The desert stretches out in front of me. Hills of sand undulating, flickering in the heat, glaring back into my eyes. The air is still, no movement, nothing, like being in a vacuum. The sun beats down on me and my skin feels like it’s sizzling from the heat. I raise my hand over my eyes and peer into the desert, looking for the next supply truck. I see nothing for miles.

I turn around and walk back into the small village. The homes of cracked wood and mud brick squat on either side of a road that is only a road because it’s between the rows of homes. People sit in the doorways, gathered in small groups; young children, women, a few men, limbs thin, faces drawn, bellies distended, skin drawn tight across their skulls with dark eyes peering out at me, looking for the bit of hope that I can bring them. I feel like a god in my clean pressed shirt and pants, a large wooden cross dangling from my neck, my skin bronzed to a golden tan, a bronze god among the dark savages. I shake the thought from my head. I am not a god. I am just an emissary of the one true God, here to bring his word and his hope to these people.

A child steps from a doorway and walks over to me. Her hair is fallen out in patches. Her mouth is toothless. Still her eyes shine. They are alive. With the fire of God. Her hands stretch out to touch me and I kneel down, letting her pull me down to look her in the eyes.

“What do you need child?” I ask her, my hand draping across her bony shoulder.

She stares at me and says nothing. She only stares at me. Then I realize that she is a deaf mute. She has no tongue. She has no teeth. Her mother must chew her food and spit it into her mouth like a bird feeding her baby.

I stroke her head, feeling the bumps of her skull, the few strands of her hair slipping across my fingers. She reaches out and touches the cross hanging down from my neck.

“It is the cross of the Lord our God. You have one of your own,” I tell her, knowing how these people see symbols like the cross as powerful talismans and though that seems like idolatry to me – and thus sinful – I am happy that they have accepted the cross.

She wraps her hands around the cross and closes her eyes as if she’s drawing strength from it, pulling the spirit of the Lord into her soul. I almost expect to see her tiny, frail body to expand, filled with His strength, but nothing happens. She holds it in her hands, seeming to meditate upon it.

Then her eyelids open, her eyes rotated back into her head, the whites glaring out at me. Startled, I jump back from her. The leather necklace snaps from my neck as I fall backwards, her hands still grasping onto the cross, her head still tilted up, her body still like a statue.

I sit up to walk over to her, to see if she’s all right and retrieve my cross, but I stop as a shadow drifts over me, blocking the sun. I see the shadow stretch out over me, my shadow swallowed by it. The girl is gone. My cross lies in the sand. I watch as it sinks slowly into the ground, the leather strap trailing after it until it’s gone. My skin has broken into goose bumps, cooled by the oppressive shadow. As I breathe out I see my breath drifting from my lips.

I turn around, knowing what I’ll see, knowing that she has come again, not wanting to look at her, my body tight with fear, my heart pounding, but I can’t help but turn, my body is drawn to her. I must see her. My skin is cold, but my blood boils, and I must look at her.

I see her eyes first, always those eyes, a deep blood red staring down at me as if from some great height, two red shining orbs peering into my head to pierce my soul. Her wings are wrapped around her body, hiding her entirely except for those two eyes, and then she raises her head up, her face beautiful, cruelly beautiful, her lips red and wet, her skin brown, her hair drifting back in long, black waves.

“Come to me.” Her voice resounds in my head, deep and sensual, reverberating in my head and then down through my body to my guts, sending waves of tingling pleasure through my loins, and I sigh, feeling my penis starting to harden.

Her black wings shift and then start to part as she unfolds them from her body. My mouth is dry, my body tight with anticipation, watching as her body is revealed to me. Slowly, she pulls her wings apart, the tips scraping across the sand at her clawed feet until she lifts them up, spreading them apart. My eyes trace up her brown legs as her wings unfold, eagerly moving up her calves and thighs, the skin seeming so soft stretched over the muscles, up high on her thighs, staring between her thighs, but I see nothing but darkness, her legs closed tightly.

Then her wings snap loudly as she flicks them apart, stretching out beside her and over her head. Her body seems to glow dimly, illuminating her sensuous curves from the shadows cast by her immense wings. Her chest rises and falls, her breasts large, the nipples black and round. She raises her long arms up, holding them out to me, beckoning me to her. I look at her face, beautiful and dark, her tongue slides between her lips, slipping between her sharp teeth.

She offers me everything, everything I’ve never had, everything I’ve always wanted, but am forbidden to have – every delight and pleasure, wallowing in sin, seeping into my skin. A sigh. Her breath soft on my neck. Her body close to me, oh so close, and I can feel her in front of me, her heat prickling my skin, every nerve tingling. Her wings close around us, swallowing me inside of her, taking me in, and I lean forward, my head resting against her shoulder, my cheek pressed to her skin, so soft. I want to kiss it. I want to bite it.

Her wings slide along my back as she pulls me towards her, her hands at my waist, touching my body, and I’m naked now, nothing between us, just skin against skin, flesh against flesh, and my penis is hard, pushing between her legs, spread wide now, the soft hair tickling me. My body is in a rage, her fingers sliding down my waist and my thighs, her nails scratching my skin, and my brain is soaked with desire, wanting everything she offers, wanting more, and my body jerks as she grabs my penis.

She moves closer still, her breasts pushed against my chest, her thighs pressed to my thighs, her wings wrapped around my back, her tongue, hot and wet, licking across my neck, behind my ear, and I sigh, feeling my body let go, powerless in her embrace, each second an eternity of pleasure and want.

Her hand presses my penis up against her, between her legs, and she moves her hips, sliding along it, her fingers rubbing it underneath, teasing me, so close, oh so close, my moan making her hair flutter, the scent of perfume and cooked meat. Her fingers touch the tip and my body jerks as a spasm flows up my spine. She moves her hips, sliding the wetness, the soft folds of skin between her legs, along my penis, her stomach pressing against me and then parting as she moves.

I wrap my hands around her waist, feeling the skin, hot and smooth under my palms, her body soft, wanting to pull her towards me, push it into her, now, now, oh I need it inside of her now, lost in lust and desire, her fingers touching me, sliding underneath it, faster, pumping my hips, sliding between her hand and her pelvis, moaning loudly, her tongue stretching along the back of my neck, wrapping around to my face, parting my lips, and I touch my tongue to her tongue, my fingers digging into her waist, grasping her butt, feeling her muscles flexing and moving beneath my touch, moving faster, and then her fingers touching the tip, a quick stroke, and I almost double over as my body erupts.

Her wings hold me against her body, her hand wrapped around the head of my penis as it jerks uncontrollably, my whole body shivering and shaking, grunting, my hips pumping, pushing against her, her tongue diving into my mouth, as the fluid continues to burst from me, a release so wonderful and pleasurable that I want the moment to stretch out forever, never lose it, always feel her against me, around me, holding me, ejaculating into her cupped hand, her fingers stroking it underneath, drawing it out of me, pulling my whole body out tight on a string stretched out to her fingers.

She slides her fingers down my penis once more, pulling one last ejaculation from me, and then pulls away. I fall to my knees as she steps away, pulling her wings from me, the harsh sun now beating down on my body, exposed, pitiful and naked. I squint up at her, standing over me, her wings pulled in tight against her back, her hand held in front of her, my semen lying in a puddle in her palm. She lifts her hand to her mouth and her tongue shoots out, licking my semen from her hand. She rolls it down her tongue and into her mouth, her lips curled back in a grin, her eyes watching me, and then she presses her hand to her lips to suck it from her hand.

I fall to the ground, crumbling to the sand, all energy drained from my body. I feel the harsh light of God beating on my bare back. I try to crawl towards her to find the protection of her black wings, but I can’t move, the sand is opening, pulling me down, and I’m so tired that I can’t struggle against it. I look up at her, begging for help, pleading with her, but she’s gone, there is nothing, and I sink into the sand until it covers my head and it’s dark.

I wake with a start, sitting up quickly as my eyes jerk open, my heart pounding. I see the walls of my bedroom lit by the light spilling in through my curtains and not the desert swallowing my sinful body. I drop back onto the bed and rest my hands on my chest feeling my heart slowing down as I let the reality of my bedroom sink in.

I notice my hands clutching my bare chest and sit up again. I push the bed sheets to the side and see my pajamas lying in shreds between the sheets. I look down at my naked body and then notice the sticky wet fluid on the sheets and on my body at my waist and genitals.

I grab my tattered pajamas and wipe the semen from my body, scrubbing the skin, remembering the dream, the feel of her body, her hand, rubbing against me, her tongue on my neck and lips, and I can almost feel her against me again, the desire to enter her. I rub harder, wanting to get the semen off of me, rub those thoughts out of my mind, but rubbing myself is only arousing me more.

I throw the pajamas down on the bed and press my hands into my eyes, wanting to purge myself of the dream, those feelings. I need to pray, pray for strength, for forgiveness.

I slide out of the bed onto the floor on my knees and bow my head with my hands clasped in front of me. I pray to God, pray to please help me, help me fight temptation. My flesh is weak. My mind is clouded. I need His strength to help resist the sin. That sin. That lust. That feeling deep in my gut, in my head, a feeling like none other, pure desire and lust, so tempting. Oh God, I need Your help. I need it more than ever. As I kneel here before You praying for Your strength and love. Kneeling here, trying to rid my soul of this sin, praying – my penis erect and waiting.

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned.”

“When was your last confession?”

“It’s been four weeks.”

“Go on my son.”

I swallow hard, kneeling on the cushion, trying to think how I should start. How can I tell the Father about my dreams? About the lust that seems to control my life? I have resisted telling him during confessions before, but I must, for my eternal soul I must.

“Go on my son,” he says again.

“I’m sorry Father. I just don’t know where to start.”

“Your heart is heavy. Your sins way upon you. That is just. But you will not be absolved until you can open your heart to the Lord.”

“Yes, Father.” I bow my head, closing my eyes, wanting to shut out this confessional, blot it out, feeling the walls hovering over me, closing in on me. “I have lied in the past.”

“Go on.”

“I have lied to you. I have not confessed all of my sins.” I have begun now and I cannot turn back.


“I have been tempted and I have not been able to fight it. I have been tempted by lust.” Hearing the word spoken in this confessional, in this church, by me, I feel as if I’ve tainted the house of God with my sin. The word seems to echo between the walls, accusing me, judging me. The silence holds for several seconds, the Father waiting for me to continue. “I have had dreams, very vivid dreams. Dreams that…that are sexual.” I cringe at that word. Another word I thought I’d never say in the church. I want to leave the confessional and run away. But run to where?

“Such dreams are normal. How long have you been having them?”

“Soon after I turned eighteen. About six months ago.”

“Yes. These are normal. Especially for a young man of your age. But you must fight the temptation of lust. It’s the most evil sin and leads the most men astray.” I let his words sink in trying to find solace. I know that such dreams are normal, but I know that mine are different. “Tell me of these dreams.”

“In my dreams,” I say, my eyes still closed, picturing the desert. “I am a missionary in some desert country. I am trying to help the sick and the hungry. Do God’s work.” I pause, thinking of the cross sinking into the desert, sucked into the earth. “And then…then she comes to me.” I pause, trying to not think of her, but still feeling her black wings over me now and I resist the desire to turn and see if the shadows around me are cast by her wings about to take me in.

“Go on.”

I sigh and push myself to continue. “She is not a woman. She has wings. Large, black wings that block out the sun.” I stop, hearing the Father move suddenly on the other side of the wall, a loud thunk as something hits the wall. “Father?”

“Continue,” he says, his voice faltering.

“Um…She has large black wings and she covers me with them and…” I stop, unable to speak the rest, hoping that he will know the rest, feeling dirty, so dirty that I infect the world with my filth.

“Yes?” he says expectantly. I open my eyes and see the shadow of his form close to the grate between us.

“Well, she touches me and…and I can’t stop her. I don’t want to. It feels good.” I wrap my arms around my shoulders, remembering her embrace, her skin, her body, and I can feel myself becoming aroused. “She…makes me…well, I, um, I…ejaculate,” I say, pushing the final word out of my mouth quickly. “And then she licks it.” My head is pounding. My hands are sweaty. My body is shivering. I want to collapse back against the wall, feeling so tired, feeling so…horny. I can feel my penis hard in my pants and I have to stop my hand from moving down to rub it.

“Yes,” the Father says, the shadow of his head nodding.

“Help me Father,” I whisper, unsure if he heard me.

“She is Lilith,” he says, his voice floating through the air to me.

“What?” I ask though I heard him, just wanting to hear it again.

“Lilith,” he says and the name is soft and comforting. I say it softly to myself, feeling my tongue move in my mouth.

“She is the devil’s bride. She is his bitch goddess,” he says, spitting out the words, and I flinch at the end, having never heard that word in the church before. “She has been sent to tempt you. You must be special or he would not have sent her to you. You must worry Satan himself.” He hesitates, letting the words sink in. “Are you a virgin?”

“Yes,” I say immediately.

“Good. You want to be a missionary?”

“Yes Father. I want to go to the seminary and then spread the word of God to the poor and hopeless.”

“Good. You have been touched by God. Given a mission from Him. That is why the Devil pursues you. That is why she has been sent to tempt you and take you away from God’s work.”

“Yes, Father,” I say, feeling that he is right, knowing it. I am special. I have been chosen by God. I had known it as long as I had lived. And the Devil knows it too.

“You must resist her. You must fight her. The more she tries to tempt you the more you must fight her.”

“Yes, Father,” I say, feeling my strength returning, my back straightening, lifting my head in the knowledge that I am God’s chosen.

“The Saint Augustine was tempted by her, but he defeated her. You must as well.”

“A saint?” I say.

“Yes. The Devil knew Saint Augustine was a miracle of the Lord and sent his mistress to tempt him. But he resisted her.”

“Does that mean…” I start, feeling lightheaded, my chest rising. “Does that mean that I could be a saint? That I…”

“Well, it’s possible. You never know God’s plan for you.”

I sit back on my heels, staring through the grate at the shadow of the Father and think that I could be a saint, worshipped by millions.

“You must keep your Bible close to you. And your crucifix.”

“I’m wearing my crucifix now,” I say and pluck it from my shirt to hold it in my hand.

“Good. Sleep with them at night. Keep them beside your bed or under your pillow. The Lord will protect you if you keep him close.”

“Yes, Father.”

He clears his throat and sits back, his shadow fading away.

“Say twelve Hail Mary’s.”

“Yes, Father,” I say, bowing my head again.

“And pray for strength.”

I look at the small wooden church developing before me. A few men are hammering nails, placing boards up for walls. The small steeple stretches above me, a bright white cross shines at its pinnacle. I place my hands on my hips, feeling strong. This church will help bring the Lord to these people so that they may have the comfort of Heaven when they do die of starvation or disease.

I feel comfortable. I feel that I belong, that this is what I was meant to do. I can feel Him here helping us bring this church up out of the barren sands, his grace working through my body. I can practically feel Him inside of me.

I tilt my head as I stare up at the cross. It is tilted like a wind has pushed it to the side a bit. It wasn’t like that earlier and there is no wind. That must be fixed. I should find a ladder and climb up there to fix it.

I look around quickly and see no ladder leaning against the sides of the church. But there must be one around somewhere. I look back up and the cross has fallen more so that it now lies almost perfectly horizontal. It even appears that the steeple itself is bending, warping down to the ground.

No. This is all wrong. This must be fixed. I start walking around the church to find the men who are hammering to tell them to fix the cross and the steeple now. But I don’t hear the hammering anymore. I stop and listen for the men to make a noise, to speak, to move. But, I hear nothing.

I look up and the steeple is bending down now with the cross pointing down to the ground as if the whole church is being pulled to the ground, sucked down into the sand. How can this happen? The boards are bending, not splitting, warping into large curves as the steeple is pulled slowly down in a large arc.

I watch as the cross touches the sand and then disappears into it, buried by the earth. The air is still. The only noise is the slight rustling of sand as the cross and now the spire are sucked into the sand.

I’m drawn to the front door of the church, now warped, curved to the side. I peer into the dark interior but I see nothing, only darkness. The harsh sun outside is unable to break the shadows just inside the doorway.

The church sits still now, curved in a long arch, the cross and half of the spire now buried in the sand. It no longer seems like a holy place. It’s some evil madhouse, everything distorted, unnatural. The opening in the front is a gaping mouth into Hell.

I walk towards the doorway, pulled forward, unable to stop my feet from moving. I grab the cross hanging from my neck. I must keep God close.