All Hail The Beast
Dawn is the time for demonic creatures to crawl back into the shadows. And as that first dawn came after my soul had been stained by the demonic blood of both Black Sullivan and Toren the Bloody, for me, it was a time to die…
At the instant the new sun began to brighten the sky, my joints had grown stiff and my breathing labored. Seemingly smothered by sleep, the last thing I remembered was old Dan Tucker’s piteous gaze. He had probably known for hours as we sailed through the night in NY Bay, what I had only then come to realize. Black and Toren’s combined transfusion of blood had reaped my soul.
I next woke face down on a rough-hewn wooden floor. My head was spinning, and I would have purged if there was food or drink in my belly. Peculiarly, the lower half of my body was inside a shipping barrel. Around me were other barrels, though all were upright. My joints were stiff, and shaking off sleep and rising seemed like work. The darkened place smelled like a dockside warehouse. For some time, I laid motionless, trying to make myself believe nothing had changed. With each breath, I could smell the pungent sea and taste the bitterness hours of sleep had left in my mouth.
“I am Joe Harris,” I told myself, putting a hand on my gut where there was the familiar fire of life. “It’s June, 1854. I’m alive. I’m still alive.”
Coming back to me were fragments of what had happened after I blacked out on the oyster sloop. I remembered how the rising sun turned black and saw old Dan Tucker moving toward me along the deck of the sloop with a knife in his hand, but there was only the aforementioned pity in his eyes. At that same moment, a tender female’s voice resounded as if her lips were pressed to my ear. “Come with me, for you must see the Beast,” she said, and to my stupefied shock, two green eels slid under my arms and yanked me over the side of the sloop, into the cold June waters. “You will know the Beast,” she continued, as the eels rushed me through the bay to safety. They dragged me onto a pier and into a warehouse and laid me down on a bed of stone. From the heads of the eels two hands opened. They were those of a woman, who hovered over me. Her skin was as green and slimy as the eels. So was the wet, black gown she wore. On her knees, she seemed to recite a verse from the Bible, and then everything went black.
As the darkness grew, so did my physical strength. One moment I was sickly and lifeless, the next, I sprung to my feet. My clothes were damp, and my knuckles were raw and bleeding. I moved between the barrels, which felt heavy and smelled like they were full whale oil. Only the barest of light shone through an opening overhead. Many boxes and crates were piled among the barrels, making the space tight and difficult to navigate. I found no door, yet came upon steps which I gratefully took toward another small opening. When I reached the top, unsurprisingly, I found myself climbing onto the deck of a ship. No one was above deck through ragged sails were raised broad and wide. It was a three masted, square-rigged merchant vessel.
The moon and stars lit the cloudy sky. There was no land in sight. I made my way astern to the poop deck for a better vantage. By the helm, I saw stains of what looked to be splattered blood. The stains turned red before my eyes, while rising to my nostrils was the iron-rich scent of blood. I lifted my head to see a large furry animal spring up from a hatch on the main deck. It darted and jumped, and then disappeared down a hatch in the bow. It looked like a cat. Yet I cared little, as I stood in awe of my new senses of sight and smell. The various parts of the ship were as clear to me as if there was a full sun overhead. And my new sense of sight was just as impressive. The whale oil was pungent, while I also detected various and sundry human odors from sweat to decaying flesh. Yet I was all but certain there were no “living beings” on board. It was a guess, but one I feared was all too accurate. Unfortunately, I included myself in that ghastly survey.
I massaged my raw knuckles, realizing I must have punched my way out of the barrel. I also imagined I was on some sort of ghostly ship, most likely bound for Europe. It was a dark continent, full of very old beings with strange and extreme needs. Perhaps I was to be sacrificed or made a slave to one of those beings. My spirit and flesh were fresh. To the demonic, I might represent something as new and different as the land I came from.
Without another thought, I backed up and jumped overboard. I swam for my life, or what was left of it. Multiple creatures on the ship sang out in unison, “Come back… Hail the Beast. All hail the Beast… Come back…” The unified voice was both salacious and tempting. Part of me wanted to returned, yet my muscles had full sway. I swam and swam, until I was sore and completely drained. I paused, still able to hear the voices, but they were low.
After resting in an upright position as best I could, barely keeping my head above water, I started off again. Not much later, I pushed on with renewed vigor as I spotted land, many miles away.
I swam off and on through the night. I was utterly drained, yet there was something in me that would not and could not die. I didn’t think of myself as an immortal, but I was no longer fully a man.
It must have been an hour before dawn when the tide took hold of me, and seemingly pulled me ashore. I washed up upon a desolate, sandy beach. I laid back on the wet sand, sucking in air. It was then I had a vision.
Miles in the distance I saw Father Mann, dressed in his floor length cassock. In his outstretched right hand was a silver cross. He looked directly into my eyes and spoke, “*And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy…”
*The First of Two Beasts (Revelation 13:1-10)
Black Is The Night – (Black Is The Night – The film version)
Forever Evil – (Forever Evil – The film version)