a mob surrounding a flame they're coming for you

They’re Coming For You – A Novelette (Part 7)

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I lied to my son. I had no idea what would follow. No one did. I suppose we all should have, but like most people, we saw the darkness at night and knew it would go away in the morning, kept to the shadows, kept caged. But this evil wouldn’t be caged for long. It wanted to breathe. It wanted out.

It began that night after my talk with Alex. Another call came after dinner and my wife picked up the phone. She didn’t say much during the call except, “Don’t ever call back here again!” and slammed the receiver on the hook.

“What was that about?” I asked.

She looked distraught. Her lower lip trembled a bit, something she did when she was nervous and afraid. Instead of anything, she shook her head, a tear coming down her eye, and walked passed me. She went to our room and slammed the door. Of course, I followed after her, too worried and stressed over the phone call. Rather than let her have space, my curiosity got the better of me. I just knew I couldn’t wait a day to know what happened. I’d be thinking about it and distracted. It would drive me crazy.

When I cracked open the door, she wept on the bed. Her back was turned to me and her head was pressed in her hands. I closed the door quickly to make sure the kids didn’t hear and went over to her side.

“What happened? What was that?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Jonathan. You tell me!”

Confused, I moved a few inches away from her. “What do you mean?”

Her ferocious, red, tear-filled eyes looked on me with disgust. “Don’t pretend. Don’t you pretend!”

“I honestly…”

“Who was she, Jonathan? When you went on that pastor’s trip to Tennessee. You met up with a woman at a hotel room. Didn’t you?”

Offended and afraid of the accusation, I stood and fumed. “What are talking about? I did no such thing!” I yelled, but lowered my voice at the last minute. “Whoever told you any of that is a liar. I…”

“They were very specific about the details. They knew everything. The name of the hotel room, your hotel number, dates, times, even what you were wearing that day. They knew everything, Jonathan! Don’t tell me they’re lying! How did they know all of it?”

My hands went numb and cold and my face froze in fear. Words formed like wild stallions in my mind, galloping away from the ranch hand and leaping over the fence, away from my grasp. The shock and stress of it all paralyzed my tongue, paralyzed my ability to defend myself. I knelt down and looked her in the eye.

“Who was it on the phone?”

“I don’t know.”

“A man? A woman? Old? Young?”

“What does it matter?”

“Because it could be the same people that went after Tom. Don’t you understand that?”

“Oh please,” she said in disbelief. “There you go, immediately blaming someone else.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You know what it means, Jonathan. You never take the blame. You always deflect. I’ve not once heard you confess a sin to me. We’ve been married for almost ten years and not once have you admitted anything.”

“Well, I…

“Remember when I caught you skimming money from our savings for that silly car project you were working on?”

“That was my money.”

“There it is again.”

My face turned red. I didn’t want to deal with her anymore. She dredged up the past like a professional coal miner, throwing what she thought were flaws in my face. I threw up my hands and turned my back. Tempted to walk out completely, I walked toward the door and placed my hand on the door knob, but stopped myself. The conversation wasn’t over. We hadn’t reached any kind of resolution.

“I spoke out for Tom at church the other day. You were there. You heard it,” I said, turning back around.

“So?”

“So, I got their attention. This is their way of getting back at me.”

“You’re just trying to deflect again.”

I shook my head. “While I was preaching, I saw a cloaked figure by the door. It looked…ominous. And it appeared at the exact time that I started talking about Tom.”

“Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

“Why are you being like this?” I asked. “Your trusting a voice on a phone over your own husband. I didn’t do what they said I did. I went to the hotel room by myself, turned on the television and fell asleep. That was it.”

She took a breath and pressed her face in her hands. “I don’t know what to believe, Jonathan. I just need space. Please,” she said.

“Fine,” I said and walked out of the door. I about slammed it shut but fought the temptation and shut it quietly. That night we didn’t sleep in the same bed. She made it clear she needed even more space. Sleeping on the couch didn’t do my back any favors, sinking in the middle like quick sand. I dealt with it, using my grandmother’s old knitted afghan blanket. The blanket was too short. If I covered my feet, it would barely come up to my chest and if I pulled it over my chest, my feet stuck out. Even though the television was on, illuminating my face in gray-white light, I paid more attention to what had happened. Who was on the phone? Who knew about my trip to Tennessee? Were they watching me? The thought of someone following me sent gooseflesh all over my body. I couldn’t sleep that night, staring off into the distance, thinking about what I should do. I knew I had to do something, though. I had to act before they did. Before they came for us next.

I drifted off to sleep and sailed down a river of fire that lead to the mouth of my house. The house burned forever with my family inside and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I couldn’t save them as they cried out. Helpless.

End of Part 7

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