Though the sun hadn't officially set, that was to be expected, since it hadn't really risen in the first place. The sky had been overcast and gloomy all week; the rain had finally started falling that morning and hadn't stopped since. But the continuous sound of precipitation beating against the roof and sidewalks didn't seem disturb the devout churchgoers, not a bit.

Now, about twelve hours after the skies had seemed to open up, strong voices rose from the brightly lit church building in praise to God. Standing before them in his ceremonial robes, the priest gravely lit the candles so that those using a hymnal could see the words, even in the blackout that was a direct result of the storm.

Cupping his hands around the flickering flame, he attempted to shield it from the draft that leaked from the windows despite his best efforts to plug the hole. He waited for it to gain sustenance, life. It was growing brighter, little by little—

The door flew open and slammed into the adjacent wall.

Two candles remained strong. All the rest went out.

Everybody turned to stare in terrified fascination at the figure standing in the doorway. The candlelight played across his features dramatically, and the priest suddenly had the urge to knock over the lights so he wouldn't be faced with this sight. But it wasn't really seeing, it was… feeling. He could sense something wrong with the figure at the doorway, even though he could barely see him.

The youth (or was he?) glared wildly around the room, as if he were looking for something, or perhaps trying to make sense of his surroundings.

There was no silence, thanks to the storm, but if there had been one, it would've been one of those awkward ones that no one wanted to break, but no one wanted to be caught in the midst of, either.

The newcomer took another step into the church building.

Both candles flared into brilliant defiance before gutting out in response to his presence, but that momentary luminance was all the time they needed to really _see_ him.

A huge gash had been opened from his ear to his chin, slowly oozing liquid that appeared black in the dim lighting. Coupled with the way his lips curled into a feral snarl, the way his eyes shone blood red, the way the doorframe that he gripped with whitening knuckles splintered under his grip, nobody was willing to believe he was quite human. He took a hand from the doorframe, and as one, the entire congregation shrank back in fear. Instead of unleashing some terrible destruction, however, he merely wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead, leaving behind a bloody streak.

An elderly man sitting particularly close to the back fainted.

Drawing his gaze in that direction, his eyes fell upon the priest.

Feeling the intense stare, the priest brandished his Bible like a shield and cried out boldly, "Stay away, demon!"

Even in the darkness, they could all see the demon's grin, and the priest wasn't the only one to shudder. Being threatened by priests was something this demon was used to, it seemed, and this something familiar put him at ease.

"You are… a priest. Should I call you Father?" His tone was light, his remark was made dryly with a lazy ease that might've been funny under drastically different circumstances.

"Stay—stay away!" The priest repeated, but this time, it was more of a plea than anything else.

"Oh?" The priest could feel the demon advancing, and though he meant to hold his ground, he found himself shrinking away. "Do you then have the divine right to turn those whom you will away from God?"

"You are not a child of God! Leave this sanctua--"

"I'm not? God gave the judgment to you?"

"I… I will not fall to your temptation!"

"…You will deny me the right to confession? You choose who you grant that right to?"

"Con… confession? You came here to…?"

"So it seems, doesn't it?" The demon reached out suddenly.

The priest might've screamed as the icy fingers grazed his chin, but no sound came out though his lips parted. Within an instant, the demon's hand had retracted, and it seemed entirely possible that the priest had only imagined the touch, but for the lingering cold that burned with its intensity.


"I… I don't suppose it's up to me who can… can…" he paused, waiting for someone to interrupt, to object, but no one did. "That is…" Dumbly, he willed his legs into movement and walked over to the confessional, motioning to the door with a trembling hand. Slowly, he circled around to the back.

The demon paused for a moment at the opened door, staring in at the sheer curtain that would partially hide the priest from his view. Then, he walked in and closed the mahogany door behind him on the first furious whispers of prayer for the brave priest they didn't ever expect to see again.