church, flash, flash fiction, hiding, murder, new identity, read, short story, spy, story
Last Week’s FFF: The Hill
The morning mass bells rang loudly throughout the church. Worshipers piled into pews as the chimes echoed to a stop. Reverend Morgan looked at the crowd. It had been thinning the past few weeks. There was once a time when wars or crises would bring people to church in throngs. A time when people wanted to look for hope. Wanted to believe that there was a master plan for everything.
Times had changed. The news broadcasts were increasingly full of more violence, more hopelessness, more corruption of corporations and politicians. People were disenchanted with the church. They were giving up, or at least looking elsewhere for answers. Science doomed the world with reports of global warming. It claimed that Judgment Day was nearly upon us. Yet, less people were coming to repent. People were trying to save themselves with solar panels and space exploration rather than trying to save their very souls.
Reverend Morgan would be sure to put this perspective into his sermon.
Everyone settled, and Reverend Morgan spoke. He fueled his words with passion and conviction. The disenchanted masses mostly ignored him. They checked their social media accounts and texted with those uninterested in attending services. Reverend Morgan began to wonder why he even bothered, or why these people bothered to come at all. It wasn’t enough to only show up. His sermon ended with far less enthusiasm.
He took his position by the church doors and gave fair wells to people as they left. Half of the congregation didn’t even look up from their phones as he tried to engage them in conversation. They dismissed him and kept walking.
Reverend Morgan looked down in despair and quietly prayed for all those passing by him. As he looked at the ground, he noticed a pair of black stilettos with a blood red underside visible on the inside of the pointed heel. He scoffed at the shoes. What a thing to wear to church. They exuded lust.
He raised his head, following the legs up. They were shapely and wrapped in stockings. A short pencil skirt rested effortlessly on her hips. Her thin waste came next, covered in a silky blue blouse. The shirt was unbuttoned one snap too far, revealing a full bosom and the peek-a-boo of a lacy black bra. Her styled, dirty blond hair fell just past her shoulders. Her neck was long and slender.
He was taken aback when he got to her face. By the rest of the package, he had expected the image that populated sinful dreams. There was nothing unpleasant about her face. In fact, the longer he stared at it, the more he came to realize that it had a certain russet beauty. Homely, in a comfortable and familiar way, like home.
She gave a smile and spoke.
“That was quite a moving sermon, father,” she said with a thick Russian accent.
Reverend Morgan became frozen. A cold sweat formed on his brow as he heard the dialect of his origins. A sound that he had escaped from long ago, and had practiced out of his own voice. He swallowed hard and tried to act as if nothing was wrong.
“It’s not father. It’s Reverend. Reverend Morgan,” he said.
A lagging couple left the church. He nodded to them as they passed. They were the last of the congregation. He and the woman were alone.
“Yes. Reverend Morgan.”
“I was quite amused when I heard that you had found God,” she said.
“He is present in all of us, if you are willing to listen for him,” he said.
“Reverend, let’s not play games.”
“Fine. Let’s go inside.”
He led her into the church and closed the double, wooden doors behind them. He walked to the alter, and she followed behind, running her fingers over the pews as she walked.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Listen to that voice. So convincing.”
“Who sent you?”
“I can understand your confusion, Reverend. After all, you have many enemies. But you should have known that there was no hiding from NOVA. When you turned your back on them, when you sold them out, you were signing your own death warrant.”
He put it together. She was a NOVA spy.
“I didn’t turn my back on them.”
“But I’m afraid that you did. And this little Reverend act has just been borrowed time on which you have been living.”
He solemnly nodded.
“Before you do what you came here to do, do you mind if I read from my bible?”
She laughed again.
“Why not? You pray to your God before you meet him.”
He walked over to the alter and placed his hands on the book, and lowered his head to read. After a moment, he looked back at her.
“How did you find me?” he asked.
“NOVA has many powerful affiliates. Also, you have taken the position of an authority figure. A public one, at that. Normally those who try to disappear don’t stand in front of a crowd every week. You are idiot. But from what I’ve read in your file, you never could stay out of spotlight.”
She walked to the rope hanging from the ceiling. She gave it a tug, and the bells rang out once more.
“It is my greatest weakness,” he said.
She began towards him, drawing her gun from her handbag.
He turned the page on his bible. The rest of the book was hollowed out. The empty pages were filled by a Glock 42 .380. He picked up the gun, pointed it, and fired. The sound of the shot was swallowed by the bells.
Blood spattered from her chest and back as the bullet flew threw her. She fell limp onto the front pew.
He went to her body and propped it upright. Her head hung down, and he placed a bible in her lap. He pocketed her gun, as well as his own.
He took one last look at the church. He had liked it here. But now, it was time to find a new identity and passion. And this time, he’d try to curb his pride and lust for the spotlight, his biggest sins.