Hope you all are having a great October. The first giveaway of a signed copy of Soul Cages on Goodreads went so well that I will have 9 more copies to offer in a Goodreads giveaway from Oct. 19 to Nov. 18.
Here comes Part One. 15. of Soul Cages (PG-13). Enjoy.
Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore
Published by Osuna Publishing
This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.
Part One. Dreams in the Desert
Dad, with Henry next to him, found me in the dining area. “Are you all right?” Dad said.
Mom came over. “She’s okay. Thin air got to her. Barbara thinks she’s dehydrated.”
Dad took my empty cup from the table, walked over to a carafe of ice water, filled it up, and brought it back. “Drink.”
Henry fidgeted as the crowding got worse. I swallowed the water as quickly as I could.
Andervender’s voice came closer from the other side of the curtains, which meant he was trying to make his way toward the dining area.
I said, “Maybe I should take Henry to see the Sunday School room. It’d be empty now.”
Dad studied Henry, then nodded. “We’ll come and get you when it’s time.”
The door to the back rooms had been propped open with a brick. Henry and I hurried to the Sunday School door. Peering through the mesh glass, I checked that the kids were gone. All clear.
We went in. I shoved the door shut while Henry went up to a crude painting of Noah’s ark covering a wall. He touched each animal, naming it. “Elephant, zebra, deer, rabbit, giraffe, …”
A comforting litany, and the smell of markers and finger paint would help Henry feel safe.
Then I heard Andervender’s muffled voice coming closer and closer. He must be headed to his office to get out of that black robe.
I peeked out. Andervender’s office door was open, while Matthew and John lingered outside. Both of them caught sight of me before I could duck back. Crap, I shouldn’t have looked.
I studied the room’s concrete walls—no windows, just the one door. We’re stuck. Tempting to lock the door, but that would create a fuss if the Andervenders did stop by to visit Henry and me. With any luck they’d just go back to the dining area.
I heard footsteps, and knew with a sinking sensation it had to be them. So I scrambled over to the teacher’s chair, moved it so I blocked access to Henry, and sat down.
Andervender came to stand at the glass, looking in, and opened the door when he caught sight of us. He said, “May I come in?” as he stepped inside. “Feeling better?”
Henry froze in tracing a penguin’s flipper.
“Yeah.” I fought the urge to scoot my chair as far away from him as possible. His aura of hate was gone, but it lurked there underneath the surface, like beetles waiting to be exposed by overturning a rock.
Matthew and John stood at the open doorway. I cursed my dress, for Matthew was way more interested in looking at me today. John’s gaze kept anxiously going from Andervender to Henry and back.
Andervender cleared his throat. “I know this may be awkward for you, but sometimes, well—sometimes a parishioner will be overcome by the Holy Spirit during one of my sermons.”
I clamped my mouth shut. The words were there in my mind, waiting to be spoken, like a prophecy. But there was no way I was going to tell him what I’d sensed as I’d listened to him preach.
Be careful, an inner voice warned. This man is dangerous, and he won’t like it if you criticize his sermons.
Andervender said, “Well, make sure you drink every hour for the next couple of days. We’ll see you at Youth Group this evening.” He slapped his hands together and rubbed them. “I’d better get back to my flock.”
He squeezed past Matthew and John, and disappeared out of sight.
Matthew blocked the doorway. I couldn’t help scowling at him. He said, “I’ll be by at four-thirty with the SUV.”
Like I didn’t already know that. Jerk.
Henry had scrunched himself down, making sure his back was to the door, to stare at the painting of a dolphin.
John glanced down the hall. “Here come your parents. Matt, I think you need to move. You’re blocking the door.”
Matthew twitched. “Oh, so I am. Here.” He stepped backward until there was space to get out.
I suspected Matthew was too close, but maybe Henry could handle it. “Come on, Henry, time to go.”
Henry got as far as the door, then scrunched up against the door frame. He wouldn’t look at Matthew.
John said, “I think Henry is spooked about yesterday. Take two steps back, Matt.”
Matthew folded his arms across his chest, but did take two steps backward.
I could see through the propped-open door that Dad and Mom had stopped to speak to Mr. Rickmand. I sensed Matthew was gathering up the nerve to make small talk with me while we waited for my parents.
Well, I wanted none of it. “Henry, let’s go out the back.”
“Wait,” Matthew said.
“I’m taking a short cut to the car.” I shoved open the back entrance so Henry could rush through. “This way is much quieter for Henry.”
“That’s a good idea,” John said. He clapped Matthew on the arm. “How about we see how Mom is doing?”
Matthew called out, “I’ll be there at four-thirty.”
As the steel door closed, I heard John saying to Matthew, “You know, if you were le—”
The door clunked shut.
************** End of Part One. 15. *****************