Strands of black were pouring into the church from every hole, every crack. They streamed down the walls and seeped across the floor, crawling over piles of ruins and snow. They were making their way to the corpse in the center of it all.
Sam noticed too. He jumped up and back as they began to reach Seth’s body and swirl around and above and within it.
“What is this stuff?” I said to Sam.
He mumbled something, looking about him. There was no chance of me seeing his face; the whole church had darkened as if the white shine of the snow had been blocked out. As if the dark tendrils were absorbing the light.
“What?” I shouted.
“It’s his true self. From the pieces he planted in people. In his victims.”
He cursed and reached out to grab the arrow stuck in the body. But the black reared up before him and the force of it knocked him back. He cried out as he landed on his broken hand.
It coalesced and grew, the strands now turned to waterfalls crashing in and rushing to the central body, which was growing, already reached halfway to the ceiling.
Two points in it opened. I wouldn’t have thought it possible but they were darker than all the rest of it, horrible and absolute like the end of the universe and all creation. Pure nothing. They were eyes, and they focused on Sam.
The thing didn’t speak. It was beyond speech, beyond audible sound. But I could feel its rage, as pure and absolute as the void in it eyes. It overcame me, sending me falling on my back. I crawled away from it as it broke through the ceiling and rubble collapsed around us, my hands searching, searching, willing that gun into them.
Well, it worked.
Sam screamed before the onslaught of everything Seth was, knowing for certain that this time he was sure to die. I had to scream above him, louder than I had ever screamed before, loud enough that I thought I felt my vocal cords rip.
“SAM, SAY IT!”
The gun was in my hand. I had no heart to aim for, but wasn’t such an essence the heart itself? I shot into the cloud of darkness within the shadows the church had become, and Sam screamed again but I couldn’t tell if he had screamed a word or not.
The darkness bucked, and again it didn’t speak, it didn’t scream, but I felt the death of it as if I were in the agony of dying. So I screamed instead, and Sam screamed, and the blackness fell to the ground in a shower like filthy rain, covering the floor of the church as if there had been a fire and soot had covered all.
Sam was crouched there before it, but it didn’t seem to touch him. It only fell about him.
He was bathed in light that drove all shadows away from him.
Something flew up from his back, tearing through his coat, and it took me a moment to realize that they were wings, gray and lined with tinges of blue, like a common pigeon’s wings. They were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
With that light there all around him, I could see his face when he lifted it. He looked right at me, and I could see him. His expression with filled with sadness, regret, loss, a million emotions in every line of his face.
He said nothing. He didn’t have to speak. As the light faded from him he crouched down and then shot into the air, through the hole Seth’s darkness had made in the roof. And he was gone.