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Small Sacrifice

copyright 2001, by Leeker17

Disclaimer:    Dr. Hannibal Lecter was created by Thomas Harris.  He is used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Father Gregory stepped from the shadowed walls of the confessional to the obscenely bright interior of The Church of the Holy Eucharist.  The colors a fitting tribute to the priest’s dark mood.  A mood that of late, bordered on heresy.  He found his attention drawn to the ornate crucifix that commanded the room.  Gregory winced as a burning arrow of pain shot through his body and embedded itself in heart and soul.  The thought came unbidden to his mind as the light caught the gold of the cross; we have the gold and the money yet, He is dying at our door in the body of the poor.  So mired in brooding was he that it took him a moment to register a pair of eyes watching him.  If Gregory didn’t know better he’d of thought they glowed in the dim light of a corner.

From the corner Hannibal Lecter watched with avid fascination as a look of pain crossed the strange priest’s face.  Like a voyeur Lecter sipped the rolling waves of feeling that crashed all about God’s House.  He stepped out from the small, chapel into the sanctuary and into Gregory’s line of sight.  Immediately the priest’s face plastered itself with a welcoming smile that didn’t quite reach is lips, let alone eyes.  “Have you come for confession sir?”

A thin smile appeared on the Doctor’s lips, “No, perhaps you are the one in need of confession Father.”  The sardonic tone placed on the last word for emphasis.  He waited for no reaction; “I was merely here to take in some of the marvelous works in the Tintorreno chapel.  It has always fascinated me how an avowed atheist could produce such marvelous works for God.”  “Forgive my manners, my name is Doctor Hannibal Lecter.  You are?”

Father Gregory was momentarily taken aback by this man’s candor and arrogance, “My name is Father Mattias Gregory.  May I ask how you know this church?”  Holy Eucharist was not well known, being overshadowed by cathedrals and the Pope’s Palace.  Rome was indeed the city of churches.  The only newsworthy event was grisly scene where three people were killed when the roof partially caved in.

“I’ve seen a few pieces done on the church especially after that business three years ago.  Actually the art has drawn me here.”

Gregory for the first time noticed the sketchbook held in the man’s left hand.  “Are you an artist perchance?”

Lecter gave a cryptic smile, “In a manner of speaking, I have many hobbies.  But my occupation is a doctor—psychiatry.”

The hairs on Gregory’s neck stood up at the inflection in the man’s voice.  But he couldn’t help but be intrigued.  He found himself compelled to continue conversation.  Yes, a good psychiatrist perhaps that is what I need.

“Something on your mind Father?  What is it that you say, “Confession is good for soul?”  While waiting for the man’s reaction Lecter turned his attention to the frescoed ceiling, Memmnoch and Michael waged their eternal struggle for souls.  In the foreground loomed the large crucifix.  Lecter admired the workmanship on the expressive face; pale and gaunt, agony twisted in the lips.  He puzzled how someone so talented could waste their efforts in adoration of God who would murder His own son.  The church was warm this time of year, but for a brief flaring instant Hannibal Lecter felt a chill twine it’s way around his spine.  “Tell me Father, why build monuments to a god no better than Baal?  Both require human sacrifice?”

Gregory was taken aback by the calm loathing voice that asked him.  He suddenly felt a great weight upon him.  “I take it you are not a believer?”

“Am I being too subtle?”  His head cocked to the side, and his eyes reached out and snared the priest in a hold.  “Ah. Priest, you doubt your own God?”  Lecter clucked his tongue.  “Dante would have you being mauled along side Brutus and Judas for your thoughts.  Your questions are cliché of course, but then again, you have been raised upon church doctrine.”  Lecter lifted his eyes to the cross, “You ask Him don’t you; why is there suffering.  I believe the line goes, ‘ask and it shall be given unto you.  Umm. It seems God is rather frivolous with His son but rather stingy on the answers part.”

By this time Gregory had bumped into a pew and sat down lest he fall.  This man, this thing, was either an angel from heaven or a demon from hell.  Twin orbs of blood looked fully at him and smiled; all ivory and flashing.  “I assure you I am not Lucifer or even one of his minions.  Wouldn’t you agree that God does quite a good job of flogging the earth already?  Does He really the aid of a lesser angel?”  He paused a moment, “Forgive me, I seem to have been monopolizing the share of conversation.  Please respond; with that Lecter sat down with folded hands and became as cool and still as the great church herself.

Gregory stared up at the cross, searching and praying for the right answer.  “I doubt that wood and air have any answers Priest.”

The young man looked back at the man, demon, angel and began his story.  “I spent seven years in mission work.  I saw many children die and starve to death.”  A flash of memory, a prayer for a painless death and a moment later the room filled with death cries of agony.

“So you began to question after you’re little triste.”  Lecter’s voice was deceptively charming and soft as he struck again and again.  “Umm. Perhaps the nature of evil you seek lies in the heart of your Master.”

By this time Gregory was pacing the room nervously, “What am I supposed to believe!”

A voice from behind him, “Believe what you will, Priest, but believe at your own peril.  Things are not always as they appear: nightshade is beautiful-touch it and you die, in Italy Belladonna is a comely women, in English a deadly poison.”

Gregory could no longer take the Doctor’s smug and arrogant countenance, “Since, you seem to have all the answers doctor, what do YOU believe?”

Lecter took a moment to admire the man’s courageous folly.  To break this one’s faith would be a challenge to savor-he reveled in it, “If one were to believe in your God and your Satan then God created swans and Satan created typhoid.  But, alas, God is the creator of all things, a perfect God creates something that is innately evil.  Perhaps we are simply products of elemental forces and cosmic gasses.  Either way we are thrown on this earth and left for to our own devices.  Does it really matter if the pain and challenge comes from nature, fate, or a divine logos getting off by watching calamity.”

Gregory smiled softly and replied, “But we are taught that humans made a mess of things in paradise.  Then God sent His son to save us from ourselves and sin.”

“Umm. Very pragmatic of God, send his son to clean up His mistake.”

Matthias sighed; nothing could convince this man that God was good.  Yet, he felt a renewed strength in his own faith.  “Sir, I know not who you are but I thank God for you, if not for you, I would have lost my faith.  God truly can use anyone.”

Hannibal Lecter’s body stiffened in indignation, yet it never reached his face.  He smiled evilly, “Glad to be of service of Father, now we just have one more Quid Pro Quo to do.”  Soft and low came the Doctor's voice, “I’m going to help you see your God, and you’re going to be dinner.”  Predator like, Hannibal Lecter lashed out and clamped his hand over the terrified man’s face.  Father Matthias struggled in vain Lecter simply held him tighter, squeezing like a serpent.  “Well, Father what shall you find on the other side; Saint Peter and his gates or Mephistopheles and his abyss or perhaps only the black void?  I suppose the latter would be rather disappointing.” 

No scream came as a glint of silver filled his vision before death reached out for it’s sacrifice.  Blood poured from the wound slit throat to stomach.  In transfixed horror he realized what this monster was doing.  Dr. Lecter hummed to himself as he quickly and efficiently took the organs of choice.  Gregory Matthias managed one last utterance, “He comes like a roaring lion to devour.”  Then blackness filled his vision and nothing more.

The next morning grisly tableaux awaited the police.  Father Gregory’s body lay eviscerated upon the communion table.  The chalice filled with his own blood.

Beneath the corpse blood had seeped into the words engraved upon the altar, “Take, eat, and drink, this is my body and my blood.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

FIN

copyright 2000, by Leeker17

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