12 August 1997
I had finished the weekday Mass and was resting in my chamber when I heard a knock on the door. I set my book down next to my half-finished coffee and made my way across the room. When I opened the door, I was surprised to see another priest, an older man I'd never met, carrying a small suitcase.
"Oh! Please, come in, can I take your bag?" I asked, reaching out to help him. With his free hand, he reached into his jacket.
"No, no, no need for that." German. Northern German accent, if I remembered correctly. "But you can take this." He produced from his pocket an envelope, addressed to me. As I took the paper and stood upright, the priest stepped around me and made his way to the chair I had just vacated.
"Would you like some coffee?" I asked, closing the door.
"There will be time for that, my son. If that letter is anything like the one I received, you'll want to open it quickly." I nodded and carefully tore it open as I made my way across the room to the other armchair.
Benedict, it read, You are hereby relieved of your current charge effective immediately. Come to the Vatican. Pack light, your things will be moved on your behalf.
Do not delay.
I recognized the seal. I was being called back into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I read over it again and then turned to look at my guest. He was smiling.
"Don't worry, my son. I'll take good care of the place. Let's not keep our betters waiting."
"Yes, yes. Of course," I said, standing. I hurried to my room and picked out my suitcase, laying a few changes of clothes inside as well as some necessities, before running back out to grab my book. I skimmed through the bookcase, grabbing a few others I hoped I would need. When I turned around again, the other priest had opened his suitcase and was slowly packing a pipe. "What did your letter say? Did they tell you what this is all about?" He shook his head, then struck a match and took a few puffs to get his pipe going.
"All will be known in Heaven, young man. I did not reach my age by snooping into business that does not concern me." I nodded, somewhat envious of his calculated ignorance, then ran back into my room to finish packing the books. When I emerged, he looked as though he had barely even moved. My coffee was gone. And, shortly thereafter, so was I.
17 June 1993
The trail has gone cold. The isolation of my new posting means I hear very little even from my most trustworthy contacts. I've heard whispers the cult is stirring again, and even that the Vatican may be keeping an eye on them. But nothing more.
There's nothing I can do now. I have to move on. I will keep my research, just in case, but it has become evident that the Church will not allow me any more contact with this case. And I, in all things, serve my God through His Church.
12 April 1991
When I initially called Henry Matteson, his wife had just filed for divorce and he was largely unavailable for about five months. By the time he was available to speak at any length, I had been reassigned as priest to a small church in the Alps, which almost felt like being filed away, and my access to a phone was limited. We spent the next few months working out basic introductions and what I already knew of the Brood of Nachash, and then he arranged a visit. I was sitting in my car in front of the small regional airport, reading a newspaper, when he arrived. I folded my newspaper and helped him load his two bags, one of clothes and one of selected books and photocopies, into the car. The beginning of the ride was largely small talk, about the flight and how his son was handling the divorce.
"Are you aware of any new activity from the Brood?" he asked in German, as we began to climb the mountain that hid my village. I shook my head.
"The leadership was killed two years ago and I don't know how organized they are about replacing it," I said. "And I have not exactly been privy to any intelligence the Church has gathered."
"Hm." He looked out the window as the rock to his side gave way to the view of a valley. "I've asked around about that town in Tennessee you mentioned. It sounds like there's some recent activity, but it's hard to nail down."
"How did you find out about the Brood, anyway? You never quite gave me an answer."
"Mostly old references. Honestly, I hadn't really pieced them together enough to realize the cult was out there until you asked. I'd be surprised Tadzio connected us if it wasn't him."
"How long have you known him?" He turned back to look out the windshield, thinking for a moment.
"I don't think anyone knows him, Benedict," he answered, softly. "But we've worked together on and off for about five years."
"He comes to you for research, I assume? I was under the impression your work is largely academic."
"Largely, yes." The sun was already behind the mountain as we rounded a bend to reveal my village. I explained that the accommodations I could provide were mostly just a secondary room in my own quarters, added by an abbot some generations ago who used the church as a base to preach throughout the region. We unloaded the car, had a light supper, and then he retired to sleep off the flight. He left me with one book, however, which he explained I was welcome to keep. It was the memories of a man who had wandered the Appalachian range in the 60s and 70s, dealing with a host of living superstitions and the odd monster. Henry told me there was a story in there that sounded very much like it may be connected to the Brood, but encouraged me to take my time and read it all. If ever I should find myself hunting the Brood in America again, he insisted, I should know what to expect. I took to my chair by the fireplace and kept company with that book until I fell asleep.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.