Authors: Adam Rushing
Rise of the Nephilim
A novel by
Adam Bryant Rushing
Table of Contents
Danny sat in bed with his arms wrapped around his knees. His eyes darted to the corners of his second-story bedroom in an attempt to pierce the darkness where the moonlight from the hallway skylight didn’t quite reach. For three weeks, his dreams had been populated with nightmarish visions of monsters and all manner of horrible things which forced him awake in screams and sobs. His mother had given him medicine to sleep, but that had only made his visions less frequent. He was exhausted from the lack of slumber and nearing his wit’s end.
Tonight was even more terrifying than before. He could literally feel the evil blanketing the walls with electrifying intensity. His body shook uncontrollably with fear, as he strained his senses to the limit to assure himself nothing was there to harm him.
“Is anyone there?” His hushed whisper broke the silence and was lost in the inky blackness.
No answer was returned. No sound indicated the he might not be alone in the room. The initial rush of adrenaline began to subside, and he allowed himself to breathe a long sigh to calm down.
“Cause if someone is, I’m going to get you, you hear?” he said aloud, grabbing the wooden pair of nunchaku his mother had bought him for his thirteenth birthday. He slid out of bed and walked into the hallway bathroom.
He turned on the light and rubbed the blurriness from his eyes. Shaking his head, he poured himself some water and quenched his thirst before stepping back out into the hallway and going back to his room.
The moment his foot crossed the doorway, he knew something was wrong. The hair on the back of his neck stood up immediately, and the room dropped what seemed to be twenty degrees. Dread once again crept its way up his spine.
His eyes adjusted again to the darkness in time to witness a black, formless mass rise noiselessly from the far side of his bed. The cloud floated to the foot of the bed, as it took on a human shape. He stood paralyzed at the scene unfolding before him.
The humanoid black mass walked menacingly toward him. A scream built up slowly at the back of his throat, but nothing escaped from his mouth. All he could do was watch helplessly as the apparition approached him. Unlike his nightmares, though, the figure passed by him, as though it didn’t even notice he was there. As soon as it was behind him, he found the power to move again. Looking back over his shoulder, he could see the figure still shambling down the hallway as if on its own mission.
Curiosity replaced fear. If the shade wasn’t after him, what was it doing? He had read plenty of stories about ghosts and shadow figures. He remembered that a ghost sometimes only re-enacts events that happened in life, although he couldn’t remember any stories about someone dying in the house. He turned to follow it, debating on what he was seeing was real or not.
“Hello? Who are you?”
He tentatively reached out to grab the phantom, but his fingers fell through the deceptively solid shadow. It reached the top of the stairs and glided down in one smooth, silent motion and disappeared in the darkness of the downstairs living room. He hesitated at the top of the stairway before sneaking after it. All of the common sense he had screamed at him to go back to bed and leave whatever it was down there well enough alone, but he was entranced by the experience and wanted to see just what this murky intruder was doing.
He descended downstairs trying to be as quiet as he could, but he was slowed to a crawl as each creaky step announced his intent. He finally set foot on the bottom floor and searched around for the apparition, but could find no evidence suggesting where it may have gone. He made a sweep of the house to make sure whatever he had seen had truly disappeared. Disappointment welled up inside him, and he turned around to go back upstairs.
He had no sooner taken hold of the bannister, before he felt the electricity in the air begin to rise again. A low, animalistic growl rumbled behind him, as needles of terror stabbed into his tightening stomach. The growl had a strange musical tone to it that made it sound like no animal he had ever heard but was unmistakably the sound of a predator that had cornered its prey. His eyes widened and a tear rolled down his cheek, as he turned to look. He quickly whispered the Lord’s Prayer that he had learned in Sunday school. The beast didn’t even slow down. The last thing he saw were two glowing red eyes rushing at him in the darkness as very realistic feeling teeth sank into his arm.
Jude Sullivan gazed across the rows of mahogany tables lining the
reading room of the Vatican Library, nervously shifting his messenger bag full of papers and writing utensils from one shoulder to the next. His brain struggled to process the myriad biblical murals and symbols painted along the double vaulted ceilings - constellations of crosses, saints, and cherubim, which met the walls to cascade into a seemingly infinite number of manuscripts collected during almost two thousand years of Christian history. In this collection of hallways lay the bulk of what the world knew about one of its largest religions, as well as many myths and legends long discarded and forgotten by contemporary scholars.
Jude’s mouth salivated, as he thought about diving into this sea of knowledge. He was lucky that his host, Father Antonio Gallo, was gracious enough to invite him here to study. The two had been schoolmates years ago and still corresponded regarding various theological and philosophical matters. His friend had recently become a member of
La Asociación Internacional de Exorcistas
, the International Association of Exorcists headquartered in Vatican City.
Jude knew little of the IAE, beyond what Gallo had told him. It was founded by the famous exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, for the Church in 1990 in order to revive the exorcism movement within the Catholic community. The organization was still small, consisting of only a couple hundred certified priests, but its numbers were growing annually.
Now, Jude was bathing in this treasure trove of knowledge and history, waiting for his compadre to arrive. He stole an impatient glance at his watch as he absently scanned the spines of the books along the shelves, noting that they were written in a multitude of languages from English to Latin to Greek to French and more. It was nine fifty-eight in the morning, local time. Father Gallo had promised to meet him at ten. His excitement and curiosity was beginning to eat away at him.
Sullivan,” a familiar voice behind him said in a reverent
. “I hope you found your travels uneventful?”
Jude turned, facing the owner of that soft Italian accent. The man was a few inches shorter than Jude. He was fresh-faced, sporting stylish glasses and peppered hair. He was handsome, looking more like a movie version of a Catholic priest than what one would expect - much to the chagrin of many an admirer, Jude mused. His smile, however, was genuine and his eyes kind. His plain black cassock and white clerical collar seemed out of place in the ornate hall.
“One could not have asked for a better one,
,” he replied in his soft Southeastern American drawl, as he gave his old colleague a friendly hug. “It’s great to see you again. I’ve wanted to visit this place ever since we were in seminary.”
“They lost a good man the day you left the pulpit, Jude,” the holy man replied. “Maybe a trip to the Vatican will help heal your wounded faith.”
Jude shook his head with a wry grin at Gallo’s suggestion. They had had this type of conversation many times before.
“I will leave that in God’s hands,” he deflected. “Now, what was this personal matter you insisted needed to be discussed in person? You’re lucky you caught me between shoots.”
“Your ghost hunting show will survive,” Father Gallo promised. He led Jude toward one of the private study rooms off of the main hallway. He produced a key from inside his cassock and unlocked it.
“Much better,” Gallo sighed and settled into his seat. “This concerns my current work, so we need to be as discreet as possible.”
Jude nodded his agreement, as he sat opposite Gallo and motioned for him to continue.
“About a year ago, I suggested to my superiors that we upgrade our operations and track our cases through a digital database. After we finished the conversion, I ran a few queries and discovered a disturbing increase in the number and severity of possessions over the past few decades.”
“How can you be sure most of these incidents are not simply misunderstood mental disorders? I can cite you multiple cases over the past few decades where so-called ‘possessions’ were just that,” interjected Jude.
Gallo defended his position. “Come now, Jude, while we are a religious order, we are not mired the Dark Ages. We are part of a special division of the Church, not some backwoods faith healers playing with snakes in God’s name. We consider every alternative form of treatment and must obtain permission before we conduct our rites. Mere mental illness does not cause lights to flicker or a body to levitate.”
Jude’s gaped at this last sentence. “I apologize for being so skeptical, Antonio, but do you mean to tell me that you have seen this with your own eyes?”
“Of course! I have seen such things and cast out devils by my own hand!”
Father Gallo slumped back in his chair with a hint of defeat. “That is why I contacted you. As a man of your distinct expertise, we were hoping you might help provide some insight as to what might cause such a spike in possessions. This is why I brought you here to the library,” he gestured around him,” so that you may have the resources of the Vatican at your fingertips. I sincerely hope there is some sort of clue documented somewhere in these halls. Please let me know if you need a translator or a guide to help you in any way. Consider yourself an esteemed guest of the Vatican from this point forward.”
Jude rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by all of this. You have yourself a researcher, then.” He leaned forward slightly. “What is your opinion as to the cause of this phenomenon?”
“Some here would say such an increase in demonic activity can be attributed to modern day depravity and dismissal of God,” the Father replied. “As for me, I am a bit more pragmatic in my view of the universe, so you will have to forgive me if I reserve my opinion.”
“I can respect that. Please gather any details you can about recent cases, plus any historical ones you might find relevant and send them to my hotel. We can reconvene in the morning.”
“Excellent! I can have all of the documents sent to you in two hours.”