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by Hunter Shea
Description: Only one priest can battle the ultimate evil! An evil as ancient as time itself has arisen and taken root in New York City. Father Michael, the mysterious undead defender of the Church, answers the call to action from the Vatican, while Cain, a malevolent wraith that feeds on fear and blood, has taken the life and form of the city's mayor and readies a demonic army to ignite the apocalypse. With an unlikely ally, Father Michael will prepare for the grim confrontation as he grapples with his sworn duty to God and the shreds of humanity left beating in his immortal heart. The time is ripe for Cain and the fulfillment of dark prophecies. Father Michael must battle Cain and his horde of demons in a final showdown that could very well herald the end of mankind.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: May 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [282 KB]
Reading time: 173-243 min.
Cardinal Gianncarlo walked briskly to Pope Pius XIII's office, his black robe billowing behind him. The sound of his quick and heavy footsteps echoed across the vast, marbled hallway. The day was bright and filled with promise, in stark contrast to the roiling cloud that had descended upon his fluttering heart.
The cardinal was normally a stern man, authoritarian to those beneath him, unflappable in his sense of duty to the Lord. His parents, Italian citizens who had made the mistake of openly sympathizing with the Jewish plight during World War II, had been murdered before his very eyes. At the age of seven, he had been placed in a Nazi death camp, managing to survive two years in brutal captivity until the Allied forces freed them all. He vowed to live the rest of his life in service to God and had done so with unequaled integrity and passion, earning the confidence of the leader of his blessed church.
The e-mail from the lone priest of a small Vermont parish had turned his skin the color of spoiled milk when he had been urged by his secretary to open it just minutes ago. With a knot of dread cramping his stomach, he sped off to the pontiff's study. Time was of the essence. Time and--
He reached the library that doubled as the pontiff's main office and study, and with unsteady hands rapped loudly on the massive oak door. Like the architectural design of the entire Vatican Palace, the door was a study in elegant simplicity. The voice of Pope Pius XIII beckoned him to enter.
"Sorry to disturb you, but something urgent just came in that I think you should see," Cardinal Gianncarlo said with a slight stammer.
The pope looked at the cardinal and knew. The exact details of the message were still a mystery to him, but the outcome, of that he was sure. The cardinal thought he detected a slight flickering of the light, the fire that had made him one of the most dynamic popes in centuries, behind his old friend's eyes.
Pope Pius XIII unfolded the printout with trembling, liver-spotted fingers and read the extensive message. When he was finished, he looked up at his old friend. Deep lines of great sadness etched across his brow.
"So, the inevitable has come back to hound us," the pope said.
"As much as it pains me to say, yes."
With a heavy sigh, the pope slumped back in his chair.
"How long has it been since the last appearance? Twenty, thirty years?"
"Nothing since Jonestown. Well over two decades of praying the evil was finally gone forever," the cardinal answered.
"What has no life can never die, my friend. I had hoped to have passed on to our Father's arms before this office was faced with such a situation, but we both well know life is never quite what we plan it to be. I'm an old man now. Do I have the strength to go through this again?"
The pope shrugged, the weight of time and responsibility bearing down on his brittle, sagging shoulders. He had served the office of pope for over thirty years, no small feat. He recalled his days as a young man, fresh from the seminary in his first parish in Bergamo, Italy. That young man would never have even dreamed to be what he would one day become. And no one could have guessed the true secrets that lay in store for his discovery when he ascended to the papacy.
"Would you like me to get Father Michael?"
Cardinal Gianncarlo had to resist the urge to pull him close, offering comfort for a man who had dedicated his life to bringing peace and comfort to millions. They were different men the last time, when the beast within Jim Jones was sent to hell, but not before so much had been lost; terrible choices forced to be made, too many lives lost. It had changed them, added years and unbearable pain to their souls.
The old pope shook his head.
"That is my duty. At my age, it will surely be my final call. Let the burden of the nightmares rest with me. I only ask that you sit and pray."
The cardinal settled into a plush leather chair and the pope offered his hand across the large, neatly arranged desk. In silence, the two men prayed while life outside his windows carried on, ignorant to the dark shadows gathering at the earth's edge.