Jon Fii opened his eyes slowly.
He could hear Kwabla’s voice from far off.
“Wake up, son, wake up!” the elderly man was saying, and his voice was desperate and filled with fear. “Jon! Wake up, please!”
Jon had found some old student mattresses in the storeroom, and some old pillows and sheets. He had simply put them on the floor of one of the rooms and slept.
He opened his eyes, and for a moment he was very disoriented as he looked up at the frantic face of Kwabla above him.
“What ails you, Pastor?” he asked drowsily.
“They’re here!” Kwabla said frantically. “We need to flee! Oh, Lord! They’ll kill us!”
“Relax, sir,” Jon said as he sat up finally. “Who’s here, and who will kill us?”
“Sophia!” the man said desperately. “They’re outside! Can’t you hear them?”
Jon raised his eyebrows and listened, and yes, he heard a great noise coming from outside. People were shouting and hammering on the door of the church.
Jon picked up his watch which was lying on the floor beside the mattress and peered at its luminous face.
It was two o’clock at dawn!
“Well, she works fast, doesn’t she?” he said with a lopsided smile and then got to his feet.
“Where are you going?” Kwabla asked fearfully, and he was terrified.
“We have visitors, my friend,” Jon replied. “Time to welcome them.”
“No!” Kwabla hissed. “If Sophia is here, personally, then there’s not going to be any welcoming! She’s here to destroy, Jon! There’s a back door. Let’s get out of here and flee!”
Jon looked at the man coldly.
“This is the house of the Lord, pastor,” he said. “And the presence of the Lord is here, because he has a pact with me, and His church. If the Lord cannot protect me in His house, then there’s nowhere that I will be safe.”
He was wearing his pyjamas, which was a lovely, patterned dark blue with white stripes both for the trouser and top.
He slipped his feet into fluffy slippers and walked out of the room.
“You’re mad, Jon, simply mad!” Kwabla screamed in anguish as he tailed behind. “Oh, this is the dawn we both die!”
The battering sound became louder as Jon walked down the auditorium towards the front door. He wondered if they were using huge logs as battering rams in their attempt to knock down the doors.
He could hear horrible and furious shouts from outside, enough to make a lesser man quaver with terror, but Jon walked on without pause. Jon removed the heavy metallic bracing behind the door, and then he turned the key and opened the door.
The sight that met his eyes was terrifying!
There were about ten men on the steps of the church holding a huge piece of timber which they had been using to smash into the doors.
They were wearing skirts, and their faces were hideously painted with clay, paint, and what appeared to be blood. Beyond them, filling the courtyard, was a crowd of vicious men screaming war songs.
Jon could not see any woman anywhere.
The men were all dressed in skirts, and had amulets around their arms and calves. Their faces were hideously painted too, and they were holding cutlasses, machetes and axes!
Many of them were holding bottles that had strips of rags in them immersed with kerosene or petrol, and Jon knew these were mini-bombs that would explode and burn if thrown into the church.
What really horrified him, though, were the dead animals!
The courtyard was littered with the decapitated bodies of white fowls and goats! Some had been disembowelled, and their intestines thrown around the church. The blood – from the animals, no doubt – had been smeared on the church walls into crude evil patterns!
And to the side of the steps were two deep holes that looked like graves!
His heart began to boil with fury as he stepped out through the doors.
The men with the battering ram saw him, and they made wild, crazy sounds, and then they dropped the ram and began a crazy dance on the steps as they retreated slowly.
The crowd on the courtyard then let out a wild yell and raised their wicked-looking weapons into the air. Some beat war drums, and the terrible screams from them chilled Kwabla to the bone. He could not step outside the door and slowly dropped to his knees, clamped his hands in front of him and, weeping, began to pray fervently.
Jon Fii, heart beating with fury, descended two steps and surveyed the carnage around him with maddened eyes.
“Oh, you sick, barbaric bunch of evil minions!” he shouted angrily as he looked at all the slaughtered animals, their intestines spilling, and the crude drawings on the church.
The cacophonous and horrible melee the crowd was making died down slowly, and the silence that reigned was so profound that it was loud.
Jon saw their ranks parting, and then he saw her!
A huge, ferocious, black panther slowly moved forward towards Jon, its evil eyes glinting as it growled ominously.
And, sitting on this wild beast, was the woman.
Jon Fii stared at her, and slowly his anger ebbed the nearer she came towards him.
The panther stopped at the foot of the steps and growled ominously. It lowered itself to the ground, and the lady slid off its back lithely.
There she stood.
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At first, Jon had pictured her as some hideous girl with muscular arms and legs, ugly to boot, wearing horrible-looking fetish clothes, probably with huge, great earrings and something hideous through her nose and lips!
The girl who faced him, however, was like an angel.
She was dressed in a beautiful white dress that stopped just above her knees. Her feet were encased in white slippers with feathers on the straps. Her hair had been pulled up on her head into a bun.
And she had the curviest, most beautiful figure Jon Fii had ever seen. Her black skin seemed to glow and radiate an inner glow that made the skin silky.
Her face was oval, almost elfin, her eyes large and beautiful. And her eyebrows were a natural delight, her lips full and sensual. She looked so young, so breath-taking, so amazingly ethereal that he could only stare at her for a moment.
He had not expected Sophia to be anything like this!
This was a woman among woman, a gem that many a man would want to possess, flaunt, and treasure! In all his life, he had never been this impressed with the opposite species of his race. To find such a specimen, in a remote place like this, in the midst of such chaos, was a jangling discord that was almost too painful to accept.
She moved with the cadence and fluid wavy movements of the best of rhythms. And she stopped in front of Jon Fii with a deadpan expression on her face.
He was not surprised when she spoke, and her voice was like the melodic remnants of heaven, soft and tender, without malice, like a lover’s voice, seductive and full of warmth.
“You should not have come here, handsome pastor,” she said, and the smile that curved her lips made that face even more breathtakingly beautiful. “And you should not have caused a scene. This dawn, this church will finally be burned down, and we shall bury you and your friend alive in those graves.”
She reached out and touched Jon Fii’s face with cool fingers, and her thumb traced his lips gently.
“I wanted to make you rot, but I must admit I have never seen one as handsome as you. Ah, what is your name, if I may ask?”
“Jon Fii,” he said and sighed heavily. “You are beautiful.”
The smile vanished from her face immediately, and a look of sheer evil suddenly crossed that lovely face. She hissed, and the panther growled ominously again. She snarled then and suddenly slapped him across the right cheek, her fingernails raking down his cheeks and gouging him deeply so that three gashes appeared on his cheek and began to bleed immediately.
Jon gasped with pain and touched his cheeks.
She showed her fingers to him, and he saw his blood on her fingers, and with a lustful grunt she licked her fingers and his blood.
“Now I have you, young pastor!” she snarled into his face. “I have your essence in me, and I’m going to make you experience pain and horror you’ve never known before!”
She turned and descended the steps.
“Sophia,” Jon said softly.
She snarled and whirled around to glare at him.
“You don’t have me,” he said softly. “What lives in me, and what I live in, is more powerful than the drops of blood you’ve swallowed. And believe me, dear girl, right here in this town, I’m going to baptize you!”
And then it happened!
Her hands were crooked like claws, and her teeth bared like a feral beast! Her bun shot up, and her hair stood up straight on her head like hackles. That sound was so vicious that the window panes smashed on the church building, and glass fragments shot out like bullets.
She was no longer beautiful!
Jon clamped his hands to his ears to stop his eardrums from blasting out by that high-pitched evil wail! He saw, to his horror, that her eyes were now blood-red, and her teeth had become long at the sides, and blood spilled down her chin into her dress!
Slowly, she levitated, her feet leaving the ground, and she hung in the air and pointed a finger at Jon Fii.
Her hair billowed out and suddenly bunched together to form a horrible snake-like thing that hissed horribly at Jon, who found it difficult to breathe suddenly!
The air was locked in his throat, and pain blasted through his heart, driving him to his feet and threatening him with instant suffocation.
“None shall touch his anointed!” he gasped as spittle dripped from his mouth and veins stood out on his neck. “Evil shall not partake on my table, nor touch a hair on my head, because I dwell in the Lord, and He dwells in me like an all-conquering lion, banishing my foes and encompassing me with His power, with His name, which is more powerful than any name on the surface of the earth! That name Jesus Christ heals my infirmities!”
And suddenly, his breath was free, and Jon Fii stood up straight, and at the same time Sophia crashed down to the ground hard, her screech dying in a startled gasp!
She was on her feet in an instant, and the panther roared mightily beside her, its tail standing out and high, its mighty shoulders hunched as it dropped into an attacking crouch!
But, as Sophia looked at Jon Fii, he saw the brief light of sudden confusion in her eyes!
She had crashed down!
It had never happened to her before!
And Jon Fii was standing up now, breathing freely, and his heart was not shattered as she had intended to, as she had aimed her powers to do!
She stared at him, tall and foreboding, his handsome face fierce as he glared back at her.
Sophia knew that this one was different!
She had never encountered any like this one, not even the haughty one who had dared come to her shrine so many years ago!
There was something about this one, something she had never encountered before, something that bothered her, and something that made her more furious and vengeful than she had ever been!
This one she needed to kill instantly before whatever was in him proved to be something dangerous!
She would give him pain and horror!
Yes, she would tear him to pieces this very night!
They stared at each other!
The very handsome, young, and furious pastor!
And the extremely beautiful, young, and furious fetish priestess!
The battle lines were drawn!
to be continued