(Not Professionally Edited)
It took a great deal of talking to convince Colleen not to call in sick for work the next day, and even more to convince her sister she didn’t need someone staying with her. But Sam managed. Reassuring Colleen she would be fine, Sam shoved her out the door, and on her way to work.
Thank God for solitude.
Carrying a huge water bottle—since she’d been in the trance she couldn’t seem to get enough fluids—Sam climbed into her car. Her appetite was nonexistent as of late as well. She just couldn’t seem to get that horrible musty taste from her mouth, the taste of dirt and death. Her father explained to her that it would take some time before her entire body regulated back to its normal state. Sam wondered if it ever would.
Setting the bottled water on the seat beside her, Sam drove past the sign announcing the exit of the city limits. None of the churches in the city fit the description she had from her dreams. None of them was near an open field or a farm. So she decided to go outside the city. With the list of churches beside her, Sam was ready to check out each and every one.
It was a beautiful sunny day. The June sun was full in the sky, heating her skin through the closed glass window. The cloudless sky was an ocean of blue and the heat produced an illusion of shimmering waves on the pavement as she drove. Her fingers tapped on the steering wheel to the rock beat playing on her radio. No one would know it to look at her now, but two days before she’d been with the dead in a musty grave.
When her cell phone vibrated on her dashboard, Sam answered it with cheer in her voice.
“Sam, its Olivia. I hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time?”
Resting the phone on her shoulder, Sam turned down the radio, slowed her speed. “Not at all. What's up?”
“Well…we had an appointment this morning, to go over which one of your pieces we would showcase in the Art World magazine.”
If she’d had a free hand Sam would have slapped herself on the head. It was such a privilege to have her work in the magazine, which ran cross-country.
She was an idiot for forgetting it. “Damn, it completely slipped my mind.”
“We need to get this in within the next two week.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’ve had something else on my mind lately, something…big. Set up another time and I promise I won’t miss that one.”
“Okay, what about two o’clock this Friday?”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll be there.” She set the phone back on the dash, slowing as she came up to the first church on her list.
Sam knew instantly it wasn’t the one. First, it was near a car dealership. Second, there were no farmlands or trees anywhere in the near vicinity. So she continued on to the next one on her list.
After checking out three more churches, none giving her even the slightest bit of an indication that she was on the right track, Sam felt defeated. Then she saw the tall cathedral style church and her heart began to beat faster.
As she pulled into the lot, the tall weathered but still beautiful church seemed to loom out over top of her. Parking her car, she looked up to see the bell tower.
Stepping from the car, she felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She was here. She’d finally found what she’d been looking for.
Taking one-step at a time, feeling every nerve in her body react to where she was, she walked to the front doors of the church. The large windows gave the place plenty of light, even if filtered through all the stained glass. It was a spectacular view, mesmerizing. It certainly didn’t look worn out from inside, the exact opposite really.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand touched her shoulder. Spinning around, she saw the priest smiling back at her.
“Oh goodness, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I was just …caught up in the beauty of this place. I’m here because I’m interested in joining.” A lie, and she hoped she wouldn’t be struck down in the very spot she stood.
“The Lord is always prepared for new disciples.” He smiled a crooked smile, his teeth worn with age.
Are you the killer? “It’s a lovely old church. Are you the priest in charge?”
He nodded, his hands resting behind his back making his rounding belly stick out. “For twelve years now. I’m Father Lucian.”
The name didn’t match the initials. “That’s a long time. I just moved here and I decided to check out some of the local churches. This one caught my eye. Do you mind if I take a look around?”
“Not at all. Would you like me to give you a tour?”
“I think I can manage, but thank you, Father.”
“I’ll be in my office if you need me. Just down the corridor there and to your right.”
“Thank you, Father Lucian.” She waited until he walked away before she began to investigate.
The first place she went to was the bell tower. Maybe the reason they were so loud is because the murders took place here, but as she stepped into the small area that housed the bell, she felt nothing. Sighing, Sam turned and took the spiral stairs that led down. Heading out the back door, stepping outside, she could smell the scent of hay, and followed her nose.
In the distance sat a farmhouse. As she moved closer, she saw the paddock and all the trees. Crossing the church property, Sam found herself drawn to it. She stepped through the wire fence and the moment her foot landed on the property, she felt the ground move beneath her feet.
Something bad had happened here, just like at the church, and Sam knew just what it was.
Giving no mind to invading someone else’s private property, Sam moved on. The dead were calling her, begging her to find them. Privacy be damned. Her running shoes sunk in the mud where the rain had fallen the night before. Her eyes transfixed on the horses paddock, she continued to move toward it. The closer she got, the stronger she felt them pulling at her.
Pushing the doors open, the hinges creaking, Sam stepped inside, her body tingling. She could feel them, and deep inside her mind, she could hear them. They cried, they begged, they pleaded, they screamed.
The door closed behind her, caging her in a void of darkness. There were tiny peeps of light coming from the boarded up windows, but not enough for her to make out where she was walking.
She leafed through her purse until she found her father’s gold lighter. She’d taken it when he’d agreed to quit smoking and as silly as it was, she thought by having it, he wouldn’t smoke again.
Clicking the lighter on, Sam took a good look around. This was the place. She could feel the horror and death all around her. It vibrated over her, sliced into her, melded with her blood. She was as much a part of the dead as the dead were, and that was a very uneasy feeling.
She screamed when something grabbed her ankle. Spinning around, Sam saw the tiny hand reaching out of the dirt, clawing for life.
Alive, he was alive, and she had to save him. She fell down on her knees, dropping the lighter as she clawed at the dirt. She had to set him free.
“May I ask what the hell you are doing here?”
Sam jumped, and spinning around on her knees, looked up at the man looming over her.
“I’ll ask one more time. What are you doing here?”
It was him, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the man who had taken eight children, used them, abused them, and then snuffed out their lives. His voice gave him away. Getting to her feet, dusting the dirt from her hands, she tried to stay calm. She was, after all, facing a killer.