SHORT STORY – The Devil’s Preacher

© by Julie Gray

Author’s note – To help me visualise characters for my fiction writing I pretend what I am writing is playing out as a movie and this is always my process. So to assist with this here are the players and the characters of this story:

The Players:

Charlie Hunnam as David

Image Source

Tom Holland as James

Bill Skarsgård as Nathaniel

Image Source

TRIGGER WARNING – This work of fiction includes violence and death. Please avoid reading if you feel you could be triggered.

“David I did what you told me to! It’s Nathaniel again… he ain’t listening”

David turned towards James. He was biting on his lower lip the way he did when he was annoyed. James knew David’s wrath all too well. He could feel David’s anger was seething beneath his calm exterior.

On instinct, James took a few steps back

David grinned that childish, one-sided grin from the edge of his mouth. He put his hands on either side of James’ neck, reassuring him. Despite this, James felt his body tense up, preparing for whatever would come next.

Much to James’ relief, nothing did.

David looked his brother James in the eyes.

“Just make sure Nathaniel hasn’t fallen down the pit or something. Would you do that for me?”

James nodded. He turned and ran as fast as he could across the field to where his younger brother Nathaniel was restraining the girl. He could hear the girl’s muffled cries. She was making a terrible noise as Nathaniel clumsily held the girl down.

Nathaniel was a mess. He was sweating everywhere. His suspenders had come off his shoulders, and he looked ridiculous crawling around in the muck. All he had to do was knock the girl out, but he had failed to do so.

This would not please David, not one bit. It was up to James to fix things again.

“God damn it, Nathaniel!” said James, grabbing the shovel

“Oh! You cussed James! You cussed… and took the Lord’s name in vain! David said that if you cussed again, he’d…”

“Just … shut up, Nathan!” 

James hit the girl over the back of the head, knocking her unconscious.

Nathaniel let her limp body fall to the ground. He stared down at her expressionless face.

“You killed her …” Nathaniel murmured, drool running down one side of his lip

“No Nathaniel, she’s just… sleepin’. Now come on over here so I can clean you up before David sees you …”

Nathaniel walked over to James with a goofy grin on his face. James just shook his head and pulled him close.

James took a handkerchief from out of his trouser pocket, wiping the drool from Nathaniel’s mouth and the sweat from his face. He pulled the suspenders back up over Nathaniel’s shoulders and brushed the dust off his shirt.

James and Nathaniel were twins, but Nathaniel was born with a disability that gave him the mental capacity of a four-year-old. This was a burden upon James. James was now 27 years old, and he had been looking out for his brother most of his life.

David would never raise a hand to Nathaniel, but somehow James was fair game for whenever David felt like “letting off some steam”.

“Pick up the girl, we need to get her to the pit and quickly!” said James

Nathaniel and James carried the girl across the field, and true to form, Nathaniel kept dropping the girl’s legs every few steps.

James and Nathaniel finally delivered the girl. It exhausted James. Nathaniel was bending down over the girl, swaying back and forth, his left hand twirling in his hair out of habit. He had done this ever since he was a baby.

David finally arrived.

“David, David… David!” Nathaniel called out in an excited voice, jumping to his feet.

James glanced at Nathaniel with a pitiful expression before looking at David.

David’s black felt hat was down low over his head, his long black coat buttoned right up to the neck. He looked like a preacher, but not like any preacher James had seen. James thought if the devil ever needed a preacher, he would look exactly like David.

James thanked the Lord that David couldn’t read his thoughts right now.

James found it hard not to admire his brother. And you would never know it to look at him how twisted and vile the person was underneath. All the Schulster brothers were handsome, even Nathaniel –  if you could look past his disability. But David was different. David put some kind of spell on everyone he met. And this scared James.

David stood there looking down at the girl’s body lying in the dirt. He put his arm around Nathaniel and touched him gently on the face.

“You’re sure the girl isn’t pure?” David asked, his eyes moving down the girl’s body

“Yes. She was married and shunned within the order” James replied.

“She looks like a whore…  a dirty whore…” Nathaniel said, singing the words to a tune that only he knew

The girl began to groan

“She’s wakin’ up!” said James

“Get her ready” David murmured

James and Nathaniel grabbed hold of the girl and dragged her to the edge of the pit in front of where David stood.

David took his hands out of his pockets, brandishing a bible in one hand and a knife in the other.

The knife was custom made with ebony inlays that had small mother-of-pearl crucifixes embedded into each side.

David carefully handed James his knife and placed his free hand on top of the girl’s head.

James and Nathaniel held the girl upright with her arms outstretched. The girl was slowly starting to open her eyes. She was groggy from the blow to the head and it took her a while to realise what was going on.

David closed his eyes and lifted his other hand with the bible towards the sky.

David took in a deep breath and began to do what he felt God himself had asked of him; he began to preach, his voice calm and clear;

“Lord, I give you this lost soul. Another of your wayward children, which I deliver unto you, cleansed of all the filth this world has set upon her. As your humble servant Lord, I do your bidding and put an end to this child’s suffering by cleansing her in a river of life’s blood–Amen!”

David slowly opened his eyes.

“Amen” said James

Nathaniel was staring at David with his mouth open

James nudged him.

“Uh… Amen!” Nathaniel said

The girl struggled as James handed David his knife.

“No, please… PLEASE! Noooooo!” pleaded the girl.

David handed James his bible. He looked down at the girl who was now crying and desperately trying to pull out of James and Nathaniel’s grip.

He lifted a finger to her face and wiped away her tears.

“Stop crying. You should rejoice. I am going to save you…” David murmured to the girl, as he flicked open his knife. He put his other hand around the girl’s mouth, muffling her cries, and swiftly cut the girl’s throat from ear to ear.

 Gurgling sounds erupted from the girl’s throat as blood spurted out in various directions, splattering all over their clothes. James didn’t like it when that happened, and it almost always happened. James thought David liked it when they bled out. He shuddered at the thought.

David stepped aside as his brothers let the girl’s body roll into the pit they had dug beforehand.

David took out his handkerchief and wiped away the small blood splatters from his face.

He shook his head and looked at James and Nathaniel.

“Sorry brothers, she was a little messier than the last one,” he said, playfully whacking James on the back

Nathaniel giggled uncontrollably.

“Shut UP Nathan–and dig!” James said, handing him a shovel

David looked down into the pit. He had his handkerchief against his mouth, as if shielding his face from a putrid, phantom scent. He watched as the girl’s body disappeared under a mountain of dirt.

“Make sure you two clean up properly before dinner. And make somethin’ wholesome to eat! Killin’ for the Lord always builds up my appetite!” David said with a grin, as he turned and strolled back towards the horses as if it was just another day.

END

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Posted by

Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.

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