This post continues my entries for author Chuck Wendig’s December Flash Fiction Challenge.
My entry for Part 1 is here.
My entry for Part 2 is here.
Within the Church
by Josh Loomis, Jon Jefferson, Courtney Cantrell, Josée De Angelis, and Mozette
Josh wrote (201 words):
“This is never going to work.”
The witch looked over her shoulder as she drew the pentagram on the wall with red chalk. “If you have a better idea, Father, I’m all ears.”
“Believe me, I wish I had a better idea than drawing these things on the walls of my church.”
“Do I need to remind you that you’re the one that called me?”
“And if my Bishop knew, he’d probably excommunicate me faster than you can say ‘Martin Luther.’”
“He might react that way if he knew about all of the guns on the premises, too.”
Father Benjamin looked up from the shotgun he was loading. “This is America, Miss Crenshaw. Everybody has guns. Even the clergy.”
“Those are the shells we discussed?”
“Silver buckshot soaked in holy water? Yes.”
Crenshaw looked up as the pounding began on the doors. “I knew I should have started there…”
“At least they’re only coming from one direction.” Benjamin worked the shotgun’s pump action as he moved towards the door. “Finish what you’ve started. I’ll hold them off.”
“What, and let you fight it alone?” Abigail Crenshaw dropped the chalk, drawing the silver sword from her dark scabbard. “Not a chance.”
Jon wrote (198 words):
“This is as good a time as any,” Father Benjamin said. He grabbed the handle of the door and gave it a turn. He rammed his shoulder into it and slammed the door into the hall against the creatures in the hall.
They shambled as their bones clacked together. Skeletons, creatures of dark magic mobbed the hall. They weren’t just science experiments gone wrong. The bones assembled at the point of convenience.
Some had three and four arms, others had leg bones growing out of their skulls. A hodge podge of dark evil waited for Father Benjamin and Abigail to join them in the hall.
He burst into the hall blasting rounds from the shotgun into several of the skeletons near the doorway. Their bones exploded in a spray of powdery bone shards. Abigail followed his lead. Her silver sword swung in a wide arc severing bones as it swept through the group.
“Back to back,” Benjamin yelled. “Don’t let them through.” Another blast of the shotgun brought them closer to clearing out his side of the hall.
“Having fun yet deary?” she asked. The silver of her sword flashed through the skeletons that charged her en masse.
Courtney wrote (204 words):
Father Benjamin grinned. “Just like my seminary days.”
Two skeletons darted beneath sword and shotgun, circling to attack from the sanctuary end of the hallway. Abigail lunged at them.
“Crenshaw! Wait!” yelled Benjamin.
Too late. A third skeleton slid between the witch and the priest. Then a fourth. Abigail shrieked as the first two surrounded her. Benjamin took aim, but his gun gave no more than a click. Empty.
With a roar, he reversed the gun and slammed the stock into one skeleton’s head. The skull shattered, but the bones dragged at him as he thrust the barrel against the still-standing skeleton. Abigail took the head of one hellspawn pinning her to the wall. But the last one kept coming, and more poured into the hall behind Benjamin.
“I warned you not to get in my way,” said a voice.
All around them, the skeletons froze. Abigail’s cry echoed in the sudden quiet as she thrust her swordpoint through her final attacker’s skull. Together, she and Benjamin turned toward the end of the hall.
Beyond the motionless horde stood a figure in purple robes. A hood hid the face, but the skeletons’ puppetmaster was unmistakable.
“Hello, Gillian,” said Abigail.
“Hey, Abby,” came the answer.
“Long time no see” Abigail said, still holding her sword ready for attack.
“Yeah, sorry about that. You know, I’ve been busy, or I would’ve called… How’s Mom?”
“Mom?!” This from Father Benjamin. He turned sharply to Crenshaw, his prayers forgotten, his fingers loose around his cross.
“You didn’t know this, Father? Abby and I go way back. To the womb, actually.”
Gillian took a step forward. “But don’t worry. Just move away, let me get the stone and I’ll go on my merry way.”
“You were never a good loser, Gill. My spells are stronger now.” Abigail advanced, her sword held high, her other arm at her back for balance.
“This changes everything!” Benjamin cried out.
Abigail, not changing her stance, directed her words to Father Benjamin behind her but kept her eyes on Gillian: “What do you mean? Why?” Gillian chuckled. Yes, she chuckled, a frosty, chilling chuckle. Her skeletons waited for her orders.
“There’s a reason why I asked you here, Ms. Crenshaw. It had to be a Crenshaw witch for this to work. Now I know why.” Gillian’s cold, loud laugh shook the hall and the skeleton bones rattled.
Benjamin glanced at the remaining skeletons. They waited for their next command from Gillian, but he wondered if Abigail could also command them.
“Oh put down that piece of metal, sister. We can work this together.” Gillian’s eyes sparkled, “After all we are twins.”
Did he hear Abigail correctly? She lowered her weapon to her side slowly, placed it into its scabbard, smiled at the priest and muttered an incantation under her breath. A moment later, all the skeletons exploded into dust as though he had shot them all.
Gillian’s eyes widened, “No!”
“Like I said, my spells are a lot stronger than they used to be.” She smiled, “And, unlike you, I can walk either path of wicca – dark or light – so if you want to play…let’s play. But you leave the stone here.”
Fear skittered across her sister’s face, “And if I want it?”
Father Benjamin and Abigail exchanged a knowing look as she spoke, “Well, you’ll have to kill me. And you know what will happen if you do…”
Her sister’s face paled, “Oh, shit, the stone isn’t a thing, it’s a person.”
“Not exactly.” Father Benjamin shook his head, “It’s twins…sisters of opposing powers.”
“So, do you really want to collect the stone, when, by supernatural laws, we’re not even supposed to be breathing the same air unless we’re in a church?” Abigail challenged.
Gillian groaned, “Fine…I’ll leave.” She raised the hood of her cloak again and faded from sight.
Benjamin turned to Abigail, whispering, “Did we lie to her?”
Or not! Here’s Josh Loomis with an alternate ending (to follow Josée’s part):
Abigail blinked, sword still at the ready, processing what she’d heard. “What?”
“Chalk!” Benjamin repeated. “Toss it back to me.”
Abigail’s free hand fished around to find it. Skeletons shambled towards the pair as she threw the chalk back towards the priest, without looking. Benjamin had to step towards it to catch it. The skeletons reached out, and Abigail’s sword flashed. Gillian laughed as her sister moved to defend the priest.
“This would be a great deal easier if you just gave me the stone, sister. Are you really going to defend this… this man?”
Abigail shook her head. “And you gave me shit for staying in school.”
It was the first time he had used her given name. She turned, and saw him holding up a black slate. On it in chalk was a complex circle, ringed in runes, that Abby recognized instantly. Without hesitation, she sliced the palm of her left hand on her blade, and slapped the slate Benjamin held. Instantly, there was a loud pop, and the skeletons collapsed.
Abigail turned, and Gillian was gone.
“Here.” He began wrapping a cloth around her hand.
“Later. Right now, we have a church to clean up.”