Friday, 21 August 2009

BLOOD SISTER by Lee Hughes

Blood Sister: Part 4 of the Osseous Box

One of the many problems of city living was not getting the chance to see the true splendour of the night sky. The unnatural light from the streetlights and the throttling smog sullied its definition.
Father Charleston stood at the window with a tumbler, its contents of whiskey two-thumbs deep; and going from his dull eyes it wasn't his first of the evening.
It had been a whole day since Danny had gone off in pursuit of the Devil's hound. Danny's sacrifice wasn't the first in history for the cause and it most certainly wouldn't be the last; there would be many more, Father Charleston was sure of that.
He settled into his armchair and drank deeply of his whiskey. He'd found of late that drinking before sleep greyed out some of the nightmares that had been visiting him nightly. But no matter how much he supped he'd still wake up with a few new mental wounds.
But not tonight, tonight he took a handful of pills and chased each down with a mouthful of whiskey; then he waited to be taken into the arms of a slumber deeper than he'd ever taken before.

Sister Gail's eyes snapped open as she bolted upright. Her mouth was locked open but the scream remained internal.
Sister Gail swung her legs out so she could sit on the edge of the bed. She wanted so much to reach for the lamp and flood her surroundings with light but she didn't want to disturb the other two sisters in the dormitory. The dorm was built to house up to twenty nuns, their shy numbers proving that times-they-were-a-changing. Not many people thought they needed belief any more; certainly not enough that wanted to dedicate their life to the Lord anyway.
She stood at the window.
The moon was full bar the tiniest of errant slices. She looked down into the courtyard and thought about the nightmare. They were coming every night, each one more savage than the previous. More harrowing than the scenes of torture were the fire, it was everywhere, a world burning and bodies were its fuel.
Sister Gail remained at the window whilst the passing seconds worked at the sharp edges of her memory, slowly softening the details. They'd never be smoothed completely but they faded enough that she returned to bed; albeit not to sleep, that would elude her.
It would be another night without proper sleep, fatigue was settling in.

Mordecai watched her as she left the convent. He knew he had to approach her. For now he had seen the circle of her face framed within the habit. He'd seen that face enough times in the dark hours; it was the face that had been crowding his dreams.
Mordecai wondered if she'd been having visions too. He hoped so; otherwise it would be more than a task to convince her of her role and what her duties were.
He dogged her steps as he thought about making contact. He'd been so preoccupied with finding this nun from his visions that he hadn't thought about how he was going to handle the next step.Should he just accost her? Mention the visions and hope that it meant something to her? Or should he use deception first to get her to open herself up? It soon became a redundant train of thought.
The nun stopped and turned. Perhaps she'd had that strange sense of being watched and followed. Mordecai wanted to dive for the nearest cover; instead he stood his ground and made eye contact with the face from his visions.

Sister Gail felt heckles rise on the back of her neck. It was that unwelcome feeling that you got when you think someone is watching, or following you. She felt as though she had nothing to fear as attacks upon people of the cloth were very rare. She stopped and turned. She spied the culprit immediately for he made no move to conceal himself. He just stood there, staring.
She turned back around and took a step, deciding to ignore the young man and see if he kept up with his pursuit.
She recognised him.
He'd been seen hanging around the convent for a few days. The mother superior had informed the police. The police had arrived and had shared a word or two with the young man and he'd left, but not for good it seemed.
"Wait!" the man called.
Sister Gail turned.
The young man had his hand held up and he hastened his walk as a means to catch her up.
"Yes?" Sister Gail asked warily.
"I need to speak with you."
"Something important, can we go somewhere and talk?"
"Why can't you tell me here?" she asked.Mordecai looked around at the passing people. All were casting curious glances at the nun as though she were a novelty.
"Please." Mordecai asked in earnest.
"Tell me what it concerns first."
Mordecai sighed and knew he was going to have to be blunt. "Fires everywhere. Men hanged from lamp-posts. Others dismembered in gutters, eaten by the befouled. Women passed about in sin, some through consent, a thousand more through rape. Babies flayed. Children enslaved. But the fire, the flames, they crawl everywhere, stroking and burning."
His eyes were wide and wild as he finished. Sister Gail's mirrored them. What he had just described was a carbon copy of what haunted her every night.
Mordecai knew instantly that she had been having them too. That solidified his convictions, not that they needed bolstering. It at least proved that he wasn't insane, that he was working for a higher power."Do you want to go somewhere to talk now?" Mordecai asked.
Sister Gail could only nod.

They sat for what seemed like hours in the grounds of the hospital where Sister Gail volunteered. She didn't say much, she merely listened to Mordecai as he told how he had started to have visions. And that he had studied what they had meant over the last year or so and had come across a thing that some texts referred to as The Osseous Box.
Mordecai finished his retelling. Sister Gail looked at him in rapture. She had known from an early age that she had a calling; that was why she had joined the nun-brigade. But even once she'd finished being a novice and had taken full vows she'd felt there was still more for her to accomplish through her calling. And now here it was, and the scope of it frightened her. But she handed that fear over to her faith and allowed the Lord to give her the strength for the undertaking that Mordecai had spoken of.
"I will do it," Sister Gail said without any hesitation. Her mind had been flooded with the scenes she had bore witness to in her nightmares. If anything, there was a level of eagerness there.

Sister Gail snuck Mordecai into the grounds of the convent. For this to work they needed to be smart. There had to be no room for error. If she was going to make the ultimate sacrifice for her faith then she knew it had to go perfectly and having Mordecai ending up in prison would help no one and make a waste of everything and even perhaps bring about the downfall.

Dusk was settling in and the other sisters would be at prayer. Sister Gail led him by lamplight down into the cellar and then along the older catacombs that ran beneath the convent. The air was dank and tasted old and rotten in their mouths and lay heavy in their lungs. The place would be perfect; the whole plan would crumble were it to come to light too soon as to what had befallen the young sister.

They placed candles about the chamber. Once the candles were lit the shadows danced about as though alive and carefree. Sister Gail arranged religious artefacts around the chamber. If this was going to be her final resting place then she wanted it to be a reflection on why she'd died.She was amazed that she felt no fear. She wondered if this was how Jesus had felt knowing that he was going to the cross.

Everything was ready. Sister Gail looked to Mordecai. "You'll need help."
"I know. And I've seen the face of the man who will help me." Mordecai reached for the knife.
"Pray with me first." Sister Gail lowered herself to her knees, Mordecai followed suit.

Mordecai held the knife. "Where do you want me to do it?"
"Here," Sister Gail said as she pointed to her side, it seemed symbolic.
Mordecai took a deep breath. "It'll be a slow and painful death like that." He hadn't really thought about how he'd feel when it came to the moment when he would have to stab her.
"I think it has to be." Her words were so soft, reassuring to Mordecai.
He said a couple of words to God, a mumbling or two about forgiveness and then he thrust the knife into the soft of her side. He drove it all the way to the hilt and held it there as she collapsed upon him. Her breaths were rasping in his ears. He listened as the breathing switched from that of the injured to that of the dying, and then to nothing.
Mordecai wasn't aware of it, just as the nuns in the vaulted chapel above weren't aware that the life-sized figurine of Christ upon the cross at the front of the chapel had shed a tear. The tear ran down, overtaking the waxen one and left a damp track to mark its route.

Mordecai wiped away his own tears as he left the chamber. Sister Gail lay in death beneath a shroud, blood still pooling about her body. Mordecai walked fast, clinging to the flask as though more than just his life depended upon it.

With the curtains pulled back only a smidgen, Mordecai watched as the police made their way to the building where he lived. He knew that Sister Gail would be noticed as missing and he would be the first person to come to mind for hanging around the convent. He was ready; they would find nothing and he would be free soon enough to continue with his quest, which was what he saw it as.

Mordecai sat in the interview room staring at the cup of instant coffee that was growing cold before him. The door behind him opened. He looked over his shoulder, his eyes widened. It was the man from his visions, the one who would aid him. Mordecai knew that he just couldn't come out with it, not the way that he had with Sister Gail; he would have to be smart to get this man on his side.
The man sat down across from Mordecai. His face was like stone, his eyes tried to pierce Mordecai's skull and get to the truth that way. The man didn't smile as he introduced himself.
"I'm Detective Howard. That's the niceties over. Where the fuck's the nun?"

Jon looked to the blood in the river that against all natural possibilities was running upstream. He glanced at the back of Mordecai after listening to what had befallen the nun. He wasn't sure he believed it all, but the way that the blood was acting meant that he couldn't dismiss it completely.
Mordecai glanced back. He'd wiped away most of the blood that had spilled from his nose. "I think you broke my nose," he grumbled.
"Well I wasn't trying to tickle it," Jon said as they marched on beside the river and the phenomena of the blood.
Beth was just staring at the blood, completely enticed. Jon had been thinking of telling her to fuck off home. But she'd seen too much, so she'd have to be brought along. Jon speeded up so he was beside Mordecai. "I asked you before what this Osseous Box thing is and you told me it was destruction. But what actually is it?"
Mordecai took in a deep breath through his mouth seeing as his nose wasn't working properly. "I suppose you'll need to know. It was made in Anno Domini, three-hundred and sixty-seven."
Beth caught up to hear what this box thing actually was. The manner in which Mordecai told it filled Jon's mind with visions; as though he could actually see the past in his mind. Jon and Beth walked in silence and listened to the tale and envisioned it.
"His name was, Wulf..."

Lee Hughes's short fiction has appeared in Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9 and on Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, A Twist of Noir, FlashShots, Powder Burn Flash, The Daily Tourniquet, MicroHorror and Blink-Ink. Find out more at


  1. Really loving this on-going almost-Lovecraftian-but-definitely-original tale, Lee. Keep 'em coming.Can't wait for all the threads to start winding together and for the hound to show its ugly muzzle again.

  2. I'm gonna read this tomorrow, Lee, when I'm not wearing my beer goggles, but CK Andrews has asked me to pass on the following as she can't comment for whatever reason...

    'Perhaps you would be good enough to pass my thanks on to Lee for this latest episode of 'The Osseous Box': It is reminding me a little of a television series I half-caught when my Box was working back at the end of last winter: Apparitions. Well done, Lee, I'm really enjoying this series...'

  3. Lee,
    You're putting together an epic tale here, mate. Really enjoying it now I've read all four parts and have got the gist of things.
    And I agree with the others...more please!