7 february 1990
I arrived in the early afternoon, the sun still high and fighting against the late winter chill. Hörselberg Hill would be safe this time of day; the Ladies never sought prey in daylight, rarely even by moonlight. They liked the darkness, fog if they could get it, anything that made a weary traveler eager for company. They needed little help to draw in their victims, but seemed to only enjoy it that way. I knew they would emerge tonight, though, whatever the weather was. They would always come when I call. Having bought a late lunch, I found a nice place to sit and read as I waited for evening.
I had been back three times that I could remember. In the midst of puberty, Father brought me to the mountain to find out if I would still choose his path when I was vulnerable. He brought me again, another test, before I left for seminary. We barely avoided capture by the Soviets on that trip. Finally, when I was accepted into the priesthood, I came alone to see if the Ladies would view me differently. If anything, they seemed more hungry. It was my fear of another encounter with the East German police that prompted me to learn for the first time that I could step into the spiritual realm to avoid notice.
I don't know what I expected to accomplish tonight. But I had the nagging sense that I needed to find out.
As dusk began to fall on the town and I had finished my dinner, I set out toward the hill. There was no need to hurry, and it was dark by the time I stepped foot on the hill. A cleft in the rock glowed, as the open door of a house does at night, and four women stood before me. Each was more beautiful than humans can really match, barely clothed, and singing a song of welcome. I muttered a prayer as I walked toward them, steeling myself against what I knew lie ahead.
To say the Ladies move quickly would be inaccurate, but not because they move slow. They do not seem to move, they simply are wherever they desire to be, always when you're not quite watching them well enough to know how they did it. It's distracting, disorienting, designed to prevent their target from really processing who they are or what they're offering. The first time you encounter it, it's just enough to make you question your own observation, make you wonder if you were just wrong about where that one was standing just a moment ago, make you wonder if you really know anything, make you question yourself just enough that whatever resistance you think you have will be weakened.
The fourth time you see it, it feels like a cheap circus.
They began speaking to me, the voice traveling from one to another in no apparent sequence, one at a time in succession. Another of their little tricks. I began to wonder if they knew how to do anything differently when on the hillside.
"You've returned," they said, "have you finally come for us?" I fixed my eyes on the doorway as I felt their hands and bodies brush against me outside my field of vision.
"I've come to speak with your mistress." I blinked and one of them was directly in front of me, so close I could feel her breath as she rested her hand on my chest. It was enough to pull my eyes away from the doorway.
"There's no rush, my love. You have time to enjoy one of us."
"You have time to enjoy all of us," a voice whispered into one ear.
"You know our Mistress has promised us to you," another voice whispered in my other ear. Their smell was intoxicating. I fixed my eyes on the doorway again and took a step forward. The lady ahead of me pressed hard against my body.
"You're wasting your time. I'll do what I came to do and nothing more," I said, pushing past her. "You must realize that."
"On the contrary," they replied, "we are very patient, and you are your father's son." I tried to block out the scent, the sound of them singing again, and the feel of their hands on me as I continued forward into the doorway. When I entered, the Ladies were there, lounging on cushions along the wall. Their mistress stood in the center of the room, smiling at me.
"Benedict! It's been some time, look at you!" she called out, walking toward me with her arms out. She grabbed my shoulders, as if testing their strength, then touched at my face. "Nice strong jawline, just like your father. Oh, they must love you out there."
"I have no such attachments out there."
"You are welcome to find them here! The Ladies are so eager to know you, can't say I blame them."
"I am not interested in your Ladies."
"I have men, as well." She touched my collar, as if noticing it for the first time. "Or boys, if you prefer."
"I'm sure you do."
"Come, eat, relax! Tell me all about your life in the human world." She made her way over to a banquet table laid out with a feast. "What's new with you? How is your father?"
"He's dead. I've come from the funeral." She smiled, leaning on the table.
"So that's why you've returned? Are you ready to come home without his influence?" The Ladies perked up on their cushions. I thought for a moment, looking between them and her.
"You didn't know he was gone."
"You can't honestly blame me. I have my own matters to address."
"He spent his whole life fearing he'd never really gotten free of you, of this place. Always afraid you still had a hold of his soul. But you didn't. You don't have any claim on him, not even enough to know when he was dead." She waved her hand dismissively.
"Yes, yes. You always have a speech. What's your point this time?" I smiled.
"If he can be free of you, then maybe, someday, so can I." I turned and began walking back toward the doorway.
"It's not the same for you, Benedict," she yelled after me. "He was a visitor, but you belong here! You'll always come back!"
"Don't wait up, mother," I said, before stepping back out into the night.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.