After Sunday morning services, Linda and Shana approached Father John as he said his usual goodbyes on the front steps of the church. He asked them to join him in his study. They followed him through the main room with its shiny wood benches and ornate statues. The church was bright from the sunshine that shone through its sparkling glass-domed ceiling.
Linda realized that the church and the hotel were the only buildings in town with clear glass windows. She has always been curious about the green tinting on the windows of the homes on the hill. Even the stores on Main Street had green tinting on their windows.
The priest’s study was sunny and cheerful with flowered couches, colorful rugs, and a pretty vase holding yellow daisies on his desk. Mrs. Abigail, the housekeeper, kept the church warm and inviting. She didn’t live in town, but in a small town nearby. She was a vibrant and happy older woman, who took great care of Father John and the church.
Abigail set out tea and cakes for them. She closed the door behind her. She left them alone with the Father; she never intruded into anyone’s business and always knew when to give the priest’s congregants their privacy.
“Father, we’re faced with a terrifying situation in town. Friday night we went to a party at End House, but no one was there to greet us except deadly saws and bone-crushing cages. Luckily, we were able to escape—except for Tom and Edward who were last seen going through a doorway in the basement. Afterward, the doorway disappeared and we never saw them again. Later, Louise—who we thought was dead—came back alive.” Linda stumbled over her words in her haste.
She’d expected the Father to either doubt her words or get angry at her for making up such a morbid tale. However, he just sat down in his chair, nodding his head; he didn’t appear at all surprised to hear about the unusual party.
Father John must be in his late fifties, guessed Linda, but he appeared very strong and rugged-looking for a man his age. He also seemed to be troubled. His eyes darted around as if he expected to be overheard by someone, even though the church was empty and quiet.
Where can our footsteps lead us? To death? To walk into the ocean and to say goodbye to all we know. Or to life? To climb the rocks to get a better look at the ocean and the sky. I choose the second option. The first option is way too limited. Death is the end—the period at the end of the sentence, with no more words left to say. Life, on the other hand, is open and free. There are endless possibilities to experience once you choose to live life. Carry on my wayward son….
Sheriff Sam ran in, joining Todd in the kitchen, where they began to whisper out of earshot from the others.
Shana was dying of curiosity to hear what had them whispering to each other. She pulled Linda aside and said, “I don’t trust anyone anymore. We should begin investigating on our own, without waiting for Sam and Todd to plan everything for us.”
“That’s a great idea. I don’t understand how Louise could’ve survived if Mike saw her hanging in the gazebo. Why was she left alive? But what happened to Tom and Edward? Are they dead or alive? She kept muttering that she was sorry but what was she sorry about? Nothing seems to make sense any–”
“That’s why we can’t trust anyone but ourselves,” Shana said.
“Let’s begin our search at the church. Since today is already Sunday, we’ll be there anyway. We could question the priest about the town’s residents. I don’t know much about the people of this town or any of the town’s sordid history. The priest has lived here many years and has probably witnessed many unusual things.”
“Everyone else will be too busy to notice what we’re doing: Sam and Todd have their own agenda, Louise and David won’t be up for anything, and Mike is too concerned about himself to worry about anyone else,” agreed Shana.
Susanne Leist is the author of The Dead Game, a supernatural thriller with mystery and romance.
She graduated with an MBA in finance. Her life has led her through the hectic commodities market and the number-crunching field of budgeting, but she always continued to read and daydream...which led to the fulfillment of her dream to put one of her stories on paper for everyone to enjoy. She lives on Long Island with her husband, two daughters, and Maltese dog.