Heaven’s Just a Sin Away: The Devilscent Project, Chapter Three
The Devilscent Project is the brainchild of blogger (The Alembicated Genie), author and all-around provocateur Sheila Eggenberger whose novel, Quantum Demonology, poses a most intriguing question: What happens when you try to seduce the Devil? What trickery and charms must you use to ensnare the One whose home address is
I was inspired not only by the book but by the perfumes themselves, all so different from mainstream offerings that some of them don’t even have a point of reference in conventional perfumery. I took artistic license and created my own story, with some parallels to Quantum Demonology but from another time and place. In the first installment, the scene was set. The second chapter of my exploration of these potent perfumes took us to a very dark place, and when we left the story, all hope seemed lost. Let us go back and see what happened to our heroine and her mysterious companion….
She has been carried to one of the couches and lies there, still as death, one arm trailing to the floor. He sees how pale she has become, like a woman made of marble, and she is just as cold to the touch. Someone brings him a chair and he sits next to her, lifting her limp arm and interlacing his fingers with her icy ones. Not for the first time does he note her unusual beauty; her bright russet hair is almost the same color as her satin gown and her skin is nearly translucent with its natural blush quelled. Faint blue veins make her seem even colder than she is. As he leans in to look at her, he catches her scent; over the fruity tang of her fragrance a chilly, autumnal pallor lingers, as though her very life force is seeping away into the night air. He can even smell damp earth, and an aroma like mushrooms and crumbling forest humus, as if in preparation for the grave that seems determined to claim her. He knows that in order for their plan to reach its final stage, her life must not be jeopardized, at least for a while, and he calls out urgently for a warm blanket and some brandy. (Perfume: Lil 1 by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.)
She awakens slowly in a darkened room. She cannot remember where she is at first, her head is throbbing so, and nothing is familiar, from the heavy furniture to the smell of wax to the thick blanket that covers her. She thinks for a moment that he is at home in her own bed and has simply had a very bad dream; the kind that lingers on after sleep has ended. She wonders what it was she had to drink that could have given rise to such feverish images, such wild scenarios, such intense emotions. Whatever it was, she thinks ruefully, she will pour it down the drain as soon as she gets out of bed, whenever that might be. She won’t be drinking that again. What was she thinking, to imbibe so carelessly, and it was not even New Year’s Eve! Living alone has its good points, but drinking alone is not a habit she wants to form. Oh, how her head hurts….
Suddenly she hears a sound at the door, and the knob turns slowly. Someone is breaking in! She swings her legs over the side and tries to stand, but she is so dizzy and disoriented, she has to sit down abruptly. Her legs are tangled up in the blankets – no, wait, it’s a long dress, and she is wearing it. How can this be? The door opens, and when she sees who steps into the room, the haze in her mind finally clears and she realizes that alas, this is no dream, she is still inside the great stone house in the forest, and she is a captive at the mercy of the man standing before her. Using every ounce of her will, she raises her eyes to his.
“How long have I been asleep?” She is afraid of the answer.
He smiles and says, “You call that sleep? It was more like Snow White after she ate the poisoned apple.” He crosses the room and parts the curtains, revealing a grey and misty dawn, then leaves her alone again. The bleak light does not make her feel any better, but at least it is too weak to hurt her eyes. So it is morning now, and that nightmare of an evening is over. Now what will happen next? A wave of utter hopelessness washes over her; how can she ever get out of this place - and time - and back to her own life? No carnal pleasures on Earth are worth the price of coming face to face with such evil. What were those people doing here, especially that…Nazi? The word makes her shudder, even though she does not speak it aloud. Why, and how, is
She gets up finally, reluctantly, and finds that there is one good thing about being imprisoned in a great house; there is a private bathroom just through a side door. She takes a hasty bath, and then realizes that she has nothing clean to wear. But she has underestimated
She finally draws back and dares to ask the question. “What are we doing here, and when are we leaving? I hate this place, and that awful man!” She grimaces at the memory of those cold blue eyes.
“I know you do, but we must remain for a few more hours. Do not worry, you are in no danger here; there is much that you do not understand, but it will soon become clear. Right now, you must be very hungry, since you never had dinner last night. Shall we go in to breakfast?”
Reluctantly, she takes his proffered hand, and she relaxes a little as they enter a large, sunny room where a sumptuous buffet of meats, eggs, pastries, fruits and juices is laid. It does smell wonderful, and she has not eaten anything since yesterday’s lunch. They fill heavy china plates with a delicious assortment of delicacies, and then go to a table near a window overlooking a walled garden. There is not much to see this time of year but wind-tossed black branches and a few birds eating red berries in a tangled hedge, so she looks around the room and notices a man in the corner, seated alone and reading a newspaper. She cannot see his face, but she can tell that he is tall and bulky. An impressive amount of food is already set before him, and just then, a uniformed servant enters carrying a large covered serving dish, which she puts down in front of him after removing an empty plate. Lila is surprised to see an entire roast duck, brown and crisp, in a thick sauce with stewed fruits, not exactly what one would expect for breakfast fare. It smells wonderful, and she wonders why he is getting such special treatment instead of eating from the generous buffet offerings.
Dev follows her gaze; his back is toward the big man, and he turns around. “Oh, Lila, here is our gracious host!” He stands and gives a little bow. “Sir, you do set a good table for your guests, and it is much appreciated.”
The man lowers his newspaper and nods toward
Now she is even more dismayed at the prospect of spending any more time in this house, but she has no idea what to do about it; she is at Devon’s mercy. She keeps her face expressionless and eats a few bites. If she is going to get through this day, she must have all her strength. She forces a smile for
Finally, they are done eating and
“That girl will be mine, I tell you. After the ceremony, but before the sacrifice, I will have her. This is my house, and your plan is being financed with my money. You won’t get far without my influence with the Senator, either. Buying him was not cheap! He is a pitiful weakling, but he has powerful friends. Now we only have to wait for the war bill to come up for a vote, and everything will be set in motion, just as you wanted. Then he will be a traitor and he will be trapped by his secret, forever bound to do our bidding.”
“Agreed. Just let me at her before the sacrifice, when you have finished with her. I want to see that fear in her face again. Let her final thoughts be of me, and of what I will do to her. That little bitch, how dare she humiliate me in front of our guests last night! She is nothing, nobody, and I will show her what happens to my enemies!” The German’s voice oozes menace like poison.
“Calm down, gentlemen, calm down. We only have until this evening, and after sunset I will bring her to the altar room. She will come willingly, I have seen to that. You have seen that she is perfect for our purpose, and once the sacrifice is done, the future will be changed forever. It took me a long time to find her, the one who can change the course of history, so do not be impatient. All will come to us in good time.”
The last voice was
Now she runs for her life, down the stairs and into a small foyer. She heads toward where she thinks the kitchen must be, hoping there is a door that opens into the garden. It’s her only chance, because she will never get past the front door into the main courtyard. She knows it can’t be seen from the bedroom she was in, so she should be safe for a few minutes. There it is, a side door with a row of sturdy pegs next to it that holds boots and heavy winter coats. She grabs a bulky jacket and puts it on, flipping the hood up to hide her flaming hair. Mercifully, the door is not locked and she exits; dropping into a crouch, she moves along the wall where she thinks the window of the breakfast room must be and presses against it as closely as she can. Finally, her legs shaking with cold and effort, she reaches the upper end of the garden wall, and all she has to do is make it as far as the gate and hope that the man she saw this morning did not lock it behind him. She stands up and walks slowly down to the end of the garden. If anyone happens to look out a window, she hopes she will appear to be one of the gardeners. She can barely keep from breaking into a run, but she forces herself to walk normally. She reaches the gate and puts her hand on the latch; it swings open without a sound. Outside the wall is a forest without much cover among the bare birch and maple trees, but there is a small pine thicket a few hundred yards away and she makes for it, walking briskly but not yet daring to run just in case she can be seen from the house. Reaching its shelter, she plunges into the center until the trees surround her and collapses on the cold ground, weeping with relief and terror. She has to find a way out of this, but she is lost and alone and in the grip of something so evil that she can’t understand what is happening to her. After what feels like hours, finally sure that no one has seen her, she struggles to her feet and leaves the stand of pines, heading away from the garden. Now she breaks into a run, heedless of where she is going as long as it takes her far from this dreadful place. She dares to look back just once, and the house seems to be staring at her with hollow, haunted eyes as it recedes into the distance. She turns again and flees, unaware of where she will end up, but knowing that she has no choice but to put it behind her. Into the woods she goes, deeper and deeper, as the afternoon shadows grow longer and the night approaches.
To be continued…
Image credit: Special effects flower photo by Donna
Disclaimer: All the Devilscent perfumes were sent to me for testing by the participating perfumers.