a mob surrounding a flame they're coming for you

They’re Coming For You – A Novelette (Part 13)

I sat in the dark on the edge of the front pew. It was quiet. I could no longer sense the once putrid aroma that permeated every corner of the church. My hands were shaking, like rattling bones inside jittery flesh desperate to escape. It didn’t make much sense for me to sit there after such a traumatic event, but I needed a second to breathe and to clear my head. The horrors in the church attic stuck with me. And, a part of me, a part that I didn’t want to admit, feared going home at all. I feared leaving the church. While I figured it might have been paranoia, I sensed the church walls to be the only thing left protecting me from whatever closed in from the outside. And yet, I also felt guilty. Guilty for closing the hatch door on Mary. Guilty for not doing more for her and her family. Guilty for fear and failure. Everything had fallen apart. The Accusers were winning and I felt helpless against them.

I cried. I felt the wetness on my hands. But on closer inspection, I realized it wasn’t clear, but red. Tears of blood, sprinkling out of my eyes. I wiped it away and heard a faint chanting outside. I stood like a madman waving and twisting his body in all directions. Running down the main aisle, I burst through the main double doors and stopped dead in my tracks.

A multitude of torches burned bright and scattered across the night canvas of cloaked figures. There were maybe a hundred of them, perhaps more. My first reaction was to head straight back into the church. I fought the urge. I stood tall, though afraid, and waited for them to make the first move. When they did nothing, I took my first step forward. I had the brave intention of walking straight up to them and telling them what I thought of them, telling them off in one last speech that would go down as a grand finale.

Instead, I ran. I took off faster than I’ve ever run before, blazing around the church and sprinting toward my car. Of course, they followed. I shuddered at the sound of their plangent footsteps colliding together, coming after me like an unstoppable calvary.

When I reached the driver side door, I had my keys at the ready. The front door wasn’t locked so I hopped in and immediately thrust the key into the ignition, turning it with glee and feeling a certain satisfaction at the growl of the engine. No crowd could tame it. I slammed the pedal into the floor, squealed the tires, and sped down the road. They came nevertheless. Some with bats, some with hammers, pitchforks, crowbars, and knives. The ferocity of my car didn’t stay their hand. They surrounded the car, swinging their weapons, and forcing me to slow down. They smashed the windshield, leaving a giant crater. Like animals, they climbed on top of the car and howled and screamed and yelled, baring their teeth with wanton malevolence. It didn’t take long for my foot to come off the clutch. The car stalled. More glass shattered to my right and left. I didn’t remember much after that except hot breath on my neck and cold, wet hands touching my face and arms.

I awoke to the feeling of pain in my wrists and shoulders. To my surprise, a metal chain wrapped around my wrists as I hung from the ceiling. The clothes had been removed from my back, my body, as I dangled in a dark room. A sudden urge to cry out for help rose inside me but I stifled it, knowing it likely would be useless. I recalled what happened before I blacked out. They took me. I thought about saying hello, but again, assumed it would be pointless. A fear came over me then, a fear of what might happen if they come. My family will not know about my disappearance. So, they can’t come for me. They can’t help me. But, they’re safe. That’s all that matters.

I prayed the Lord’s prayer in a whisper. Then, I prayed David’s prayer but changed a few words, “As I hang in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” My eyes opened after saying fear. Then, I whispered in the dark, “Deliver me from fearing evil.”

With that, a bright orange flame erupted, illuminating a woman I’d never seen before. She neither smiled nor frowned but her facial expression was fierce. She took a few steps toward me, her heels clicking on the hard floor; each click reverberated loudly through the room.

“Rapist!” she yelled, tears running down her cheeks. She spit on my stomach and instantly her torch went out. It was as if she vanished. I couldn’t hear the clicks of her heels any longer.

Another torch ignited. It revealed a young man with a shirt and tie, his hair combed neatly to the side. He approached me softly and yelled, “Bigot!” He punched me in the rib once before his torch extinguished.

The third torch was held by a small female child no older than eight. The girl didn’t come very close, but yelled in a tiny falsetto, “Oppressor!” I yelped when I felt the hard sting of a stone hitting my chest. She threw another and another, one hitting my leg and the other, my skull. A tiny trickle of blood ran down my forehead and off the bridge of my nose. I shivered and shook. My heart pounded inside my chest.

“Who are you? What proof do you have? I have done nothing!” I yelled in agony.

“He has the audacity to deny our claims!” a shrill voice said in the dark.

Many voices whispered, “Monster” and “Liar” and “Oppressor” throughout the room, like ghastly wraiths twisting and swirling in the air.

A woman, tall and beautiful, approached, slapping me across the face and punching me in the gut. She scratched my face and my chest with her nails, clawing at me like a cat. “You bastard! How dare you!” she cried. “How dare you!”

“Do you see how in anguish she is? Do you see?” A voice said.

“What should we do with him?” Another voice asked.

“Burn!” “Kill!” “Filet!” “Disembowel!” the voices exclaimed one after the other.

“No!” I cried. “I don’t even know this woman. I’ve done nothing wrong! Do you hear me?”

The room hushed. Out of the dark came a figure cloaked in crimson red. I couldn’t see any of his features, but for some odd reason I just knew it was a he. Perhaps I was wrong, but something eliminated off of the figure, some kind of message that told me this one was different. This one wasn’t like the others. No. No, his whole presence was overwhelming evil.  

Out of his sleeve came a long, serrated knife. He held it to his side as he walked up to me. With one swift motion, he thrust it at my belly. The sharp edge of the knife barely poked at the flesh, but the crimson figure stayed his hand. I jerked and quaked in fear. Fear. Why am I afraid? I have done nothing wrong. But above that, I should have abundant love. If the power of the Lord dwells in me, why should I fear? So I tempered my fear and calmed my spirit, calling out to the Father.

“Tell me,” I said, “tell me what I’ve done and I swear I’ll tell you if it’s true.”

“We know it’s true,” the crimson figure said, his voice deep and warped and ominous. “Nothing you say will change its truth.”

“But I…”

He plunged the knife into my stomach and I gasped for air. I didn’t want to look down. I couldn’t bear it, so I lifted my eyes to Jesus and pleaded for mercy.

 

End of Part 13

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