Page 29 of Finding His Home

Font Size:  


“Yes. I invited them to possess me. They led me to Senator Walker, who killed himself in a press conference.”

“Ed, you’re not thinking clearly.”

“No. Not since long before I murdered my girlfriend and her father, Congressman Jonathan Miller.”

Ed resented the pity he saw in Stephen’s eyes. He handed the priest the flash drive. “The senator commanded me to connect you to the child abuse in these photos. I almost did. Instead, I’m taking you to the authorities. I might be a murderer, but I won’t protect anyone who hurts kids.”

“Have you seen the pictures? Are you sure they exist?”

“No. I don’t want to look. Come with me to the FBI.” Ed recalled the voices’ threat to pin the crime on him if he betrayed them. He decided to take the risk, rather than serve as their slave.

Stephen raised his palm. “Wait.”

“We don’t have time to waste. I need to tell them about Senator Walker so they can follow the trail.”

“No. We’re going to look. What if you’re wrong?” Stephen inserted the flash drive into his laptop. He opened the drive on the screen to find it vacant.

“How can it be empty?”

“There is no Senator Walker or Congressman Miller. See for yourself.” Stephen entered their names in the online search engine but found no relevant matches. “You’re confused.

Ed heard high-pitched laughter again, as he studied Stephen’s face. He wondered if Stephen were part of a larger conspiracy. “Act like I made this up, and label me crazy, but we’re still going to the FBI.”

Ed tried to pull Stephen to his feet but could not lift him, as high-pitched laughter swirled in the confessional booth.

Chapter 18: Turn Back

Ed stepped out of the confessional to discover a packed church. His mother and father sat, wearing black clothes in the front pew. Stephen Keller wore his priest’s vestments at the altar. Alive and well, April sat on the second aisle with her family. Ed saw the casket in front of the altar, and he knew his own body rested inside, lifeless and embalmed. He returned to the confessional and found the crystal-blue eyed woman seated.

He backed away. “Why did they trick me if I’m already dead?”

“You put yourself here when you cursed God and insisted on staying on Earth.”

“Am I damned to hell?”

“Only God knows. It’s your choice. You can continue wandering as a lost, confused soul or submit to His final judgment.”

“You want me to believe this was all some absurd test, like the bet on Job’s life?”

“No, you exiled yourself here, rejecting Him and wrestling with your own dark impulses.”

Ed looked at April and smiled that she was alive. He regretted that he had allowed his mind to become so self-absorbed and enjoyed new found feelings of gratitude. “Take me out of here. I’m ready.”

Ed found himself alone in complete darkness, unable to speak, touch, hear, taste or smell. He recalled a painting of the final judgment he once saw on the walls of ancient Egyptian pyramids. In the painting, the deceased man followed a jackal-headed Egyptian god toward a scale where the jackal-headed deity weighed the dead man’s heart against a feather. If the guilt in his heart outweighed the feather, the dead man faced oblivion in the jaws of a crocodile-headed god crouched on the right of the painting. Ed decided sudden annihilation would be a more merciful fate than an eternity of mental torment by demons or slow disintegration in the dark solitude of this abyss.

He feared he would soon lose all of his decaying memories, forgetting everyone he once loved. He summoned the energy to attempt a silent prayer: God, I’m sorry for rejecting your love and being ungrateful. I know I’m unworthy to live in Your presence. I plead for your mercy and accept your decision. I don’t believe the demons. I know you love me.

He felt the sense of touch in his hands then looked across the dark landscape at a single flickering star on the horizon. He tried to walk to the light, but an unseen force pushed him down onto the glassy ashen soil. He learned he could walk away from the light, but he could only approach it by crawling.

The hot, jagged-edged soil pressed against his hands and knees, and a pack of high-pitched voices jeered him along the way. “You’re cursed, waste of life. Welcome to eternal damnation.”

After what seemed like days of crawling, he encountered an adult version of Anthony in a shimmering, golden robe, preaching to a small crowd of bystanders in robes of red.

Ed wept as his eyes locked with Anthony’s in a stare. “I regret all the pain I caused you. I was a stupid kid. I never thought the prank would go so far. Please forgive me.”

Articles you may like