El 25 de Septiembre, 2008. 4:00 pm
It was hot and crowded in the campervan. Toni strolled away. He walked a little way down the main street to where the road down from the mountain began. A pair of stones sat as improvised seats and looked out over the valley below. This was a quiet spot. Peaceful.
There was time before Rosa called him for their rehearsal. The book would give him some background, provide local atmosphere. He opened it near the front and thumbed through.
I am nearly home, My Love. From this side of the valley I can see our dear Pueblecito, sitting high on the mountainside. I know you are there with our beloved daughter, Irene. Your husband and your father will not be happy to see me. That won’t stop me though. I have a plan.
Tomorrow night I will make my way to my schoolroom. The one place which holds happy memories for me. If I can rest for a while, I know that I can win the villagers over again.
Schoolteachers, I know, are not the most popular people right now. We did get some information from newssheets and it is as I had feared. Reprisals have begun. The Church and the Fascistas are killing teachers. They want to suppress education as they see that well-informed people are a threat. This will pass, once the hatred goes away. Even if it is a risk, it is one I must take.
My plan is to spirit you and Irene away. To where, I cannot say, but together we can at least be happy.
Until tomorrow, My Darling.
He looked up from the book. If this was about his Grandmother, he had just unearthed one of those shameful secrets. It did not fit though. She had told him of her time in the Church school. That was where she and Grandfather had first met. That was why his father’s surname was Esposito Esposito. They had been orphans, cared for by the nuns.
Then it hit him. Orphans. A shame too hard to bear. This was where Abuela was born. He bent his head once more to the book. There were a couple more entries before the handwriting changed.
They have taken her away, My Love. Oh, how I miss you. I have tried to find out where they took her, but no-one will tell me. The priest is dead. He died a horrific death and I am glad. Your vow is working and they fear you. Now if only you could free me from this hell, I could look for our daughter.
No more prayers to God. I only pray that you can hear me. I need vengeance, as do you, My Darling.
Footsteps sounded behind him. Toni pushed the book into his coat pocket. No wonder his Grandmother was so strong.
“What are you doing?”
It was Rosa. He shrugged.
“Enjoying the view and preparing myself.”
“Good. We are ready for you now. The first shoot is of a little religious ceremony. Padre Francisco wants to say a few words. No exorcism, but it’ll make a good intro for the show.”
Toni followed her back towards the vehicles. Something moved in the corner of his vision. When he looked, there was nothing.
The words burned him. His anger raged helplessly. There was nothing he could do, today. This was not the first time. Priests of all shapes and sizes had come. Spoken their words. Died. Why should this be any different?
As a group, they joined in and his pain was increased. Mumbled words. Half meant, yet still powerful. He strained against his prison. Felt the bonds that held him weaken. Soon. Soon.
A small car pulled to a stop at the bottom of the old road into the village. An elderly man exited, wrapped his coat around himself and opened the boot. Next he heaved a non-descript bag out, followed by a small rucksack. With deft movements, he transferred selected objects into the smaller bag. Crucifix, Bible, torch, flask, other books and finally a small sack of powder. Next, he opened the car door and dragged out a plastic bag, which followed the rest into his rucksack. He zipped it up, placed his arms through the straps and swung it onto his back.
The last thing he took from the car was a long wooden staff. It was topped with a shiny spherical object. He locked the car, took a deep breath and began his climb up to the village.
Professor Andrés Blasquez was frightened. That idiot in Madrid had refused to listen and people were going to die. He had sent the video. His attempts to convince Sánchez had failed and the light was fading. The Professor was deeply committed to the study of the paranormal. Here in Spain there were many unexplained occurrences. Blind faith and receptive belief influenced many people. Now and again though, something truly evil did exist. Pueblecito was just such an example.
This country had an unresolved and bloody past. Governments had tried to reconcile local hatreds. They had failed. Emotions influenced spirits and in this small village, rage, spite and vengeance combined powerfully. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.
The inside of his car was a refuge. He switched on the passenger light, lit a cigarette and made himself comfortable. Notebook open before him, he began to read.
I laughed today. The first time since they murdered you. My father died.
You were there. I know it. That kiss will stay in my memory for as long as I live. Irene is almost as far away as you are, My Love. It seems as though I must wait a whole twelve months for your help. If that is so, then I will. My husband needs to be next. Each and every day I spend as much time as I can by your unmarked grave. I hope you can hear me…
Toni winced. The bitterness was palpable. Whatever had been done here had made his Great Grandmother a vicious monster. She wished her husband dead.
A noise startled him. He looked up as Manolo carried some of his props out of the van. Rosa argued with the priests and again Toni saw movement. This time though he was sure. The head which quickly ducked behind the wall of the nearby how was familiar. It took little time to lock and leave the car. Torch in hand he stealthily approached his prey.
The old man shrank away. He scuttled backwards like some frightened animal. Toni held out his hand.
“I’m Toni. We met briefly in Emilio’s office.”
Blasquez stared at him and Toni dropped the proffered hand. There was a clink as a crucifix rolled down towards him.
“No,” said the Professor, “something much worse.”
“You are in mortal danger. I am here to convince you all to leave. We have little time.”
Toni wanted to laugh. Blasquez’s expression stopped him. There was concern, but it was masked by an all-consuming fear.
“Come with me,” said Toni, “maybe Rosa can help.”
The last rays of the sun flickered and died. Torches were now their only source of light and they gave an eerie feel to the occasion.
“She won’t listen, but you must. With you, we at least have a chance.”
“Yeah, right. Mr. Superhero,” muttered Toni, as he helped the old man to his feet. That was when he heard the scream.
SDIV El Juego Chapter Thirty Part Three
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