A Second Visit from Saint Michael - A Halloween Story
by The Technician
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© Copyright 2016 - The Technician - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-M; M+/f+; Other/m+; ranch; captives; slaves; auction; bond; strip; hum; bdsm; whip; flogging; torment; oral; freeze; revenge; punish; cons/nc; XX
Ghoul-gle jpn
A Second Visit from Saint Michael The Technician Solo-M; M+/f+; Other/m+; ranch; captives; slaves; auction; bond; strip; hum; bdsm; whip; flogging; torment; oral; freeze; revenge; punish; cons/nc; XX
WARNING!  This warning is probably not needed for this story, but my other stories are usually much stronger. If you are not familiar with my writings and look for other stories, please read the introductory notes so you have an idea of the type of content involved. All of my writing is intended for adults over the age of 18 ONLY. Stories may contain strong or even extreme sexual content.  All people and events depicted are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Actions, situations, and responses are fictional ONLY and should not be attempted in real life. If you are under the age or 18 or do not understand the difference between fantasy and reality or if you reside in any state, province, nation, or tribal territory that prohibits the reading of acts depicted in these stories, please stop reading immediately and move to somewhere that exists in the twenty-first century. Archiving and reposting of this story is permitted, but only if acknowledgment of copyright and statement of limitation of use is included with the article.  This story is copyright (c) 2016 by The Technician ( Technician666@Gmail.Com ). Individual readers may archive and/or print single copies of this story for personal, non-commercial use.  Production of multiple copies of this story on paper, disk, or other fixed format is expressly forbidden.
 

Halloween, Slavery, Public Nudity, Public Flogging, Ancient gods.

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Saint Michael returns at Halloween to save seven more women.

In this sequel to “A Visit From Saint Michael,” a reporter is recruited by Saint Michael to help rescue six young women from sexual slavery. He agrees to do so because his actions will also rescue his girlfriend who was taken by the same slavers as she was trying to investigate the first girls’ disappearance.

A few of the references in this sequel will make more sense if you have read “A Visit From Saint Michael,” but it does stand totally on its own and can be enjoyed even if you have never read the first story.

This story centers around non-consensual pain, humiliation and slavery. If such a premise disturbs you, then I would advise you to skip this story. Or you can skim past those sections and read a very interesting tale involving one of the “old gods” of Mexico and much of South America.

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 * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was sitting at my desk staring at my computer monitor. Everyone else had gone home hours ago. I was supposed to be writing an article for the paper’s website, but my mind was blank. All I could think of was Maria. She had been missing now for almost a week. The fact that tomorrow was Halloween and we had planned to go to a major party together downtown didn’t help.

Our costumes were delivered last week. We ordered them on-line and had them sent to the office. When they arrived, I hung them on the coat rack against the back wall. I was going to be The Grim Reaper, complete with a fake scythe. She had ordered an angel costume... It wasn’t exactly a slutty angel, but I didn’t think she would be sending pictures of her costume to her mother.

The paper officially has a policy against “intra-office fraternization.” That’s actually the wording they use in the employee guidelines we all have to read and sign once a year. But the reality is that as long as it doesn’t cause any delays in meeting deadlines, they really don’t care who sleeps with whom.

Maria and I are at that stage in our relationship where we aren’t really living together, but before either of us decides what we are going to wear for the day, we have to remember whose apartment it’s in.

Ultimately I’m the one responsible for Maria being missing. Part of the reason we met was that she was fascinated with my Halloween Story, “A Visit From Saint Michael.” When it came out, she asked me how much of it was true. I stalled and made a few jokes, but she persisted. Finally, I broke down and told her, “All of it.”

I was afraid she would think I was some kind of nut, but to my surprise, she didn’t question Saint Michael or as the Mexican girls had called him, Santa Muerte or Mictlantecuhtli. Instead, what she wanted to know was whether or not it was true that perverts and deviants– those were her words– still made it a practice of enticing young girls from the hills of southern Mexico to come to the bigger cities of Mexico or the United States so they could use them as sex slaves.

I told her I didn’t know for sure. She exploded at me, “Do you mean you call yourself an investigative reporter and you didn’t follow up on what might still be happening today in southern Mexico?’ She put her hands on her hips and yelled in my face, “Why the hell not?!?!”

I looked down at the floor. I couldn’t face her. I was ashamed of my answer. Finally I sputtered out, “I was afraid. I didn’t want to risk meeting up with Santa Muerte again.”

The anger and frustration with myself exploded out of me. “I knew I should have. But one meeting with Mictlantecuhtli was enough! I didn’t sleep for a month when I first wrote that story. I kept dreaming that he wasn’t satisfied with what I wrote and was coming back for me.”

At last, I looked her in the eye and said, “I really don’t want another visit from Saint Michael.”

She looked back at me in shock. Her eyes widened. “My God!” she said. “It is  all true. Saint Michael, the girls, the mansion, everything. It’s all true.”
“I told you it was,” I replied softly. We decided to talk more about it over dinner. One thing led to another, and we ended up in bed at her place. We’ve been together ever since.

Then about two months ago, Maria laid a printout on my desk. “Did you see this?” she asked.

“It’s in Spanish,” I replied. “I’m not Hispanic like you are. The only Spanish words I know are cerveza, frío, and baño. That gets me a cold beer and a place to piss.”

She ignored my attempt at humor and picked up the printout and held it out for me as though I could actually read it. Then she said, “It’s from a website that keeps track of abductions in Mexico– there are a lot of them. This particular article caught my eye. It says that every year for the past five years, six young women from rural southern Mexican villages have disappeared in the week before Halloween. All of the women were between eighteen and twenty years of age and all had talked about going north to Estados Unidos to get jobs as maids. They were never seen or heard from again.”

She slammed the paper back down and said, “My sources say that the girls end up being sold as sex slaves... or worse. It’s Marvin Summerfield all over again. I’m going down there, track these bastards down, and expose them for what they are.”

That was the last time I saw her.

She texted me regularly when she first arrived in southern Mexico. She also sent in several lead up articles to be published once she had her big story. But six days ago, the texts stopped. I checked with the hotel where she was staying and was told that she had abandoned her room. They informed me that they would keep her belongings in storage for one year before disposing of them.

I contacted the Mexican Federal Police, but as soon as I explained what Maria had been up to, the officer said, “I am sorry, Señor, but if she went down into the hill country, there is nothing we can do.” There was a short silence on the phone and then he said softly, “I am very, very sorry, Señor, there really is nothing I can do. If she went up into the hills, she is most likely dead already anyway.”

I don’t remember if he hung up on me or I hung up on him. I haven’t really been able to work since then. Now I was supposed to be writing an article about the strange coalition of folks who have come together to protest the latest police and political corruption scandals in our country.

I sighed one last time as I stared at Maria’s empty desk and tried to get back to the story that was due before the weekend. I knew that there was a saying that I had once heard that would make the perfect headline for the story I wanted to write. Strangely, when I am suffering from writer’s block, if I can put the right title to a story or the right headline to an article, I find that the words begin to flow.

“What is that saying?” I said aloud to myself.
A soft voice answered me from across the room. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the voice said.

“Yes! That’s it,” I exclaimed. And then I froze– literally. Fear poured over me like an icy waterfall. My fear was not from the fact that I had thought that I was alone, but obviously someone was in the room with me. My fear did not come from the fact that whoever it was had answered my question without having any way of knowing what it was I was actually asking. What poured deep, soul-freezing fear into the very depths of my being was the fact that I recognized that voice. I knew who was in the room with me. Mictlantecuhtli had found me again.

A very handsome young man stepped up to my desk. “I believe we have met before,” he said in that smooth voice that is impossible to forget once you have heard it.

“What do you want?” I asked. I tried to sound sure of myself, but I know that my voice shook with fear.

“We now have a common enemy, my friend,” he said softly. “And as you know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. We friends have the opportunity to do a favor for each other that will result in the destruction of our common enemy.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. My fear was starting to ebb... slightly.

“We have always had much in common,” he answered in his smooth, reassuring voice– a voice that continued to scare me senseless whenever I heard it. “For example,” he continued, “your first name is also ‘Michael.’”

I have always used my initials, “MH” in my byline, but yes, my first name is “Michael.”

“Why is that important?” I asked.

He answered with a question of his own. “What was the last thing you told Maria before she left? What were your exact words?”

“I told her,” I answered shakily, “that if she should run into trouble down there, just to call on me and I would come down and save her.”

My body shook from sobs I could not cry. My eyes burned from tears that would not fall. “But she is dead!” I wailed. “I never heard from her. I don’t know where she is. I never had a chance to save her. She’s dead!”

“No, she isn’t,” he answered firmly.

He paused as I struggled to make sense of what he had just said. “Maria isn’t dead,” he said loudly. “She is still alive!” Then in a much softer voice he added, “And I am giving you the chance to save her and six other young women.”

My fear evaporated. “What do I have to do?” I asked.

“There is a very special Halloween party tomorrow night at a ranch on the Mexican - U.S. border. You need to attend that party. That is all you need to do. I will do the rest.”

“How will I get in?” I asked. “I’m sure it’s by invitation only.”

He touched my desk with his finger. When I looked down, beneath his finger was a very expensive-looking envelope. “You already have an invitation,” he said with a smile. “And your expenses are paid in advance”

He touched his finger to the desk again and a ticket and boarding pass appeared beneath it along with a significant stack of money. He slid the ticket and boarding pass across the desk toward me as he said, “You have been booked on an overnight flight to San Antonio. A limo will meet you at the airport and drive you south to the ranch. It is about a five-hour drive.”

My voice was again somewhat shaky as I said, “I’ll do it. If it will get Maria back, I’ll do it.”

“There is only one thing I must ask of you,” he said. His voice had lost some of its smoothness. There was an edge of anger– no urgency– to his voice as he said, “No matter what you see, you can do nothing until after midnight. No matter what happens... no matter what is done... no matter who you see... or what is done to them... you must do NOTHING until the clock has struck the midnight hour. Do you understand that?”

I nodded my head yes. He then explained to me exactly what I would have to do.

I have traveled first class only once in my life. And I have never had an express bypass through security... ever. I thought carrying a large scythe– even one with an obviously fake, plastic blade– would be a problem, but it had all been arranged. In no time I was on the plane. My costume robe and mask was packed in my carry-on bag above my seat. My scythe was safely stored in a closet at the front of the first class area.

When we got to San Antonio, I scanned the crowd looking for the limo driver. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to find him, but luckily he found me. I guess carrying a six-foot scythe through the airport sort of made me stand out.

I’m not really sure how long the drive actually was. I was asleep for most of it. I woke up briefly when the driver went into the drive-through of a fast food place in some small town and got us lunch.

Then around five, he pulled over at a truck stop just outside a nowhere town near the border. “We still have a few hours to kill,” the driver said. “May I suggest someplace where you may eat a leisurely early supper?”

“Why not?” I replied, expecting to sample Texas truck stop cuisine. He pulled out of the truck stop, however, and drove me to what appeared to be an upscale restaurant on a hill overlooking the ranches of the area.

“You have a reservation,” he said as he dropped me at the door. I will pick you up back here at exactly 7:30.

When I stepped inside, I discovered that it was a very upscale restaurant. I also discovered that my meal– including a generous gratuity– had been paid for in advance. “The only limit,” the waiter explained, “is that you are allowed only one alcoholic drink.”

I ordered the steak which the waiter suggested and also a glass of the wine he recommended. Since I was never given a menu or a bill, I have no idea what the meal would have cost if I were paying for it. I was pretty sure that it was way beyond what I could afford.

Since I had the time, I ate very slowly and savored each exquisitely-prepared bite. I then relaxed with a cup of coffee or two and watched the local couples and families come and go. For being in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, they did an amazing amount of business.

Finally, after a sweet dessert whose name I would never be able to pronounce, I left. It was exactly 7:30. My driver pulled up as I stepped outside. I reached for the door handle, but somehow he was able to race around the long stretch limo before I could do so and open the door for me.

“You had best put your costume on in the car,” he said in a very clipped, almost English voice as I slid into the back seat.

My carry-on was on the rear-facing seat and there was plenty of room for me to slip the loose-fitting robe over my suit. A voice through the intercom speaker from the front said, “You can wait with the mask until just before we arrive. We will be there in about an hour.”

A little after 8:30 we pulled up in front of what looked like a plantation house from the old South. It had huge, white pillars and a large light hanging from the ceiling of the portico and everything. A doorman dressed in full, red livery opened the door and stood stiffly at attention as I stepped out of the limo.

At first I had a little trouble seeing through the skull mask which covered the upper portion of my face, but once I adjusted it a little, everything was fine. I was escorted to a huge ballroom where a large number of small, round tables had been set up.

Most tables had two or three people sitting at them. Everyone was in costume, or at least their faces were concealed behind masks. I was seated at a table by myself. A waiter offered me a glass of wine, but I answered– as instructed, “I’m bidding tonight. I need to keep a clear head.”

The waiter returned a few minutes later with a tray of soft drinks. I selected something from the tray that looked like 7Up and set it on the table in front of me. I then dropped a twenty on the tray... also as I had been instructed. I was supposed to look like one of the rich buyers for whom twenty, or even a hundred dollars was pocket change.

I then settled back to watch and observe.

As my eyes got used to the darkness of the room, I was able to make out more details of the people sitting at the other tables. Everyone in the room, with the exception of the wait staff and a rather rough-looking gentleman standing on stage, was masked. Most were wearing costumes of some sort.

At first I thought that many of the women present were Star Wars fans because there were over two dozen Princess Leia slave outfits. At least there were over two dozen young women in chains sitting or kneeling on the floor at the feet of masked men at the tables.

When my vision cleared further, however, I realized that none of the Princess Leias were wearing a metal bikini. In fact, none of the young women were wearing anything. And the collars and manacles and chains looked very real. They were obviously much sturdier than some cheap costume accessory. These were not make-believe Princess Leias. They were real slaves at the feet of their Masters.

I heard the rattle of chains and my attention was drawn to one female slave whose Master was pulling on the chain which was attached to her collar. He was using the chain to draw her head between his legs. His manhood protruded from his trousers and was already erect. As her head drew closer and closer to his throbbing shaft, he reached out with his other hand and grabbed her hair. He transferred the first hand from the chain to her hair on the other side of her head and pulled her tightly to his crotch.

I could hear her gagging slightly as he used her head like a living Fleshlight and masturbated himself to climax. He grunted softly as he came, but otherwise remained totally quiet. After the grunts, he continued to thrust her head up and down his shaft for a few moments before pulling her back to arm’s length and letting her drop. She crumpled into a ball at his feet.

The shaking of her body told me that the girl was sobbing deeply, but I heard nothing. The chains rattled as the man straightened them out and lifted slightly. The slave returned to a kneeling position facing outward toward the crowd. The lower portion of her face was wet and slimy. It reflected the stage lighting as it grew brighter.

With the room growing brighter, I looked to see how many naked slaves were present in the room. I’m not sure I was able to see all of them, but I had counted at least twenty-eight before a loud voice drew my attention back to the stage.

The rough-looking man on stage was standing in the center of a spotlight, holding a microphone to his mouth. “Gentlemen,” he began, “each of you has been invited to this special Halloween party tonight because Señor Cortez has some special property which he wishes to sell. Our auction will begin right after midnight, but in these few minutes we have left before then, I want to preview the merchandise for you.”

The lights on the rest of the stage came up revealing a line of seven women chained to what at first appeared to be a shoulder-high fence made of six by six or larger lumber. The thick, coarse wood was almost the size and shape of a railroad tie. Maybe that’s what they were. The point where the chains were bolted through the wood corresponded approximately to the width of a railroad track.

Looking closer, I realized that it was not a fence. Instead, each girl was chained to an individual frame of some sort which was sitting on a wooden base. There were two upright posts about four feet high which were firmly attached to the base. The crosspiece was then apparently bolted into the top of the upright.

The girls were facing away from the frame so that they were facing the audience. Six of them were wearing homespun peasant dresses. The seventh was wearing jeans and a thin tank top of some sort. Both the jeans and the top were covered with grime and appeared to have been slept in more than once. All had black cloth bags over their heads.

The man walked up to the first girl and said, “This is Lot Number One.” He reached out and stroked her breast through the rough fabric. She frantically thrashed her body attempting to get away from his touch. From the sounds coming from beneath the hood, it was obvious she was gagged in some fashion.

“Of course,” he said, “we do not expect you to bid on something sight unseen.”

Two men, also with their faces unmasked, came onto the stage and stood on either side of the struggling young woman. Both had knives in their hands, and they began cutting the clothing from her body. Her muffled cries became more frantic as they sawed through the tough fabric. In a few moments, the blouse and dress– or what was left of them– was lying on the floor at the girl’s feet. The two then set about cutting through the several layers of home-made slips and petticoats which had been beneath the dress. Soon those garments joined the dress on the floor.

The girl’s undergarments were also homespun and homemade. Below the waist she was wearing what appeared to be a loose-fitting pair of old-fashioned pantloons, which looked somewhat like a baggy pair of men’s boxer shorts. There was no elastic at the waist, but instead they were held in place by a rough-looking, twine drawstring.

The men cut the drawstring and the pants began sliding down off the girl’s body. She spread her knees attempting to keep the bloomers in place, but they continued to slide downward until her hairy crotch was showing just above the waistband. The two men then reached in with their knives and cut the sides from the shorts, allowing them to fall to the floor.

Above the waist, she was wearing a homemade brassier which was not much more than a couple of soft pouches which covered, but did not support, her breasts. When she felt the cold of the knives on her shoulders beneath the bra straps, she renewed her struggles. Those struggles became even more frantic as the knives moved to her sides and the cloth was cut from her body.

She was now totally naked. “I present to you,” the rough-looking man said loudly, “Lot Number One!” He then pulled the bag from the struggling naked woman’s head.

Her eyes were wild with fear as she struggled in her bonds. There was a knotted piece of fabric wrapped around her face with a large knot tied in it that was centered in the her mouth. One of the men reached his knife up alongside her ear and cut upward through the fabric. She spit the bundle of cloth out of her mouth and immediately began screaming.

“Silencio!” the man screamed. “Silencio!” he repeated. The third time he said it, his arm slashed out and a whip of some sort slapped across the girl’s front.” “Silencio! Silencio! Silencio!” the man continued to command. Each time he screamed out the word, he slashed with the whip in his hand.

The whip appeared to be a piece of leather about three inches wide and three or four feet long. The last two feet of the leather was split into two smaller straps with about a quarter-inch gap between them. The man did not seem to be very accomplished with the whip and struck rather wildly, but the leather still made a loud smacking pop when it struck flesh, causing the girl to yelp and scream in pain.

Finally the pain of the whip and the repeated cry of “Silencio!” had the desired effect and the girl was reduced to more or less quiet whimpering. Her body was shaking violently as she forced herself to be quiet despite the shame and pain she was feeling.

“And see,” the man said to the crowd, “she can be trained. A month from now she will be doing whatever you desire and thanking you for the privilege of doing it.

The man then moved on to the second girl, leaving the first staring wide-eyed out at the masked faces staring back at her.

The second girl was already trembling in fear before the knives began stripping away her clothing. Her body vibrated and bounced as the men cut away her many layers of clothing, but she had heard the cries of “Silencio!” and more importantly had heard the sound of the whip striking bare flesh, so she remained silent.

Once she was totally naked, the man ripped the cloth hood from her head and loudly announced, “I give to you, Lot Number Two.”

The men with knives then cut the gag from her mouth. Unlike the first girl, she did not spit the cloth from her mouth and remained quiet even after it was removed.

“Do you see how well they learn,” the man said with a self-satisfied smile and chuckle. “Señor Cortez spares no expense or trouble in acquiring the best for you.” He stepped slightly forward and said, “I am sure that your bids will reflect the quality of this merchandise.”

He then stepped back in front of the third girl. “This is Lot Number Three,” he said almost matter-of-factly. When the men began cutting the dress from her body, a puddle of liquid suddenly formed under her body as she lost control of her bladder.

The forked whip struck three times as the man screamed something at her in Spanish which I could not understand. Her gagged screams could be heard with each blow of the whip. Once she was totally naked, the man said gruffly, “Turn her.”

The two men with knives opened up the wrist restraints which held the young woman to the frame and forcefully spun her in place so that she now faced the frame. They then re-closed the restraints.

The man with the whip stepped slightly to the side and flailed seven times with the forked whip. Fourteen welts appeared across the girl’s back. When he was finished, she was practically lying across the top of the frame.

The men with knives cut the gag from her mouth and she began to scream. Once again the man yelled out, “Silencio!” and the whip slashed across her ass. A red double welt immediately appeared on her ass cheeks.

Her screams became louder and the man responded with another cry of “Silencio!” and another lash of the whip. He continued to repeat his command and his slash of the whip. “Silencio! Silencio! Silencio! Silencio! Silencio! Silencio!” he screamed as he brought the whip down again and again and again on the unfortunate young girl’s ass.

I am not sure if she was eventually able to control her voice or just passed out from the pain, but she was finally reduced to silence and lay unmoving over the top of the frame.

The man turned to face the audience and said, almost apologetically, “Some merchandise is a little more high-spirited than others, but once you have broken their will, they make excellent slaves.”

He chuckled slightly as he moved on to the next girl. She stood docilely as the two men cut the clothing from her body. When her hood and gag were removed, she remained quiet, staring out into the crowd as if she were in shock.

The next two girls also remained quiet, but their eyes were not blank like the fourth girl’s had been. Their eyes were filled with fear as they stood naked and trembling before the men who would bid on them and purchase them like cattle.

After the first six girls were naked, the two men sheathed their knives and spent a few minutes picking up the cloth that littered the stage at the girls’ feet. One of them used a bundle of the cloth to wipe up the piss from between the third girl’s legs.

As they were working, I noticed that all six girls were exactly the same height and weight. They also had identical body shapes. There seemed to be very slight differences to their faces, but I would be very hard-pressed to tell them apart. It was obvious that they came from a closed genetic pool indicative of a remote village with very little interaction with the outside world.

The seventh girl, however, was taller. Her skin, though still brown, was much lighter. Even without the obviously store-bought clothing, it was apparent she was not from the same village as the other six girls.

It was not just her skin color or height or clothing that told me she wasn’t from the same village, however. I knew for sure that the seventh girl was not from the same village because even without seeing her face, I knew that the seventh girl was my Maria.

When the men with knives moved to stand on either side of her, I nearly threw up. If I had a weapon, I would have rushed the stage and taken her to safety. Even with just a plastic scythe in my hands, I felt myself starting to rise out of my chair, but Saint Michael’s words suddenly rang out in my mind. No matter who you see... no matter what is done to them... you must do NOTHING until the clock has struck the midnight hour. Do you understand that?”

I slumped back down into my chair. “Yes,” I said aloud, “I understand.”

Tears were wetting the inside of my mask as I watched the two goons cut Maria’s clothing from her body. As her jeans fell to the floor, I could see bruises on her legs. After the panties were gone, the double welt pattern of the rough man’s long whip was obvious on the sides of her hips. It looked as if she had been whipped badly from behind and the tips of the whip had curled around her ass to strike the sides of her hips.

“We have a special addition to our auction tonight,” the man said. “She is a gringo reporter who was snooping around trying to find out who we were.” He laughed. “I think,” he said with almost a snarl, “that we should let her see her future owners.”

With that he reached forward and snatched the bag from her head. Surprisingly, she was not gagged, but her eyes had that faraway look of a beaten dog. She stared out at the masked crowd for a moment with a blank expression on her face. Then her face suddenly changed. Her mouth became firm and set and she stood upright in her restraints. There was now fire in her eyes. She was badly beaten, but she was not yet broken.

Standing there with her hood in his hands, the man said, “Perhaps someone would like to come forward and sample this tasty piece of merchandise and tell us if she is worth bidding on.”

I don’t know if it was my fear of Saint Michael or my fear that I might lose Maria if I acted too soon, but something kept me in my seat. I wanted to run up on that stage. I wanted to save her from the terror she was experiencing. But it was not yet midnight.

My hands were gripping the table so strongly that I was nearly lifting it off the ground. I could feel my muscles quivering as I kept repeating to myself over and over again, “Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.

Maria screamed once again and I looked back at the stage. The MC, or whatever he was, now had his hand nearly buried between her legs. “This one’s not a virgin,” he said with a sneer. “But she is VERY expendable.”

He smiled out at the crowd, but it was still more sneer than smile. Then he said, “In fact, it would be best if she were used up and disappeared so that she could never be found. That alone should make her desirable to some of you.”

Maria screamed again. This time it was more of a wail than a scream. It was the last plea of someone who knew that they had just been condemned to death and would soon die horribly–  alone and forgotten.

Then I heard it. I didn’t remember seeing a clock tower anywhere on the ranch, but I very clearly heard a tower clock begin to strike the hour. It rang the traditional chime and then began the slow bong, bong, bong, which counted out the hour.

I counted the bell strikes and stood up at ten. I started walking toward the stage, using the handle of my scythe like a long walking stick. By the time the sound of the final bell had faded away, I was standing directly in front of the stage.

The MC said brusquely, “I am sorry, Señor, but you will have to go back to your seat so we can start the auction.”

In response I took off my mask.

“Maria,” I said loudly.

Her eyes flew open. She stared at me for just a moment and then yelled out, “Michael, save me!”

The other six women on the stage began yelling in their strange Spanish. I could hear something that sounded like Morty and then something that sounded like Mickey Choo Choo. That was the same way Marvin Summerfield had described the cries of the women that night at his mansion.

I knew to whom they were calling out. They were calling for Saint Michael.

I stood motionless as I had been instructed to do. Maria called out again “Michael, save me.”

My body wanted to rush up on that stage and release her, but my mind was somehow able to hold me in place as I followed his explicit instructions.

Maria called out once again. This time it was a wailing scream. “Michael, please!” she cried, “Save me!”

That’s when everything stopped. Suddenly, all noise disappeared. Everyone was frozen in place. It was as if I were now standing in a wax museum.

“Take the women outside,” came a voice from alongside me.

He was standing next to me. I watched in amazement– or was it horror– as Maria stepped out of herself and walked over to me. Her wax statue remained behind, but she was now beside me. Then the other six women on stage also emerged from their wax cocoons to join us.

“We need to leave,” I said.

“All of them,” came the voice from before and I turned to see the two dozen or so naked slaves step out of their kneeling wax statues and begin to walk over to me.

“Take them outside,” he ordered. “I have work yet to do in here.”

The women and I hurried out the front doors of the mansion. My stretch limo was waiting for me. So were eight or ten beat up pickup trucks and vans. One older gentleman in peasant clothing hurried up to me and said in very broken English, “He told us to come here tonight at midnight and that his padre would bring our daughters back to us. He has kept his word. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

All the while he was speaking he was pumping my hand furiously with both of his own. Something followed his ‘thank you”, but I couldn’t catch what he said. I looked over at Maria and she told me, “He said something about a padre, but I couldn’t catch most of it. It’s a Spanish dialect I have never heard before.”

“Who told you?” I asked him.

The peasant raised his weather-toughened face toward the sky and said “The Old One.”

I wanted to ask him whom he meant. Hell, there couldn’t be that many people in his village older than him. He looked to be somewhere way north of ninety. Actually, there were many things I wanted to ask him, but my driver was gesturing wildly to me that we had to go.

“Hurry!” I shouted. “Hurry! We don’t have much time!”

I don’t know if they could truly understand my words, but they understood my concern... and fear. I helped Maria into the limo and they hustled the naked women into the pickups and vans. We all then sped away from the mansion.

When we reached the main highway, my driver turned north. The remaining vehicles turned south.

As we headed back toward San Antonio, the driver spoke to us through the intercom. “There is clothing in the bag on the seat,” he said. “Either a dress or a pair of jeans and a blouse... your choice. Shoes and sandals are on the floor. There’s also underwear and a bra.”

Maria dressed hurriedly. I was sure she would choose the jeans, since she almost never wore a dress. But to my surprise, she slipped the dress over her head. Noting my expression she said simply, “My ass is way too sore to squeeze back into a pair of jeans.”

She then leaned against me and promptly fell asleep. I must have also fallen asleep because it seemed like only a few minutes later, rather than the hours I expected, when we pulled up at the entrance to the departure area at San Antonio International Airport.

The trip through the airport was, if anything, faster than before. A uniformed security officer met us and said, “I have been instructed to guide you through screening and insure that you are safely on the plane.”

We had no baggage since all I had brought down with me was the Halloween costume and Maria’s luggage was in storage at the hotel where she had been abducted. So, in minutes we were aboard the plane.

Once we were airborne, she turned to me and asked, “How did you manage that?”

“It’s a very long story,” I began, and started to tell her about my evening visit from Saint Michael.

“No,” she cut me off. “How did you get us through the airport so fast?”

“Friends in high places,’ I answered with a laugh. I then suggested that she should again sleep, or at least try to relax on our flight home.

Another limo– smaller than the previous ones– met us at the airport. I wasn’t really expecting it, but a driver at the gate was holding up a sign that said, “Michael & Maria” and I asked him if he was there to pick us up.

He said he was and offered to get our luggage for us.

“We’re traveling light,” I answered. “There’s no need for that.”

As we started to pull away from the terminal, he slid the glass open between himself and us and asked, “Which apartment? Or do you want to go to the office?”

I started to tell him to take us to Maria’s apartment, but she cut me off with, “The office. I have to get some things written down while they are still fresh in my mind.”

Luckily I had my keys with me. Twenty minutes later we were both sitting at our desks typing feverishly. Her story was different than mine. They intersected at that horrible Halloween Party, but even then, there is a great deal of difference between watching someone tortured on stage and actually being that person enduring the torture.

After an hour or so, we had both written as much as we could in one sitting and were doing a first edit of our rough drafts. That’s when he walked into the room. Neither of us had heard the door open, but suddenly he was there, walking across the office toward us.

“Thank you both,” he said warmly. “These less-than-snakes knew that I couldn’t act against them because they always, intentionally, took only six young women from the villages at a time.”

I couldn’t help myself. I repeated what Summerfield had told me during the interview. “You are powerless to act until the seventh voice calls your name for the third time on the Day of the Dead.”

“Not powerless,” he replied with a smile, “I can always act, but for something this powerful, yes, seven must call my name on the Day of the Dead.”

He turned to Maria. “They took you because you were interfering. They had no worry that you would call upon me because you did not know of me.”

He turned toward me and added, “That is why I had to send my priest in my place.”

“Padre,” I said aloud. “The old man said you promised that your padre would bring out their daughters.” I stood in shock for a moment and then sputtered out, “But I’m not your priest!”

Again he smiled, this time accompanying that smile with a soft laugh. “Oh, yes, you are,” he said, “even if you didn’t know it.”

He approached my desk and stood directly in front of me. “When you published the first story, you were speaking for me at my command.” He cocked his head and said, “And since then, you have called to me on behalf of other people... or at least you called to me on behalf of one other person.”

I must have looked very confused. “Do you not know what brought me to you the other night?” he asked. “When you were sitting there at your desk staring at where Maria should be sitting, you whispered a prayer to me. You were thinking about how your beloved was somewhere calling out to you, but you were powerless to act. The words you spoke were,‘Saint Michael, save her.’”

Stepping back so that he could clearly see both of us, he said, “So, you see, you have spoken for me to the people. And you have brought the prayers of others to me on their behalf. Is that not what a priest is supposed to do?”

He became serious as he continued, “Even more importantly, being my priest makes you my presence when I’m not there. That means that what is said to you is said to me.”

Gesturing toward Maria he continued, “So, when she cried out to you to save her, she was crying out to me. Her voice became the seventh voice calling out to me from that stage. The other women saw your robe and your scythe and thought it was me, so they also cried out.”

He pointed directly at me and said, “Because you, my priest, were there, she and the other six women on the stage each cried out to me three times... and it was after midnight. It was the Day of the Dead.”

“And when seven voices call out to you on the Day of the Dead,” I said evenly, “you must act to save them.”

“Exactly,” he said firmly. “And on this day, with the call of seven voices, I have FULL  power to act.”

He turned to Maria and said, “Tell your story. Perhaps the officials will act to prevent this in the future and I won’t have to intercede.”

Turning to me, he said, “Tell your story also. I assume you still have the links to the story sites from last year.”

He then turned and began walking away. Once again, as he walked away, he transformed into a hooded figure with skeletal legs showing beneath the long robe. As he reached the door, the figure turned and the skull beneath the hood said, “Tell them that a visit from Saint Michael is terrifying only to those who terrify others.”

He then faded away.

Maria looked up at me. “Do we tell the whole story?” she asked.

“You tell the story of yourself and the other women,” I answered. “But leave out exactly how I managed to free you.”

There was a question on her face, which I answered with, “That way the major news agencies will pick up your story and run it above the fold rather than relegating it to the News of the Weird  pages.”

She nodded her approval.

“I will tell of Saint Michael,” I said. The firmness and anger in my voice surprised even me. “I will have to post it on the same sites I used for the first story. It won’t get as much distribution as your story, but maybe his message will get out.

“His message?” she asked.

“Yes,” I responded, “It is a message to those who terrify others. Someday, somewhere, sometime, when you least expect it– perhaps on the Day of the Dead– seven voices will call out three times for Saint Michael to save them. And you who terrify others will know exactly what terror truly is.”

“You really are a priest of Saint Michael,” Maria said softly.

Neither of us could think of what next to say, so we both went back to our typing.

The next Monday, Maria officially returned to work. The owner had a banner printed which hung in the office. It said, “Welcome back, Maria.” There was also a bonus check on her desk with a note congratulating her for a job well done.

After everyone had greeted her and offered their own congratulations, she set something on my desk. It was the printout of an article with the headline, “Feds and Federales Make Joint Raid on Border Ranch.”

The first paragraph read, “Acting on an anonymous tip, a joint US-Mexican task force raided the ranch of Hector Cortez, a well-known member of the Texas underworld with ties to the Mexican cartels.  Because the ranch was effectively two ranches– one on the U.S. side and one on the Mexican side– both Homeland Security and the Mexican Federal Police acted together in the pre-dawn raid.”

It continued, “When they entered the mansion, they found evidence of a wild party from the previous night. Many high-ranking mobsters and cartel members were lying on the floor senseless or dead. Most were wearing elaborate Halloween costumes. There was evidence that other people– most likely women– had been chained up or otherwise restrained in the room, but all of the leashes, shackles and chains were empty. The entire staff of the huge ranch house was found cowering in a nearby bunkhouse. They were of no help to the investigation because they either could remember nothing of the previous night, or fear prevented them from speaking.”

I looked up after reading the second paragraph. “You know what happened, don’t you?”

Maria nodded and then said, “They became those upon whom they had inflicted so much pain. Seven times throughout the night, they lived and relived what they had done to others. It was the punishment of Saint Michael.”

I now wear a small medallion around my neck. It looks like a silver military dog tag and most people think it is in memory of a fallen soldier. It’s not. On that little rectangle of silver are three names. “Saint Michael, Santa Muerte, and Mictlantecuhtli.”

Whenever I see someone who is being unwillingly abused by those more powerful than themselves, I take it out of my shirt and read all three names aloud. Who knows, perhaps on that day I will be the seventh voice that allows Saint Michael to act.

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END OF STORY
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30.10.16

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