Sister Mary Concordia was running as fast as she could. The March night was cool, and a blood moon was high, providing an eerie red filter over the path that led deeper into the woods surrounding St. Michael’s Academy. The young sister knew she wasn’t supposed to be outside the convent at this hour as a novitiate in only her second year. The punishment for such a violation would have resulted in hours of punitive chores, 24 hours of fasting, and at least 30 days of confinement to her room, other than to attend daily mass and use the bathroom. A second offense would mean expulsion from the order and going back to her prior life as Emily Randuski in Palatine, Illinois. Still she ran, her chest barely rising more than at rest.
Her mind wandered as she ran, thinking about how Mother Mistress would be furious to know the convent’s cat, Boris, had run away again. After a year being well-cloistered from society, Sister Mary Concordia was finally enjoying socializing with others in the church. The older nuns at the convent had begun to accept her, teaching her their secrets, and Mother Mistress let her take care of Boris, which she enjoyed a great deal. Mother Mistress made it known how much she and the other nuns loved the orange and white tomcat and the inherited responsibility that came with caring for him. Her eyes darted back and forth, hoping to find Boris and get him back inside before anyone noticed his jail break. She slowed down to a stop for moment, listening.
“Boris, Boris!” she whispered, fearing discovery. “Where are you? Boris!”
Only the night sounds in the enveloping darkness replied. There was no sign of Boris. The usual choir of crickets, nocturnal creatures that stirred in the brush, and the call of a distant owl were the only noises the young woman heard. Her mind was focused on the idea that Mother Mistress was likely to come check to see if she was in her room. She felt a chill from a stiff breeze coming from the west, and the leaves flapped above her while she shuddered at the thought.
“Boris!” she called out again. There was no reply from the feisty tomcat.
She decided to go a little further into the woods before turning back. Approaching the crest of a small hill, Sister Mary Concordia heard something she couldn’t make out. It sounded like a low rumble. Holding her breath, she strained to hear what now sounded like voices. It seemed like a gathering of people, very low and distant – deeper in the blackness of the forest. Staring up at the blood moon, Sister Mary Concordia questioned whether she should continue. She heard the nuns talking this week about the rare blood moon that would appear on this night, but they acted like they didn’t want her to hear what they were saying about it. There were many times when she felt like some of the sisters were guarded about what she was able to hear, so Sister Mary Concordia didn’t give it much thought. She had never seen a blood moon before. Staring up at a crimson full moon, it almost seemed unreal.
She feared being discovered, knowing the punishment would be severe. With one more year of study as a novitiate, Sister Mary Concordia would begin five years of work in the convent before taking her final vows. She didn’t know if an offense such as this would cause her to be removed from St. Michael’s, but the curiosity of the source of the voices in the darkness drew her in. She stopped thinking about Boris and stepped quickly, yet gingerly, down the path toward the unknown. The young novitiate knew if she thought about it for a moment more, she would run back to St. Michael’s.
The voices got progressively louder as she moved closer. The timber became almost opaque, and the brush was like a wall of impenetrable thorn and thicket. There was now a glow in the distance from what appeared to be a campfire. The voices were clearer to her, yet still low in tone and measured in timbre. One voice was more prominent than the rest, and as Sister Mary Concordia continued ahead, she could make out the other voices in unison answering the apparent leader. To her, it sounded like a religious ceremony, such as a Catholic mass. She still was not able to make out the words, but as she got closer, she decided to take cover off the main path to avoid discovery. Although she had no idea what was going on one hundred yards in the valley below, her gut reaction was dread. Still, she continued forward, the runaway cat still removed from her thoughts. The blood moon was casting an ominous red blanket across the valley in every direction, like paint poured from a giant bucket.
A few minutes later, Sister Mary Concordia found herself quivering with fear behind a dense cluster of bushes, only twenty feet from the gathering. There was a fire pit and an altar of dark stone, with a man standing behind it. He was dressed in little more than an animal skin that obscured his head and upper body, and he spoke with the command of a seasoned preacher at the pulpit. There was a small congregation of men and women kneeling before him, and they were naked in the crisp evening air. She didn’t know what to make of this strange perversion. On the altar was a crucifix, yet it was upside down, and the man in the animal skin was drinking from what looked like a human skull. Then he continued to speak to them in Latin.
“In nomine magni dei nostril Satanas! Introibo ad altare Domini Inferi!” he cried out as the congregation before him repeated the infernal words. She didn’t know exactly what he was saying, but she had sat through enough Catholic mass to pick out some words.
Suddenly, a woman in a black robe stepped from the shadows and walked to the altar, carrying something in her arms wrapped in a blanket. Sister Mary Concordia was mesmerized at what she was seeing. The naked men and women then began to fornicate as a group, intertwining themselves in carnal lust, of the likes she had never witnessed before. At only 22 years old, the young novitiate had never seen the naked body of a man, let alone the mass of indecency now only a breath away. Being found out by these evil people was a terrifying thought. She was afraid to run back to the path, knowing they would hear her. The noise of breaking twigs and branches underfoot would surely give her away. All she could do was hide behind the bushes.
Now the woman in the black robe was at the altar and laid down whatever was in the blanket upon it. The man in the animal skin dipped his hand into the skull he was drinking from, his fingers stained with a dark red substance. Sister Mary Concordia assumed it to be blood, as the woman opened up the blanket to reveal a naked infant boy squirming in the cool midnight air! The baby was crying, his arms and legs flailing, as the man rubbed the blood on his forehead, saying something she couldn’t make out. He reached down behind the altar, then abruptly stood up, his congregation in the midst of their orgy before him and held up a 10-inch knife. The blade gleamed in the moonlight. Sister Mary Concordia gasped as the man brought the knife down upon the infant’s chest, the woman in the robe holding him down as his little voice screamed out in pain. His tiny body convulsed in agony! His screams shrill.
Things began to play out in slow motion to Sister Mary Concordia. The bright-red blood that flowed from the infant was dripping from the stone altar as the man held him up to the sky, speaking once again in Latin. Blood poured down his arms and dripped from his heaving chest. His breath was a frosty mist in the chilled night air. The woman let her black robe fall and pulled the animal skin from his body, and the two locked in a bloody embrace of horrific evil, sharing a deep kiss, rubbing the warm blood onto each other’s skin. The young nun-to-be was in utter disbelief at what she had witnessed, the cries of the congregation escalating, and the two at the altar now joining in the fornication. They appeared older than the rest. He bent her over the dark stone, knocking the inverted crucifix over; her writhing body cried out, rubbing the sacrificial blood on herself as the disturbing act continued.
Sister Mary Concordia was speechless, the actions in slow motion before her, and the cries were distant and muffled, as though coming through a cup and string. She could hear the screams of the baby over and over again as she crouched in the darkness praying she would not be found out. Yet as the older man and woman continued their desecration of life, joined in an unholy union, she made eye contact with both of them. To her utter horror, they were both faces she recognized! In that moment, all she had been working toward since entering the sisterhood, and everything she held dear with her God, came crashing down like a high-rise building being demolished. The man was none other than the Abbott of St. Michael’s Academy – Father Reilly! She would know that face anywhere, even in the light of the blood moon, in mid-fornication at the altar of evil. It was terrible enough he was participating in this abomination, but the woman’s identity shook her to the very core of her being. Sister Mary Concordia questioned her faith for the first time in her life as she gazed at the gasping countenance of the Mother Mistress! She had been the young girl’s inspiration and rock through her training, and seeing her through this perverse lens was too much to bear. Sister Mary Concordia’s bedrock was crumbling.
Without hesitation, she ran away. She fled from the disgusting ritual toward St. Michael’s. It felt surreal, like she was running in a nightmare, as if she was moving in place – unable to escape. Sister Mary Concordia didn’t know if the Abbott or Mother Mistress had seen her, but she did make eye contact and couldn’t be sure. As she ran faster, the visions she had just seen were already haunting her, and she could only hope her presence was undetected.
When she finally got back into her room and to bed, she closed her eyes tightly in a futile attempt to wish away what she had just seen, but the images of the blood orgy were engraved into her mind, and the cries of that innocent baby reverberated in the stillness of the night.