By Raphael Bound

Over the last two years I’ve been focusing most of my time and attention on my Cast Down series or horror novels, and I enjoy using my lifetime of paranormal research to entertain readers (and hopefully give them a second thought about what might be “haunting” them). However, my first foray into writing was through a detective series – The 101st. No matter what genre I’m in, the characters come first. They speak and they live in my head and I have little to no control over them, which is why I adore them. They’re not me. So while Masked is being gone through by my Book Doc and the cover art is being finished up I’ve taken a little break to pen a bit more in the fifth “101st” book; By Raphael Bound. Cults have always fascinated me as much as serial killers, so here’s a brief peak at what is rolling around in my head these days.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Katie sat on the damp floor in the corner of the cinderblock room.  She didn’t move.  She didn’t even shiver.  Her stare was blank as her head cleared and her vision refocused.   The clearing was gradual like the fog lifting slowly in the mountains.  Her senses began to awaken.  The feeling of cold dampness beneath her.  The dim morning light filtering in through the broken window.  The slightly itchy feeling on her scalp beneath the long, unwashed brown hair.  The slick feel of the substance on her hands.  

            The young woman groaned softly and slumped back against the cold, hard wall.  Her eyes reluctantly fell to her hands and she knew what she would see before the image of the blood on her hands even registered in her brain.  For the briefest of moments she could feel the fires of hell licking at her and whimpered for rescue, for redemption.  And then the moment was gone.  It was righteous, whatever it was that she’d done.  She was safe.  She was in the basement of the Father’s Mansion, her home.  People who loved her were not far away.  She’d been placed there in the basement by people who cared for her, to protect her against the unrighteous world outside and they were waiting for her to regain herself.  She was certain of the fact that whatever she’d done last night, she’d done it in service of Raphael, the archangel. 

            Raphael was the angel of Healing.  If an unbeliever had been dealt a blow by a Sword in the service of the Angel, then He would be their judge, and grant healing upon their souls if He deemed their souls to be worthy. 

            The fog that clouded her senses continued to lift and she finally shivered in the chill of the air.  Tentatively stretching her stiff limbs Katie groaned softly and crawled towards the pile in the middle of the room.  The old mattress there offered relief from the concrete floor, and the blankets respite from her discomfort.  There was large wooden pail of water with a ladle by the mattress and a clean towel.  Katie scooped the cold water and drank deeply, refreshing herself and clearing her head further before setting to the task of washing the blood and filth from herself.  The water was stained red and brown long before she was done and dried off. 

            Katie heard the familiar, comforting sounds from upstairs drifting down to her as she wrapped herself in a blanket and lay down.  The singing upstairs lulled her to sleep, and she knew that soon enough she would be brought back out of the basement to rejoin her family.  She would be hugged and loved, bathed properly and fed.  She would feel the warmth of belonging and family.

            In the time before Raphael had rescued her and introduced her to her brother and sisters there had been no belonging.  There had been only hunger, fear and addiction.  There had been betrayal and pain.  She’d been discarded by the very people who were supposed to have taken care of her, leaving her to be raised by strangers and the street.  Those were the kind of people who would be sorry soon.

            The mood upstairs was bright.  The large farmhouse bustled with activity.  The huge living room was the center of everything.  The house elder played the piano and the group of young women seated in the room sang songs of praise to the Angel.  The morning devotional could last for hours.  They praised the Angel and the growth of his powers.  His righteousness and might would last forever.  Their numbers were growing, the group expanding as his wisdom reached the confused and lost.  Though the family was comprised primarily of females, a few men had recently joined with them as well.  They occupied the smaller house on the other side of the farm.  When the Angel determined it was time, he would choose wives for them and their numbers would increase again.

            The morning would be spent in devotional meeting then the group would divide.  Some of the group would stay behind on the farm to prepare meals, tend to the animals and see to the needs of the elect member who had served their Angel last night.  The other portion of the group would go out into the city to search out the lost, to bring the light and the healing of Raphael to the darkness of the world.  They needed their time in devotion to prepare, to gain strength to face the world outside their walls and boundaries.  To face the world that had rejected them and brought them low. 

They knew their enemies lurked outside the safe boundaries of their home.  They knew that just as there were angels there were also demons.  Demons who sought the destruction of everything light and good in the world; everything that Raphael himself embodied.  Just as the goodness of the Angel was made flesh in Raphael, they knew that the evil of the demons was also made flesh in the world and that the demons walked among them all the time.  One of the demons had come close to home and had found out to whom the true power belonged.  Today was a day of celebration.  Another soul had been set free and another demon bound in Hell.

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