Alternate Epilogue - Part 3

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"Demonic possession," Father Fahey began. "It's more common than most people would think. Individuals possessed by demons can exhibit signs ranging in severity from seeming like they're simply suffering from depression to being able to identify the most deep and dark secrets of complete strangers."

Mischa and I sat quietly in chairs across from Father Fahey in the basement of the St. Monica's rectory—the very same room in which the priest had counseled me and Trey months earlier when we'd sought his help in breaking the curse that Violet had cast. I'd never filled Mischa in on the details of our previous meeting with Father Fahey, and I could tell by the fact that she had piped down and was listening with oversize eyes that she was enraptured with fear.

"We think of demons as fallen angels. Not surprisingly, they have a strong contempt for anything having to do with the Church, usually expressed in angry outbursts. If you have reason to believe that Trey is being tormented by a demon and attempt to approach him about it in the same manner as you might ask him if he were feeling under the weather, you can expect his reaction will be violent."

Mischa wrapped her arms around herself. "We were planning on sprinkling him with holy water to see how he'd react," she said, divulging our big plan.

Father Fahey nodded. "Well, that would do it. But there's no telling how he'll respond. I don't suppose you two have any plan to restrain him, physically?"

I avoided making eye contact with Mischa. Physically restraining Trey would take some serious strategizing. He wasn't a big guy like Isaac Johnston or any of the other guys on the football team, but he also wasn't weak. Even with Mischa's impressive upper body strength from her gymnastics training, she'd be no match for Trey. "How do we know for sure if he's possessed?" My greatest fear was provoking Trey if there were no real reason for concern. Then I'd lose my boyfriend and I'd seem as if I were totally nuts.

"I have a feeling that if you're successful in your plan, you'll discover immediately whether or not you're dealing with a demon."

"Can you help us if he is?" I asked. Months earlier, when Trey and I had been brought down to this room by Father Fahey for a discussion about what Violet had done to Olivia and Candace, the priest had told us that the space was used primarily for exorcisms. An adjustable table with arm and leg restraints occupied one corner. A large wooden crucifix on the wall was secured in place by hundreds of nails. I didn't realize until I posed my question to Father Fahey that if he refused to help us, I didn't have a back-up plan. Worse, I'd only be in town until January 2nd. That meant if I didn't find a way to save Trey before he and I both went back to our respective schools, the situation would probably escalate way out of control before I'd ever see him again.

Father Fahey folded his hands over his belly. "Well, that depends. I would be willing to take the necessary steps to eradicate the demon, since that's my occupational duty. However, getting approval from the Archdiocese to move forward in these matters can take some time. The Bishop may require proof. And then there's a matter of securing the Emory boy in a location where the ritual can safely be performed."

"What kind of proof?" Mischa asked.

"Can't we bring him here?" I asked naively.

Father Fahey chuckled softly at our eagerness. "Proof would be having documentation of witnesses describing suspicious behaviors. A demon will not allow for itself to be photographed or videotaped, so save yourselves the trouble of trying to capture strange events on your camera phones. And it would be very convenient if the two of you were able to bring him here so that we could conduct the exorcism in a controlled environment. Although I trust that this is an effort that the two of you are undertaking alone, without the assistance of adults?"

Even if Trey's mother were suspicious about his behavior, seeking her help in securing treatment for him was out of the question. Mrs. Emory was fragile and undependable. I had little reason to believe that she'd have had any authority over Trey even under normal circumstances, but definitely not now. And relying on Mr. Emory to help us transport Trey to St. Monica's against his will was a riskier roll of the dice. Trey's relationship with his dad was rocky; there was a good chance that Mr. Emory would prefer to drive his son back up to the Northern Reserve Academy than try to save his soul from damnation at St. Monica's.

Out of a desire to understand what Mischa and I would be up against in a worst-case scenario, I asked, "What if we can't get him here?"

Father Fahey stood and unlocked the drawer in the end table next to the chair on which he sat. From the drawer he removed a small paper booklet. "The process is rather straightforward. Standing before the possessed individual, the person conducting the rite leads all others present in reciting the Litany of Saints, in which you call upon the powers of all of God's holy saints to intercede on your behalf and deliver you from evil. You would then follow the Litany by reciting a selection of passages from the Bible, highlighted in this pamphlet, and follow them with the command for the transgressor to depart."

A chill ran through me as I accepted the booklet from him.

"The entire process can take hours, and it's mandatory that you not take any shortcuts," Father Fahey warned. "It can be physically exhausting and has pushed more than one priest to the brink of his own sanity. I'd recommend looking this over a few times and really think about the meanings of these prayers in advance. There's no telling what a demon might do or say when being excised. They are capable of saying such viciously cruel things that you might forget that you're God's beloved creation."

It sure did sound like he was sidestepping our request for his assistance. I objected, "But neither of us are priests! We need your help!"

Father Fahey sat down once again. "You're being watched closely by the police here in town. I simply cannot involve myself in any sort of caper that touches upon illegal activity. That includes breaking and entering, kidnapping, holding someone against his will, or conspiring to do any such things. If you're able to secure Trey in a location where we can conduct the ritual safely for several hours, I will be of service to you. But like I told you in the fall, Miss Brady, my first priority is my obligation to this parish."

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