I'm starting a new weekly post featuring a random scene (200-500 words) from one of my books. Today's inaugural RSotW comes from THE AGE OF APOLLYON, chapter 2.
The congregation repeated the incantation, and the priest spoke again. He would pause after each phrase, and the congregation would repeat his words.
"Genitori Inferi, laus et jubilatio, honor et virtus quoque, sit et benedictio procedenti ab utroque compar sit laudatio.”
The shadow-faced specters remained motionless behind the priest during the recitations. There was a thick, humid silence that filled the sanctuary, and Patric was starting to feel vaguely uncomfortable. Was there an insect swarming about his head? He glanced around in annoyance.
The solemn priest motioned for the congregation to be seated, then waited for a long, heavy moment before speaking.
"My children, you have no doubt heard of the terrible tragedy that has befallen our family. A dozen of my brothers, pillars of our venerable order, were gunned down in cold blood, without dignity or reverence. Although the assassins’ identities have not yet been determined, we can all be certain that they belong to the ranks of the Delusionals, those who would gladly see our mighty order demolished and ruined. Yet it is they who cower amongst the rubble and ashes of their fallen empire, for this world does not belong to their so-called ‘Heavenly Father’ anymore. No, this world is the domain of Apollyon the Destroyer, Prince of the Powers of the Air, and he blesses his faithful with fortune and prosperity. Those who fly his banner high are rewarded, and those who despise it are decimated like the Cathedral of Our Lady many years before.”
Patric’s neck twitched, and he swallowed dryly. A dull hum seemed to be drilling into his skull with a tiny needle. He looked around and tried to pinpoint the source of the irritation, but he could see no insect or any other cause of the invisible sound. No one else seated in the pew seemed to notice it.
"Before the Manifestation,” the priest continued with a slowly rising pitch, “the Delusionals espoused peace, love, and meekness. But we know that the world, and the future, belongs to the strong, to the brave, to those that strike back, rather than turn the other cheek. This, my children, is what has made us so strong today, and will continue to do so. The Deluded Scriptures say: ‘Love thine enemy.’ Well, we are bound by no such folly. We hate our enemies, and we have tolerated their existence too long. We tried to co-exist in civilized indifference, but they have brought the fight to our doorstep, and we shall respond!”
Patric gritted his teeth as the priest’s words failed to reach his ears. The hum had ballooned into an almost shrieking buzz. It could have been some sort of audio feedback, but there were no such devices in the sanctuary, and no one else was hearing it. He grimaced and he rubbed his ears frantically, trying to exorcise whatever it was from his skull. A few people near him noticed his convulsions and whispered for him to be still.
Patric ignored them, and the vibrations inside his head and all around him grew louder and louder. The priest’s ominous words were almost inaudible to him above the hellish noise, which was actually starting to cause pain. He moaned silently and shut his eyes tight.
The priest raised his hands to the pentagram suspended above the congregation like a grim, lightless chandelier. “My children, I bid you rise up! All across our world, the faithful are taking to the streets to show those deluded fools once and for all who the Master of this world is! Join them! Peace and mercy are virtues that have no place in this world, and those who hold fast to the feeble words of their Savior shall find themselves weeping amidst the flames!”
Patric couldn’t bear it any longer. The noise seemed to fill the nave like millions of wasps that only he could hear, and it was driving him mad. He jumped to his feet and opened his mouth to scream.
The congregation whipped their heads around, and Patric froze. There had been a scream, but it did not come from him. He looked to his right and saw a veiled woman that he had not noticed before. Her neck was arched unnaturally backwards, and her mouth was gaping open so far that it seemed that her cheeks would split. The shrill, aching shriek sliced out of her mouth like a fountain of razors. Even after the agonizing cry died away, the woman remained in that contorted position for several moments.
No one, not even the startled priest, dared to breathe. The air was completely still. With a gasp, Patric realized that the awful buzzing had ceased, but he felt a new terror crawling through his veins.