It started as a joke, Barbara got the idea from Saga magazine; she thought it would pep up our sex life. Dressing up and meeting new people; I wouldn’t call it an orgy and we didn’t believe we were really worshipping the devil. Obviously we met in a deconsecrated church, we didn’t want to upset the new lady vicar at Saint Stephens, especially as Barbara’s flower arranging club meets in their hall. Saint Peter’s has gone Pentecostal, so they would have taken us too seriously. The community centre was off limits with all their health and safety rules.
We managed to attract quite a few young people, which was nice. As Barbara said, in the dark what does age matter and as we were all anonymous it was very pleasant and relaxed. I was High Priest, but we were due to elect a new committee in the spring. We had bought all the costumes and paraphernalia on the internet, amazing how many sites there are. It was through the internet that Geoffrey got in touch, a mousy middle aged man who Barbara tended to avoid, but he was a good addition to the group, had some very imaginative ideas and some good props.
A typical meeting? Well we didn’t kill any chickens, I get queasy at the sight of blood. The setting of the semi derelict church made it very atmospheric; burning of herbs, spreading of salt, raising arms, throw in some Latin, then a few fertility rites. Barbara said she was having nothing to do with Geoffrey, he was creepy. She preferred the young chap who worked in Sainsburys, we did not let on we recognised him of course and I doubt he recognised us behind the shopping trolley.
When did it start to go wrong? The girl who had the fit was fine afterwards, lucky we had a paramedic amongst us, but we didn’t see her again. We did wonder if it was she who contacted the local paper. It was Geoffrey who spotted the planted reporter. I was just summoning ‘The Devil’ when we thought we heard a snigger. Geoffrey looked him straight in the eye, his usual reedy voice sounded different that night.
Do you think he has horns or will he arrive in a dinner suit, tall dark and suave? He’s here already, has been all along.
I’ll just catch the football on telly if I leave now said the young man shakily, adding as he safely reached the outside door and if I wanted to attend an orgy it wouldn’t be with you lot.
Numbers were down at the next meeting, though I could hear excited mumblings as I got robed up in the vestry. I was just about to start my opening incantation when Geoffrey interrupted.
We were just having an interesting discussion; did you hear what The Pope said yesterday? For a priest to abuse children is as evil as conducting a black mass; rather touching I thought, at least he gets it.
I didn’t understand what Geoffrey was getting at and assured him we were all consenting adults who broke no laws. It was as if he could read my mind.
No, you don’t GET it do you, I’m re… I mean HE’s REAL. Why have people in the past couple of centuries considered themselves cleverer than their ancestors?
By now he was addressing all of us, a chill I can’t describe had descended upon the room.
Why do those in the Western World dismiss traditions in the third world as ignorance. You give Him no credit at all; murderers are always mentally disturbed, forgotten their medication or taken too many steroids…or you blame it on other innocent humans, too much bureaucracy, not enough bureaucracy, hilarious that no one dares blame crime on Evil. Of course it’s the more insidious influence I enjoy, infiltrating every human institution.
Can we just get on with the evening entertainment called out a voice muffled by his mask.
That’s all it is to you isn’t it, all of you.
Geoffrey seemed different now, taller, his voice deeper.
I don’t need all this play acting, but what will you play next, the end game?
We all shuffled nervously, some sidled towards the door. Whoever he was you couldn’t argue with what he said.
Pathetic; every century you think you have the answer to improving the human condition; religion, science, education for all, democracy, communism, medicine, love, communication, even space exploration, how on earth (forgive the pun) is that likely to work? By the way, there is nothing out there so don’t bother looking.
Then he was gone, I mean literally, he was there, then he wasn’t.
Muffled voice said he was going to call it a night, wasn’t in the mood any more, nobody else spoke, they just shuffled off.
Barbara said her instincts about him had been right, but she still refuses to talk about any of it. I suggested we could still dress up at home, but she said rather sharply that it would hardly be the same.
They’re turning it into a Tesco now, that redundant church.