Shadoe Rose: Part Twenty-SixMature

Andrew finally stopped
running on the worn concrete steps of the old Baptist church in the Old Square,
the part of town that had first been built in colonial times. Unlike Rose
Manor, the church had aged in a more graceful way, and exuded a feeling of warmth
and comfort.

            Taking a moment to catch his breath, Andrew closed his
eyes for a moment and tried to process what he’d just seen.

1. My girlfriend has been
possessed. 2. Demons are real. 3. Does that mean Angels are real?

of the way, boy,” growled a harsh voice.

            Andrew opened his eyes to see a man with dark skin in a
nurse’s outfit towering over him.

            “Do you have any respect for the blind and aging citizens
of this town?” the man asked angrily, his eyes hidden in a dark shadow.

            “It’s alright, Horace,” a gravelly voice said as a cane
tapped into view. “The boy doesn’t quite know what he’s up against, do you,

            Cold fear creeping up the stairs, Andrew looked at the
blind man. His face was wrapped in bloody gauze, the deep wounds visible against
the dirty white bandage.

            “Will you come with us?” the blind man asked. “Or will we
have to take you?”

            “Enough!” called a strong clear voice as the church doors
opened quickly. “By the power of God given to me as his servant, I command you
dark spirits to leave this place. It is hallowed ground for the Lord, not for
you,” a man dressed in dress pants and a collared shirt said as he helped
Andrew to his feet.

            The blind man and Horace disappeared in black smoke as
the church doors closed behind Andrew.

            “Who are you?” Andrew asked as he turned around to view
his savior.

            “My name is Sean Pierce,” he replied as he turned slid
the light switch up, making the dim lights in the church brighter.

            “Are you the reverend?” Andrew asked hopefully.

            Sean smiled. “Many call me that, but I prefer to be
called ‘Sean’ by my brothers and sisters.”

            “Oh. Well, we’re not related, Reverend Pierce.”

            Sean laughed and shook his head. “I meant brothers and
sisters in Christ,” he explained. “So what can I do for you? But based on the
company out there, I think I have a good guess.”

            “How come no one else saw them?” Andrew asked. “Those
things were out in broad daylight in a crowded part of town. If you and I could
see them, why couldn’t anyone else?”

            Sean sat in on of the wooden pews and motioned for Andrew
to do the same. “Those ‘things’ out there were demons. And because of the
nature of their work, people only see what they want to see, if they even see
them at all. The Devil and his demons are very particular about who sees them.
If everyone knew that demons were these sickening and terrifying creatures,
then they could not take as many willing souls as they do now,” he explained as
he folded his hands across his knee. “But that still doesn’t quite answer my

            Andrew looked at the floor. “You’re going to think I’m
completely insane, Reverend,” he began.

            “Based on what I just saw out there, I doubt it,” Sean

            Andrew sighed. “I was out at Rose Manor, because it’s
been in my family for years, and I wanted to fix it up and make it my house one
day, and while I was there yesterday, I found this old journal. My girlfriend
and I started reading it, and weird things have been happening ever since. I’ve
been hearing this voice in my head telling me what to do, Selena’s been
possessed by the spirit of my great-great-great grandmother, and now these
people in white armor are trying to help me, and demons are following me

            Sean’s face was grave and his eyes were clouded with
thought. “Why did you come to me? There are many churches all over this town,
but you came here. Why is that?”

            “Does this mean you can’t help me?” Andrew asked sadly.

            “No, I’m just wondering why. Usually when there’s a
problem with demons, people run to the Catholic church,” he explained. “They’re
the most accepting about things like this.”

            “I came here because the voice in my head told me to,”
Andrew said, still watching the ground, waiting for laughter and insanity

            “Do you know who that voice is?” Sean asked softly, his
voice seemingly swallowed up by the large church.

            “No,” Andrew answered truthfully.

            “What does the voice sound like?”

            “You’re taking me seriously on this?” Andrew asked
incredulously as he looked at Sean.

            Sean nodded. “Why wouldn’t I?”

            Andrew shrugged. “It’s soft, and kind of hard to hear
sometimes. But it makes me feel safe and protected and warm.”

            “That voice you’re hearing is the voice of a very good
Friend of mine,” Sean said after a moment.

            “How can someone you know get inside my head?” Andrew

            “I think you already know,” Sean replied as he pointed to
the bible nestled on the small shelf on the back of the pew.

            “God’s not real,” Andrew said bitterly as he looked away

            “Why do you say that?” Sean asked gently.

            “Because if He did, then He would have been there for me
when my dad left!” Andrew cried, his voice echoing through the church. “If
there was a God, then He wouldn’t have let this stuff happen to Selena! The
loving God that everyone preaches about wouldn’t have let all of this happen.
He’s not real. Or if He is, He doesn’t care.”

            “I used to have thoughts like that,” Sean said with a
deep sigh. “Everyone does from time to time. But where there is room for great
doubt, there is room for great faith. God is still there, He always has been
and always will. Even though you might not be able to see Him, you have to have
faith that He is.”

            “I can’t see Him, therefore He doesn’t exist,” Andrew
argued. “I’ve been down this path before. My dad was high in the church, and he
cheated on my mom, then left us. I haven’t heard from him or seen him since I
was seven. Does God let that happen?”

            “No,” Sean answered. “Human choice did. Sinful nature
did. But God offers a better chance, a way to avoid all of that. He’s trying to
reach out to you, that’s why He’s speaking to you, that’s why there’s angels
guarding you. God is here. You’re just too tunnel-minded to see Him.”

            Andrew frowned and scuffed his toe along the floor.
“Prove it.”

            “I can’t prove anything to you,” Sean said. “You can only
allow God to prove it to you. If you’re not willing to believe and to have
faith, then God cannot come in and help you. Look at it this way,” he began.
“You’re like a rare geode, still trapped in its rock casing. Before you’re a
Christian, you’re nothing but this dull brown rock, and that’s all anyone sees
because no one else can see the rare and priceless inside that is you. But then
an expert miner comes along and sees your rock. He recognizes it as one of
value, and picks it up and takes it home. Once the rock is home with the miner,
he carefully carves away the dull rock one layer at a time. And soon, the
entire world can see the sparkling gemstone inside. That’s how it is for you,
that’s how it is for me, and that’s how it is for Selena.”

            “I’m a rock?” Andrew asked.

            “Figuratively speaking, yes,” Sean replied with a smile. “You
are priceless and a work of art, and God wants to let that show. But He can’t
do that without your permission.”

sighed. “I’ll have to think more about that,” he said. “But I didn’t come here
for me. I came here for Selena.”

            “Selena is possessed, correct?” Sean asked.

            “I guess that’s what it is,” Andrew replied. “And the
voice in my head told me to find you, that you could help her.”

            Sean nodded thoughtfully. “Where did you last see

            “In the woods behind Rose Manor. We were out there
looking for clues, and then Selena started acting really weird and then this
woman in white armor came and saved me, then a man dressed the same way helped
get me away from there.”

            Sean nodded again as he leaned forward and rested his
arms on his knees. “And what makes you so sure Selena is possessed?”

            “I don’t know,” Andrew confessed. “But she’s gotten
insanely strong, her eyes are blue instead of green, and all this weird stuff
keeps happening around her. And the man that helped me escape said that if I
didn’t keep moving, more like what took Selena would come after me.”

            The church was silent as Sean closed his eyes, deep in
thought. Uncomfortable with being in a church, Andrew looked around and hoped
that he wouldn’t have to stay in here too much longer when something caught his
eye near the altar. Something glittering was caught near the ground at the foot
of the pulpit. Andrew got up to investigate. Sean opened his eyes and silently

            Andrew’s footsteps echoed softly in the empty church as
he walked toward the altar, some unseen force gently pulling him there. He
knelt down at the altar and wrapped his hand around the object that had caught
his eye. It came free from its home easily, and rested in his hand. It was
about the size of his fist, a rounded and rough rock. But upon closer
examination, there were small spaces where the rock had been chipped away and a
glittering crystalline red showed through, catching the light.

            Will you allow Me
to finish My work on you, Andrew?

            “Who are You?” Andrew asked aloud.

            I Am the I Am, the
Father of your ancestors, the God of Jacob. But I Am also much more than that.
I am the Father and Shelter of Selena, and would gladly do the same for you, if
you would allow Me into your heart.

            “Why?” Andrew asked as his voice cracked with emotion.
“What makes me good enough for You to take an interest in me? Why do You want
anything to do with me?”

            Because I love you,
Andrew. I created you, I knew you before your parents, before anyone else even
knew you were coming. I wrote down the story of your days, I have always been
there to offer comfort when no one else could, I have been with you every step
of your life, and I have carried you when you could not carry yourself.

            “But I’ve never seen You, how do I know You’re real? How
do I know I’m not just going crazy? Where’s my proof?” Andrew cried as his hand
closed around the rock and he hung his head.

            The things that I
have told you to do, there is your proof. The angels that saved you from darker
forces are your proof. You have always known who I Am and My love for you, but
you stay in denial. Andrew, My son, let Me take away the pain of your father’s
betrayal. Let Me heal your wounds, let Me protect you. I have already paid the
price for his sin, and for yours. Let My blood wash over and heal you.

            Tears began spilling over Andrew’s cheeks. A pair of warm
arms were wrapped around him, the hands nail-pierced. Andrew remained kneeling,
body shaking with sobs of relief and confusion.

            “If I accept who You are, You won’t leave me? You won’t
abandon me for something better?” he asked.

            Andrew, I will
never leave nor forsake you. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, it
will never be enough to cause Me to leave you, nor will I ever lose you. There
is nowhere on this earth or beyond where you can hide from Me. I will always be
there for you, and I will always love and protect you.

            Andrew took a deep, shuddering breath. “I accept Your
love,” he said softly. “I accept Your healing. I want You to walk with me for
the rest of my life. Don’t leave me,” he finished as he opened his hand and
looked down at the rock. As he watched, a small piece of the black outer rock
lifted up and flaked off, revealing more of the geode inside.

The End

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