Demon Eyes :
There was a man named Mr Jones who worked as a teacher in the local school. He wasn’t married and spent most of his free time reading old books about art and architecture. His favorite passtime was taking trips to visit old churches and other buildings.
One day, while leafing through one of his books, he came across a chapter about an old church, fifteen miles outside of the city, that had a very elaborate painting on the wall. Apparently, the painting was from the 12th Century and depicted a detailed and intricate vision of hell.
Bright and early the next morning, Mr Jones hopped in his car and drove the fifteen miles to the church he had been reading about. He had to walk across a muddy field and climb up the side of a steep hill, but eventually he followed a long path and arrived at the small church, which lay hidden beneath the shade of several ancient yew trees.
The old wooden doors of the building opened with a creak and he stepped inside. The church was very small and the whole of the back wall was covered by a huge painting. Beside it, was a sign that read, “Do Not Touch.” As Mr Jones drew closer, he realized that it was actually a fresco. The artist had applied the paint directly to the plaster on the wall.
The design of the fresco was very remarkable and visually striking. Hell was represented by a series of concentric circles, that spiraled downwards into a deep chasm lined with roaring flames. On the top level, stood a group of people whose faces were twisted in despair. They were throwing themselves off the edge, onlt to plummet into the depths of hell. The circles at the bottom level were populated by gigantic demons with angry, malignant faces, who carried lances and pitchforks in their clawed hands. They speared the sinners who fell on their weapons and tossed them into boiling cauldrons full of blood and bones.
The leering faces of the demons were extraordinarily detailed. They had gnarled horns growing from their scalps, their forked tongues were hanging out, their bodies were covered in thick fur, their ears were long and pointed, their huge feet were twisted into hooves and their bulging eyes were the color of blood.
“I wonder who painted this,” mumbled Mr jones to himself. “Whoever it was certainly had a vivid imagination.”
Mr Jones bent down to examine the painting more closely. Some of the demonic figures were less distinct than others. One of them was vague and blurred. It was a demon who held some kind of weapon in his hand. The odd thing about it was that its eyes were bright red and they seemed to glow with an eerie, unnatural light. Mr jones gazed at it in fascination, staring into the demon’s eyes.
He noticed that the section of plaster on which the hideous demon was painted was cracked and crumbling. It seemed as if it was about to fall off the wall. Without thinking, Mr Jones reached out and touched it. The fragment suddenly broke off and fell to the ground, leaving a small hole in the fresco.
Mr Jones was horrified. He had accidentally destroyed part of an ancient and priceless artwork. He was an unintentional vandal. He felt like a mischievous child who had accidentally broken his mother’s best vase. Worried that someone would discover the damage and blame him, Mr Jones quickly left the church and went home.
Later that evening, a twelve-year old boy was returning home when he got the fright of his life. He was walking along the path opposite the old church. It was growing dark dark and the path was bordered by thick bushes on both sides. All of a sudden, he heard a rustling noise in the undergrowth behind him. The boy picked up a stone and threw it in the direction of the sound. Just then, something black and hairy emerged from the bushes and, quick as a flash, climbed up into the trees. The boy was shocked and stared up into the branches for a moment. He caught sight of two eyes staring down at him – two horrible, glowing red eyes. Terrified, he ran off down the path and didn’t dare to stop until he reached his mother’s cottage.
That night, as Mr Jones lay sleeping in his bed, he had a horrible nightmare. He found himself standing in a field in the middle of nowhere. The light was quickly fading and, in front of him, there was a great slab of stone, which resembled an altar. A number of figures, clad in black robes and wearing grotesque masks suddenly appeared and grabbed him. He struggled but he couldn’t escape their clutches. They dragged him to the altar, held up a silver goblet and forced him to drink from it. Suddenly, one of the figures tore off its mask, revealing the leering face of the demon in the fresco.
Mr Jones awoke in a cold sweat. His heart was pounding and it took him a long time to calm down and reassure himself that it had all been a dream. The next morning, as he ate breakfast, he wondered what had caused him to have such a strange and disturbing nightmare. Perhaps, he thought, it was the guilt he felt about destroying part of the fresco in the church.
After he finished his breakfast, Mr Jones drove out to the old church again. Leaving his car in the parking lot, he crossed the muddy field, climbed the hill and walked along the path until he came to the old building. When he arrived, he found a priest sitting in the pews, saying the rosary.
Mr Jones glanced nervously at the fresco, his eyes seeking out the spot where the damage had been done. The light was too dim for him to distinguish any details. Walking over to the priest, he tapped him lightly on the shoulder and asked, in a feltering voice, “Could I have a word with you, Father?”
The priest looked up in surprise and said, “Yes? What can I do for you?”
“It is about the fresco,” continued Mr Jones. “I was in the church yesterday and something happened. There was an accident.”
“An accident?” repeated the priest in astonishment.
“I don’t know why I did it, but I touched the fresco…”
“What? You touched the fresco?” interrupted the priest, angrily. He leaped to his feet. “You mean to tell me you didn’t see the sign instructing you not to touch it?”
“I am very sorry,” said Mr Jones, hanging his head.
“What damage did you do?” asked the priest, trying not to lose his temper. He walked over to the fresco and gazed at it anxiously.
“You see, there was a piece of the fresco that seemed to be detached from the wall,” said Mr Jones. “It was a piece with a demon painted on it. That piece over there.”
He pointed to the gap in the fresco where the plaster had fallen off. Then he stared at the piece of plaster that was lying on the floor. Where was the demon? The section of plaster was completely blank.
“It’s gone,” excalimed Mr Jones in amazement. He picked up the piece of plaster and turned it over in his hands, but there was nothing on either side.
The priest grabbed the fragment of plaster and yelled, “Don’t touch it, you idiot! You’ll only do more damage!”
He was shaking with rage and seemed as if he was about to strike Mr Jones.
“Damn fool!” shouted the priest, “Get out of my presence! How dare you destroy this priceless work of art!”
With that, he grabbed Mr Jones by the scruff of the neck and hustled him out of the church. Then, he slammed the door of the church behind him. Mr Jones retraced his steps slowly along the path, down the hill and across the field, until he reached the parking lot. He sat inside his car and put his head in his hands. He didn’t feel very well. His head was throbbing and his stomach felt like it was churning.
Later that afternoon, Mr Jones woke to find himself lying in the muddy field. He had no memory of how he had wound up there. Picking himself up off the ground, he tried to brush off the dried mud as best he could. Then, he made his way back to his car and drove home.
For the rest of the evening and the whole of the next day, he lay in bed, barely able to move. He felt like he was recovering from a serious illness. Nevertheless, he went to work on Monday and taught the students in his school. Naturally he said nothing to anybody about his experiences during the weekend.
On Tuesday morning, however, as he read his newspaper at breakfast, he was shocked to see the headline.
It read, “Priest Mysteriously Killed Outside Church.”
Scanning through the article, Mr Jones felt his heart leap in his chest. The priest he had met only a few days before at the old church had been found dead under mysterious circumstances. The body was discovered lying on an ancient slab of stone. The police believed he had been attacked by a large wild animal because his body was torn open and his internal organs had been ripped out and partially devoured. The article noted that the face of the corpse was contorted in an expression of terror.
Mr Jones sat staring at his newspaper, while his breakfast grew cold. When he looked down at his hands, he noticed that there was something dark and red caked under his fingernails.