Ministry of Evil: Short Story Based on a Personal Experience
Ministry of Evil: Short Story
She shot to wakefulness. A touch? No one beside her. A noise?
The windows rattled against the wind. Troubling thoughts swirling in her dreams now pervaded her consciousness.
Slowly they came to her. Through the unopened window they floated, came to look upon her as she was lying there. Some just stared before departing into the mist. Some smiled as though welcoming her to the rôle of tending the chapel and graveyard. Some hardly looked but she sensed the duty of each greeting.
Sarah reckoned about thirty of them, a regular parade passing above her and back out the window; she sensed they were curious to meet her. They calmed her. The initial shock brought no fear. A longer pause and, with surprising disappointment, she decided it was over.
A shriek of air! Splintering glass tore her soul, cut off her breath. Wrenched from the opening, the window smacked into the wall, metal on stone. A rushing wraith screeched to a halt above her, its face distorted with rage, pain and a desire to threaten. An inch away, narrowed eyes pierced into hers, blood-veined, jagged-yellow. Stench from its gaping mouth infused her breath. The rasping screech continued to assault her ears.
Dust-dry dregs of soil and stone peppered the words reaching from a scaled throat.
“Leave! You are not worthy… not doing your job… you besmirch this sacred ground… my ground. Leave… before the worst happens to you!”
Fear reached her bones. Sarah scrambled to the top of the bed; no escape. Now blood oozed from the hard eyes which held hers. The body was twisted, deformed. Impossible to look away. The abomination shape-shifted; horns grew from its head, the hands were bone, the head a skull. Loose clothes covered a dark space, a hole where dwelt the devil himself.
Seemingly from afar, Sarah heard her own drawn-out scream, “Help!”
With a wrenching shriek, the seeping spectre fled the room.
The windows and glass repaired themselves or so it seemed until Sarah felt the soothing blanket of spirits who comforted her. They did not need words; their actions and expressions sufficed. They had responded to her call.
One settled her pillow and her covers.
One cooled her brow.
A third passed hands across her eyes, a passage to instant slumber.
Seemingly Peaceful Graveyard.....
Fall to Hell
The morning light woke her. She shivered with the vague memory of a nightmare, tinged with a sense of support.
She needed to clean inside the chapel, then mow the grass in the graveyard.
The cleaning done, she turned to the grass around the lines of stones. Many of the graves were tended by existing family. Others were mossed and tilted by time, some overgrown with neglect.
The mower buzzing, Sarah was lost in her musings. She finished; the air stilled.
A growing sense of being watched, of unpleasant tingling crawling up her spine, of vicious eyes boring into her soul, made her faint and she fell towards a newly dug grave and pitched over the side.
Damp and Despair
Her nightmare reappeared from the earth beside her; a twisted form crouched, a menacing leer captured her gaze and would not let go. Distant screams from below the dank soil froze her blood; death approached.
Sarah was aware of traffic passing by beyond the graveyard. People were walking across the road. She lay there and nobody could see her, no one would help her. Was this her fate? Was she to die here in this hole to hell? What had she done? Why was this creature condemning her? Rotting compost, rank earth and dark death filled her nostrils. Her skin was cold beneath the blue sky.
Maybe her best wasn’t good enough. Maybe it was her fault. She had two children, the family had lost everything and had ended up in this chapel house with a low rent in exchange for cleaning and tending to the house and grounds.
The house was damp, had dry rot, and one child had a chest infection as a result. Sarah had to feed the visiting minister every other Sunday. He had to eat alone at a small table in the sitting room as half of the house, where the dining room was situated, was unfit for habitation. It was humiliating. Her husband had complained but nothing was done and he lacked the guts to insist. Sarah had long lost her self-esteem and confidence, had no fight left in her, betrayed and defeated.
Panic siezed again, wave after wave, until she felt overcome. The fiend sensed his victory at hand. A ragged finger stretched towards her eyes, ready to tear at them and send her to eternal darkness. Foul air mixed with dirt on her lips, she succumbed to the inevitable. If this grave had been dug for her then so be it, but, please God, let it be quick before this pain that had begun twisting her body penetrated to her soul. Her skin shrivelled in shock.
Once more, the spirits were there. She was lifted with gentleness, placed on the cool, soft grass, warmed and tended until she could stand. Not a soul was beside her when she regained control of her senses. Aware only of that supportive blanket soothing her, she returned indoors and sat rocking herself.
Emerging from her slumber, she realised it was time to collect the children from school. She glanced out of the window over to the graveyard.
A group surrounded the fresh hole she had fallen into. She recognised the faces as her welcome party from the previous night, though they were hazy in the daylight.
Something was going on. Barely believing what she saw, Sarah witnessed the seizing of a body, deformed and frenzied. She felt the chill on the air from where she stood, despite the summer sun.
Recognition of the face which had terrified her held her in suspense, such that she could not budge. But the face was afraid; though still resisting with its evil eye and charred skin, it’s power was diminished. Without malice, the throng dragged it down, firmly, until it was emprisoned by their determined hands. It remained so for a few seconds. Then, with shocking speed and force, they hurled it into the sticky void of the newly-dug grave. A piercing, vengeful shriek scraped the air, then evaporated to nothing.
Earth from the dig returned to the hole of its own accord. Grass grew afresh. The grave didn’t exist. Where it had been, a slab of stone fastened itself above the grass. The spirits withdrew, heads bowed, faces solemn.
Sarah thanked them from her heart and received recognition with gratitude. She knew they would be her guardians in this place.
The evil troubled her no more.
Some weeks later, the story reached her that a long-previous minister had given false evidence and had a boy hanged for stealing from the communion plate, whereas he had committed the crime himself.
Origins of this Story
This is based on an experience of mine, when I did indeed tend a graveyard and chapel. The ‘minister’ who held sway there was not a pleasant character and did not treat us well. His successor was the opposite, thank goodness.
I think he was embittered by his physical condition and took it out on others; I was not one of the congregation, so perhaps that was why, though I find that a strange attitude for a supposed spiritual leader.
His fate was probably not as I narrate it above but I think he deserved some sort of retribution. At the time I needed kindness and understanding, not animosity and criticism. Being unhappy there, fortunately I did not stay long.
I was grateful to those spirits who did indeed come to ‘inspect’ me on the first night I slept there, in a dream I suppose although it seemed utterly real and to this day I believe it was meant that way. That was the only time I ‘saw’ them, unlike my portrayal of the above!
Followers of most religions are kind, sympathetic people who want to help and who spread fellowship and a community spirit. I experienced a closed community there, some of whom were lovely but many who were stuck in their traditions and couldn’t see beyond them. They became bigoted and thereby antagonistic. I suffered because of it, though I tried to be pleasant to all.
Whether we belong to a religion or not, we belong to some sort of community and all of us need help, understanding and love.
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© 2018 Ann Carr