A Thing Greatly Feared, Chapter 26

The "Spooky Tree"

Waiting out the creature on a moonlit night. ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Darrell escorted Sara to the guestroom, then headed for his own bed. Before parting for the night, though, and after thanking Darrell, Sara said, “Darrell, Hank’s a Christian, too, isn’t he?”

“Umm … yeah.”

“Why the hesitation?”

“It’s been a while since he … daily lived his life for the Lord, if you know what I mean. His level of commitment is not where it should be, I guess you’d say.”

She nodded. “Do you … think that makes a difference for what he’s doing right now, out there?” She was afraid he hadn’t understood. “What I mean is, him not being as committed as you say he should be – is that going to hurt him out there, hurt his chances?”

Darrell’s eyes went to the floor.

“That’s my fear.”

* * *

Skish-kish.

Hank heard the rustling sound again. Problem was, it was coming from an area blocked from his view by the rock.

Come on, stick your mangy head around this rock so I can blast it off.

Hank’s attention was then pulled elsewhere. Upstream, not far away, he saw a light bouncing along near the water’s edge.

What the heck is that?

* * *

Heavy breathing. More branches slapping.

Go. Go. Keep goin’.

James was sucking wind hard. His face and hands stung from branches that didn’t pull their punches. A dozen times or more he’d almost taken a digger, saved every time by some miracle of grace that kept his jelly legs underneath him.

His last glance across the stream had come just a moment ago. In a sea of organic objects that all seemed to blend together in a silver-white wash, he’d caught a glimpse of something that reminded him of that Sesame Street segment “One of These Things Just Doesn’t Belong Here”: long, narrow – blue, maybe?

A sleeping bag!

The children’s tune faded from his mind. How absurd, he thought, that it even entered his mind at a time like this.

“Hank!”

James scrambled to find a way across.

* * *

Hank’s head flinched towards the stream; he swore he just heard his name.

Oh no. Hank gritted his teeth. I told him not to follow me.

Scraping sounds. Hank turned his gaze in front of him. Something was shuffling its way across the hillside – in his direction.

* * *

James found a couple exposed rocks leading towards the other side; he preferred to find a whole line of them so he didn’t have to get wet, but such a thing – and the time to look for it – were luxuries he didn’t have right then. He stepped into the cold water, which came up to his knees, and began sloshing his way across.

* * *

Hank had already been holding his shotgun in front of him, but now he raised it and drew a bead where he figured the creature would pop into view. The foul smell had grown stronger.

Come on. Come on.

It appeared.

KA-BOOM!

* * *

James stopped mid-stream, looked up in horror. The echo of the gunshot reverberated all around him.

Hank!

He pushed harder the rest of the way, then lumbered onto the bank and slogged up it, his own guns at the ready.

“Hank!”

Hank looked to his left and saw someone running towards him.

“Darrell?”

“No. It’s James. James Morgan.”

“James? What the heck are you doin’ here?”

“Long story,” said James as he slowed to a walk a few yards from Hank and lowered his flashlight. “Did you get–?”

“Have a look.”

James scanned in front of him with his flashlight.

“Aw, man. I thought somethin’ reeked,” said James.

A skunk – what was left of it, anyway – lay in the dirt, blown apart by the blast from Hank’s shotgun.

“I was expectin’ somethin’ else,” said Hank.

“The creature.”

“I guess Darrell’s told you everything that’s been goin’ on.”

“Yeah, and we’ve learned more since you left. … I also knew a few things myself already.”

Hank looked at him with mild surprise.

“But now’s no time to talk,” said James. “I know it’s around here; I heard it, several times.”

“Yeah, me too. An’ I smelled him.”

“You mean you smelled this,” said James, pointing to the skunk.

“No. The creature has a bad smell of its own, an’ I smelled it before I ever caught wind of this thing. But let’s get out of here.” He tried to stand. “Aaah!”

“Hank, you’re hurt – how bad?”

Hank inhaled with pain. “I’ve seen better days, but I’m better than before.”

“You break anything?”

“I don’t think so, but my left ankle is sprained pretty bad, an’ my right arm hurts, an’ several other places on my body won’t shut up an’ leave me alone.”

“Well you don’t sound up for pullin’ outta here tonight.”

“No?”

“No way. I don’t think I could make it outta here tonight – not unless my life depended on it.”

“It may.”

“You’re right, there.”

“Which is why I wanna move to someplace safer – I’d like to get farther away from the stream, somewhere quieter, an’ get some fires built.”

“Alright. Let me take a quick look around.”

“Yeah, go for it.”

James left and was back in two minutes.

“I found a good spot on the other side of the slope. It’s flat, open, plenty of room for fires, an’ best of all … upwind from the skunk.”

“Yeah? I think the skunk came from that direction, so you better hope there ain’t a whole family of ’em over there.”

“We’ll find out, won’t we?”

James first moved all their gear to the new site before taking on the more difficult task of moving Hank. As they hobbled along, James had agonizing visions of how slow their trip home would be the next day.

“You, uh, you gonna be up to movin’ a lot tomorrow?”

“Oh yeah; I think so. If you’d seen me earlier, you’d be amazed at how well I’m doin’ right now.”

James laughed.

After a few minutes of choppy, wincing progress, they made it to the site. They got Hank situated in his sleeping bag, guns beside him, then James worked on building the fires.

“You know,” said Hank, “I hadn’t planned on leaving these woods until I killed that thing, an’ I still don’t want to leave til I kill it, but even someone as stubborn as me can see that that ain’t gonna happen.”

“Hey, we ain’t outta the woods yet; who knows what’ll happen between now an’ then.”

“Yeah. Maybe. Didn’t know if I’d ever see you again after you left town – certainly didn’t think it’d be out here in the middle of the woods.”

I didn’t know if I’d ever be back. One phone call changed all that.”

“An’ what one was that?”

“Your brother.”

“That’s what I figured. I told him to investigate while I was gone.” He chuckled. “Sometimes I forget how thorough he can be.”

“You’re tellin’ me. I’ve been watchin’ His Thoroughness in action the last couple days – I told him he should’ve been on the police force.”

“They could use an honest cop right now, couldn’t they?”

“Sure could. An’ they could’ve used a better one than me when I was there.”

“What are you talkin’ about? I always thought you did a good job.”

And for the next hour they talked, each sharing everything he knew about the situation at hand, neither of them ever noticing the orange eyes that peered at them out of the gloom of a nearby thicket. The creature stared at them, never shifting its gaze until …

Go.

… it was told.

* * *

When everyone awoke the next morning – Hank and James in their place, and Darrell, Wade and Sara in theirs – everything, for a moment, seemed alright. Then they remembered, and it became a day to dread.

…………

Hank and James ate an early breakfast, then packed up and doused the fires.

“You ready?” said James.

“Gonna be slow, but I can make it.”

And off they started on their long crawl back.

…………

Wade, Darrell and Sara each lay in bed for a few minutes after waking up, the anticipated events of the day running through their minds.

“Lord – ”

“– give me –”

“– strength.”

Then they crawled out of bed to go finish what they had started.

A Mormon Responds to My Critique of Mormonism, and I Respond in Kind

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

"And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him." ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for your comments, Haley. Perhaps not surprisingly, though, I disagree with everything you said. In fact, what you said basically proved my point—that Mormonism is NOT Christianity.

One of the first things you stated was that Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity, but belief in the Trinity is one of the most crucial tenets of Christianity, and always has been, so by saying you don’t believe in the Trinity, you’ve already, by definition, declared yourself and your fellow Mormons to be NOT Christian.

You also write that “Mormonism is not the only Christian religion that does not believe in the trinity.” First, the terminology you use is incorrect; there’s only one “Christian religion”—Christianity—but maybe you mean “denominations”? Anyway, the more important point is that there is no Christian denomination that disbelieves in the Trinity—because, as I said before, the Trinity is one of the primary doctrines of Christianity, so if you don’t believe in the Trinity, then by definition you’re not a Christian. I don’t know what such a person WOULD be called, but they’re definitely NOT a Christian, just as someone who believes that Christ was a great teacher but not the Son of God is NOT a Christian.

And contrary to what you wrote, the Bible does teach that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same. John 1:1, in describing Jesus as the Word of God, states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So it’s not that there’s Jesus and there’s also God—two separate entities—but that Jesus IS God. Jesus also spoke a lot about the Holy Spirit, and the things He said identified the Spirit as being a member (the third member) of the being we know as God. For example, in John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is Spirit”; and in John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Also, Luke 4:1-2 states: “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.” And perhaps the best illustration of the Trinity occurs in the story of Jesus’ baptism (from Luke 3:21-22): “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” These passages show not only that there’s a Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but they are each an expression of the same God—thus, the Trinity. I don’t claim to understand all the details of the Trinity—I don’t think anyone can—but the Bible is clear that the Trinity is real and true.

As for your other points, these are also off-track. You demonstrate a clear lack of knowledge of your own belief system when you say that “Mormons don’t believe the book of Mormon is the true and original gospel.” This is EXACTLY what Mormons believe, and is in fact the very basis for Mormonism: Joseph Smith claimed that the Gospel as originally given to the apostles had become corrupted and that through him God was “restoring” the true church, the true Gospel; thus, the very premise given for Mormonism’s existence was that the Gospel (and by implication the Bible) was corrupted. This is why Mormons put so much emphasis on the Book of Mormon and disbelieve so much of what’s in the Bible.

And speaking of the Bible … Another central tenet of Christianity is that the Bible is the sole (and infallible) Word of God, and that nothing is to be taken from or added to it. In other words, the Bible doesn’t need (to use your word) “support.” It stands on its own. Mormons’ insistence on other books (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, not to mention “continuing revelation”) is further condemning evidence of their un-Christianity.

Some quick responses to your other points:

*You asked me why Jesus would stay in one area; I ask you: If he was going to travel to MULTIPLE areas, why would he stop at two (Israel and North America)? And why would He pick North America, of all places? Especially when there were so many more people in the Middle East region and surrounding locales? Why didn’t he go to the massive Asian population of the Far East? Or to the numerous tribes of Africa?

*The participation of various people groups in polygamy is not the point. The point is, yet again, that Mormon doctrine differs greatly from Christian doctrine: Christianity never approved of polygamy, whereas the very FOUNDER of Mormonism did—and that Mormonism “disavowed” polygamy only when it became apparent to it that polygamy was a turnoff to the general population, and thus would hinder the widespread acceptance of Mormonism (this was pretty much the case with Mormon racism towards blacks, as well).

*The “magic underwear” is not just a reminder, but is believed by Mormons to be a protection against evil. This is silly (not to mention un-Biblical), and furthermore, the very idea of clothing being a reminder of what you are or what you believe is a man-made concept. Jesus never spoke of wearing certain garments; in fact, He made it clear that what He really cares about is what’s on the inside of a person—in their heart. We Christians sometimes wear crosses, but not to remind us of our faith in Christ; instead, it’s an expression of what we believe, a means of communicating our faith to the world. And we certainly don’t ascribe any magical powers to any physical object, but instead trust in God to protect us as He sees fit.

I also note that you failed to respond to a lot of the direct questions I posed about Mormonism: Why do you trust Joseph Smith, he of the terrible track record? And do you really believe that a tribe of ancient Israelites got on a boat and sailed all the way to North America and gave rise to the Native Americans? Do you not find it suspicious that Smith couldn’t produce the golden plates and pink spectacles, despite the fact that he lived only about 150 years ago, when preservation of such items would’ve been quite easy? Do you really believe that God needed those items back? Do you really believe that a sinful person such as you or I could “exalt” himself to Godhood (which, by the way, goes directly and 100% against the Bible’s teaching of salvation by faith and not by works)? Do you really believe that Jesus and Lucifer are “spirit brothers,” and thus on the same level?

I really do appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog, read my post and give me your feedback—I’m sure you had plenty of other things you could’ve been doing. I very much enjoy these discussions, and hope that something good and productive can come of this. Take care.

A Thing Greatly Feared, Chapter 25

A harvest moon rising over the hills in Proven...

The moon that helped light James's way through the forest. ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James made his way along the stream as fast as he could. A minute ago he heard more growling and snarling, closer than before.

The stream made a small bend to his right, so that James was now hurrying straight towards the moon. He switched his gaze back and forth between the ground at his feet and what lay just yards in front of him, to keep from tripping, once in a while stealing a longer glance farther ahead. It was during one of these longer looks that James saw his dream. It stopped him cold.

Straight ahead, but still a good distance off, a plateau ran out from his right, silhouetted by the moonlight, then plummeted to the very stream he stood by. A few trees on the edge of the plateau, a few more by the stream below, the hillside almost bare of growth. The moon above, shadows and silvery dimness all around.

Go.

He shook himself loose and bounded downstream.

* * *

“You want some coffee, Sara?”

“Oh, yes, please.”

She stood by the picture window in Darrell’s livingroom, peering into the night. The eyes behind her eyes, however, saw something else: A new realm, different from this one, tantalizing her with images of white hills and golden shores, a new heart and a new day. Life was now life; it had taken her 29 years to be born.

“Here you go,” said Darrell.

She turned and took the warm cup, then Darrell sat on the couch.

“So, what do we do now?” she said.

“I’m not sure how we’re gonna get Vernon. Wade’s got a good point: If he can just control other animals, creatures, whatever, after this one’s gone, then it’s an endless cycle in his favor. The only way we’re gonna stop him is to find physical evidence of his involvement – catch him in the act, so to speak – and there may not be any.”

“But what about my uncle’s note to Mr. Schaeffer, and the bidding records on that piece of land?”

“I think that’s enough to establish a motive, but motives alone don’t get people arrested and locked away. We need something concrete, that proves his involvement beyond a shadow of a doubt – and that, I think, might be hard to find.”

“Maybe we could do what you just said, Dad – catch him in the act. He’s comin’ tomorrow– ” Sara frowned at this reminder. “–so maybe one of us could follow him around.”

“Not a bad idea, but even if we saw him perform some ritual or something, there wouldn’t be any physical evidence to link that to the killings. Not unless he was fool enough to write it down.”

“Not my Uncle Vernon,” said Sara with a sigh. “I wish, but one of the things I’ve learned about my uncle – from overhearing conversations between my mother and Aunt Hilda – is that his habit – business and otherwise – is to be very tidy: A place for everything and everything in its place, no loose ends … and nothing known that he doesn’t want known.”

Darrell nodded. “I’m not surprised; successful businessmen – successful anything – aren’t lazy; they do their homework.” He tapped his fingers on his knee. “Well, I did have one idea before … and now I’m convinced: We need to have a talk with Mr. Schaeffer.”

“Tonight?” said Wade.

Darrell looked at his watch. “Mm. I’d like to – I’d really like to – but I think it’d be best if we wait til tomorrow. I don’t know Mr. Schaeffer that well, and it might seem a bit odd to him if I showed up at his house tonight asking to talk about real estate.”

“Real estate?”

“Of course. What else would I talk to a real estate man about?”

* * *

Hank lie still in his spot behind the big rock, listening to the stream away on his left and staring at the endless field above him.

REMEMBER ME?

Something nagged at him, but he couldn’t pin down what it was.

I REMEMBER YOU.

Was it an idea? Something he forgot to do? What?

REMEMBER ME?

The dark sky overhead – How deep is it? thought Hank. How far does it go?

ALL THE WAY TO ME.

Something nagged at him, but he couldn’t pin down what it was.

* * *

“So … Darrell,” said Sara a while after Wade went to bed. “Do you mind if I stay here tonight?”

“No, not at all. I was just wondering, though: What are you gonna do about your uncle tomorrow?”

“Well – and please tell me if I’m wrong – but I figured it would be best to just play along as the niece he knows.”

“I think that’s the right idea.”

“Though I can only imagine how scared I might be.”

“You won’t be alone.”

“I know.”

“I’d offer to have one of us there, but the sheriff knows that we Daleys have been poking around, which means your uncle probably knows about us, so as long as he’s here we should probably pretend like we don’t know each other.”

Sara nodded. “It really shouldn’t be that bad; he never visits me long when he’s here – he usually is quite occupied with business, gets done what he came to do and then leaves. I don’t think he’s ever spent more than thirty minutes at a time at my house–”

“Sara.”

She looked up at him.

“Are you gonna be able to handle it?”

She looked down, then spoke in a subdued voice: “Yes. Yes, of course.”

“It’s okay to be scared. … Sara, look at me.”

She lifted her head. Her eyes were filled with tears, her face lined with grief and worry.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Darrell drew near and embraced her, and whispered a prayer into her ear.

* * *

“Reawwl!”

Branches flying past, slapping his head, face, shoulders. Stumbling in the dimness of night. Moonlight casting deceptive shadows mistaken for anything but what they really were.

“Rowll!”

Flashlight bobbing about. Breathing getting faster, harder. Frequent glances with silver-dollar eyes at the high plateau. Getting closer, closer. Closer.

Gotta beat him there.

* * *

“Rowll!”

That’s twice in less than a minute, thought Hank. He fingered the triggers on his guns, eying the open boxes of extra shells beside him to make sure they were still there, ready to go. Hed pushed himself back, past the rock a couple feet, and propped himself up against his backpack – now he could see upstream and up the hill.

If it pokes out its head up there I’ll–

A funny scent caught his nose. He checked again. Gone. … No, there it was again. It lingered a moment this time.

Foul.

He checked the air direction.

Comin’ from somewhere upstream.

Just then he heard the faint rustling of leaves from somewhere in front of him. He cocked his shotgun.

It’s here.

Mormonism is NOT Christianity

Smith's later theology described Jesus and God...

Joseph Smith claimed that Jesus and God the Father were two distinct physical beings, as this illustration of Smith's alleged "vision" depicts. Wrong answer, Joe; try again. ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For various reasons, I’ve encountered the topic of Mormonism a lot recently. Back in high school I had a close friend who, along with her family, was Mormon, so I studied the religion quite a bit then, and I’ve recently had more reason to study it further. What I see is bizarre and disturbing.

The most important thing I want to say and make clear is this: Mormonism is not Christianity, and Mormons are not Christians.

It seems to be a common misconception that Mormonism is merely another branch of Christianity, such as Catholicism or Protestantism, or merely another Christian denomination, such as Baptist or Presbyterian. Not so. Mormons do not believe in the Jesus of Christianity, the Jesus of the Bible; in fact, Mormons disbelieve quite a bit of the Bible, claiming that much of Christian doctrine was corrupted down through the centuries, and that Mormon doctrine is the “true” or “original” gospel restored.

This is what disturbs me the most: that Mormons go around insisting that they’re Christians, using all the right key words publicly (“Jesus,” “God,” “the Bible”), but harboring belief in so many strange doctrines that in truth they have nearly nothing in common with Christianity. Mormons are bound and determined to call themselves Christians, saying, “We believe in Jesus,” but “belief in Jesus” can mean a lot of things. Muslims, for example, believe that Jesus was a real person—but they deny that He was the Son of God, claiming that He was merely a prophet (and not even the greatest prophet, a distinction they give to Mohammed). So does this mean that Muslims “believe in Jesus”? Should Muslims be considered Christians? Heck no.

What you believe about Jesus is what matters most. And Mormonism does not profess the beliefs about Jesus that Christianity professes. Christianity says Jesus and God the Father are the same being; Mormonism says Jesus and the Father are two separate beings distinct from one another. Christianity says God is spirit; Mormonism says God the Father has a physical body. Christianity says that Jesus is the sinless Creator and that Lucifer is a fallen creation; Mormonism says Jesus and Lucifer are “spirit brothers,” putting them on the same level. Christianity says Jesus is eternal and created everything out of nothing; Mormonism says God used to be a sinful man who somehow “exalted” himself to godhood and didn’t create out of nothing but merely “reorganized” already-existing material, then gave birth to “spirit children,” including Jesus and Lucifer. Christianity says salvation is only through trust in Jesus, and that works are simply a demonstration of our faith; Mormonism says salvation is not solely dependent on Jesus but also reliant on works.

There are many other bizarre doctrines inherent to Mormonism that are completely at odds with what the Bible teaches—celestial marriage, people becoming gods, pink spectacles used to decode golden plates, the lost tribe of Israel, Jesus coming to North America, magic underwear. There’s too much for one blog post, but there are some rather obvious … problems … with Mormonism that should make any reasonable person say, “Hold on a minute. That doesn’t make sense.” Example: Since founder Joseph Smith “discovered” these gold plates and pink spectacles only about 150 years ago—during a time when they could easily have been preserved—why weren’t they? Oh yeah, God asked for them back. Because, you know, he needed them for something else, or didn’t have the plates’ content memorized and needed to keep them close at hand. Another example: Mormons believe in “continual revelation”—that is, they claim to get “new info” from God at various times through the religion’s “living prophet.” Which is to say, fundamental Mormon doctrine can change at any time. Wow, that’s convenient. Pretty interesting, for example, that it was only a few decades ago—when information became more accessible and it became easier to scrutinize people and ideas—that Mormons received the “revelation” that polygamy is wrong. Nothing like trying to save public face: officially ditch the taboo practices (though polygamy in “celestial marriage” is still accepted), start using the right buzz words to make yourself sound mainstream, and hide all the weird doctrines until people are sufficiently sucked into your cult. So let’s see, since polygamy is now “wrong” in Mormonism, doesn’t that mean that the cult’s founder, Smith, was wrong? And if he was wrong about that, how can he be trusted on anything else?

And speaking of Smith: One of the primary methods I use for evaluating any belief system is to scrutinize the system’s founder: What was he like? What were his motives? And when I look at Joseph Smith, I see all kinds of problems. I see a man who, much like Islam’s Mohammed, clearly had an inferiority complex; I see someone who wanted attention, who wanted to be “loved” and “adored,” who wanted to be followed, to be the spotlight. Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud, for Pete’s sake—in New York state, for selling his services as a “water diviner” and then failing to come through on his promises. And then he cons a bunch of super-needy women into being cool with polygamy—because, you know, God said (at the time) that it was okay to have multiple wives. Surrrrre, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Smith just wanted sex with a lot of women, and that he could build his following more quickly by impregnating numerous women simultaneously. Yeah, that was God’s will, alright. And there are about a bazillion such men alive today who wish they could pull off such a scam.

Really, Mormons? You really believe Joseph Smith? You really believe that a tribe of Israelites got in a boat and sailed to North America, then spawned the Native Americans? Christianity is so much older than Mormonism yet has way more physical evidence—and if Mormonism were true, this would not be the case. We have Biblical manuscripts nearly 2,000 years old, and numerous archaeological finds to confirm even Old Testament stories—but you couldn’t manage to hang on to a couple gold plates and a pair of glasses from the time of Lincoln?

A Thing Greatly Feared, Chapter 24

Caledonian Pine forest and stream near Loch an...

The stream James began following. ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“So … Sara … are you saying that witchcraft is involved in what’s been going on here in town?”

“Well I can’t say for sure, Darrell, but that’s my suspicion.”

“Like he’s using witchcraft to control this creature?”

She nodded. “Maybe.”

“Sara, I– I’m sorry for all this. I’m sorry that all this has come down on you.”

“Yes, well … at least we now know what’s going on, so we can try to do something about it.”

“But Dad, what can we do? I just realized that even if Uncle Hank or Mr. Morgan kills that creature, what if her uncle has another one? It seems like it could be a neverending cycle, ’specially since we ain’t even got the law on our side.”

“You might be right, but we do have some options.”

“Such as?”

“Well, the law in this town isn’t on our side, but we have James – he used to be in law enforcement, so maybe he has contacts who could help us out – police in other towns, for example. We also have this curious connection with Mr. John Schaeffer that I’d like to follow up on.”

“The real estate man?” said Sara.

“Yeah. Maybe he’s got something we could use against– ” He looked at Sara. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh.”

“No, no, that’s alright. I mean, it’s not as if it’s my Mum or Dad; and he needs to be stopped.”

Darrell was glad she felt that way, but still he hesitated before continuing, not wanting to say anything that would upset her more.

“Like I was saying, I’d like to talk with Mr. Schaeffer; he might have some useful information. And then there’s the matter of educating ourselves.”

“What do you mean?” said Sara.

“Well, I presume that none of us has any experience with the occult.” He looked at Wade and Sara, who shook their heads. “Then we need to learn as much as we can about it.”

“You want to study witchcraft, Dad?”

“Know your enemy, son. The devils on the prowl; we need to arm ourselves.”

* * *

James tramped through the woods. Yes, he knew that it was evening, dark, and that being out in the woods at night with that creature roaming free didn’t seem like the best idea – but it wasn’t his idea. He had stoked the fires and gone to bed in his tent – quite early because he planned on getting up with the sun – but before long woke up with the image of a dream still fresh in his mind.

He had been told to go. He hadn’t been told where, just to go – though he was sure this at least meant “get up, pack, and head farther into the woods.” So that’s what he did: he packed, doused the fires, and  headed deeper into the woods with the help of the moon, and his flashlight when necessary.

It wasn’t long before he came upon a rocky stream that shone liquidy silver in the stark moonlight. The water glided, flowed – a living, breathing piece of art – over smooth rocks it had been polishing for centuries. He stared at the spectacle for several moments, caught up in the sight, then felt a tap on the shoulder of his mind.

He saw that the stream was flowing to his left.

As good a direction to start as any.

And so he went, following along on this side of the stream, managing to stay close to the water – not only for direction but for the light of the open sky above it in many places.

He went on in this way for what seemed to him quite a long while, and he estimated that he had covered a good distance, stopping just a few short times. The gurgling of the stream he considered his lone disadvantage, so he made a habit of taking extra peeks in every direction, in case anything had a mind to sneak up on him.

He came to a thick spot and flicked on his flashlight to help find his way around it.

“Grealf! Rawrrrralf!”

He shut off the light, stuck in his tracks.

Same as before. And it’s getting closer.

* * *

“Grealf! Rawrrrralf!”

Hank lay on his back, staring at the sky. He’d already been awake, contemplating his misery: How could this have happened? But he never flinched at the threatening sound. Oh, he heard it, alright. Heard it clear as day, and he knew what it was that made the sound.

But he’d gone beyond the realm of scared.

That thing owns me – could’ve had me once, could’ve had me twice; why not now? Third time’s a charm. An’ I ain’t in no condition to fight. I could shoot, but I gotta see it to shoot at it, an’ it’s never seen unless it wants to be. … It’s sneaky; snuck up on me before, it could sneak up on me now, have my head in a vice fore I even lay eyes on my gun. … But why worry? I’m here, it’s there; soon it’ll be here an’ I’ll get what I deserve.

That’s right, you will, ’cause you were a coward.

I was a coward then.

And you’re a coward now.

An’ I’m a coward now.

You should’ve known that it would go after a person sooner or later.

I should’ve known it’d go after someone sooner or later; why stick to sheep and horses?

But it’s too late now.

It’s too late now, though.

You missed your chance – chances.

I missed my chance – chances.

I think you’ll die now.

I think I’ll–

You’ll die now.

I’ll–

You’ll die now!

A tiny particle floated, flickering, through his mind, his heart – through him. And he couldn’t bring himself to think that last horrible thought that he’d thought of thinking.

Then he remembered the growl he’d heard just a minute ago. He remembered where he was, what position he was in, just what was out there – and that it was after him. Fear returned. Adrenaline flowed through him once again, and his senses seemed to be back on. He checked his guns: loaded, ready to go. He cradled them against his body, then laid his head back and sighed.

* * *

“Maybe now’s the right time to ask those questions I’ve been meaning to ask,” said Sara.

“Okay,” said Darrell. “As long as you’re comfortable.”

She looked down at her feet. “I am. I’m just not sure where to begin. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

“Start anywhere. Whatever’s the first thing that comes into your mind.”

“Alright, well … the first thing in my mind just now … is love.” She looked at Darrell, expecting him to say something, some word of guidance or affirmation, but his response was a simple nod, though his eyes never left her.

“What I mean is, you all have shown such courtesy – and I don’t mean a simple case of holding the door for me; you’ve shown me great hospitality, opening your home to me, keeping me company, making the effort to know me in the first place. You’ve been real friends – something I’ve never had before – and I want to know why.”

“I’m glad you asked me something I’m able to answer.” A small chuckle rippled across the room. “The easiest way to explain it is this: Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

“Isn’t that … the Golden Rule?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s something I’ve always tried to follow.”

“Good. But did you know it comes from the Bible?”

“No.”

“Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us; it’s only fitting that we should show others the same love He showed us.”

“But … He didn’t have to do that. I mean, it was a choice.”

“I know,” said Darrell.

World’s Tallest Basketball Player Has World’s Worst Vertical Leap

Just came across this on The Post Game on Yahoo! Sports and wanted to share it with you all.

Make fun of this guy all you want, but he can still do something I can’t do: dunk.

Enjoy!

Loose the Bad Grammar!

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Language Lessons. ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alright, folks, I’m going to go easy on you today with a Language Lesson that’s short and sweet, nice and easy: loose vs. lose.

It may surprise you, but quite a few people get these two mixed up—more so now, it seems, because the Internet and texting encourage sloppiness. Here’s a common mistake:

I hope the Lakers loose tomorrow night.

Loose what? Loosen their muscles? Sure, that would be fine, but as much as I hate the Lakers (being a Celtics fan), I don’t want to see the Lakers loose, I want to see them lose.

Lose is the opposite of win.

Loose is the opposite of tight (example: make sure your seat belt isn’t too loose).

There you have it. Class dismissed. =)

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