â€œHe who was wounded by the sword and yet livedâ€¦whose fatal wound had been healed.â€
â€“ The Revelation
A stranger knocked on the front door. The little boy of almost eight could see him in the porch light.
â€œWell, open the door, Stephen,â€ Mother said as she came to the front door from the kitchen.
The boy pulled open the door, and Mother asked, â€œCan I help you?â€
â€œI have to stay at your house tonight,â€ the man answered.
Mother started to laugh and shut the door. She was almost scared. Then she hesitated, and looked at the man again. â€œCome in,â€ she heard herself say.
â€œYour husband will not mind,â€ the stranger assured her.
â€œYou know my husband?â€ Mother asked, a little relieved.
But the stranger didnâ€™t answer. Instead, he stepped into the house. The entry light fell on his straight black hair and his chiseled features, deepened in the shadow. The little boy shied away, and then ran. â€œWill you show me where I can prepare for the night?â€ was all the stranger said.
â€œOf course,â€ Mother said. â€œYou can stay outside in the game room. Follow me.â€
She led the stranger through the kitchen to the back door. â€œMy husband is at the church, at a committee meeting,â€ she said. â€œHe should be home soon, though,â€ she added quickly.
â€œThis used to be the garage,â€ Mother explained as she opened the door to the game room and switched on the lights, â€œbut there was a fire and we rebuilt. The sofa over there makes into a bed. Iâ€™ll get my husband to bring you some blankets.â€
She looked at the man for a response or even for a question, but got no answer. He just crossed the room and sat at the table. â€œIf there is anything you need, come to the back,â€ Mother said as she closed the door behind her.
â€œWhat are you getting so upset about?â€ Mother asked Father after she told him about the stranger. â€œI thought you knew him.â€
â€œWell I donâ€™t know him,â€ Father answered. â€œI canâ€™t believe you let some strange man come in and stay in the game room. What were you thinking?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Mother confessed. â€œI just couldnâ€™t tell him no. I felt like we would know what to do. Anyway, Iâ€™ve already done it.â€
â€œI know exactly what to do,â€ Father started.
â€œDonâ€™t,â€ Mother chided him. â€œHere are the blankets for his bed. Youâ€™re late, so he might already be asleep. And please donâ€™t make a fuss. Iâ€™ll go ahead and put Stephen to bed.â€ Mother turned rapidly away from her husband and picked their son up from in front of the TV. The boy was already falling asleep as she carried him to his room.
â€œDonâ€™t make a fuss,â€ Father mumbled, folding the blankets under his arm. â€œHe might be asleep she says. Too bad.â€
When Father was outside, he could see a light in the game room. Heâ€™s up, Father thought. Iâ€™ll give him money for a hotel or something and get him out of here.
He looked in through the window of the game room.
The stranger was kneeling in the middle of the room. The light was a dark presence around him. It was a malevolent light, one that welled up from his body. A body of blackness, radiating a dark aura. What sounded like thunder roared through the night and grew louder before subsiding altogether. The stranger convulsed violently as he struggled to answer.
â€œThey accepted me,â€ he spat out in a voice that grew from everywhere like the thunder. â€œThey cannot refuse me,â€ he finished as his lips writhed in pain with the words that echoed into silence.
Father dropped the blankets and stepped back, staring at the stranger. He moved with purpose then, back into the house. He clutched for a knife inside a kitchen drawer and stumbled back through the house and outside. The light was still shimmering from the game room, casting shadows with the movements of its creator. Suddenly fear grabbed Father by the throat; his resolution was crushed by it. He fell back against the door, gasping for breath.
â€œLet me do this thing,â€ he moaned.
His hand tightened on the knife. His steps strengthened as he crossed to the game room. He did not look inside. He put his shoulder against the door and the lock gave. Father could see only the strangerâ€™s demon face. He drove the knife through the darkness of its body, the blood running blacker than the darkness. The dying presence forced Father back out of the room. Father staggered into the house to find his wife charging into the den. The knife was still clutched in his hand.
â€œOh my God!â€ Mother screamed. Father fell to his knees. â€œWhat have you done?â€
Stephen came from out of the dark hall, rubbing his eyes. â€œI have killed the Beast,â€ he heard Father say.
â€œYou did what?â€ Mother couldnâ€™t believe it. She fled past Father, drawing him and her son in her wake. Outside the blankets blew towards them in the wind.
There was still a light on in the game room. Mother rushed on, Father groaned, and Stephen hurried to catch up. They reached the door together and looked in on the stranger, who returned their stares with the distant rumble of a laugh.
Â© 2010 Wasted Space Publishing