Welcome to my Spooky Flash Fiction! For the next nine weeks, until Halloween, there will be some horror going on!
I mean, horrir-ish. Don’t be scared.
The Worth of Souls…It’s Not What You Think
Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
A Rural Town Minister
A Batman Costume
Witches Night Out
Reverend Smith stood outside the church and watched the sun slip behind the distant hills. A cool, fall breeze ruffled his jacket, and the excited scream of a child filled the air.
A group of teenagers walked by, pillowcases already burdened with candy clutched in their hands.
“Hey, Reverend Smith,” one of them said.
“Is that you, Daniel?”
The group each had a costume on from the Justice League. Batman waved. “That’s me.”
The others gave half-hearted greetings.
Reverend Smith waved. “I hope you’re headed home.”
“We are,” Daniel said.
“After one more street,” the Flash said. “We’ve got daylight still.”
Reverend Smith pretended not to hear as he walked toward the small graveyard adjacent to the church. If this worked, the kids wouldn’t have to worry about being home before dark.
The rusted gate squealed in protest as he opened it, and the overgrown vines reached for his feet with every step. He’d set everything up a few hours before. Now the only thing to do was wait.
Three years of research. Countless hours wading through the occult. More hours praying for his soul. All of that would culminate tonight into either freedom or death.
The sounds of cars driving by and children laughing quickly faded into silence. He closed his eyes and prayed that everyone was inside. If this went badly, they would kill more than him.
The light waned. The upside down stars on the gravestones became difficult to decipher. The leafs from the vines blended into one organism. The distances between things became fuzzy.
Then the light completely disappeared, and the ground started to glow a sickly green.
Not the ground, Reverend Smith realized, but the base of the gravestones. It illuminated the face of the stone, and brought out each crack and chip.
He said one last prayer as the eerie light grew brighter, then snapped his eyes open and stared at the tallest of the markers.
She would be the one to figure it out. The other three weren’t bright enough to parse what he had done. Not until after it was too late.
The four women appeared slowly. Softly. The green glow poured out of the stones and into the air. At first they resembled the cliché person with a sheet over their head playing a ghost, but with every passing second, the forms grew more life-like.
It would be easier if they were ugly, he thought to himself.
Instead of crooked hags with warts and pustules on their faces, the four women who formed from the mist constituted the most beautiful beings he had ever seen. Sensual. Striking. Perfect.
One of the side effects of making a deal with a demon.
The tallest of them looked around, resting her glimmering eyes on me. “Johnny. So nice of you to welcome us.”
Reverend Smith smiled and stood. “Sybil. You’re looking well.”
She smiled. A lesser man would have thrown himself at her, but Reverend Smith had prepared for this moment for three years. The array of roots and herbs in his pocket kept him rooted in place.
Sybil’s smile faded just as the other three witches solidified in this world.
One of them cackled.
Another stretched as if awakened from a long slumber.
Reverend Smith reached out and pulled the gate shut. A pulse of power filled the air.
“What is this?” Sybil asked.
A needle pricked his finger, and he felt blood mix with the rust on the iron.
“I can’t move,” one of the others wailed.
Sybil’s beauty faded, and her face twisted into a monstrosity that Reverend Smith would never forget, nor would he ever be able to describe it to anyone. “What did you do, Johnny?”
Reverend Smith took a deep breath and spoke clearly. “I’m afraid your days of walking this earth are finally at an end.”
She screeched, and lunged for him.
It took every ounce of courage Reverend Smith had to stand his ground. Time seemed to slow as the witch came for him. Her hand outstretched and her nails extending into claws. They raked for his throat.
Reverend Smith winced, and leaned away, but the claws hit an invisible barrier. Sparks flew. Sybil screeched, sending fear through the air.
He only had a few minutes before the barrier would fail. Even his faith wasn’t that powerful. Especially after what he’d done.
Sybil threw herself at him. “What did you do?” she roared again.
“I’ve ended your lives.”
“NO!” they all wailed at once.
Sybil pressed her hand against the shield. It bowed.
Reverend Smith took a step away, but he hit the gate and knew he could go no farther. Tears gathered in his eyes as the weight of his choice bore down on him like an avalanche. “I’m sorry, great-grandmother.”
“Your job is to guide us here each year.” One of Sybil’s fingers got through, but the claw had melted away. “You keep the town safe from us.”
“Now they don’t need me,” Reverend Smith said. He withdrew a pendant from beneath his shirt.
The rage on Sybil’s face turned into fear, and she pushed the rest of her hand out. Several fingers didn’t have ends anymore. “Stop!” she shouted.
Reverend Smith’s hand slowed, but he kept it going until the pendant reached his lips. Only then did he feel how hard he was shaking. Only then did he wonder if he was about to do the right thing.
He jerked his head back and forth. That was coming from her. He was here to end this. “I’ve made a deal the supersedes yours,” he said.
“My soul is worth a great deal more than yours, great-grandmother.”
“You’re resigning yourself to an eternity of suffering!”
“Better than endangering everyone who ever lives in this town.” The words sounded hollow. Did he believe them?
Sybil’s arm got through, then her shoulder.
Now or never.
His life for theirs.
May God have mercy on his soul, if it ever made it to heaven.
Reverend Smith kissed the pendant, and the world went black.