The Bewildered Exorcist

A priest/exorcist named Albert Gonzalez had been giving Mass at the small St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Stilo, West Virginia when he suddenly collapsed. Horrified parishioners got up from kneeling and ran towards him. As they congregated around his body and crossed themselves, a doctor was present among his fellow church members.

“Call 911!” he said loudly. A woman pulled out her iPhone and called immediately. The doctor noticed their priest wasn’t breathing and he performed CPR until the medics rushed in and took him five minutes later. Father Gonzalez remained unconscious as the ambulance roared to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital to the church. The priest’s gurney rolled into a corner of the ER where two nurses and a doctor worked on him until he finally came to. Gonzalez was given a room where he woke up, but his mind was foggy. He saw a nurse with her back to him, and called her. As she turned around, he saw she was wearing a white sheet with two slit for eyes.

“Yes? How are you feeling?” she said. The priest yelled when he saw her. “Where’s my cross and holy water?” he asked. But he fell back into sleep.

He woke up again. Thinking he had seen something from the spirit world, he yelled louder when he saw the doctor who looked like a werewolf and the nurse appeared as a witch with green skin.

“Now don’t be scared,” the doctor said calmly. “My holy water… my cross..? In the name of the Father, the Son… !”. Nurse Hilda, give him a sedative!” Hilda immediately prepped the shot and injected him in the arm. Father Gonzalez woke up a third time. He looked around, not believing what he had witnessed. Then, the door to his room opened, but the priest couldn’t see who it was because sunlight blinded him from seeing who it appeared to be a nun.

“Father? It’s time for me to collect you. The others will be here soon.” She said in a sweet voice. All the priest could make out was a blue cloak that draped over her head. Her hands were held up with their palms open. Immediately, Gonzalez crossed himself and said, “Santa Maria!” The woman also spoke Spanish replied, “Yes, it is me, Maria.” But when she came into view he was horrified to see that her face looked like a skull. Gonzalez yelled again. With all the energy he could muster, he yelled, “In the name of the Father and the Son… ” Then he suddenly fainted.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in and examined him. “Prep him for heart surgery! We’ve got to get inside and repair that blocked artery.” They wheeled him into a surgery room where a doctor and four nurses were scrubbing up. Once again, Father Gonzalez woke up slowly and looked around. The team of nurses and the doctor had red devil’s faces. He peered at the doctor who looked like Frankenstein. “Father, don’t faint! We are about ready to operate on your heart because it has some blockage. We need for you to sign this form, we can’t operate on you without your signature.”

The frightened father looked at the team with a wild grimace and slowly took the paper and signed it. The anesthesiologist took the cup that went over his mouth and nose. The doctor said, “He looks like he signed a contract with the devil.” Gonzalez heard “contract” and “devil” and his heart began to spike out of control. But the anesthesia had already taken effect, and fell into a deep sleep. After several hours, he slowly woke up in the ICU. A nurse walked over to his bed to check on him. He was in a deep sleep. As a few hours drifted by, he woke up. The nurse on duty walked over to him and asked him how he was doing. The priest looked at her and saw she had a human face. He told the nurse that she was a “sight for frightened eyes.” “What do you mean?” “This hospital is full of demons and monsters! In all my years of being an exorcist, I’ve never encountered so many at once! ” The nurse began to chuckle. “Well, I’m sorry but yesterday was Halloween and we dressed up for it!”

The Mysterious Hike

Tania was panting uncontrollably as she ran and ran with all her might. With a broken hand compass in one hand and a crumpled note in the other, she desperately searched for her way out of this jungle. Each day is closer to a mystery that’s impossible to crack. She wasn’t sure if everything before her sight was real. She questioned her sanity. But one thing’s for sure – she wasn’t alone when she first arrived…

D-Day

Tania met Robin at the local coffeehouse and they had omelette for brunch before heading out. Tania asked the owner if he had taken a hike at the jungle before.

“Yes,” he said. “And I always return as a different person.”

Robin paid no attention to his words while Tania sensed something amiss. But she refrained from probing further. The owner gave them two energy bars each on the house and told them to come visit again when they return.

“How long does it take to complete the hike, Tania?” Robin asked, twenty minutes into their journey.

“Four hours,” Tania said. “What? Are you tired already?”

“You’re kidding!”

Whenever they covered a remarkable distance, Tania tied a blue silk ribbon to a tree branch to mark their trail so they can track their way back later. They were greeted with tall and vast pine trees that caused their jaws to drop as they went deeper into their hike. Somehow mesmerised, they would stop and stare up at the pine trees that seemed to overshadow their existence. They also encountered strange flowers that rejuvenated their exhaustion. Robin plucked an eye-catching yellow daisy and tucked it behind Tania’s ear and told her how elated he was to be with her on this hike.

It was the first time Robin said something like that to Tania. They have known each other for five years and Robin never expresses his feelings bluntly. Tania was taken aback, but she felt the same way and told him, “me too.”

“I don’t want this hike to end,” Robin said as they went deeper into the body of the jungle.

They took a break by the gushing waterfall and listened to the birds sung and inhaled the nature bestowed upon them.

Robin never came back. He told Tania he wanted to see the view from the cliff of the waterfall and take some pictures while he was at it. She watched him climb but as he went higher, the mist above hindered her sight. And before she could blink her eyes, he had evaporated into thin air, becoming one with the clouds.

She waited and waited and waited. She bit her nails and tapped her feet as time passed. Robin should be back since twenty five minutes ago, she thought. She fixated her eyes on the waterfall, desperately sourcing for his presence but to no avail. It has been more than 40 minutes and there were three more hours before the sun sets. Tania could not sit still and wait any longer. She stood up with her backpack and noticed Robin’s backpack behind her. She picked it up and the energy bars dropped out of it; they were empty wrappers and she left them behind.

She followed Robin’s footsteps to the waterfall cliff. It was a view of a lifetime and it made her forget about everything else for a moment. She wished time could pause and the view before her eyes would never dissipate and Robin could magically resurface.

Tania went back down and searched the waters. She didn’t hear a splash but she wanted to make sure and take the chance when she had nothing left, and no one left. She gasped and found herself breathless at the sight of Robin’s camera afloat. She dragged her feet in the water and fell to her knees, grasping the camera with trembling hands.

She collected herself after taking numerous deep breaths and kept her distance from the water. She sat down on a huge rock and scanned through the camera. It was empty. But that shouldn’t be the case. They took multiple pictures throughout the hike and the memory card was still intact. She kept the camera in her backpack and decided to head back. Because what she needed to do urgently is to find Robin.

D-X

Tania lost count of the days. She doesn’t know how long she has been going in circles in the jungle. It felt like the day never ends because it never turns dark. But based on her instinct, she believes today’s the third day. She couldn’t find the blue silk ribbons she tied on the branches, not even a single one. Someone or something must had followed them before and got rid of it. As a result, she could not find her way back despite following the path nor did she successfully find Robin. She also had not slept. She gets hungrier and hungrier with each passing day. She finished most of the food she brought in two days and have been surviving on fruits and nuts in the wild. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy her insatiable appetite.

That was when she recalled the two energy bars the local coffeehouse owner had given her. Fortunately, she hasn’t eaten them yet. She found comfort in the energy bars until she tore open both wrappers, only to find sand everywhere, slipping through in between her fingers and out of her grip. This must be a nightmare, she thought.

The camera in her backpack caught her attention and she decided to check it once more. Her face turned pale and she was petrified. She was browsing through pictures of herself that someone had taken from various angles. It screwed with her mind and she wasn’t able to think of any rational explanation for this. She just wanted to get away from here. Then, she heard a familiar voice – Robin. “Run, Tania,” he whispered from behind but there was no one except a crumpled note on the ground.

The note said, “They’re everywhere. R.”

Tania knew ‘R’ was the initial of Robin’s name but where is he? That was when the trees started to rustle unanimously and the wind howled vigorously. Tania took out her hand compass but the compass rose was spinning in all directions. It had to be broken now of all times.