Excerpt from The Grotto

The excerpt is taken from the opening section of The Grotto. The statue’s Guardians are well into the process of falling under the Entity’s thrall and are now regularly sacrificing animals and worshiping It . . .

Vigrin Ballinspittle

The men watched the car drive out of the village, standing in rigid silence as the red tail lights disappeared around the bend at the top of Main Street and the sound of the engine gradually faded. The tall man turned and began to stride with purpose into the darkness beyond the streetlights.
“Up to the statue, men,” he ordered in a flat voice.
Without a word or a glance between them, they followed. When they reached the grotto they came to a stop just outside the railings at the point closest to statue of the Virgin. The tall man stood in front of them and blessed himself in Irish: “In ainm an Athar, agus an Mhic agus an Spioraid Naoimh, Áiméin.” He then began to recite the Rosary in English, with him leading and the men answering: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son . . .”
As the men mechanically recited the words of the prayers, their unwavering stares were glued on the statue above. As they prayed, a medium southwesterly breeze arose, carrying banks of heavy cloud in from the coast and obscuring the moon. Only the glow of the Virgin’s white robe could be seen by the men. The tall man had just announced the Third Sorrowful Mystery and begun the Our Father when he suddenly broke off in mid-sentence. The muscles of his face slackened and his eyes widened. One of the men behind him groaned in a mixture of ecstasy and fear.
The statue’s eyes had opened and a burning, piercing deep-red light was pouring into the night from them. The grotto and the roadside bordering it were soaked in a ruby glow. As they bathed in the weird light, time had no meaning for the men; they stood unmoving, hardly breathing, seemingly inanimate. Abruptly, the red light was extinguished, sending the grotto and its environs into darkness once more. The Virgin’s eyes remained open, however, showing the intense blue colour that the men had seen at other times. For a few moments, a small gap in the clouds opened and moonlight illuminated the statue and the niche in which it rested. This light allowed the men to see that a thick red liquid was rapidly oozing from the top of the Virgin’s cowl and streaming down her cloak. Very soon, her feet were completely obscured by the flow, which was also beginning to pour in a single stream from the niche onto the rock below. The men stood frozen, hypnotised by the deep-red waterfall that had now formed in the grotto. Only when the liquid reached his feet did the tall man break from his reverie.
He turned slowly to the men behind him with a lunatic smile on his face and his eyes wild with madness. Opening his mouth like a hungry dog and throwing his head skywards, he issued a deranged animalistic roar. The men joined in this roaring, sustaining an eldritch, triumphant group howl until the moon once more was hidden behind the clouds. Looking back towards the statue, the men saw that the eyes were once again closed and the cloak was once again brilliant white. No trace of the red liquid remained. As if nothing had happened, the tall man continued the Rosary: “Our Father, who art in Heaven . . .”

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About ucronin

Born in the country town of Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland in 1975, I now live in Madrid with my partner and two young daughters and work in a research institute. While I was always a hungry reader and harboured vague notions of being a writer, as a young man writing was the furthest thing from my mind; after leaving school, I did a B.Sc. in Biotechnology in Galway's NUI, an M.Sc. in Plant Science in University College Cork and a Ph.D. in Microbiology in the University of Limerick, the plan being to dedicate my professional career to scientific research. While having written extensively within my technical scientific field, I had never contemplated becoming a writer of fiction until a road-to-Damascus moment on the N69 between Listowel and Tarbert, Co. Kerry in the summer of 2011. Since then, most of my spare time has been occupied with writing. In whatever other free moments I have, I like to listen to music, play the guitar and garden (which here in Madrid means a lot of watering of plants and spraying for red spider mite). My ambition is to become as good a writer as I possibly can, eventually freeing myself from the cold clutches of science and earning a living through my scribblings. The type of writing that excites me is honest, intelligent, well-constructed and richly descriptive.
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