SCORN - The Age of Apollyon Trilogy Book 3

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SCORN

Book Three in The Age of Apollyon Trilogy

by Mark Carver


PART I.

"For he easily drives into all evil doings those whom he has deceived

in the matter of religion."

- Pope Leo the Great


CHAPTER ONE

"Get down on your knees! Now!"

Christine clenched her jaw as she stared at the man with the gun. Defiance flashed in her eyes and she fought to maintain control of her tears, but her gaze never wavered.

The man with the gun tightened his lips, then lashed out with his left foot. The blow caught her leg just behind her knee and she crumpled to the floor. Her hands were bound behind her back so she had nothing to brace herself against the fall.

Nothing except her forehead. Her skull cracked against the cold, wet cement floor and a wave of pain blazed through her brain like a wildfire. A gurgling groan slipped from her mouth and she rolled over like a helpless child. She stared up at the man, ignoring the gun and looking directly into his eyes.

The man frowned for a moment, then turned away. He tried to act like he was irritated, but Christine saw it for just a moment: shame. Blood seeped from the gash above her eyebrow and trickled slowly towards her temple before dripping to the floor in large drops. Her captor looked at the red puddle pooling beneath her head before cursing and storming out of the room.

Christine heard the door slam, and she groaned again. Summoning all of her strength, she hoisted herself into a kneeling position. Blood and sweat dripped down onto her heaving chest as she quickly scanned the room.

It was dark, too dark to see anything clearly. A glowing fluorescent bar flickered on the wall to her left, weakly illuminating the cave-like room. It looked like a cellar of some kind, with numerous pipes snaking across the walls and several open drains dotting the floor. A rat skittered from one drain hole to another, pausing for a moment to glance at Christine. With a grumpy squeak, it disappeared into the void.

There had been several moments in Christine's life when she felt truly alone. Forsaken, abandoned, helpless. She was no stranger to these words. The first time had been that fateful day when she timidly ascended the steps to the temple altar, unable to look at the ravenous faces of the half-dozen men waiting to "welcome her into Satan's kingdom." When the babbling priest ripped the robe from her body and rough hands started roaming her skin like spiders, she felt an emptiness sucking at her soul that was wider and blacker than anything she had ever felt before.

She had made her choice to turn her back on God, her family, everything she had known. And she had paid a heavy price. But one good thing came out of that horrible experience: it showed her just how deep the abyss was, and it terrified her. She came running back to God and to her family, and though her world would never be the same, she knew where she belonged.

But now, trembling on her knees in a cold, rat-infested dungeon, she felt it again – that gaping darkness that seemed to smile at her with invisible teeth, savoring her fear before swallowing her forever. Her lips quivered as she let the tears fall and mingle with the blood on her chest. Her soul cried out to heaven, but she could sense nothing, could feel no comfort.

It was as if she was praying to no one at all.

The door flew open and she jerked her head towards the light. A hulking shape with clenched fists walked into the room. Christine could almost smell the menace spilling off him like steam. She swallowed the fear thickening in her throat and blinked away the blood flowing into her eye.

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