The Runner Part 2: House of God
Warning: This short fictitious story contains mature content. It is neither intended for young readers or to offend anyone.
This will take roughly 5 minutes to read.
“God can’t save everyone.”
The old priest’s words survived the clicking of his heels atop the wood floor. But they burned his parishioner’s ears.
“… but I, should’ve saved her from them.”
The younger man’s resentful whisper tumbled from his lips.
The pew groaned as he leaned forwards like something heavy hung from his stout neck. His square head, draped with feathered, greying locks, sank into the burly arms beneath his navy sports coat. His elbows rested on the weathered wood. An exhausted sigh escaped him.
“Pain has purpose, Peter,” the plump priest wheezed, slowly sitting beside him. “And you don’t know she’s gone. Save your mourning for the dead.”
The dimly-lit chapel fell silent. Only the occasional flicker of crimson alter candles broke the stale air.
“It’s late…” the priest leaned closer, lowering his voice; Peter winced as a gentle hand found his shoulder, “and there’s scotch with my name on it at Sister Anna’s.”
“You love that joke,” Peter spoke with a fleeting smile. “So did she.”
The priest pursed his lips, then shook his head softly. “Peter, they stole your daughter, like so many young women in the last decade, but – ”
Peter snapped upwards. A muffled scream slipped under the tall, red doors behind the two men. The priest’s panicked, bearded mouth fell open.
“Father, get your gun.”
Peter pushed past the old man and strode with purpose down the narrow aisle towards the doors. His brow furrowed at the stifled, growing sound of an engine. His brown eyes grew as white light snuck under the doors. Peter tilted his head – an arm’s length from a set of brass, circular handles – as faint footsteps rushed the opposite side of the door. With a grunt he thrust the doors open. But no sooner did the evening wind lick his lips than a flood of light forced his eyes shut, and the impact of a small, boney shoulder sent him hard to the ground. His arms wrapped the person against his chest. The engine’s cry thundered closer. The floor began to rumble. Hot, frantic breaths tickled his chin. The light grew brighter. A woman’s scream erupted from against his breast.
A black sedan exploded through the doorway – shards of brick, wood, and glass filled the air. Peter rolled left with the trembling young woman before the sound of squealing tires rushed an inch past his head. The sedan came to a booming halt in the centre of the church, visibly broken and shrouded in dislodged and disfigured pews. The stench of gasoline assaulted the air.
Heaving, Peter pushed the pale woman into a confessional resting against the remains of the south-facing wall. His hopeful eyes bore into the petrified green ones quivering towards him from the wooden hideaway. And then disappointment rocked his bones.
“You’re not Sophia…'”
Crunching glass ripped Peter’s attention to the car behind him. A lanky, bloodied man wearing a glossy black suit emerged from the driver’s door with sloppy motions. Flopping against the warped hood, a silver revolver in his hand and a gold, coin-shaped cuff link caught the remaining candlelight.
Peter turned towards the shoeless, blood-soaked woman and mouthed his directions with urgency before a gunshot’s eruption forced him to throw the confessional drapes shut and launch himself against a nearby pew. As nervous silence settled in, he slowly lifted his eyes above the backing.
The priest stood at the alter – black robes swaying in the passing wind – smoking shotgun pointed towards the driver. The driver stood beside the car, pistol aimed at the priest’s sweaty brow.
Peter crept towards the wreckage.
“Where’s the girl?” Barked the driver.
The shotgun rattled in meek response, bouncing inside the priests shaking hands. The standing men wheezed beneath their glares – one full of bewilderment, the other annoyance. Peter came to silent rest against the sedan’s driver-side door, then reached to the ground for a length of splintered pew.
“WHERE. IS. SHE?”
The remaining windshield exploded from the priest’s blast.
The priest’s face burst like a balloon.
Blood splashed Peter’s face as his makeshift baton chewed into the driver’s skull. The driver crumpled to the floor – his gun tumbling against the base of a nearby pew. Then, like a hunter assessing his prize, Peter came to stand over his victim. His breaths blasted outwards from the depths of his lungs.
“WHERE’S MY DAUGHTER?”
The writhing driver responded with a defiant, narrow stare. Peter stabbed the sharp edge of the wood into the man’s thigh. A soul-crushing shriek, accompanied by the sound of wood grinding bone, reached the heavens.
“Y-you’re… the old police chief…” the oval-faced driver spoke in a frenzy parted only by his rushed breaths, “I r-remember h-her…”
Peter’s heart skipped.
“W-we m-made… a mint… off her…”
The wood bit Peter’s palm as he squeezed out his fury, twisting the shard deeper. The driver howled. Peter snarled.
“Where – ”
“G-give me… this g-girl… and… I’ll tell you…”
Peter dismissed the piece of broken wood towards the gold-leafed wall at his back. The driver gasped his relief. The retired officer stepped backwards, turned, and walked towards the alter. His searching eyes came to linger briefly upon the crucifix perched against the wall at the front of the chapel.
For a moment he felt the warmth of her embrace. Basked in the glow of her toothy smile. Melted at her soothing voice.
Then lunged for the shotgun.
Something hot erupted through his chest, sending blood and flesh across the white alter dressings. He swung around regardless.
Peter’s blast ripped through the kneeling driver’s neck, splattering the nearby pews in crimson. The revolver spilt to the ground as both the driver’s hands pressed the gaping wound in his throat. His rage-filled eyes screamed at Peter above the gurgles bubbling between his flexed fingers. After several glaring moments, and with a series of violent shudders, the suited man collapsed to the floor. A smirk twitched across Peter’s lips.
The sound of small, cautious footsteps drifted towards him as he felt the blood drain from his skull. Staggering forward, he thrust a bloody hand into the breast pocket of his coat. Muffled words called to him. His fingers found a small, wrinkled photograph just before he crumpled to the ground. The footsteps grew louder. Everything faded to black.
And then, a set of delicate, warm hands pressed themselves over the wound in his chest. He slid the photo towards them.
“Run…” he choked.
“…triangle house… the beach.”