Monday, September 24, 2012

The Shepherd

Sorry for my lack of updates last week. I was working on this to post and got distracted by other things.

Elevator Pitch: Two teens scramble to save a friend from a pagan rite, but things aren't what they seem...

The Diary of Prudence Mayweather, 1764

April 3rd: It feels like the hard winter has come to an end. Samuel died last night. He fought so bravely against the sickness, but it claimed him. Father placed him in the cold earth this morning and we prayed. Mother and Father fought tonight. I held Mary and Jacob close so that they would not cry and bring Father's ire.

"This year will be different!" he had yelled. "This year we will bring up the Shepherd. I will not suffer another lost child, another winter full of hunger!".

Mother just cried. 

April 17th: In church today Father Daniel spoke out against The Shepherd by claiming that Jesus was mankind's one true shepherd. Father stood, forcing us to stand with him and he made us leave. I looked behind and saw many other families were leaving too. In the middle of a sermon? 

Behind us we could hear him crying out "May God save you folk from foolishness. May he shield you from the Devil and his tricks! I will leave this town, for it is forsaken!".

Father spit at the ground. 

April 20th: Mother and I were at market today when Father Daniel's mare came charging through town. The poor beast was all beaten and bloody. Issac, the butcher's boy whom I fancy, made mention of seeing Father Daniel being taken from his small house in the middle of the morning. Mother took my arm and we went home. 

Father came home unusually late. We held dinner until he arrived, but hunger no longer bothers me. He picked me up and spun me, something he has not done since I was a child, and smiled saying "Everything is going  to be okay now, Prudence". 

(Read more after the jump)

July 14th: The corn has reached such heights! It seems like God himself has bestowed this blessing on us. The pigs are fat and healthy and the cows give more milk than last year. Perhaps I will not have to look into another pair of starving eyes again this winter. Perhaps we have endured God's trials and are being rewarded. 

August 21st: The harvest began a week ago. We are bringing in truly great amounts of food, but little of it matters to me. They found Issac dead outside the butcher's shop today. Father had rushed home with the news and ordered Mary, Jacob and I out of the room. I stayed just out of sight and listened. 

They found that boy, that handsome boy, slaughtered as though he were a ripened pig. Father made mention about how pieces of him were missing and parts lay next to the body as if discarded. I ran to my room and cried hard, hiding my sobs in my pillow so as not to scare the children. 

September 30th: Our harvest has ended, but its Harvest has yet to stop. Since Issac seven more people have been found like him throughout the town. After the third such incident the Lee's, up the road, packed and decided they would spend the winter with Henry Lee's sister to the South. The next morning the entire family was found out on the road out of town.

Even the little ones had been...plucked. 

Father is in a way. He took me out to the barn today and explained what needed to happen to end this. I merely bowed my head and accepted. 

Tonight I heard a scratching at my window. I stood from my bed, making sure not to wake Mary, and made my way to see what was causing the sound. I saw it for an instant, its shape dark against the moonlight. It looked like a man. Perhaps it was once, but its body only gave that impression. Its shoulders were too wide and its hands reached below the knees. Then it was off.

I stood there shivering. I knew I was being sized up by the Shepherd. 

October 1st: Father is downstairs and I am ready. My Sunday best feels tight against my skin. It has been a while since I have worn it and we have eaten such large meals this Summer, that I have grown heavier.

I have an important job to do. Father said an important task. If I want to keep Mary, Jacob and Mother safe, I must do this.

I hear Mother wailing.


The shotgun feels heavy in my hand. Cold too. I don't understand why it feels cold; I've been gripping it so hard my knuckles are white. Derrick manages to steer his pickup into every pot-hole he can find. Each bump  makes me feel sicker and I haven't yet tried to deal with the fact that we're going seventy, down the road into town.

"You know why we can go this fast?" Derrick looks at me real quick then back to the road. I can hardly hear him over the sound of the pavement, the music he has cranked so loud and the roaring in my own ears. "Because chief, fucking, Clark is in on this shit! He is probably at the barn right now digging a knife into- shit!".

He slowed fast and the seat belt kept me from smacking into the dash. Digging a knife into Annie. He was going to say Annie. My stomach clenches. He swings the car onto a small dirt road and begins to drive slower, but still at a speed where the trees become more like orange and yellow blurs. The October sun was dipping and turning the now barren fields gold and orange with its light. If we weren't racing to a barn full of people about to kill a girl, people we'd once trusted, it would've all been very beautiful.

"We gotta take a fucking stand, man! Show these devil worshiping assholes that the buck stops right here, man". Schlitz drifted off his breath. We had a psych up right before we grabbed his father's guns. In the almost non-existent backseat Prudence's diary flipped forcefully as the brisk Autumn air raced through the open windows.

The truck slows. My heart speeds.

The Mayweather barn is in front of us now. Cars are parked outside. I recognize Doc Jones' classic muscle car, Mr. Harris' minivan and hell even Mr and Mrs. Taylor's Porsche. We'd parked behind some trees, away from the farm; I hadn't noticed until Derrick was tapping on my window. He quickly pulled his finger back and made a 'Sssh' expression. He held his gun up as I slid out of the truck as quietly as I could.

"They're gonna kill Annie you know? Sacrifice her to this Shepherd monster so everything is hunky dory next year with the crops. They've been doing this for at least a-hundred years, man". He whispers to me. I nod as we make our way to the barn.

As soon as we get close we hear chanting and a step further brings a pungent smell of death. Derrick must've seen my eyes and he shook his head hard once and mouthed 'she is alive'. I nodded again. We reached the door to the barn and we counted to three before shoving it open.

Annie stood in the middle of dead cow, which had been strewn around her feet like tinsel. She was wearing this almost see-through cloth and her arms were stretched out; her hands opened. A hooded figure had a knife pressed into one of her palms, but it turned when the door opened. The other hooded figures stopped chanting and there was a moment of confusion and silence.

Then Derick's shotgun rang out. The hooded figure closest to us, by the hayloft ladder, dropped with a hole in its chest. The hood fell back and  Doc Jones gave out a blood filled burble before he stopped breathing. Annie and a few other women among the hooded screamed.

"What the hell are you doing?!" the hooded man by Annie screamed, tugging down his cowl. "What have you done?!" Mayor Hall howled.

"Stopping you from killing our friend you devil worshiping prick!" Derrick called back and fired, but the shot went wild and missed. Annie hit the ground at the same time as my own shotgun.

 The other half of her head was sliding off the wall behind the Mayor.

"You crazy little psycho!" Hall yelled as Derrick dropped his own gun and mumbles of 'I didn't' bubbled out of him.

"You were going to kill her anyway." I had found my voice. "You were going to give her to the Shepherd. We read it. In the diary".

"In Prudence's diary? No! We weren't going to kill her! We just needed a little blood, that was it. Just a little blood to keep the Shepherd away!" He ran his hand over his face as he looked down at her cooling corpse.

"Away?" I managed to croak.

"Those pilgrim bastards thought bringing it up would solve their problems, but it came with a price. It wanted them to eat well, so that it could! They preformed a ritual with Prudence and  then a girl every year after that to keep the damn monster away, not calling it in! You idiots-" Hall was cut off as something ran across the roof of the barn.

Derrick and I took a step forward, toward the hooded townsfolk and turned to look out the door with them. The sun had gone now. Only a cool blue that was rapidly turning black dyed the sky. Large and scabbed hands slid  around the inside of the door and gripped the frame. A face too shallow in its skull leered inside.

"I've been gone for oh, so long." Its voice was like shears opening and closing. "And I am, oh, so hungry".


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