The story so far:
Officer Sharpe leaned against the door listening for movement outside but all he could hear was his heart beating hard in his chest.
“What are those things?” Leda asked.
“When I figure that out, I’ll let you know,” Sharpe replied.
“There were so many of them and I’ve been hearing all sorts of crazy stories about weird things happening all over town like power outages and stuff. Do you think all these things are connected?” Leda was asking the same questions that Officer Sharpe was thinking.
“Either that or a pretty strange coincidence,” he said, turning to her. “Are you alright?” he asked, turning on his flashlight and shining the light on her scraped knee.
“I’ll live,” she answered, and then under her breath, “I hope.”
“Don’t worry, we’re going to get out of here,” he tried to reassure her but his own doubts betrayed him. “Come on, we need to get upstairs and try to see what’s going on outside.”
Leda moved to her feet.
Sheriff Brodie made his way back inside the building, unsure of what he had seen in the generator room and unsure of what happened to Alvarez. He couldn’t help but think the worst. The first thing he did was secure and load a rifle which he sat at the ready on his desk. Then he tried the radio…nothing.
He tried the phones again… nothing.
He then tried his cell phone and even that was dead.
Sheriff Brodie came to two conclusions: he was completely cut off from the outside and he was completely scared for the first time in his life.
A door slammed in the outside hall and he nearly fell out of his chair. He rose to his feet, steadied himself, and reached for the rifle. He raised it, realizing that his hands were shaking. He could hear something like footsteps, but not quite, scraping along the tiled floor moving closer.
“Who’s there?” he called out. “Alvarez, is that you?” With one hand he held the rifle, with the other he reached down for a flashlight and aimed it toward the door. The shuffling had stopped but he could feel that something was just outside the door. The silence was unsettling.
“Alvarez?” he whispered this time, his voice hopeful. Fear surged through his veins turning his blood ice cold. Something moved suddenly out of the shadows of the hallway. Brodie’s radio kicked on, startling him, he dropped the flashlight. It hit the floor. He heard it smash. What little light he had was gone. The rifle fired haphazardly into the darkness, the recoil knocking him backward. Brodie stumbled and fell to the floor and in that same instant he heard the thing from the hallway moving closer, this time without hesitation,…..and then he heard more…….
The basement of the church was large. Sharpe and Leda squeezed their way through a
narrow corridor packed with stacks of metal chairs and banquet tables as well as other
miscellaneous items which included a very large hot air popcorn machine that, as they passed, gave them each an oddly ironic whiff of the stale buttery treat.
The hallway opened into an expansive room set up for the church’s biweekly bingo night, pancake breakfast, and whatever other various functions it served. As Sharpe cast his light from one side of the massive room to the other, briefly cutting through the darkness, he couldn’t help feeling like a little child somewhere he was not supposed to be and feeling quite helpless.
“Creepy, isn’t it?” Leda whispered from behind. She was gripping his arm with both hands.
“It’s clear,” he said, trying not betray his own thoughts, “let’s go.”
They crossed in front of a large stage draped with thick blue curtains and found the stairs on the other side. Sharpe made his way up first, checking, then motioning for Leda to follow. They soon found themselves standing at the back vestibule of the massive old church. It smelled of old wood and stone. It’s high ceilings were supported by a massive network of columns and beams. Moonlight eerily illuminated the massive stained glass windows. Shadows were everywhere. But what caught their collective attention was the altar that was aglow with seemingly hundreds of candles and the lone shadow motionless among the flames.
They made their way slowly up the aisle, Sharpe keeping his light down and his gun raised. As they moved closer they could hear the faint mumblings of repetitious prayer.
Never having been much on religion himself, Sharpe thought that now was as good a time as any to give it a shot.
“Father Terrence?” Leda called out. The kneeling figure started and nearly lost balance before catching itself and standing.
Sharpe shone his light on the man who was indeed the resident priest. The man raised a hand to his eyes in order to see who had come up behind him.
“Who’s there?” the old priest asked nervously.
“It’s me, Father, Leda,” she had moved in front of Deputy Sharpe now, “I’m here with Deputy Sharpe.”
“Leda? How did you get in?”
“We came in through the basement,” Sharpe answered.
“Oh, so that was you?” The priest asked relieved. “I heard the noise and thought for sure those things had broken in.”
“Those things were chasing us which is why we broke in,” Leda explained.
“So you’ve seen them too?” Sharpe asked the priest who was clutching his bible so tightly that the knuckles on his shaking hands were white.
“God has unleashed His wrath upon the earth, the demons of hell are among us now,” the priest began. “Man must account for his sins at long last.”
“Is that what you think those things are?” Leda asked.
“The legions of Satan have been released from hell,” the priest continued, clearly caught up in his own world now, “the war has begun.”
“Look, Father Terrence,” Sharpe cut in, “whatever those things are out there they are not demons or the legions of Satan, or anything hocus pocus like that. Was he trying to convince himself?
“How do we know that?” Leda asked Sharpe.
“The Rapture is upon us. The final battle for man has begun,” the priest continued his tirade to no one in particular. “You have to pray with me,” he beckoned them, reaching for their hands. “Let me help you pray for your souls before it is too late.”
“We don’t have time to pray, Father,” Sharpe said irritably, although wondering if maybe that was all they did have time for. “We need get out of here and figure out what those things are and how to stop them.”
“They are the armies of Satan, you can’t stop them my son you can only pray for your soul.”
“I don’t put much stock in prayer Father, but if you want to pray for my soul be my guest. I’m going to get us out of here.” Sharpe turned and studied the church. It was too vulnerable with all of its windows and multiple entrances. He had to get them out of there and someplace more secure. He tried to think over the mumblings of the priest who was again kneeling, and the sobs of Leda who was uncertain of what to do.
Demons. Legions of Satan. Wrath of God. Final battles. The old priest had either lost it or……, and this was what really scared Sharpe, maybe he was dead on.
Something shattered somewhere.
The shattering echoed through the church.
The priest’s mumbling stopped.Ice ran through the veins of all three.