Wendy was led to the altar in the church, where all of the sisters stood in a circle, waiting for her. Most of them still wore the traditional garb of the church, but a select few—those around the altar itself—were wearing scarlet, bat-winged cloaks with hoods over their eyes.
As Wendy moved through the aisles of sisters, the little orbs they held in their hands began to glow softly. And as she reached the Altar, she saw Mother Rose standing behind the altar with a knife in her hand.
She was still smiling that cruel, venomous smile…that smile without a face to go with it. Wendy felt her heart begin to speed up and tried to dig her heels into the stone. But the Principals moved her onward. And when she reached the altar, they pinned her hands down on it.
The four sisters with the red cloaks stepped forward and removed their hoods.
Wendy opened her mouth to scream, but was unable to. Each of the sisters beneath the red hoods was missing a part of their face. Again, like Mother Rose, it was as if that part of their face simply hadn’t existed—one was missing not only an eye but the socket and part of the skull that would have held the eye. Another was missing her lower jaw, her upper teeth and palate exposed almost like a set of dentures.
They took hold of her and laid her down upon the altar, each taking a leg or an arm and holding her in place, splayed out spread eagle.
“You, Wendy, are about to receive the greatest gift to be bestowed upon a woman. Reserved for the second born child, you have fought for this privilege, and who are we to deny it to you?”
“What are you going to do to me?” Wendy whispered as the Sisters with the missing parts loomed over her. Mother Rose lowered her hood, revealing the empty framework over her mouth.
“It is not us who will be doing anything, sister…but Her.”
She took hold of Wendy’s jaw and forced her to look up into the darkness above her. There, in the shadows of the high ceiling, something was looking back at her. Something inhumane…something ancient.
The blade of the knife cut her right palm and the thing in the darkness opened more eyes. Countless eyes. And from the dark above, a grumble filled the church.
“Oh Holy Mother,” Mother Rose said. “ Take the offering of our new sister…her blood is pure and her will is strong. Let her make the vow! Let her be one with you!”
Another grumble as the sisters in the aisles raised their glass balls in the air. The light from them still burned soft, but the thing in the darkness didn’t seem to care for it one bit. It lumbered along the ceiling, directly above Wendy.
“No…please, no…” Wendy began to moan. Mother Rose raised her hands high and began to chant in the alien tongue Wendy had heard at the gates of the Convent. The other sisters took up the chant and soon the glowing eyes in the dark began to get closer.
It was maddening. The thing, made of black slime and rope-like limbs eased itself down from the darkness, opened its many mouths, and let loose it’s a hundred tongues. It’s saliva dripped down onto Wendy as the tongues wrapped together and slithered toward her open palm.
The chanting grew louder and louder. Wendy heard screaming and thought it was her own, but she just couldn’t tell anymore. Her mind was about to break and with it, she would be worse than a doll. She would be a sheep…she would be dead inside.
It grew closer…closer…
And then a burst of light exploded above her. The thing Mother Rose called The Holy Mother roared and pulled itself back up into the darkness. Wendy felt her hands and feet freed from the grasp of the sisters and she threw herself from the altar.
“STOP THEM!” Mother Rose screamed.
Wendy looked from around the altar and saw, to her amazement, at least ten young women, dressed in their domestic school wear, from a blue sailor dress with petal designs to a red waistcoat and brown plaid skirt. The colors and styles in a place so gothic and dark were so out of place that she would have laughed had the situation not been so dire.
The girls were attacking the sisters, tearing the balls from their hands and hurling them up into the darkness where they struck the monster. It roared in pain and retreated behind the great altar out of reach.
Mother Rose spotted Wendy and grabbed hold of her arm.
“You! I knew keeping you alive was foolish!” She raised the knife, but as she did, a mass of rope like appendages reached out from the darkness behind her and grabbed her.
“Holy Mother! No! I live to serve! I live—” But before she could finish, she was pulled into the darkness and the large glowing eyes grew brighter as a horrible crunching noise joined the screaming of the sisters.
Wendy suddenly felt hoisted up and carried out of the church and down into the infirmary where she saw Principals being beaten back by more girls in their homeware.
“Quickly!” shouted a familiar voice. Then the sound of jars breaking and a fire being lit. There was a terrible roar behind them and Wendy stayed conscious long enough to see a gaping mouth and knotted limbs trying to wedge themselves through the stairway.
Then darkness took her.
When she woke, the world smelled foul and the air was cold.
Surrounding her was a group of nearly thirty young women, all dirty and scraped up, but smiling nonetheless.
“What happened?” Wendy asked. “Where am I?”
“In the sewers,” said the girl she had found in the infirmary. “You’re safe.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Alice,” the girl said. “And we are the third born of Ticktople.”
Let’s admire the dresses in this chapter.
It seems to stay in the church was not much better than the Doll Maker. Were Wendy and Alice safe?
To Be Continued.