The Transparent Sea of Faces

The Transparent Sea of Faces


The truth many times is hidden. Hidden beneath all the lies that eat us away. Darkness overwhelms it, and truth sometimes gets so covered up we don’t even know that it’s there. This brings you to my story “The Transparent Sea of Faces” A book about beauty, truth, secrets, and memories. Where your beauty defines who you are. Where truth has all but completely vanished. Where your memories are your secrets, and your secrets are exploited before everyone. Join Conrad, Susan, and Jason, on their journey to discover the truth a midst all the lies that they are surrounded by. Yet when they find it will they accept the truth? Or will they reject it?

Chapters 1-4

Luke 1:79

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Chapter One

Sitting With Friends

Conrad was running as fast as his legs would take him. Conrad wanted to get as far away as he could from his peers. He could hear their cruel laughter echoing throughout the halls. Conrad quickly turned left, and he saw a small room and he ran inside of it. They yelled

“Brown eyes were are you?”

Conrad squeezed his eyes shut, he wished he could erase the brown in his eyes and replace them with green or blue. He wanted to be like everyone else, to have the normal eye color. Anything but this brown that only he wore. He remembered when he came to this foreign place, he thought he was normal, but he soon found out that he was wrong. He had been the only kid to have brown eyes. Conrad opened his eyes as the shout of his bullies faded. Conrad was glad he could no longer hear their tormenting words. Conrad slowly slid down the wall which his back was leaned against, and then he sat on the ground. Conrad exhaled and allowed the air to flow into his lungs. He looked up at his surroundings and saw that he was in a small office. There was a small desk stacked high with papers, and a small chair next to it, he figured it probably was for the teacher’s aide.

Conrad’s stomach growled and he remembered the lunch his mother had prepared for him. Conrad looked down at his empty pale, and remembered that his food had been stolen, once again. Sadness filled Conrad’s mind at the reality of what each day looked like for him, he remembered once he had asked his mother to not prepare him lunch. Conrad thought no lunch meant no bullying, but he was wrong. The bullies didn’t care if he had food or not, they cared about him, and his mere existence.

Conrad’s thoughts were cut off by the sound of footsteps that were gradually approaching the door. Conrad quickly looked around the room for any were to hide when he saw a small closet. Conrad ran for the closet and threw himself inside of it. The closet only had one coat inside of it, and smelled of old wood. Conrad opened the door a crack, so that he could see who was coming in the room.

“Thank you Ms. Jones I will make sure to start grading the papers right after lunch,” a young girl said.

“Thank you so much Susan, this means the world to me, it probably would’ve taken me years to finish.” Ms. Jones said with a laugh.

Conrad’s heart started to beat so fast when he saw the girl. She had long brown hair and big green eyes, and a small round nose. She wore the normal female school uniform, which was a long blue dress, with black shoes. However her uniform seemed livelier than any girls that he had ever seen. She had stayed within the boundaries of how school uniform should look, but used it in her favor. The girl walked over to the small chair next to the desk, and sat down, and reached into her pale. Her pale had stars and stickers on it, and wrapped in a white cloth was her lunch, and at the sight of food Conrad’s stomach growled.

“What on Earth was that?” the girl said as she spun around and stared in the area in which the sound had come from. Conrad willed his stomach to be quiet but it only growled louder, and immediately the girl stared at the closet. She looked directly at the closet, and straight through the slit in the door, and met Conrad’s gaze. Conrad gasped. Conrad expected the worst, but to his surprise she only smiled at him with a wink, and continued eating her sandwich.  Conrad’s face flooded with warmth, and feeling it pointless to keep hiding he stepped out of the closet.

“Hello strange boy,” the girl said without giving him a glance.

“Hi,” Conrad said looking at his toes.

“Well what brings you into my office?” She said proudly.

Conrad knew that this was not her office, but decided against arguing, so he answered.

“I was hi-hiding.” He said with shame, refusing to meet her gaze.

“What on Earth from?” She asked with a sly grin.

“Bullies” Conrad stated simply.

“Ah I see,” she said sadly.

“Would you like some of my sandwich? I heard you’re hungry,” She said gesturing towards his stomach.

Conrad’s belly immediately growled again and he bashfully looked away. The girl didn’t wait for Conrad’s reply, and she started to cut the sandwich in half. Conrad didn’t know what to say or do, he was extremely hungry, but he couldn’t take her food.

“Well aren’t you going to take it?” The girl asked with a curious look on her face.

“I can’t take your food.” Conrad said as he looked away from her big green eyes.

“Well I can’t eat all of this anyways, so you might as well take it,” Susan said placing it in his hand. Conrad wondered what she did to her sandwich normally when she couldn’t eat it. However he figured she was just trying to be polite. He took the sandwich and took a small bite.

“My names Susan what’s yours,” Susan asked.

“Conrad,” He said. Conrad looked up into her eyes, and quickly dropped his gaze to the ground. By the awe in her face he realized he had held her gaze for too long. She gasped lowly, and he knew she had seen his brown eyes. She would reject him like everyone else. She looked at him one moment longer, and then she looked away.

“Wow your eyes, they’re so different,” She said and looked deep into his eyes.

“They are so cool!” She exclaimed with a squeal of delight.

Conrad was caught completely off guard and exclaimed,

“I have never seen anyone with brown eyes,” She moved in closer to get a better look at his eyes. “You know I’ve read up on people having brown eyes in fairytales, and old history books, but man to see it live is amazing.” She smiled at him, and for once he could hold a gaze.

Conrad felt as if a hand had finally picked him up from the pit that he had been living in, and he thanked anyone who would hear him in his mind, and allowed himself a smile. After that day he and Susan, always shared lunches, and they became close friends. People slowly started to not bother him as much. They realized that if Susan thought he was cool, he immediately was off their bully list.

Nobody else became his close friend thou. Conrad still felt cold gazes, and cruel looks, but at least he was no longer bullied. His life was still hard, the rejection he faced each day, however there was a plus side. He did make another friend besides Susan. Two years later a boy named Jason moved in from the east side of Farowcha, and Conrad believed it was all because of Susan they even met, but Jason had grown on Conrad. They could both relate, they were outcasts in their own way, and they had clicked.

And now three years later here they sat, on top of a hill. Despite Conrad having a close friend, he still felt like an outcast in Farowcha.  He wasn’t born in Farowcha like Jason or Susan, and even if he tried to fit in once people looked towards his eyes they could see that he was not from around Farowcha. Immediately questions were followed and cruel glances.

There was however one moment, when all his pain and problems left him, and it was when he was with his friends sitting on this hill, gazing down at the transparent sea.  For all the years Conrad had known Susan, and Jason they had never missed the sun set into the ocean. Conrad looked up at the sky, and could tell it was about 9:00pm Farowcha time, the normal time the sun would set. He remembered where he had come from when it was nine it would be very dark out you could see the stars. However that life was behind Conrad now, and Conrad tried to bury away that past, there was no need to bring it up.

Susan had grown so much over the years and was no longer that young girl he fell in love with, but a young women whom he was still falling in love with. She had grown gracefully with each day, and nothing would wither her beauty. Her eyes grew lighter and more beautiful each day, as they danced in her eyes.

She had cut her long brown hair, which normally reached her hips. They now barely passed her shoulders. It was customary for all young ladies to cut their hair once they reached 16, it meant that they would be reaching adult hood soon.  She looked at him with a smile, and then looked back at the sea. Her smile melted his heart, and he longed to see it again, it was the only thing his heart longed for. Conrad listened to the birds chirping, and the wind whistling. The air was so clean, and the grass was so green, and felt so soft under his hands, this place felt so peaceful.

Conrad was now a young man 15 the same age as Jason, soon they would reach their manhood in only 2 more years.  They too would cut their hair soon, showing that their manhood was coming soon. Jason had the most peculiar eyes, a mixture of green, yellow, orange, and blue. A color Conrad had never seen in anyone’s eyes from Farowcha, but he had not been to the east side, so he figured it was natural in that area.  Jason had long shaggy brown hair that passed his ears, and stopped a little past his chin.

Conrad knew that he looked so dull compared to Susan, and Jason, and sometimes being around them reminded him how much of out of place he really was.  Conrad had long shaggy brown hair, which passed his chin, and it stopped halfway pass his neck, and he had brown eyes. Everything about him felt so wrong, and for some reason Susan claimed he was beautiful, something he could never understand.

Susan looked at him and said “Conrad are you okay, you don’t look to good,”

“Oh yes, sor-sorry. I am fine” Conrad lied. Susan could never understand how it felt to be rejected all your life, and even when you are accepted to feel so alone. For some reason being with Susan, and Jason just didn’t fill the loneliness he was feeling in his heart.  Nothing he thought could ever fill the pain in his heart. Nothing could ever bring him complete joy, and satisfaction. Conrad also knew that if there was something out there, he would find it, and make it his forever.

“So Conrad, and Jason, how does it feel to be getting your hair cut in the ceremony coming in August?” Susan asked. It was obvious she was trying to lighten the mood.

“Good, I am so excited to be out of the kid zone,” Jason replied smiling at Susan, and motioning with his hands.

“Yeah it feels good,” Conrad lied. In honesty he was afraid, because he wasn’t ready to take on the charge of a man. The responsibility he was not ready to take, how could he give up his childhood?

“Well Conrad you don’t look so sure,” Susan said.

“Well it’s just do you remember Mr. Matthew? He changed immediately after getting his hair cut! He stopped playing, smiling, or having any sort of fun. He got married, and now he has all these responsibilities. You know they are expecting a child! And he is only eighteen, but yet so far in life.” Conrad said. The words had rolled off his tongue so smoothly which was something completely new for Conrad.

Jason looked at him with confusion and said,

“That is what every boy dreams of. Getting a job, taking on responsibilities, and eventually getting married,” Jason nudged Susan, and she giggled. Conrad looked away uncomfortable at the obvious gesture, and just stared at Jason. Jason gave him thumbs up and smiled cheerfully, innocently not noticing the obvious jab Conrad felt.

Jason turned his head back towards the Ocean, when Conrad noticed a bruise on his head. It was large, and was almost covered completely by his hair. Conrad had noticed that Jason had many bruises on him over the last few weeks, he never knew him to be such a klutz, but Conrad guessed he must have been.

Susan must have noticed it to because she reached up her hand and touched it gently, and Jason winced.

“How’d did you get this one?” Conrad said.

Jason looked up hurt at the words, Conrad knew they had come out as an accusation, and in reality Conrad did have his suspicions.  Jason eased his mouth into a smile, but his eyes were cold, and were not smiling in the least.

“Well Conrad I was helping my dad clean the stable, when he called me, and I turned so quickly I hit my head with the broom, accidentally,” He smiled a little, he seemed to be waiting for a reaction, and Conrad gave him one.

Conrad laughed a little at the image of Jason smacking his perfect face with a broom, then Conrad saw Susan look on Jason with pity, and Conrad felt a pang of jealousy, and opened his mouth and said,

“Wow I’m surprised your perfect life has that many mistakes, I mean last week you fell, the week before you dropped a ball on your arm,” Conrad said incredulously. “However in the end you always have that smile plastered on your face. I mean we all know your life isn’t perfect,” Conrad had to stop himself because he could’ve gone on for a while. Conrad bit his tongue, and realized he was merely saying how his life was. A fake lid covered with joy, but on the inside it was rotten, hurting.

“Conrad you have no right! You don’t know what anything is like. You’re just wrapped in your dumb bubble of what you think reality is like. What do you know? You don’t see what I’m faced with each-,” Jason stopped himself, and grabbed his bag, and stormed down the hill.

“Jason I’m sorry!” Conrad called out, feeling horribly guilty over what he had said, and Jason was right he did not know what he was faced with each day. Each of them Susan, Jason, and Conrad had each had grown a bit farther as they aged. Nothing was as open as it was before. Everyone was hiding something. Conrad felt it deep down inside, he could feel the hidden lies under everyone’s pretty mask. However there was one person he never knew whether or not there life was bad and it was Susan. Either she was a wonderful actor or her life really was well.

“Conrad! Why did you have to say that?” Susan said in an appalled voice.

“I didn’t mean to, it’s just something in me that…I don’t know.” Conrad said looking away from her.

“Conrad, Jason’s father is getting married to Rebecca Norshawitz,” Susan said plainly, as if that was supposed to make everything clearer.  However the name meant nothing to Conrad, and he couldn’t remember any face that belonged to it. When suddenly he remembered the mean women who treated him and his friends horribly, she was a substitute once in school. Conrad suddenly realized how horrible Jason life must be; especially if Ms. Norshawitz was going to be his mother.

“I’m sorry Susan I really didn’t know I just got mad, I normally would never have gotten so mad. I’ll make sure to apologize to him next time I see him.” Conrad said reassuringly.

“Well let’s go find him, after the sun sets thou, I really don’t want to miss this,” Susan moved closer to Conrad, and then impulsively Conrad moved in the opposite direction.

“You know Jason misses his mom a lot, so Ms. Norshawitz is not welcomed to Jason. Jason still believes his moms alive, and you know maybe she is, maybe there is a hope out there,” Susan said looking straight ahead into the sea. Conrad didn’t know what to say, but that never stopped Susan from talking. That was why Conrad liked Susan so much, she never expecting much from him, she could carry a whole conversation with him, and all she would need was a slight nod of the head, and his ears.

“You know I can relate with Jason, and you know this. I mean both of our moms are gone. So I understand what he is going through, I understand why he misses her so much. You know my mom has been dead for 7 years, and yet the pain feels so raw sometimes. You’d think after 7 years I still wouldn’t check the kitchen early in the morning, and expect to see her cooking. Yet I still do,” Susan said.

Susan looked away and a tear slid down her cheek, and she quickly wiped it away. Conrad didn’t know what he should do, he didn’t know how to comfort someone, so he decided to just stay quiet and look ahead.

“You know Conrad, you are so different from anyone else, and I have been so thankful to have met you on that day. Who would’ve thought inside of a closet would be a true friend,” She smiled at him and squeezed his hand and then let go.  Conrad never knew what to do with those little gestures she did towards him occasionally. Were they just friendly or was there something deeper. Conrad quickly discarded those thoughts, and looked at Susan allowing a small smile on his face.

“I am thankful too,” Conrad said.

Susan looked at him in surprise, she had not expected him to reply Conrad assumed, she said,

“Conrad is there anything you want to tell me?” Conrad was surprised at her question but, he knew he was never too well at hiding his emotions from Susan but, there were so many things he could tell her. He could tell her about his daily pain, the depression he lived in constantly, or how much he loved her. However even if he told her any of these things they would do nothing, so Conrad shook his head slightly.

“I just wanted to make sure, you seem so distant, both you and Jason. I noticed it, and it worries me, I feel a small separation growing between us,” Susan said, Conrad thought so she noticed it too. The obvious clarity that Susan held of situations startled Conrad, she knew the pain he was going through he didn’t even need to tell her, and this surprised him, and he looked down at the grass.  She gasped and grabbed his hand, and Conrad looked up, the sun was setting into the ocean.

The sun slowly descended into the sea and the moment it touched it the sea lit up, and the sea water turned completely clear, and Susan and Conrad stood up in awe. They had seen this for so many years but each Sunset it took them off guard, it was so beautiful, and each time they saw something new in the water. The oceans thick blue cover slipped off, as the sun set into it, and now they could see every secret the ocean held. The transparent sea was so beautiful and it was so crystal clear. They could see all the creatures roaming freely in the ocean, not knowing that someone had just invaded into their privacy. The deep blue blanket no longer covered them. Conrad loved this moment; it was one of the few things that took his pain away. Susan and Conrad waiting about 10 minutes it felt glancing down into the depths of the sea when Susan said,

“We should go look for Jason, I feel horrible he missed the Transparent Sea light up.” Susan slowly took her eyes off of the sea, and looked into Conrad’s eyes. Conrad nodded his head, and they gathered there things and they headed down the hill. Going down the hill behind Susan’s house was always a tough task, it was so steep. Conrad remembered when he and Susan were much younger they would roll down this hill together, it was much more fun, but now they were older, and they had stopped.

Conrad looked up at the sky and it was lit with beautiful stars, and the sky was now a dark blue at the very top, and a bright orange in the bottom.  Susan started to run down the hill with a kiddish smile planted on her face. She grabbed his hand the way she used to do so many other times when they had run down the hill many years ago, so that she would be sturdy. However Conrad and Susan didn’t have those moments anymore and whenever she touched his hand it scared him for some reason. Something inside of Conrad winced at physical touch, something happened when he touched Susan, a feeling stirred inside of him, one he did not want. Every time she held his gaze the same feeling came, and he didn’t know what to do with it. So Conrad avoided her gaze, and her touch, and when she touched him now, his heart pounded and he lost his balance, and they both tumbled down the hill.

“Ah!” they both yelled in unison.

Conrad’s face was smearing against the grass, and dirt and grass filled his mouth. His shirt and pants was smeared with grass, and he grappled for anything to steady him. At last they reached the bottom with a thud, and Conrad looked at Susan who to his surprise was giggling.

“Susan! Are you okay?” Conrad asked.

“Oh yes I am fine,” Susan laughed. “This just reminded me of when you and I would tumble down the hill together when we were much younger. I loved those days.” Susan said with a smile.

Conrad’s face flushed, he longed for those days also, when Susan and he were much closer. Conrad wondered if she really loved those days and he wondered, why can’t we have those days again? Why do they still have to be just a memory? Yet Conrad knew the answer to his questions. It was because they were both much older now and they were slowly discarding their youth.

“How are, you?” Susan said interrupting his thought.

“Only a little bruised, and my clothes are smeared, but no broken bones,” Conrad said.

Susan stood up first, and she reached her hand down to him, he grabbed her hand and she lifted him off the ground. The small touch filled his body with joy, and increased his love for her. Yet she would never look towards him in any way more than a friend. Conrad also knew he was not responsible enough for a wife, and kids. He would die alone, no women would ever love him, and that would be the end of it.  Yet he was conflicted with his own feelings, because he knew he couldn’t see her swept up into another man’s arms. The small gesture Jason, and Susan passed between each other scared him. He did not want her to fall in love with Jason; he couldn’t bear to see her slip away. However she had never belonged to me Conrad thought, she was only a nice friend who has been there, I shouldn’t even think any more about it.

“Deep in thought are you? Tell me what you are thinking about,” Susan said looking up at him seriously. Why did she have to ask him now, when he thought about her, why not when he looked up the transparent sea when only nature filled his mind, why now when she was the only thing his mind could form.

“You,” Conrad said, for it was not in his manner to lie.

Susan smiled and said, “Ha, do tell, I was thinking about you also,”

Conrad’s heart stopped what could she have been thinking about, was it just something silly, or was she seriously in thought like how he was.

“I was won-wondering about the future, I was afraid you would go away,” Conrad knew that this was not exactly what he was thinking, but overall this was what he was thinking, so he was not lying.

“Oh I see, well Conrad you know I must go when I get married. You can’t try and keep me,” She teased. “One day I will have to go, and maybe you will be there at my side,” The last words faded from her lips and she quickly looked away, and her face flooded a deep red. Conrad did not understand what she meant. What was she inferring? Did she mean to never leave his side, or did she mean just as a friend? Why would she blush? What did she feel towards him? So many questions filled his head, but should he really think too much on it. It probably meant nothing; he was taking things too far.

“I guess that would be nice, maybe we would live in the same neighborhood,” Conrad said. Conrad wanted to let her know he knew she only meant it as a friend, and he took it as nothing personal. However Susan sighed,

“Never mind that,” Susan said in a disappointed voice.

Conrad winced. Had he said something wrong? Why did she seem upset at his words? Did she mean- Conrad threw the thought away, he looked away and concentrated on the nearest tree, anything that would cloud his thoughts.

Conrad thoughts kept falling back to Susan they both stood there strangely when Susan said,

“Well we ought to go and find Jason,” Susan said.

“You have any idea.” Conrad said.

“Well there is only one place Jason would go besides his home, Faro Forest. It is right near my home, I often see him there after we all go our ways after the sunset.” Susan said.

Conrad wondered why Jason was so near Susan home, and why he was hanging around in Faro Forest.

“Yes I assume Jason would be there, let us head towards there.”

The walk was pleasant to Faro Forest, even if it was a little awkward being alone with Susan. For so long Jason had always been the third party, and Conrad had gotten used to it. This reminded him when it was just him and her, no one else. Conrad closed his eyes he wanted to remember this moment, of just Susan and him.

“Conrad. Do you remember when we first met?” Susan said suddenly. Conrad figured she was lost in her own thoughts, and he did not consider this question random at all. He figured she was merely speaking her thoughts.

“Yes I do, it was the day that changed me,” Conrad said. Susan could never understand what she had done to his life. She told him he was somebody, and she showed him there were people out there that cared about him. She pulled him out of his pit for a moment, until the moments when he got completely depressed, and held it all in. He could never tell her about his dark thoughts, his feelings that weighed him down.

The emotions he could not begin to describe, only the emptiness in his heart that Susan did not fill. He remembered trying to stuff her in his heart, and force her to fill it. However she never did, there was always a piece that was missing, and he didn’t know what to fill it with, he often stopped even trying to fill it with things, and just tried to accept the hole, but he never could.  He couldn’t tell Susan, she was too innocent in a way. Conrad knew that Susan would look on him with disgust. They could never be meant to be, she was too innocent, and the dark life he hid behind could never be shown to her, he wasn’t ready for her rejection.

Instead of Susan pressing, and asking why, as Conrad had assumed she said,

“You changed mine too,” Conrad was always caught off guard by her replies, had he really changed her life? No he hadn’t he thought to himself, she was merely being polite. However he looked at the sincerity in her face, and he knew indeed in some strange way the small insignificant Conrad had changed this perfect girls life.

They kept walking asking each other no more questions and Conrad allowed the silence to fill up his mind. Conrad and Susan stopped because they could see Jason just a ways off looking up at the moon. Jason’s mouth was moving Conrad could see through the darkness, Jason was talking to someone in the forest. Susan stood next to Conrad, and Conrad noticed she was about to run off to Jason. Conrad put his arm in front of her to block her from going and she said,

“Conrad why won’t you let me go” She asked in a whisper.

Conrad didn’t answer he merely brought his finger to his lips motioning for her to be silent, and walked slowly behind Jason. For some reason they were both hiding right behind a huge tree not feeling right to intrude upon Jason. They were only a breath away and could hear everything Jason was saying.

Chapter Two

The Unexpected Surprise

Jason knew that Conrad couldn’t understand what he was going through. No one did, so how could Conrad understand anything. Jason looked back up into the night sky, up at the moon and said,

“Mom I have looked at the moon every night like you told me to, I miss you terribly. You know Dad is getting married to Rebecca Norshawitz. I think that he has forgotten you, but I have not. Yesterday Rebecca cleared out your art room for her personal closet. You know she is not even married to dad, and she is getting all cozy in our house. I tried to keep your room, something I could remember you by, but Rebecca tore down your art room despite my pleading. Dad doesn’t do anything anymore.

He just lets her run over me, and him. Dad seems perfectly happy with this woman, even thou she runs over him all the time. I mean, he hasn’t been happy in a long time, and I love to see him smile. It just scares me that she’ll try to replace you. I still love you, and I haven’t forgotten you. Mom every day I dream you are here. When I wake up I hear your laughter throughout the halls, and sometimes I think I see you outside looking in on my window.

Dad believes you are dead, we had your funeral last year, and I did not attend. The idea of you leaving me is unthinkable, Mom, where are you, and why won’t you come back home?”

Jason stopped he couldn’t talk anymore; his face was contorted from trying not to cry over his long lost mother. He felt that every night he could feel her there; he wanted to feel her there. Jason stared up at the moon, and he closed his eyes.

“Jason! Come over here,” his mother gently called over to him.

“Yes ma,” Jason laughed with his high pitched five year old voice.

Jason looked up at his beautiful mother; nothing could have been more perfect. Her voice sounded so soft and beautiful, and her eyes were a brilliant blue green. Her skin was perfectly bronzed, and her black curls floated around her face. His mother swept him up, and placed him on her lap.

“Mommy tell me a story, tell me about when I was born,” Jason asked, even thou he had heard the tale many times before.

“Well okay, but you are going to have to close your eyes and imagine,” His mother said with a laugh.

Jason squeezed his eyes shut, and giggled with delight.

“No peeking,” His mother said as she tickled his tummy.

“I’m not! I’m not!” Jason giggled uncontrollably.

“Well let’s see were to start? I’ve forgotten.” His mother said playfully.

“No no, mom you know! I know you know,” Jason said with his eyes still squeezed shut.

“Well they told me I wouldn’t be able to have kids. Your father and I were distraught. I really wanted a baby and you know what I did?” His mother asked.

“Yes! I know mommy, you said you prayed!” Jason said.

“Yes I prayed and prayed he would heal my body,” His mother said.

“That is why my named is Jason!” Jason squealed in delight.

His mother looked at him sternly and said,

“Are you going to let me tell the story?”

“You mommy, I want to hear it from you,” Jason said.

“So I prayed and prayed, I asked God to heal me, so that I would be able to have children. Then he did heal me, and I got pregnant. Then I carried you in my belly, and then you were ready to come out. When you came out we find out you were a boy,” Jason’s mother paused to look at the expression she cherished so much.

“I was strong mommy, wasn’t I?” Jason said.

“The fiercest,” His mother said proudly.

“Tell me why you named me Jason!” He pleaded.

“Jason means healer, God healed me.” She said.

“One day you will do great things, maybe one day you will even heal people through God.” She said.

Jason mind swam with the pleasant memory of him and his mother. He then thought about the God she so confided in, and now he had abandoned his mother, what kind of God was that. Jason found himself blaming God for everything, even though Jason did not believe in him.

Jason looked up at the sky and screamed,

“God why! Why did you take her from me? If you’re out there hear me, please bring my back my mother.” Jason arms shook as he wept, he stood there for several minutes having a good cry when he heard a sound right behind him.

His heart nearly leapt from his chest, his heart pounded in his ears. He was too excited to turn, he stood up and, for a moment he found himself walking forwards. Could he leave this opportunity to finally see his mother, or should he just walk further and wait for her to call him. He decided he would turn and look at her, and would give his biggest smile, when he did turn he saw a woman. She was rather short and had short hair, he figured maybe his mother cut it, he could not see her face yet, she looked only like a black silhouette.

“Jason? Jason, are you okay?” the dark silhouette said.

“Mom…Mom is that you?” her voiced sounded very different from what he remembered and he started to doubt that this could be his mother. Yet what woman would be wondering in the night, alone? She was after all saying his name; it had to be his mother.

He looked at the female silhouette and he noticed that it started walking towards him, followed by another one, this one looked like a man, yet he was only a few inches taller than the woman. Then the woman came so close that he could see her face.

“Susan!” Jason said in confusion.

“Jason! Conrad and I went out to find you after you left. Then we heard you talking to your…mom,” Susan said apologetically to him.

Jason saw how sorry she was for him, and his heart turned quickly. He did not want her pity, he did not need it. Yet had not she always been there for him, did not she always comfort him when he was sad?

It did upset Jason that they eavesdropped on his conversation with his mother, and he realized why he thought his mother was short, it was because he saw a mere girl. His mind had been playing tricks on him, so much so that he actually thought that Susan was his mother. For just one second he felt whole, and with the realization it was Susan he felt worse than ever.

Susan walked forward, and touched his back, an attempt to comfort him. Conrad just stood there awkwardly looking down at his feet.

“Jason I know what you are going through. I lost my mom, and I know that she is dead. You still have hope, there is a possibility your mom is still alive.” Susan said.

Jason had forgotten for the moment that Susan’s mother was dead. He had pitied himself but didn’t think about how Susan’s mother had died. He had hope, and she had none. He wanted to say something, to speak to her about his pain. She was the only one who could understand him yet something was holding him back. This voice inside his head telling him to keep his mouth shut. He wanted to tell her, he truly did, but he couldn’t.

“Jason please, you can tell me,”

She said it as if she was reading his mind, like she knew his inner struggle and was prying in. Why does she care now all of a sudden? The voice inside him screamed she left me alone all these years, never once asked how I was, never cared. She had left him to deal with his problems on his own, and that is how he would fix them now, by himself. He brushed her hand away, and looked up at the moon. He breathed in deep and masked his emotions, he had lost control of the situation, he had gone weak in front of Susan Never again he swore.

“Jason we can help you, if only you would let us.” Susan said.

Jason looked at Conrad, their eyes met and immediately Conrad broke off the gaze. For some reason Jason felt a connection between them in that moment, as if Conrad was letting him know he understood.

“I…I’m fine.” Finally the lie came out, for a moment he almost told her.

“I need to head home it is getting late,” He gestured towards the moon, “And Conrad I am sorry for taking off like I did, believe me it wasn’t you,”

“No please forgive me, I shouldn’t have pried” Conrad said lowly.

They forgave each other then Jason walked off without looking back. He left them in the forest and proceeded forward towards home. This was the time he treasured when it was just him and his thoughts. Jason longed for peace, for something better. He was not satisfied with the life he led, he felt like he needed more but never knew just what it was.

Jason looked up at the sky, the millions of stars protruding from the darkness. He then looked all around him, he saw the trees gently swaying under the wind; he could hear the waves gently crashing on the shore, the birds singing. The bright moon was shining down on him, lighting his path. Surely something had to have created something as beautiful as this. Farowcha was indeed a beautiful place. Jason listened to the crackling of leaves as he rode over them, there was nothing as beautiful as the nature in Farowcha.

Jason felt wholly consumed by the beauty, and for a moment all his problems faded. There had only been the beauty and him, nothing else. Then reality hit him when his bicycle hit a stone, and he flew forward. Jason covered his face with his arms, ready to fall on the hard ground. However instead he landed on the soft grass and his landing was softened. Jason brushed himself off and looked at the sea, so beautiful. He saw something bright deep in the water, he ran towards the light, he didn’t understand what took over his body, but soon he was running faster than he thought his legs could take him. He saw the light in the water, and plunged in. Jason noticed the water was crystal clear, something that only happened when the sun plunged into the water, creating the Transparent Sea.

He saw a bright light in the water; it was so bright it hurt his eyes he had to close them. In the silence of the depths of the ocean that he was now wrapped in he felt warmth tingle through his whole body. A joy flooded through him, he would have giggled like a mad man but the water kept him. He then opened his eyes, and as he did this everything left, all his joy fled, the light was gone. He washed up on shore with tears pouring from his eyes. Jason reached up and touched his eyes. He couldn’t tell if it was the ocean water, or his tears, but he knew he was crying. His body shook with grief he wanted that love back, whatever he felt in that water, he wanted it again.

Jason threw himself into the water several times trying to relive the event. However it did not work, the water was no longer crystal clear, and it felt no different than any water he had ever swum in. Feeling completely exhausted he went to the shore, and lay in the grass. He closed his eyes, and was consumed by sleep.

Chapter Three

The Meeting

The Reverend was to meet with the Elders today, today they would discuss what he must do, the things he must accomplish, and fix. He locked up his office, and walked out of the sanctuary. He stopped dead in his tracks when he remembered he had forgotten something.

“Where is it? Where is it?” He patted down his clothing looking for his medicine.

“I need it? Where is it?” He ran back to his office, and unlocked the door with shaking hands.

The Reverend looked through his cabinet, and found a bunch of empty bottles. Then he found what he was looking for, a crystal clear liquid, odorless and tasteless but the affects were immediate. His hands shook as he held it, he found his syringe, and poked a hole through the top of the jar, and the syringe sucked the medicine in.

“Daddy please don’t fight over me,” a voice said. It was his daughter. His hands were shaking too hard, it seemed impossible for him to inject himself.

“Daddy thinks I am going to die doesn’t he.” The voice was there again, his daughter. He couldn’t take it any longer. He jammed the syringe into his arm, and pushed the medicine in. The memory quickly faded, the shaking subsided, and he felt better.

There was a rather big gash in his arm, but he ignored the pain, he tucked the syringe into his jacket pocket, and looked at the empty bottles. This was his last one, there was no more after this, and he needed to tell the Elders that they needed to give him more.

He rode on his bicycle, and it seemed half an hour later, he arrived at the Hall of the Elders. He whistled a happy tune, because today was good day. He took his key out of his pocket, a big key with a big eye as the handle, and a tear, as the key part. He never was too fond of the key, but no matter he opened the gate.

He walked into the grand hall, and entered the meeting room. He was late it seemed, because everyone was already there. Had they started without him he thought.

“Ah Reverend you finally decided to show up,” The words were thrown at him like a dagger, but he side stepped it.

“I was told to get here before night completely consumed the day, and so here I am.” The Reverend said.

All of the Elders were gathered here, they all looked the same, old men with long black robes, and a few had their hoods on. He knew one of them must have been the Eldest. The Eldest must have attended the meetings.

“I hope you did not start without me,” The Reverend added.

“We couldn’t. The meeting is about you,” The one named Josef replied.

“Well I am here so let’s get started shall we.” The Reverend had to stand his ground he couldn’t let them run over him.

They all sat around a large round table, they gathered together like this every end of the week.

“It was brought to my concern that in the past few sermons you have been delivering you haven’t been meeting the quota.” Josef spoke again, the leader of the Elders The Reverend had guessed.

“Yes you must appease the people more,” A raspy voice said. It was the old man named Marcus.

“Yes tell them how good they are and how they need not change,” The youngest of the all the Elders had spoken, Eli.

“Do not talk on sin much, stay away from that, the people will be afraid.” Eli spoke again.

“Remind them of their outer beauty, and how that is the only thing that matters. Feed them our God, the God who only cares about good deeds.” The Elder named Stephen said.

The Reverend was uncomfortable with what the Elder Stephen had just said, Feed them their God.

“You all come at me at once, I try to feed the people, I am trying to please God!” The Reverend shouted back at them.

“Yes of course please God, and by pleasing him you will tell the people more about the good deeds they have done.” Elder Josef said.

“I understand, now I must make a request.” The Reverend said.

“Tell us,” Elder Josef said.

“I am running out of my memory medicine, I need more,” The Reverend said.

One of the Elders sighed. The Reverend could not make out whom.

“We will give you more, but we have more things to tell you. We didn’t call this meeting solely to talk about your sermons. We called it to talk about those who would dare speak out against our God, and to question our authority.” Elder Eli said.

“Yes you must have your eyes more opened, there are those who are falling, spreading lies, teaching people about a false God we would dare not take part in. They must be brought to us. All of those who would dare question our authority must be brought here, so we can deal with them.” The Reverend knew what Elder Eli meant, by deal with.

The Reverend had brought many to these hills, he handed the liars off to the Elders they deserved whatever the Elders had chosen, there were those few who the Elders requested he bring, that he had to do it against his will. Those he professed to love he brought here, because the law was above his love. He was doing justice in Gods eyes, bringing the blasphemers up to the Elders, the servants of God. Those who were tainted he also brought up here, the deformed, and the impure, and those who were not created beautifully, but rather came from the devil. They were all brought here; he was not concerned with what the Elders did with them, only that he did his part.

“It is understood,” The Reverend said.

“Now I request my medicine, I only have one left.”

“Reverend all in due time,” Elder Josef said.

The Reverend was not sure what he meant by that, but he understood he would not be receiving his medicine now, and this grieved him.

“You do not understand I need this Elders, I need the medicine.” The Reverend stopped immediately he had lost his composure.

“Forgive me.” He quickly said.

“I just need the medicine, it is very important to me. It is my gift from God, and I need it.” The Reverend said.

“Frankly Reverend we were instructed not to give you by the high one. What he tells us we do, we question not. We respect you Reverend, but something’s must wait.” Elder Josef said.

They didn’t understand the urgency of the medicine; they didn’t understand how much he depended on it. How dare they try to withhold it from him, it was his gift. Rage filled his heart, he would have yelled at them all, if they were not so powerful.

“Now that we have that cleared up here is the sermon you are to preach.” Elder Eli handed him.

The Reverend quickly scanned through it; it dealt more with the people’s beauty, and how they were all beautiful, and need never change. A few scripture verse tied in, to make it all fit. The same garbage they fed the people only with a stronger boost of happiness in it. The Reverend didn’t quite understand why the Elders were so taken with Their God, he no longer knew if they served the same one. In the beginning it seemed so, but then he couldn’t tell. Yet did it really matter who he served? He received his gift from God for all his good deeds. His medicine and that was all he needed, and now they were withholding him from it.

“Reverend nothing is to be changed from the sermon you understand,” Elder Josef said.

“Yes” The Reverend said without taking his eyes off of the sermon they had prepared.

“Good then you are dismissed” With that all the Elders stood, and dismissed him.

Chapter Four

Sisters and Reverends

“Conrad you need to come down here right this instant!” Conrad’s sister Elena yelled at him from downstairs.

Conrad rolled over and squinted at the light that was beaming in through his room and groaned. He brought his hands up to his eyes and rubbed them. He sat upright and got out of his bed, and put his slippers on. He made his bed, smoothing every wrinkle, and fluffed his pillow. Conrad always made sure to have everything in his room neat, the only thing he felt he had control over in his life. He walked outside of his room, and walked across the hall into the bathroom.

He opened the door to his bathroom, and when he entered it he saw a mirror in front of him. The same mirror that was in front of him every day, but today it looked different. He looked at himself differently today, and saw himself in a different light. He looked at the image staring at him, and he wondered what was so wrong with his face. Why was it bad to have brown eyes? Why was he not accepted by the people? Why did he feel like such an outcast? He spit and rinsed his mouth, and dried his face with a towel.

“Conrad Mom wants you! Can you hurry up?”Conrad’s sister Elena shouted at him once again. She sounded so annoyed that she had to be the one to call him down. Conrad knew if it was up to Elena he would be locked up in his room, and he would always be alone. Elena seemed to have a personal agenda against Conrad. She seemed to despise his mere existence and he bet she would wish him away if she could.

Conrad walked down the steps, and entered into a huge living room, and standing straight ahead  of him was Elena, she walked up to him and said,

“I do not know why mom lets you sleep in, we all know a beauty sleep won’t work on you,” She looked him up and down and then smirked, pleased with her insult.

Conrad tried to ignore her remark, but the evil smirk planted on her face aggravated him. The pride and joy, she seemed to take from his pain angered him. He wanted to yell at her, tell her to leave him alone, but instead he kept his mouth shut, and just walked into the kitchen, where he saw his mother.

“Morning ma, you called me?” Conrad looked up at his mother. She was so beautiful she had long blonde hair, and bright blue eyes that sparkled under the morning light. She had red ruby lips that were full and perfect, and a splash of freckles on her face. She wore a red dress laced in white and her small petite feet were hidden beneath white flats.

She smiled at him most lovingly, and walked up to him and gave him a hug. He felt cold wrapped in her arms, stiff and unlovable. Whenever his mother hugged him he never felt love, or what his expectation of what he thought love was supposed to feel like. He just felt skin touching skin, no connections, he felt set apart from her.

“Yes I did. I made you some bacon and eggs, and toast! Your favorite,” She smiled at him and pointed towards his plate on the table.

Conrad actually did not like eggs. His mother had confused him with his brother’s favorite food. Conner liked eggs, they where his favorite, not Conrad’s. However Conrad knew his mother took the time to prepare his food with a good intent, so he sat down and began to munch on the toast.

“There” Conrad’s mother smiled pleasantly at him. “Elena help yourself to whatever you want, there are extra eggs if you need them.” Her eyes did not move from him, but just kept staring at him. His mother was quite a beautiful woman, but the way she was gazing at him now frightened him. Her gaze quickly changed to pity, and then they just stared at each other, until she broke off the gaze.

“Elena you are the eldest currently seeing as Conner is out. So you will be in charge, I have to go and deliver your father’s lunch, he left it behind. Be safe and treat each other respectfully.” She walked next to Conrad and kissed him on the cheek, and gave Elena a hug, and then she disappeared down the hall.

Conrad sat perfectly still, and raised his hand to his cheek, and touched his cold skin lightly. He did not feel loved or cared for he felt cold.

Elena stared at Conrad jealously eyes full of hatred. Elena muttered something under her breath and turned to the cabinets. Conrad did not understand what Elena could possibly be hateful of. What was there in his life worth envy? Did she think a hug and a kiss was love? Yet did he even know what love was? Conrad ate his bacon and threw away his eggs.

“Elena I am going upstairs to my room, if anyone knocks could you let me know?” Conrad asked. Elena mocked him and then turned around and said,

“Conrad you are not king of the house! Just because you are moms favorite doesn’t make me your slave. If you want to know when someone knocks why don’t you just stay down stairs?” Elena yelled at him between a sob, he hadn’t noticed she was crying.

She continued,

“You know I don’t even know why mom still loves you. I knew once I saw you with those brown eyes you were going to be a misfit. You will always be ugly, you will never change!” Elena bolted out of the kitchen before Conrad could say a word.

He did not understand beauty and why it mattered so much in Farowcha. Why did she hate him for his ugliness, yet who was truly ugly. The one who had it plastered over him forcefully, or the one who horded it inside willingly, and let it grow. He would hate to be as cruel as Elena. He would not trade kindness for beauty or would he? He pondered this in his head, and came to no conclusion so he threw the thought away. He thought about all the people who lived in Farowcha not even the ugly were ugly, all of them were beautiful. So what went wrong with Conrad?

Yet hadn’t Elena called him his mother favorite? He had never assumed such a thing. He walked up the steps and sat down in his room. He gazed at the painting of the transparent sea on his wall. The crystal clear water washed on shore, and underneath it laid the deep sea creatures swimming around innocently. Everything became exposed for what it truly was. The Transparent Sea originally looked like a dark blue sea. Everything was hidden beneath it, nothing special. But when the right moment came along it would turn into something beautiful, you could see all the way through it. When the time came there was nothing ugly in the sea beneath, nothing wrong with it only beauty. He wished everyone was like the Transparent Sea, he wished there was a moment where he could see all the way through them. Past the false blanket that wrapped around them so thickly, he wanted to cut underneath the barriers and see how beautiful they truly were inside.

“Conrad!” It was his sister again, Elena.

Conrad walked towards his door, and opened it a crack.

“Yes Elena?” Conrad yelled down the steps.

“It’s your friends at the door! Susan, and Jason!” Elena yelled back.

Conrad quickly ran down the steps to meet his friends.

“Hey Jason!…Susan,” he smiled sheepishly towards her.

“Hi,” Susan and Jason said.

“So what brings you guys here?” Conrad asked.

“Well Jason has an interesting experience he would like to share with you,” Susan said.

Conrad looked over at Elena who was still standing there, Jason saw his gaze and said,

“It’s fine. She can stay,”

“Thanks,” Elena said under her breath in a sarcastic tone.

“To sum it up, I saw something in the water. Something that changes everything we thought. First I didn’t really give it much thought, but I know that it is something more.” Jason spoke as if he was in a far off place.

“Well what was it,” Conrad said, trying to sound as patient as possible.

“A light, when I went in the water with it I felt…loved. I don’t know, but it felt as if something was there watching me. As if that light has always been there, and I am only now just discovering. Then when it disappeared I felt strange, like I was missing something. I wanted to get it back, but nothing I could do would bring it back.” Jason said.

Conrad couldn’t help but laugh,

“A light? Bringing you joy, and comfort. Ha, that is a new one. And Susan you believe him?” Conrad asked.

“Why not? Sure it seems out there, but that makes it even more credible to me. Why would Jason make up something as strange as this? It must be real, it has to be,” Susan said.

“Sounds wacky,” Elena said.

All of their heads turned towards her, they had forgotten she was even there.

“Also familiar.” Elena said with a sly smile.

“Familiar?” Jason asked.

“Yup, sounds like the cook at the church. He mentions strange things like this everyone once in a while. He calls them…Uh what was the word. Sup-Sopleynat. Supernatural, yeah that’s the word. Now I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but it sounds the same.” Elena said.

Conrad threw her a hard look,

“And when have you gone to church?”

“Hey I thought I give the old man a shot, now it’s just for fun. The man talks up a storm, and half the time I think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a real guilt trip if I ever saw one. When he finishes his sermon, and everyone clears out, he looks so sad.” Elena said.

“How would you know this?” Conrad asked accusingly.

“Never mind that. Look if you guys want some answer to your questions, or whatever. You should at least check the cook out.” Elena said.

Conrad gave her a suspicious look.

“Sure,” Susan said.

“Yeah we might as well.” Jason agreed.

“Fine so we’re going, okay no problem. I’ll meet you guys outside.” Conrad said.

They left without a question, and Conrad turned to Elena.

“What’s your deal?” Conrad asked.

“What do you mean?” Elena asked innocently.

“Why are you being all nice all of a sudden?” Conrad asked.

“Look I just wanted to help your friends out, is that a crime?” Elena said with raised hands.

“Well…thanks,” Conrad said.

Conrad stared at Elena and for a moment he noticed something strange with her body. Her whole body had shimmered, her appearance had changed.

“What are you staring at creep?” Elena said.

“Nothing” Conrad rubbed his eyes.”Just something with my eyes”

“Funny that it would be your eyes. Anyways, bye” Elena said.

Conrad walked out of the door, and saw Susan and Conrad standing just a ways off.

“That took you a while,” Susan smiled, and her image shimmered. She had changed just like Elena, but something about it seemed different. Then she quickly returned back to normal.

“Conrad, are you okay?” Susan giggled, and closed the door behind him.

“Yeah. I mean no. I think something is wrong with my eyes,” Conrad said as he rubbed his eyes.

“Let me see,” Susan reached over and pulled his hands away from his face. Conrad winced at the small touch, and felt uncomfortable with her peering into his eyes. Her wonderful green eyes, looked like a forest with a million different shades of green in them.

“Your eyes look perfectly normal to me,” Susan said.

“You mean besides the brown.” Conrad said, and looked at the floor.

“No Conrad. I mean your eyes are perfectly normal.” Susan smiled at him, and then hopped on her bike. Conrad followed behind her, and Jason stayed off behind them. Conrad slowed down his bike allowing Jason to go in front of him, he needed to think, and he felt strange with Jason peering at the back of his head.

They were riding off to church, the place where Conrad had stayed away from as long as he could. Conrad did not really have a good reason, but he went once. He was a very little boy then, but he remembered it feeling fake. He remembered the preacher smiling at them, selling them a reality that wasn’t real. Maybe everyone else had bought it, but not Conrad. He had been bullied for as long as he could remember, and he knew life wasn’t good.

Maybe there was a God out there, but Conrad had never paid much mind to him, and he was doing just fine. If God was out there, he had remained out of his life, and Conrad wasn’t about to let him in. He was doing just fine, Conrad told himself.

“Conrad have you ever been to church?” The question had caught him off guard; Susan slowed down her bike, and rode beside him. She was waiting for his answer,

“Well, I uh. I went like once,” Conrad said.

“What about you Jason?” Susan asked.

“Yeah I used to go all the time, my mom and me that is. But my mom is gone now, and I never got back around with God. I mean if God does exist. What about you Susan?” Jason looked upset, and turned his face towards Susan.

“Well my dad, and I recently talked about this. He brought up some things that were quite convincing, some things even sounded desirable to obtain. Yet I feel just fine without my dad’s belief. I can’t believe in something that I cannot see. He called it faith, he said that it was something I never needed, but will need one day. I think he meant to say will never need,” Susan laughed.

Conrad wondered what Susan meant by faith, and feeling just fine. Conrad felt empty, he didn’t feel just fine. How could he get to that point of feeling just fine. Was Susan just fine? Conrad stared as Susan deeply, and her body wavered, then everything turned black.

“Please don’t!” Susan’s screams filled the room.

“Be quiet,” A man in black yelled as he slapped her face.

“Get over here now!,” the man yelled.

“Daddy!” Susan tried to scream.

“Do you know why I am here?” The man said raising her to her feet.

“No.” Susan whimpered.

“Because your father isn’t keeping up with old depts.” He released his hand from her throat.

“Now you are going to tell your father, that if he doesn’t settle his dept. Things are not going to end nicely,” The man grabbed her neck again and made his grip tighter.

“I will,” Susan whimpered.

“Good girl,” the man said and released his grip.

“Now look pretty for your dad! You must deliver my message.” The man said.

A bright light filled Conrad’s eyes.

“Conrad are you okay?” Susan asked.

Conrad looked up at her face, what had he just saw. Was it a dream?

“Conrad you okay? You just fell off your bike. You okay?” Jason asked.

“How long was I out?” Conrad asked impatiently

“About a second or two if you did. I didn’t even know you went out.” Susan said.

“Susan…” Conrad didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t have dreamed what he saw, he was only out for about a second. What had he just seen? Did this have something to deal with her body shimmering? Conrad asked himself.

Conrad looked at Susan, she was smiling, she looked truly happy. Could what he saw be real, whatever he saw had to have been recent, because Susan looked the same.

“Well Conrad if you’re okay we are going to keep going,” Jason said.

“Yeah I’m fine. My eyes were just bothering me,” Conrad said.

“I hope you are okay,” Susan said with a worried look on her face.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Conrad lied.

Conrad averted his eye from Jason, and Susan. He was afraid something might happen again. They rode on for what felt like forever, when they finally arrived at the church. Conrad stopped peddling his bike, and put his foot firmly on the floor. For some reason he did not want to go forward, he heard a strong voice coming from the church, and his bones shook. He did not want to go inside.

“Conrad are you okay? We are not there yet” Jason said, and rode on.

Conrad reluctantly rode on.

They all put their bikes next to the church. They hopped off of their bikes, and walked up the steps of the church, and entered the church.

Conrad looked, and saw everyone with their heads bowed, and their eyes closed. There was a man standing in the front, with his eyes closed tightly, and he was the one he had heard speaking earlier.

“And God, I wanna pray for all those with a hurtin heart. That you would heal there pains. Oh mighty God, we pray for our brother and sisters, that they would keep on doing what they are doing. God that they would not feel like a lesser man, for we are all sinners. Ain’t not one of us better than the other. Amen.” The preacher said God funny, it sounded like Gawwd. He dragged the word out long and slow every time he spoke it.

The room erupted in amen’s, and then all the people started heading towards the door, which was straight at Conrad, and his friends.

Conrad, moved away from the exit, and listened to the man who spoke in the front dismiss the people.

Soon the whole place was empty there was nothing but about twenty benches on each side, all empty. There were glass windows on the wall, with paintings of them, which Conrad did not take much notice of. Overall the place was pretty small. The man who was speaking to the crowd left the exit, and walked back towards the podium, he seemed to take no notice of all the three kids standing near the exit.

The wooden podium he stood in front of had papers spilling from it, and a big book on top of it, and some folders.

Susan stepped forward, and said,

“Um excuse me sir, we are looking for, the uh…?” Susan looked back at Conrad and Jason for an answer.

“The old cook,” Jason said with a smile on his lips.

“Haha, ain’t no old cook over in these parts, little boy. Now if it’s the old Reverend you are referring to, I am he.” The Reverend walked up to them, and had a smile on his face. He was a rather young looking man, his face was clean shaven, and he had bright blue eyes, and light tan skin. Yet it was the wrinkles around his eyes, and the streaks of white hair, that gave him an older look.

“Sorry my friend meant nothing by “Old cook” he just didn’t know what you were called. Isn’t that right Jason?” Susan looked over to Jason with her eyes squinted.

“Yeah, I meant nothing of it,” Jason said with a sly grin.

“Well what can I do ya for?” He smiled down at them, and when he did Conrad saw the same thing that happened to Susan, and Elena happen to this man. However unlike Susan his body flickered and waved. Conrad stared into the man’s eyes, and felt himself being pulled into the man. Then everything went completely black, and he saw a man bent over a desk weeping, there were strings attached to him, moving him around like a puppet. They moved him around making him do things, the man was crying the whole time. There was also a deeper layer beneath this one, there were times when the man would not need the strings attached to him, he would do the things willingly.

Chapters 5-8

Chapter Five

The Vision

JASON looked down at Conrad, his mouth was open gasping for air, and his eyes were shut closed. Jason did not know what he should do, he just stared down at Conrad, a pained child squirming on the floor. No one could do anything, they could only stare at him, and wait for whatever was happening to him to be over. Jason looked over at Susan, she was bent over Conrad’s body crying, and she looked so afraid, but no words came from her mouth. She looked up at The Reverend, pleading at him with her eyes to help them, but The Reverend just stood there, speechless.

“Aren’t you going to do something?” Jason managed to say.

The Reverend did not answer at first, he looked confused, lost.

“What can I do? I can’t do anything! All I ever do is watch!” The Reverend stormed away from the children, and slowly started walking towards the podium.

“Reverend help us! Please!” Susan cried in his direction.

“What do you mean all you ever do is watch?” Jason ignored Susan’s plea, and was more focused on The Reverend’s previous comment.

“What? I said no such thing,” The Reverend’s eye twitched, and he started to walk steadily towards a small door to their left.

“We heard you, what do you mean all you do is watch?” Jason pried even more, he was curious what the man was hiding.

“Leave me be child!” with that The Reverend stormed off, and disappeared behind the small door.

Susan looked at Jason, and motioned for him to help her carry Conrad’s body out of the church. Jason walked next to her, and helped her lift Conrad’s body. He put one of his hands under his head and the other under his legs. Susan did likewise, Conrad was actually rather light to Jason’s surprise. Susan and Jason stopped as soon as they got a nice distance away from the church. They placed Conrad down on the floor, and they both stared down at him.

Jason noticed that Conrad’s chest was slowly rising, and falling. Good he was still breathing Jason thought. Jason turned around, he felt like someone was staring at him, and he was correct. It was The Reverend who was staring at him, then he quickly walked back inside of the church.

“Conrad! Conrad! Are you okay? Please talk to me!” Susan was pounding on his chest in desperation, she was crying.

Jason just watched. He looked at Conrad who was lying on the floor, and at Susan who was crying over Conrad’s body.

“Ugh…” Conrad groaned.

“Conrad!” Susan wiped away her tears quickly, and managed a smile.

“Conrad we thought we lost you for a second there buddy,” Jason said and smiled down at Conrad.

“I felt his pain…I was him,” Conrad cried, with a far off look in his eyes.

“What do you mean?” Susan asked, she looked over at Jason and gave him a curios look.

“I slipped into his skin, and felt his pain. Someone is controlling him, I know that much.” Conrad said, and pushed himself up.

“What do you mean someone controlling him?” Susan said in disbelief.

“There were puppet strings controlling him, and he was crying. Like he did not want to do the things he was doing. Yet there were times when the strings were not connected to him, and he did the things happily. It was all so confusing.” Conrad said, as he rubbed his eyes.

“Conrad maybe you should rest a bit, and get your thoughts together,” Jason said.

“Jason I do have them together. I am telling you guys what I saw, someone is controlling The Reverend.” Conrad said, as he said this his eyes stared far off as if he was somewhere else. Susan laughed a little and said,

“He did seem pretty wacky to me,”

“He also said, all he ever does is watch, whatever that means” Jason chided in.

“You see someone is controlling him. Whatever he is doing he is doing it unwillingly and it is tearing him apart.” Conrad said.

“Why don’t we confront him? We tell him what we know, and we see how he handles it,” Jason said confidently.

Conrad and Susan looked each other, and suppressed a laugh.

“Jason even if we did go in there, what are we going to find out? What are we going to do with what we find out? What is the point?” Susan asked.

“It doesn’t matter what it does, or what we do with it. Just that we need to do it,” Jason did not wait for either to reply, and he stormed off towards the church. This was something he needed to do, he would not wait, They were bickering over something that could be easily solved. He would say “Reverend what are you hiding?” Nah that sounded too simple he said to himself. Whatever Jason would do it did not matter because, he stood right in front of the church doors, and pulled at the handle, and swung the doors open. Jason looked back, and saw Susan running after him. So she wanted to follow him, fine he thought.

Chapter Six

The Wolf

What was wrong with that boy? The Reverend asked himself. He had walked outside and checked on them, the boy was still on the floor, with those two kids hovering over him. The boy that was standing, had looked back at him, and gave him a cold hard stare. His stare compared to nothing, when he thought of the young boy who now lay on the floor unconscious. The Reverend could never forget his haunting stare, it was so similar to The- He stopped himself, he need not think about that man. The Reverend stood with shaking hands, and paced around his room.

He stopped when he heard the door of the church open, was it… No it couldn’t be.

“Reverend!” someone was calling out to him. The voice was familiar, a young boys voice.

The Reverend opened the door and slowly walked out of it. He needed to keep himself together he thought. He looked and it was the boy who had looked at him cruelly, and besides him stood a pretty girl, she looked strangely familiar. He felt as if he had seen her before.

“What do you want?” The Reverend asked coldly.

“Why didn’t you help us,” The girl asked.

“And who might you two be? Names.” The Reverend demanded.

“I am Susan, and this is Jason,” Susan said gesturing towards the boy standing next to her.

Susan….Susan. He said the name over and over in his mind, trying to remember where he heard it from before surely they had met before.

“Have we met?” The Reverend asked with a smile.

“No,” The girl spat quickly, almost too quickly The Reverend thought.

“We are not here to discuss our names, and how we’ve met. We have come here to talk about our friend.” Jason yelled.

The Reverend did not like how the boy had taken control of the conversation. The Reverend needed the control back.

“Young boy, Jason I believe it was. Why did you come here in the first place? What was your initial reason? Before the young boy went out?” The Reverend asked softly.

The boy looked as if he was searching his memory. Then The Reverend saw his face light up, it illuminated.

“Light,” Jason said so softly. He said the word as if it was fragile, and might break if it was said to strong.

“What was that?” The Reverend asked again.

“The Light, I saw a light.” Jason said with more strength.

The Reverend laughed to himself, so he was dealing with a crazy he thought.

“You saw a light? The sun? Or was it the moon? Or maybe the stars? Or was it a fire?” The Reverend said as he licked his lips, his eyes aflame.

“No it was neither of those. It was love, comfort, joy, safety, and peace. They were all wrapped up in a light, and when I touched it they fell onto me. It was real, a bright light in the depths of the sea, whispering my name.” Jason said with a smile. He looked as if he was relieving the moment, he looked so alive, and young.

“And how might one see this light again?” The Reverend asked.

“I do not know. It just disappeared.” Jason said sadly.

“A youths imagination is an incredible thing.” The Reverend said nervously.

This light, he had heard of it before. Some men of the north side of Farowcha claimed to have seen a light. This light spoke to them, and claimed his preaching was a blaspheme, it supposedly guided them in the way in which they should go. However the boy did not know what is was yet, and this was good The Reverend thought.

“Imagination?” The young girl Susan spoke up.

“Do you think he just made it up? That for no good reason he just decided to come and pay The Reverend a visit to tell him about his imagination?” Her voice slowly rose.

“Susan, it’s okay,” The boy said to her lowly, but just loud enough The Reverend could hear.

“No it is not! I won’t have this man treating us like crazy kids.” Susan said to the boy.

The Reverend realized he remembered this girl now, as she raised her voice. He had confronted her a long time ago, he had warned her about her father. Strange they would meet again.

“Do you remember me girl?” The Reverend asked with a wide smile planted on his face.

The girl stopped, and paused as if thinking, and said,

“No, I’ve only met you today,”

“Oh I don’t think so,” The Reverend moved quickly, and was standing behind Susan. His hand was planted firmly around her mouth.

“Do you remember me now girl? I remember you,” He spoke in a deep voice, and then in his normal voice he said.

“Do you remember now?” The Reverend was having too much fun, he let go of the girl’s mouth, and slid away from them. The boy was watching in horror, he did nothing but watch with an open mouth.

Susan looked at him, and he could tell she remembered, but she shook her head.

“No I don’t remember you,” She choked on the last word.

“Ah yes good, you wouldn’t want your friends knowing about the trouble your daddy is in,” The Reverend liked how he had gained control of this conversation.

“Susan what is he talking about?” Jason asked.

“Nothing, he…he is making it up,” Susan said.

The Reverend let it go, and looked at the two children.

“You will follow me, because if indeed this light of yours is true, there are those who would like to hear. They are wise ones, wiser then I. They will tell you what it is, please follow me.” The Reverend grabbed his jacket, and slipped it on.

The girl looked at the boy, and they talked lowly, he could only make out a few words.

“How can we trust him,” Jason said.

“Maybe we should,” The girl said.

The Reverend ignored their conversation, it did not really matter if they agreed. They would go either way. The Reverend walked off towards, a window, and saw the second boy outside, sitting on the ground.

“Okay we agreed to go, however our friend is not feeling good. We will go as long as he gets to stay here,” Jason said.

“Before I agree on anything, what did he think about the light?” The Reverend asked.

“He did not believe us,” Jason said sadly.

Good The Reverend thought. Then there was no reasons for the boy to go.

“Agreed. Let us leave now,” The Reverend walked off towards the door, with the two children following behind him quietly.

Chapter Seven

Are we there yet?

Susan remembered The Reverend he was that scary man that grabbed her that night, and threatened her father. The Reverend seemed so different now. Even thou he was cruel and cold he didn’t sound the same. She remembered that night, and he sounded so evil. Could he really be the same man?

Susan kept her distance from The Reverend as they rode. She was afraid of him now more than ever. She wondered how The Hall of Elders looked. This was the place that The Reverend said he was taking them to. She had lived in Farowcha all her life and she never heard of such a place.

The Reverend rode diligently ahead of them, pressing on quickly. He never looked back to see if Jason, and Susan were behind him. Never the less he pressed forward. Susan looked to her left, and saw Jason riding next to her. He had been behind her for the most of the trip, but now Jason rode next to her.

“Susan don’t you think we have been riding for quite some time?” Jason asked.
Yes they had been riding for some time hadn’t they? She thought to herself.

“Yes we have been riding for quite some time. We have been riding mainly straight, so at least we know he is not leading us in circles.” Susan said reassuringly, trying to convince herself as much as Jason.

“That is true, I have been paying attention to our location also, and we have just passed by the old lumber mill. You know the one I worked at when I was about this tall,” Jason said pointed towards his hip.”

Susan laughed and said, “I remember you then, it was pretty recent. Ha, don’t act like it was that long ago. You hit your growth spurt just recently, you were such a rascal then. Always causing trouble with Conrad, you grew up a bit I must say,” Susan said approvingly.

“Well I can’t always stay a kid. I don’t think Conrad knows that yet,” Jason said playfully.

“Oh don’t be so mean, he’s more mature than you in some areas.” Susan replied.

“Oh do tell,” Jason laughed.

Susan thought about Conrad, his deep brown eyes, and his hair thrown about so recklessly. Conrad was definitely something else. Conrad meant a lot to Susan, he would never understand how much. He was the dearest friend she had, he had heard most of her problems, and listened. The only thing she really wanted was for someone to listen. Jason was a good friend, but she had met him later, and became closer friends with Conrad. She knew Conrad cared for her, but he just never knew how to express it. Susan remembered once when she had tried to dig down into Conrad, and understand why he was the way he was, so insecure.

Whenever she did ask him, he never answered her truthfully, it seemed. She of course would never directly say why are you so insecure? Instead she would dance around it as delicately as she could.

“Susan?” Jason asked.

She forgot she was even talking to Jason.

“Sorry I was just thinking,” Susan said, secretly hoping Jason would not ask her about what.

“About wha-“Jason stopped midsentence and looked ahead of him.

“Susan! The Reverend stopped” Jason said to her. He indeed had, Susan and Jason rode faster to catch up to him, and the two stopped their bicycles.

Susan and Jason both approached The Reverend, and they both stopped, and looked at The Reverend waiting for him to decide on where they were going. The Reverend looked left then right, and his hand gripped his chin, stroking the little goatee he had.

“Are we lost?” Jason asked The Reverend. The Reverend turned around and looked on Jason pitifully, it seemed.

“Poor child,” The Reverend mumbled to himself.

“We are not lost, a Reverend is never lost it simply does not work”

Susan chuckled to herself, and looked at The Reverend and said,

“Well if we are not lost then where are we heading off to?” The Reverend gave Susan a cruel look, then covered it up with a smile and said,

“We are going to be heading to the right,” The Reverend pointed to the right and got on his bicycle.

Susan looked off towards the right and noticed a small dirt road, surrounded by a forest. The Reverend was already on his bike riding towards the dirt road, and Jason following behind. Susan quickly hopped on her bike, and followed behind them.

Chapter Eight

The Light Rejected

Conrad watched his friends ride off with The Reverend. Conrad was not entirely sure why they left with him. However they had left, Susan had told him to stay, and having a loss for words he just sat there and obeyed.

Conrad knew The Reverend must have been hiding something. Conrad wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. Conrad stood up, and hobbled over towards the steps of the church, and slowly climbed them. The door of the church was firmly closed but Conrad yanked the door open, and hot stale air came out of the church. The air hit him so suddenly he lost his breath. Conrad turned towards the outside to get some fresh air and allowed the hot air to ventilate throughout the building.

Conrad stumbled in the room, and looked on the empty benches and tried to imagine the seats filled with eager listeners, listening to The Reverend preach. He chuckled to himself, and was so glad he did not have to go to church. Conrad walked past the benches, and now stood behind the podium. He looked down at the podium, and there was a book, and on the cover it read The Bible. Conrad looked to his left then his right and slowly cracked The Bible open.

As soon as he cracked The Bible open a strong wind entered the room. It was so strong he had to put his hand in front of his face to prevent the wind from completely blinding him. The only thing Conrad heard besides the wind was the flipping of paper. The wind let up so suddenly, and the paper stopped flipping, it sounded so quiet. Conrad looked down at The Bible, and his eyes fell upon the top of the page it read John. The Bible had a lot of notes scrawled all over it. Practically every verse was highlighted in different colors.

There was a big paragraph that was not highlighted, and for some reason it stuck out to Conrad even more than the highlighted verse, and Conrad read it out loud,

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Conrad stopped and lifted his hand to his eyes, and felt that tears had stained his eyes.  One word kept popping out at him. Light, Light. Jason kept saying he saw a light. Could this be the same light? Who was this son God sent into the world? How would believing in him cause him not perish? What was eternal life? The one question that gnawed as his mind was what did it mean when it said that the Light had already come into the world? Why did the people love the darkness more than light? Why would anyone take darkness over light? Why were there evil deeds the result of their love for the darkness?

Why was it that when he read these words he felt so guilty? For some reason he felt as if he denied the light. Conrad slammed the book shut, and gritted his teeth. This is nothing, it’s just a story in a book Conrad told himself. Conrad looked at the benches, and noticed that Bibles were on each one. He lifted his hands to his heads, why were these things everywhere. John 3:16-21 was pounding in his head. Conrad wanted to run out of the church, but something was holding his legs down, he could not move. Conrad could only lie on the floor, crying, and his heart was heavy with guilt.

When Conrad finished cry he looked to his right, and noticed a door in the wall, it was the same exact color as the wall, and he would not have noticed it, if it weren’t for the huge door knob that was protruding out of it. Conrad wiped his face, and was glad that there was something that would help him take his mind off of what he just read. Conrad twisted the doorknob open, and the inside of the room was completely dark, except for a small window that let in a little bit of light. Conrad looked around for a lamp, anything that would illuminate the room, and found a small lamp, and he found matches, and lit the lamp.

The light revealed a huge window that was boarded up, and a small amount of light came from it. There were papers that were thrown haphazardly about, and dozens of bookshelves full with books. There was one book that stood out to him in particular, Conrad reached forward, and pulled the book out of the shelf he held the book in his hands, and looked down at it. The book was leather and looked worn, Conrad opened the first page. It seemed to be a journal, Conrad wasn’t sure if he should read it. However he thought that if there was something The Reverend was hiding Conrad needed to see it. Conrad opened the book at a random spot and started to read.

Friday January 25th 2009

I had moved here with high hopes many years ago, big dreams. I wanted desperately to leave my home, so I fled to Farowcha, I moved here. Yes I know….I had sinned. But I just wanted to start over. Everyone knew what I had done, they all knew what the great preacher had done. So I moved here, but the Elders, the people. They are all evil, and corrupt. They force me to tell them these lies, and the people don’t love God. The Elders want to make sure they don’t love God, at least not the God I knew. I feel so distant from everyone, I can’t keep spreading these lies. I’m afraid of God. Will he smite me away? Yet don’t I deserve it?

The entry ended and Conrad thought this had to be at least 4 to 5 years ago. Conrad looked at the next entry, it was 1 year later exactly.

Saturday January 25th 2010

I have found a love for words, I have been searching deep into words, and there meanings. Looking up mostly Greek and Hebrew words, something to take my mind off of… As you may have noticed I have not written in a year. Things have changed drastically, I did not want to get involved, but I did. They have me doing things I would never imagine myself doing. They tell me I am serving God, and this is what he would want. I have given up fighting, it is too much. Maybe it is the same God, yet does it really matter? If I don’t do this they will throw me out, I could be killed, or worse.

They had me deliver two missionaries up to them. They should never have come here. They are trying to disturb the peace…Oh dear I am starting to sound like the Elders.  They told me they are pleasing God. God is a God of peace is he not? So I must tell the people things that will bring them peace? I don’t know any more if what I am doing is right.

You may not hear from me in a while, I may only do yearly updates if it is worth it.

Conrad heart was pumping faster with each word, he was so eager to learn more, Conrad turned the page.

Monday January 26th 2011

A small boy with brown eyes has been sited, I was told to keep a close eye on him. His name is Tyler Gray. I haven’t seen a baby with brown eyes in who knows how long. The Eldest told us to keep an eye on him, funny the Eldest should get involved. He normally never gets involved, I have never seen him. I wonder if he is real. Why hasn’t he shown himself to me.

Tyler acts normal like any other baby boy. I am not sure entirely what I am looking for. I only hope he does not turn out like the other children, with their angelic faces, and perfect skin, and their demonic hearts. I wonder if brown eyes mean much here, what does it mean? And why do all these demon kids come out with every color and shade of eyes except brown? I remember hearing long ago about a boy with brown eyes who possessed great power.

I heard the boy became extremely powerful, feared by everyone, and respected. I heard this young boy had a strange gift, he could see. And not like how you or I could see, but he had a gift to see beyond our realm. Into the spiritual world perhaps, I am not certain. I wonder how it would be to speak to this boy, I wonder if he is still alive. What could have possibly become of him?

Conrad closed the book with trembling hands. Did he have the same power? Did he see into this spiritual world? Was this what he saw when he looked at The Reverend. Who was this other person that had possessed this power? Conrad promised he would only read one more entry, and then he would leave and try, and track down his friends.

Tuesday January 26th 2012

A real disappointment the baby was. Poor Tyler turned out to have green eyes, it seemed his eyes gained there color later, strange. He has been the second false alarm this year. They um, killed him. Just like the other one, The Elders don’t like false alarms they killed little Tyler. He will never be seen again, he was delivered up to them last month, and hasn’t been seen since. Funny the parents don’t seem to mind too much, they claim he is in a better place, and the wife is pregnant with a baby boy. I guess this little boy will make up for Tyler.

Death, the word used to be so foreign on my lips. Kill, died, destroyed, eliminated, taken care of. All these words are used so much in the hall of the Elders. They kill so much, anyone who disappoints them or does not do there will. Those who have the worst death are those that claim to have seen the light. Something feared and hated by the Elders, I have never encountered such a thing as the light, and pray I never do.

I feel so dirty, I feel as if my hands hold the blood of all those who have died. All of those who were brought up to the Elders, I feel so dirty. I would have never killed anyone before I came here, the idea would never have even crossed my mind. What makes it worse is sometimes I feel good doing it. I laugh as I hear their screams, I sleep better at night. Is there a demon inside of me that takes joy in this? Or is it just me?

Before I would shake in fear, I was afraid of the wrath of God? What wrath? You know what is real funny? Something I find twisted and sick. Tyler’s parents were good people, they did good things so why did there boy have to die? Why was he in a better place? Why did no wrath come one those who deserved it? Like me? Why has nothing happened to me? Why doesn’t God strike me dead, is it because I am really doing his will? All of those people who died were all good men, and women. Why did they receive the wrath?

Conrad closed the book so quickly, and shoved it inside of his shirt. Death, all of this death was happening in this town and he knew nothing of it. Why did people die that believed in the light? Those murders! They killed that baby! Those! Conrad could find no curse to utter that could describe his rage towards them. He had brown eyes why did no one do anything about him. Where there people watching him?

Fear gripped Conrad, shaking his body to the core. He needed to get out of the church. Conrad had to ride out to his friends. If he didn’t know any better he knew they were riding to their deaths. Oh Jason you fool! Why did you have to speak about the light?

Chapter 9-12

Chapter Nine

Eaten Alive

The Reverend turned his head to look at the children who rode relentlessly behind him. They were too eager to find out where he would take them. Children were so naïve, following complete strangers into who knows were. The Reverend thought he would be numb to death now. Yet again it was going to happen and he was, afraid.

The Reverend stopped his bike, and just stood there. Something was eating him inside, and it had been eating him for a while. He tried to brush it off, toss it away, and make it disappear.

“Reverend is something wrong,” Susan asked.

Would she never cease to talk,

“I need a moment to think,” The Reverend snapped.

The Reverend heard a voice in his head

“You can just do it this once, and get your medicine. Just this once.”

Yes maybe he would do it this once.

“Ah!!” The Reverend screamed out loud.

“Reverend?” Susan asked.

The Reverend turned on her like a predator ready to devour his prey.

He completely ignored the boy on the bicycle behind Susan, and grabbed the girl by the hair off her bike.

“Ah! Please let go of me,” She cried.

He dragged her closer to his bike, and the boy just looked at him in shock.

“You will stop speaking please, or the demons inside of me will take over. Now you don’t want that do you little girl? Just keep quiet so I don’t lose my cool again.” The Reverend dropped her, and jumped on his bike, and rode on. The children would follow they had to.

The Reverend was shaking, something had overtaken him. Was it really the demons, for the first time The Reverend was afraid of himself. He had indeed turned into a monster, something to be feared. He hated himself so much, and yet loved himself all in the same moment. There was something about this little girl, he had learned to hate dearly. Maybe it was the annoying innocence that she wore around her like a cloak. Her innocence, he hated it so much.

The Reverend looked off into the distance and he saw a kid crying in front of the hall of the elders. He was tugging on someone, it was a man dressed in black. The child was begging for his life, and the man turned around and clubbed him over the head, and the child dropped like a sack of potatoes. The Reverend stared in horror, and then blinked, and the image disappeared completely.

The Reverend almost fell off his bike with the realization that it was he who clubbed the boy over the head. He had just seen a memory of his past. Something constricted inside of his stomach, and he felt a sharp pain in his heart. Like a knife had plunged into it. The Reverend was feeling the pain from his memories. The medicine he had been taking, was wearing off. He realized why he was losing it, it was because the memory were coming back stronger than ever.

The Reverend looked back, and the children were following him just like he had presumed.

“Hurry, we are almost there!” The Reverend yelled back at them, and increased his speed.

They were almost there, and soon everything would be over. He would get his medicine, and then he would be healed. The Reverend turned back to the children, and they were not moving. Why weren’t they moving he wondered?

“Why do you stop?” The Reverend jumped off of his bike, and ran towards the children, who were both off of their bikes, and sitting on the floor. They seemed to be examining the girl’s bike.

“Susan’s tire lost all of its air. She can’t ride on her bike anymore.” Jason said.

“Well she got legs, so she can walk.” The Reverend said.

The Reverend turned his back on the children, and started to walk to his bike. A hand gripped his arm, and pulled him around. He looked down, and it was the small girl. For some reason the first thing he wanted to do was laugh, the idea that this little girl had gathered the courage to even touch him, made him laugh.

“Why are you so cruel? What did we do against you that made you so upset at us?” Susan asked.

The tone of her voice reminded him of something at the back of his mind. He tried to not to think of the memory that was surfacing in his mind, but the more he tried not to think about it, the more he did.

“Obed if God takes her she is in a better place you can’t get upset at him for it. You can’t shut God down. You can’t hate him if he wants to take our daughter home.”

“Why does he need to take her home? Why can’t he leave her here with us? Why won’t he listen to my pleas? Why won’t he answer my cries? Why did he leave me? Why can’t I feel him like I used to?

“Maybe it’s because you are not listening. Obed you are shutting God off, the man who saved your life you are spitting in his face because you are blaming him for your ears being too deaf to hear. Not only are you ignoring him you are not preaching the truth. You speak of promise, and how we are all good, and how God wants only joy for us. And I guess since God only wants joy for us that means we should take pleasure in this evil world?” Obed’s wife paused allowing the words to sink in, and then continued,

“That is all a lie from the devil! and he’s using you in this weak time to do his will. How many people are turning because you are telling them what they are doing is wrong? None because you are encouraging them! I sometimes have to leave the service and just pray for you.”

The words stung Obadiah’s heart; his anger towards her was increasing with every word. The insinuation that the devil was using him cut his soul in half. He pondered over those words for a moment, and the more he thought about it the more he grew in anger towards his wife. He had enough of his wife standing out of her place.

“No more. I won’t have you lecturing me on how I should lead my church, I won’t listen to you-“

“Truth! You can’t go back to that church not with your mind so corrupt.” His wife interrupted.

“Be quiet! I will hear no more from you!”

He yelled at the top of his lungs something he would never do. His wife stood her guard, she was a strong woman and nothing would tear her down. They just stared at each other. Their arguments always ended with a stare off, but he had never yelled at her before. Obadiah noticed his wife hands were trembling slightly, deep inside of him he wanted to grab her slender fingers, and pull her close. Apologize to her, and admit she was right, anything to gain her love back. Yet his pride got in the way, and he could do nothing but stare at her, and feel regret.

They fought more than they ever had, and it was all because of the change in the church. His wife wouldn’t let it be. Ever since their daughter was slipping away the church was changing, and it was his fault, and Obadiah knew it.

They kept staring at each other, each with a hard face on, trying so hard not show the part in them that cared. There fights normally ended with Obadiah breaking off the gaze. However tonight it ended differently, they both broke off the gaze at the same time when they heard a small squeaky voice say,

“Mommy, and daddy why are you fighting?” the squeaky voice said in between a sob.

Their little girl still looked so beautiful even with her bald scalp and her pale skin. There was nothing that had stolen the reverends heart like his little girl did. The tears running down her face stung the reverends heart. This ought not to be happening The Reverend thought. He rushed up to his daughter and swept her up in his arms.

“We weren’t fighting we were just talking” The Reverend held his daughter in his arms. She was so skinny and fragile, that he felt that if he held her too tight she would break.

“I heard you yelling daddy. Why were you yelling? Was it because I’m sick?”

“No no it had nothing to deal you.” The Reverend said

“Daddy please don’t fight about me. I don’t want to be the cause of your fights with mom.”

This time his wife rushed up to her.

“Oh no baby. You aren’t the cause.”

“Daddy thinks I’m going to die doesn’t he?”

That caught them both off guard.

“No you are going to grow up to be a fine strong woman. The doctors will make sure of it.”

The reverend said, as his wife gave him a disappointed look.

“Daddy do you still love God?”

The innocence of her curiosity took him off guard. She couldn’t know he no longer loved God. She was only a little girl, she couldn’t actually tell, so he played his part.

“Yes baby girl why do you ask?”

“I don’t see you talk to God like you used to, once I started getting sick I noticed you no longer prayed with me, or read me bible stories, then you started fighting with mom. So I think maybe I’m the reason you don’t love God anymore, and fight with mom.

“No baby, please don’t say that.” The Reverend said.

“I just want you to love God daddy, and not to fight anymore.” His daughter said it in such a weak voice it broke his heart.

“Never again I won’t fight ever again.”

He was crying in his little girls arms.

“Don’t cry daddy.” She gave him a weak hug and went limp in his arms. He held her close and tucked her in for bed.

He hadn’t known it would be the last time he would ever be with his baby girl. If he knew he would have done things so much more differently. He would have held her so much closer, and spent the whole day with her. He would have let her know how much he loved her.

She died with tears fresh in her eyes because she believed she was the reason why her father lost his love for God. She didn’t understand the fighting and now she was gone,  because the Reverend didn’t have faith, and he hated God for taking her from him, and he hated himself even more for letting her leave his arms.

“Reverend, are you okay? You’re crying” The Reverend heard a voice that pulled him from his memory.

“It’s not me, it’s not mine!” The Reverend yelled. There were memories in his mind, that weren’t his. They couldn’t be his, he had never wed, and he never had a daughter. Yet why was he crying as if they were his?

“Reverend!” Both of the children yelled in unison.

The Reverend stared at Susan, and she reminded him so much of the girl in his memory. The girl in his memory had to been his daughter, and that woman must have been his wife. That means that his daughter was dead, and that his wife was gone. Memories started to flood back into his mind, all the wrong he had ever done was flooding his mind. Not one good memory entered his mind.

These were the memories that The Reverend had tried to wipe away. He sat there trembling on the floor, with tears fresh in his eyes.

“What’s happening to him?” The children were hovering over him perplexed.

Let them hover The Reverend thought. Nothing mattered anymore, what could matter. What he had been hiding from all his life had finally caught up with him and it was stronger than ever. What can a man do when all his evil has caught up with him, and smacked him in the face, when he was guilty? What can you do? What should he do? These where the very things that were flooding through the Reverends mind.

Chapter Ten

The Light

Jason stared at the Reverend in fear, and curiosity, and felt a pang of pity. The Reverend had completely morphed in these short moments. He went from a completely confident man, to a pathetic man, quivering on the floor in tears. It was quite pitiful, Jason thought. Yet there was something serious going on inside of The Reverend. Jason could see the internal battles on his face. The Reverend’s face was pale white, and his lips were gray. He looked as if death had stolen his soul, and left him with his body. His eyes were bloodshot, and his whole entire body was shaking to the core.

Yet for some reason Jason pitied this man who had been so cruel to them. He wanted to reach down to him, and share with him The Light. The Light was on Jason’s mind constantly, it was linked together with all of his thoughts. He wished he could share it with this man, the desire to share it with him soon became a desperate need. Jason needed this man to experience what he felt.  Jason wanted to put this man to rest from the inner torments The Reverend was facing. A voice whispered inside of him to touch him, to walk up to the man, and touch him.

Jason walked up to the Reverend, he looked up at Susan, and her mouth was agape. She was staring at his left hand. Jason looked down at his hand, and there was light wrapped around his hand. He didn’t stop to marvel at his hand for too long, he felt that if he wasted any time the light would leave, along with the opportunity.

The Reverend never looked up at Jason, he was too consumed in whatever it was that was eating him up inside. Yet as soon as Jason was about to lay a finger on him, as soon as Jason felt the Light surging through his body, slowly working its way into his finger, like an electric shock, The Reverend wheeled around and locked eyes with him. The Reverend’s eyes where Bloodshot and his face was flowing with tears, and it was ghostly white.

“Don’t touch him,” The Reverend said with foam slightly coming from the corners of his mouth. The voice didn’t sound quite human, it sounded raspy, and gargly.

“Him?” Jason felt fear spread throughout his body, there was something talking to him, that wasn’t the Reverend.

“Leave me be” The Reverend screamed at him.

“Please I can help you, I need to share with you the light. It is the only thing that can cure whatever it is your going through!” Jason cried.

“Nothing can cure me, nothing, only the medicine, that was given to me by God. I need to get to it, we must leave, and retrieve it!” The Reverend said as he pointed to his right.

“That’s not true! Reverend we know the truth!” Jason cried.

The Reverend paused, and Jason noticed his left hand twitch, and then he quickly covered his emotion with a smile.

“And what truth might that be?” The Revered asked with a coy smile.

Susan stood up, and looked him in the eye, her own eyes where slightly red, the whole encounter had caused her to cry, she was afraid, and Jason knew she had the right.

“The truth that you are being controlled by someone or something” Susan said.

The Reverend never looked at Susan, he kept his eyes firmly locked on Jason, and replied.

“Controlled? What made you come up with such an absurd assumption?” The Reverend asked.

“Well our frien-“Jason cut her off afraid for Conrad, something in him knew that they should leave Conrad out of it.

“We just know,” Jason spat quickly.

The Reverend jerked his head towards the girl, and then quickly towards the boy. The Reverend took one step closer to Jason. They were now close enough that Jason could smell the Reverend’s stale breath. Jason winced prepared for something terrible, and the Reverend only whispered,

“If you ever dare to touch me, there will be consequences.”

Jason suddenly felt courage sweep throughout his body. He knew that it was important for The Reverend to get this light, and he knew he would touch him.

“Sometimes consequences must be met, I am not afraid to face them when I know I have done what is right,” Jason said.

The Reverend did not reply immediately, but his eyes replied for him. They moved slowly in the direction of Susan. The Reverend just stared at her, his eyes looked hungry. The look sickened Jason, all his courage seemed to melt away. Jason didn’t need The Reverend to say what his eyes meant. Jason knew what they meant…that if Jason did touch The Reverend, Jason would not face the consequences…Susan would. Jason hoped that the Reverend wouldn’t say what it was his eyes had clearly depicted. The Reverend had figured out Jason’s weakness, Susan. There was no one he would die for quicker. Jason could never be the cause of her death.

“It seems we have come to an agreement, boy?” The Reverend said as he licked his lips.

Yes, the Reverend did indeed know his weakness, Jason thought.

“I won’t touch you,” Jason said.

The words barely escaped his mouth they were said in such a low whisper. Words that he did not want to say, but he words he must.

“Good then no more of the foolishness. Everyone leave your bicycles here, we will proceed on foot,” The Reverend turned, and started to walk away, and the children followed behind.

Chapter Eleven

Without A trace

The children had run away, gone, no were in reach. He had failed terribly, but secretly he was happy that they had escaped. However he really was hoping to get his hands on the medicine. His body hurt terribly, he was bleeding from several areas, and was sure he must have been bruised in several other places. Those children did know how to deliver tough blows. At least for this once he would not have to bloody his hands, but his hands were already stained weren’t they he thought.

He would simply explain to the Elders what happened, how they had escaped far from his grasp. Did he really even have to explain to them anything, was it necessary? He did not recollect anyone seeing him bring the children to the elders. He would simply go back to his home, and remain quiet no one would need know anything.

However there was the matter of the boy with brown eyes, he needed him. He had to at least deliver him to the elders. However he did not know his name, or where he lived.  He would have to go to the book of records.  The Reverend would then find out their names and then look them up, but there was a matter of how to get their names. Tomorrow morning it was the monthly meeting with the elders, they would discuss the new things that were going on, he could ask them about the boy with the dull eyes. He had never seen anyone in Farowcha with brown eyes it was a rare feature that many did not have, if any. Surely one of them must know, and he would promise to deliver them up to them, if they gave him the medicine. Yes they will be most pleased, The Reverend thought.

The reverend dusted off his shirt, and walked towards his bicycle. He would ride home and take a long nap, forget today and its worries. His bike was exactly where he left, directly behind the bush. The Reverend hopped on it and rode off towards the church to collect his things, and then he would head home.

Chapter Twelve

The Hall of The Elders

Conrad rode as fast as he could on his bike he feared for his friends, and also feared for his own life. Someone had to have been watching him, someone knew about his eyes. Yet why hadn’t he been delivered up to the Elders like the rest? Too many questions entered Conrad’s mind that he could not answer. He would have to ask the Reverend, maybe he could trade spots with Susan, and Jason. Yes that is what he would do.

Conrad rode on with nothing but his friends in his mind, as he rode on his face stung from the many branches that he hit. Conrad had not even noticed that there were many small cuts on his face, from all branches he hit. His mind was set on only one thing, and everything else seemed to fade away in the process, even pain.

One could get very far in such short time on a bicycle, especially if it was a life or death situation. Conrad rode on and arrived at a dead end, but when he looked to his right he saw what looked like a small path. Conrad walked over to it, and noticed three bicycles thrown on the ground.

“This must be where they stopped,” Conrad thought aloud.

Conrad walked up to the bicycles, and examined them. He noticed that Susan’s bicycle wheels where both broken.

“That’s why they continued on foot,” Conrad said.

Conrad looked past the bicycles, and noticed foot prints on the floor, and followed them. Conrad did not need to follow them far because he could hear voices. Conrad ran ahead, and saw a large building. One he had never seen before in his life, he had never even known such a building existed in their town.

It was beautiful. The outside of the building was surrounded by gates on all four corners. The gates where extremely tall, Conrad estimated they had to be at least 15 to 20ft tall. There where big green bushes neatly cut into rectangles, which created a sort of maze look. The building itself was also rectangular with a round roof that gave it a bubble looking appearance. The color of the building changed colors when you moved your head into different directions. It looked like a rainbow wall that changed colors, yet the wall was clearly made of marble.

There where large pillars in front of the building all seemed to be made out of different minerals. They seemed to be what was supporting the building, because they were surrounded all around the building.

Conrad felt enchanted by the building, it was hard to unglue his eyes from the building, but it was something deep inside of him that allowed him to pull away. It was his friends, people that he loved more than anything.

Conrad snapped out his trance, and looked straight ahead. Conrad could see his friends walking with the Reverend towards the gate. Conrad leapt from his position and charged after them.

The Reverend turned his head to look at the children who walked quickly trying to follow his pace. Their eyes were glued on the building as they walked. Yes the building was beautiful.  It was its beauty that made delivering people to the Elders easier. Often times the people who he brought here would egg him on take them inside. It seemed that beauty had that affect on people.

They never cared what dangers lay inside, and even if they knew what dangers lay inside, they would still want to go inside. It was this idea that everyone in Farowcha had, that beauty was not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty was only one thing, beauty was attractive, fair, graceful, elegant, and if it didn’t have these outer appearance it was good for nothing. Beauty just had to look good on the outside, and this was exactly what the hall of the Elders was. The Reverend thought it was almost a mockery to the people.

The hall of the Elders was extremely beautiful, yet on the inside, was where the ugliest people lay in heart. Children were so naïve, following stranger into who knows were. The Reverend hated himself for a brief moment, and he also hated Farowcha. Farowcha’s rules and regulations even how he had to present God to the people, on their terms.  He had to serve them on their terms. The only reason why he had wanted to present God to the people accurately was because of his wife. She was a woman who loved God deeply, and she hated seeing God being brought to people incorrectly.

“I’ve tried my love, for so long I have tried,” The Reverend said in a whisper that was full of pain.

“You can redeem yourself,” The Reverend heard a voice reply back to him. The Reverend looked at the children. No it was not them he thought. They were still enchanted by the beauty. Who had spoken to him he thought. Could it be his wife?

“Mari?” The Reverend called aloud. As soon as his wife’s name left his mouth, he felt dumb. She was not here…

“Redeem yourself,” The voice said again.

If he didn’t deliver up these children, would he actually redeem himself, of all of the blood he was responsible for? The children were so close to him now he thought for a moment they might be able to hear his thoughts. He turned to look at their faces, the little girl slowly pulled her gaze away from the building and met his.

“So this is where we will find out what this light is that Jason possesses?” The little girl asked him, her voice pronounced each syllable so slowly. She said the words as if she had been drugged.

“Yes this is it,” The Reverend said slowly. Will I follow through with this plan? He thought to himself.

The little girl smiled up at him, she actually trusted him. The Reverend could see it in her eyes. The look sickened him, her innocent look killed his inside. He did not understand why this girl was like this. She had green eyes, and look pretty, so why was she innocent. The little boy looked at The Reverend in the same slow manner. The boy looked at the Reverend like he was still deciding whether or not to trust the Reverend. Smart boy the Reverend thought.

“You’ve stayed to true to your word. I thought for a brief moment that you were going to take us to some creepy place and then kill us,” the little girl said with a smile.

The Reverend had no reply, he was in awe. He abruptly turned his head away, and said,

“Yes…that would be dreadful,” The Reverend stopped walking.

“What are you waiting for? Let’s go in,” The little girl started walking towards the gate, and he quickly snatched her, and threw her behind a bush.

“Wait I must think,” The Reverend said.

The young boy ran to the little girl to help her, and he then stared at the Reverend with hateful eyes. The Reverend did not take it to heart.  The Reverend had seen those eyes from every single kid whom he had delivered up here. Now he must think on whether or not he would actually deliver these children up to the Elders. Could he really redeem himself in God’s eyes? Yet they were so close. He was a coward at heart, he was too afraid of the Elders. They had a noose around his neck, and all they needed to do was pull the lever and it was over. They had his medicine, and he needed it. No good deed would wipe away his memory.

What was worse than the Elders was the Eldest, and that was who he feared worst of all. He shivered at the name, at this person, at this horrible, horrible person. The Eldest knew everything, he could see beyond, and he knew everything that went on. He would know if you were lying or were telling the truth, all he had to do was look at you.

The Eldest would know he was lying, yet did he have to face him?

“Can we go now?” The young girl kept insisting, if she kept on pestering him about it he would lose his temper, and he might actually take her to the hall of the Elders. Yet he knew it was the beauty that drew her. He thought to himself for a moment about what would happen if The Eldest did find out…no! He would not ruin his life for these two children whom he did not know. The Reverend had made up his mind.  He would deliver these children to The Elders. It was too late for him to make up for his evil deeds.

“Yes we shall go, follow close behind me, and do not dare walk into the maze,” The Reverend said.

“What maze,” The young boy asked.

“Once we make it passed the gate once you walk straight, if you look to your left, and right there are two entrances. Those are the entrances into the maze, should you make it out if you do wander it would be rare.” The Reverend said.

The little girl smiled at him, and turned to her friend, and mumbled something to him about The Reverend actually being a trust worthy man. Why did he feel terrible inside? He had done this on numerous occasions. So many times indeed he could hear the echoes of the children’s screams coming back to him. So why did he feel guilty? He felt that what he was doing was wrong, and he had never felt this way before while delivering the children up to the Elders.

For so long he had told himself he was doing this to rid Farowcha of those who would endanger the people with their Light, he was doing this to save society, and also to save his own neck.

“Hey uh Reverend?” the young girl pulled on his sleeve and looked up at him.

“What is it?” the Reverend asked in a low voice.

“Jason and I would like to thank you,”

The boy chimed in and also said his thanks, and the boy also said,

“Hey I’m sorry for thinking you were an evil guy, it was just that when my friend collapsed on the ground when he saw you, I really thought you were evil. I can’t believe I actually believed him. You know I was convinced you were being controlled. Oh just a crazy theory.” The young boy gave a low chuckle to himself, and ran his fingers through his hair.

How right this young boy was with the dull eyes had been. He was the only one of his friends that had figured the Reverend out for what he truly was, an evil man. All of their words only made him feel guiltier than ever. He did wonder what the little boy back at the church with the dull brown eyes had seen when he looked at him.

Was it all just an act to keep himself from going? Did he know something these two young ones did not know? He had done a foolish thing hadn’t he? Leaving the boy with the dull eyes behind, he should have brought him. He remembered many years ago when he had hunted children with brown eyes. He also remembered when the elders told him to quit the search. They had told him looking was to no avail. No children had brown eyes in Farowcha.

However that young boy had brown eyes. Surely the Eldest knew, didn’t he know everything.

“Man I should have brought him,” The Reverend whispered to himself.

If he had brought the boy he probably would have awarded him, and they would have given him enough medicine to last his lifetime. However the little girl insisted on the boy with dull eyes to stay. The Reverend did not want to take grumpy children. I mean I made sure the boy with dull eyes did not believe in the Light. I took precautions, he thought.

The Reverend wanted to gain the little children’s trust, and if he would have taken the boy, against the girls will, the trip would have been most unpleasant. It is best to keep the child happy as long as possible on your trip. Then once you arrived at your destination then you would spill the beans. He had learned this from the many times of dragging both young and old to the Elders.

“I am much obliged to bring you to the answer to all your questions,” the Reverend said, he almost hated himself at this moment, but there would be no turning back now.

“Follow me and stay close behind, never proceed in front of me, and never be too far behind,” both of the children nodded at this new advice.

They walked toward the gates that surrounded the massive building. It was a large gate that stood strong; he slipped his hand into his pants pocket and pulled out a rather large key. The handle of the key was of an eye, the Reverend was never fond of it, and the eye of the key seemed to be truly alive. The Gate slowly swung open and they walked in following the marble tiles. The Reverend turned around, and made sure to lock the door. He placed both of his hands on the children, and pushed them forward.

The Reverend was about to open the main door when he heard a voice.

“Susan stop it’s a trap! Jason please come,” Conrad gripped the Gates bars and screamed at his friends.

Conrad saw the Reverend try to push them forward but Susan tugged away from him and turned towards Conrad, and yelled,

“What do you mean,” Susan would ask him this question rather than running away he thought to himself.

“Please Susan, you must trust me. Jason…” Conrad yelled looking at him his eyes locked with his, and he seemed to be able to explain everything with his eyes. He spoke to Jason using his mind.

Jason looked at him with awe, and grabbed Susan,

“We have to go Susan,” Susan pulled her arm away from Jason.

“What about your light? This could be the only way we could find out what it means. What if others could get it,” Susan said.

“Susan there really is no time to explain,” Jason said as he tried to tug her away.

Susan spun around, and kicked Jason in the head, and then she ran towards the door. The whole time the Reverend just stood there and watched.

“No Susan! Stop!” Conrad yelled with great force.

Susan suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.

“Conrad! What’s happening? Why can’t I move?” Susan said her voice shaking.

“Walk this way Susan,” Conrad said motioning with his hands.

“Conrad,” Susan said her voice quivering, as she moved towards him.

“What on Earth is going on?” The Reverend asked.

Jason looked as if he had forgotten the Reverend was there, he turned around and elbowed the Reverend in the stomach, and grabbed his key.

He bolted after Susan, and they both arrived at the gate.

“Hurry! The Reverend is getting back! Hurry Jason,” Conrad yelled.

Conrad looked at Jason’s panicked face, and Susan’s. They looked so afraid, they were so close to him, and the only thing separating them was a gate.

Oh please work Conrad thought to himself.

“I got it in!” Jason proclaimed.

“Ahh!” Susan screamed.

The Reverend was trying to pull Susan away.

“No I won’t go!” Susan yelled, as she gripped onto the bar. Her hands were gripping them so tightly her knuckles turned white. She kicked the Reverend, and broke free from his grasp.

“Hurry up get out of there!” Conrad yelled as he steadily ran up the hill.

Jason swung open the gate, and made sure Susan left first, and then swung the gate shut behind him.  Jason was turning to lock the gate and saw  The Reverend was on the opposite side of the gate.

“Jason just get out of there leave the gate!” Conrad screamed.

Jason was still trying to jam the key in the gate. When all of a sudden the Reverend put his hand through the bar, and grabbed the key from Jason.

“No!” Susan cried.

“It doesn’t matter, leave it .” Conrad yelled.

Susan had run up to Conrad, and they now only waited for Jason.  When she ran up to him she embraced him. Conrad flinched, and the first thing he wanted to do was throw her off. However instead he broke past his comfort zone, and embraced her back in an awkward way.

“Oh Conrad,” Susan was crying, and buried her head in his chest.

“I was so afraid,” Susan said.

Conrad had no words to say, he never knew how to comfort someone and he never learned. He just held her there, and he watched as Jason ran up to them.

“What’s going on here? We have no time for this! We have to run!”  Jason said coldly.

Conrad gently pushed Susan off of him, and he lifted his hand to his cheeks that had now turned bright pink.

“I saved you life Jason! The least you could do is show some kindness!” Conrad said under his breath.

“Yeah well we need to go…look I’m sorry but let’s go. We seriously need to talk about what happened back there,” Jason said.

Chapter Thirteen

True Beauty

Susan stared at Conrad in awe, he had saved them. If it wasn’t for him she would have been taken away with the Reverend. She had hoped that the Reverend was a good man, but in reality he was the evil man she had known him to be. She had so hoped that the Reverend would tell them what this light was. The way she heard jason talk about the Light made her long for it. Susan thought back to yesterday when her father asked her if she felt empty inside.

“Honey,  I feel empty here,” Susan’s father said with his head between his hands.

“Why dad?” Susan moved towards her father and placed her hand on his shoulder.

“It will never be enough. I work constitently, and I am hardly home. I hardly have time to spend with you. I’m sorry that I’m not a good father,” Her father paused, Susan could hear her father’s breath begin to slow. Her father was trying to recollect himself, she knew something deeper was going in.

“Daddy what’s wrong? What aren’t you telling me?” Susan asked.

“Susan, there are some things that I can not burden you with.” Susan’s father turned his face away from his daughter, and said in a low voice,

“If only your mother were here.  You two would be off sowing dresses, or collecting flowers in Faro forest. She would tell you everything was okay, and you would believe her. She would comfort you in the ways in which I cannot. I’m afraid that the darkness that plagues me does not allow me to love you at the full extent that every father should have for his daughter.” Her father looked at his daughters eyes, and a small smile crossed his face.

“You look so much like her, you are growing into a beautiful women,” He lifted his hand to stroke her cheek, and Susan reached up to grab it.

Her father’s hand felt cold, Susan felt as if she was holding the hand of a corpse. She was afraid to look at his hand, for fear that it would be grey, filled with death. She grabbed his hand with both of her hands, and she looked into his eyes,

“What darkness daddy? What is it that is plagueing you?” Susan said.

“Knowing that when I die, you will be stuck in this accursed place. This was not the life we wanted for you. This empty life, do you feel the emptiness?” Her father asked.

“No daddy I feel just fine. I love it here in Farowcha, it is so beautiful. There is no were else I would want to be. Dad you both did well, I regret nothing,” Susan smiled at her father, and squeezed his hand.

Her father pulled his hand from her grasp, his hand had begun to turn warm in her hands. The warmth of her body was spreading to him, and he rejected it.

“My dear daughter you are blinded just like the rest of them. Know this my daughter, when that gaping hole finds it way into your heart, and it will. Know that there is something out there that can fill it. It will not present itself to you in the manner that is common to man, but it will be disguised in a way that you will not notice. Yet you will have put a faith in something you cannot see, something you have never done in your life.” Susan’s father said.

Her father’s words sounded familiar to her, that strange faith he talked of. The dependency in something else, something she could not see. The familiarity stirred something dark within her, she couldn’t believe in something she could not see. Her father was right, she had never put her faith in something she could not see. Everything she had ever believed in had been right in front of her. Yet having this faith in something else was unheard of.

“Father you’re wrong, I don’t feel empty, and I won’t. That gaping hole you talk about is not ever going to touch my heart.” Susan saw her words had hurt her father. Susan lowered her voice, and stood up and tried to reason with her father,

“Daddy it’s those preachers isn’t it? They got you afraid haven’t they? I’ve read books on some of the things they say. It’s that after life right?” Susan asked.

Susan’s father looked at her as his face darkened a shade,

“What are you talking about? Where did you read such things,” His face suddenly lifted with realization.

“Oh no! You didn’t read the forbidden books did you.” Her father’s eyes met hers, and Susan could not hide the truth, “Oh you did! You are not supposed to, those books are forbidden. If anyone was to ever find out…the Elders. You must never speak of this again. Promise me,” Susan’s father said, his voice rising to a slow panic.

“I won’t, but tell me this daddy. Is it this religion that I’ve read about that has you worried? Do you believe that you are not beautiful,” His daughter said with horror on her face.

“Interesting choice of words…beauty. No…my daughter. I do not believe that I am beautiful. You will soon find out that there are actually only a few people in Farowcha that are actually beautiful.” Susan’s father said.

Susan slowly backed away from her father, she was disgusted by what her father was telling her. All her life they had told her she was beautiful, that no matter what she did she was beautiful. That was the truth she clung to, it was this truth that allowed her to see the beauty in people that many did not. It had to be this religion her father believed in that made him feel ugly. Immediately she felt a small hate stir up inside of her towards the religion he believed in.

“Father it is a lie, that religion is a lie. You are beautiful,” Susan said in desperation.

Her father walked towards her, and he grabbed his daughter’s hand. His face looked distraught.

“Daddy what is it?” Susan asked.

Her father remained silent his hands were trembling slightly.

“Dad you are beautiful,” Susan said pulling out a small piece of glass from her pocket, and she handed it to her father.

“Look at yourself, is that not beautiful?” Susan asked.

Her father studied his reflection, and then he said,

“and this is the greatest deception of them all,” Susan’s father gripped the piece of glass in his hand.

“When I speak of beauty, do not mistake me for speaking of outward beauty. It is the beauty within that I speak of. The beauty that you wear is forced on you by the maker. His craftsmanship is beautiful, and each of us is a work of his art. Yet it is our hearts, and our evil nature that turn his master piece into something horrible, and ugly. That is something that each of has carried, or is currently carrying.” Susan’s father handed her back her piece of glass, and she said,

“But not everyone, there has to be some that don’t have this ugliness inside. Dad how can we be evil, how can we have this? I try to love all those around me, and do the good things. I even follow all of the rules, minus those handfuls that no one pays attention to anyways. I even see the beauty in others when others cannot. I can’t have that uglyness inside me. Can I?” Susan asked in desperation.

“My daughter all of these things you do are good, and right. Never stop doing them, don’t stop loving people, and seeing the beauty were others do not see it. But it is not these things that keep the ugliness from growing inside of you. The ugliness has been there since your birth, and no amount of good things will wipe it away,” Her father said, his mouth moved as if to say more but Susan cut him off.

“You’re wrong! I have that beauty, I have worked all my life to maintain it! What are you the only one in this whole place that is beautiful? Is that what you are trying to aim at?” Susan screamed.

“No Susan, that is not what I’m trying to-”

“Dad I’m not dumb, I know where you were going to go with your speech. You just wanted me to believe that you are beautiful inside and out. Do you think that will make me love you anymore? Do you think that will suddenly allow you to fill the shoes that only mother wore? It won’t!” Susan screamed at him, tears filling her eyes. She ran up to her room.

“Susan!” Her father yelled after.

Susan slammed the door closed behind her, and flung herself on her bed. She didn’t understand why her father was doing this? Was it because of that man that had grabbed her that night threatening her about her father? How could she bring herself to tell her father she knew about the debt he was in? And now he was telling her that she was not beautiful.

“Susan please let me finish!” Her father knocked against her door.

Susan knew that if her father really wanted to enter her room her could just reach above the door, grab the key, and unlock the door. Yet instead of doing that he knocked on her door, and waited for her.

“Dad please go away,” Susan said in a low voice.

“You never let me finish, there is another way,” Her father paused, listening for her reaction.

“There is a way you can beautiful inside and out,” Susan sat up from her bed. This perked her interest.

“Susan please let me in so I can tell you.” Her father said.

Susan ran over to the door, and unlocked it.

Once she saw her father shame rose inside of her. She could yell at him from across a door, and she could yell at him when she was running away from him. However seeing him standing there with no malice in his eyes, shamed her. Susan knew her father always acted out towards love to her. Susan knew deep down inside he was not selling her this pitch to get her to believe that he was trying to fill the shoes of her mother. She spoke out of anger, fear, and ignorance.

Susan looked at her father, and she knew she had acted like a spoiled little child throwing a temper tantrum. It was right for him to be upset with her, even to punish her. Yet he just stood there. His body looked weak but there was such strength and love in his eyes that moved her to ask him for forgiveness. Her mouth opened, and she tried so hard to get the words out of her. Instead she felt a sharp tug at the back of her throat, and she knew she was about to cry.

Susan’s father embraced his daughter, and they just stood there for a moment, in a perfect embrace.  He whispered in her ear he loved her, and he told her he forgave her. He even apologized to her for throwing his belief on her. He told her that he just wanted so desperately to share it with her. Her father had never told her how to become truly beautiful. After the embrace he said they could talk more in the morning if she wanted.

Susan woke the next morning, and her father left her a note telling her he was asked to come in early to work. Her father had told her that they could talk more when he returned from work. Yet she had been so busy with Conrad, and Jason she never got back to her father. She looked over at Jason, and she realized that he sounded so much like her father. He spoke of this light just like how her father talked of his belief. This was why she had followed them so far, and this was why she wanted so desperately to find out what this light was.

Susan had seen the light that Jason had. Susan had seen it in his hands when he offered to help the Reverend. It was real, and if it was the same thing as her father spoke of, she needed to know.

“Conrad what happened back there?” Jason said.

His words came out so ruff they brought Susan out of her thoughts.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Conrad said looking at his feet.

“Of course you know what I’m talking about,” Jason moved closer to Conrad’s face and pointed over to Susan.

“You controlled Susan. Maybe the Reverend didn’t see that bit, but I did. You commanded with her to stop, and she was frozen.” Jason voice shook as he spoke.

Susan had forgotten for a moment what it was the Conrad had done to her. She remembered him telling her to stop, and against her will her body stopped working. She had tried to move her legs but they would not move. Yet at Conrad’s beckon, her body flung itself forward. Susan only felt a bit of fear in the moment, but it fascinated her if nothing else. Susan did not understand why it bothered Jason so much.

“And then you told her to run, and she’s running like no tomorrow,” Jason said.

“I couldn’t have done that Jason,” Conrad said still gazing down at his feet.

“I don’t have that power. Is that even possible? Can a man control someone with their voice?” Conrad said as he lifted his head to meet Jason’s gaze.

“Conrad! Everything we know, and believed has been shaken. I have seen the light, and it has changed me forever. I have the power of the light, and whatever comes with that.  You can look into people, and see them for what they really are. Or so you say.  So why shouldn’t you be able to command people with your voice.” Jason paused to take a breath,

“How did you do it?” Jason said looking at Conrad with a hungry look on his face.

“I don’t know?” Conrad said lowering his gaze.

“Go ahead try it again. Tell me to run, or something.” Jason said.

“Jason, Conrad’s gift is not a toy to be played with.” Susan said with disapproval in her voice.

“Of course,” Jason said quickly.

“But Conrad do you think you could do it again?” Susan knew that it was not a toy to be played with, but she did want to see what Conrad could do. Even she craved the power of control. Imagine being able to control anyone with your voice, you could have anyone do whatever it is you please.

Conrad looked at Susan with a tinge of fear, and curiosity in his eyes. He too wanted to see if he could to it again.

“Conrad, what is holding you back?” Susan asked.

“It’s not right Susan. I’m sorry I controlled you like that, I was desperate. But it’s not right to control someone against their will. Jason, Susan,” Conrad looked at them both with sincerity in his eyes.

“I would love to see what I could do again. But I know it’s not right to control someone against their will. Susan you were right. My gift is not a toy to be played with.” Conrad said.

Susan knew Conrad was right, but she had wanted to see his gift at work. Conrad could see the sadness in Susan’s eyes, and he said,

“I think that even if I wanted to it wouldn’t work. I think it’s just like the gift I have for seeing into people. I can’t just will it whenever I want to, at least I don’t think I can. So either way it wouldn’t work.” Conrad said to them both, but he looked more so at Susan.

“Well I think I could bring up my Light power again.” Jason said with a smirk on his face.

Susan rushed over to Jason, and held onto his shoulder.

Jason opened his palm, and a bright light filled his hand. It had the qualities of a shadow. It seemed to drop on to everything that was directly in front of it. The grass underneath their feet turned a bright green, and then the light faded away. Jason closed his palm, and smile at Susan.

Susan had never seen something so spectacular in her life, it seemed so beautiful each time she saw the light. It was so bright, but it didn’t hurt her eyes like as she thought it would. It was so welcoming, and warm. Susan looked down at the grass underneath Jason feet, and it was a bright green.

“That was amazing!” Susan squealed in delight.

“It’s so much more,” Jason face was full of sorrow as he spoke.

“It speaks to me Susan, I can hear the words. It keeps repeating these words. Come to me, come to me, come to me. The voice sounds so sad, and loving at the same time. It’s almost frightening. It sounds like a million beautiful voices singing at once, but they are all singing a sad song.  It scares me.” Jason said.

“Why?” Susan plainly asked.

“Because I do not understand why the light it telling me to come to it. I am already here, the light already has me. How much closer can I get?” Jason said with a far off gaze.

“I don’t know what you are both talking about. So Jason can make a bright light come out of his hands that talks, so what’s the big deal,” Conrad joked.

“It’s not a joke! Do you think since I can’t control people, or see people for who they really are makes me lesser than you?” Jason asked.

“I never said that,” Conrad raised his hands to a defensive posture.

“Conrad you don’t seem to understand that this light is so much more. It’s not just a cool gift, it’s real. The light is someone, or something. It has a voice, and can talk. It’s not just a  mindless gift that can control people like yours. It is something real.” Jason said his words biting at Conrad.

“I never inferred that either gift was greater. That’s great that you think you found someone, or something. If that brings you comfort than shoot for it. Why do I care? But don’t degrade what I can do. I have only scratched my gifts surface, I know there is much more to it, but I’m not exploiting it around like you. I am not just willing it to come at my every call.” Conrad said.

“Is that what you think I am doing? Do you think that I am just willing The Light to my every call? Do you honestly think something like this is subject to me? I know power and authority when I see it, and I know that the light is. I would never dare try and summon it like a pet for play.” Jason said with a smile in his eyes.

“All I do is talk to it, and I ask for it to come out. The light has the choice whether or not to come when I ask it. When I was going to share the Light with the Reverend the Light came out almost by itself. I didn’t even have to ask the Light to come, it just came.” Jason said the light growing in his eyes with each word.

“Well aren’t you special,” Conrad said with malice in his voice.

Conrad turned towards Jason and said,

“That’s great that you have some special power that you believe is something more important than we think. It doesn’t matter to me if it is from some form of higher power, or a pet to be summoned at your every will as you said earlier.” Conrad glanced over in Susan direction, and continued,

“What does matter is you. Jason you have changed,” Conrad paused when he saw the proud smile spread across Jason’s face.

“Jason it’s not for the better. Ever since you’ve discovered this “Light” you have had this higher air about you. Jason you know how I can see people for who they really are? Well I saw your heart Jason, and it looks the same. Your outward appearance may have this outer glow of happiness or whatever gimmick you’re playing at. But I can see your heart.  You’re just as afraid, you still fill lonely, and you are hiding beneath this shell.” Conrad inched closer to Jason with each breath it seemed.

“No…that’s not true,” Jason said in a low voice, the light in his eyes had diminished.

Susan watched as Jason’s world was crushed, yet it had been true. Jason did seem to have this higher air about him. He spoke about this light so much, but he kept it all to himself. Conrad was right this light was just an ego feeder.

“You know it’s true. You’ve just made this light into something bigger than it is. And that is okay Jason. We all need something to confide in. I used to confide in people, and I still struggle with that. I know that my ability doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, just because I can see people for who they really are does not make me any better than you or anyone else. As soon as you realize that, you will be able to fully unlock your ability.” Conrad said.

“But it is something bigger Conrad, I know it is.” Jason said with a far off look in his eyes.

“It has to be! I need it to be!” Jason yelled, and light streamed out of his mouth.

Conrad grew furious when he saw the light stream from Jason’s mouth. Conrad’s figure seem to grow almost like a shadow, and then Susan saw something black leave Conrad’s mouth, and then enter Jason’s mouth. The bright light that had come streaming out of Jason’s mouth was snuffed out like a fire.

“You need something to confide in Jason?” Conrad yelled at Jason his faced contorted in rage.

Jason’s moth was still wide open, and no word came out, and no sound. Yet Jason’s face was twisted horrible, and it almost seemed right that a scream would match such a horrified face.

Susan couldn’t watch anymore, she knew Jason had gotten a little prideful. But did that make him deserving of such wrath? She ran over to Conrad screaming at him, begging him to stop. Conrad did not even acknowledge Susan as she yelled. A wicked smile filled his face, followed by a deep throaty cackle.

“Conrad! Please come back to us, you are losing your mind,” Susan screamed.

Susan saw Conrad’s mouth move, and she heard the low words that escaped them.

“Bring it to me,”

Susan looked over at Conrad, and then at Jason. Jason’s mouth had already been opened so wide she did not know it could open any wider, yet it did. His eyes were rolled behind his head, and his hands were contorted at his sides. Suddenly his body began to convulse, and Susan saw something bright come out of his mouth. It was so bright Susan had to shield her eyes behind her hands. When suddenly the bright light dimmed, and Susan lifted her eyes up towards the light.

Susan would have screamed but she seemed to have lost her voice. What she saw frightened her, yet amazed her at the same moment. It was a bright light that had what it seemed like black smoke wrapped around it. It made the light tolerable enough that Susan could look at it without any strain. When the light left Jason’s body his body went limp to the floor, and Conrad inched forward towards the light wrapped in smoke.

Conrad opened his mouth and the light wrapped in smoke, flew into his mouth. Conrad closed his mouth over the light with the smile in his eyes. And with that look, Susan knew that he had done this on purpose. It also told her that Conrad regretted nothing.

Chapter 13-15

Chapter Thirteen

Fixing the Wrong

          Conrad swallowed the light wrapped in darkness and it felt like he was swallowing fire. Jason had gone far enough, and Conrad took what was rightfully his.  Conrad knew that he deserved the light more than anyone. He had suffered all his life. Conrad once told himself that if he ever found something that would end his sorrow he would make is his forever. It was a few days ago that he had found the light, and now he had finally made it his. Conrad had more power than even he knew, something black had come out of him, and he could control it. Conrad had ordered the black thing to retrieve the light, and bring it to him, and it obeyed him.

Conrad could control the ability he had unlike Jason who was subject to his light. Conrad would make the light subject to him. The light had now worked its way down to his heart, and then a burning sensation filled his body, and then it quickly disappeared.

Conrad waited a little while for something to come over him, the overwhelming sense of love, comfort, joy, anything that Jason had described. Yet Conrad felt the same, he felt no joy, no love, no peace, all he felt was the big nothingness he always felt. Conrad turned on Jason, and what he saw shocked him.

Jason had been convulsing, and then suddenly he stopped moving. Jason’s eyes looked almost completely black now, wide in terror. Jason started gasping for air as if he could not breathe. Susan was at Jason’s side trying to calm him down, but Conrad knew that Jason would not be able feel her touch or hear her words. The pain he was feeling was coming from his mind. There was nothing she could do to stop the pain.

Conrad stared at his two friends lying on the floor. Conrad’s eyes seemed to be opened for the first time at what he had done.

“Conrad please, Conrad do something!” Susan pleaded with him. Why did Susan always feel like I could do something, Conrad asked himself? Why did she have this faith that he could deliver her from her troubles. She was staring at him, longing for him to do something to stop Jason’s pain. Susan looked almost as frightened as Jason. Conrad had wanted Jason to suffer, but not Susan, she did not deserve pain. Conrad looked at the floor in defeat, he had to stop this, and he had to make Susan better.

Conrad closed his eyes, and searched for the light within himself, but he could not find it. Conrad gazed back into Jason’s lost mind, and searched his memories, and found that the place where Jason claimed he had found the light had changed. Jason was now swimming in the water, and the light was in the water, but then it quickly faded away. Jason then inhaled some of the water in surprise, and was now choking in the water.

Conrad searched himself desperately for a memory in his mind he had of the light. Conrad remembered when he saw it streaming out of Jason. He remembered feeling such love in that moment. Conrad knew that, that memory would save Jason. So Conrad took that memory, and gave it to Jason.

The memory suddenly turned gray in Conrad’s mind, it still existed but it was hollow, without any feelings. The memory had been sucked of all its life, and value. It would have been better if he had not had it at all.

Conrad left Jason’s mind, and Susan was over Jason crying. Suddenly Jason jerked upright, and coughed up water from his lungs.

Susan wrapped her arms around Jason’s neck, and hugged him. Conrad turned his head with disgust and just stood there waiting for Jason to blow up at him. Conrad listened as Jason coughed up water, and he could hear Susan asking him if he was alright.

“Ahhhh!” Conrad was startled by a deep throated scream.

Conrad turned to look at Jason. Jason’s neck was tilted back and his mouth was wide open, and it was his scream that had filled the air. Jason stood up and ran over to Conrad in a fit of rage, and screamed in his face.

“What did you do? Where is it? Where is the light?” Jason screamed.

Conrad just stood there, no words found his way to his mouth.

“I watched you steal it from me! Do you have it? Where is it Conrad?” Jason stabbed his finger into Conrad’s chest as he spoke, and Jason grew in ferocity with each word.

“I don’t have it, it just vanished,” Conrad spoke up.

“Liar!” Jason yelled in anger.

“No it’s true it’s gone.” Susan said to Jason.

“I hate you Conrad. I hate you for taking the only thing that ever loved me. You took it from me Conrad. You stole it, only to lose possession of it. The light told me to come to it, and now there is no way, because now it is gone!” Jason ran off unashamed of the tears that were now flooding down his face.

Susan pathetically called after him, and looked at Conrad in fear.

“How could you?” Susan asked between a sob.

“Susan I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Conrad said looking at the floor.

“How can you say that? Conrad when will you start taking responsibility for what you do? You know you meant to do this to him!  You stripped him of everything that comforted him. Don’t you know what he was going through? His mother is dead and he is suffering, why would you do this to him?” Susan said.

“You’re right I meant it.  I wanted so bad to strip him of everything good he had. What made him any better than you or me that he received the light. My life has never been good and I have never received any sort of comfort from a higher being. Then he thought he was better than us, showing off to you his light. It wasn’t right! Jason deserved what came his way.” Conrad said.

“You are being just like him, worse even. You said it wasn’t right to control people. Well how much worse is stealing something someone confides in. Conrad why couldn’t he be different or special?  Life isn’t always about what we call fair. So maybe he was deserving of the light. Who is to say who is or who isn’t? I think it is time you do some thinking on what is fair and right, before you mindlessly ruin lives.” Susan said as she stood up.

Conrad just stood there in silence, she was so right, and there was nothing much he could say.

“I’ll apologize to him,” Conrad said desperately to Susan.

Susan scoffed and said,

“That won’t work this time, he doesn’t want that. I don’t think he even wants to see you again. He wants the light back, and if you want to make amends with him you will return the light to him,”

“But I don’t know where it is, I wasn’t lying when I said I couldn’t find it. Why should I fix anything that came Jason’s way?” Conrad asked.

“Conrad,” Susan said sadly and the continued,

“Because you caused it, and I can try to give you another incentive but that should be enough. Maybe you should think of why you should help him.” Susan stood up and walked away.

Conrad was just left there with her words echoing throughout his mind, and now he had something to think about.

Chapter Fourteen

The Truth

Jason walked to his bicycle in fury. He despised Conrad for what he did to him, and he would spit back in Conrad’s face by getting the light back a second time. The dark night sky was lit by the stars, and it reminded him of the light he once had. Everything that bore light reminded him the light. Jason rode off towards Faro Forest, it was the only place where he could go in peace and think.

Jason rode for a long while it seemed, when he finally saw Susan’s house. That meant that he had about 10 more minutes until he reached Faro Forest. Jason noticed that the lights where all on in Susan’s house that must have meant that her father was home. As Jason rode past her house, and looked back because he heard someone calling out.

“Boy! Boy!”

Jason looked in the direction, and saw Susan’s father calling out to him.

Jason wiped his tears, and hoped that Susan’s father would not notice his puffy face, red eyes, and cheeks that were stained with tears.

Her father stopped yelling when he noticed he had Jason’s attention. Jason hopped off of his bicycle, and walked towards Susan house.

“Hello Mr. Andrew,” Jason said avoiding his gaze.

“Hello you seem to know my name, why don’t you come over to the light so I can have a better look at you boy. I need to ask you a few questions real quick,” Mr. Andrew said with a smile.

Jason reluctantly entered the gate, and walked towards the light.

“Well I won’t know who you are by the top of your head,” Mr. Andrew said with a chuckle.

Jason reluctantly looked up, and could see by the expression on Mr. Andrew’s face that he saw he had been crying.

“I know you, you are the one that hangs out with my daughter. You and that other fellow, Jason was your name I believe?” Mr. Andrew said.

“Yes that is my name, and yes I am the one that hangs out with your daughter,” Jason said.

“Well what happened, why were you bawling?” Mr. Andrew asked.

Jason didn’t feel extremely comfortable with telling an adult what happened, even if it was Susan’s father.

“You can trust me boy, why don’t you come in. Maybe you will feel more comfortable.” Mr. Andrew said pointing towards his house.

“I shouldn’t, I should be heading home,” Jason lied.

“Well if you are, you are heading the wrong way, because I saw where you were riding off to and there ain’t no houses for a good long hour. You were riding straight into Faro Forest, I’ve seen you go there often times. Best you not lie to me boy,” Mr. Andrew said with a smile.

“Well I suppose that I could stay for a little while,” Jason said reluctantly.

“Good,” Mr. Andrew said with a big smile. He turned around and started walking towards his house.

They both approached the door, and Mr. Andrew held the door open for Jason, and allowed him to enter first. As soon as Jason entered Susan’s house he smelled apple pie, and his stomach growled.

“You hungry for some desert?” Mr. Andrew asked.

“No I’m fine,” Jason lied against what his stomach was telling him.

“Oh I heard you stomach growling like a monster, don’t let pride get the best of ya. Your stomach will get you back later,” Mr. Andrew said with a laugh.

Jason hadn’t remembered the last time he had encountered Mr. Andrew but he had never remembered him for being such a homely man, and inviting. He always remembered Mr. Andrew gone whenever Conrad and he came over. Mr. Andrew was always in his room the way most grown up where.

“I suppose I could have a little,” Jason said.

“Good then I’ll be right back,” Mr. Andrew walked off towards the pantry, and returned with the apple pie, along with some plates, and knives.

Mr. Andrew served Jason a piece, and then served himself. Jason was about to dig into his food, when he noticed Mr. Andrew bow his head and close his eyes. Jason had thought that he had fallen asleep, but then his eyes quickly opened up again. Jason stared at him for a good rude minute, and then turned to his food, and quietly munched on his pie. The pie tasted so good, it reminded him of the apple pie his mother used to make. Jason put down the pie, because the memories where to bitter.

“Lost your appetite so soon?” Mr. Andrew said.

“Yes, it seems, but your apple pie did taste very good. Did you make it yourself?” Jason asked politely.

“Yes I did, my wife taught me…some time ago.” Mr. Andrew said slowly.

“Well it did taste very good,” Jason said politely.

“Jason why were you crying,” Mr. Andrew said suddenly.

Jason knew that there was no point in keeping it from Mr. Andrew any longer, and inside of his house he did feel strangely comfortable. The warm look in Mr. Andrew eyes made him feel as if Mr. Andrew might genuinely care.

“Someone took something from me, something that I have never had in my entire life. I probably won’t have it ever again, if he doesn’t give it back.” Jason said vaguely.

“Was it a toy of some kind?” Mr. Andrew asked.

“Oh nothing of that sort, it wasn’t something physical or tangible. It was different, I don’t think you would believe me if I told you.” Jason said.

“Shoot, and let’s see,” Mr. Andrew said.

“Well it was a light, or at least it took the form of light, it is so beautiful and powerful. It provided comfort, and love, everything one would find precious. It gave me something to look forward to, something to live for. I know that it was from something higher, I have heard about religious things in my life, and I believe it might be some form of god or something,” Jason said.

Mr. Andrew laughed gently, and that roused Jason’s anger.

“See I said you wouldn’t believe me,” Jason said.

“Oh calm down, I do believe you. But what you have received is definitely not some petty god you have heard about. Many others on the North side of Farowcha have encountered this light. You were not the first, and this light is most definitely not something as small as a god crafted my man. I actually know what it is, and happened to have received some of my own. It changed me Jason, it changed me forever.” Mr. Andrew said with a light in his eyes.

Jason recognized that light, it was the same light that he once had.

“Well what is it?” Jason asked.

“Who is it you mean.” Mr. Andrew said.

“Ok Who,” Jason said.

“People in Farowcha know him by The light, everyone calls him that. However that is not who he is. He is God,” Mr. Andrew stated.

“What do you mean God? Are you talking about the God the Reverend talks about?” Jason asked with disgust.

“Yes and no. The Reverend used to preach truthfully, and his preaching used to be of the God we now know. However his preaching’s have morphed into one big lie, I do not understand why he started to shift. But nevertheless he has, and he is one of our biggest persecutors.” Mr. Andrew said.

“What do you mean,” Jason knew that the Reverend was an evil man, but he did not understand how he was the biggest persecutor against people who believed in the Light.

“He hates the Light, and everything it stands for. He has taken many men, women, and children. Young and old up to the Elders, and no one has ever seen them again. Most of the people he takes have the same thing in common. They are all fed up with all the lies, and have put their faith in something else. The Elders do not like that, along with the Reverend. So he is there eye, and he looks for us, and we have to keep underneath his eyes. A lot of us even go to his church to continue going undetected.” Mr. Andrew said.

Jason was shocked that all of this was happening and no one had ever told him.

“How long has this been going on?” Jason asked.

“I could never say boy, but it started from the North I believe, and it spread like wildfire. However even those who do believe are so few. Farowcha seems to have this fog about it that blinds the hearts of man. They even have whole books speaking of the account of The Light.” Mr. Andrew said.

“Where?” Jason asked with joy in his voice.

“The bible, the Reverend has his place crammed full of them. Yet if someone were to actually take the time to crack one open, they would encounter the light.” Mr. Andrew said.

“The light is in the books,” Jason stood up from his chair, knowing the next place he would head to.

“Yes it is there boy, but you have to believe in it.” Mr. Andrew said.

“I do believe” Jason said with confidence.

“No you don’t” Mr. Andrew said.

“How can you say I don’t?” Jason said with confusion.

“Because if you did you wouldn’t be bawling because your friend took your light.” Mr. Andrew said.

“It was all that I had. You don’t understand.” Jason said in dismay.

“But that is where you are wrong. It isn’t all you have. You thought that the light had a fixed amount. That boy just took the visible element of the light. Now you need true faith to see the invisible.” Mr. Andrew said.

“So there is more?” Jason said with joy.

“Of course!” Mr. Andrew said.

“How can I get it?” Jason said.

“You’re not listening! The light is already in you” Mr. Andrew said.

“No it’s not the Conrad stole it!” Jason said.

“I can’t believe this! Are your ears deaf? I already told you he took the visible element. You have the invisible element in you. To see the invisible element requires true faith. Anyone can see the light but not everyone can see the invisible light. And it is the invisible light that means the most.” Mr. Andrew said.

“So it’s in me still,” Jason said with glee.

“Yes it is,” Mr. Andrew said with a sigh of relief.

“How can I get to see the invisible light?” Jason said.

“By believing, as I said earlier,” Mr. Andrew said.

“I do,” Jason said again.

“But in what? You don’t even know what it is I am telling you to believe in.” Mr. Andrew said with a laugh.

“Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you,” Mr. Andrew said.

“Ugh why tomorrow?” Jason said with sadness.

“Just because,” Mr. Andrew said.

“Alright,” Jason agreed.

Jason turned to walk out of Mr. Andrew’s home when Mr. Andrew called out to him.

“Oh Jason I have a question. I haven’t seen my daughter. Do you know where she is?” Mr. Andrew said.

“Yes…she is with the boy that took the light from me.” Jason said with sadness.

“Don’t be sad Jason, it’s still in you.” Mr. Andrew said reassuringly.

“Tell me a little bit about this boy quickly before you leave.” Mr. Andrew said.

“He is so different from anyone else. He used to be so nice. He would do anything for anyone. He was Susan’s friend before I met them, and they were really close. He looked like he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Yet something is happening to him that is changing him. He says he has the ability to see into people. He said he could see them for who they really are.” Jason said with fear in his eyes, and then continued.

“He goes into people’s mind, and it’s the most terrible thing I have ever experienced. It feels as if something dark and evil is entering your mind, and you can’t push it away. It’s eating at everything good in you it feels. And when he looks at you with those haunting brown eyes it feels like-”

“Brown eyes?” Mr. Andrews interrupted.

“Yes he has brown eyes. He is the only one I have ever seen with brown eyes. He was bullied all his life because of his brown eyes.” Jason said with a pang of pity in his voice.

“Susan is with him?” Mr. Andrew said in fear.

“Yes they are together,” Jason said.

“It isn’t safe for her,” Mr. Andrew said.

“I told her Conrad could hurt her,” Jason said.

“No not the boy…those who are looking for him,” Mr. Andrew said with fear.

“The Reverend?” Jason asked.

“What do you know about the Reverend?” Mr. Andrew asked.

“Not much besides he tried to take us to the hall of the elders today. We think he is being controlled by someone, also what you told me earlier about him.” Jason said.

“The hall of the Elders!” Mr. Andrew exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Jason said.

“All of this happened today. Oh thank God nothing terrible happened.” Mr. Andrew said.

“The Reverend didn’t care about Conrad thou, Conrad didn’t even go with us. The Reverend took us to the hall of the Elders because of me…because of the light,” Jason said.

“Then all of my fears have been realized, the hunt for us is stronger than we could have thought. Jason you must never tell anyone about the light. I know you do not like your friend right now, but do you wish death upon him?” Mr. Andrew asked.

“Of course not, I just don’t want to ever see him again.” Jason said in anger.

“You must push past what he has done to you, because more important matters are at hand. You must find Conrad, and you must protect him. Keep him away from the Reverend make sure that he is safe. He must never fall into their hands.” Mr. Andrew said with fear in his eyes.
“What about Susan?” Jason asked.

“She is my daughter, I will find her,” Mr. Andrew said.

With that both of them ran out of the house, jumped on their bicycles, and went to find Susan, and Conrad.

Chapter Fifteen

The Eldest

The Reverend’s meeting today with the Elders had been canceled. Could anything else go wrong the Reverend asked himself. The Reverend rode all the way to the church when he found out the news, and now he sat at his desk. The horrible memories of his past were making its way back into his head. Those hideous memories he had been hiding from had begun to pour into him ever since the medicine had begun to wear out. Images of his little daughter kept coming back into his mind, he kept hearing her voice, he felt as if he heard it now.

“Daddy…do you still love God?” The Reverend looked up at the area where he heard his daughter’s voice, and there she stood.

“Lily!” The Reverend stood from his chair, and ran to his daughter.

She ran out of the room crying, and he followed after her.

“Its daddy Lily, I’m here for you.” The Reverend said to his daughter gently who now sat in one of the pews.

“No you’re not, you were never there for me,” His daughter yelled at him.

“You let me die, you let go of me!”  His daughter stood up from the pews, and he ran to stop her.

The Reverend reached for her hand, but when he touched it she disappeared.

“No! Lily!” The Reverend collapsed on the floor and sobbed. His daughter was so close to him, he had saw her, heard her. He could even smell the faint perfume she had begged him to buy. It still lingered in the room, she looked so real. Her skin was just as pale as when he last saw them. She looked at him with such hate. She looked at him as if he had betrayed her. The Reverend stared at his daughter and he thought to himself that she was right, he never was there for her. He wasn’t there for her when she desperately needed it, he had left her in the arms of death. He had given up all hope, but yet here she was more alive than ever. She was using every ounce of her energy to run away from him.

“My Dear Reverend, what has become of you?” The Reverend looked up at the voice that had filled the room. It was a strong voice, and the person who it belonged to matched it perfectly. It was a tall man who wore a dark robe, his hood covered his face perfectly, but the Reverend could see his nose and chin. He had a very square chin, and his mouth was tightly clamped shut. The man’s nose was sharp, and there were traces of wrinkles on his skin, yet they looked very scarce on the man’s smooth skin. The man’s figure was very tall. He had long legs, and long arms that were crossed in front of him. He had a slight hunch in his back that lowered his height down to 6ft. However the man’s eyes were hidden, along with his identity.

“Who are you?” The Reverend asked.

“Have you forgotten already?” The man asked.

“Forget? I wish that I could forget!” The Reverend yelled at him madly.

The man let out a low chuckle that sounded like metal being crushed.

“I will excuse your disrespect seeing as you do not remember me. I normally don’t make house calls. Actually…I never make house calls. I only made a house call one other time, and that was with you.” The man said.

“I’m sorry I do not remember you, who are you?” The Reverend said as he desperately searched his memory.

“Daddy…do you remember who I am?” The Reverend looked to his left, and he saw his daughter sitting in the front row. She was looking at him with big sad eyes, and then she disappeared.

“Lily?” The Reverend ran over to where she was sitting, and he could smell her perfume. She was here, or least she had been. The Reverend looked over at the man, and a thought came to him, he wanted to know if he was the only one that could smell his daughter’s perfume.

“Do you smell that? It smells really sweet, its right over here,” The Reverend beckoned the man.

“Dear old Reverend, your mind is playing tricks on you. What you smell, ands see is nothing more than what is in your mind. It’s not real. She’s…not real Reverend.” The man let out the last sentence slowly.

“You saw her!” The Reverend said with joy, ignoring the man’s previous statement.

“Oh yes I saw her, surely you remember me?” The man said as he walked closer to The Reverend.

As the man walked closer to the Reverend he felt fear fill his body. There was something dark coming from this man, and he could feel it. It felt as if a chilly air had swept throughout the room, and the lights had dimmed slightly.

“I ugh…I can’t rem-remember” The Reverend stuttered in fear.

The man lifted his hands towards his robe and slowly pulled down his hood.

The Reverend’s head felt light, and he almost fell to the grown, but he caught himself. Beneath the robe were deep brown eyes, they were such a dark shade of brown that they almost looked black. There was only one other person that had brown eyes besides that little boy, and it was The Eldest. A man that was known for the fear he provoked in people. His ability to see into another realm, and bend it at his will. The creator, and stealer of memories, he could inflict anything he wanted on a man. Or so the rumors said, and here he stood in front of the Reverend. Surely if the Reverend had met him before he would have remembered.  How could the Reverend have met The Eldest, and not have remembered?

“The Eldest…I am so sorry please forgive me,” The Reverend said quickly, as he averted his eyes from The Eldest’s brown gaze.

“Look into my eyes Reverend, I want you to look into my eyes.” The Eldest spoke with such power, that the Reverend looked into his eyes out of fear.

“Ah I see your heart is still cold, good,” The Eldest dragged out the last word, and kept peering into the Reverend.

“I see your soul is still ours,” The Reverend removed his eyes immediately with fury burning in his heart. He gathered his courage and said all he could manage was to weakly say,

“My soul belongs to no one,”

“But of course it does, and more so than ever. You my friend are on a leash, and I hold it. You are controlled by something that is quite powerful, and humans have chosen to call it memories. They are haunting you at this very moment, you see your daughter, you hear her voice, and smell her perfume. You miss her more than anything, and regret everything that you have ever done to her, but deep down inside you hate your daughter.” The Eldest said coolly.

“I do not that is a lie, I love her,” The Reverend said with all his strength left.

“You once did love your daughter I agree, but you don’t love the memory of her anymore. You hate it, and that is why you are trying so desperately to get rid of her. But when the memories come back they are not all her, they are only fragments of who your daughter once was. You have concocted your own version of who your daughter is. You make her tell you things that you believe she felt, so much so, that is who she becomes to you. Your daughter will only ever be who you make her to be in your mind.” The Eldest paused as to see if what he said was correct, and by the silence of the Reverend he continued.

“You are going through phases of the temporary memory wiper medicine at least that is what some call it. The first stage is hearing, then it moves to scent, and now you have reached the stage of visual, the final stage is touch, which you have not yet reached, but you will one day. Soon the memories that haunt you will no longer be in your mind, but they will become a reality. You will live, and walk with them, they will be at your side haunting you, and there will be nothing you can do to get them to leave you. Yet as much as you hate them, you can’t stand to be without them. What will make it all the more worse is that you will not know reality, from the reality in your mind. The best part is that only you can see it, no one else.” The Eldest said with a laugh.

“I suppose I forgot to warn you about that bit, when I brought it to you,” The Eldest said with a smile.

“That was you,” The Reverend said weekly.

The Eldest leaned forward and stared deeper into the Reverend’s eyes. The Reverend felt sever pain that felt like something was being pushed under his skin. It was moving its way to his mind, and then everything went blank. Then color quickly filled the blank image painting a familiar memory in his mind.

“Who are you?” The Reverend asked.

“My name is my own, but it is the gift that I present to you that you should be concerned about. It is a special gift that fell from the heavens, founded by man, presented to you.” The man said with a smile. He wore funny glasses on his face that were dark brown preventing him from seeing the man’s eyes.

“What do you bring, who gave it to you to bring to me?” The Reverend asked quickly.

“I will answer the last question first, and the first question last. I am a part of the Elders, those who make sure that Farowcha is a peaceful and beautiful place. We aim to make those who are experiencing severe pain to be put to rest, especially those who do our will. And I can see that you are a man that is in severe pain,” The man said.

“I do not know what you are talking about,” The Reverend chirped quickly.

“Oh but you do, you have the worst pain of them all. You have memory pains, and I used to have those too. That is why I can recognize the pain that you now bare, because I once bore it too. However this burden was lifted from me, by the same exact gift that I now present to you. If you take this, all of your memories will go away at least the ones that you do not want that is. However you have to swear to serve the Elders, and we will give you this medicine.

The Reverend was pulled out of that memory, and he lifted his hands to head gripping it tightly.

“You lied to me, you lied to me. The memory has come back fresher, and newer than ever. What’s worse is that you knew that the pain would come back,” The Reverend cried.

“I only gave you the sample version, a test that was run. I have the real one, of course it is not on me, but I can give it to you if you come with me.” The Eldest said.

“You told me it fell from heaven,” The Reverend said in anguish.

“Of course I told you that, you were once a believing man. You were a young naïve man who believed in miracles, and wonders of heaven. However now you know better, now I talk to you of other means and you would believe me now. We have created something that would remove your memories forever. There are no side effects included,” The Eldest said with a laugh.

“You will lie to me again, I can’t trust you,” The Reverend said.

“Trust! Who are you to speak of trust? You are the man who has broken every promise known to man. You don’t even know what trust is. You are a liar, a fraud, a fake, sheep in wolfs clothing. Isn’t that from your bible Reverend or do you even read it? We wanted to see how far we could push you from the truth of what you once stood by. You allowed us to twist your words without even as much as pushing you. You were bent to the will of the medicine, like a slave doing the will of the master for a scrap of bread. You have left content and happy, regretting nothing. You are nothing more than a wretch who cares too much about himself, than others. You have allowed your own desires, to be your undoing. We have watched you become undone, and it is quite a beautiful sight.

The Elders were thinking about allowing you to go crazy because of your memories. You rightly deserved it if no one else. They saw you as a failure, and that is rightly so. However I see something else in you, something they do not see. I can see your heart, and soul, and it is evil and cruel. Everything that I need, a man who has nothing to lose. Yet a drive to serve us, and I will give you one.” The Eldest said.

“I have everything to lose! Everything! My dignity, and pride, the very man I am,” The Reverend cried.

“You fool! Don’t you see you already have lost all those a long time ago.”

“No, No, No! I hate myself I should have died that night, they should have let me drown. I deserve death, I deserve it,” The Reverend cried in pain.

Suddenly his eyes lit up, when a thought hit him.

“You! You are the controller of memories, the creator of them, as you said earlier. Could you not take them away for good?” The Reverend asked.

“Sadly I cannot take memories away, I can only find them expand upon them, and make them real. That is how I learn what I learn. I can’t take away the feelings that you are feeling, as you rightly should. You are as guilty as the boy with his hand in the cookie jar. You have received your punishment, even though it seems to have had long term effects,” The Eldest laughed to himself.

“No, I can’t live with myself, I am evil, I have so many secrets that are eating me away. They are all bottled up inside, and no one will ever know, and that is-”

“Actually you are wrong there, you have no secrets. Every secret you think you have is mine, I own it. I keep it a secret until it gets too far out of hand, there is nothing you can hide from me. So you should be more worried about not having any secrets” The eldest voice was as evil as he had ever heard, or thought it possible someone could have. The Reverend knew that evil dripped out of this man’s pores, if indeed he was even a man.

“We need you Reverend, more than ever. It pains me to tell you this. But you are held in high appeal of the people. It wouldn’t do right to just let you go mad. We need you alive to serve our purpose, and this time there will be no secrets. I will give you a sample medicine, and then I want you to meet me at the hall of the Elders, there is something that I must show you.” The Eldest said as he pulled a metal container from his pocket.

“Do you still feel, the pain and guilt, the anger, and regret? Do you feel the weight of all of your sins that are still there Reverend. We can make it go away, isn’t that all you want?”

The Eldest words came out smooth, and they compelled the Reverend to grab the metal container in his hand. Indeed the Reverend did, he extended his hand and snatched the container from the Reverends hand.

“Good, take it, do whatever it is you do with it,” The Eldest said with joy.

“We will do great things together my friend, we will change the history of Farowcha forever. We will create the new right and wrong, and we will be our own God,” The Eldest said.

The Reverend winced at the last words that the Eldest said. Deep down inside the Reverend still believed in God, no matter how much he tried to deny it. Yet he chose to keep that part hidden from The Eldest. The Reverend made sure that memory would not be remembered. The Reverend did not want to remember his love for God.

The Eldest left the church and the Reverend quickly grabbed the metal container, pushed his needle into it, and then he punctured his arm. Immediately memories faded from his mind, the voices stopped speaking, and the images faded. Finally for some time he could be at peace, and then once the Eldest gave him the final medicine. He would be free forever.

About The Author

Jesse Velez

Although Jesse Velez will forever carry the essence of a Native New Yorker, he currently calls the sun-soaked city of Miami, Florida, his home. Celebrating a marriage of 31+ years to Eusebia, he proudly embraces his role as the father of five grown children. Jesse has cultivated a profound grasp of the Bible over the span of 40+ years, dedicated to following and serving Jesus while engaging in extensive reading and in-depth study of the scriptures.

1 Comment

  1. priscillav

    Hope you enjoyed!