Oh how I want to get my hands on that little rascal Tazio. For several reasons, but primarily to save his young SOUL, of course.

And his soul must be in grave danger indeed, living up there in those forbidden hills, in the secret enclosure of that Villa so infamous for all the ghastly stories of SIN and SATANISM reported over the centuries.

That poor child. Oh, I know he SEEMS to be content, a good student, a normal boy-- but he could be so much happier if he would just allow me to guide him...spiritually.

I, Padre Giorgio, have been Priest in La Destinazione's cathedral for 22 years now, so I know what a WICKED reputation the Villa della Stregga has earned. Satan Worshippers, Dancing Witches, Rapacious Demons, Werewolves, Vampires, Ghosts- that nefarious castle is rumored to have hosted them all. There are so many house-of-horror stories about La Villa, passed down through generations, but few eye-witnesses, since none have dared go there uninvited.

All of that may be superstition and fable, but it IS a fact that a militant religious sect, reputed to have been allied with the Mafia, the Nazis and our own Italian Fascists, have used that Villa as a center of operations, and did so for generations! Old folks in town called them "Dark Templars", and insisted that they were agents of Satan Himself. They were observably still in operation when I arrived 22 years ago, I often saw their black vehicles and helicopters pass through town. Now however, except for Tazio's family, the Villa seems to have been abandoned for the last five years.

As an educated and ordained Priest, I disregarded the most foolish of old wife's tales, although the existence of devils and demons IS recognized by the Catholic Church. And six years ago I saw for myself absolute proof that at least one such DEMONIC BEING did indeed come from that unholy Villa.

He came down from those hills and into our town, driving- or rather, ruining -a new Mercedes-Benz, racing like a madman along that ill-kept road. As he roared into town at high speed, several townspeople had to leap out of his way until he screeched the car to a sideways stop in the piazza and jumped out. A crowd of indignant townsfolk ran to the car, myself among them, to berate an absolutely irresponsible driver for his recklessness. But instead were charmed by the most divinely beautiful young man anyone had ever seen, tall and handsome, gracious and noble.

He was excited, smiling, enthusiastic, his eyes simply TWINKLING with the vast joy of just being there. He raised his hands in adoration of the town surrounding the piazza and shouted, "Oh, I love it!"

Stunned by his beauty, unable to keep our eyes off him, we moved closer until we could almost touch him, although no one dared to. As we studied him worshipfully, he studied us in return, everyone smiling in perfect, inane friendliness.

But then he saw the girls, the women, the innocent maidens of our town, and everything changed. He had to...uh, well...HAVE them ALL! He RAVAGED them. His LUST was insatiable. They became- we all did-helpless victims of some kind of DEMONIC POSSESSION.

Clothing was stripped away, also his own-- and whatever other kind of disguise he wore. We could suddenly see that he was actually quite GROTESQUE, deformed: skeletally thin, with a head too big and eyes even bigger, those like a cat's. His sweet smile became cruel, barbed with pointed teeth like a carnivore. And most shocking: a TAIL switched serpent-like behind him! He seemed to be more BEAST than human.

At first the women screamed in horror, but when he smiled and waved for them to approach him, they did, most wantonly, as if in a spell. We men found ourselves stumbling and falling backwards to give that animal more room to RUT in. Even I, an ordained Priest, who should have been able to resist the devil, was in his thrall.

None of us could do anything to stop him. Dino Moretti was killed trying, crushed by an unseen force. One woman died of internal injuries, others were traumatized for years. I knew most of those women from Confession, some of them were virgins, some young mothers. By the grace of God none of them were made with child- which could have been a genuine problem for The Church --but still, those 13 surviving women may never live down the SHAME. Later, of course, I had to excommunicate them. Admittedly it was not their fault, but The Church does have standards, you know.

But as for me, on that day, I had a REVELATION: realizing that those mythic tales about the Villa and its denizens were TRUE, and that I was looking upon a Demon from Hell, an enemy of Man and God. Therefore HIS enemy had to be a PRIEST wielding the Word of God: ME!

I knew it was my destiny and duty to expel that Rapacious Demon! La Destinazione needed a Hero!

I prayed for Strength and was just about to challenge that foul creature in the name of Our Lord, to SMITE him down with the "Power of the Church"-- I really WAS... but never got the chance! In the same instant I THOUGHT those words, he turned to look directly into my eyes, freezing me.

"Power of the Church?" he amusedly repeated my very thoughts, turned again to study the cathedral. He took a casual swing with his right hand in that direction, an effortless gesture.

The entire tower, with the Holy Cross atop it, shattered apart as if swatted by a gigantic Invisible Fist. Stones and mortar rained down into the streets around the cathedral. (Since rebuilt, but there was extensive damage, believe me.)

The Demon turned back to me, grinning with all those pointy teeth, "You mean the power of THAT church?" And then he came at me.

They tell me I fainted. I don't remember.

I was also told that the Rapacious Demon wandered around our town for hours, taking whatsoever and whomsoever he wanted, doors opened magically before him. People obeyed him, and when he was sated he simply drove back up the road toward the Villa della Stregga. Never to be seen again, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus and his Blessed Virgin Mother.

It was not long after that day we saw all the trucks and helicopters leaving from the hills, and they too have never returned.

Only Signor Ulfo continued to come into town to buy supplies once a month, as he always had. When I asked him about the Rapacious Demon who had come to our town a year before, he said, "The town can relax, all the bad guys are gone now," he told me, but would not say more about it.

After five years had passed, I assumed it must be safe to go up to the Villa and see for myself. Almost everyone in town of La Destinazione had some kind of gruesome story about the place, especially the older generation, but as far as I know I am the only living person from town who has actually DARED to personally go up and look. Brave? Yes, but then I am a Priest, protected by God, and I felt it was my duty to go see if there was any danger to my flock. Besides, I was curious.

What I found was an empty ruined fortress, with only one family living in all those empty rooms, that of Signor Ulfo. There was no sign of any Satanic army or ghosts or monsters. Although, for a moment, I THOUGHT I saw a demon ...with a tail. It flashed by only briefly and was at a distance, but seemed to look very much like that same wicked Rapacious Demon who'd came into town six years before. Smaller, but the same face, same slit-eyes, same tail. Or so it seemed at the moment, but it was very hot and I had walked so far. I almost fainted...and I've only fainted once in my life before.

Signora Ulfa told me it was a "monkey" and sent me away.

Truthfully, there is something very suspect about that entire family.

They live up in that ruin as if they were very poor, but I have since learned that Signor Ulfo is a very rich man, a multi-millionaire! He still comes into town once-and only once-a month. He walks the 16 kilometers to and from La Villa with a mule in tow, buys food, supplies, chats with many of the locals, drinks a lot of wine at his favorite taverna, and staggers back home late at night. No one else considers him suspicious, they all think he's charming, fun, a normal paisano. But I've been watching him. For 22 years. I've gotten older since then, but he doesn't seem to... odd, just lost my train of thought. Where was I? Oh, yes, the family. Something about... must have been la Signora Ulfa. I met her in the Villa. She must be sister to il Signore, they look so much alike, both a little rough in nature. Slightly brutish, to be honest-although Signora Ulfa could be a very handsome woman if she would only wash her face and brush her hair.

There was also one other woman there, I didn't get her name but suspect she is Tazio's mother. She was wearing a torn and tattered nun's dress, but without any of the traditional trimmings, not even underwear. She was very brazen, probably a shameless whore...but handsome indeed.

No, not handsome, dare I say it: she was ferociously beautiful. But even worse, she was Temptation Personified. Blasphemous in her ruined nun's habit, I had to look away. I may be a priest but am still flesh and blood. And so was she ...but I have taken those vows.

There was also a funny little dwarf...what an odd family Tazio has. Yes, I do have to save him from them.

But why do I so concern myself with Tazio? He rejects the teachings of Catholicism, has no respect for the authority of a Priest, and is not even especially nice to me! He is also clearly uninterested in the Christian Faith, having been seduced by the hedonistic nonsense of Signor Ulfo, who is hardly a worthy teacher with those pagan opinions he professes.

But then again, I DO know why I care: because I am indeed a good and pious Man of God, dedicated to saving any lost lamb, every innocent soul. Tazio is an innocent, only 9 years old, who does not yet understand that he has been fed falsehoods all his life. He has never known the True Word of God. He is a Good Boy underneath, I can feel it.

I can also see it: physically, he's such a perfect example of boyhood; good posture, clean limbs, adorable face. Although I have never seen his eyes, because he always wears those dark sunglasses, I assume they are lovely.

But he can also be difficult, that little brat. The last time we met I tried to take those sunglasses from him-- and he resisted! He was surprisingly strong. Stronger than me, which was rather titillating, although it also reminded me of that "monkey" I had seen in the Villa. Could that have been little Tazio?

Could our cute little Tazio be some kind of demon-spawn? Could he be, for example, little brother to the Rapacious One? They look similar... almost...almost..

...but no, that thing was quite deformed and little Tazio is so immaculately perfect. Besides, Tazio has no tail...although I have never seen him unclothed... Anyway, Tazio's eyes are norma...hmmm, never seen his eyes either...

Oh, I really must talk to him about his soul. I shall lead him away from SIN, no matter what he is. Eventually, he will be grateful to me for showing him salvation, indebted to me, that pretty, pretty boy...

And oh, here he comes now. Hmm, he looks different...oh, his hair is trimmed so short, almost gone. Still wearing those accursed sunglasses, though.

"Buongiorno, Tazio."

"Ciao, Padre Giorgio."

"Wait, what's your hurry?"

"I'm going to school, of course."

"I've heard that you haven't been to school all last week."

"No, I was...sick. I'm better now."

"Bene, bene. Look, Tazio, I feel that we had a misunderstanding last time we met. I'm not your enemy, but your priest..."

"Padre Giorgio, I am still not a Catholic, so you can't be MY priest. Nor shall I ever become your favorite little choirboy. As for you not being my enemy...then please, stop stalking me. Ciao!"

There he goes! Oh, how I hate him!

July 2009