Lucifer: Chapter 14
"I SEEM TO remember something--about a 'special room'--but I don't know what that is." Damien opened the front door of St. Anthony's and ushered Elise in; once inside, she glanced up at the huge stained-glass window, dazzled by the patterns of light falling in on the floor, hitting her eyes. There were only a few other people already inside. "And some other things--but for some reason they all escape me. Why?" He stopped beside her and they both stared up at the giant window and crucifix together. "Why can't I remember?"
"You don't want to," she said softly, "and neither do I. Neither does anyone else who manages to escape."
He looked at her with some surprise. "You escaped?"
She gave him an odd smile. "No, not really," she admitted. "I was kicked out--lucky me, huh?"
He tried not to laugh. That would have seemed rude. "How the heck do you get kicked out of a cult?"
"Lots of hard work. Or lack thereof," she replied, walking off down the aisle and finding a pew near the front. She sat down, brushing back her long straight hair. A moment later he joined her, and for a while they just sat there and stared at the altar, neither speaking. When they did break the silence it was she who again spoke.
"Dami, you're in a lot more trouble than you may think," she said, so quietly he had to lean toward her to hear. "Satan doesn't take too well to losing his 'followers.'"
He still couldn't understand. Why wouldn't they just leave him alone? "Why are they after me now?" he asked.
"I can't answer that. I don't know. But they are. And once they find you I'm sure they won't just cut you up and scatter your pieces all over like I'm sure they've already told you." He felt his chest growing cold; it was as if she'd somehow been able to read his mind. "They'd make sure every second you have left has you wishing it's your last."
He sighed and sat back, hanging his head over the back of the pew. He had to close his eyes to avoid getting sick. "But I don't understand why they want me," he persisted. "I know this sounds bad but what about my brothers? And my sister? What makes them want me the most?"
"You're their 'special one.'"
He sat up again as soon as he heard that word. "There it is again," he said, frowning and pointing at her. "'Special.' What does that mean?"
She hung her head over the seat back this time, and he joined her. Anybody watching would have thought they both had something wrong with them. "Scorpio has this way of selecting their 'special' members," she explained after a while. "I don't know what it is, but it's partly physical, I suppose, and it's partly intuitive. Whenever babies are born, they keep them all in the same place to be raised. The 'breeding room,' if you will. As the kids get older the cult elders start looking them over to see which ones have potential. They take these kids to ceremonies. The ones which react the best--namely, know their roles and follow them to a T--get picked. They're moved from the breeding room to another section of the compound, where the elders 'teach' them things. God knows what." She closed her eyes and shivered, her face still turned up to the ceiling. "I never got that far, thank goodness. They didn't consider me very special. At least, not enough for that. But you and your sister, you two showed potential."
Damien sat up again, so abruptly that she did too. The room spun around him. "Me and my sister?" he echoed, staring at her. "What sister? What do you mean? What do you mean, 'we showed potential'?"
"Just what I said," Elise replied. "And you know who I mean. Your sister Lilu. Your twin sister." He felt that cold feeling creeping back again, and struggled to keep images of her out of his head. "Lots of people say that twins have this sort of connection--a kind of psychic connection, if you believe in that kind of stuff. But whatever it is it links them together almost telepathically." She pointed at him, her finger touching him right between the eyes. He didn't have the chance to back away before she drew her hand back herself. "You and Lilu showed that. Real well. Nobody else in your family has your eyes. Did you ever notice that?"
His brows furrowed again. Sure, he had noticed, but he'd never thought anything of it before.... "But what's my eye color got to do with anything?"
"Don't you get it? Not even your mother or your father. They both had these sort of brown eyes. And so does everybody else in your family. I've seen you all. Only you and Lilu had that color eyes."
He snorted and threw up his hands, disgusted. "So does this say that we're psychic or something? I don't get it!"
Elise shrugged, managing to keep calm. "Not necessarily 'psychic,' but different. You two showed a connection. Whenever one of you was thinking of something the other one would somehow know it. If you hurt your foot, Lilu would be worried for you--even if she was in another room at the time."
That didn't necessarily mean they were psychics. There was no way he was going to go for that. But being intuitive was possible...he'd always had a pretty good sense of intuition.... "So the cultists took this as a sign?"
Elise nodded, evidently relieved that he was finally beginning to understand. "They take all sorts of things as signs. Skin color. Hair color. Birthmarks. If you were born with a serpent-shaped birthmark, I'm sure you'd be singled out as a 'special one' almost immediately."
"But I don't remember ever being picked for anything--ever being in a ceremony or anything like that. I'm sure I'd recall something of that."
"That's because you escaped first. Your mother and your father, they saw what was coming--how Alec was starting to look at you two. Alec Bodine, he was the high priest."
Damien sighed with relief now. Things were steadily growing clearer after all. But there was much yet to go.
"Your mother wanted you out. Your dad, I'm not really sure about him...." Damien felt his jaw tighten unconsciously. What had his uncle said about his father and the cult? "But he ended up helping your mom get you out. Because he loved her. Even if he did owe allegiance to the cult."
"We came first?"
"Because your mother had her say, yes. But Alec found out you were all planning to escape. He had you all taken out to that field and ordered gasoline poured around it with your family in the middle."
The flames from Damien's dreams licked at his brain, and he felt himself shivering, even though it was hot outside.
"And you of course remember the rest."
He nodded; the flames died down and he shook his head to be rid of them entirely.
"Alec was seriously pissed, to say the very least," Elise said, with a faint smile. The smile immediately disappeared, though, as she voiced her next thought. "So of course, your parents were punished...."
"What?" He jumped up suddenly; the few other people in the church looked up at him with annoyance. Even if he'd seen them he wouldn't have cared. Elise stood up and put out her hand to calm him down, but he brushed it away. "What did he do? If he did anything to hurt them I swear I'll kill him--!"
"He's already dead, Damien, remember?" Elise had to force herself not to shout. Damien's fists unclenched and he blinked several times, as if suddenly remembering where he was. "He was shot when the new high priest came to power. His name, I'm not sure of his name, but he's after you just the same. He's carrying it all on. Tradition."
Damien let his breath out and sat down again, trying to untense. "What did he do to them?" he demanded, though in a subdued voice.
Elise opened her mouth, starting to evade the question, but he shook his head, adamant. "No. I don't care. I want to know what he did to them."
She sighed and looked away, unspeaking, for a long time. "They were beaten," she finally said. Damien's head sank down into his hands and he moaned softly. "Both of them. But your father even more. Because he's the one who gave Alec his trust, and then broke it. Your mother was just looking out for the welfare of you and your brothers and sisters. But your father was aiding her, and that was even worse."
"How did they...were they all right?" Damien asked softly, managing to raise his head slightly and look her in the eye, forcing her not to lie to him.
"They--I mean, they recovered, yeah," Elise said, fumbling for words. She couldn't stand looking him in the eyes like that, so instead glanced back at the altar. She was twisting her hands in her lap. "They were all right after a while. But your dad, I mean..."
"What? What about my dad?" He sat up and took her by the shoulders, shaking her slightly. "What happened to him?"
"I'm sure your uncle told you already," Elise answered, squirming away. "He was loyal to Alec. And he was until Alec died. Now he follows the new high priest. He didn't have the resolve your mother did. They got to him. Alec got to him. Alec got in his head. Scorpio wouldn't let him think of anything else but the cult." She sighed and bowed her head to the side, looking tired. One long hand reached up to brush back her hair again. "There's a thing called indoctrination," she started. "You know it better as brainwashing--"
"No!" Damien jumped up again. The other people in the church got up and left but he didn't care. "They can't do that! It's illegal! It's inhuman!"
"And it's Scorpio's way of making sure everybody knows their place," Elise cut in, standing up to face him. "They didn't do it as much to your mother because she's not very important to them. She was just a woman--a tool, a breeder. But your father was one of their most important assets--"
"--And they can't let him go. They can't let him see what he's letting go."
"We have to get them out of there before--"
"Before what, Damien?" Elise moved so he was looking right at her. "Before what? Dami, everything's been said and done already. You're not your father's son anymore. You're the enemy now."
Damien could only gape at her, bewilderment and hurt in his face. "En-enemy," he barely managed to whisper.
"Don't you see?" Elise said, staring at him pensively. "Your father doesn't care for you anymore. To him you're just Damien. And to Scorpio Damien's the enemy."
The room began to swirl again, the colors mixing, tearing, breaking apart. Damien felt his heart sinking, his knees, his legs. Elise's voice came to him as if out of a distant fog.
"Damien's the enemy...the target, the prey.
"Damien is not Damien anymore."