The Masque of Red Death (34)

Book III: Chapter 34
December 21

Despite the agony of my pain on the cross, I knew that death would not come easy.

With a nod, Ghaz al’ Ridwan Ma’bus signaled to The Pope to carry out his orders…

To deliver death to the immortals.

I watched as Benedict picked up one of three spears that were lying before the altar. Each of the weapons had one of the Nails of Jesus affixed to its head as a killing blade.

Spear in hand, and in full battle array, Pope Benedict looked like a legendary knight from the fantasy world as he proceeded to walk over towards the cross upon which Lazarus hung.

The Pope was ready for action

Standing beneath my friend’s limp body, Benedict waited only for a moment – as Lazarus’ blood dripped down and stained the pontiff’s white robe – and then the leader of the Church slammed his pike up and into Lazarus’ side.

“YAAAAAAAAAR!” Lazarus suddenly came to life, his arms and legs nearly ripping themselves away from the cross.

Closing my eyes against the gruesome sight, I failed to see that Lazarus’ screams woke Mary from her own snatch of death but my ears soon ached as I heard Miriam begin to wail. I opened my eyes in time to catch a glimpse of Benedict as he stoically twisted his spear up and into Lazarus’ heart – an action that abruptly ended Lazarus’ screams.

The Nail that killed Lazarus

My God, he’s dead! I panicked. It’s finally going to happen? But alas, Lord, I am NOT ready yet! 

Believe it or not, I was suddenly afraid at the unknown of Death – a specter that hadn’t threatened me in nearly two thousand years.

In the silence that followed, I looked upon our unexpected Deliverer – after killing Lazarus Pope Benedict had removed his blood spattered helmet and I saw that face was as hard as stone. He appeared to study the Nail that was now dripping with Lazarus’s blood at the end of his lance.

<BOOOM! DOOM!> <BOOM! BOOM!> <DOOM!>

The drums started up again at a signal from Ma’bus.

I watched as Benedict looked over at The Beast. 

And then, I saw the Pope take a deep breath before doing something that I have never seen anyone other than myself or my two friends do…

Benedict reached up and took hold of The Nail.

“You Fool! Don’t touch it!” I roared, even as Mary screamed a similar warning.

Yet, Benedict did not die.

In fact, if nothing else, he seemed suddenly more alive!

Ma’bus danced around triumphantly at the sight – surely reading this as a sign of his coming victory – now confident that The Pope was indeed The Second Helper.



For his part, Benedict’s face remained hardset while he proceeded to tear the Nail off of the spear. Discarding the staff, he affixed the dripping Nail to his belt. Next I watched him proceed to confidently walk back towards the Altar and pick up another pike, before heading over towards his next victim.

Mary’s screams bespoke of sheer terror. Unable to look away this time, I watched Benedict prepare to deliver a deathblow to her as well.

“Oh, Babylon,” I roared out, suddenly finding new strength. “You will be destroyed!”

Hearing me quote from Psalm 137, for a moment Benedict paused, and I watched a strange shadow pass over his face.

“Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done.” I tried to goad him away from Mary. “You shall be smashed against the rocks upon this very day.” Then, looking up to heaven, I cried, “Father, do not forsake us now!”

Yet, The Lord did not come to save the day.

And with Lazarus already dead and Mary soon to follow the skies only roiled blacker than before.

For The Moment had not yet arrived, and I knew that the Prophecies — my own prophecies – were still waiting to be fulfilled.

Pope Benedict knew this as well, and therefore he took only a moment to prepare himself to forge on – after which he pushed his spear into Mary’s heart, killing her as well.

Unable to control myself, I vomited up the last of the bile from my stomach – its acidity scorching my throat and mouth. Tears streamed down my face as I wailed in regret, “Their torture is because of me. My friends are paying the price of my sins!”

Yet Fate no longer cared about my feelings and in truth I knew that what was happening went far beyond my small part in this Divine Event.

And so, with two bloody Nails hanging from his corded belt and his robe now blotched red, Pope Benedict began to approach me with the final Nail – and his face was Death.


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35 – Deliverance
Book III Table of Contents