Fear the Wicked – Lily White

It would take some finesse on my part to bend the morality of the citizens of the small town I’d inherited. Every Sunday, they showed up faithfully. And every Sunday, I eased them into the violence I knew lay just beneath their skin. It was right there, an electric current just waiting for the proper outlet to be expressed. Time would pull them all into my mind, would set them on the path of salvation that the family had already begun to walk. Most were readily pliant, others more difficult. My twin brother, Jacob, had done an impressive job losing the trust of his parishioners. During the week he went mad, he was rude to them, he’d distanced himself from them, and he’d insulted them. Especially the father of Annabelle Prete. Just thinking about that poor girl had my shoulders shaking with soft laughter against the cheap, secretarial chair in Jacob’s prior office. Richard walked in and I tracked his short journey across the room, my eyes meeting his when he dropped his weight into a chair facing my desk. I pulled the clerical collar from my neck and threw it on the wood surface. “How much longer, boss? The family is getting antsy.” “A few minutes at most. Eve is ready.

The martyr that she is.” More soft laughter was a vibration over my chest. Grinning, Richard glanced over my shoulder toward the window at my back. “Joshua may have an issue with the example being made of his sister.” “Joshua knows,” I explained, little concern in my voice for how the family members would react to the show. Three months wasn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough time to isolate the town. With the small farms and bevy of blue collar talents, it wasn’t difficult to become a community without much need of outside assistance. In response to my sermons, the citizens had slowly closed themselves off, had turned away from the televisions and internet, had burned whatever cultural items their children had acquired in an effort to blend in with the youth of the larger cities hundreds of miles outside our borders. Isolation was key and to accomplish that, I’d spoken to the Diocese regarding the threat against the Mother and remaining Sisters at the convent following the discovery of Sister Joyce’s body. There wasn’t much left of her.

It appeared she’d been abducted by the same psychopath that stole Eunice from the convent’s doors, but rather than returning her to the parish, he must have left her to the wild animals along the lonely dirt road where she was discovered. A smile had stretched my lips during that particular phone call, but fortunately they could only hear the feigned regret and sorrow in my voice. The Diocese agreed that the remaining nuns should be removed to another convent far from our sleepy mountain, at least until the killer was caught. They’d left me in charge of the small congregation, alone and unsupervised, and then thanked me for the foresight to see to the nuns’ safety. Oh, yes, Father Hayle, you are so wise… I’d laughed at the compliment. They were nothing but slack-jaws, all of them. Richard’s meaty hand ran through his brown hair. Shoulder length, it framed the parts of his face that his thick, long beard didn’t hide. With broad shoulders and a rotund stomach bulging over the large buckle of his belt, Richard leaned back in his chair, kicked his legs out and crossed them at the ankles. Unlike him, I was the sleek rural priest with black hair and blue eyes, shoulders as broad as Richard’s, but a stature standing a few inches taller.

Built to seduce, my body was a weapon of deception as opposed to Richard’s brute strength. It was no surprise to me that the younger female parishioners – those girls that had come to an age where childhood was far behind – batted their eyes when I looked in their direction. In truth, they were flirting with Jacob, not realizing I’d taken his place. “Five minutes,” Richard finally said, his voice as gruff as his appearance. “You should get in your robe and get out there.” He paused, considering. “Not many people showed up from town.” “I didn’t invite many,” I explained as I pushed to my feet. “And the cassock won’t be necessary. This isn’t Mass or anything formal, just a gathering of the family and the men from town that I think will be ready for this little treat.

Once we have them convinced that it’s normal, they’ll help convince the other men. Once we have the men, we’ll have the women, and once we have the women, we’ll have the town.” I winked at him. “Baby steps, Richard.” Nodding, he smiled and stood to walk with me into the hall, our booted steps heavy and in no hurry against the ground. Turning the corner, we looked across the nave toward the sanctuary. Eve sat in a single, small chair to the left of the pulpit. Covered by a hooded black robe, she angled her head down so you couldn’t see her face. Silent. Motionless.

Both fearful and excited, Eve proved her worth to me every single day. Anticipation was the tension across our shoulders. “You think she’ll scream?” Richard asked, a touch of humor in his question, his eyes darting between Eve and me. My lips curled at the corners, desire crawling inside me as electric sparks beneath the skin. “I know she will,” I answered, “in both pain and perverse pleasure. And I can promise you, Richard, there is no other music like it.” EVE The ceremony would begin in a few minutes. I listened to the people who gathered, felt compelled to peek out from beneath the hood just to know who would stand in attendance of the first true cleansing. But no matter how badly I wanted to know who would stand in witness, I kept my head bowed and out of sight, just as I’d been instructed. Elijah warned me that it would hurt.

Not as bad as the brand I wore on my shoulder, but more than what he did to me in bed. Yet, I didn’t fear what was coming. Only because I knew that what would follow would be a release of pressure like I’d never known. Wickedness is only relieved with pain. And pain is a balm to the sinner’s soul. It flays you open, settles inside, and shreds you until there is nothing left. You’re meat, pulled open and tenderized while the pain whistles across you. But once you’re clean, once every last ounce of the sin you carry is lifted and banished into the ether, you’re free. A bird flying high. A dolphin gliding through water.

You are lost in a moment of pure bliss that is a comforting hug in the warm morning sun. Only Elijah could give that to me. Created. Molded. Shaped and formed, I was what he wanted. I was what he alone knew existed inside me. But for all his power, all his wisdom and his strength, he was never able to remove the doubt I carried. I loved him and feared him. Worshipped him and despised him. I couldn’t live without him, even while knowing he would one day kill me.

The shuffling of feet quieted, the soft thud of bodies settling over the pews, and the sharp clatter of keys slapping against the wood from where the rings hung on the parishioners’ belts. Only one set of footsteps could be heard. Low and rhythmic, they approached the altar and pulpit, beats measured by a steady gait, the powerful and seductive walk of a predator. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. I thank you for gathering together with me today.” Elijah’s voice was a low hum across the room, a soothing melody in a rich tenor, a tone that was as soft as it was fierce. My heart sped at the sound of it. “I’ll start off this meeting with an explanation to those few who were invited. You’ll notice there are no women or children in attendance, and the only people here tonight are the few men who I didn’t doubt were ready to protect the serenity of their small town.” Grumbles of understanding and murmurs of approval were the harmony accompanying Elijah’s words.

His manner of speaking was casual, a group of men discussing simple politics. There was no rush to the point, no emotions beyond the soothing laziness of a well-trained voice. I fell easily into the hypnotic lull of a peaceful summer afternoon just like the others. Silence for only a moment. Broken when Elijah spoke again. “I had a female parishioner approach me this week, gentlemen. She came to confess, came to speak in earnest about the sins she’d committed outside of town. I know this woman well, as do many of you. And it pains me to find that she’s fallen for the Devil’s seductive temptation.” He paused, his voice deepening.

“She’s possessed, it appears. Possessed by a demon that could infect your children…your wives.” More murmurs erupted, a few sharp inhalations of breath that betrayed the shock felt by a few of the men in attendance. “We owe it to this woman to help her. More than that, we owe it to ourselves to protect our families from the threat staring us in the face.” Another drawn out pause before, “May I speak frankly, Mr. Prete?” The man’s response wasn’t oral, but he must have given some indication that Elijah could go on. “We haven’t always seen eye to eye have we, Mr. Prete?” Another silent answer. “And I think most of the people in this room know why.

But for those who don’t, I’ll state the facts of the situation as delicately as possible. Annabelle Prete was a good girl. She was a believer in the Almighty, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She made her father proud and the town right alongside him. She was going somewhere.” I could hear Elijah pacing slowly to my right, his steps the only sound breaking apart the silence pregnant with trepidation and hesitant interest. It would have smothered me beneath its heavy weight if not for Elijah moving around. “Annabelle is dead, and between what was said to me in her last confession and what was sent to me by an unknown person outside of town, I’m concerned that the spirit infecting the woman seated next to me was the same one that infected Annabelle.” His steps stopped. “I won’t show the pictures, but I can tell you they were indecent, immoral, and utterly shocking.

They were porn, images of a young girl who didn’t know she’d lost her way. Disturbing as they were, they only verified what the young woman said to me before she died. More disturbing than that was my behavior toward Mr. Prete following the death of his daughter. I was so full of righteous fury and intolerable regret following Annabelle’s death that I’d forgotten the discussion I’d had with Mr. Prete. At least until he reminded me.” I remembered the girl’s death, recalled that it changed Elijah in a way I couldn’t understand. While I’d always feared the power inside him, I’d been shown a softness I never knew existed. The first few days in the parish, he’d tended to me with a gentle hand.

Resisted me until I’d cried believing I’d been rejected. When he resumed his attentions on me, the first few times had been a caress of healing hands and sensual teeth. But after that girl died, after he witnessed a woman lost to the demons that plagued her, his attentions on me had changed. The pain was exquisite, yet agonizing. His fear that I’d be lost as well driving him to exhaustion as he worked his magic inside me, as he battled and fought the sin that filled me until I was practically screaming. Elijah had changed from one man into another. I couldn’t understand why that change frightened me. Perhaps I was coming to life for once in my life, or perhaps I was being dragged back into the veil of ignorance and doubt that had always consumed me. “I want to apologize to you, Mr. Prete.

For both my weakness and my cruelty. I’m sure having lost one of your daughters, you can understand the pain I was feeling.” Mr. Prete wasn’t much of a talker and it drove me a little mad that I couldn’t see what was happening in the room. “I was unable to save that young woman from whatever sickness plagued her. I was unable to guide her away from whatever monster it was that stole her virtue and took pictures of the crime he committed against her – the pictures he thought necessary to send to me.” My breath caught. I knew what was coming. Elijah’s voice grew in strength as he spoke his next words. “I couldn’t save Annabelle, but I can save this woman.

However, I’ll need a strong body around me, a group of men whose faith in the Lord is without doubt. I need prayers, gentlemen, while I exorcise the demon ensnaring this young woman. Can you offer that to me despite what you see? Can you bless me and this suffering child of God with your participation and understanding?” The men in attendance spoke, each acknowledging that they would give Elijah whatever help he needed. Faceless voices in different pitches and tones, each one resolute in their agreement that my sin needed to be cleansed. “We’ll begin,” Elijah announced. “Eve. Please walk to me.” My legs barely held me as I stood, but I managed to cross the distance between us, was able to remain on my feet at Elijah’s side. I wondered if the pain would be excruciating. “This may shock you, gentlemen, but I believe desperate times call for desperate measures.

She has the demon of lust inside her. Its sharp claws are entangled in her heart, its razor sharp teeth embedded in her soul. It’s stolen her virtue and sanity, her ability to think clearly in the face of temptation.” His hand touched my shoulder. I lifted my eyes to see the men sitting in attendance. My gaze stilled when it locked on the faces of my father and brother. There was no fighting the tears that fell. “Eve,” Elijah said, “We’ll need you to confess before we can drive the demon from you.” His voice softened. “Can you do that for me?” I almost laughed.

He’d never asked me that question before. Normally he demanded a confession out of me. “Yes,” I finally answered. The fabric of the hood slid from my head as he removed it, the cloth sash tying the robe around my body loosened until the robe itself was pulled from my shoulders. When they witnessed my nudity, some murmured in surprise, while others stared at the parts of me that brought on my shame. Fully exposed, I was the spectacle of a woman’s deception. “Calm down, gentlemen, I know this is uncomfortable. But if we are to help this woman we need to stand in witness of her shame and degradation. We need to believe in the Father who will lend us His strength in casting out the evil that holds her captive. We need to look upon her with an eye of pity rather than that of lust.

It is just a naked body, one with a natural purpose that has been used to the Devil’s advantage.” The hum of conversation grew quiet and I was directed to stand between two large posts, my face turned to the stained glass window, my arms bound above my head and to the sides of my body – cuffs attached to the posts that would secure me in place. A shudder of doubt rolled through me, most likely the demon shaking beneath the knowledge that it would be expelled. My head fell forward. “Confess, Eve. Tell God your sins so that your penance will cleanse them from your body.” More murmurs of surprise erupted just before the strike of a whip cut into my back. The scream that burst from me was unholy, my tears hot and steadily flowing as I forced myself to speak. “I’ve had disgusting thoughts,” I breathed out, trying and failing to add any strength to my voice. The burning line across my back felt like it seeped beneath my skin to set my lungs on fire.

I couldn’t draw in air, could barely think past the sting of purification. “Thoughts that no person should have.” Another strike and I screamed again, my throat torn by the sheer volume, my jaw aching from how wide I stretched my lips. My wrists shook in the cuffs that held them, my legs giving out until I couldn’t find the ability to push to my feet again. Tears dropped to the floor beneath me, small, wet puddles of evidence that could be used against me. Those same tears soaked into my lips, the salt flavor of my agony a coating over my tongue. Through sobs, I called out, “I’ve wanted immorality, craved sensuality, exposed my body and tempted men. I let one touch me. Let him press his naked body against mine.” A terribly deep sob racked me.

“He wasn’t my husband.” The next strike of the whip cut through the cries of surprise and grunts of disapproval from the audience. Voices picked up, prayers being repeated as the men witnessed my shame. I wasn’t sure my knees would hold me much longer. Memory took me back to that night on the road, the night I’d willfully shown my body to a man who wasn’t Elijah. For months, I’d believed he’d forgiven me, but in a state of panic about my eternal soul, Elijah had remembered within the last few days, all because I’d confessed what happened that night had become a fantasy. Not the man. Never him. Just the way he’d controlled me. “I invited the man to look at me,” I breathed out before the whip came down again.

The crack of leather caused my body to jump. The burning strike against my skin driving the breath from my lungs. My voice cracked and splintered beneath the strain of pure torture. Euphoria settled in as I hung limp from the cuffs that bound me, and I felt free once again, slickness evident between my thighs. The whip stopped, its weight dropped to the floor at my feet. Elijah stood silent for only a few seconds before turning to the audience and claiming, “Gentlemen, the purge of evil has begun.” JACOB Darkness doesn’t settle, it consumes. Flames of burning onyx, smoke full of mortal dread. Talons that tear you limb from limb until you’re only a shadow of what you once had been. I know darkness, and darkness knows me.

I’d stared into its eyes and breathed its noxious poison. I’d supped on the sensual torment of every girl who’d crossed my bed. They scream until the night is cut through by the violence in their voice, but they keep coming back, one by one, begging to do it again. They weren’t her, though – weren’t Cassandra or Eve. Sure, they begged and cried like the other two, but not for me to keep going. They wanted me to stop. Fear overtook them, the pain unsettling, but I never listened, never cared, never fell for the pathetic pleas and moans. They knew what they were walking into when they climbed into my bed. My heart was absent after the loss of Eve, but I hadn’t been knocked down by her death. I was brought to life.

I was charged by vengeance and the patience of biding my time. Because if the monster inside couldn’t be glutted by the sadism in bed – if I could no longer grow hard over the trembling bodies of the weak and desirous, the temptresses who keep me enraptured – then that vengeance I needed would be the only escape, the only balm, the last wicked act that would console me. It was only a matter of time… ELIJAH “Shhhhh, my girl, shhh. It wasn’t that bad. I didn’t lose control like I feared I would. Don’t worry.” After the building had emptied and the men returned home to think over what they witnessed, I stood behind Eve spreading ointment over her wounds. Her arms were still bound to the posts at her sides, blood seeping down her back where the thin lashes had broken the skin. “You’re tired. You should rest when I pull you down.

You’re limp.” “I could sleep for days,” she answered, her voice haggard and breathless. Soft laughter was a rumble in my chest. “Not that I’d let you.” Stepping closer, I ran my lips across her shoulder, enjoyed the shudder of her body as my hand reached around to take possessive hold of her breast. “You make me hungry in ways no man should hunger. I can’t look at you without wanting to taste your decadent sin.” “Then I’ll destroy you.” “No, my sweet girl. You’ll never be powerful enough for that.

” I fought not to laugh at how confused she was – had always been since the day her parents brought her to live with the family. Tiny and shy, she’d stared at me with distrustful eyes, her body angled so that she was partially hidden behind her mother’s legs. I’d smiled down at her and hadn’t known at that moment just how much potential existed inside her. As the years passed and as she grew into the woman she now was, that potential revealed itself to me until I was no longer able to deny it. She was everything I needed, everything that Jacob needed to lose himself once again. Raising her, training her, molding her, had been so damn sweet. Reaching to unbuckle her cuffs, I released one wrist to watch her arm slap down to the side. Every ounce of strength in her body was gone. She was malleable and pliant, weak willed and distraught. “You were a good example today, Eve.

A testament to what I’ve made of you. You’ll help me lead them to the light.” Her other wrist released, she would have fallen to the floor had I not caught her. “We’ll get you cleaned up. Let you sleep.” Cradling her to my chest, I made my way to the rectory and placed her on a chair in the bedroom, reminding her not to lean back against her wounds as I drew a bath. Eve’s identity remained a mystery to the residents of the small town. They neither knew she was my wife nor that she stayed at the parish with me as entertainment for the long nights I spent within the dismal confines of a rural building. I missed the energy of the city where I was raised, missed the constant stimulation to be had from the myriad of faces. The family had been a distraction for as long as it took Richard and me to gather them and cure them of the morality they’d learned from the world.

Our games had been amusing, an experiment that kept boredom at bay over the years I created my small army. Now, however, confined to a parish that meant nothing more to me than what it would offer within the town, my tastes delved into deeper darkness, my mind screaming for sensation within the shell of a life my brother had left behind. How he hadn’t gone mad prior to my delicate prodding, I wasn’t sure. The lack of light, the absence of activity, the hours of solitude were enough to push any sane person over the edge. Water filled the tub, a sheen of steam rolling over its surface before I turned it off and returned to Eve. Her wounds weren’t as bad as they would one day become, a web of striated scars over her skin telling the tale of the abuses she’d endured for her faith. I’d feel wrong for taking such full advantage if I didn’t loathe the easily deceived, the pathetic minded majority that clung to a story told for over two thousand years. She trembled as I carried her to the tub, her hair draped over my arm and her hands clinging weakly to my body. Dropping her into the water crossed my mind. She wouldn’t be able to stop her fall.

But it would break her too much, too soon, and too badly for the games I wanted to play. Lowering her beneath the surface, I closed my eyes in response to the painful cry that burst from her lips. “Shhhhh,” I reminded her. “It will all be over soon.” Tears streamed down her cheeks to mingle with the water, her body’s quiver becoming still as the heat soothed the wounds. “Is that better?” I whispered. Her head nodded, the ends of her hair trailing in the water. Like dark silk, it floated on top, the pale tone of her skin blurred beneath the ripples. My gaze dragged across to where her collarbone broke the surface of the water, down farther to where the tight peak of her breast was just beneath, the soft rose color teasing me until I had to force myself to look away. I couldn’t fuck her after what I put her through.

I couldn’t use her body even more just to gratify mine. That would be cruelty beyond bounds, the hunger of a monster. Or could I? Did I really care if it hurt her or not? Balancing an arm over the lip of the tub, I skimmed the tips of my fingers over the water. Eve’s breathing was slow and rhythmic, a soothing sound against my ear as I dipped my fingers down beneath to trace them over the soft curve of her abdomen. Her lips parted on a sigh, her chest arching up just enough to tell me she would accept the pain of my body against her wounds just to linger within the pleasure I could give her. So perfectly trained. “Do you still think about the man on the side of the road, my love? The man who saw the parts of you that should have only been for me? Who touched you when you belonged to a man of God?” Eyes blinking open, she stared at me from beneath waterlogged lashes. My hand traveled lower over her body, my fingers brushing down between her legs, not to torment but to tease. Her breath rattled from her lungs. “Yes.

I’ve told you the story so many times. And you’ve punished me each time I’ve told it, but still, when I close my eyes, I see him touching himself, feel his eyes on my body while he-” Her words cut off when my finger dipped inside her body to massage around the entrance, to tantalize the muscles into expanding for my intrusion. I tsked my tongue against the roof of my mouth, smiled down at a living doll who was created to house my spirit. The girl she’d been before the week in my cabin was no longer staring out from behind green eyes, she was locked away and caged, a phantom that should have never existed. A steady rhythm in and out, my hand worked to push her to that edge. Studying her the way a cat would watch a wounded bird, I noted every shiver across her skin, every flicker of her eyelashes, and the heavy breath pulsing across her lips. I watched as a faint pink blush colored her skin, listened as the soft moans of a woman seeking her seductive release crawled up her slender throat. I’d give her what she sought, send her careening over that edge into ecstasy, but not without a price. Leaning closer, I kept my lips a teasing distance from her ear. My free hand pressed to her forehead, I gave her only one warning.

“Hold your breath.” Her eyes opened and rounded just as her head sank beneath the water, my palm pressed against her forehead as if I were baptizing her all over again. Still working her body, I held her down, watched as small bubbles of air escaped her lips to float to the surface. She writhed beneath the touch, fought against being held in place, her terrified eyes still staring up at me despite the water between us. “Don’t be scared,” I said softly, unsure whether she could hear me. “Just let go. Trust me, Eve. Turn your life over into my hands.” It was the undiluted panic that fascinated me, the sound of splashing water against the porcelain tub and tile floor, the way her body shifted and moved as she struggled against my hold. It was the knowledge that, despite her fear, a climax had burst through her body, the sound of it woven into her breath as it rose in large chaotic bubbles through the water.

When she stilled, when the light behind her eyes faded until I knew she was close to unconsciousness, I lifted her head above the surface of the water, my voice a soft hum against her weary senses. She gasped for breath as I smiled. “Always trust me, Eve. And I will be sure to take care of you.”

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