a mob surrounding a flame they're coming for you

They’re Coming For You – A Novelette (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series They're Coming For You

Synopsis

All is not well in the small town of Norcross, Minnesota. A mysterious group lurks in the shadows, tormenting and terrorizing people with impunity. Things reach a fever pitch when Tom Houtkooper’s house is set on fire while Tom is still inside. With his family in hiding and Tom burning in a never-ending flame, a local pastor lays it upon himself to help and possibly stop the madness before it destroys everything and everyone around them. But, by getting involved, will it hurt his ministry and put his family in danger in the process? The answers will leave you in chills. 

They’re Coming For You

A slice of sunlight cut through the window shades when the telephone rang violently. My wife’s hand rose from its slumber, reached over, and felt around until she picked up the telephone receiver on her bedside table.

“Hello?” she asked, sounding tired and groggy.

I listened intently, trying to make out the words from the voice, but struggled. Few would call us at that time of day, raising a small alarm in my mind.

After she listened for a bit, she finally said, “I understand. Yes. I’ll tell Jonathan. We’ll pray. Yes. God bless.” She hung up the phone and sat up. Her long hair draped over her shoulders and she placed her hand up to her face, rubbing it.

“What is it?” I asked. I was still too tired to get up but awake enough to wretch a few words out of my mouth.

“That was Holly Gergis.”

“And?”

“They came again.”

Fully alarmed, I rose, looking at her. “Who did they come for this time?”

“The Houtkoopers.”

“What? Your kidding.”

“No. I wish I was.”

“What did Tom ever do? What’s he accused of?”

“Oppressor.”

I ground my right molars together, feeling anxious and angry and sad and scared and a whole swirl of ferocious emotions that were difficult to tame. They grew stronger each time. Above all, I felt hopeless and I hated feeling that way. Being a pastor, a man of faith, I needed to trust in the Lord’s power, his strength, his work. Yet, the more they came, the more isolated and alone I felt.

“What did they do? Is his family okay?” I asked.

“Nancy and the kids are in hiding at the Gergis’. Tom,” she said, her voice breaking up. “They…they burnt…um.” The tears sprinkled from her eyes and she wiped them away. “The house is on fire and he’s inside. He’s burning.”

“He’s dead.”

She shook her head. “He’s still burning.”

“What? Why don’t they put it out?”

“The firemen tried for hours but nothing they do will stop it. It just…it just keeps burning.”

“This is different than before. Before, they…” I stopped, unable to even think of it, the horror still bitter on my tongue. I abruptly rose from bed, went to the dresser, and wildly went through my clothes.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Going to the Houtkoopers. And, maybe the Gergis’ if I have time. Maybe I can talk to Nancy before today’s church service.”

“Jonathan. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

I stopped, not wanting to be told no, not wanting to have any resistance at all. A fire roared in my belly, thirsty for justice. “Why?” I asked.

“I’m sure they don’t want anyone to know where they are. They need this to die down. You’ll only draw attention.”

“Draw attention to us, you mean?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you thought it.”

“So what if I did? I’m scared, Jonathan.”

I saw the pain and fear tremble in her big doe eyes and it gave me pause. My heart softened. Suddenly, justice didn’t matter much anymore. Just my wife. Just my kids. I sighed and sat back down on the bed, looking away from her. She inched forward and placed her hand on the small of my back.

“We need to tread carefully. We’ve never seen a power like this before,” she said.

“I know.”

“This isn’t your burden.”

“I’m the only pastor in Norcross. If not me, who?”

“Someone else,” she said.

Her voice sounded off, then. Foreign almost. Though I wanted to buy what she was selling, I knew the end product wasn’t from love but fear, from desire not need. After that, I felt my heels digging in further and my repulsion show.  

“I need to say something at the service today,” I said firmly, standing. “The congregation will be afraid. Tom was a beloved member of the church.”

“I know. I know. But, what if they’re at the service? It could ruffle feathers.”

“I have to say something.”

“Please, Jonathan, don’t. For me. Just leave it alone. At least for now.”

“What if it gets worse? What if more join?”

She had nothing to say to that, and with a bleak, downcast expression she slipped back under the covers like a snake slipping back into its skin after shedding it. I knew how she felt, somewhere inside I felt the same, and I didn’t judge her for it. She was only thinking of me and the kids, protecting us from a town constantly changing into a monster.

But, running from a monster refused to fit inside my calling.

End of Part 1

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