Winner, winner chicken dinner! OCH Flash Fiction winner is Joseph Schmidt with his entry Ancient History. No sin is left unpunished in this tale and won Joseph a feature on OCH’s LitWeek.
Read and discover the twists of Joseph Schmidt’s mind and keep an eye out for future Flash Fiction contests.
Ancient History by Joseph Schmidt
Father Wilson led the last member of his congregation out the church doors and into the crisp autumn air that was waiting for her outside. Margot was a frail seventy-something church attendee that had increased her presence with the church after her husband had passed away just last year from a massive heart attack. She pulled the collar of her coat close to her wrinkled face as she turned and faced Father Wilson.
“That was a beautiful service, Father,” she said as she fumbled in her purse for her keys, dropping loose change and a small package of tissue to the steps below.
“Thank you, Margot. Are you still planning on helping us with the festival?”
“Of course, Father. Someone around here has to supply the baked goods…”
“I know Margot, but…with your health taking a turn for the worse I don’t want you to overexert yourself…” Father Wilson noticed that the shaking in Margot’s hands seemed to be getting worse. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few months ago and while most would have been terribly upset, she had made her peace telling Father Wilson that.
“I’ve lived a full life.”
Father Wilson helped her gather the items that had fallen and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Well Margot, do what you can—just remember that we all appreciate the extra time and effort you’ve been putting into the church lately,” Father Wilson said as a large smile spread across his face as he spoke. “Go in peace young lady.”
“Thank you, Father.”
She walked away, a gust of wind kicked up a pile of leaves close to the front of the church and shot them in Father Wilson’s direction, making it inside. He closed the doors to the front of the church quickly and locked everything up tight.
He was exhausted, but that was the last service for the day and he was looking forward to being able to just sit in his room—quietly read some scripture, and prepare for tomorrows service.
“Father Wilson?” A man’s voice was calling him from the sanctuary.
He was puzzled. He had made sure before ushering Margot out that the sanctuary had been empty.
“Father Wilson, are you there?” the man called him again.
Father Wilson stepped into the sanctuary and noticed that sitting in a pew to the left was a younger man; he had bleached blond hair, and was wearing a black leather coat that appeared weathered and brittle.
“I’m sorry,” Father Wilson said as he approached the man, “I thought I had showed everyone out. You do know mass has ended?”
The man turned to face Father Wilson. He was young—he appeared to be in his early thirties, both ears were pierced and he noticed that the man had scars on his forehead and chin. The man flashed a smile before standing to extend his hand out to Father Wilson.
“Yeah.” The man shook Father Wilson’s hand and looked around the inside of the sanctuary—his eyes bouncing from stained glass to stained glass.
“Sorry about that, Father Wilson.” He reached inside his jacket and produced a pack of cigarettes.
“But I wanted to stay behind for a moment and talk to you about today’s homily.” The man sat back down and motioned to the pew in front of him.
“I found it incredibly moving,” he said as he placed a smoke between his dry lips.
“I’m sorry, I usually pride myself on knowing everyone in my congregation but I’m drawing a blank.”
“Well I’m a new member; you were highly recommended. Name’s Paul,” he replied as he went to light his cigarette with a cheap, gold plated lighter.
“Well Paul, while I appreciate your interest in my service—and also appreciate you taking an opportunity to attend out church—there is no smoking inside, and if you would like we could step outside and I would be happy…”
Paul cast Father Wilson a disappointing look, almost bordering on the pouting lips of a toddler.
“Okay, Padre.” He placed his lighter back inside his jacket and with a quick flick of his wrist made the cigarette disappear. “No smoking it is.”
Father Wilson noticed a strange smell coming from Paul; he stunk of cheap booze and something else—was that rotten eggs?
“Well I’m not keen on going outside just yet, and besides the homily…” His hair was slick, so reflective that the lights that were still on in the church bounced off his head and almost blinded Father Wilson.
“Yes the homily, it was about forgiveness.”
“Yes! Yes it was! And God forgives doesn’t he?” Paul stood up.
“Yes he does, Paul.” Something seemed wrong. Everything in Father Wilson’s frame was telling him to leave.
“You know who had a really tough time forgiving you, Padre?” He started walking towards Father Wilson, that quick grin he had flashed moments before becoming menacing.
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Paul.” He tried to remain calm. If he could somehow make it back to the front of the church, there would be people still outside after mass. He turned and in an instant Paul blocked his path.
“I don’t think so, Padre, let’s not get those nice old people outside involved in this.” Paul grabbed Wilson by his shoulders and with one quick motion threw him towards the pews over his shoulder—Wilson was airborne; he looked skyward and counted the revolutions of the ceiling fan before he painfully landed on top of the pews below him.
He screamed in pain as he felt his ribs crack and his leg break.
“I swear—” Paul jumped over in his direction, “—human beings are such pussies.”
Wilson’s chest was on fire; he brushed his well-manicured hand across his forehead and smeared blood into his graying hair. Paul reached down, grabbing a pew, and easily tossed it aside with as little effort as he exerted tossing Father Wilson over his shoulder.
“You remember Denise, Padre?” Paul asked.
“What? Who are you…?” Wilson tried to scream.
Paul flicked his wrist again and ripped Wilson’s tongue from his mouth.
It flopped on the church floor for a moment like a fish and then was still. His mouth filled with battery acid. He felt as if he was about to pass out.
“Don’t pass out on me yet, this is the best part.” Paul raised his arm slowly while chanting words Wilson didn’t understand, and through his haze, he felt his body raise itself up off the ground until he was a bloody heap levitating in the air a few feet from Paul.
“You see Denise had a son, had a son.”
Father Wilson’s stomach sank.
“There we go! I can see it in your eyes, buddy!”
Paul motioned his hands towards his body and Wilson glided towards him.
“She’s been looking for you for some time, Padre.”
Wilson tried to talk, but a bubble of blood popped from his lips like a bubble as he mouthed “Devil.”
“Oh no, Padre, not the Devil or demons—they couldn’t have been able to walk inside, sacred ground you know. Let’s just say…”
Wilson watched in horror as Paul’s left arm split open to reveal a glistening tentacle.
It shot out and wrapped around his neck.
“There are things older than the devil, buddy.”