CHAPTER 17

“So what do we do now?” Stephen asked.

Joanna stared at the statue of Christ, hoping for some inspiration, but none seemed forthcoming.

A cold chill permeated the church, the wooden pews of which felt even colder, but Joanna suspected they were safe within the holy structure, giving them time to work out their next move. But in the space of almost an hour, they had done little but bicker quietly between themselves, too afraid to raise their voices for fear of aggravating the priest any further.

“Well, we can’t sit here all day,” Stephen said. “My arse is going numb.”

“And where can we go? I don’t even know who we can trust.”

“Okay, let’s think about it. Whatever these things are, for some reason, you can see them. The most probable reason is that it’s got something to do with your corneal graft.”

“But how can we prove it? How can I prove what I see?”

Stephen stroked his chin and poked his tongue out. “You only had one of the donor’s corneas, which means there’s someone else out there with the other one. Perhaps they can see what you do and corroborate your story for you.”

“Even if that’s true and we could find them, what good will it do?”

“Well, for one thing, it will prove you’re not crazy.”

“No, it might prove that two of us are nuts instead.”

“I’m only trying to help.”

Joanna grabbed Stephen’s hand and squeezed. “I know. I’m sorry.”

Stephen shrugged. “At least I can’t say dating you is boring. I can find out from the hospital records who received the other cornea.”

“I guess it’s better than nothing.”

Anything’s better than nothing.”

Joanna kissed him on the cheek. As she pulled away, an idea blossomed. “I’ve just thought of something else. When Lincoln was in the basement, I heard him arrange to meet the others back there at midnight.”

“And?”

“Well what if we hid down there and videoed them. A recording of the conversation, especially if it contains anything that gives them away, might help prove our case. And I might get Nina on it too, to show she’s still alive.”

Stephen frowned. “I dunno. It’s too dangerous. You’ve seen what they can do.”

“Exactly. That’s why we’ve got to stop them – if we can.”

Before Stephen could answer, the church door banged open, the sound echoing around the room.

Joanna turned and stared along the aisle. She let out a sharp gasp.

“What is it?” Stephen whispered, as though too afraid to speak aloud.

“They’ve bloody found us.”

“Who?”

“The demons.” Even the word was enough to strike fear into her heart.

“Shit!” Stephen said.

Joanna thought that about summed it up nicely.

“And isn’t that… My god, it’s Nina!” he said.

Although a little blurred, Joanna recognised her old friend and her heart turned to ice, pumping cold blood through her veins.

She stood, scared that her legs would buckle.

“Can I help you?” the priest asked, his voice echoing through the church as he approached the newcomers.

“Joanna,” Nina said. “Don’t even think of running, because there’s nowhere to go.”

“What do you want?” the priest asked.

“Her.” Nina pointed at Joanna.

The priest blocked the aisle. “I will have to ask you to leave.”

“Leave,” Nina barked. “We’ve kept you in business for all these years, and you ask us to leave. Without us, you wouldn’t have flourished for so long as you wouldn’t have had anything to threaten your followers with.”

“I don’t understand,” the priest said.

“Then let me make it clearer. Without demons and devils to point fingers at, you would have closed shop years ago.”

“I don’t know what you want, but if you don’t leave, I’m going to call the police.”

Before anyone could respond, one of the newcomers bounded down the church like a supersonic spider.

Joanna’s jaw dropped open in amazement.

“Dear God,” the priest said.

Nina laughed. “I’m afraid your God has forsaken you, old man. It’s time for a new beginning. A new world with new Gods to worship. Now come, bow down before me.”

The priest scuttled away, shaking his head.

In a sudden burst of speed, one of the demons ran across the church and grabbed the priest around the throat. The priest screamed, the sound echoing from the rafters. Then with a sickening crack, the demon twisted the priests head, snapping his neck. He released his hold, and the priest fell to the ground. “This is going to be too easy,” he said as he advanced towards Joanna and Stephen.

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