[Mysteriousheartland.com] When the Fallen stepped across the threshold into Monk’s Castle in Lemont, Illinois, they had no idea where the inky, swirling portal would send them, or for how long. The thrill of discovery compelled them forward. After a few moments, the astral portal violently deposited Mike, Greg, Aurelia, and Davin into the forest preserve across the street from an old cemetery. Exhausted, cold, and hungry, snow stung their cheeks and a dog barked angrily in the distance.
The quartet fell into a tangled mess at the edge of a parking lot. They woke in the middle of a circle of wooden stakes poking just above the snow. Fog hovered in the cool air.
“Ugh, I feel like I just ran through the Kama Sutra with Rosie O’Donnell,” Davin groaned from the bottom of the body pile.
“Thanks for the image,” Aurelia retorted, her left leg stuck somewhere between Mike and Greg. She squeezed out from between them, creating a red boot heel impression on the side of Greg’s face in the process.
“Where are we?” Greg groaned.
Mike pealed himself off the frozen ground and looked around. “I don’t know, but at least we’re still in the same century,” he said, noticing the parking lot, cars, paved road, and power lines.
Leaping to his feet, Greg dusted off his clothes and recovered his cane. “Let’s see if there’s a sign on that cemetery gate,” he suggested.
Aurelia and Mike agreed and started walking across the road, but Davin lagged behind. He examined the circle of wooden stakes and tried to get his friends’ attention.
As Mike approached the rusted, iron gate, he noticed they were not far from where they entered the portal. A plaque on the stone gatepost read, ‘Archer Woods Cemetery.’ “Crowley’s ass,” he cursed. “This is Archer Cemetery. Monk’s Castle is a couple miles away.”
“Geez, we gotta walk back to the car?” Greg complained.
“More importantly,” Mike added, “where did the portal go, and how long were we in it? We could have been gone seconds, days, or even weeks.”
Davin finally ran across the street and caught up to them. “As I’ve been trying to tell you,” he interrupted between ragged breaths, “we fell inside a circle back there. Maybe that was an accident, but I doubt it. I think someone deliberately sabotaged the portal.”
“I think you’re right,” Aurelia said under her breath as, for the first time, she noticed they were not alone.
Three figures dressed in black, two men and one woman, stood in thel cemetery entrance. They sported long, black hair, their clothes hung loosely from their bodies, and pentagrams dangled around their necks. The group’s leader, named Balor, the largest, repeatedly stroked his tangled goatee. Malik, the tallest and thinnest of the trio, rubbed his arms for warmth, and Emily, the young woman, rested her hands on her studded belt.
“Who the hell are they?” Davin exclaimed.
“Who cares,” Greg replied, yawning. “Cradle of Filth wannabes.”
“It looks like they watched The Craft too many times,” Mike added as the Fallen cautiously approached the strange interlopers. “Let me guess,” he yelled, “you’re the ones who left all that Satanic graffiti at the abandoned house near Cuba Road.”
“Congratulations,” Malik bellowed. “You’re even more reckless than your reputation led us to believe. You led us right to the portal and even got rid of its guardians, those brown-robed monks. How could you be so blind?”
“Well, your sloppy Satanic graffiti made me think you were a group of attention-seeking, pathetic losers,” Mike retorted. “I see I wasn’t too far off.”
Balor stopped stroking his goatee and frowned. “Tell us how you opened the portal,” he demanded.
“Make us!” Aurelia shouted. Without a second thought, she bolted toward the Satanists. Mike and Greg exchanged quick glances and ran after her.
The smirk on Balor’s face vanished when, without hesitation, Aurelia grabbed his Adam’s Apple in one hand and violently kicked him in the shin with a steel toed, platform boot. He turned blue and coughed violently.
Malik swore and began to back away, but Greg swiftly struck him behind the knee with his cane. He cried out in pain as his entropied tendons buckled, and he sank to the ground. Emily turned and ran into the cemetery.
The Fallen ran after her. She moved slowly on the slippery path and made it about ten yards before collapsing into the snow. Aurelia, Mike, Greg, and Davin quickly surrounded her.
She feebly kicked and flailed into the air.
“Hold her down,” Mike commanded, and Greg and Davin eagerly complied. “Where are the others?”
“It looks like they’re running away,” Aurelia reported as her eyes scanned the cemetery.
“Did you hear that?” Mike said to the young woman. “Your friends abandoned you. Now stop struggling. We won’t hurt you—you have my word.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that they left,” Emily said bitterly as she stopped squirming. “Assholes!” She brushed show and dirt off her black pea coat and sucked back tears.
“What’s your name?” Davin asked. He felt sorry for the young woman. He noticed several tiny scars on her wrists.
Before she could answer, Greg snatched her knit cap off the ground and tossed it in her face. “That’s for almost getting us stuck in another dimension,” he said.
“Let her talk,” Aurelia shouted. She shoved Greg and he fell over with a cry of surprise.
“My name is Emily,” the young woman said. She dragged herself to her feet as the Fallen stood as well. Her face, apart from redness from cold and embarrassment, was as white as the snow that blanketed the cemetery grounds.
“So what’s the deal?” Mike demanded. “We have enough problems with the P.C.P.R.S. and zealots stalking us. Now we have you people shadowing us and trying to steal our research?”
Emily coughed. “My friends thought they could use the gate to bring Satan into the world.”
“Yeah, well, we don’t even know what that portal does, or if we’re going to be able to open it again,” Mike explained. “We were trying to figure that out when you… interrupted us.”
“I’m sorry,” Emily apologized. “I thought it was a joke. I mean―I didn’t think it was real until we saw you guys go through it. I couldn’t believe it. That’s when I knew we were doing wrong.”
“You got that right,” Greg interrupted. “Idiots.”
Davin sighed. “They did a good job ejecting us from that portal.”
“Beginner’s luck,” Mike retorted.
“Screw them,” Emily said bitterly. “If they want to leave me here, that’s fine.” She looked around nervously as she realized the hopelessness of her situation.
“We’re stuck here too,” Mike replied. “Our car is still at Monk’s Castle.”
“Oh, right,” Emily said sheepishly. “About that… We, uh, trashed your car before we came over here. You’ve been gone almost a week.”
Mike’s face turned crimson. “You did what?” he shouted.
“Relax,” Aurelia said. “You promised we wouldn’t hurt her, remember?”
Fists tightly clenched, Mike turned and began to trudge out of the cemetery. His companions heard him muttering angrily past the main gate.
“I guess this means you’re one of us,” Davin muttered to their new companion. “For now.”
[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.