This is the first chapter in the first book of ''The Horsemen Tetralogy' entitled 'Grief' The complete book can be purchased on Amazon for 99c. Your comments as always are appreciated.
“Parson?” The inspector's voice seemed distant and wraith-like, with no substance or meaning. I raised my eyes to look at her.
“Yes Miss Freeman” I said.
“Tell me a story”
‘The birth of my daughter had been difficult for both mother and child.
Forty-eight hours of pain and distress had resulted in a choice that no man should have to make. The life force of both my wife and child was not strong enough to sustain them both, and so one of them had to make room for the other. As a pastor of over ten years my faith was surly tested when my beloved Emily gave up her life for her child.
My love, my soul-mate and my friend – gone forever’.
THE DEALS WE DO
Daisy arrived into this world kicking and screaming, and although she could not possibly have conceived the tragedy that befell both of us on that most joyous, and yet most terrible of days, it seemed that she was adding a voice to accompany her pain for our loss. But on such a day that could not have held any more grief, my cup overflowed, for Daisy’s fight for life was not over as it was discovered that her blood was poisoning her. Transfusions were performed and blood sought from every source possible, but her rare genetic make-up made it impossible to cure her of this damnation, and as the doctors told me to prepare for the worst I felt the thin thread of sanity and reason snap under the weight of my despair.
Because of this I would never be able to trust my reasoning from that day forward. In the years that followed I was given every reason to believe that my mind had been lost to madness, for the things and happenings could not be explained by any sane individual.
As I sat by my daughters tiny body, helpless and driven to the edge of madness at having to watch her slip away from me, I am sorry to say that the faith in my God left me. I was angry at being punished for all my years of faith and devotion, and that I was now having to endure not only the loss of my wife, but also that of the one thing that would have kept me sane.
From inside I raged against this unseen and cruel force.
I screamed at him for the promises he had broken and for my love that he had seemingly thrown away. Even though I had prayed to him for mercy he had ignored my pleas and laughed at my pain.
This cruel God.
This unjust God.
This enemy mine.
I sat in the darkened hospital room, illuminated only by the machines that kept Daisy comfortable as she started her journey to the next life.
Tears would fall onto my cheeks as the torment of loss tore at me from within. I was foolish to think, however, that my prayers had gone unanswered, for someone had joined my bedside vigil – someone who had not made themselves known to me, but someone who had felt my pain and was waiting for my call.
As the night drew into the small hours of the morning, I found myself succumbing to my lack of sleep. I was not ready to give in, having a need to be aware when my Daisy would finally leave me. I stood up and stretched the fatigue from my bones and paced the room for a few minutes until stopping at the window in order to look up into the night sky. The stars shone bright, housed in a universe that would go on with or without me. I knocked lightly on the small table that held the uneaten food that had been provided by the nurses.
These angels that felt my pain and were so full of compassion.
“Do you hear me?” I asked.
The silence continued, but I expected nothing less.
“I have been abandoned, and so now I am turning to you”
Again the muted sounds of the monitors were all that filled the room, serving only to mark the time and as a countdown to a dreadful end.
“I have served the most powerful being in the universe for most of my adult life, and have fought the good fight against you. I know that you are all around us and I have turned from you countless times, and with great success – but now I turn to you as a last hope”
It was a final lunge for salvation, and one that was met with a contemptuous silence. I smiled mirthlessly at my situation, for it seemed that even The Beast himself had no time for someone as small and so insignificant as I.
The slight creak of the door opening caused me to start slightly from my pitying thoughts, and to my relief I found it to be one of the nurses checking on my daughter’s progress – or lack of.
I smiled at her and went back to looking to the stars.
“I would have thought by now that it was obvious that no-one up there is going to help you”
I turned to the nurse who had my daughters’ medical chart in her hand whilst she signed off on various readings.
“I’m sorry” I said, “Did you say something?”
The nurse looked up from her work.
“You asked for my help – did you not?”
She continued to take another reading whilst checking that the various monitors were still attached and working properly. She looked up at me again and smiled.
“She’s comfortable,” she said, and with that she left the room as if nothing had happened. With a look of bemusement on my face I walked to the door and looked out into the corridor and at the retreating nurse.
“Talk of the Devil – isn’t that how the saying goes?”
I jumped at this, for it had come from the night porter who was sweeping the hallway, whom I had not noticed until he spoke.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“You called for help – it appears that the big man has let another one of you down” He put down his broom and leaned back on the duty nurses desk. He held my gaze for a while before shrugging at my lack of an answer. He then picked up his broom and carried on with his cleaning.
“Maybe this form suits you better?”
I turned widely at this new voice to discover a small child that had appeared at my side. She was obviously a patient from another ward as she was dressed in a hospital gown and pulling a metal pole, from the top of which hung a saline drip.
“What is this?” I said, “Who are you child?”
She looked up at me without saying a word, and then carried on walking as if nothing had been said.
“Call me Legion,” said an old man who had been sitting opposite the room next to Daisy’s. I looked at him with wild puzzlement in my eyes.
It was becoming clear to me that my grief, mixed with a lack of sleep, had already begun to play tricks on my mind. I walked over to the gentleman and knelt before him.
“Why Legion?” I asked.
“For I am many,” said another nurse from behind me.
I stood to face her.
“Forgive me miss, I am having trouble understanding this game that seems to playing out at my expense”
She turned away from me as if I were not there.
“No game was intended Reverend. You called – I came”
This time the voice came from a young doctor who was standing by the door. He smiled and went into Daisy’s room and I followed suit.
As I entered I saw him looking at my daughters charts.
“It doesn’t look good does it Reverend”
“I am a Parson – I don’t usually get referred to as Reverend,” I said as I walked slowly around him. From every angle he seemed to be facing me without moving, and a dread filled my heart as I began to suspect as to whom this person was.
“My daughter is dying — so no, it does not look good”
He replaced the chart back on its hook, and at that moment the door opened again. Another nurse, older this time, entered and smiled at the doctor. They exchanged comments about the various readings that had been written throughout the day, and of the pain medication given in order to keep Daisy asleep and pain free. Having done this the doctor nodded to me and left the room.
I began to follow him until the nurse said,
“So why call? – her soul is safe from me. You should be happy that she gets a free pass to paradise, and to a God that is so happy to let her die.” she added with a smirk on her face.
“I have renounced my God,” I said.
The words stung as they left my lips and a part of me died as if readying itself to join my little girl.
“So you know that we will meet soon enough – why the urgency?”
My heart was beating so hard within my chest that I feared it would surly burst. This abomination had answered my call for help and a perverse hope sprang within me.
“I wish to deal with you — for the life of my daughter”
The nurse walked over and stood before me.
“You have renounced your God ‘parson’, you have nothing to offer me that I do not have already”
She took my hand and pushed it to her breast.
“Or is there something further you want from me?”
She leant in and licked the side of my face, and as she pulled away I saw that she had changed into the image of my poor dead wife. I snatched my hand away and cried out in anguish and revulsion, and as she stepped back she lifted the hem of her uniform.
“I have her here with me parson – you can have her again if it pleases you”, and with that she moved across the room faster than humanly possible, pinning me up against the wall. Her hand went to my crotch and I froze in terror.
“Let me please you parson” she breathed.
I cried out once more and pushed myself away from her grasp.
“A soul” I said gasping my fear, “I am here to bargain with a soul”
She leant casually against the wall.
“I have that already – you cannot bargain with what you do not have”
“Not mine” I said – “hers.”
I pointed towards the sleeping figure of my daughter causing the nurse, or whatever she was, to renew her interest in my offer.
“You would bargain with your child’s soul?” she said.
“For her life, her health and her happiness – yes, I would sacrifice her soul. Imagine it Demon, a new soul intended for immortality in paradise, yours for the taking”
The air grew heavy and tasted of tin.
The beast actually licked its lips, or the lips of the nurse it had possessed.
“Interesting’ it said, “for this you require?”
“As I said – her health restored, a long and happy life — a life filled with love and friends”
The nurse moved her head from side to side as if weighing up the terms.
“And to prevent any trickery on your part” I added, ‘you can have her when she reaches her eightieth birthday, and not before”
The nurse smiled.
“You think ahead parson – I like that”
“Just seeing that there are no little ‘accidents’ occurring to bring her life to a premature end – therefore it is in your best interest that she reaches her eightieth birthday”
“You have your deal parson”
“And I am to be left to my own fate”
“You will come to me in your own time – or not, either way the soul of an innocent will more than pay for your tainted heart”
At that the room was shattered by a baby’s cry – my baby.
“The deal is done – you have your daughter” and with that the nurse was returned to her former self, snatched back to reality by the screams of a hungry child. At once chaos seemed to reign as doctors and nurses swam into the tiny room in attendance to Daisy’s cry, and all I could do was watch as this new, and unexpected page of our lives turned.
When sanity returned to our lives, and all the tests had been done, it was said that my daughter’s recovery was nothing short of a miracle and that no medical explanation could be given for her sudden recovery from a fate sealed by Death himself. The truth remained mine to keep, and as I sat by the window of the mothers and babies room some time later, looking out over the city with its lights that seemed warm and welcoming once again, a small tear rolled down my face for my poor wife who would never have the chance to see this beautiful little girl that rested in my arms. Daisy looked up at me as she fed and uttered a gurgle through mouthfuls of milk. It was as if she saw my sorrow and was there for my pain.
One of the other mothers walked past and smiled when she saw Daisy.
"She is very pretty"
“Like her Mother” I said, “no longer with us sadly”
She put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed it gently.
“I’m so sorry” she said.
I said nothing and carried on looking down into Daisy’s big blue eyes.
“When was she born?” asked the lady, who had now taken the time to drape a blanket over my shoulders, as it must had seemed obvious to her how tired I was. She sat beside me and smiled at this small miracle – this saviour of my sanity.
I looked up at her, returning her smile
“February the twenty ninth” I said, and for a brief moment I could have sworn I saw her eyes flare red.
“Like you said – I think ahead” I added, and with that I closed my eyes against the unheard cries of wrath from both sides of the celestial sphere.
END OF CHAPTER ONE.