Samuel Dillavou

Blind Faith

“Four black squares and a white circle. Is that right?”

Mrs. Miller kissed her daughter goodnight and nodded. “Yes honey, and tomorrow we can talk about other shapes but it’s late. See you in the morning.” She walked out, leaving the door cracked open, and looked out of a window herself. The circle was brighter than usual and larger too. A dark wispy shadow drifted quickly over the luminous disk, and the world darkened for a moment. When the shadow drifted away, the disk had moved so it was partially cut off by the edge of the window.

Mrs. Miller felt unusually happy. Times were tough; her husband had begun to work hours longer at the mill than usual, but that was bound to stop soon. It always did, and then eventually it would change back. She decided on a walk outside; her husband was not yet back and she was feeling full of life.

Quite literally in fact, as she was pregnant. The only one she had told was her husband, but she was planning on telling her daughter, Miriam, sometime soon. She imagined that Miriam would like the thought of a younger sister or brother, and was waiting for the right moment to report the news. She moved slowly along the dirt footpath, dragging her feet in the fresh autumn leaves, staring up through the gaps in the canopy. The sphere had drifted higher, and was slowly inching towards a patch of dark clouds in the sky. Mrs. Miller decided that she would time her walk so that she would arrive at home when the clouds covered that bright circle.

She stopped in a clearing and stared upwards. The moon really was bigger than usual, and her eyes got lost in it.

Rustle. Scamper. Scraping.

Her eyes shot down to her surroundings, heart pounding. Just a squirrel. It perched on a nearby branch and stared at her before darting the rest of the way up. She stared up at the moon. This time it was barely a second before another rustle whipped her eyes down again. The same squirrel ran away from the tree and scampered up another one.

“I really get on edge for nothing. Settle down Elizabeth,” she thought to herself. She stared upward again, and noticed that the clouds had started to cross over the moon.

Rustle. Scamper. Screaming.

                                           *  *  *

Charlie rose in a cold sweat, ears scanning for that sound again. He rested his head on the pillow again. “You really get yourself worked up for no reason Charlie.”

Screaming.

Charlie hurled himself out of bed and out the door. His heart was pounding in his ears; he knew he had heard that scream. He sprinted out onto the dirt path of the woods, and stopped in the clearing. Rustle. Three squirrels rushed haphazardly away from the crumpled figure on the ground. Charlie rolled Mrs. Miller over, but it was too late, her eyes were glazed, staring up at the moon, now consumed by the clouds.

Rustle. Scamper. “Stop!” Charlie commanded to the figure ten yards away moving quickly. The figure stopped, turned towards Charlie and made its way into the clearing.

“Joe?” Charlie half whispered in disbelief, “what did you… why…how could you?”

“Charlie, good thing you’re here, we can carry her back to town. I’ve been drinking and couldn’t do it by myself. I wandered out here right as she was stabbed, I saw it myself, she didn’t have a chance. I would’ve helped but like I said I’d been drinking, I ran towards her but I tripped and he got away.”

Charlie glanced down at Joe’s hands, the whole left hand and the pinkie side of his right were tinted red.

“Oh that?” remarked Joe, swaying slightly and catching himself with his left foot, “When I tripped I landed where the blood had spilled, you do believe me don’t you Charlie?”

Charlie stared around him, finally looking up and saying that yes, he did believe Joe. “Let’s carry her in quickly.”

They walked back the dirt path, carrying Mrs. Miller between them, Joe’s knife glinting in his pocket. The clearing was much as it was before, squirrels in the trees, leaves on the ground, and not a drop of blood to be seen anywhere on the forest floor.

                                            *  *  *

Joe and Charlie sat in Joe’s parlor, talking occasionally, but mostly staring blankly around the room. Over in the town hall, a mob was stirring, pushed onward by the force of an innocent woman’s death. The whole town knew Joe had killed Mrs. Miller, it was obvious. The populace rose like a living shadow, and moved swiftly out the door, onto the streets. The townspeople carried torches and pitchforks; nothing would save the doomed man now, especially not his friend.

Charlie heard the mob coming, and told Joe to hide himself somewhere in the house. The shadow crept up to the door, and knocked louder than a shadow ever had. “We come for the doomed man,” the shadow yelled.

Charlie opened the door and argued with the shadow. The smoke from the torches began to fill the air, as if an artificial night had fallen onto Joe’s house alone. Joe was frantically gathering his belongings and looking for an escape route.

Across the street, Mr. Miller looked out the window where the doomed man, his friend, and the shadow were currently interacting. Mr. Miller was a simple man; he did not want anyone to die. He loved his wife and missed her bitterly but he wanted his daughter to grow up in a peaceful town. As the shadow finally burst through the door, the smoke now covering the house, he saw a man jump out a window and run away.

The doomed man still lay inside.

Charlie’s funeral was held the day after; he was missed by the townspeople, who now felt bitterly sorry for their possession by the shadow.

Charlie’s gravestone read ‘Charlie Baker, he always stood up for what he believed, even if his faith was blind.’




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