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Part 2: From agony to Serenity


To many people in the City, Reverend Wayne Cross was more feared than the devil himself.

A fundamentalist Christian of the highest order, he read the bible nightly and believed that God was talking directly to him.

Even decades before the world had taken its seemingly never-ending dip into its current pit of death and depravity, Cross had been out to take scalps for God.

Roughly nine years prior to the events that we have been watching in the Freelands, a nineteen-year-old girl had gone to see him one night to confess her sin of getting pregnant from a one night stand.

In the booth he’d been kind but firm, giving her his standard penance of twenty-five Hail Marys and sending her on her way.

That night Deborah had been woken by a rapping at her bedroom door.

Her parents were away, so, in circumstances very close to those in which her unborn child had been conceived, she had thrown a house party.

It had been a veritable orgy of sex, drugs and heavy metal.

The floors were littered with used condoms and discarded beer bottles.

She was baked and was sleeping off the after-effects of a bottle of tequila and a quarter of weed.

Pissed by the disturbance, she grunted and opened her eyes.

She’d known before going to bed that the following morning was not going to be pretty and so had done her best to avoid it.

She was aiming for noon at the very earliest, so the fact that someone was braying on her door at – gasp! – five-fifteen did not go down well.

‘Get the fuck outta here, it’s too early,’ she hissed.

Her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Lee, lay, for all intents and purposes, comatose beside her.

He was snoring into the pillow, a sticky mass of drool pouring from the side of his mouth.

Fucking gross, she thought.

‘If you’re after more booze there ain’t any. If you’re after more johnnies, try the bathroom cabinet. If you’re after anything else, fuck off.’

She smiled at her own wit.

Then winced; even the sound of her own voice was making her head pound.

This hangover was going to be a bastard.

She glanced over to the door.

Saw that there were still two dark patches underneath; feet, waiting outside her room.

Her parents had stood there often enough for her to know that.

‘You hear me?’ she shouted, again wincing as pain lanced through her forehead.

She suddenly had a terrifying thought; that her parents had returned early from their holidays to find the whirlwind of booze and hormones that had devastated their perfect home.

The knocking on the door persisted.

Lee hadn’t even stirred with all the racket.

‘Who’s there?’ she shouted, her anger already beginning to subside to fear.

She listened to see if there were any clues to who was standing there, dumbly, outside the door.

She had grown to recognise the asthmatic wheeze of her father’s breathing, so it was clear it wasn’t him.

Maybe it was her mother.

But then again the knocking had been a bit hard for her, and she would surely have voiced her thoughts by now.

The fist brayed on the door again, this time hard enough to jiggle the small ornaments above her bed along their shelves.

Even Lee murmured a little in his sleep.

Her fear suddenly subsided as her brain clicked into gear.

It was more than likely one of her pisshead friends playing a prank on her.

‘You’re knocking loud enough to wake the fucking dead here,’ she shouted.

She had no idea why she chose those words, but in time they would become terrifyingly appropriate.

‘Right, I’m outta bed now, dickhead,’ she hissed. ‘You’re fucking in for it now.’

Her head swam as she got to her feet.

Her legs were like jelly.

It felt like she had been on the wrong end of a beating.

She giggled, in spite of her annoyance at being woken.

As she neared the door, she noticed the feet had gone.

She almost got back into bed, but her sheer anger at being woken made her want to find out who’d been knocking on the door.

She unlocked the door, pulled it open.

No one there.

The house stood in darkness, shadows shrouding every hiding place.

‘This shit ain’t funny,’ she hissed. ‘Kirtley? Renwick? Is that you?’

The silence swallowed her cries.

The house was too quiet, even for this time on a Sunday morning.

Usually there was someone still up, chasing whatever buzz they chased at parties like these.

There were no voices, no bong noises, no muffled pants and grunts.

For some reason, it made her skin crawl.

Again, she debated going back to bed, and would have been on her way there, but for the fact that she wanted to know who had been knocking on her door and why.

She followed the corridor around, her own home no longer familiar and comforting, but now sinister and alien.

Her feet crunched in broken glass and she was pleased that she’d had the foresight to put on her sneakers before leaving her bedroom.

There were roughly a dozen Bud bottles ground into the carpet, but this wasn’t what she was stepping on.

The lamp on the table by her parents’ bedroom had been hurled into the wall where it had shattered into dozens of pieces.

She moved down the corridor, feeling something sticky on the sole of her right sneaker.

In the darkness, she couldn’t see what it was, but she cursed her foolishness at inviting her friends round.

The clean-up was going to take longer than she’d thought.

By the living room door, things got strange.

Kirtley was slumped face down on the carpet.

Drunken asshole, she thought, assuming he was passed out.

Then she figured he had been knocking on her bedroom door – after all he had done this type of shit before – and was now playing dead to avoid retribution.

This theory was shot to shit when she saw the stab wounds in his back and the blood that had begun to soak into the carpet.

She felt for a pulse that wasn’t there to find but did her best not to panic.

Kirtley was the ultimate practical joker and she had had a fuckton of weed and booze last night so it was possible her mind was playing tricks on her.

She edged the door to the living room open and her jaw dropped when she saw what awaited her inside.


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