December 6

The Manifestation (Part 5)

 

“He’s nearing the last phase of the ritual.” Carlson leaned forward, one hand flat against the glass front, the other cupping the earpiece of his receiver to help him catch every word. His voice began to lose its scholarly detachment. “If something’s going to happen, it will be soon.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” Hilliard said.

Watkins actually was holding his breath. Despite his key role throughout months of preparation for this moment, he never once believed they’d succeed. But after noting the somber mood of the thirteen, how they performed the words and motions with utmost seriousness, his skepticism started to waver. If now was the time…

“Look.”

It was Deitrich — the loudest whisper the guy could produce.

Watkins judged the angle of Deitrich’s outstretched arm; it indicated the direct center of the pentagram. He squinted, but didn’t see anything.

Their chants were a ridiculous and unpronounceable jumble of misplaced vowels and hard consonants, but the thirteen voices managed to recite the phrases in unison. One voice sounded louder than the rest in their headsets and over the speakers, gaining strength in a kind of inspired frenzy. Still, Watkins saw nothing.

Perhaps that was the point.

At the center of the pentagram. The hardwood floors of the basketball court had been painted black for the ritual, a flat layered coating of Sherwin‑Williams #32 that reflected almost no light. Yet there had been some slight glow from the candles, from the perimeter lights near the ceiling of the auditorium. Now one spot was, yes, definitely darker. Like ink dropped into water, it clouded outward from the center and absorbed any trace of light. Patches of the chalk outline seemed to disappear, laced by black thread.

This was like the darkness his mother had told him about. The awful day when the elementary school went dark, when the children panicked and screamed. Watkins could almost hear them now.

And then that one voice above the thirteen. The Creep suddenly, in his mania, translated the chant into English: “Demon, from the depths of Hell, we make you manifest. In your name. In the unholy name of — ”

**crackle**

Twelve voices continued the chant.

“What did he say?” Carlton asked.

Watkins glanced away from the black cloud, even as it grew, even as it took shape. He saw the Creep tuck the forbidden book under one arm and reach under his hood with both hands. The microphone piece of his headset snapped off and fell to the ground.

Then, Commander Myers’ voice from the back of the booth: “Get that broken son-of-a-bitch out of there!”

 

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[…continued in December 7 entry…]