Within the bowels of the catacombs, a shadow figure waited. He gazed toward the steps leading to the light of the cathedral above.
He waited, knowing he would soon have visitors. Even now, Sar B'osh sensed his mortal targets hesitating on the top of the stairway and moved farther back down the tunnel. Too soon to let them sense his presense.
Sar B'osh sniffed the air like an eager lion smelling the blood of a wounded gazelle. One of the humans was fearful; the other was not. He sneered. No matter. He would have them insane with terror before they finished their tour of the ancient underground tombs. Their fear would make a lovely feast for him to gorge himself on this night. The overlord would be proud of his labors.
A female voice from mid-stairs caused him to narrow his eyes and cloak himself with the shadows in a wall niche.
“Helen, I don't understand why you have such a fascination with musty old places.” A flashlight beam stabbed the tunnel's gloom and reflected from its damp glistening walls. The crunch of grit underfoot announced the arrival of his victims.
“You know I love history, Sherry. These catacombs speak of so many events, so much human tragedy.”
“But the stories . . .” The voice wavered.
“Are just that: stories. Nothing can hurt us down here. They wouldn't allow self-guided tours if we could get hurt.”
Sar B'osh frowned. This mortal Helen seemed very confident. Almost as if she had an invisible strongman with her, able to defend her from anything which threatened her safety. He had seen this before.
Then Sar B'osh chuckled. False bravado. Many of the humans, even the males, displayed this confidence at first. His bag of paranormal tricks wore at the edges of their bravery until he got his way with their emotions. This one would be no different.
He breathed in the scents of alarm coming from the one called Sherry. Oh, this one would be delightful. He had no doubt her screams would be like the finest rich dessert on his palate.
Sar B'osh sniffed in the direction of the one called Helen but could not detect the smallest aroma of fear. She would be more difficult to break, but his methods had always worked before. Time to begin.
The demon brushed the wall nearest the woman called Sherry with his fingernails. Sherry shrieked. “What was that? Tell me you didn't hear that!”
Helen flashed the beam of her light toward the wall behind her companion. “I don't see . . . wait . . . what are those marks on the rock?”
Sar B'osh laughed, but neither woman heard him. In the proper time, he would allow them to hear his voice. He drifted farther down the tunnel and hid behind a stone column.
“Come on, Sherry. Don't let some stone scratchings freak you out. They've probably been there for a long time.” Two flashlight beams probed the darkness of the catacombs. One was steady and the other flickered up and down.
Sar B'osh tossed a tiny ball of green light across the path of the two women. It wobbled at shoulder height and then scurried up toward the low ceiling. Sherry stared at the spot where the orb disappeared into the stonework. She shivered.
“Helen, come here and feel this.” She drew her cardigan closer around her. Her breath frosted the air.
Helen glanced around her. “It's just a draft. These are catacombs, remember?”
Sar B'osh growled. Sherry screamed and dropped her flashlight. The demon reached out to grasp his prey, to partake of her fear and sate his appetite. Her shrieks continued as she shrunk against the wall and hid her face in her hands.
This will be a meal to remember.
The demon jerked backward as a sweet fragrance filled the tunnel. Something was not right, not right at all. Someone shared the catacomb tunnels with Sar B'osh and the two women. Someone the demon knew from an eternity ago when he was cast from the heavenly places. Someone who protected His own. Sar B'osh's mouth gaped. He whirled to see the mortal Helen mouthing a silent prayer.
“Noooo . . . “
Sar B'osh shriveled before the light which only he could see. The despised voice commanded, “Go” and he fled. He had failed, and he was still hungry.
The Hebrew words sar and b'osh means “ruler, chief” and “stench.”
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