The Deal: Sinners Heart Part 3

Friday, 15 January 2016

I glanced back at the photo-frame, praying that I wouldn’t see her face, but my heart sank like a stone in my chest when the first person my eyes fell on was Lisa. She was standing behind the kids in a group photo. She wore that smile which had won me over instantly and in her eye’s I could still see that lust for life that she had always had even after five years of being with me.
   My brain reeled as I glanced back up at the room again, and it seemed like the amount of blood shed in the room was even more than you would see in a normal day at the slaughterhouse. There was no mistake that the kids had suffered a horrible and violent death.
   I turned my attention back to the photo and I tried to concentrate on Lisa, but it was hard to ignore those innocent, smiling faces. Each of them at the beginning of their lives which seemed to have ended horribly in this room, in a kindergarten of all places. Worst of all it seemed their teacher, my wife, was the one who had done the killing.
   ‘The truth can be devastating.’
   I spun round towards the direction of the voice, heart pounding in my chest. I wasn’t sure whether to feel relief or dread as I saw the tall monk known as Pertilius.
   ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked, almost grateful to have his company, even if it did come with strings attached.
   ‘I often come here to make sure there are no lost souls needing my guidance.’ His speech was slower than I remembered, his words chosen more carefully.
   ‘I’m not a lost soul. I just came looking for answers, but I’m failing to see the illumination that you spoke of when you reminded me of this place.’ I felt a little bitter with the monk even though I knew fine well I would have probably ended up coming here at some point anyway.
   ‘Maybe you’re not looking closely enough.’ He said, studying the room, and I got a sense that he knew there was something here that would make the visit worthwhile.
   ‘All I see is blood and death. And that’s all I ever seem to see these days.’
   Pertilius remained silent for a few moments, as if he was contemplating on how to point me in the right direction without actually doing so. That way he could always deny any responsibility should the dark lord get wind of his presence here near me?
   ‘I find it odd that there are seven children in that photo yet I only see the outlines of six in the room.’
   Puzzled I followed his gaze to where each blood stained outline lay in the room. I counted each one slowly and sure enough there was exactly six, yet a closer look at the picture clearly showed seven happy go lucky kids.
   My brain tried to process what that extra or missing child as it may be, could mean to me and my search for the truth about my life. I was about to tell the monk just how confused it was making me feel when my eyes landed on the desks only drawer.
   It was still closed.
   Hesitantly, I reached out and pulled at the handle, expecting it be either stuck shut or locked just like the door to the class room. I was pleasantly surprised when it began to slide open without any real effort on my behalf.
   Strangely enough the drawer was empty, but on the floor of it someone had crudely drew a strange symbol which looked like a bull encased in a circle. It had been done in red and I was certain that it wasn’t paint.
   Pertilius could see the bewilderment on my face and moved close enough to look inside the drawer. When he saw the symbol he quietly took a few steps back.
   ‘That is the sign of being bound to the devil. It’s the same symbol that is burned on to the scroll containing your binding agreement with him.’ He spoke as if I should have already known all of this and I actually felt a little dumb that I was an agent of Satan who had no real clue about the working of the underworld.
   However I now had more questions than answers. Setting aside the mysterious seventh child, I found it hard to believe that a deal with the devil was actually written down.
   ‘So, he actually has a written contract dictating the terms of our deal?’ I had to ask and I’m certain Pertilius must have been expecting the question.
   ‘Any deal Satan makes must be written down and sealed as a record in the Hall of Damnation. There has only ever been one instance when he struck a deal with a knight back in the 15th century but had not taken the time to complete and store the contract.’ Pertilius seemed like an unending source of information, it was just a shame I had to prise it out of him.
   ‘What happened?’ I asked, curiously.
   ‘Gabriel and his brothers descended from heaven promising to wage war on our lord until he was dethroned, because they believed he had tricked a good soul into doing his work.’
   ‘I’m assuming the war never happened because he’s still hounding my ass.’ I said with a wry smile, secretly hoping I’d get a chuckle from the big monk but it never came.
   ‘On the eve of what would have been a devastating war, the knight in question raped and murdered a chamber maid, which ensured he was destined for hell no matter what. This was enough to force the angel’s to ascend back to their heavenly domain, but from that point on wards our master started keeping records of all his deals and should any record go missing he could face the wrath of the angel’s once more.’
   Silence fell on the room once again as he allowed me time to assimilate the story he had just told me. I glanced back down at the strange, crudely drawn symbol painted in blood inside the drawer.
   ‘Why would that sign be here instead of on the contract?’ I felt I was starting to push the boundaries of my friendship with the holy man from hell, but he was really the only one I knew who was inclined to give me truthful answers.
   ‘It’s further proof to the angels of where and when the deal was struck.’
   ‘Basically he was covering his ass?’ I said in my usual blunt way.
   ‘You could say that, yes. Other than the resurrection of the original sinner himself, our lords only other great fear is Gabriel descending to his kingdom.’ It was as the word sinner passed his lips that I suddenly remembered the gold chain in my pocket. I quickly pulled it out and handed it over to him.
   ‘I got this back for you.’ I said, dropping the gold chain with the ornate heart into his waiting palm.
   Although I could see no face beyond his hood, I knew if I could see one it would be wearing a thoughtful expression.
   ‘So it found its way to you after all.’ He said eventually, still holding it in his open palm like he did not want to touch it any longer than hr had to.
   ‘Only because the boss man, our lord as you like to call him, really wanted it.’ I said, fighting the temptation to snatch it back from him, but I knew that would be a truly bad idea.
   ‘Yes he would. Do you know what it is, Samuel?’ It was his turn to pose a question and once again I felt like a dummy.
   ‘Well its obviously some sort of sacred artefact, but beyond that all I know is that Satan was desperate to get it back. Yet, strangely enough he picked one of the fake gold chains I found along with it instead of that.’
   I watched as Pertilius rolled the heart shaped piece of gold back and forth in his palm, not wanting to touch it but somehow drawn to it at the same time.
   ‘Our master is the successor to the original sinner, Beelzebub. In his ascent to the throne he took no time to learn of the artefacts left behind that could harm him should they fall in to the wrong hands. All he knows is that he must get them back and stored away safely so that nothing can threaten his crown. Plus, he has no reason to believe that you would be foolish enough to try and trick him.’
   I was almost certain that there was a hint of glee in his voice, like a small child playing a prank on his parents. I glanced back down at the photo in my hand, taking in each of the seven smiling faces and with no clue who the missing seventh child was.
   ‘I always thought Beelzebub was just one of many names he used which basically all pointed to the same being.’ I said, not taking my eyes from the picture. I felt certain there was something I was missing but it was just to minute of a detail for me to see right away.
   ‘No, Beelzebub was the original creator of Hell. He was the one responsible for creating the seven levels and all the beings which ruled over them. Right now our time is limited and the lack of my my presence at the monastery will be noticed soon, so I can’t give you the complete history.’
   I turned my attention back to the heart shaped pendant in his hand. He could see my questioning gaze even if I couldn’t see his, but I was starting to feel a bit nervy myself. I felt certain that Satan was going to pay us a visit if we continued hanging out with each other.
   ‘So what is the big deal about the pendant? I know the chain its self is meaningless.’
   ‘It is the sinners’ heart, or Beelzebub’s heart as it’s known here in the human world.’ He held out the artefact for me to take and after past experience I wasn’t expecting a pleasant sensation as I reached out to take it.
    Unlike the sharp, electric sensation I got when I took possession of the last artefact, this one caused a nice comforting warmth to engulf my body as the gold bubbled and melted into the palm of my hands. I noticed the sacred symbols now tattooed on my wrists and forehead glow brightly as the ancient magic was absorbed into my body.
   ‘What does it do?’ I asked, enjoying the warmth probably a little more than I should have.
   ‘It will prevent any demon from the lower world being able to detect your true motivation. Essentially you could lie to the face of our lord and get away with it. However, it won’t stop them from being suspicious of you, so once again use it wisely.’
   The warmth was slowly dissipating and I could feel the cold air of the abandoned building beginning to push its way back under my skin.
   ‘Can these symbols be seen by anyone other than me, because Satan didn’t seem to notice the one’s on my forehead earlier?’ It was a silly question that had just occurred to me.
   ‘No. No one and no devil can see your markings, but…’ The hesitation in his voice was back once again and I could feel his guard coming back along with it. ‘…Once you have the last of the artefacts in your possession those markings will become visible and you will have no option but to stand before Satan.’
   I nodded my head upon receiving the answer I had already suspected. My mind swam with countless thoughts and questions, and trying to pick out something coherent just wasn’t working.
   ‘Thank you, once again. I’m sure I’ll owe you debt when all is said and done.’
   ‘I must go now Samuel. I suggest you get some rest. You will be unable to think straight given your energy levels.’
   I opened my mouth to ask one more question but before I could he was gone in that familiar puff of black smoke, and once again I was alone in the small class room, staring blankly at the remains of what must have been a massacre of innocent children.

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