THE PARISH – CHAPTER EIGHT

January 26, 0100

The Parish

We run. 

Our bedraggled, hungry, bodies protesting. The impact of each step rattles my legs. The chorus of shouts and threats coalesces into a furious anthem.


Enoch is faster than me and Oscar, pulling ahead. The way he moves is hypnotizing, his slender muscles clenching beneath his military shirt.

But the trance is broken when his arm lashes out and knocks me down.
I skid across the pavement, studded with shards of glass and gravel.

For a moment there’s only the throbbing hum of my pulse and the wheezing of my breath. But when I feel the vibration of a thousand stampeding feet I scramble backwards. My foot catches on something.

Pearlescent arches of bone trap my foot.

The skeleton is bare of clothes and flesh and the ribcage rattles like chains when I try to shake my foot free. I thrash until the cadaver releases me.

The horde is almost upon me when I careen across the street and into the shadows. The silhouettes of Enoch and Oscar wink out into the crouching haze down the street. My hands shake manically as I pull the machete from my belt.

I keep the storefronts to my back, whispering the pacifying lullabies my mother used to sing.
A hand catches my wrist and a straggled scream erupts from my mouth. They wrench me into the ambiguous darkness of a building. The door slams shut and they shove me against the wall.
Someone – thing – grabs my hair at the roots and smacks my head back against the concrete wall.

A volatile pain splinters across my skull, my machete clatters to the floor. I yelp when a silvery light ruptures the darkness and sears into my eyes. “She`s clear!” 
The light extinguishes and orbs of white smother my vision. Streaks of orange solidifying into the flickering glow of a lantern.

A few dozen people stand, spaced around the room, weapons aimed at me.

I recognize their bald heads, the harsh lines of the inverted cross marking their bare scalps.

The Atheists.

EMMA IRVINE

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