It was a icy, rainy day, when Father Abraham ducked into Jose’s Quick Trims for a haircut. He shook his black felt hat outside before entering. A little bell dinged as he crossed the threshold and set his hat on a coat rack next to service desk.
The lady behind the counter smiled. Father smiled back as he pulled his arms out of his coat and hung it on the rack as well.
“Good evening, Marsha,” he said, “I’m looking to get a trim. How long is the wait?”
“We have a couple of appointments, but they seem to be running behind,” she said. “My best guess is probably ten minutes at least.”
“That’s wonderful. I’ll take a seat.”
Father sat down in a chair across the window. He loved watching the rain smack the pavement outside, the cars bursting through it, the puddles spray and the nervous passersby ducking and jumping the waves of water from under their umbrellas.
He didn’t want them to get splashed; he just remembered what it was like as a child playing in those streets on days like this. He frolicked in the puddles, but most people didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as he.
It wasn’t long however until his joy was broken. A message deep inside him awoke a curious horror. He stood up suddenly, face ashen as he focused on the apartment building across the way. There was a deep disturbance inside, something dark and horrible was happening within and he was under the notion that an innocent was involved.
He hurried to the rack and retrieved his coat and hat. Marsha frowned at his urgency to leave.
“Sorry, my dear,” he said, mustering a smile, “I just remembered something very important. I will be back tomorrow.”
He turned and walked out, back into the torrent. Gripping his coat collar, he crossed the street quickly, adhering to the laws as best as possible, however, it wasn’t man’s law he was afraid of at the moment.
The doorway to the building was made of metal and glass, and next to the door an electric fob prevented non-tenants from entering. Father said a quick prayer, tightly grasping his beads and he heard a click. The door unlock. He whispered a thank you to the sky and ventured onward.
Inside was dark. The only light was a flickering bulb in the entry way, and more as the hall turned. To his left and right were darkened halls, only illuminated by a single source. The silence was overwhelming, as if there were a tiger in the shadows ready to jump. Father held close his cross, as well as stroked the bottle of holy water he had in his right pocket.
“Holy Spirit, guide me to where I must go, and bless me with the discernment to act accordingly…”
He turned to the left. The darkness thickened and that familiar feeling of being stalked kept his wits about him. As he turned the corner, he could hear a growling deep in his gut. He was getting closer. The hall felt stuffy, foggy, and repellent. His mind reached out and touched the innocence; it was close. He only needed to make a few more steps and he would be there.
Number 6… He touched the door of number 6 and immediately felt the malevolence inside. Again he whispered a prayer and the door unlocked. Without warning, Father Abraham opened the door wide open to find an old woman standing over a cauldron. Surrounding her were cages and cages of animals. It was incredibly loud and he wondered why he couldn’t hear them from outside.
The smell, as well, was deafening. Urine and feces everywhere. The floor covered in straw, of all things, sandwiching the excrement with the carpet. She seemed not to notice him, until he stepped forward and she suddenly slashed out a cleaver that was in her hand.
“Who are you!” she hissed. Glaucoma settled in her eyes, deep lines exaggerated her sagging cheeks, her nose red and swollen. She was short, perhaps 4’3″ with gnarly gray hair and whiskers.
She stepped closer with her cleaver. Father Abraham stood his ground, not out of bravery but because there was some creature breathing down his neck. He felt the wispiness of whiskers behind him, and a guttural growl that sounded almost feline.
“What are you doing here?”
Father Abraham swallowed. “I know what you are doing. You have a child in here. I’ve come to take it.”
“You can’t take him! I found him! He’s mine!”
“He is not yours. I have under great authority to take him away from you. Either you give him to me of your own free will, or a greater force will intervene.”
She swiped at him with the knife. He flinched. “Look at you!” she said, cracking a smile, “You’re scareder than a chicken who wandered into a fox den. You’re in luck. No foxes here. Only Mul!”
Behind him, another sensation, like a large cat tongue raking across the back of his head.
“Do you think your god can stand up to Mul?”
With that blasphemy the darkened room and hallway erupted with light and Father Abraham felt the presence of Mul disappear with an angry shriek.
She as well began to convulse from the light. Dropping her blade, she clasped her ears and closed her eyes, wailing and collapsing to her knees. The sound was awful and mixed with the horrid scent of the apartment, Father Abraham, too, nearly faltered in the brightness.
Then her heard a baby crying in the next room. He walked past the witch into the kitchen, where he found the baby on the cutting board. She must have been just about to cut him up.
Not wanting to linger, he scooped up the baby and fled the premises and back to the St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral.
The parents were never found. Father Abraham reared the child as his own, but this is not the end of that child’s story…