Hell to Pay, Chapter 5
Teivel stopped to catch his breath. The guards seemed to have stopped following him. The town was empty around him. He recognized this neighborhood. The school he had once attended was there. Even if someone was still there, nobody would want to talk to him, covered in blood.
The sun was still low in the sky, and wisps of fog dragged heavily out his nose as he breathed out deeply. His hands felt numb and stiff, still covered in dried blood. Looking down at his blood spattered attire, it dawned on him what he had done.
The fever had abated, but his legs felt weak and his stomach was devoid of any substance. Ducking into an alleyway, he slumped down and took a deep breath. He felt the rifle barrel, still held tightly in his hands. The smooth wood of the stock was cold against his already frigid hands. The gun was still engaged like the guard had left it. Teivel fiddled with the mechanism and slid back the cover on the chamber, revealing a single bullet within.
There was something inside of him more powerful than the small brass slug. The gun smelt of grease and dirt, or maybe it was him. It was heavy in his hands, and if he was met again with the urgency to kill, it would not be with this. Throwing it to the side, it made a loud clunk. His stomach growled, and he could feel himself shivering in the shade of the alleyway.
Peering around the corner, he looked upon the streets that were still devoid of another soul. The smell of smoke loomed in the distance. Teivel picked at the frayed threads of his worn shirt, still grimy from his encounter. If he went back to his home, they might be looking for him there. The synagogue might have spare clothes. More than that, they had books that might help him explain the darkness…
The domed roofs of the synagogue crept up before him. It looked as if stones had been thrown through the stained-glass windows he always used to gaze upon. The ornate front doors had been busted down as well, but the interior was still mostly intact. As he walked between the pews, rays of light shone in from the holes in the windows.
None of the priests nor the rabbi seemed to be around. They must have been shipped off as well. The door to the rabbi’s chamber was unlocked as well. Teivel remembered being lead into the room several times, both as a punishment and on his own accord. The room was a bit dusty, but his eyes lead him to a bowl of semi-rotten fruit sitting on the desk, swarming with fruit flies. He grabbed the bowl hungrily, and started to scarf down the soft pears and apples.
In one of the next rooms he scavenged one of the large robes from one of the altar men. He stripped out of the ratty clothes and wrapped himself in the warmth of the cloak. With his mind now clear, he headed to the library that he had spent so many days in.
Pulling books off the shelf one by one, he searched for any reference of the darkness, hell, gehennom, the pentagram and star of david. The familiar pages seemed to drone on; everything he had read before. At a dead end, Teivel moved out to the public area of the synagogue so he could lay on one of the pews.
Passing the altar, the large decorated, yet weathered, book adored the lectern. The Rabbi’s Torah. Of all the books he had studied, this was one of the few he had passed by. He found himself standing at the lectern, peering up at the ornate leather cover. The spine cracked loudly as he opened it, revealing the delicate pages within. Flipping through revealed illustrations he had never imagined, drawing him in. There was a passage that stood out to him; the darkness which existed before the creation of light. Flipping through the pages, he came across the pages of Exodus, describing Moses stretching out his hand to the sky and calling upon darkness as a plague for three days.
Page by page went by. He was fixated. The light grew dim slowly, and he blinked heavily. His eyes were tired and night was falling on the city. The stagnant air of the synagogue was cold, and there was nobody to light the candles for the light and warmth. Crawling under a pew, out of sight of the windows, he cuddled into a ball and quickly fell asleep.
Teivel awoke to an uncomfortable heat. He began to choke. The air was thick with the smell of smoke.