Unedited excerpt from The Doorway – Lil Harvest #5
Sebastian closed his journal, smoothing his hand over the worn leather cover. Inside it, a newly bound book hid the secret he’d searched thirty years for. How many books had been shielded by the leather jacket during those years? All he had to do was turn and count them on the top shelf where they were now hidden in new leather jackets. But the one he always had with him was now thirty years old.
He’d been given it by his mentor in the order, and he couldn’t merely part with it to begin a new one, so he bound a new book of fresh pages every time and switched out the filled book.
And finally, their search for power had resulted in pages filled with actual details on how to achieve it and not merely his plans and hopes and research into possibilities.
In a few minutes, the other initiated would arrive to hear his news, and he spent that time looking around the Capital of their order.
Fifty-five years. The city of Jacksonville had changed a lot in that time, and so had the industrial area they hid their operation in. But their Capital remained almost a time pocket—the only changes being to the number of portraits of lodge masters having passed on the staff of power to the next in line. He was the last in that line so far, and at age fifty-two he’d served the Order since his youth in. The untouched state of their Capital rooted them to the past of the order, always reminding them of their pursuit of power for the better of their country.
But all their plans and money had not been enough to sway matters sufficiently to play into their hands. Until now, they hadn’t had what was needed.
The other men began arriving, and Sebastian stood to greet them.
“Brother Sebastian, you called us urgently at the crack of dawn.” Dean, the next in line for the Staff, said. At forty-seven, they had served side by side for more than twenty-five years.
“I found it. Our means to rise to power.” Sebastian had trouble containing his enthusiasm, and it pleased him to see so many faces light up, thus none holding any lack of faith in his abilities or thinking that he was exaggerating.
“Share that with us!” someone urged.
Sebastian collected his book from the desk, then held it up on the page he’d been drawing on for the past hour.
“I’ve never seen that sigil,” Dean said.
“No. It was shown to me through the shadows. And yes, I know what being came to me. They, too, are in need to rid this country of the iron fists of the Church, and they will aid us in return for us overthrowing the rising religious groups within our government.”
“At what price to the country as a whole?” another frater asked.
“They will only feed on the meek and the week, taking the followers of those who have stood in our way for so long.”
“And the price for us?” Dean asked.
“One will come to our realm and inhabit a body to strengthen him. They will work two agendas by coinhabiting one body, working in unison to see our common goal through.”
“Who will that be?”
“None of us are fit for it. If we need someone to run for president of the United States of America, then we need someone young and handsome. Someone relatable. Someone they can find no flaws in.”
“Patrick?” Dean whispered.
Sebastian nodded. “I have asked him to arrive here in an hour, and we will initiate him to take upon himself this very crucial task.”
The men nodded, murmuring together. Patrick was a good choice. They’d all mentioned him in one way or another many times. Patrick Barnes was not the Sebastian of a future president, though. The new persona they’d built through their current status of power, however, was perfect. Patrick Barnes would become Robert James Stadler, and he would run for president.
Without the help of the supernatural, they didn’t stand much of a chance, though.
The rush of success still coursed through Sebastian’s veins as he asked them all to sit.
“Tell us of the ritual,” Dean urged.
“What is needed?” another chimed in.
Sebastian opened his book and held it up to read from the list he’d compiled while debating with the creature in the shadow. “One pint of blood from a virgin.”
“I have that,” the doctor of their order said.
“The horn of a ram, blessed by a priest, ground up and mixed with oil and sage.”
“I can get that,” another said.
“Seven gold rings to bind the demon in a promise, every ring being engraved by a weekday. These are for Patrick to wear at all times, and we will make them thin enough to be side by side as one band.”
“I will take care of that,” someone said.
“And finally…this one is a bit odd for us, but the demon explained why.”
“What is it?” Dean asked, moving to the edge of his seat.
“Our blood and semen.”
Two chuckled drily.
Dean blinked. “And the reason?”
“Blood is our life, and semen is what gives life. Those two are needed to birth a contract that will allow the demon to come and bond with Patrick for life and in life.”
“What will the demon give Patrick during the possession? Powers?” someone asked.
“Yes. He will be able to read the minds of his constituents and his opponents, thus being able to catch them of guard in debates, but we, the order, are safe from it,” Sebastian explained.
“And what do we give in return?”
“We help set up halfway houses for them to pick humans in.”
The order looked around at each other, all seeming as insecure about that part as Sebastian felt.
“We all sacrifice something for the greater good of this country,” Sebastian said, feeling the weight of his words.
The others nodded, murmuring their agreement, making Sebastian smile. “That we do,” they said in unison.
“How is our blood and semen to be gathered?” Dean asked. “In a bowl?”
“In the container for the demon,” Sebastian said, not surprised at everybody’s confusion. Sebastian took a deep breath and looked at the specifications. “We all have to engage in intercourse with Patrick and fill our semen inside him.”
More cleared their throats, looking around with rising unease.
“I felt weird about this part, too, but the demon explained that it’s not the sex that means something to them,” Sebastian said. “They have a difficult time understanding how we see it as something filthy or strange. It’s the Christian notion while all pagans enjoy a freer approach to human nature. That is, after all, what we strive for. Freedom from dogma!”
“Yeah!” All fraters chimed in, nodding.
“And the blood?” Dean asked.
“The blood is only a few drops from each of us in water, and he must drink it. He becomes the vessel for all our power, and he is bound to us as we are bound to him.”
“If Patrick agrees to this, I will, too,” someone said, and the rest slowly chimed in their willingness to participate.
“Then let us prepare for the initiation of the young man.” Sebastian stood and led the way to the shelf holding their ritual scissors. One by one, they took a pair of the old gilded scissors and returned to their chairs. All but Sebastian, who instead went to fetch the robe that would be gifted to their new initiate as he rose to the ranks of light bringer.
The front door opened, and they all stood to greet the young uninitiated man who entered the main room, hesitantly. He looked around as if searching for the young men he usually saw at gatherings when their commitment and loyalties were put to the test. But the realities for his reason to be there soon seemed to strike him.
“Come on, Patrick.” Sebastian smiled at the young initiate. “You have been chosen.”
A proud and grateful smile grew on the young man’s face while his shoulders dropped in relief. “Thank you.”
“Your final test will be today. If you pass it, we will initiate you and tell you of our plans for you in the order.”
Patrick nodded and walked to them.
Sebastian urged him to sit. Once the young man did, they all took a seat, everybody turned to look at him.
“I have a few questions for you,” Sebastian said.
“Yes, Grand Master.”
“Of all the tests you’ve been put through by the order, Sebastian three you have decided never to do again.”
“Non, Frater. My commitment to our cause is absolute. I didn’t enjoy many of them, but we have important work to do, and I understand that pushing us to see if we’re worthy is how you test our loyalty and commitment to see it through.”
Sebastian smiled, proud of the young man he’d chosen. “Would you, if it was necessary in order to infiltrate the enemy, let your body be harmed to gain the alibi?”
“Uhm…can you be a bit more specific?”
“If it was necessary to have your right hand amputated.”
“Oh. Yes, I can work around that.” Patrick bit his lip. “Am I being asked to?”
Sebastian smiled. “No, Patrick.” The young man visibly relaxed. “Would you with only a moment’s notice move to another country to further our interests there, far away from fam—”
“Yes. We sacrifice for our country, and my needs are secondary for the greater good of this country.”
“A true patriot,” Dean said, smiling.
Patrick looked proud at the praise.
“Would you make a deal with the Devil to obtain our objective,” Sebastian continued.
“We don’t believe in the Devil.”
“Then a devil. A demon.”
“Oh, the forces of nature that exist outside rigid dogma…I would feel ill-equipped and be hesitant to.”
“But if you had the necessary knowledge to negotiate such a contract, would you?”
“Of course. The objective doesn’t change.”
“Good, good…will you trust your elders here, now, that what we ask of you is purely for the good of our cause?”
“Yes. Though you may hide the true reasons from me as an uninitiated man, I trust there is purpose that is directly in connection with our cause and in fulfilling our goals to see the rise of a stronger and unified America.”
Sebastian looked at his notes, finding no more questions before initiation. So, he stood, the rest of the elders following. “Rise, Patrick Barnes. Be recognized as a true student and future of our order and the future of a nation unified under the law of nature.” Sebastian put his hand on Patrick’s head. The young man’s eyes filled with tears of pride and joy.
The others gathered around him, closing in.
“We now strip away your past.” Dean raised his pair of scissors and began to cut through the young man’s clothes. The rest of the fraters followed suit.
Patrick didn’t object. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, and Sebastian remembered the feelings he’d had when he’d been initiated.
“We strip you of the shackles so that you can take your place in our order to bring about the new enlightenment to strip the people of their dogmatic shackles.”
“We strip you of your identity to become the light bringer,” another said, cutting into Patrick’s clothes.
“We strip you of your façade of the old world to become the face of hope for a brighter future.” With that, the third began cutting clothes.
And so it continued.
“We strip you of the shackles of dogma and invite you into a world of personal freedom.”
“We strip you of the shackles of belief, offering you knowledge and certainty to be the god of your own universe and master of your own fate.”
“We strip you of your old life…” Sebastian made the final cuts, and the last fabric fell away from Patrick’s body, leaving him stalk naked. He then put his scissors down and held out the robe. “And we give you a new one.”
Patrick opened his eyes and smiled at seeing the robe. He then put his arms into it and let Sebastian close it and tie the belt.
Sebastian placed his hands on Patrick’s shoulders, everyone else following suit. “Welcome, frater Robert James Stadler.”
“Thank you, fraters. Proudly will I bare the torch, boldly will I shine light in the darkness, and with all my might will I carry this burden of knowledge to further this great nation.”
They all smiled at the young man now initiated into their ranks.
“Sit, frater, and let us explain why we chose you for this very important task,” Sebastian said, taking a seat. Patrick, now Robert, sat. His dedication glowed strongly in his eyes. “We have picked you carefully to be the one to carry our torch to the highest of places in this country,” Sebastian said. “We will make you president of these United States of America.” Robert gasped. “But we will all have to sacrifice something for the power to do so, you more than anyone else.”
“I will not let you down!”
“For thirty years, I have sought out the power needed to elevate the right man. And here you are. When I found you, I also sought out to negotiate with the powers of this world and beyond, and I have negotiated a deal. You will have to agree to this as you will be the host, companion, and embodiment of true power.”
Robert’s eyes flickered in the face of something so unknown to him. “How?”
“This power is in cultural tongue called a demon. Angels were called demons in the original demonology, so one should not judge too harshly on that word alone.”
“If you’ve spent thirty years learning about this, then I believe you capable. If everyone here believes in your capabilities, then I will not question them either.”
Sebastian smiled, grateful to have added such a strong mind to their order. “Our world is not the only one suffering under dogma, restricting human nature and true free will. We are fighting a loosing battle because we fight alone. It has become clear that we must unite with others.” Sebastian took his journal and opened it onto the page that described the spell. “This is the outline for how you and your ally of nature will merge to benefit each other.”
Robert took the book and read through the spell. He looked a bit surprised at it, then looked up, his head held high.
“I have promised you to be a light bringer at all cost. I accept.”
“Good.” Sebastian looked around at the others, the elderly men nodding slowly.
“I will go and get the blood of the virgin,” the doctor said and stood.
“And I the rings.”
“And I the ram’s horn.”
Sebastian stood, too. “And I will prepare the room with Robert so we can save this country from the clutches of dogma.”
Robert stood, too, his head held high.