Agent Stevens

Agent Stevens:

It was late on a Friday night, and Miranda Stevens, an FBI Agent had just arrived home with a briefcase full of photographs from a major case she has been working on. Along with a bottle of recently purchased whiskey, she places the briefcase on the desk. Before opening it, she sits down in her chair reflecting on her day. Staring at the briefcase, and sighing deeply. The case that she was working on used to be just an investigation on a number of threats that were being sent to a Bishop, the bishop in question was quickly becoming popular in the media and had gained status with Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  Through the investigation of this popular figure, she grew to know him and even got accustomed to asking him for advice. She didn’t see this coming. Months of investigating, reading the letters addressed to the Bishop, trying to decode any hidden messages, handwriting experts, even stakeouts, and she would have thought they could have been able to actually prevent the Bishop’s murder from happening. But, it didn’t, she had failed. She opens up her briefcase to scattered pages and crime scene photographs. They were grisly and strange. Which shouldn’t be a surprise to her but still it felt strange looking at the corpse. She glides her hands over the photos, examining the badly charred corpse in it and with heavy sighs, then quickly, she cracks open her bottle of whiskey.

No glass was needed.

Idealistically, you should not bring your work into your home, and as a FBI agent, this mantra should be closely followed.  But that wasn’t the case for Agent Stevens this time, because she caught wind of the bishop’s inspirational spirit and comforting messages, it didn’t take long for her to look to him as a spiritual guide. Though, through his public comments made about politics, religious conflicts and scandals in the Vatican, Stevens had already heard a great deal about it, speaking to him personally gave her more insight to how truly good of a soul that was the Bishop. From trying to protect him one day, to staring at his slain body the next, it was the ultimate feeling of failure for Agent Stevens.

His body was discovered in the most sacred of places, a Roman Catholic Church, where the victim frequented many days during the week. It is also the place where he received handwritten notes which would be randomly found. In a collection plate, sticking out from underneath the table where you light the white candles, sometimes taped to the fountain of the flowing Holy Water.

All addressed to Bishop Giorno, all accusing him of being evil, all saving that his time will be coming where he would face God. With a no known enemies besides groups of religious or atheist fanatics, it was difficult for the Police Department to try and figure out who would write those letters. Even the FBI was stumped.

Seeing his blackened body at the foot of a large statue of Jesus presenting his hands out in the in one of the photographs of the crime scene, made Stevens shudder..

The Bishop, full name Giuseppe Giorno was Italian born but mostly American raised, and he became involved in the Catholic Church, lived for it, and now he has died in it.  His incinerated body was found at the foot of the Jesus statue, his hands and feet were bound together by rope, he was kneeling with his head down and his barely visible hands clasped a clean and untouched white cloth.  Obviously placed post ignition.

After scoping out the third photograph of the crime scene, Stevens cracks open her whiskey to take a large gulp. Having just shook hands with the man a day before his death. She prepared herself for the next photograph, this photograph took place in the medical examiners place. The elderly bishop’s upper body on the table, being prepared for an autopsy, at first Stevens thought the whiskey was getting to her very quickly when she caught herself trying to figure out if the face of the bishop was oddly shaped. But no, she soon realized that the mouth was wide open and twisted about, a strong indication that he was alive during the burning.

Another gulp of whiskey was needed.

Agent Stevens dug her finger nails into her head, roughly massaging as if to snuff out what she had seen.  She heavily sighed as she took her first break from looking at what she brought home.  This case was the strangest one she’s had to deal with. Granted she’d only been with the FBI a couple of years, but still, she knew this would be the worst case she would have to do with.

Now, how he died right down to where he died and the positioning of his body, the white cloth and where his body was found, pointed to the some sort of cult. An observation, Agent Stevens had quickly made. People like Charles Manson and Adolfo Contanzo came into mind.

However, days after the death of the Bishop, a diary, hidden in the church was found, it was wrapped in a bloodied cloth identified as Bishop Giorno’s handkerchief.

During a regular cleaning at the church, a podium, where the priest of the church would often speak at mass, had been knocked over and at the base of the podium a large hole was carved out. the person who found it noticed the bloodied handkerchief and that it used to wrapped something. They unraveled the stiff robe to reveal a small journal.

The handwriting looked strangely familiar, and though the words were identified as traditional Castilian Spanish, it was determined by a handwriting expert, the person who wrote in the journal, was the same person who wrote in English the incriminating letters to the Bishop shortly before his demise.

When translated it was immediately studied by Agent Stevens, among others involved in the case surprising things were revealed.

The Journal, which was only skimmed through briefly by Agent Stevens, seemed to be written by a former priest from Spain. This was the first big break they got.

Now that she had the opportunity, Stevens took out some of translated pages of journal home with her in hopes for the lead she’s been praying to get.  She didn’t have many, but the entries were fairly recent, leading right up to the day of the murder, making it extremely relevant to this case.

Agent Stevens arranged them in order for reading.

But first, another shot was needed.

“June 1rst

Father God since the day I gave up the wicked cloth, since the day I detached myself from the Roman Catholic Church, since the day I have been reborn into the righteous man of the right God, I have felt cleansed of all depravity and sin. I pray to you for the salvation and conversion of the followers of said wicked, for they know not what they do”

Amen.”

“June 4th

I have been watching American news stations every day. Learning English has been a bit of a challenge, but nothing without you God is impossible for the mountains can be moved at your will. American news is filled with filth, images that should be sacred are exploited, the damage they are doing is reprehensible. The first time I heard from the followers or the church I attend that there has been speculation of the beast in America, I quickly brushed it off to political nonsense and people’s hatred of America gone getting crazy. But they insisted that the prophecies were to come true. Of course I prayed for your guidance and good word before I could even consider making a judgment like the arrival of the beast. Until I have certainty appointed by you, I must not fall into the word of those around me.”

“June 7th

I am still researching popular stories in America, I have read many articles on the internet. It is not something I usually do, but out of curiosity I asked one of the brothers to lend me a laptop for access to the internet, He gladly gifted it to me, when I have the resources to, I go to the café on Montereno St and have a cup of coffee then use the laptop to view American stories. I have learned quite a bit about politics in that country. The President isn’t Catholic or submissive to the Catholic Church. For a moment I had actually praised his views for not being blind to the evil of Catholicism, but I spoke to soon as I saw his evilness in the support of abominations and sins.”

“July 1st

America, like most of the world, is in need of cleansing, I have not claimed to believe the followers of the church that the beast is there, but that belief is quickly growing, I just read a story of a popular American Bishop has been circulating controversy in the United States, I have read what I can online, the news over here isn’t very informative, from what I gather he is against the word of judgment and has taken It upon himself to relieve sinners from their wrong doing. God I pray for you guidance so I am not misled so I can prepare my people for the second coming”

The first few entries seemed pretty normal to Agent Stevens. A religious man doesn’t like the United States, not surprising, has a strange animosity toward the Catholic Church, again not unusual. But was it a strong enough motive to off a Bishop he hardly knew? Not in the tired agent’s eyes. Why him? She wondered. Talks of rapture caught her attention, she rubbed her eyes as the read the last entry again, trying to pull out any message or meaning behind the words.

“God I pray for your guidance so I am not misled so I can prepare my people for the second coming”

Stevens shook her head, to think religious events was the motive behind killing a religious figure, it was a devastatingly ironic thought to grasp. Especially since the Bishop seemed like a peaceful man, unfortunately, every peaceful man has his violent enemies.

Stevens remembers the first time she met Bishop Giorno, how kind and humble he was, also welcoming to the F.B.I agents sent to protect him. He was not swayed by their appearance, their attitude; the way walked around, even the clutching of their guns when loud noises would be heard from outside the cathedral where the Bishop was did not worry the elderly man. In fact the Bishop lightly pointed out that it was probably some feral raccoons that knocked over a garbage can. When Agent Stevens and the other two FBI agents that where with her ran outside, they had found a garbage can knocked over and a large stray cat, digging in the can. When the Bishop emerged from behind them, he let out a hearty laugh.

“Well cat, raccoon, not much of a difference I suppose”

He was not anxious about his situation in the slightest. He didn’t seem fazed by the handwritten letters being randomly found around the church, constantly accusing him of evil, or threatening to expose him.  Even as the content of the were read to him by Agent Stevens, he still wore a smile on his face, and took the angry rant as someone who unfortunately disillusioned away from the faith venting to the wrong person. When Agent Stevens asked him what he thought of the man who wanted him dead, his response was surprisingly soft.

“I cannot in good judgment, condemn this man or woman of their sins. That is the father’s job in which we trust him to do. I can, however pray for them, pray their soul, pray for their pain and internal struggles, their extreme beliefs, for it is that which leads to their actions now. They are confused, they are tricked into believing that hating is the same as defending. They have been deceived by the Devil because of their weakened heart which is filled with stones to throw, strayed away from God’s original message and condemned to a false belief of heavy judgment and self-righteous thought that Is a punishment far worse than what you can ever imagine. What is needed is prayer, my child, for the wicked at heart, for they were once good.”

That what it. That was Bishop Giorno’s thoughts on being on someone’s hit list.  For as long as she’s been in this field, as many murders she has seen, evil deeds done in greed and anger, unspeakable acts in the name of greed, lust and anger, Agent Stevens had not once thought to pray for the perpetrators, or even considered them to harbor any good intentions at all. You could say spending time with the Bishop had started to change her perspective, gave her a new view on life.  She would often visit the church and pray, she even lent a hand in a fundraiser the church was holding. Not being a religious person herself, this new change in her was refreshing, she found herself really inspired by the many talks with the Bishop. In her world of tracking gritty crimes and evil predators, the church became a place to escape all of that. Unfortunately that new change of heart was cruelly incinerated in the fire along with the bishop’s burning body.

She took another page to read, still trying to find what could have triggered the final stage of this case.

June 18th

My lord, since I denounced the Catholic Church upon enlightenment of their evil intentions, I have been set free. Thank you for opening my eyes God. May others around me seek truth in my word as I as sought truth in yours. I will continue to spread this message, those who are against me are ignorant of the message and it’s purpose. The time is coming soon I feel and I need to prepare for it, as well as prepare others for the coming.  Amen. “

“July 22nd

I have been studying the bible and dissecting the multiple theories. It is frightening how the end seems so near.  My followers gave me a book, though I had already confirmed my speculations of the Catholic Church, it also gave me more detail into the wicked doings. I dreaded putting on the white collar and black clerical clothes. The day I threw it at my superiors was the day I set myself free. Though the urges have not stopped, and I struggle with them daily, I can feel myself getting better the as the years go by, slowly but surely. When I give in to these urges, I have always turned to you God for forgiveness and healing, and I am set free and able to move on without persecution and I pray for them too, for them to understand that I am not evil but badly wounded, I think they hear your voice God, and forgive me though I know I can never see them again, I am sure that they do. When I was in the priesthood, I was called sick and weak and in need of prayer, but now I know, it was them who made me this way. It was them who made me do it, them with their unnatural law. They just couldn’t take responsibility for the monster they created.

I haven’t been able to watch the television lately, a follower of the church and a close friend of mine gave me their laptop and a couple of dollars to go to the local café where internet service is free as long as you purchase something. I bought coffee and a couple of sweet bread. The Bishop was in the internet news again, and again he is relieving sinners from their punishment, his popularity is quickly spreading and his fallacies are being mistaken for truths. I know now in my heart my followers where right, especially since the Pope just announced his retirement. It seems the Catholic Church is eager to find the Beast himself, or at the very least recruit him; they will even pull a rare move like that to draw him out. Talks of this American Bishop being a candidate have been frequent, even on international news. This is no coincidence, especially since his heretical interviews have been quoted and publicized. I know it is him. The second coming of Christ must also be soon, but I doubt he will be that obvious”

“September 13th

It has been quite the journey to America, unfortunately I had no other choice but to step back into the malicious cloth to travel with the order of priests I am traveling with now. It was the only way I can afford to go to America, the retiring Pope will be there, and while I have no wishes to see him, it is the Bishop Giorno I want to confront, if he is who my church followers and I think he is, it would be foolish to try and harm him. That would be suicide. But at the very least I want to see him, face to face. I want to see the Beast in person. “

Agent Stevens placed the page down. She could not believe what this imposter was really saying. She never was one to criticize religious beliefs but damn what led to this belief. She was sure he wasn’t in a cult, he was involved in a different spectrum of Christianity. Other denominations of Christianity don’t see eye to eye with the Catholic Church, so his attitude wasn’t exactly unusual. But where was this coming from, the Anti-Christ being spawned from the Catholic Church?

“Who are you”

She noticed that she slurred the words out as she thought out loud asking about the identity of the Bishop’s murderer.  She got up only to come crashing harshly down on her chair, the whiskey was getting to her. Her vision had not yet blurred yet front he intoxication so she decided to read one more page of the anonymous writer of the journal. It happened to be the last page.

“September 21st

The meeting came sooner than expected, I finally saw the famed Bishop Giorno or should I say the Devil in sheep’s clothing. He wasn’t as tall as I thought, in fact he might have been shorter than me. I heard him speak to one of the priest I was traveling with. He had an accent, I recognized it to be Italian, perhaps Sicilian. I didn’t understand as he had mentioned that he was born in America, maybe he was raised back in Italy, doesn’t matter, before he reveals himself I must confront him. God help me and guide me with your light against the Beast.”

There was a long break before the next paragraph, the handwriting was dramatically different, it was sloppily written. There were big gaps in between the words, and it was barely readable. Also it had no date and several water stains, most likely tear drops.

“Please forgive me …..Jesus…… God help me…..I have committed a mortal sin…..I tried to stop…… but I got scared…….I saw him today. I spoke to him….. then he……….he looked at me dead in my eyes and asked what am I doing here……God I thought he was going to kill me so I grabbed a knife on the table where he was eating…. And I penetrated his stomach, over and over and over……… he wasn’t even strong enough to fight me…….when didn’t I realize then………I panicked when he did not immediately die after I stabbed him so many times. I ran outside to one of the vehicles and there was a gas can next to him. God I burned him, I still wasn’t sure who he really was so I burned him. I thought I defeated him but how foolish was that…… I just killed the wrong man and the beast is still out there…… I know he did this, the devil has tricked me I know he did; I know he is still out there. God please I was tempted by the devil and lost forgive me Lord. I was deceived. I will have to pray for the Bishop to be forgiven as well. I need to think.  The blood is still fresh on my hands. But I know its all part of the Devil’s deception. I will need to hide this diary…….. I have nowhere to go Lord, the men I came with plan to stay for at least a couple of months. I will have to stay behind as well. They cannot suspect us, the letters I wrote have been sent to him prior to my arrival in America. That is important right?”

“Oh my God, who are we dealing with”

Stevens head was pounding by now, though she did realize that she had just read something that may lead to the killer, it would be hard. Stevens remembered the group of European priests that had visited the Bishop’s church. There were a lot of them, how could they pick out the right one quickly enough? She knew that they were set to leave soon, but she couldn’t remember exactly what day. Nobody that interviewed the visiting priests was suspicious of them. Even she couldn’t pick out anything strange about any of them. She felt defeated. There was nothing she could do now, the priests were probably on their way back to Spain and the killer would disappear in the streets. This was unforeseen, the letters to the Bishop were hand delivered and never had a name or address so it makes no sense that they were sent by a person living outside the country unless he had an accomplice already here, or accomplices. In her drunken state, Agent Stevens was still able to clearly figure out that this murderer had help, and that’s where this investigation had to go.

Agent Stevens lies down on her couch, the whiskey now was seeping in her brain, prior to having met Bishop Giorno, Stevens was on a path of alcoholism. The stress of the job was affecting her and as most law enforcement agents did when the job weighed too heavy a burden for them to bear, she turned to alcohol. After meeting him, she never touched another bottle. Tonight her craving came back with a vengeance. She closed her eyes involuntarily, knowing that she should probably call her boss and tell him what she got out of analyzing the evidence left at the crime scene. But whiskey took hold of her tonight and put her into a deep sleep.

The phone had rang, waking Stevens up several hours later.  She rushed to her phone and saw that it was her boss.

“Stevens speaking”

“We have an accomplice in custody” Her boss quickly said, not hiding the excitement in his voice”

“Really”

“Yes come immediately”

And so Stevens grabbed her jacket, fix her hair and headed straight for the station.  When she got there her boss was outside the interrogation room with several officers, the officers seemed annoyed, though her boss wore a smile.

“Bailey” She waived her superior

“Agent Stevens, you won’t believe it, we have the person who has been leaving the notes to the Bishop”

Stevens shook her head in confusion

“But is he the murderer” She said

“No, but he knows who the murderer is, one of the priests that came in that clergy from Spain came forward, he said that he had followed this one man that came accompanied them on the trip, he never had a good feeling about him and his credentials seemed fishy, he followed this priest to an apartment building five minutes away from the church after having an encounter with him the night before the Bishop’s body was found. The priest’s name is Domingo Cortez, and he was acting very strange, according to our witness, he was irritated, sweaty and get this, and his pants looked and smelled as if they were burnt on the bottom and when our witness the fellow priest

“He’s not really a priest” Agent Stevens interrupted to correct Bailey.

“Right, well when the witness spoke to and asked about the condition of his pants Cortez completely threw a fit and ran out, so he followed Cortez, who was already carrying a packed bag, he followed him to this man’s house.”

Bailey pointed to the room with a young man in it, with a scared expression on his face.

Stevens looked at the police officers faces again, still annoyed.

“So what’s their problem then’ She turned her head into the direction of the officers.”

“Well though he confessed to leaving the Domingo Cortez’ letters, he isn’t saying much else or giving us a location of the suspect.”

She peaked in the office and saw a very scared young man. He was rubbing his hands together roughly and was shaking.

“Let me go in Bailey, just to talk to him for a second, I won’t interrogate him, I know you don’t want me to, but just let me talk to him, a friendly conversation” Stevens said with an unconvincing smirk

Bailey looked at her for a couple of seconds, he knew how personal she got with this case, but he nodded his head anyways and she didn’t wait a second later.

She walked into the room and sat in front of the trembling man. He looked at her, still seemingly afraid, and then looked down on the desk in front of him. Stevens sat down across from him, she could tell he was afraid and probably that probably was the reason why he was giving up the suspect.

“Hello my name is Miranda Stevens, I’m with the FBI, what is your name” She took out her hand to shake his.

“Guillermo” The young man said softly, not taking out his hand.

“Hello Guillermo, how are you doing today, well I hope?”

The man shook his head.

“Good, I myself am dealing with a bit of a hangover but other than that, I can’t really complain, seeing you here has made my day a bit better then what I expected and do you know why Guillermo?”

Guillermo just stared at her.

“Well for months I was a part of an investigation which dealt with harassing and threatening letters made out to Bishop Giorno, have you heard of him” The young man nodded his head, Agents Stevens could see the tears forming in his eyes.

“Good you have, so you know that he was brutally murdered then.”

Stevens did wait for the young man to respond before continuing on.

“In such a violent and inhumane way I might add, unfortunately we were not able to catch the killer in time. But you Guillermo, out of God’s graciousness, came here to help us catch him, am I right, please tell me I’m right”

Guillermo was now in full blown tears.

“I just wanted to help my cousin, he wanted to see him in person, you have to believe I am not a part of his beliefs, I knew nothing about it. My cousin was a good man once, he was a respected priest in Barcelona and then something happened.”

Guillermo was shaking, he swung his head back and forth and covered his eyes.

Agent Stevens place her hand on his wrist and slowly uncovered his eyes.  She smiled at him, which made Guillermo ease up a little bit.

“It’s okay Guillermo, you are doing the right thing”

Guillermo shook his head.

“I swear I don’t know where he is, he just stopped by the spend the night left in the morning”

Agent Stevens kept her hand on his, she made eye contact with the man, and she could sense he felt a great deal of guilt. But still, he was resisting, she needed to try something.

“Guillermo, where you born here” She asked in a low voice.

He shook his head no.

“Are you a legal citizen?”

He nodded, still trying to fight back some tears.

“Do you want to remain a legal Citizen here” Agent Stevens voice lowered even more.

“I know people that, should I have to call them, will deport your ass back to Spain, it wouldn’t be difficult for me at all, especially now that you were caught aiding a criminal. But if you tell me right now where your cousin is hiding, you can remain here, safe and sound. If you don’t, not only will I have them deport you, but I will make sure that your trip back home to Barcelona will be hell. You will be arrested first for conspiracy to commit murder, then deported back to Spain with an angry mob of people that adored Bishop Giorno waiting for you at the airport and right before you even get a chance to say your Hail Mary’s, they will surround you. So I will not ask again, where is he”

Guillermo froze up. Stevens looked at her boss Bailey, who had his arms crossed. She turned back to Guillermo and brought her face right next to his.

“Last chance” Agent Stevens whispered again.

Guillermo, in his ignorance flinched, and then whispered something in Agent Stevens ear. She eyed her boss coming in the room from the corner of her eye.

“That’s enough Miranda”

She stood up,

“He can go home he doesn’t know anything”

Guillermo’s eyes followed her as she walked out the room.

Stevens climbed in her car and sat there thinking. She took out her cell phone and dialed a number.

“Hi James, listen I need a favor, I need to borrow your tattoo kit, don’t ask me why”

In a small apartment a middle aged man quietly walks in from the outside. He looks around, inspects each room, tip toes to the bathroom, then to the bedroom. He lets his shoulders drop when he notices nothing unusual and goes to make a pot of coffee. While waiting for his espresso to brew, he decides to sit down on the couch and turn on the television, the story that is broadcasting is about the horrific murder of Bishop Giorno. Still no suspects have been considered. They briefly show the policemen and crying members of his church. The reporter also interviews a couple of mourners, first the reporter speaks with a devastated young woman, weeping into the arms of a much older stoic man. Her name is Bethany Giorno, she’s identified as the Bishop’s niece, the man who is holding her, is the Bishop’s brother, who keeps silent and does not look at the camera. Secondly,  two members of the community who recalled the Bishop’s attitude and generosity, the fundraisers he constantly held which proceeds went toward fixing up the local schools and parks were frequently mentioned in these interviews. The reporter then got a hold of a priest, this man had a heavy accent, but his English was pretty good. He spoke about how he traveled with a bunch of local priests just to see the Bishop, as they knew that he might be considered to replace the old Pope retiring and they wanted to show support, the priest also mentioned how he already suspected who did this before being pulled away by a police officer who quickly discredited the priest’s comments about a suspect.

The middle aged man turns off the television.  He sits with his head hanging down.  For a couple of minutes he stays there, not making a sound. All the sudden he gets up, tear stains on his cheeks and eyes full of regret, he walks over  to a small backpack and opens it up to obtain a bible, he gets on his knees and starts a repetitive prayer. At first you cannot hear what he is saying, and then as the minutes go by, the repetitive prayer gets louder and louder, desperately swaying back and forth, his hands tightly clasping and pressed hard against his forehead.

“Dios me perdone, El diablo me engano, Dios me perdone, El diablo me engano”

He keeps this up until he hears a door opening.

“Guillermo is that you,” He says, still on the floor.

He hears no response, but feels small hands place a soaked cloth on his mouth, smothering his screams of shock, and numbing his body. Then, nothing.

His limp body was dragged into the bedroom and bible that he was holding, fell right ourt of his left hand.

What seemed like moments later, the man woke up.  He feels a sharp on his forehead. When he touches it, it burns.

“Ay Dios mio” The tired man says as he struggles to get up from the bed. He looks around the room, he realizes he is in the bedroom of the same apartment. Sweaty and confused he runs up the open the bedroom door but it is stuck. He tries to bang on it and pull the knob ferociously but it is useless. He is still feeling weak from whatever was used to knock him out. He notices little notes on the floor, he picks them up.

We know what you are….

The first note read, he wipes the sweat off his eyes as he recognizes the handwriting. These were his notes to Bishop Giorno, or at least, copies of his notes. Domingo Cortez kneels down to grab another one.

He will could come for you soon, your days are numbered….

He picked up another one.

Wicked beast you will not win, you will not prevail, the end may be here but so is his arrival, you will regret the day you were brought into this world, you will regret the pain you have and will continue to cause, You will be taken out in the Lord’s name, you will be put down.

Now even more nervous he looks for another note, he see’s nothing. He tears up the bed, flings the pillows, opens the dresser drawers and tosses the socks, underwear and other clothing aside. He runs to the only window in the room, putting all his strength, he tries to open it, it won’t budge. He looks around the room for an object, any object that is hard enough to break open a window, he takes the drawer and throws it at the window but it bounces back. Frustrated and out of breath, he collapses to the floor gasping for air. As he recuperates he notices an envelope underneath the bed. He grabs it and reads the name types on it.

“Domingo Cortez”

Domingo Cortez stares at the note then rips the envelope open. It’s a letter typed with red ink.

Those who receive the mark of the beast will have eternal death as punishment”

Domingo Cortez didn’t finish reading, scared and confused he ran to the door once more, but the effects of whatever was given to him where still lingering in his system and he still did not have enough strength to open it. Once more, Domingo looked at the note, hoping for some mercy, a clue on how to get out the room, or reason as to why this was happening to him though he already probably knew.

Look in the mirror. He has already used you.

But there was no mirror in sight, the mirror that connected to the dresser was missing, Domingo Cortez didn’t know where to look in the room. He pulled what little hair he had on his head, ripping some strands out. He cried out but knew nobody would hear him.  Finally he went to the window and tried squinting to see his reflection. When he saw it, his fists balled up and he punched the window as hard as he could. The screams that came from him could have shattered the glass, his pounding head and blurred vision, increased by the second, the amount of no’s and that exited his mouth were plenty. With one trembling finger, Domingo Cortez traced the reddish mark on his forehead he saw in his reflection, it was the three 6’s the mark of the beast.

He knew there was no way out now. He had been touched by the devil, which had won his battle and used Domingo for his evil intentions. Domingo prayed every hour for forgiveness on killing the Bishop. In fact, he had thought several times that the only reason that he burned the Bishop alive, was that after stabbings, the Bishop was still alive. This only told Domingo that he was the beast, because who would have survived that many attacks if he were human. In his mind, fire would have to be enough to severely damage the beast, not kill, but damage. Up unto the point where the flames stopped waving back and forth and the body was still, Domingo was still sure he knew what he was dealing with. Not even the smell of sweltering flesh stopped Domingo in his rage. This was the work of the Devil, and he was sure to be forgiven.

But now, he bears the mark, in the most obvious place, there was no hiding from his sin, the mark seemed to have emerged from beneath his skin. The evil came from within. No matter where he went, who he spoke to, he was forever cursed. Domingo Cortez was doomed to walk the earth carrying the symbol of his opponent, and categorized as his servant.

The door opened and quickly shut. Domingo tried to run as fast as he can to it, not reaching the knob in time. He noticed a small cardboard box had been thrown in. Thinking it was a key or another note, he quickly ripped it open. He was right. Partially, it was a note, but no key, instead a small mirror and a knife. When he touched the blade he could feel the sharpness of its teeth. The note, which was folded, had the words FINAL CHANCE typed on it. He unfolded the note and began to read the typed message.

Redemption is one step away”

Domingo looked at the knife and not to his surprise the word REDEMPTION written in black marker ink, on the handle of the knife. His hand clutched the knife tightly; he was dreading what the note was asking him to do. Taking the small mirror, he raised it up to his forehead to reveal the mark, it was red, and had appeared to be stamped on. The Devil left his mark. Slowly he raised the knife to the marking in his head, he traced the outline of the triple six symbol.

“No”

He whimpered, lowering the knife to his own throat. He pressed the sharp tip hard against his skin; the blood already began to trickle down his neck to his chest. At first, Domingo tries to slowly maneuver the knife to the right. But ends up stopping abruptly, he drops the knife gasping for air, the blood now pouring onto his hands, he knows there is no stopping it from flowing out. His coughs don’t make the pain any worse. His knees give out and falls on the floor, the bloody knife falls next to his head. His vision is blurry and but he can still see the blood on the floor. To finally put his pain to rest, Domingo Cortez, former priest, re-born Christian, Murderer, grabs the knife and in one deep, swift movement, commits his final mortal sin. The blood poured down his chest and onto his bible that laid next to his feet. The impact of his body falling was so hard that his head cracked as soon as it met the floor. The final trembles commence throughout his cold body.

One could imagine what he saw in the final images of his life. The meetings he had in his church, the devoted followers warning him of an American Anti-Christ, Bishop Giorno’s terrified eyes before being melted into the immense flame that swallowed his slaughtered body, one could imagine what Domingo had to encounter before the light in his brain finally shut off.  Did the Cross still hold the same meaning in those last minutes, did the devil miraculously reveal himself after all this time and did the heat of his pitchfork brand Domingo soon to be expired body to claim as his own.  Whatever was seen, it must have been gut wrenching because Domingo’s eyes never closed.

When the door finally opened, the sight of the dead man’s eyes almost scared Agent Stevens. Almost, if she actually didn’t anticipate his demise, she walked cautiously to him, she had realized that the pupils held no life in there, but for whatever reason, Domingo seemed afraid to close them. Agent Stevens kicked him in the shoulder for confirmation.  No response.

She looked at her watch and knew she only had minutes before she expected backup to arrive, pounding on the front door. She called them claiming to have spotted Domingo walking to the building only to find that he had committed suicide. Her original part in his final sin, she omitted though. But, it was amusing to her how she used Domingo’s gullibility and unholy fear against him, the notes the left him, the writing on the mirror and even the tools he supplied to Domingo for him to finally rid himself from his loss in the war against whoever, whatever he believed to be the enemy. At least now the ex-priest/preacher/prophet will personally find out, who the true enemy was, and Stevens hopes that it will be hell. Though the Bishop that had befriended her before his murder would not be amused, this sort of trickery and “religious” exploitation would not have been put a smile on the dead Bishop’s face.  He was not a vengeful person. Steven’s game left for the already tormented soul might not have been the holiest of plans. But all she could do now in the few minutes before her fellow officers would come storming in and find what looked at a mental torture chamber for Domingo, is use the same tactic, he did when he already crucified Bishop for being an evil creation, and take a line straight from the the good book.

An Eye for an Eye.

An eye for an eye.

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