Bogleech.com's 2013 Horror Write-off:
"A Patient Sort of Evil"
Submitted by Anonymous
Nobody’s gonna save this town. Nobody can. Damned if they don’t keep trying, but nobody’s gonna make this place any better than it is. It doesn’t wanna change. A hundred years ago, Jameson gave the place this big grand name, did what he could, gave his people high hopes for the town, but that only doomed them to stay. Roke did his damndest, ‘round the turn of the century, and the town turned all that right around into the summer of ‘56. And we all know what happened then. This town is just like that. It’s a clever sort of evil that lives here. A real patient sort. Some of us don’t mind it so much, some of us just go on with our lives, recognize it for what it is, ignore it. Most of us here won’t tell you that. Most of us will say nothing is wrong, this place is as good as any other, and then they’ll turn right around and tell their kids about the King of Stitches. Or Thomas Figure. Or the lights in the lake. Normal places don’t have stories like that. Normal places don’t have a Anglican Hotel or a Grey Heart Inn. But here, you get used to those sorts of things. You start accepting. It lets you get that way.
Like I said. A clever sort of evil. A patient sort.
Me, I hate it. I’ve always hated it. Used to be, I’d try and fight it, believe in coincidences instead, ignore the signs. Hell, I was practically Father Bowman’s right hand, back in the day.
What, you never heard of Bowman? Jesus. Town sure does clean shit up well, I’ll give it that. Father Bowman first moved here back in ‘83. Said he wanted to get out of the city for a while. I don’t know much more about him than that. He talked a whole lot, sure, but never about himself. Said he’d heard about this place, heard some stories, and came to “deliver us from the fear of Evil”, or whatever his little pamphlets used to say. I’m sure I have a few laying around here, somewhere, I used to read them to my momma back before she died. She had raved about terrible things happening to us, about storms on the horizon. I kept her in the back of the house so Mary couldn’t hear the things she whispered. Uh.
Mary! Maryanne, go see if you can find one of Bowman’s flyers for the reporter here!
...Oh. She’s out. Sorry. I forget sometimes. History and stories, I can talk about all night long. It’s the day to day things that get me.
I’m not much of a religious man, but I figured hey, anything to bring light into this place. So I went to a few of his sermons. Just the usual at first, hell and Jesus and Holy Ghosts. He had a way with words, sure, and he was real good at getting folks riled, but I guess living here your whole life, like I had, you can’t put much faith into anything. That’s why Bowman’s congregation was mostly people who had moved to the here in the past few years. Any longer than that, you’re likely to see or hear about more than one thing that’ll make you question. But still, I went. Got Mary to go, too, and the kids. It was a better way to spend Sunday mornings than staring into the woods and picking dead birds off the lawn.
The longer Bowman stayed, the further his speeches got from the Bible and the closer they got to the town. He would go on for hours about how low and powerless the evil he saw all around him was, how the Lord would part these mists. He was a good man, not smart, not superstitious, maybe a little too ready to do good. That was all the town needed.
After a while, see, he got to talking about how he would part the mists. Now like I said, I was younger then and a little more ready to do the impossible, so if he had a plan, I wanted to hear it. After one particularly fiery sermon about not allowing the fear of evil to consume you, he told all of us with fear or hate in their hearts to come pour ourselves out to him. So I did. Told him how I hated the evil just like he did, told him how I wanted it dead and gone, told him that if he was intending to do something he’d best count me right in.
Suffice it to say, he took a liking to me. I wouldn’t say we were friends. The man had tunnel vision, he was too driven for friendship. More like business partners. He spent his time reading our legends or listening to me tell stories of the Falls, planning his great cleansing. He asked us all to tell us our grisliest stories of life in the Falls, give him our strangest items. He even tried to buy the Anglican Hotel, old Jack Harris told me once. Bowman told us all that if he found one thing that he could not explain, one fear the the Lord could not banish, he would give up preaching there and then. That was his theory. He just had to know what he was up against, and then he’d be ready. He’d have all he needed to drive the evil away.
In a place like this, that attitude will you killed.
He tried talking to everyone he could, but most of the older folks couldn’t stand him. Too naive, they’d say. He started handing out those flyers about driving away evil and parting the mists and using the town’s own dark gifts against it. “Striking back with holy fire”. Mary always liked that one. Ahhh, I suppose you won’t get to meet my Mary. Too bad, she’s pretty great, even now. I love her a lot, yes I do. Maybe later you’ll get to see her, if you stay in town a while longer. Haah. Ah, where was I?
One Sunday, when we got to the church, the doors were locked and barred. Ricky, one of the local boys, was stationed outside. Told us Bowman was down by the Falls with some box, and that we should meet him there. He was waiting for us on the trail leading up to the falls, and sure enough, he had a box. It looked like the case for maybe a clarinet, something like that. Black, rectangle. Had a handle. Old and worn, dusty. Had a big scratch on it, maybe some burns around the edges where the fake leather had blistered and peeled. He grinned as big as I’ve ever seen him and told us all to meet him up by the falls. He had a story for us. We spoke to the other church folk there for a while, helped the older ones out of their cars, and headed up to the Falls. Father Bowman stood with his back to us, facing the falling water, on this big rock that stuck out over the pool and he was holding the box to his chest. It was icy cold there and he was already soaked through from the mist and the wind from the waterfall blew Bowman’s coat out behind him as he turned to us and spoke. He made this... Speech. His greatest one yet, about how it was our duty to humanity to drive away evil and make the world into paradise once more, and...
Guh. Christ. I can’t repeat it all, it was too beautiful. Jesus, look, I got goosebumps just thinking about it. God knows I wept like a damn baby. We all did. The most beautiful thing I ever heard was right there, as I was soaking wet, standing on the hard stone, water stinging my eyes, as Father Bowman sang holy fire into our ears and our hearts and the Falls screamed out their hate and death behind him. It must have lasted hours. He told us how he had gotten the box from a man on the road the night before. He told us that the man had lived in town for a long, long time, and that the man had said that the box contained everything Bowman needed to know, and that he should only open it when he was truly ready. The man told Bowman to wait, told Bowman to take as much time as he needed, told Bowman he was a patient man, a clever man. But Bowman was ready. He knew it. He knew it just as well as we did in that moment. We all felt we were ready to know the secret of our town, to expose this evil and cut it out and drive it away so that it could never hurt any of us or our families or our loved ones or our pets or the animals around us ever again and the mists would part and our Lord and savior would lead us to freedom from pain and suffering and he would kill the Falls once and for all and we would be safe.
He sent us home to get ourselves ready to open the box that very night, right after the sun set. We stumbled home. We were exhausted, we were so damn out of it we almost wrecked the car turning the corner to our street. It was almost dusk by then, so Mary and I changed into some dry clothes. My mother was worse than usual that night. She had pulled herself off of her bed and clawed at her door and then at me once I opened it, moaning for me not to leave, whispering about what would happen to me if I did and grabbing my shirt if I tried to move away from the bed. It was getting around dark by now, though, and... It was dark, like I said, and so I told Mary to go on to the church without me. My mother howled. Bowman would surely make a long speech, after all, and I knew how much they wouldn’t want to miss the box being opened... So I kissed her goodbye. And she went.
Ah. Snnnff. Jesus. Damn. Sorry. Hate crying, haven’t cried in years.
My mother screamed for them not to go and kept shrieking until her voice went and then kept trying until all she could do was wheeze again and again. Perhaps half an hour went by. Suddenly, she stopped, her eyes wide, staring into the ceiling. Tears streamed down her cheeks. Slowly, she laid herself down onto the bed, face fixed, eyes staring, mouth open in a silent scream. She said now it would be too late.
When I got there... Bowman stood facing me at the altar, holding the box. It had been unlatched. He was wearing the same suit, still damp, but his hair was almost gone along with most of the skin on his face by then, burned away. Skull collapsed already. There was fire where his eyes used to be and smoke rose to blacken the ceiling. The congregation stood facing him. Bowman’s head moved, like he was looking at me. His jaw fell open. He said he had been wrong about everything.
Snnff. Jesus, goddamn...
One by one, every member of the congregation turned their heads, all the way around. I heard the snapping bones and saw bruises on their necks where blood vessels burst. They looked so afraid.
Bowman said he was sorry. Said he didn’t realize how small we were. And closed the box.
The next day, I was met by an officer from another county when they brought me in to identify Mary’s body. He told me how sorry he was for my loss and that they had been brought in because our morgue was too small to accommodate forty-six corpses and did I want to make any changes to my statement because the coroner says that Father Bowman must have been dead for at least two days by now and couldn’t have made any sermon at the falls. I didn’t say a word. Some things you just can’t fight.
Some things you can only hate.