly guard this ground and torture trespassers.”

St. James-Sag Church and Cemetery in Willow Springs, Illinois. Photo by the author.

St. James-Sag Church and Cemetery in Willow Springs, Illinois. Photo by the author.

“Yeah, but that’s just a myth. Besides, we’re the Fallen,” Greg smirked. “We’ve faced worse before.”

“Don’t remind me,” Mike grumbled.

“Fine, we’ll split up into groups of two,” Greg suggested. “I’ll take Davin and you take Aura. We’ll make a loop around―”

“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Davin interrupted.

“Crowley’s ass,” Mike swore. “Fine. I’ll go with Greg and you two pair off. We’ll look around the church. You go through the cemetery and we’ll meet in the back. Shout if you find anything unusual.”

While Mike and Greg took off toward the imposing, yellow limestone church, Davin and Aurelia followed the trail into the sprawling graveyard.

Groundskeepers had plowed the snow off the trail, but wind had blown a fine layer over the ice  on the asphalt, making it difficult to navigate. “We’d probably have an easier time walking on the grass,” Aurelia groaned as the two groups grew farther apart.

“Do you sense anything?” Davin asked as he struggled to keep his balance.

“Yeah,” Aurelia replied. “I sense that it’s freezing outside.”

“I thought you said you weren’t cold―” The temperature had dropped significantly in just a few steps as an ominous cloud appeared over the tree line at the back of the cemetery. With each passing moment, it headed inexorably closer.

“Come on, let’s go,” Aurelia insisted as she continued to slog forward across the icy pavement.

Devin hesitated, but then followed because he did not want to be left behind.

When they reached the top of a small hill near the tree line, the dark cloud had eclipsed them and now hovered directly over the church. Davin and Aurelia were so transfixed by the sight that they nearly overlooked the robed figures that emerged from the woods and glided briskly in their direction. Nearly.

Something told Aurelia to turn toward the tree line. She dutifully obeyed just in time to grab Davin and throw him out of the way. The figures, three of them in all, wore dark brown robes that cloaked their faces. They rushed past, obviously intent on scaring the trespassers.

It worked for one, but not the other. Davin took off toward the church, but Aurelia stood her ground. Seeing herself now outnumbered three to one, however, she turned and ran after her friend.

The phantom monks followed close behind.

On the other side of the cemetery, Mike and Greg strolled alongside the imposing edifice of the church. Mike dangled a quartz crystal pendulum ahead of him as he walked.

“Does that even work?” Greg asked as the dark clouds gathered overhead.

Mike stopped in his tracks. “You know, I don’t know,” he replied. “I always just assumed it would.”

It was then that they saw the commotion. As they reached the rear of the church, they heard Aurelia call out.

“Damn it, what’s up with them?” Mike cursed, but it did not take him long to find out. The three figures dressed in dark brown stood out against the white snow like Star Jones at a Republican convention.

“They’re coming right for us,” Greg announced.

Mike reacted quickly, and his eyes examined the terrain. To their right, the ground dropped off into a terraced section of the cemetery before lunging dramatically about fifty feet to the road below. He noticed, under the thin layer of snow, a stone staircase that led precariously to the edge.

St. James-Sag Church and Cemetery in Willow Springs, Illinois. Photo by the author.

St. James-Sag Church and Cemetery in Willow Springs, Illinois. Photo by the author.

“I have an idea,” he said. “Give me your cane. You lure them over to this staircase and I’ll do the rest. If we’re lucky, we should be rid of them and not minus one or two of us.”

Greg understood, but hesitated before handing over his cane. “I got this in New Orleans,” he said. “If you lose it, I’ll kill you.”

Mike glared at him until he surrendered his cane and bounded up the slope.

Pressing his back against a concrete wall alongside the stairs, Mike positioned himself so he could barely see over the edge of the grass. A sheet of ice covered the stairs.

Out on the hilltop, Davin and Aurelia rushed toward Greg, who waved his arms wildly.

“Heeere monky, monky, monky,” he yelled as though calling a cat to dinner.

As Davin and Aurelia passed, Greg ordered them to keep running toward the ledge, and they intuitively understood.

The monks (if that is what they were) followed in pursuit. At the last moment, Greg, Davin, and Aurelia leaped off the ledge and landed onto the grass, rolling into a pile against a headstone. Mike allowed the first two monks to pass him on the stairs. Before they knew what was happening, Mike thrust Greg’s cane between the legs of the third and he or she fell into the others. In a whirling mess of brown robes, the monks tumbled down the stairs and disappeared over the edge.

After they collected themselves, the Fallen quickly assembled in front of the church doors. “This has to be it,” Mike shouted, still gasping for breath. “We’ve gone through too much.”

“Say the incantation,” Aurelia urged. “Hurry before they come back.”

Mike closed his eyes and stretched his arms out wide. “Anail nathrach, uatha bha’is, bith thonn du’iseacnt, le de’anamh E!” He repeated the ancient Gaelic phrase a second time, stressing every syllable. His trench coat whipped in the icy wind.

Thunder crackled in the clouds above and the ground around them heaved with energy. Suddenly, the doors of the church burst open, but instead of the interior, only an inky pool of swirling energy greeted the quartet.

Mike and Greg exchanged nervous glances. Aurelia grasped Mike’s hand in hers, and the four stepped into the portal.

[New episode every Friday…]

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This page is copyright Mysteriousheartland.com, 2016. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work.

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