Saturday, July 30, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Graham looked through the eyes of the corpulent man and watched as Gina lay on the ground bleeding out. The young girl who had shot her stood nearby, unmoving. He shifted to her point of view and felt resistance, which he quickly over came and turned his attention from the dying woman to The Pennyman, whom stooped over the dead form of, he thought through the list of soldiers he had sent to die, and came up with the name Jeff, no Jeffrey.
He considered having the girl, Evelyn was her name, shoot the Pennyman, but thought better of it. There was a balance to be preserved, and the man with the coins would see that it was, despite any perceived injuries to his host. The man stood up, and through the young girls eyes, Graham saw the telltale holes in the Pennyman’s shirt. He had been shot. He adjusted his attention again and watched Sam run from the room, despite feeling that the young man had wanted to shoot her. The Pennyman knelt in front of her and placed an obol in the mouth of Gina, and seeing nothing left in the room to hold his attention, he let his mind wander to his other scouts.
Over the last few days, more and more soldiers had joined the community he was forging in the Texas winter, a few miles south of Amarillo, enough so that almost half of the houses were now occupied. Many of his scouts were out looking for food and supplies to keep them through the coming snow, and as he switched from view to view, he saw everything from large groups of wood that would be useful for cooking and heating, to small mammals, rabbits and squirrels mainly, that would make adequate stews. His view even shifted once into a woman who held a shotgun trained on a small doe trailing behind it’s herd. He left all of them alone and instead, chose to settle back into his own body, which sat on the porch of the parsonage, overlooking the skeletal frame of the church.
A chuckle filled his lungs and he let it loose, as he thought about the state of the temples that had once risen in his name. At that moment, a call to him from one of his scouts caught his attention and he shifted back to the woman who had triumphantly shot the deer. He watched as a group of five men ran out of the cover of a nearby stand of trees and, grabbing the doe, made off with it back into the woods.
Graham commanded his scout to follow them, and watched through her eyes as she did. She followed from tree to tree, keeping out of sight, the five men moving slowly under the added weight of the deer. They climbed a hill that the woods hid and followed its ridge for about a mile, all the while being shadowed. It was when Graham viewed their destination that the fury took him and he sent out a call to his soldiers to gather and prepare for another fight. The five men took the deer into a small church and were greeted by a number of women at the doorway. While his troops were assembling, he had his scout circle the building, but she did not find any guards or any kind of warning system.
His army numbered almost two hundred now, with the exception of a few scouts who were still out in the field, they had all heeded his call. His orders were simple. Leave no survivors and burn the church to the ground. They would find no protection from the new gods, he thought as he grabbed a gun and led the charge. It was only five miles but took nearly two hours to travel the fields and negotiate the woods.
He decided against silence, let them hear there doom coming, he thought, let them hear the war come to their front door. It was pitiful how quickly the slaughter went. They did not even try to seek shelter in the building, instead standing in the front of the temple with shotguns aimed. Graham only lost one soldier during the short firefight. Once the last of the defenders had fallen, Graham walked into the church and found a woman cowering at the alter, candles illuminating her tear stricken face. Unmoved, Graham grabbed her viciously by the hair, taking up a candle with his other hand. He touched one to the other and, as she began to scream, forced the writhing human torch into the buildings curtain covered walls, sending the flames snaking upward.
As the flames moved to encompass more of the woman and the church, Graham let her go and removed himself to the door of the church and watched as the fire quickly leapt from curtain to curtain, and upon coming into contact with the carpet, ravenously spread across the floor, beginning to consume the wooden pews. In the firelight, he caught a shadowed form in the opposite corner of the building, whose escape was now blocked by the flames.
The battle over, he dismissed his soldiers back to whatever they had been doing before the call had gone up and they slowly dispersed. After about half an hour, he was the only one that remained at the church. The spreading fire had forced him out of the building and he now stood and watched as the steeple took light, the flames dancing their way to the Cross that stood atop it.
As the fire touched the final point of the Cross, the roof gave way with a loud crack and collapsed on itself, sending flames and ash billowing skyward in a rush of hot air. Satisfied, Graham began his trek back to the parsonage that he called home.
He knew how to start a war, and he was unafraid of whoever, or whatever, forces got in his way.
Now, back to the worry about the girl, Evelyn. They had all been told not to shoot Peter, Zach, Sam, or their companions, but that was before Sam had met Gina. Did she count? The question was on his mind briefly before he had decided that yes, she did. He could not afford to be lenient. The war was coming, and he needed troops that listened as if their lives depended on it. They did.