Fire In The Sky, Fire Down Below (The Damnation Of Father Andrew, Part 3) by Keith Kitchen

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SUMMARY: Father Andrew and his companions have entered the Third Circle of Hell, facing betrayal and a very familiar city with a cycle of burning all its own and someone begins to track them.

It was a subtle change, but it was enough to warn Andrew that something was wrong, very wrong. He sat up so quickly that, for a second, he thought he would pass out. His companions lay around him, except for Judas, who sat next to the dying fire, who looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Looking around, he saw that Hose and Snake were asleep, as was Dave Dierd, who was sleeping, if restlessly.

"Can you feel it, Judas?" Father Andrew asked, his voice a hoarse whisper.

Judas' eyes narrowed. "Feel what, Priest?"

"Something's going to happen."

"What?"

"Nothing good." Andrew looked around, his head jerking. "Everybody up! We're leaving!"

Trying to wipe sleep from her eyes, Snake moved slowly as she sat up. "What's wrong, Father?"

"Nothing, everything. Hose, David, wake up!"

David sat bolt upright. "What is it?" he nearly shouted.

"Get your things. Judas, put out the fire. Hose, come on, we've got to move."

Snake pushed at Hose, but nothing happened. "Father, he's not moving!"

Judas moved quickly to Hose and grabbed him by the shoulders, lifting him up. As Judas pulled the punk from the ground, the younger man began to dissolve. Judas jumped back in horror as Hose began to buzz and Snake had to stifle a scream as what they had all thought was a man suddenly became thousands of large houseflies that buzzed around the four and sped off into the sky.

"I don't understand it," Father Andrew sputtered, "There had been no malice in him! I subjected him to the power of the Cross!"

"It's not a question we'll have answered right now, Priest," Judas spat. "You had the right of it, though. We need to leave, now. It's not safe here."

"What about the soul you had wanted to save here?" Snake asked.

Andrew shook his head. "While I would love to do that, it's obvious the demons here are going to be waiting for us. Judas, would you do the honor of opening a portal?"

"Where to, Priest?"

"Anywhere."

Judas grinned. "Sure enough, Priest." He closed his eyes and began to mutter, but nothing happened. Frowning, he began again, but still nothing happened. "Andrew?"

"I see. Let me try." Pulling out his cross, Andrew began to pray. His cross began to glow, but that was all that happened.

"What does that mean?" Dave asked, fear in his voice.

Andrew looked at Judas, then at Dave and Snake. "It means that we're staying here till we do what God intended us to do. We live at his sufferance and we are here to do is will, and his will does not include us leaving right now."

"Are we still leaving?" Snake asked.

Andrew glanced at Judas and nodded his head. "Yes, we're heading down the mountain, so gather your things. "

"Into town?" Judas asked, quietly.

Andrew nodded. "They must know we're here and our Lord wants us here, so we walk in."

"Is that the best idea?" Dave asked. That he was afraid, Andrew knew. How afraid, Andrew didn't.

"Probably not, but if anybody has a better idea, I'd like to hear it and now is the time."

No one spoke up, not that Andrew thought they would.

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