They and the house have been cleansed, so Neil and Cynthia settle down to do some studying. They discovered, what looks like, a recipe written in Old Gaelic. While they are trying to figure out its use, Neil’s C.O., Captain Curtis, arrives at the door. Unfortunately, he’s there to kill Neil. Fighting the influence, he begs for Neil’s help. Neil asks her to bring the holy oil, after taking Curtis’ weapon away.
Curtis’ hands trembled. Sweat broke on his brow. Neil held the weapon, pointing it away from them both. Cynthia trotted through the doorway and stopped cold.
“It’s all right, Cynthia. Just bring the oil over and annoint the Captain, please. Someone has taken over his body and we need to help.”
“What’s going on?” she asked as she hurried over. “Who is this?”
“A friend. We don’t wanna hurt him if we can help it,” Neil kept his voice level, his tone calm. “John, my wife, Cynthia, is going to annoint you. It may hurt. You just take deep breaths and let it work, okay? I’m here. It’s gonna be all right.”
Cynthia started praying, unsure what language she spoke. The words came to her and she muttered rapidly as she dipped her thumb in the oil. It felt warm to the touch and tingled against her skin. Raising her hand, she touched John Curtis’ forehead, making the sign of the cross. She might be descended from druids, but she was raised Catholic. Some things were instinctive.
Curtis shuddered, moaning as she touched him. Closing his eyes, he inhaled slowly.
“Look at me, Johnny,” Neil insisted. “It’s worse if you close off. Look at me.”
The Captain forced his eyes open, moaning again. “It hurts, Neil.”
“I know. And it’s gonna get worse.”
“Not a comfort, kid.”
“It’s all I’ve got, sir. Go ahead, baby,” he said to Cynthia. “Hands next. Then heart.”
Trembling, she made the sign of the cross on each of Curtis’ hands as well as Neil’s. She reached awkwardly inside his shirt and made the sign over his heart, then turned to Neil, repeating the forehead and heart on him. Afterward, she poured oil in her hands, rubbing them vigorously together. Unsure what she was supposed to do, she followed her instincts and placed one hand on each man’s head, praying as she pushed at Curtis with her mind.
Screaming, he shuddered, his hands tightening on the weapon. Neil held on, joining Cynthia in her litany. Curtis screamed louder and his skin roiled and writhed under Cynthia’s hand, as if his muscles had all decided to curl up at once. Making sounds none of them had ever heard before, he let go of the gun and fell to his knees on the porch.
Neil took the weapon, releasing the magazine and emptying the chambered round. These went into his pockets, the gun into the back of his pants. Curtis shuddered and groaned on the porch. The ordeal had caused his bladder and bowels to evacuate. Covered in mess, he huddled on the porch, still in agony. Suddenly, he was flung on his back, in full grand mal seizure.
“I can’t do this,” Cynthia said. “I don’t know….”
“Help me turn him on his side.” Together, they positioned Curtis safely. Neil spoke to him calmly, stroking the other man’s hand as he seized. “I’m here, John. It’s almost over. I promise. It’s going to be okay. Baby, get him some holy water for him to drink. Add a pinch of blessed salt and cumin and purifying herbs.”
Cynthia rushed off to do as he asked. Moments later, she was back with a small glass. The worst of the seizure was over, so they helped the Captain sit up enough to drink. Groaning once more, he relaxed against Neil’s chest.
“No. Nothing to be sorry for, Johnny. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
“I can’t come in like this.”
“I’ve got an outdoor shower. Can you walk?”
“I think so.”
Together, Cynthia and Neil helped John up and led him to the shower. Neil undressed his friend down to his briefs and rinsed his garments at the hose. Cynthia brought towels, soap and clean clothing which had been Cliff’s. Dora hadn’t cleared it all out yet, but she was glad to have it, because the Captain was more his size than he was Neil’s. Left to bathe in the outside shower stall, the Captain spoke to Neil, who waited on the other side of the enclosure.
“What the hell happened to me, Braxton?”
“You were possessed, sir.”
“The fuck you say?”
“When you’re clean and dressed, we’ll go inside and talk about it. It’s gonna sound like witchcraft and hoodoo, sir.”
“You can drop the sir, Neil. You’re a free man now.”
Neil chuckled. “Yeah, well, you’ve earned it the hard way.”
“Didn’t we all?” He came out, dressed in Cliff’s jeans and Pink Floyd T-shirt.
Neil took his wet things to the washing machine before going into the house proper. Cynthia had a pot of herb tea brewing and they sat down to eat sandwiches and have some relaxing, restorative tea.
“I was possessed,” Captain Curtis prompted. “Why? By whom?”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes