THE CAULDRON OF FEAR
by Dr. Daniel Rumanos
In an alley-alcove behind 34th Street in Baltimore stand two businesses. One is a porn and sex-toys shop called “Honey”, which does not concern us here. Next to it is an establishment named “The Cauldron”, a small witchcraft store selling, as one would suppose, crystals, candles, and cauldrons to the city’s would-be Wiccan community.
The shop’s proprietor, Mrs. Sherry Clement, is very much the stereotypical “white witch”: middle-aged, overweight, and with a constant look of abject fear on her flabby, aging face. A decidedly boring individual indeed.
Her daughter, on the other hand, is quite another story. Lynda Clement is 17, medium height, nice body, with dark green eyes and black hair. She was adopted, which explains why she resembles neither Sherry nor the latter’s rather worthless working-class husband, Matt, in either looks or temperament. So it was an interesting surprise when Lynda called me one day asking to meet in order to discuss a matter which was troubling her. No, I don’t spend every bloody day going around giving my phone number to teenage girls, no matter what you’ve read in the shitty tabloids. Sod off.
So I met with the chick one afternoon in a local café to see what my particular expertise as Dr. Daniel Rumanos, ghost-hunter and paranormal expert and all of that, could do for her. It was no great stretch to assume that none of the regular patron’s of her mother’s “occult” shop could be of any assistance in any issue concerning the authentically supernatural.
I must admit Lynda was really cute as she looked at me over her small caramel-vanilla hot latte, but my heart belongs to someone else, a beautiful young lady known as Heaven’s Hell, so I listened to Lynda’s odd story with a purely professional curiosity.
She said her mother had recently fallen under the spell of a strange woman called Merideth "Merri" Moissee, who had moved to Baltimore a few months previously, claiming to be a “shaman” and impressing all the rubes with her mysterious manner and Creole accent. Whether this individual was of any genuine occult power other than con-artistry Lynda couldn’t say, but it was obvious that the ever-gullible Sherry believed every word of Merri’s grotesque spiel. The hideous woman had even talked Sherry into going in debt in order to buy an old church-building, the long-abandoned St. Sebastian’s Old Catholic Church in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood. This place of worship, the legends concerning which I was familiar with, had never been authorized by the Vatican, and had been shuttered after its priest had been taken away to an insane asylum in the 1920s. He had died soon after under peculiar circumstances which had been kept rather quiet. Some claim that he had been inexplicably ripped to pieces while locked up alone in his padded cell.
Lynda then revealed to me that that very night the loathsomely bizarre Merri Moissee would be taking Sherry and her coven to that church for a “Witches’ Sabbath”, at which she promised them that an extraordinarily-powerful spirit would be evoked -- a spirit which would provide answers to all of their problems. But what particularly concerned Lynda was that her mother, under the enigmatically monstrous woman’s guidance, was insisting that she accompany them, and that this evening would see her daughter’s initiation into the most sacred “feminine mysteries”!
Talking Lynda out of going was not possible. She was still a minor, and her mother was so much under Merri’s control that she was afraid not going would lead to even more dire consequences than her attendance. Fortunately, however, Lynda had already had the wisdom to secretly make a copy of her mother’s key to the church building, which she then gave to me with the request that I sneak into the back-entrance that night and observe the occult ritual surreptitiously. I was honored that she so fully believed in my ability to protect and save her from whatever abysmal horror might be in store for her during the coming hours of darkness. Oy vey..
After our talk I proceeded immediately to the large public library downtown, in order to look up old newspapers and find out what I could about St. Sebastian’s Church and its scandals. It took awhile but I finally found something in some 1922 issues of The Baltimore Sun. The priest’s name was Father George LaMartina, and the story at the time was that he had secretly renamed his church as the Temple of the Starry Wisdom, and was using it to bring up some sort of monster from Hell. At least that’s what the people of the surrounding community had said at the time. Fr. LaMartina was shortly thereafter found to have become a raving madman when the police had gone to the church in order to question him concerning the corpses of several adolescent prostitutes which had been found buried in a nearby refuse dumpster. An autopsy had discovered communion wafers inserted in their vaginas.
Then I saw a photograph which had been taken after the priest had been put away. It was of the church’s nave, and the strange defacements that had been done to it. The crucifix had been inverted, and below it had been painted, in what appeared to be blood, a horrible name in a rare medieval Latin font. Apparently, the dreadful name of the hellishly eldritch creature the insane Fr. LaMartina had been attempting to call forth from the deepest depths of satanic perdition. I couldn’t suppress a shudder as my body filled with cold dread at the sight of it. It was the name of an infernal being I had encountered before, and had only banished due to a combination of good fortune and a mistake made by the cult that had conjured it. It was the name of the destroyer demon, evil spirit of lust, rape, and unspeakable debauchery. An immensely powerful devil whom this new coven was going to use innocent young Lynda to call forth into full, ravening and horrendous sexual depravity.
The name was ASMODEUS!
**To be continued in the next Weird Adventures: SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH!**
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