The Path and the Beast

Adelaide showed up to my graduation on an overcast day. She had sleepless hazel eyes. Eyes I remembered well and loved.

The misting rain slickened her bright blonde hair as she stood against a wall in a lonely corner to avoid the jubilant post-graduation crowd on the campus quad. It had been twelve years since I saw her last. She was eighteen back then. I was ten. She took off to New York City with a plane ticket she bought as a birthday present to herself and never looked back. Like a mother, she raised me caringly for as long as she could bare living under the same roof as our dad. He was a bastard to her, and she needed to escape.

Recently he died of sudden cancer. Throat cancer. Very late stage — the kind that surprised you then killed you before you could find the time to pity yourself or get your affairs in order. “Good riddance,” she said over the phone when I told her the news.

His death gave her the opening to come back home.

When she spotted me, she ran over and gave me a hurried hug and a kiss on the cheek. she was starkly beautiful. She looked like an angel to me — just how I remembered.

Caressing my cheek, she declared, “Ez. It’s so good to see you again.”

A warmth like I’ve never known grew in my chest when I heard her say those words in her trembling voice. “You too, Addy,” I replied and held her hand.

She felt most guilty about leaving me with dad. Truth is, he never treated me terribly. And I never resented her for leaving.

At thirty, Adelaide found success at a law firm in New York City. She was on an extended sabbatical to see me and to get our estate in order. We stayed together in the old Victorian house on the shores of Lake Washington in which we grew up and where dad lived out the end of his miserable life.

After dropping off her bags in her old room, we explored the house to reminisce.

“Still smells the same,” she commented. “Like evil.”

It smelled like oil varnish and mothballs to me. But I understood what she meant. She wouldn’t ever forgive dad for the venomous torment in her formative years and now the bad memories flooded her every sensibility.

When we arrived at dad’s cavernous library, Addy walked over to the massive bookshelf on the wall opposite the bay windows that looked out onto the lake. She ran a finger along the dust covers and when she reached a particular book, she looked to me and said, “did you ever figure out the secret room?”

Confused, I shook my head. I hadn’t the slightest idea what she was referring to.

She curled a finger over the top of the book and tilted it forward. And like something straight out of a Victorian detective novel, the large oaken bookcase burst open with a ratcheting clank-clank-clank.

We both laughed at the incredulous device.

“I never knew about that!” I exclaimed. I peered inside to find a dark stone chamber. In the dim light, I could make out oil paintings on the walls, and in the very center of the room, a glass case on an obsidian-colored obelisk.

Addy and I stared at each other in wonder. “I feel like Indiana Jones right now,” I said. “I can’t believe I never knew about this.”

Add responded, “there’s a lot of secrets you don’t know about dad.”

“And how’d you find out about this?”

“I saw him take a woman in here once. I figured it was his sex dung-”

She shot me a guilty glance. “It’s ok Addy,” I assured her. Some things about him that she knew, she seemed to feel an obligation to protect me from. I didn’t know about the sex dungeon, but I knew who he was as a person. Hedonist. Sociopath. Obsessive.

She walked into the chamber and flicked a light switch on. A wrought iron chandelier clicked on with an electric buzz, casting a dim orange light into the chamber.

“I figured it was a sex dungeon. If it is, it’s not a very practical one,” she said. She walked over to the obelisk and peered down into a glass case that held a single piece of tattered yellowed parchment.

“Papyrus,” she stated.

I walked over to her and looked at it. The language was ineligible and ancient.

I brought my face in and squinted to take a closer look, revealing only more mystery.

A breeze blew in. Something rustled on the other side of the obelisk. Startled, Addy jumped and shouted, “oh God!”

I craned my neck over to investigate and discovered the source of the rustling noise. An open-faced journal on the floor behind the obelisk.

Addy grabbed it and turned the pages unceremoniously. “it’s full of craziness,” she said as she handed it to me. scribbles and sketches marked every page so that there was more ink than white. I turned to the first page to read the first line.

It was hard to make out.

Addy guffawed as she sounded it out. “Find the bitch…”

She read the next line. They were written with a heavy hand. “…on

the Camino…de… Santiago.”

“Find the bitch on the Camino de Santiago?” I asked perplexed.

“Maybe some chick took his money and made for Spain. Doesn’t surprise me in the least.”

I took a closer look at the journal entry and laughed when I saw that the line did not, in fact, say ‘The Bitch’.

“Addy. Look closer.” I said pointing at the entry. “It says ‘the beast’, not ‘the bitch’.”

Addy chuckled and said, “oh yeah, you’re right. But that makes even less sense.”

I sat the journal gently on the glass case. I took the opportunity to gaze closer at the papyrus. There was a crude and faded drawing. I squinted to make it out: A lizard head with crazed eyes and flames that shot out in a radius like a mane and a flicking tongue. The beast in the journal, I thought.

I looked up at the paintings in the room. Dad’s own work. Oil paintings. Dark and chaotic. Panicked renditions. One in particular caught my attention. I recognized it to be a copy of a painting I learned about in an art history class. A titanic old man with a wild white beard and manic eyes eating a human corpse. Saturn eating his son. In the style of Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter.

“Ez, Let’s get the hell out of here. This place gives me the creeps,” Addy said. I agreed wholeheartedly. Together we pushed the heavy bookcase until it slid into a latch with a satisfying clunk. The journal, I took with me.

***********************************2. Belén**************************************

Addy convinced me to sell it. We were better off without it, she assured me. With my blessing, we found a realtor, got it appraised and shortly after, found a buyer. We forgot to mention the secret room.

About a month later, over a celebratory dinner, Addy slid over a pair of plane tickets.

I grabbed it and read the destination — Madrid.

“What’s this?”

“Well, I figured since I’m still on my sabbatical, and you’re still an unemployed college graduate, we could do something together.”

“Fly to Spain.”

“Not just that.”

She explained, “how about we hike the ‘Camino’?”

My mind flashed back to the journal and to creepy secret chamber. I hadn’t thought about that in weeks.

“Like the same Camino where dad said to find the beast?”

Addy gave me a sly smirk and a slow nod.

“Huh,” was all I could think to respond.

“I did a little research on the Camino de Santiago. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool,” Addy said. “And you love hiking. As do I. So, I figured it’d be a good brother-sister bonding experience.”

“But — ”

“Fuck him and fuck the beast,” she said with a rebellious spite. In a strange way, I could see how this plan was a liberating sort of revenge for her. I laughed. “Ok, let’s do it.”

So, after months of making plans and building excitement for the trip, I found myself on a flight to Madrid with my sister. She passed out as soon as we got onto the flight and nestled her head against my shoulder to sleep. On account of this being my first trip ever outside the states, I was too excited to sleep.

To pass the time, I flipped through the journal. I’ve gone through it many times, but because of its mystery, it became an obsession to me. I skimmed through it now to try to put myself to sleep. After some time, and finding myself scanning the pages blankly, I noticed another single fluorescent beam of light a couple row ahead. Another person reading in the twilight drone of the airplane cabin while everyone else slept.

In the glow of the light, I could make out curlicue black hair draped over delicate shoulders and a feminine hand gingerly fingering the pages of an old novel. I decided, without further detail, that this was a beautiful girl.

My sister shifted in her sleep and started to snore lightly. I leaned my cheek against the top of her soft hair and continued my half-bleary gaze.

Eventually I got up and went to the lavatory in the back of the plane to pee.

When I finished, I stepped out, and to my surprise, I found the girl there, leaning against a window that framed a rust-colored sky outside. The red glow outlined her petite figure. Her hair was voluminous and draped like a wild black mane to below her shoulders. I couldn’t help but glance down quickly at the curve of her breasts against her tight t-shirt and averted my gaze quickly in the fear of her noticing. Her face was turned to one side; her eyes fixated on the rosé clouds.

I stood there awkwardly in the lavatory door. She turned to look at me. Her eyes were a pale green.

She smiled warmly at me. I stepped aside to let her into the lavatory. She stayed leaning against the bulkhead.

In a soft and beautiful accent, she said, “I’m just here for the sunset. I don’t have a window.”

She glanced back out at the clouds. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

Though I didn’t bother looking out the window, I agreed.

She turned back to me with her verdant eyes and said, “so are you visiting Spain?”

“Yeah,” I said dumbly.

Smiling, she responded, “cool. Where are you going to in Spain?”

“Oh. We are going to hike the Camino de Santiago. Um. What about you?” I grimaced at the awkwardness of my freshman response. So smooth.

“I am from Spain. But coincidentally, I will be hiking the Camino as well,” she said. She stuck a hand out to me. “I’m Belén.”

“I’m Ezra,” I replied with a grin and shook her hand.

“And I see you’re doing it with… your girlfriend?” she inquired.

I stared at her blankly. “oh,” I laughed. “That’s my sister.”

She laughed with me and twirled her hair.

“And what about you?”

“Alone.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Like. By yourself?”

She laughed again. “That’s what alone means, no? Yes, more or less. But you never really do the Camino alone in truth.”

I smiled at the thought.

“Anyways,” she yawned. “I’m done with the sunset. And now I will sleep. Maybe I will see you out there Ezra,” she said with a wink.

I watched as she strolled down the aisle to her seat. She moved her hips like a cat. I had an immediate crush on her. God, I hope we see each other out there, I thought.

At the end of the long flight, we stumbled out into the gigantic Madrid-Barajas airport and made our way to the baggage claim, my eyes darting left and right to see if I could spot Belén in the crowd of groggy travelers.

I spotted her at the baggage carousel by her curly black hair and a neon pink jacket, hoisting a backpack from the carousel. She left hurriedly through the customs gate. I hoped she would look back in time to catch my eyes before taking off and maybe stop to exchange numbers. But she did no such thing. Without pause she disappeared into the shuffling crowd.

Addy, noticing my fixation with the mysterious girl, bumped an elbow into me. “Hey lover boy, grab your bag before it gets away.”

I came to my senses and snatched my backpack before it could make its snail-paced escape. I hoisted it onto my shoulders and swiveled my head back to where I last saw Belén. Gone. Two ships passing in the night.

**************************3. St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles***************************

“Brrr!” Addy exclaimed in the morning crispness as she hopped off the bus.

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port was a traditional starting point on the Via Francés — The French way — of the Camino de Santiago. Sitting neatly in the piedmonts of the Pyrenees on the French and Spanish border, it was the first town on our thirty-day expedition, and from there, we’d climb the mountain pass to the monastery town of Roncesvalles on the Spanish side. We arrived there by an overnight train from Madrid to Pamplona, and then by a bus through dizzying mountain roads.

A thick mist hung icy and gossamer through the cobbled corridors in the river town. An old man sitting in a café terrace chair reading a paper and smoking a slow cigarette, peeked over the top to investigate the disturbance to the perpetual peace, quickly returning to the news of the day when he ascertained the source of the noise.

For our trip, we were constrained in time by our flight from Madrid back to Seattle, over a month from now. Otherwise, our task was simple: to hike as far as the day could take us and find a hostel, or albergue as they were commonly referred to here, along the way. This amounted to a traversal of between twenty-five and thirty kilometers each day.

“Well,” Addy started, squinting her eyes through the milky fog to. “Let’s get to Roncesvalles.”

We wandered the street in a light-headed disoriented awe at the silent and simple architecture until we came across a tiny yellow scallop shell fixed neatly on a square dark blue background embedded into a mossy stone wall.

“Found a marker!” I called out to Addy. Our first waypoint. Adjacent the shell a spray-painted red arrow pointed in the direction towards the mountains.

“Onwards!” Addy exclaimed as she jumped into a pointer-dog pose in the direction of the graffiti arrow. The stoic man in the terrace stared at us again from the top of his newspaper.

“Ugh, stop that, Addy,” I said, blushing as I walked past her. She chuckled and skipped along the damp street.

An incessant thick smoke-like cloud that chilled our lungs plagued the climb up the narrow mountain path, offering none of the stunning vistas that the picturesque travelogues promised. Nevertheless, we were more than excited to embark on our journey through the rugged Spanish countryside.

We passed by all sorts of other hikers — pilgrims or peregrinos in the traditional parlance — on the way up. Solo peregrinos. Old peregrinos. Peregrinos well-prepared with heavy hiking packs wielding dual walking sticks, and those with curiously small daypacks. We ran into Americans like us, and those from as far away as South Korea or India. “Buen Camino!” they would greet without exception as we passed by. We quickly learned to do the same.

I enjoyed the short huffing small talk we sometimes exchanged with the others who, like me and Addy, had just started their lengthy journey. No doubt we would encounter them again. I thought of Belén, who we might very well encounter. But as the day drew closer to a close, my hope of this waned.

On an empty stretch near the crest of the mountain passage, I noticed a pattern of a peculiar shape in the mud. I paused to study them. Addy stopped quietly beside me and stared at the same spot. Hoofprints, but curious blackened. I knelt down and touched one of the imprints. A dark gray, wet ash caked onto my finger in a thick slough.

“Weird,” Addy whispered. The hoof marks walked in an uncanny straightness along the trail.

Addy shrugged and said, “Probably a sheep or something.”

“Yeah I suppose so,” I replied. And so, we continued along the path, following the prints.

Hours later we reached Roncesvalles just as the sun’s golden luster diminished as it crawled into the western sawtooth peaks.

Other peregrinos that had started earlier than us or had walked at a more hurried pace were taking their siesta outside a large monastery — the same one we intended to stay for the night. The hamlet had a harsh, placid beauty about it. An expedient mountain fortress that, long ago, hid the locals from the Moorish invasion.

I was more interested in the hoofmarks that persisted. They continued onwards towards the monastery.

We followed the them like detectives until my sister let out a sharp yelp. She stared up the tall stone wall. I looked up in confused shock at her discovery. The hoof marks walked right up to the monastery then bent upwards and climbed up the perfectly vertical wall until they disappeared into an opened window.

I touched one of the marks on the hard-stone wall. It was scorched into the wall.

“It went into the fucking building,” Addy emphasized. She looked at me with scared-horse eyes and thin lips, I could see the gears in her head whirring frantically.

“Come on, Addy. It could be nothing. Let’s go check in.”

She grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back as I tried to walk away.

“Find the beast on the Camino,” she recited with a grim face. It took me a second to get the reference, but then I remembered dad’s journal. I never took her for a paranoid person. And I never considered myself one either, but the inexplicable hoofprints caused my imagination to run rampant too.

We checked in with a gentle old lady at the monastery reception. She spoke no English, and neither Addy nor I spoke an ounce of Spanish, but we figured each other out quickly. In exchange for a few euro coins, we got bleach clean sheets and assigned cot in the common sleeping area of the albergue.

Upstairs, we found our two cots and left our linens and towels on the bed and our backpacks in the footlockers before we headed back out to enjoy the terrace of the tavern across the only street in the village. It was light out and the clouds had cleared enough to give us a clear vista of a lush mountainside. Pale gold sunrays beamed out from behind the distant craggy peaks, casting long shadows among the red and yellow clouds.

As we drank our first pint, someone popped into the chair adjacent to mine. I looked over and my heart skipped a beat when I registered that it was Belén.

“Hey you,” she said. “Bienvenidos!”

She raised a pint glass to us.

Addy turned to me and asked, “Is this the girl from the airplane?”

Belén brushed her hair and gave a shy smile. She responded, “Could be the one.”

“Addy, this is Belén. Belén, my embarrassing sister, Addy,” I said with a red face.

“Encantado,” Belén said.

“Encantado to you too!” Addy replied, then turned to me to say, “see I told you we’d see her again.”

My face went redder. Belén inquired, “you were hoping to see me again?”

I scowled at Addy, who looked at me with smugness. I stumbled with my words. “I mean yeah. I just mentioned you were doing the Camino too. Thought we might run into you or something. And. Well, here we are.”

“Here we are,” Belén repeated. Her eyes met mine for a warm second before she blinked and took a sip of her beer.

The golden rays of light had diminished and dispersed into a deep crimson sky.

“How was your camino today?” I asked.

Before Belén could answer, Addy butted in with a shrill voice, “Did you see those creepy-ass frickin’ hoofmarks?”

Belén’s face turned into a look of amusement. She shook her head.

“Addy don’t weird her out,” I pleaded.

Ignoring me, she continued, “they climbed up a wall Belén. Up. A fucking. wall.”

“I’m sure there’s a perfectly obvious explanation,” I said.

With a wicked face, Belén suggested, “or they’re the footprints of the devil.”

Addy shivered. “Ugh. You might be onto something. Is that no shit a thing on the Camino? Are there stories about the devil?”

Belén shrugged. “There are some good ghost stories about the Camino de Santiago. Usually they’re about pilgrims who have committed unforgivable sins, and so they are condemned.”

Wide-eyed, Addy asked, “condemned?”

“To walk the Camino for all of eternity is a common one.”

Addy sat back in her chair and took a sip of her beer.

To lighten the mood, I said, “well, if the rest of the Camino is anything like what we hiked today, it’s not a bad way to spend all of eternity in my opinion.”

We stayed on the terrace of the tavern until the stars came out and drank a few more beers.

I wanted to stay out longer and chat with Belén all night, but Addy kept us to our curfew. The monastery enforced a strict light’s out by ten, and it was already nine.

On the walk back, Addy remembered the hoofprints and thought to show Belén. But they were gone. Addy walked back and forth along the building, searching. Belén crossed her arms while we watched and responded, “well, the crafty wall-climbing goat slash demon knows too well to cover its tracks.”

Addy and I threw each other silent looks of confusion. Before we could give it any more thought, Belén said, “Come on, let’s go in so we can shower before they turn the lights out.”

We said our good nights and promised to meet her for breakfast in the morning.

By the time the caretaker turned the lights out in the dormitory, I had already showered and laid in my bed under the dim glow of my reading lamp, reading a random paperback I found in a book exchange cabinet. Addy came back from the common shower with a towel wrapped around her wet hair and another around her mid-section.

She looked around the dormitory to see if anyone was still awake then whispered to me, “Hey Ez, turn your light off so I can change.”

I made a snort of disgust and said, “go dress in the bathroom!”

“No, it’s too far!” she whispered.

I rolled my eyes and turned my light off. The dormitory dimmed and Addy appeared like a ghost in the darkness. The only light came in as a pale moonbeam through the windows and a soft glow from another reading lamp in the far corner of the expansive wooden hall. Someone else was awake. Addy squinted her eyes in that direction and said, “It’s just Belén.”

I popped up onto my elbows to get a better look at the lonely ball of light. I couldn’t make out any details, only a shadow curled in her blanket.

“She is super cute, Ez,” Addy commented. “And we’ll be hiking the same route for the next thirty days, so…”

“So… what?” I challenged.

She pointed at me then at Belén and made a ring with her thumb and forefinger and thrusting her other forefinger into it, thrusting her hips at the same time. I laughed and threw my pillow at her.

When she finished drying her hair, she took one last look around, and to my shock, the towel around her midsection unraveled to reveal her to me as she bent over to slide her panties up her legs. I flinched and flicked my head the other way, but not before I had a glimpse of the fleshy pear that stuck out from between her thighs.

“Hey, warn me before you do that!” I sneered.

I shifted uncomfortably in bed as I realized that deep in my loins I was having an uncouth and unavoidable growing physical reaction to seeing a naked female body — my erection forced me to confront what I had, in the past, only passing thoughts — that my sister was objectively hot.

“What, you’ve never seen a naked woman before?” Addy asked.

“I just don’t wanna see my own sister naked. It’s gross.”

“Well we’re in Europe now buddy boy, get used to nudity.”

I tried to block out the sound of her cotton panties sliding up her legs and the snap of the waist band against her waist. Instead, I tried hard to think of Belén. Her curled up in bed, twirling her curly black hair as she leisurely read her book.

My sister gasped and walked over to the window. I turned around to find her standing in her panties and a white t-shirt, transfixed by something fascinating outside.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Look at the moon!”

I jumped out of bed and peeked out at the sky to see a blood red moon peeking back at us through the branches of a thick oak tree.

“Gosh that’s spooky,” Addy said.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “Must be pollution making it that color.”

“…or the devil,” Addy added under her breath. She made the sign of the cross. She wasn’t catholic.

“Or a werewolf just got its first victim of the night,” I suggested as I stood next to her. She wrapped her arms me tightly. Uncomfortably aware of her breasts rubbing against my shoulder, I shifted to point my erection in the other direction.

“Not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” she said and climbed into her sheets.

I took another good look at the moon. The blood red sphere appeared wicked between the leafless branches of the oak tree. Wicked, and beautiful. A gust of wind blew through the tree, causing the dry leaves to rustle and the branches to rattle.

That’s when I saw it. My heart stopped. A silhouette of a human shape sitting on a branch. I rubbed my eyes and squinted to try to bring the odd character into focus. It sat hunched over, looking in the other direction. Looking at the moon. It had wild hair that blew in the wind. Unmistakably human.

“What the hell,” I muttered. The figure reacted to me. In a rapid move, the head on top swiveled around to stare at me with soulless blazing orange eyes. I stumbled backwards and emitted a high-pitched yelp. Several people shushed at me. One annoyed peregrino uttered, “Shut up!”

“What are you doing?” Addy whisper-yelled from her bed.

I pointed up in horror at the ghastly figure. Addy looked out the window and laughed hard.

You’ve never seen an owl before, Ez?”

I clambered back to my feet and squinted through the window at the figure. Its reflective orange eyes looked studiously at me and it gave a friendly hoot upon ascertaining my harmless nature then flew from its perch.

“Beautiful!” Addy said. “Ok, let’s get some sleep. We got a long day tomorrow.”

“Yeah, sure, let’s sleep.”

*********************************4. The First Night**************************************

I bolted up to a sharp noise. It took a few seconds to remember where I was. In a vast and empty place.

An eternal abyss. The albergue in the Roncesvalles monastery. I squeezed my eyelids shut to moisten my dry eyes and squinted in the inky darkness to get my orientation. The noise echoed in the hall again, sharpening my senses. I checked the time on my smartphone: three in the morning. I shot a look over to my sister’s bed to see that it was empty. Bathroom maybe?

I didn’t give it much thought. I rested my head on my pillow and closed my eyes to try to sleep. Then the sound came echoing through the dormitory again. The sound was clear — the moans of pleasure of a woman somewhere in the large room. A couple having a secret night of passion. That made me smile. I relaxed.

The moans grew more and more intense and more frequent as I tried to pay it no attention, shutting my eyelids tighter as if that would do anything. Holy crap, they’re going to wake the whole monastery, I thought.

I felt compelled to sit up and look towards the source of the carnal noise. As I searched, I realized something felt abnormal about the dormitory. It took me a moment, but then it hit me with a deep chill — the other beds were empty. Alarmed, I stood quickly and nearly collapsed from the blood rushing out of my head.

“Addy,” I called out. “Addy, where are you?”

The moans stopped abruptly in response.

“Hey!” I yelled out into the abyss. “Anyone here?”

A low red light caught my eyes. A low, sinister blood glow pulsating like a slow heartbeat or the calm breathing of a waiting predator, coming from the spiral staircase at the far end of the dormitory. Frantic hushed voices traveled through the hallway like a whispering wind through tall grass.

“Hello?” I uttered with stammered confidence. My muscles were frozen in fear. An eternity seemed to pass before I decided to take my first step, plunging me towards the light and the staircase. “Addy?” I croaked out into the dead silence. The wood floor creaked as I moved across it. I looked over my shoulders before I continued, just to make sure there wasn’t anything I was missing. I gulped a knot in my throat and approached the edge of the spiral staircase, looking downwards towards the light as if looking down the throat of a giant monster.

A modest door stood at the bottom of the stairs. The pulsating light eked out from around the cracks of the door, an obvious indication that something terrible hid behind. Trembling, I traveled down spiral staircase and opened the door and stared in awe at the scene in front of me. Where I expected to find the reception to the albergue, where the gentle old lady checked us in, was instead a vast countryside with rolling hills and wheat fields, and a cloudless sky that pulsated red.

A lonely stone-grey gothic church with a collapsed tower sat on a hill. The moans of pleasure resonated in my ears again. They came from within the church. Flickering orange light through the narrow church windows confirmed that people were in there.

Lured in like a moth, I walked up the winding gravel path, along a neat row of thick-barked olive trees. I paused at the arched doorway and looked up at a faded stone sculpture of the Virgin Mary. She looked down at me with a sweet sadness.

I walked through the archway. A circle of candles flickered flames violently around the altar at the far end of the chamber, casting, not light, it seemed, but a visible darkness. Atop the altar was a woman, naked, laying spread-eagled, writhing in pleasure. It was Belén. She beckoned me closer. Wordless I moved forward.

She licked a finger and moved her hand to between her legs while moving her hips rhythmically in a horizontal belly-dance, moaning loudly.

“Kiss me, Ezra,” she begged, her fingers rubbing steady circle on her flesh pink clitoris. Enslaved to her beckoning moans and to her body, I climbed onto the altar to do as she commanded.

She grabbed the back of my head and shoved her tongue down my throat, making out with me with impatient, messy kisses. She writhed her naked body against me, while I worked impatiently to remove my pants.

When I managed to get my pant legs past my knees, she reached down and guided my cock to between her thighs, spreading her legs so that her warm softness envelope me. My cock went in slowly at first until she became more lubricated. I shut my eyes, and breathed hard, concentrating all my perceptions on the pleasure of her sweaty body. “Yes!” She screamed. “Just like that!”

But her voice came out incongruent and with distasteful familiarity, causing me to jolt out of my ecstasy. I opened my eyes and jumped back in horror.

My sister’s face stared up at me. Her short, blonde hair matted in sweat against her soft curved cheeks and her stormy hazel eyes looked up at me with an intense sexual hunger. Panting hard, she sat up onto her elbows, her sweat-sheened naked skin glittering with the violent flickering of the candle flames.

“What’s wrong Ezra?”

“No,” I barked in breathless, disbelieving protest. “What the fuck is going on?” My voice echoed in the empty ruins of the dark sanctuary.

Addy’s ruby lips twisted into a sly smile and in a coy coolness she responded, “I’m your sister, silly. And we’re fucking.”

I shook my head, and the sounds came feeble from my throat. “No.”

Addy shrugged and said, “well, if you don’t fuck me, then she will.” She looked towards the floor where the light met the shadow.

When I saw it, I tripped over backwards and hit the ground hard. A slithering shape emerging from the darkness and into the candlelight. An enormous snake. A python. Flicking its tongue and sliding its muscular form across the floor and up onto the altar. Addy, in bit-lipped anticipation, whimpered ecstatically as the snake slowly slithered up her forearm like a thick growing vine, wrapping itself around her neck, a glistening emerald-scaled shawl, caressing her like a gentle lover before slithering down between her breasts and towards her navel, as she lay submissive, and with her thighs wide open.

I opened my mouth to protest and I tried in vain to prompt my legs to action, but I felt the hand of a dark force compelling me to sit still and watch. So, I sat frozen as the snake made its way between her thighs to push its head into her vagina. It seemed to happen in slow motion — a time-reversed birth-giving to a monstrous serpent. Addy’s moans rung in my head as the muscular body pushed itself into her slit, in slow rhythmic moves, disappearing into her improbably with each slick push. Her eyes were rolled upwards, and her legs trembled violently and, as the snake’s tail tip finally disappeared into her, she climaxed, screaming, collapsing in a writhing, trembling heap on the altar.

When the aftershocks of her snake-induced orgasms subsided, her head snapped up in a sickening crack. She stared at me with a wicked orange glow in her eyes. Flaming orange with a sword sharp glare. The stained-glass window above her head glowed blood red. Her voice, sounding hoarse, and subdued but with a dark confidence like a possessing demon spoke, “you’re turn.”

Her voice pulled me. It was that mysterious dark hand again, persuading me to act against my normal inhibitions. Obeying. Standing to her commands. Stepping out of my already loose pants and taking off my shirt, until I stood naked and submitted myself to the incestuous craving.

*******************************5. Roncesvalles to Zubiri**********************************

I awoke in a direct beam of pale morning sunlight saturated in my own sweat, gasping deeply as if I had held my breath underwater for too long a time. A nightmare. My sister and Belén stood above me, both with coffee in their hands and laughing at me.

“What were you dreaming of, Ez?” Addy asked through her laughter.

Belén giggled and added, “You looked like a little puppy dreaming of chasing rabbits.”

“Or he was having bad dreams of that widdle ol’ owl,” Addy said in a baby-voice. “You should have seen him. It gave him such a fright!”

I groaned and shook the cloud of sleep away. The nightmare hung like vivid photos in my head.

“What time is it?” I croaked.

“It’s almost eight,” my sister answered. “And almost everyone else is gone. Go get some coffee and get your stuff packed sleepy-head!”

I did as she suggested and ate my breakfast and drank my coffee alone in the common dining area in the albergue.

Belén decided to go on ahead without us but insisted that we meet in Zubiri and have some wine together. Addy waited for me across the street from the albergue, sunning herself in a soft golden-green pasture with her backpack for a pillow. This scene triggered an image of her splayed out naked on the church altar in my mind. I winced and quickly shook the image out of my head.

I kicked Addy’s boot and said, “hey, the siesta can wait. Time to hike!”

The path we took entered a pine-wood forest with a soft earthy sun-dappled floor. Every kilometer or so we found a bright yellow scallop that guided us the right way.

We found ourselves alternating between walking along a creek or along ancient stone walls and, every so often, out in the early-autumn meadows that were full of plump cloud-shaped sheep and lazy cows.

The anxious thoughts of the nightmare lingered in my head in the form of awkward questions all morning. The fundamental one being: why did I dream of fucking my sister?

These questions, to which I avoided answering, eventually faded as I distracted myself with the beauty of the paradoxically rugged and pastoral Spanish countryside.

Without consequence and with a full day of invigorating hike and sore legs, we reached Zubiri. The cool afternoon sun hung bright in the west between silver white clouds.

It was siesta time, so it came to no surprise that the street was empty, save a few wandering, or wine-sipping peregrinos.

We checked in to the albergue in the town and tossed our backpacks onto our assigned metal-framed cots and headed out, still in our sweat-mottled hiking clothes, in search of wine, and (more importantly to me) Belén, who promised she would meet us here.

It didn’t take long until we found her lounging by the riverside in an apple orchard, sporting her easily identifiable pink jacket. Addy shouted out to her, and she waved back. She had a bottle of wine ready to celebrate our arrival.

“You are an expert level peregrino,” I commented as we sat down on the riverbank next to her. She poured us each a plastic cup of the wine.

“It’s in my Spanish blood,” she stated. “On a sunny day, it’s our nature to find a nice spot to sit and drink wine.”

“Mmm,” Addy said. “I could get used to this. How do I get to live like this?”

“Well, you become Spanish.”

“And how do I do that?”

Belén giggled and answered, “hmmm, maybe marry a Spanish person.”

Addy grabbed her arm and with pleading eyes, said, “will you marry me, please? I want this forever!”

“And marry me too,” I added.

Belén giggled and nodded and took a sip from her wine cup. Her eyes met mine in a furtive glance. “Fine, I will marry both of you. I don’t think that’s illegal at all.”

Addy, finishing her wine in a shot, poured another from the bottle. Belén, finishing hers, wiped her red stained lips and signaled with her cup for more, which Addy obliged.

“So, Belén,” I cleared my throat. “Why do you hike alone? Why don’t you do this with your, um…”

Belén raised an eyebrow at me, waiting to hear my question with a polite smile verging on an outbreak of awkward laughter. I blushed and paused. Addy clarified. “Where’s your boyfriend?” she asked. “He doesn’t like to hike the Camino or what?”

Flatly, Belén replied, “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“I find that hard to believe,” I responded too quickly.

She cocked her head to one side, and asked, “why?”

My face warmed in embarrassment. The answer was clear in my mind — because you’re beautiful. Kind. Smart. I gave no answer except to shrug and drink.

“Being single feels too good,” Addy commented.

“Amen,” Belén replied.

“So, the obligatory question. Why do you do the Camino, Belén?” Addy asked.

Belén’s face crinkled in thought. “Hmmm, that’s a good question. I used to do it with my father when I was younger.” Her voice paused. A pained expression came over her face.

Belén thinned her lips as a dam against the foreboding emotional outburst and took a rash sip of wine to quench it.

“So…” Addy prodded unabashedly. Belén smiled weakly, fixating her gaze on her cup. She frowned and replied, “he has nothing to do with it honestly.” She looked up at us both, swallowed a hard knot and said, “I guess I just like to hike.”

“Any religious motivation?” Addy further pressed.

Belén replied, “Well, I’m an atheist, so not really.”

She then corrected herself saying, “Not an atheist, an anti-theist.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I am against God,” she responded simply. With that, she stood up and snapped an apple off the branch above our heads. She sat down, rubbed the apple against her shirt and bit off a chunk of the hefty yellow-red fruit with her front teeth. With a comical apple-filled mouth, she garbled, “have some.”

Addy took the fruit from her, laughing in delighted surprise at her whimsy, and took a deep bite.

“Mmmm…., oh god. Holy crap, this is one juicy apple,” Addy sputtered. She tossed me the apple. “Try it, Ez.”

I obliged and took a bite. It was indeed delicious. Well, it tasted like an apple. Technically so, except that somehow the experience eating this apple here, in the Spanish countryside, drinking wine like Hemingway under the autumn sun and in the good company of my sister and a cheerful and stunning girl — who I now know to be single, thereby giving me hope — made the apple taste like heaven.

Greedily I took a few more bites and handed it back to Belén, who finished it off. The sun splayed golden colors in dancing tattoo patterns from the river water onto her face as she finished the remaining bit of apple. When it was done, she tossed the core unceremoniously into the river.

My head buzzed when she asked, “so why are you two doing the Camino?”

Straight-faced, Addy answered, “to find a beast.”

I winced. Belén raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“She’s kidding,” I responded. “We’re doing the hike because we both like hiking and well, figured we had the chance to do it together. Nothing like a good quality once in a lifetime experience with my sister.”

“Are you religious?” Belén asked.

I answered, “Me. probably not. Maybe agnostic.” An answer uninspiring to Belén.

Addy thought hard on the question, then answered, “I would like to be, I think.”

“Why’s that?” Belén asked.

“I admire religious people. There’s a beauty to it.”

Belén poured another glass of wine for herself and leaned on an elbow in the grass. “So, you like religion for the aesthetics,” Belén stated.

Addy was unsure of her response. “No, no. I wouldn’t say that. It’s just that…”

She paused to think of a careful answer. “I like the concept of sin. That people can sin. And sins can be -” she paused as if ready to retract a spoken thought she didn’t really believe in, but then pressed on, “- that sins can be forgiven.”

Belén, seeming satisfied with the answer, nodded in agreement. She turned to face me. Her wine sloshed in its cup, spilling over the rim a little onto the grass. She held it with a relaxed wrist.

“Do you admire religious people, Ezra?” she asked.

I glanced at Addy; she turned her stern face towards the river then reached for the bottle of wine to fill her already half-filled cup. I thought anxiously about my answer, only because I cared about how Belén thought of me and decided on an answer that I thought sounded both bold and in agreement with her disposition.

“I don’t admire religious people. I feel sad for them.”

“Why?” Belén asked, resting her cheek against her shoulder.

I straightened up and said, “well, there’s no proof of God’s existence.”

“I see,” Belén responded.

I elaborated. “Don’t get me wrong. If there were any indication that he did exist, I would be very open to the possibility. But until the evidence supports the theory, I remain skeptical.”

“Ah, a scientist,” Belén said with a tilted smile. Feeling encouraged, I continued, “science provides tangible observations to support the truth. Faith is foundational to religion. Science seeks to tell the truth and religion seeks to deceive. Faith is deception. It’s an instrument of power. I trust science because is it not power-seeking, which you can tell because it does not rely on faith.”

Belén didn’t buy that. Considering her earlier declaration of being an “anti-theist”, I was surprised by her rebuttal. She responded, “well, maybe religion isn’t about seeking truth as you say. Maybe its about seeking solace from the dark.”

I opened my mouth to respond but drew only a blank thought. Her simple comment struck a hard chord like a hammer striking a gong. I looked at Addy again, she pretended to be focused on taking in the scenery, but her face was long. It made me think of Addy’s ulterior motive for coming here. Solace from dark perhaps.

Belén remained ignorant to the emotional impact of her statement. She didn’t know our stormy family history. But she spoke with an air of old wisdom that rang a universal truth. Addy cleared her throat to break the thick silence saying, “well we’re out of wine, so I’m going to get some more at the store.”

Belén jumped up to her feet, brushed the grass and dead leaves from her pants and said, “I’ll come with you.”

On the way to the grocery store, Belén suggested making dinner at the albergue to which we enthusiastically agreed. We bought a few bottles of wine and some ingredients to make a sort of fast Paella that Belén knew the recipe of and cooked it in the albergue kitchen. We attracted a crowd of fellow peregrinos, who we shared the dinner with and later, finished the wine that we bought, as well as other alcoholic beverages brought by the other peregrinos as we sat around a bonfire in the courtyard.

Someone brought a guitar and played flamenco music, to which Belén got up and started to dance. She danced seductively, moving her body with a confident rhythm to the sound of the guitar. The flickering flames and the embers and ash twirled in a tornado wind in the cold night, and her arms and hands moved in fluid unison. Her loose black hair flew and cascaded around her in wild river streams. We watched and clapped as she moved.

She stumbled once, falling towards me. I stood and grabbed her gentle frame in my arms, and she laughed in drunken glee. She pulled the hair away from her face and she gazed up at me in a moment that seemed frozen in time. The bonfire spitting flames glared orange in her eyes and suddenly the images from my nightmare last night flashed through my head again — The snake gliding down my sister’s body. Sexual screams. The orange glint in my sister’s seducing eyes.

I stood paralyzed as the images flooded my mind. Belén stepped away and continued to dance. When I came to, I saw her twirling again around the fire, joined by Addy. They were both laughing and falling over each other clumsily. Other peregrinos eventually stood and joined in awkward drunken dancing movements. I sat down and watched Belén dancing with my sister, feeling a deep disturbance inside me.

As the sky turned into a deep black curtain with stars stuck to it like splattered white speckle and the fire had burned down into a slow magma glow with a low sleepy crackle, we went in as a festive group to the albergue.

There weren’t that many shower stalls, so we all took our turns and waited in patient lines with our rolls of bleached towels neatly held in our arms. I was drunk as I waited for the shower.

The showers were situated in two stalls per bathroom. We all made an unspoken agreement that the showers on the left were the male showers, and the shower on the right were the female showers. But the male showers remained occupied for an annoyingly long time, and I realized that no noise of falling water came from the female showers. In my drunken mind, the silence signified that the bathroom was unoccupied, so I decided to go in.

Silently I swung the door open and jumped in surprise when I saw people in there. They hadn’t noticed the door opening. At first my mind could not register the scene. Addy and Belén – wrapped in their towels with no gap between their bodies. A shiny halo from the fluorescent light above wrapped them in a white glow. They stood silently still but their arms caressed each other’s bodies, and their faces touched. I realized in a rushing moment – they were kissing each other. Vigorously. Lips and cheeks and neck glistening in the light with wet saliva. Their wet-saturated hair glistening too, from the shower water.

Incomprehensive emotions coursed like electric currents through my body as I numbingly stared. When the door completed its slow arc to full open, Addy spotted me from the corner of her eyes and yelped and clung tightly to the towel wrapping her body. With a bright red blushed face, she shouted “Ezra! Occupied!”

Belén smiled at the ground as I quickly shut the door. I felt pitiful and dumb standing there with my rolled bleached towel, so I decided to head back to my cot.

On the walk back between the neat rows of mattresses, my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the dormitory. That was when I noticed a linear pattern in the floor. Hoofmarks in the wooden floor. Like the ones from yesterday. I leaned down for a closer look. They were seared into the wood to a charcoal black color and walked in a straight line from the dark end of the dormitory towards the bathroom, where Addy and Belén were. My hearth thumped in my chest. I thought to alert them, but as I turned, I froze. The light from the bathroom doors had turned to a familiar gushing blood red glow.

Moans again. Entwined sexual moans. Two distinct female voices originating from within the bathroom where I found Addy and Belén just a moment ago. Blood-colored light eking out from lining of the door. I didn’t dare move. Another nightmare?

The moans stopped. A gust of wind blew through the dark dormitory and I saw it. A barely perceptible apparition hunched against the glowing red light. Unmoving. I squinted to get a clearer view.

“Hello?” I said. The sound of my voice echoed, startling me with its volume. The shade stayed still. “What do you want?” I said more bravely. Then footsteps. No. Clopping of hooves against the floor.

Heart racing, I stepped backwards. The figure moved towards me. Suddenly the clopping hooves broke into a furious sprint. Prey instincts overwhelmed me, and I turned to run as fast as I could until I hit a wall and fell with a loud thud to the floor.

The hooves stopped and I thought perhaps the figure stood above me. I opened my eyes to a pale darkness. Sleeping peregrinos snored loudly from various corners of the room. I looked back towards the bathroom doors and saw that the light had turned back to its normal sterile fluorescent color. No signs of hoof marks on the floor.

I picked myself up and headed back cautiously to the showers. I knocked on the door where I found Addy and Belén before.

“Still in here,” I heard Addy’s muffled voice say.

A moment later, she opened the door. Hot humidity issued out of the bathroom. She looked at me half-embarrassed and half-annoyed, thinking perhaps to offer an explanation, but deciding to remain silent.

Belén walked up behind her, stopping in front of me as well. She gave me a weak smile and softly said, “good night, Ezra. See you tomorrow.” And walked off, with a brisk gait, out of the bathroom light and into the shadows.

***********************************6. Zubiri to Pamplona********************************

The night turned to morning in a gradual shift of colors and sounds. The somber blackness and the night wind rattling the old albergue windows turned into a pale morning and the sound of cooing pigeons and chirping sparrows. I didn’t sleep that night. At least I don’t think I did. It was hard to tell. I concluded that I did but restlessly. I was tired, and my eyes seared with the pulsing heavy pain of sleep-deprivation.

Addy was up and about, packing her backpack in a hurried silence. From beneath the warm covers of the blanket, I could see her legs moving about and her hands haphazardly pushing clothes into her bag. I guessed it was seven or seven thirty. I could get another thirty minutes of sleep before Addy got impatient with me, so I closed my eyes. It didn’t work. The shuffling sounds from around the dormitory gathered like a storm. Feet thumped loudly against the wood. Random coughs echoed like coarse thunder. I was irreversibly awake for the day. I would need a siesta later.

“Morning Addy,” I said as I climbed out of bed. She was embarrassed to see me.

“Morning,” she responded with a curt accent while rolling a pair of sweatpants. I looked to Belén’s cot and found it vacant.

“She was gone when I got up,” Addy said with a straight matter of fact tone.

Outside the sky was a wool grey blanket that blocked the warmth of the sun from reaching us. “Looks like rain,” I pointed out. Addy didn’t respond. Her strained eyes picked up the grey color of the sky.

I packed, silently and hurriedly, while she waited for me in the front of the albergue. She sipped her instant coffee like a precious antidote to her hangover. I drank too, and when I was finished, we started off.

As we left the town, we passed by an ancient cemetery with lichen-splotched headstones bent over in every direction from oak tree roots that pushed on them from below. I imagined the coffins below the earth, invaded by roots, the tendrils twisting through passive skeletal corpses.

Addy stopped me midway along the cemetery wall and began with a heavy sigh and a stern face, “look Ezra, whatever you saw last night…”

She paused. A half-hearted attempt to explain herself to me. I suppose she felt like she needed to on account of my interest in Belén. But her demeanor — her slumped shoulders, and her uneasy footing — told me that she didn’t think she should have to apologize. It occurred to me in that moment: apologize for what? She didn’t do anything wrong. I saw hard lines of frustration form on her forehead and along her eyes, so I stopped her from continuing with my own pre-emptive apology. “I’m sorry I burst in on you like that. I should’ve knocked first.”

She thinned her lips and turned them into a weak smile. Her face softened. “for the record, there’s, um, nothing going on.”

I nodded. “I know.” I put my hands in my pockets and started to walk again. The frigid air gnawed my cheeks. Addy put her arms in her pockets too and walked alongside me. I turned to her and said, “but if there was something going on, I don’t mind.”

Addy wrapped an arm around me and leaned affectionately. “Love you, Ez.”

She said it so nonchalantly, but It was the first I ever heard her utter those words to me. I put an arm around her waist and squeezed. “I love you too.”

She kissed my cheek, warming it pleasantly in the cold.

I sighed heavily and joked, “but… just so you know, if she’s planning on having a go at me tonight, all’s fair in love and war.”

Addy stuck her tongue out at me. “Bring it.”

“And also, I didn’t know you were into, um… you know.”

“That I’m into girls? Well, I mean, I’ve had some adventures here and there, buts it not normally my thing. Sometimes I like to feel young and wild,” she laughed.

I smiled at her and looked at her fully. She wore her hair in a tight ponytail that pulled her forehead taut. There were sharp lines that protruded from the outsides of her eyes that showed her age, but besides that, her face was soft and vibrant. She was happy.

Later that day, the rain started with plops that marked the yellow dirt with dark spots, and eventually turned into a cold monsoon, giving the countryside a haunted majesty. Church spires and mountain peaks rose in the distance like an artist’s rough pencil sketch in the grey noise. We put on our ponchos and soldiered on.

It was early afternoon when we encountered the river that led us all the way into Pamplona. Muddy gravel trails turned into cobblestone streets. Cobblestone streets turned into black asphalt. Cars and busses passed us by, plowing through the water with whooshing sounds like waves. The modern city jarred our senses after only being deprived of it for a couple days.

Our plan was to stay in the old city center of Pamplona, in a monastery next to an elegant gothic cathedral on the crest of a hill chocked with narrow alleys and tall buildings. A winding road took us on a circular path to it.

As we trudged up this path, Addy jumped in alarm and pointed her hand at the pavement. I followed her arm to find the familiar burnt hoofmarks in the street. “The search is on,” Addy whispered.

Cathedral bells rang out to herald four o’clock. People were huddled in the bars that we passed by, talking loudly, and having their beer and a sort of tapas-style snack I knew to be called pintxos here. They were unaware of the surreal hoofmarks that tattooed the wet street.

“Where do you suppose they go?” Addy whispered to me. I replied, “I have no idea. But it seems to head to where we are heading.”

The chill of the drizzled afternoon entered my bones. We followed the trail with trepid curiosity. Eventually we found ourselves at the entrance to the cathedral adjacent the albergue we were supposed to bunk for the night. The hoofmarks walked right in through the main portal. Addy and I looked grimly at each other and agreed wordlessly to head in. But just as we lurched forward, the cathedral doors creaked open, and to our surprise, Belén stepped out.

Her green eyes crinkled in joy at the sight of us.

“Ezra! Addy!”

“Belén!”, Addy and I shouted in unison.

The three of us stood there in an awkward pause before Addy thought suddenly to show Belén our pursuit. She pointed down at our feet to the hoofmarks that walked into the cathedral.

“Oh, very strange,” Belén said. “Who brings a goat to church?”

“But check this out” I said, pushing her to the important point. I hunched down, inviting Belén to do the same. “they are burnt into the ground,” I said as I dragged a finger across the marks, smearing the ash.

Belén looked confused, but somewhat uninterested. Addy said, “let’s see where this goat is.”

We walked into the cathedral and found cavernous hall empty. The hoof marks continued down the center aisle between the wooden pews and the giant stone columns to the altar at the far end. The top of the altar was a deep ruby color that shimmered in the Cathedral stain-glass glow. The color seemed strange and out of place.

“Oh, fuck!” I yelled and jumped in revulsion as I realized what it was. Blood. A thick, red-black ooze spread across the surface of the alter, dripping to the ground in hot, gooey splatters. Addy screamed.

A nun appeared from around a corner, her heels clip-clopping angrily on the marble floor and her face indicating that she intended to give us a stern hushing. But at the sight of us, she gasped and held her chest. With her mouth wide open, she brought up a trembling hand to point accusingly at Belén and spoke a concerted and wheezing Spanish. Belén turned to face her. The nun stepped back with a hand over her terrified mouth. Her other hand reaching desperately for something to brace herself.

Belén took a step forward and reached a hand to her. The nun made a rushed sign of the cross and ran back to where she came.

Belén turned to us and shrugged her shoulders. I looked back at the altar. The blood was gone. I looked at the floor. The hoofmarks were gone.

Addy let out a sound of exasperation. “What the fuck is going on.”

Belén walked up to the altar and placed her hand on it.

“It disappeared,” she said in a flat tone.

“So, you saw it too?” Addy said.

Belén nodded. “Of course. And, the nun also, I think. Didn’t you see how frightened she was?”

But it was clear to me that the nun never saw the blood. I confronted Belén about the interaction.

“Belén, the nun seemed very weirded out by you. What gives?”

A comical look came over her face. “Me?” she asked innocently. My eyes narrowed on her. I looked her head to toe. There wasn’t an ounce of anything intimidating about her, or her pink puffy jacket or the warm glint in her eyes.

“Yeah. She said something to you and ran away. What did she say?”

Belén’s brows furrowed. “I’m not sure. She just murmured some stuff.”

“Ok, whatever, let’s get out of here. This place sucks,” Addy said. She was visibly frightened and could not bear another second here.

The three of us left the cathedral and decided not to stay at the albergue located directly across the street from the cathedral, deciding instead to find another one as far away from this cathedral as reasonably possible in this city. We found one just outside the old city walls down in the river valley.

After setting our bunks and changed into fresh clothes, we went out to find a nearby bar. Over beers and pintxos in a hole-in-the-wall establishment that played loud 80’s rock, we animatedly discussed our paranormal experience, that we now shared with Belén.

Leaning over the pint glass she had cupped with both hands, Addy commented with an air of absolute certainty, “this is the beast of the Camino de Santiago.”.

The rain came down hard outside as the night set in. The bar was cozy, and intimate. We all sat scrunched into a tight corner huddled against one another and the other patrons crowded into the bar so tightly, a wall of backs pushed us into our little nook. It felt safe — a chrysalis from whatever dark force lurked outside.

Belén replied, “you keep mentioning this beast. What do you mean by it?”

I cleared my throat and explained, “our dad passed away recently. In his house, we found something… interesting, to say the least.”

Addy recoiled as I took the tattered journal from my jacket pocket. I opened it to the first page. “Find the beast on the Camino de Santiago,” I recited. I rotated the book and pushed it towards Belén so that she could inspect it. With stern eyes she studied the pages as she rifled through them. Her face remained unchanged as she peered over the many mad sketches and the nonsensical prose and quotations.

Addy added, “he had this creepy sex dungeon –”

“-secret chamber,” I corrected.

“-whatever it was, he had this weird artifact in there. A piece of papyrus that looked super old.”

I elaborated, “the writing was gibberish to us. But it had a painting of a freaky monster. Like a half-lion, half-snake looking thing.”

Belén stopped on the page that contained our dear old dad’s rendition of the monster in question. A sketch. She tapped it. “like this?”

Addy and I nodded.

“I see. It looks… biblical.”

“Whatever it is… that’s the beast he’s referring to,” said Addy.

“and so, this is why you’re here then?”

Addy and I looked at each other uncomfortably.

Belén continued looking through the journal. “Ah, look at this passage.”

She showed us the journal again. In the typical crude font, it read: …and the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

“That is a verse from revelations,” Belén said. “From Revelation 17. Babylon the Great.”

“Meaning?”

Belén leaned back in her chair and looked to the ceiling thoughtfully. “there are many interpretations from my understanding. The harlot, a woman that symbolizes evil. Babylon… a city of sin. Many Catholics believed it is a direct reference to the pagan city of Rome. But many also believe it refers to the corruption in the church itself. In any case it’s just an allegory.”

“And the beast?”

“a symbol of Babylon’s destruction. Not a literal beast. I think your father was very obsessed with Bible stories.”

“but he also refers to the Camino. Find the beast on the Camino.”

Belén shrugged. “In his mind… maybe he has made a connection. This is an old religious pilgrimage after all.”

I drank to the bottom of my beer and stared vacantly. A tangential thought came to me. “Belén, you mentioned stories of pilgrims that were cursed to walk the Camino for all eternity.”

Belén nodded.

“Can you tell us one?”

“Sure.”

She straightened up in her chair and cleared her throat. “Once, there was a peregrino from France. He killed his own father to inherit his great fortune. Things did not work out exactly how he wanted. In court, he was proven guilty for the murder and sentenced to death. But every year, a select few criminals are given the chance to make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to atone for their sin. He was given this opportunity. But he could not escape his murderous habit. Along the way he committed more murders. In his dream he met his father who told him he must suffer for all eternity for his sins. And he died shortly after. And his ghost still wanders the path.”

She smiled at us when she finished the story, gulped down her beer, then stood and waved at the bartender. She shouted at him in Spanish and sat back down when the bartender gave her a thumbs up in acknowledgement. Moments later, three shots of vodka and a bottle of cider appeared in front of us.

“This is sidra,” she explained. “Typical in my region of Asturias. Why don’t we drink our troubles away for now and worry about ghosts and harlots and beasts tomorrow?”

After the vodka and sidra, I became thoroughly hammered. My fatigue from not having slept well for the past few days compounded the effects. Since Addy and Belén wanted to stay and drink more and dance as the music became livelier, I went back to the albergue alone.

This albergue, which had private rooms, had no curfew, so I imagined Addy and Belén would stay out long into the night.

The rain fell lightly, creating a sheen on the streets that reflected the city lights. Other people walked hurriedly, hands in pockets, huffing condensation into the cold, quiet night. I walked along a row of wrought iron streetlamps that casted eerie green-white specter glow beneath them.

Nervousness grew within me. I felt strangely like I was watched as I walked into each spotlight from the lamps. I hurried my pace. But as I passed in front of a long dark alley, something caught my eye. I stopped and stared into the chasm depth of the alley. My heart pounded. A warm draft wafted out like the slow breath of a sleeping giant. There was something in there. Something amorphous, camouflaged by the shadow, staring out at me intently, waiting for any sign that I might make a dash. I froze. And felt my pulsing veins in my head.

I waited for a long minute. But nothing happened. Nothing was there. I came about my wits and started to walk again, panting hard, eventually making it to the albergue and my cot. I was exhausted, and drunk. It was just a hallucination.

The soft cot eased me into slumber.

I awoke later that night to shuffling noise and whispers. Peeking out from under my blanket, I spotted Belén sliding into Addy’s sheets. Though still groggy and head spinning from alcohol, I knew exactly what was taking place. The sheets hid their bodies, but by the shuffling movements and the sounds, I was able to discern the excited exploration of each other’s bodies. They giggled quietly and whispered words into each other’s ears. This turned into tender kisses and soft moans.

I grew hard as I watched the sheets that covered them moved in passionate waves. Then a face emerged from beneath the covers. It was Belén. She laid her head on Addy’s pillow, her face contorting in pleasure as the bulge in the blanket — Addy — moved downwards, kissing Belén’s body.

The sound of panties sliding down legs, and a ribbon of silky cloth tossed out onto the floor.

Belén’s mouth opened in a silent gasp as she pressed the back of her head against the pillow and arched her spine. I could hear it clearly — the unmistakable sound of tongue against soft genitalia.

It was wrong to watch, but I was struck by a searing desire. My head spun drunk with the taboo desire. I slid a hand down to feel my pulsating erection as I watched Belén respond to the sensual touch of lips and tongue. I started to slowly stroke. Then she opened her eyes and turned her face to stare directly at me. I closed the opening in the blanket over my head. Fuck. Lightning struck my gut. I was discovered.

I laid with my eyes shut waiting for the response. I expected the secret act to come to an abrupt stop, but the wet sounds of sucking and licking and the soft breaths of passion continued. Curious, I peeked again. Maybe she hadn’t seen me.

The sheets took a tent shape of Belén’s spread legs, within which Addy’s head was obviously situated. Belén eyed the ceiling as she moaned quietly. I flinched but continued to watch. Her eyes glimmered like celadon seas in this moment of silent passion with my sister. Though every muscle and bone in my body chastised me for watching, her intoxicating pull was too strong — a riptide on my mind, much like the force I felt in that lucid nightmare from the other night. A part of my mind enjoyed playing the voyeur. A part of me wondered if this was just another dream. A part me of hoped it was not.

I stared as Belén shook in an intense orgasm, biting into her forefinger to not scream out into the quiet monastery hall. After that, my eyes drifted shut and my mind wandered. The last thoughts I had were of the burnt hoofmarks in the cathedral, the oozing blood on the altar, the frightened nun and Belén’s eyes, luring me in.

*****************************7. Pamplona to Puente La Reina******************************

The next morning, I awoke to find Belén’s cot sitting neatly empty. And only Addy slept soundly in hers. Belén disappeared. Another solitary day of hiking for her.

Addy yawned herself loudly awake, stretching out in a feline arc. Her blanket had slipped to the floor in the night, and she lounged there with only her panties on, and her breasts bared. Her hair took a wild, electrified shape.

I had half a heart to insert a witty innuendo about last night but decided not to imply anything. “Come on, Addy, the day is getting late,” I said, averting my eyes from her breasts for modesty’s sake.

She smiled at me with sleep-crusted, hungover eyes. She looked to Belén’s cot. “Mmm, she’s gone again,” she croaked.

I waited for her to dress and we took our coffees together on the steps of the cathedral. It was a Sunday, so the city was mostly asleep save a few early-birds strollers and drunk night stragglers. Addy had a look of whimsy on her face and she held her cup with a tender fixation on its warmth. I let her review the memories of the night in peace.

The clouds were darker today, painting the morning like a solemn stone mausoleum. The rain started as we started our march along the river valley. Puente La Reina — the Queen’s gate — was our destination, an easy twenty-five-kilometer downhill stroll, putting us midway through the Navarre region.

From the outskirts of Pamplona, we looked out at mist-layered fields of cut golden-brown wheat stubble and hills topped with medieval fortress hamlets. The pilgrim path wound through these wheat fields and disappeared into gentle forests and vineyards. We were officially out of the mountain region and into the foothills. Past Navarre lay the region of La Rioja.

As we marched through the wheat fields and Pamplona faded into misty obscurity behind us, the wind suddenly blew in blustery gusts from the north, whipping the rain against our faces like stinging blades of ice.

“I can’t do this Ez,” Addy cried out to me. “Let’s find somewhere to sit this one out for a bit.”

I shouted back to her, “Ok!” and we huddled together and ran along the path searching anxiously for a dry spot.

We had not encountered another peregrino along the path. Everyone else likely planned for the weather and were sitting cozy in a warm tavern to watch the passing storm.

As we dashed through the growing pools of rain, our feet’s splattered yellow-orange mud against our legs. We spotted a lone tree at a bend in the path. Its branches overhung a bench. Rainwater dripped through the sieving leaves, but it provided some shelter, particularly from the wind.

Addy and I leaned our backpacks against the tree trunk and sat panting from all the running. We shared a laugh at our plight and huddled together for warmth.

Addy then reached into her backpack and pulled out a wine bottle. She uncorked it and took a swig.

“Where did you get that?”

She wiped the glistening wine juice from her lips and handed me the bottle.

“The bar,” she said.

I took a long swig. Wine tasted better in a cold rain.

We drank the bottle as we shivered and squeezed each other for warmth, unsure of when the storm would pass, or where the nearest dry shelter was. I tried the GPS on my phone but found that I had no signal. Neither did Addy’s. Thunder boomed loudly, and lightning illuminated the clouds in brilliant white flashes. Addy jumped, “oh fuck that!”

She got up to leave. I grabbed her arm in protest. “Where do we go?”

“I don’t know,” she shouted, and pointed up at the tree we sheltered under. “But we’re sitting ducks if we stay here!”

I looked around uncertainly, then saw them on the ground. Hoofmarks beneath our feet, unassailable in the rain-wash.

“Look!” I exclaimed. They led down the pilgrim path, disappearing around the bend.

Addy gave me a grim look and said, “let’s find out where they go.”

I agreed. The rain whipped stronger than before and it seemed to only grow in strength. Each lightning strike illuminated the long adjacent row of skinny poplar trees that bowed in the wind.

We eventually came to an abrupt ninety-degree bend as the path started to run alongside a crude stone wall. The hoofmarks diverged from the trail, opting instead to continue straight, climbing over the stone wall and disappearing into a tall grass field. Without counsel, Addy started to follow the trail off the path. I grabbed her but she shook free of my hand and responded, “I wanna know, Ez.”

Reluctantly, I hopped the wall behind her. The wild grass whipped and wailed a banshee wail in the wind. We could not see the hoofmarks in the thicket so we just pushed through to the forest line, where we thought we would regain the trail.

When we got halfway there, I looked up into the dark shadows of the forest ahead of us and saw a bone-chilling, familiar sight. A hunched humanoid shadow between the trees.

I tugged on Addy and pointed my arm in the direction of the shadow.

“What?” Addy yelled in confusion.

I stuttered. “T-t-there’s something in the trees.”

She squinted in an attempt to spot what I was referring to. Then a rustling movement. The shadow emerging out into the field. Lightning flashed and illuminated it, revealing a figure wearing a bright pink puffy jacket and with jet black curly hair. Belén.

She waved intently at us and motioned for us to come. We ran through the thick wet grass to her. She gave a beaming smile and said, “I thought I heard shouting.”

I explained, “we were following goat trails again.”

Belén responded, “I didn’t see any trails.”

I pressed her. “did you see anything?”

She shook her head and said, “no… well except an old church. Come. It’s dry.”

“Oh god, yes,” Addy replied, relieved. “Take us there.”

Alarm signals sounded inside me. Something seemed wrong. But I did not protest. Out here in the ceaseless storm, it was silly to protest.

I trailed behind Belén and Addy through the forest and we came out the other side to see the dark shadow of a tall and crumbling gothic church ringed by a grove of olive trees. The same church from my nightmare the other night, appearing to me like a déjà vu.

Lightning flashed through the sky above us and thunder rolled across the hillside. Belén picked up the pace, jogging up the hill and disappearing through the doorless arched portal of the church. The two slit windows of the broken tower stared at me. Sinister eyes. Candlelight flickered from within.

As I entered the church behind Addy, and Belén I paused to look up. The virgin Mary stared down at me with streaks of rainwater stains on her stone cheeks.

Inside, the sound of the hard rain became muffled and the wind howled through the cracks in the stone walls like forsaken whispers. The air was still and damp, but we were not being pelted by the storm.

The floor was riddled with small granite pieces and weeds and grass growing through the cracks, but the large chamber was empty. Belén had set up her sleep bag against the altar in the far side. Lit candles on the altar and the floor provided a warm glow that casted dancing shadows on the walls.

“I’m planning on spending the night here. We’re about five kilometers from Puente La Reina, but the thunderstorm is going to get stronger. I can’t last an hour out there.”

Addy put her backpack down and wrung out her hair. “I don’t think I’d last another minute. Do you mind if we crash?”

Belén nodded. “The more the merrier.”

I stayed silent and dazed. This had all the uncanny hallmarks of the church of my nightmare. I considered that this did not bode well.

It was warm. I took off my layers down to my t-shirt. Addy and Belén shed their layers as well. We laid out our jackets and hiking pants to dry, and on top of our spread-out sleeping bag we sat crossed legged in a circle. Addy whipped out the bottle of wine we had been sharing earlier. There was still some wine in it, but not nearly enough for the three of us to share and get drunk. We passed the bottle around and it quickly emptied.

“I think it’s time to show you something,” Belén said after discarding the bottle. She motioned for us to follow her as she jumped up.

Lightning flashed and illuminated the gothic columns of the church. I looked up and saw smiling skulls peering down from the top of the columns. I did a double take, and upon closer inspection I saw that they were stone-carved angels. My senses were tingling with apprehension.

We followed Belén down a vaulted corridor that ran adjacent to a courtyard that seemed to once host a well-organized rose garden but was now overgrown with ivy. At the end of the corridor, she opened a creaking iron gate and led us down a dark set up stairs using her phone as a flashlight. She led us into a cellar, where we found rows of floor to ceiling dark green wine bottles. My jaws dropped. She selected a bottle indiscriminately, blew the dust off them and shook it in celebration. It was full of wine. “Unlimited wine!” she shouted excitedly.

“Holy crap,” I exclaimed. “How is all of this still here?”

“Does it matter? Grab a bottle!” Addy said as she reached in and grabbed a bottle by the neck.

I grabbed two, and we headed back up to the main chamber of the ruins to our sleeping bags. A bit of strong libation was just what I needed to take the edge off. We opened a bottle, and it was good wine.

“Wow, I cannot believe this doesn’t taste like vinegar,” Addy said after gulping a mouthful. We relaxed comfortably, savoring the wine, and the shelter of the church.

Belén filled her cup and drank. A lightning flash outlined her sharp features as she tilted her head back to drink. She carried her delicate body with a substantial presence I had never noticed before. Graceful royalty and animal-like all at once.

She caught my eyes and winked at me. Her green eyes were sharp. “So, Ezra,” she began. I awaited her question with a nervousness — like a mouse. “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”

Addy snorted wine into her cup as the surprise question came out of Belén’s mouth. Belén giggled and leaned comfortably against the altar as she awaited my response.

“I…,” I was lost for words. “…had one once.”

“What was she like?” Belén asked.

I was amused by the random and rather wholesome line of questioning considering the bizarre context.

“Well, she was nice, I guess. We dated all through college.”

“And then what happened?”

I shrugged. “She moved to LA. She took a marketing job there and… well, I don’t know. I don’t do long distance.”

Addy rolled her eyes, “such a romantic.”

The warmth had gotten inexplicably unbearable. Sweat beaded above my brow.

I turned to Addy and saw that she was sweating as well. In fact, her t-shirt had clinged to the curving shape of her body, and her hair was frizzing at the tips. I recognized that the heat was inexplicable. There was nothing to explain it. Only the small lit candles scattered around us. Nevertheless, the church felt like a boiler room. I brought my focus back to the conversation. I rebutted, “and you, Belén? Any new developments in your love life?”

I gave her a smug smile. I was surprised at my own brashness. She seemed pleased at my overreach. Addy, on the other hand, went pale and hid behind her wine cup.

“Why don’t you ask your sister?” Belén responded.

Addy gasped, “Belén!”

I turned to Addy and with faux innocence, asked “Oh? What can you tell me, Addy?”

Addy fanned herself vigorously with her hand.

“Why would I know anything about her love life?” she replied, shooting Belén a dirty look. Sweat streaked down her face and she looked delirious.

Belén giggled and sipped her wine.

“Ok, you know what,” Addy said. She interrupted herself to take a long swig of wine straight from the dusty bottle. “I’m going to go cool off.”

She jumped to her feet and walked out into the heavy whipping curtain of rain outside. As the rain engulfed her, Addy raised her arms and turned her face upwards. She then twirled in daring circles, arms outstretched, the wine bottle held haphazardly in one hand. “Oh, this feels so fucking good!” she shouted.

Belén winked at me and said, “venga. Let’s join her.”

Before joining her in the rain dance, Belén took her top off, followed shortly by her yoga pants, and tossed them back towards me, wearing only her underwear as she ran out into the rain, jumping and giggling. Addy followed her example, taking off her shirt and pants and tossing them in a wet pile inside the church and clasped onto Belén’s hips and danced in a rapturous circle, possessed by the thrill of the storm. Belén motioned me to join with animated waves of her arms.

I took my shirt off and jumped in after them and felt it like a sheet of ice shards, unrelenting and shocking. It was invigorating and a glorious reprieve from the sweltering heat inside. “Wow, Ezra,” Belén exclaimed as she turned to me and looked me up and down. “You have a nice body.”

In a bold move, Belén moved her hand to touch my chest, and dragged her nails against my skin. I couldn’t respond except to flinch and laugh. Addy joined in my laughter, drank again from the bottle and pushed the bottle to my chest and kiddingly warned Belén, “don’t you dare ruin my little brother’s innocence.”

I drank the wine and handed it to Belén. My head buzzed warm with the alcohol and my body felt warm inside despite the frigid storm. I brushed my wet hair aside to get a better look of the countryside. Lightning cobwebbed through the sky in brilliant blue, revealing silhouetted trees standing scattered in the black, rolling landscape — a scattered undead army marching across the vast and desolate foothills in a violent aquatic underworld.

I turned back to find Belén and Addy in a slow dance, kissing, hands draped around each other. I took the wine bottle from Belén’s hand and took another drink. Considering then that I had overstayed my welcome in the rain, I went inside, taking the bottle with me. Finding a lack of more wine inside, I decided that the best use of my time was to head down to the wine cellar and grab some more.

In a spinning silence I browsed the dusted selection. The ink marks on the yellowed labels were stained and blotted. I picked one and sat it down on a table to search for another. That’s when I heard the whispering. The sound startled me at first. I stopped to listen but could only hear the heavy patters of the rain outside. When no other sound came, I continued browsing.

Not a moment later, the whispers came again. A rasp above the din of muffled rain and thunder. I grabbed a bottle and held it like a club. “Who’s there!” I yelled into the empty wine cellar. Nothing appeared. Then it came more clearly. A seductive voice: “Ezra. Come.”

A warm rush came over me and passed through me all the same. A wind sucked the stale air into the courtyard. Then hot hissing sound below me, causing me to look downward.

I observed marks singeing the ground one slow step at a time. Hoofprints like a hot iron against a cow’s hide, walking slowly away from me and up the stair. Sulfurous smoke slowly rose from each print left behind.

“Come, Ezra,” the voice whispered.

Though frightened, I was helpless. The dark force pulled me forward. Like a moth to flame.

The hoofprints led me back to the church through the vaulted corridor. The wind and the rain buffeted against the walls of the ruins, harder than ever, but welcoming warmth emanated from inside the church. I peeked inside to find Addy and Belén standing at the altar. Naked. Addy with her back to me. Belén’s hands racing up and down her backside, clawing and scratching as they traveled along my sister’s curving spine.

I stayed there in the entry way and watched the erotic procession. Belén pushed Addy onto the altar and pounced on top of her, kissing her face and her neck. Their bodies rubbed. Water dripped from their hair. Belén went down sucking on Addy’s skin and her nipples. Addy moaned with no inhibition.

When Belén reached Addy’s v-shaped, bare crotch, she forced Addy’s leg’s apart and climbed off the altar to bring her face between her thighs. Addy gasped and pushed Belén’s face into her, grasping her curly black hair between her fingers.

I came to a numbing epiphany that the hoofprints were connected to Belén.

She sensed me at the door and turned her head up to face me like a jackal turning its head up from its dead prey. Her face wet with saliva and Addy’s sticky vaginal fluid.

She rose and posed with her whole naked body towards me. Her matte hair on her head like crown of flaming black thorns. She appeared before me, not as human, but as a deity. Naked, and perfect. Her eyes glowered with the reflections of flames. Like searing flames, but more malevolent. Like light from the darkness.

She beckoned me with an insidious curl of a finger, and with a soft pleading voice said, “Ezra, come here please.”

Powerless to do otherwise, I walked towards her, keeping my gaze on her. She pulled me in. She gave me soft kisses on my face, and my lips. Sucking on my lips and moved her hands tenderly into my pants to touch my cock. I could smell my sister’s essence on her face.

Going down to her knees, she lowered my pants to the floor, causing my cock to spring out. She grabbed it with a hand and guided it into her mouth, I was overcome with the soft pleasure of her mouth as it enveloped the sensitive skin. I rested my hand against her head as she sucked. I looked over to the altar where Addy was left alone. She watched, possessed — just as I was. Prudence and inhibition cast into the shadows. Taboo let loose so that only pure pleasure could exist here.

Belén rose, kissed me lightly on the lips and led me by the hand to the altar, where Addy sat swaying lightly.

Sitting next to Addy, she opened her legs to me. A neat tuft of black hair and below that, a glistening flower.

“Fuck me Ezra,” Belén urged. She wrapped her legs around my thighs and pulled me in. Addy watched intently as Belén grabbed my cock and guided it into her.

I pushed against her. My cock slid in. Belén screamed out, “yes! That’s it!”

I pulled then pushed again. Her soft warm inside surrounded me. She opened her legs wider. “Harder!” she demanded. Addy, in a silent daze, rubbed her clit as I fucked Belén.

Belén leaned up to kiss me. I kissed her back. I sucked her breasts and she arched her back to take it all into her.

Soon I felt my cock pulse with the oncoming orgasm. She must have felt it too, because she stopped me and pushed me away before the point of no return. She turned her attention to Addy and started sucking her breasts.

In a hypnotic and breathless voice, Addy said to me, “this is so weird,” but jolted to the pleasure of Belén’s mouth and grazing teeth against her nipples.

Belén, in a voice that echoed golden and absolute, said, “you want to fuck her, Ezra.”

Addy offered no protest as Belén turned her onto her back. She cooperated and clambered onto all fours and raised her ass raised in the air so that I could see the glistening fruit between her legs. Belén stared at me with those glowing eyes and a wicked smile.

“Wha-“, I offered, meek and croaking.

“She wants you to fuck her too,” Belén replied, her hands pushing against Addy’s head against her crotch.

I shut my eyes hard and shook my head like a drunkard attempting to ward off the alcohol.

“Look at her Ez. Look at her body. She’s desirable. She’s beautiful. She is so pure.”

I looked. Addy was voluptuous. Sexual. Fertile. My cock pulsed painfully.

“Taste it, Ezra,” Belén demanded.

I couldn’t help myself. I walked up to the side of the altar and leaned over to taste Addy’s pussy. I put my mouth between her thighs, kissing the inside of her thighs, sucking on the lips of her pussy, then sliding my tongue between the lips, tasting the acidic juices and smelling her bodily scent.

“That’s it. Savor it.”

Addy moaned loudly, moving her hips, rubbing her pussy against my face as I thrusted my tongue into her.

“Now fuck her with your cock,” Belén said.

I clambered onto the altar and grasped Addy’s hips with my hands. Addy turned her head towards me and gazed into my eyes, wanting me.

I moved to say, “I’m sorry.” But I didn’t.

Addy arched her back, presenting more of herself to me.

I grabbed my cock and slid it into her pussy. How incredible it felt as it went in. And Addy agreed. Her mouth and her eyes opened wide as she felt me enter her.

With vigor I pumped my cock, holding her thighs tightly with my hands to anchor myself. Belén watched me like a warden her prisoner. Addy’s face pressed against her.

As I realized my cock had started to pulse again with the oncoming explosion, I warned, “I’m going to come,” and kept thrusting.

Belén looked down at Addy and brushing her hair like a tender mother said to her, “your brother is about to come inside you. Would you like him to?”

Addy closed her eyes and nodded. I felt Addy’s pussy tighten around my cock.

Belén grasped Addy’s face tight against her breasts and harshly demanded, “say you want it, Adelaide!”

Addy responded with an orgasmic “yes!” and she screamed as she spasmed violently. I felt her pussy tighten and gush as I exploded into her depth, filling her with every ounce that I had. Lightning flashed through the stained-glass window above us. Randomly, I observed that the crucifixion was missing. Instead, there was only a shaded outline of a cross.

Addy collapsed in a heap on the altar. I collapsed on top of her, my cock still inside. Shortly, I blacked out.

And awoke to pigeons cooing in the rafters above. A rooster crowed in the distance. Sun shone through the cracks in the ceiling of the dilapidated church.

I slept naked, wrapped in a sleeping bag and wrapped in my sister’s arms. Her warm body pressed against mine.

I got up and dressed and looked down on her. She slept peacefully.

Belén was gone. The candles all around us were extinguished. My instincts told me to look to the floor and immediately I found what I was looking for. Hoofprints leading out of the church. I followed them to the entrance and stopped to gaze in wonder at the frosted morning landscape and to breathe in the fresh, wet earthiness of the countryside.

A black object on the ground caught my attention. It was the journal. I picked it up and flipped through the madness within the pages. And on the last page I saw her eyes. Their sharp shapes drawn with thick, crude, bleeding black ink, but it was clear who’s eyes they were. They were Belén’s eyes. They were the eyes of the beast. How was it that I hadn’t seen it before? I wondered.

I shut the journal with a snap and wound it back to throw it. But I didn’t have the strength to. I held onto it. Stared at it pitifully.

Addy joined me, covering her body tightly with her sleeping bag.

Shame and a hard hangover filled her bloodshot eyes.

“I don’t think I remember how to find the path,” I said to her with my eyes turned to the journal in my hand.

Addy breathed in the crisp air and wrapped her arm in mine, saying nothing.