The Church of the Good Shepherd, 1936

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The word’s been passed. No one’s to go outside after dark.

When I arrived at the Church of the Good Shepherd, there was an ill-scent lingering about the place.

I approached it with all due caution, Colts in hand as I went up to the main entrance and peered in. Nothing greeted my eye, and so I followed the same course of action that Carl Mydans had taken. I went around back.

The windows were shattered. Shards of glass and broken framing littered the ground, and the rose bushes that had been the pastor’s wife’s pride and joy had been torn up by their roots.

When I tried the back door, I found it unlocked, and so I went into the church.

There was oppressiveness in the air. An atmosphere of filth.

I passed through the church kitchen and found it in perfect order, the way it always was. The coat closet and the pantry both were empty, and so I pushed on into the body of the church itself.

As I stepped through the doors, a thousand flies took flight, their buzzing and the whisper of their wings a sound reminiscent of the battlefields of France and Belgium, Gettysburg and Antietam, and a hundred other places I have seen the dead.

What was left of the pastor and his wife was strewn across the floor, draped across the pews, and nailed to the rafters. Piles of bones were stacked every few feet as though the vampire had gotten bored after its meal. The black garb of the pastor, and a simple white dress that had once belonged to his wife, were filthy, smeared with offal and torn into long strips. These were strung from the pulpit to the floor in a shape reminiscent of a maypole.

A few feet in front of the pulpit, a broken cross lay on the floor, and half a hundred-odd teeth arranged in a perfect circle around it.

A single, bloody thumbprint was on the lower half of the cross. I suspect that the good pastor, or perhaps his wife, had tried to use the cross to ward off the vampire.

It takes more than the mere symbol of faith.

True faith is needed, and few are blessed with it.

I slid the Colts into their holsters, left the remains where they were, and made my way home.

It’ll be dark soon enough.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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