INSIDE ST. MARKS
"I'm telling you Lebanon, the sooner you stop this madness, the better!" Lebanon Stansted grimaced under the wrath of the local piano player. Lillian, "or Sour Lily" as the local youth called her. She eyed him with her black beady eyes and her powdered wrinkled face. Her hair was a pewter color, unattractive and conformative to old standards. Lebanon closed his book and cleaned the lenses of his pince-nez with his white shirt.
"As the Rector, it is your responsibility to make sure that this sort of thing does not happen!"
"Now, Lillian, are you sure that you are not overreacting?"
"OVERREACTING? Rector, I assure you that I am not joking in this matter. When it comes to notes written on tithing envelopes, that I can handle. But when it involves a Bible--"
Lebanon started and his pince-nez fell off his face. His eyebrow arched in such a way that told Lillian that she had his full undivided attention.
"A--a Bible? What about a Bible?" he asked innocently. With a disapproving gesture, she produced a black-bound Bible, the type found in one of the church pews.
"It's disgusting! The nerve! I told you before, Rector, and I'll say it again: today's youth have no respect for the church--let alone the HOLY BOOK! Just look at this!" Lebanon took the Bible from her hands and eyed the open page. He looked closely at the part that Lillian's scrawly index finger pointed it. She tapped the page with a disapproval.
"Just look at it! I can sense the displeasure of God! It's outright vandalism."
Lebanon frowned and saw the pen markings and the highlighter markings around a particular set of verses. The verses circled confused the rector.
"And what is even more disturbing is the fact that every Bible in here is marked the same way."
Lebanon looked up at her in horror.
"Yes, every Bible is marked the EXACT same way!"
Lebanon shook his head in disbelief. He read the verses circled.
GENESIS 4: 9-11
And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand...
Lebanon shuddered as he closed the Bible. The verse he had just read made him suddenly distrustful of everything around him.
Something was not right in St. Barthelemy....
* * *
Mute frantically gasped for breath. Color swirled around him. Mist encased with purple vines rushed past him as he felt unearthly wind entwine around him, causing his clothes to ripple and his hair to trail behind him like a kite's tail. This isn't normal, he thought timidly as he searched the mist and vines rushing past him for anything noticable, even anything describable. Suddenly, he realized he was slowing as a small clearing surrounded by trees came into view. He was cast upon his knees violently and the youth felt his stomach turn as he surveyed the land around him. Where am I?! his mind screamed as no answer was returned.
Beyond the line of trees the mist swirled peacefully, nothing like the rush beforehand. And then, from all around him, from above, from below, from within him came a voice. The Voice spoke with determination, with vigor, and yet, it had a child-like taint to the proceeding words. "'I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up.' Psalm 39:1-3." Mute stood up quickly and backed away from the center of the unearthly clearing. This isn't happening... he thought to himself as his eyes raced back and forth in their individual orbs, scanning the trees and grass for any sign of explanation. He blinked and wiped his eyes with the backs of his hands, hoping that he would open them to the natural world again. This was not to be as the vision in front of him remained steadily in existence. But this time, when he opened his eyes, a boy stood in the clearing. Mute visibly flinched. "Who..." he thought fearfully.
I AM ABEL. the boy said in response. Mute tripped and fell backwards heavily as he stared at the boy. "Abel" was no older than ten years of age, he had a particularly pale complexion, and his dark brown hair fell in singular, wispy strands onto his forehead and ears. He was dressed in an off-white tunic which reminded Mute of what they dressed the angels in for the Christmas plays at church. His eyes, however were the most stunning aspect of the boy. One was the color of intense fire, indeed it almost seemed to burn with force and vigor. The other was the dark, soft color of ripe grapes. Mute lay in awe and terror as the boy spoke again. "I was mute, I did not open my mouth, Because it was You who did it.' Psalm 39:8-10." he stated simply.
Mute's mouth fell as he came to two realizations at the same instant. First, the boy could read his thoughts. Second, the boy's mouth didn't move when he spoke. His voice simply came from everywhere at once. "What... what are you talking about?" Mute thought slowly and fearfully. "I didn't do anything..."
"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" came the booming reply. "'I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house.' Ezekiel 3:25-27."
Mute shuddered as he thought his response. "So the house is in the wrong?"
The boy smiled. "NOW you begin to understand. Would you like to hear a story?" Mute's eyes widened as he lay undecided. Abel didn't wait for a response. "This story is about an evil, evil family and a young boy...
* * *
Adrian examined the teen up and down quickly after feeling his pulse. He reached for the boy's eyelids slowly. His hand stopped a few inches about the boy's face, quivering in the rain. After a short pause, he lifted the eyelids up to check for dialation. The man jerked back and took three full steps away from the boy. His face was frozen in a mask of horror at what he had just seen. The boy's eyes were not... natural. They had no pupils nor irises. Just white. He stood as stiff as a statue for a full minute and then slowly moved close to the boy once again. He knelt next to the still body and touched the boy's arm. Suddenly, the boy jolted and his eyes opened. They were back to normal with intense brown irises. Adrian did not notice this at first as he was taken aback. The boy gripped his arm so tightly it caused the young man to let out a quick yelp.
* * *
With shaking hands, the boy reached into his back pocket and brought out a small writing tablet. Struggling to take control of the pencil, he wrote five words on the tablet before letting both pencil and paper fall to his chest. Adrian turned it over slowly, fearing what he saw. Glancing at the tablet, he read: "Take me to Lucinda Cain." His eyes moved from the wet tablet back to the motionless body of the boy.
* * *
Lucinda Cain sat in her parlour turned office. She was motionless and stared at a particular piece of paper. Suddenly, her eyes watered as she remembered... Oh she hated the feeling! The guilt was tearing her apart inside... But Waverly can't know... She can't. A sniffle is heard as Lucinda put her head down on her arms on the table. How much longer could she continue like this? A trail of salty tears meandered down her cheeks. Then immediately she raised her head with dignity and wiped her face from any signs of emotion. No. ...she would stand up against it. Let it do its worst!
"I'm not afraid...I'm not afraid..."
* * *
Adrian burst into the Cain Lodge, drenched to the skin and carrying the boy in his arms. "Lucinda Cain!" he yelled into the echoing space, gasping for breath from the run he had just made. Silence answered him. "LUCINDA! CAIN!" he tried again, voice growing more impatient and vehement. From the second story, he saw a woman appear, the soft rustle of her clothing belying her otherwise silent entrance. She seemed a bit frantic as she rushed down the stairs to the young man and boy in his arms. "Do you know this boy?" Adrian questioned her as the carpet below him turned darker from the water running off his clothing.
Lucinda shook her head. "I have never seen him before," she said quietly. "Bring him into the spare room," she concluded, beckoning to Adrian's left.
* * *
Mute opened his eyes slowly as he felt the warmth and dry of a comfortable bed beneath his body. He looked around at the quaint, old room he was now in. The bed creaked as he moved, causing the woman next to him to jump suddenly. Mute also jumped as he realized the woman had been watching him for awhile. She quietly asked him, "What is your name?"
Mute reached in his pocket for his book, but found he was wearing different clothing as his must have gotten soaked. As if reading his thoughts, the woman gave him the book and pencil almost immediately. Mute quickly scrawled out: "I can't speak. So I use this book to communicate." The woman gave him a motherly smile as she nodded softly. Mute answered her question with: "And they call me 'Mute'."
Suddenly, the woman's eyes widened and fear encroached their edges. She got up quickly and left the room, closing it softly behind her, leaving Mute puzzled. He flipped through his book and realized that three pages had been torn out of it. He looked at the clock across the room and realized he had been out of consciousness for a few hours now. What had happened? Suddenly, it all came back to him. His eyes widened as he looked back at the door. Lucinda Cain, he thought, face's features twisting with rage.
The three pages burned inside Lucinda's pockets as she began to jog down the hallway away from the room, eyes full of fear. They read: "So the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?' Exodus 4:11." She began to run. The second read: "What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?' Habakkuk 2:18." She began to sprint. Mute. His name was Mute. Teacher of lies. Mute idols. The third page read: "Hello, Lucinda. Love, Abel." She ran as fast as she possibly could.
* * *
INSIDE ST. MARK'S
Lebanon had checked about ten more Bibles in all of the first couple rows of church pews. He had a worried expression on his face as he flipped to a particular page of the Bible currently in his hands. He scanned the page--his eyes bulged as he gasped. He sat down in the pew, letting the Bible slip from his hands and fall on the floor.
"My God..." he exclaimed as he looked in Genesis. Lillian had not been joking--EVERY Bible was marked!
The same verses were highlighted again! A pit formed in Lebanon's stomach.
* * *
Outside, the church bells of st. Mark's rung out once more...