The story so far:
Thou Shall Not Kill – Chapter 5
Let there be light
“I am the lord your god, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3 NKJV) Father Preston Roared from the Podium.
“Now what is significant about that passage?” He questioned wittingly. His cold eyes scanned the pews piercing each individual that he connected with. Paige and I sat, slouched down, in the back of a vast cathedral auditorium. Father Preston stood, dressed in his garb, at the podium. He was belittled by the towering organ pipes glimmering behind him. His foul teeth protruded from his wide grinning mouth as he formed his next thought. Paige hunkered down next to me to avoid being seen. I followed her example.
She looked up to me and whispered, “Mom, why do we have to be here?” I ran my fingers though her hair and gave her a hug.
“We will leave soon,” I assured her.
“Without God -- You are a slave! Without God you are a slave to sin!” Father Preston shouted. He leaned forward over the podium, and then pointed his crooked finger. His yellow eyes scanned the audience but he was pointing directly at me.
“Because of God you are free, but that freedom comes at a price.”
I ducked lower in the pew.
“Fear,” Father Preston continued, “God has come to test you, and his fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20 NKJV) “But don’t be afraid, ladies and gentlemen, for with fear and by keeping the commandments you are saved. Thank you, lord almighty.” He put his arms up in the air and began to pray.
I turned to Paige to tell her that we could leave now, but she was no longer sitting next to me. I stood up as the organ pipes began to billow out a hypnotic, melancholy, tone. My eyes darted franticly around the room trying to catch a glimpse of my beautiful young girl. As I stepped in the aisle I could see that the room was now completely empty. The music suddenly cut out. I stood behind row after row of once full pews. My heart thumped hard against my ribs. My eyes felt stiff and swollen, and my throat clogged with anxiety.
From the quiet stage a soft sadistic laugh began to echo throughout the cathedral.
“What do you want from me?” I screamed.
The laugh grew louder and louder. I began to shake. Darkness filled the sanctuary as I moved towards the stage. I tried to resist, but it was as if an unknowable force was pushing me from behind, jabbing me in the back. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I made my way to the stage. My trembling hand reached for the curtain. I tore it back releasing an unbearable light that dropped me to the floor.
I sat up quickly from a dead sleep. I was safe in my bed. Franco stood at my feet curiously staring at me.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“Where is Paige?”
“She’s sleeping in her room. Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?” He spoke sternly. I could see his emotions were hanging by a thread. His eyes were full of the hope that soon things would get better. I couldn’t give him the reassurance that he was looking for. I pushed past him into Paige’s room to find her still curled up in her blankets.
“I don’t want to go to school today mom,” she groaned from under the covers.
“No honey, you don’t have to go today.”
She uncovered her head and looked at me. Her eyes were red and nervous. A single tear ran down her cheek.
“What is wrong honey?” I asked knowing the answer already.
She shook her head and with quivering lips blubbered “I had a dream last night.”
I crawled into her bed and held her tight against my body as she told me about the dream she had had. She described the same cathedral that was in my dream. She saw Father Preston standing in front of the towering organ pipes as he gave his sermon about the first commandment. Thou shall have no other gods before me. She told me that she saw demons standing on both sides of Father Preston, and that their dark eyes began to glow. She ducked with me in the pew trying to avoid being seen, but something lifter her from her seat. She was sucked up in the void high above her and watched as the demons pulled Father Preston from the stage. Two demons towered above me. Poking me in the back with their rough and jagged fingers; she watched me trip towards the stage. As I reached for the curtain Paige was dropped. She fell through the main floor and on to the cold wet stone of chambers below.
There were torches dimly lighting the dank room. The smell of mud and burnt flesh lingered in the air. She lifted her eyes from the stone floor to see the gore that surrounded her. Five girls hung motionless upon rugged wooden crucifixes with a sign around each girl’s neck. She looked for a way out, but the walls were solid. There was no exit to be frond. She saw that there were five more crucifixes that were empty.Then a loud thump came from behind her. She jumped forward and then quickly turned around. One of the girls was convulsing against the wood. The girl coughed up blood and gave one last attempt to free herself. Her terrified eyes begged Paige to let her down, but Paige was paralyzed with fear. Then her head dropped forward, and her body fell limp. Paige dropped to her knees and uncontrollably wept. She looked up to the girl as if to say she was sorry, and noticed the words on the sign. Thou Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me.
That is when she woke up. It killed me to see her upset. From the other room I heard Franco turn on the television. Dramatic music thumped across the house. The news was breakings; another girl had been found crucified.
The phone rang.
“hello?” my voice shook.
“He’s getting closer.”
“Who is this?”
“Your daughter is in danger. Take her to Father Preston, he can help.”
The connection went blank, and a dial tone soon followed. I hung up the phone and put my hands on my face. This can’t be happening, I thought to myself. How could that sick old man possibly help me? I didn’t know what to do. I stood from Paige’s bed and walked down stairs. Franco sat at the kitchen table watching the morning news. His eyes followed me while I picked up my purse from the chair it was hanging on. Our eyes briefly met while he shoveled some more cereal into his mouth.
“Where you going?” He mumbled. Milk dripped down his chin, and he quickly grabbed his napkin. I didn’t reply. I felt robotic in motion. My mind was set on following the directions of a stranger. Two strange phone calls in two days were all I needed. I couldn’t chance the safety of my only child. I dug out my keys and the proceeded back upstairs.
“Paige,” I called out, but received no answer. I called out again, but still only silence.
“What mom?” She spoke from behind me. I jumped and looked down at her.
“Honey, we have to go.”
“Go where mom.”
“Just get dressed, and trust me.”
As we neared her school Paige began to squirm in her seat. Her eyes grew with panic as she looked for an escape.
“But you said..”
“You’re not,” I interrupted.
“Then what are you doing mother.” Her tone was insubordinate. I looked over at her, but didn’t want to tell her.
“Just trust me.”
I knew she wouldn’t want to see him; especially after the dream she had last night. But she didn’t see what I saw in the dream. She fell in to the chambers below before I revealed what was behind the curtain. A light in the darkness, I thought to myself, but still there was doubt in my mind.