“Do you regret your sin?” the Father barked in his characteristic manner.
Hugh was shaking like the cold of winter entered the room as soon as the preacher opened his mouth. He couldn’t stand the penetrating gaze of the blue eyes. “Yes,” he muttered.
“Why did you defile and destroy the likeness of our lord and savior?” Father Augustine inquired further.
“D-d-defile?” Hugh didn’t even understand the words.
“You heard me; I spoke clearly! Why did you cast the picture onto the fire?” he demanded without a hint of tenderness or compassion in his voice.
“I was just upset!” Hugh cried out. “I just wanted a bike and they gave me that picture… And I felt, that… I had a feeling that I wanted to throw it into the fire. I’m sorry! Please, Father!”
“Did you ever have a similar urge before? An urge to destroy holy symbols. Answer me!” he shouted. His words were like an unrelenting torrent.
“No, I swear I didn’t. I’m a good boy, Father! It was just this one time. I’ll pray every day, I promise! Please…” Hugh was sobbing by this time.
Father Augustine lowered his voice, but the sentences sounded like a dark prophecy of what is to come, “Oh, I here you child. I’m going to help you repent and be free from this darkness.” He then left the room.
Hugh’s mother came in with bandaged hands and he hugged him closely, whispering in his ears, how she loved him and that everything would be all right. The boy didn’t understand, why she was not mad at him anymore.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I was bad, I’m really sorry. For your hands too,” he said while sobbing in her arms.
She hushed him, “You are not to blame. Everything will be all right.”
His father entered as well, giving them both a hug, and Hugh felt something being twisted around his wrist. They both let go of him. While Hugh was struggling, they tied his hands to the bed, with tears flowing from their eyes. They then fastened his legs to the frame as well, lastly, they bound his body to the bed with a thick rope that went under it.
“Mom, Dad, why are you doing this?” Hugh asked. He was scared and disappointed, how could they do this to him, he wondered, all this because of a stupid picture?
His father started to explain “This is for your…”
“Don’t talk to it!” Father Augustine interrupted. “It is lying, the demon just wants to break free. It will use you as pawns. Leave or be silent!”
Hugh didn’t know what this all was about, but soon he started to realize that they thought he was possessed by a demon. He tried explaining to the Father, that he was not possessed, that he was just angry because of the bike, but it was like he didn’t even pay attention. His parents were just standing in the corner looking frightened and disappointed. The priest prayed in Latin, recited the Bible, and sprinkled holy water on him. Hugh was of course unaffected, he knew he had no demon in him, the only thing that made him tremble was the holy water because it was so cold. Of course, the Preacher noticed this and did it again and again.
“It burns you, doesn’t it? You devil,” he asked frantically.
“No, father, it’s really cold,” Hugh answered with complete honesty.
“Oh, you are a real funny one, you vermin. Show yourself!” he commanded while pushing a cross to Hugh’s face.
Hugh was terrified and didn’t know for how long this will keep going, so he started pleading again with the priest, but it was like his words fell on deaf ears. After pouring the whole bottle of holy water on the boy, Father Augustine set down on a chair next to the bed and opened a small book.
“Aamon, Abaddon, Adrammelech, Agares, Aim, Alastor, Alloces” he recited spitting out each word like it was a lethal verbal attack, “Amaymon, Amdusias, Amy, Andras.”
Hugh had no idea what was going on, but the priest’s words were unwavering, his hatred irrepressible, his gaze remained piercing.
“Ipos, Legion, Leonard… Show yourself already, demon!” he finally shouted, and Hugh understood that he was trying to guess the name of the demon, that he thought had possessed him. Father Augustine closed the book with a loud thump and turned to the parents.
“This is not working, the demon won’t show itself, we have to make him act. We need to cause him pain, so he can’t stay in the body of the child,” he explained with the clear intention, that he will follow through with this plan no matter what.
He opened his briefcase and prepared the necessary equipment. A billing iron shaped like a cross, pliers, an old hard covered bible, and a blow torch.
“Wait, father!” Hugh’s father intercepted. “Are we completely sure that this is necessary?”
“Shut up! I’ll follow through with this and will save his soul from eternal suffering. Satan cannot win this encounter; I will purify the child. So, get out, or stay silent!” the sheer anger that was contained in his voice made the parents give up and they just cried in the corner, as Father Augustine continued the exorcism.
“Leraje, Lucifer, Lucifuge Rofocale,” each word was accompanied with a painful smash of the Bible. Hugh’s nose and ears started to bleed soon, but the Father didn’t give any sign of wanting to stop. Hugh couldn’t cry anymore, he just laid there in pain, thinking about the picture of Jesus Christ. He really regretted now the deed he had done. Then the priest started tearing out his nails, one by one. “Malphas, Mammon, Marax, Marchosias, Mephistopheles,” after the fifth Hugh couldn’t scream anymore. When he was out of nails, Father Augustine started breaking his fingers. Each crack was followed by a twitch of his little, weak body. “Merihem, Moloch, Murmur”, his voice was still strong, but when Hugh was in the eye of the storm of pain, he noticed something. His voice reflected a deep pain. The boy looked at his tormentor and saw the tears flowing down his face. “Naberius, Orcus, Orias,” every word was followed by the sharp pain of a broken bone, but at that moment he realized that the priest was really trying to help, and he loved him for what he was doing. Maybe he was really possessed by a demon, he thought about it hard. Why else would this man go to such lengths in torturing him? Maybe his pain was even greater than Hugh’s.
“Orobas, Ose, Paimon” the Father continued. Hugh must have drifted into unconsciousness for a short while since he was already working on his right foot, so only 4 of his toes remained unbroken. He realized that he didn’t fear this man. He hated him with his whole heart, and he hated his coward parents, who stood there. “Saleos, Salpsan, Seir, Shax,” Hugh finally had snapped.
“I hate you, I hate you all, and I hope you all die,” he tried to shout but his voice was broken and weak, however, they understood the words clearly. Disbelief flooded his parent’s faces.
“It is the demon speaking, I finally lured him out, by calling his name,” he told the parents, while he ignited the blow torch and started to heat up the billing iron.
Hugh was struggling and repeated time and time again, how he hated everyone, that he hated Jesus and his stupid picture. He fell silent when he noticed the red-hot iron approaching his chest.
“I expel you from this body, Shax. Leave this child, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ!” he said as he branded Hugh’s chest. His scream echoed in the room as the parents watched with their breaths held. The priest pulled back the iron tearing off pieces of burnt skin and flesh. Hugh’s head was hanging down, his chin on his chest, and he vomited from the unbearable pain. His heart had enough and stopped beating the next moment. The priest checked his pulse and looked at the parents shaking his head.
“The exorcism was successful; the demon left the body with the contents of his stomach. His soul is with Jesus now,” Father Augustine said as he wiped off his tears with his blood-stained hands.