Nick woke up from his nap. He felt startled when he looked at the clock. 9:30 already, I slept for 2 hours… and where in the world is my wife? He got up, thinking his wife was in the kitchen. After not finding her, he wondered if something came up at the woman’s meeting. Normally, his wife was home from doing the bulletin by 8:30pm, and she hadn’t told him she was stopping anywhere else. He took a couple of deep breaths to relax and get his mind focused. It was nothing to get worked up over; she was just a little late and most likely got sidetracked. Still, he was going to make sure that she was all right. It wasn’t hard to shake the grogginess from his head.
Nick went to call Allisa, and David answered the phone. “Hey Dave, feeling any better?” He asked, not wanting to sound rude by immediately asking for Allisa.
“A little bit, my wife just cooked me a nice meal with steamed onions; it appears to be helping my sinuses a little.” David said with a hoarse voice. Nick knew that eating a diet with steamed onions and citrus fruit would improve a person’s sinus trouble. He remembered passing this information off to Allisa a while back when she needed it, and was glad that someone took his advice.
Alissa has been home for a while, Nick thought to himself, as tension started building up knowing that the bulletin never took nearly this long to complete. He asked David if they had heard from his wife, and David told him that Lisal dropped Allisa off almost two hours ago, and they haven’t heard from her since.
Nick thanked them and looked the church phone number up in the phonebook. He waited in anticipation until the answering machine picked up. He put his phone down while his mind raced. He took a couple deep breaths to help ease his tension, but negative thoughts kept arising. What if there has been an accident and she is hurt? He attempted to counter these thoughts with positive thoughts, maybe she bumped into someone and got into a conversation, or she went to her mother’s to visit the kids. He needed to get out for a few.
He quickly got in his car to go make sure she was all right. Less than a mile up the road, his heart caught in his throat. Lined up and down each side of the street, were ambulances and emergency vehicles. Fear raced through his mind as he thought about her getting into an accident. It had only been a few weeks earlier, that a group of four teenagers had a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Only one survived, but was in critical condition. The people in the town still remained in shock, including Nick. Images of his beloved Lisal’s life coming to a sudden end in a car accident raged through his mind. He could feel a lump in his throat, as fear overtook him.
Because the road was blocked, Nick got out of his car and jogged up to a police officer who was making sure no one crossed the yellow “do not cross” tape. He must be a new officer on the force, because Nick hadn’t seen him around before. He was friends with one of the officers, so he was able to meet many others through that friendship. The one he now was approaching, appeared to be no more than twenty-five years old. There was a degree of arrogance to his stature, and his eyes darted in Nick’s direction as Nick approached. There appeared to be a brief look of annoyance across his face, but Nick wasn’t certain. He was a clean-shaven officer with a crew cut and athletic build.
“What happened?” Nick asked his heart racing.
“There has been a fatal accident.” The cop replied in a matter-of-fact tone. This only increased the intensity that Nick was experiencing.
“Who was it?” Nick rushed out, almost ready to go across the barricades himself.
“All I can tell you is that a blue Honda and a green Chevy collided.” The officer said, as he stepped in front of Nick blocking his passage.
Nick breathed a sigh of relief. He had never been so glad that they owned a Dodge Neon. He ran back to his car and took a detour to the church. He continued to tell himself to think positive, and he was worrying over nothing. Something wasn’t right though, and he could sense it. The feeling gnawed at the back of his mind, trying to fight to take over. Normally, he wouldn’t react this drastically from Lisal being a little late, but this feeling was pushing him on.
The church was about three miles from the house, and close to the center of town. Even though it didn’t have a steeple, the church was easy to locate. The hundreds of crows that stood on the trees surrounding the church, gave it an eerie look in the evening. The building was as tall as a three-story building with a cross at the top center. A billboard that could be seen from the road always contained a weekly message for passersby. Tonight it read “Too blessed to be depressed.” Nick shook his head in slight irritation. It seemed the message had a tinge of arrogance to it. Sometimes it seemed like church leaders would constantly boast of how their god blessed them, and somehow this proved that they were held high in the eyes of their deity. The parking lot was in the back, which was out of sight from the streets. One lone light lit the parking lot, creating grim images from the trees above. Nick wondered how Lisal could feel safe at night with the solitude and stillness. A large fence swung around the perimeter of the parking lot, and it extended a little further to include the church yard.
A little shed cloaked in mystery stood by the church. Every time Nick saw this little shed, chills ran up and down his spine. He had no idea why, but he sensed a strange presence coming from the small building. Sometimes he considered it a sixth sense. He was good at picking up on things if something wasn’t right about certain people and places. Often his sensations were accurate.
Nick saw the red Dodge Neon in the parking lot, and went to go see his wife. He got out of his car and walked up the wooden steps, which creaked under his weight. The wind was a bit of a nuisance and didn’t help calm his nerves. When he came to the door, it was locked. “Well, at least she keeps herself safe while here.” Nick thought to himself. Nick attempted to keep himself patient. He figured she was busy with the bulletin. Maybe she had run out of ideas, or was trying to think of something a little more creative. He hopped back in his car, and put in a CD by a band called Epica. He flipped it to the fourth track to hear the song entitled “Chasing The Dragon.”* The female vocalist’s classical style reminded him of his wife’s singing. The song was an excellent mix of melodic soprano vocals and low male growls. It was an almost eight-minute-long song that continually built in intensity throughout. Not only did the song contain the typical heavy metal instruments of guitars, bass, and drums, but an entire orchestra with a choir. Both Nick and Lisal shared similar tastes in music.
As Nick was waiting, he thought of an idea. He had a little bit of extra money left from his paycheck for once. Why not surprise Lisal with a gift? He had not been able to give her any surprises in a while due to the tough financial situation they had been dealing with. Nick worked as a part time substitute teacher at Waterburg’s high school. He hoped to eventually work as a full time biology teacher, but there hadn’t been an opportunity yet. One of the teachers he sometimes filled in for, had taken a two-week vacation, which helped him to get a better-than-usual paycheck.
It was 10 o’clock at night, and the only store open was K-Mart. He made sure to leave a message on his home phone saying he was picking something up at the store just in case Lisal returned while he was out. Then he pulled out of the parking lot. He saw garbage spread across parts of the street as he made his way. The wind was really creating a mess, yet not strong enough to do any serious damage. The road had an eerie glow to it from the lights. Everything seemed eerie to Nick right now, which told him that something evil was afoot. Something terrible happened to Lisal; he knew it in the back of his mind. He continued to fight those thoughts and replace them with positive ones, but failed miserably. Traffic was scarce, and he was able to make it to the store rather rapidly. As he walked to the entrance, he noticed a hooded figure standing outside about ten feet away from the door. The only facial feature the light reveal was his chin and half of his mouth. There was a familiarity about him, and once Nick entered, it clicked in his mind where he had seen this man. On the day his brother died, Nick had looked across the river after he was rescued and saw this man standing there causing chills to run up and down his back. Apparently, neither the police nor anyone else who was with him that day saw this man. As “little” Nick went to point him out, he seemed to vanish. Here he was again tonight. The same fear that consumed Nick then, was with him now. Maybe he should go talk to the man and see who he was. Perhaps he was an ordinary harmless man who seemed to show up in Nick’s life when things were bad. He made it a point to talk to the man when he left the store.
He was in K-mart for about ten minutes and picked out a silver necklace with a dove on it, since Lisal loved doves. According to Lisal, the dove represented the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. In his research, Nick came across evidence that the dove was an ancient symbol for the goddess. Some early Christians may have even viewed the Holy Spirit as being the feminine aspect of god. Unfortunately, when the established church took over, they ridded the idea of a goddess, and transformed the Divine into a male-only deity. He also believed the color silver represented the goddess, and whenever he’d set up an altar he used a silver candle to represent her.
In fact, when Nick studied Genesis 1, he found out that the word “God” was translated from the word “Elohim” which actually could be used as a plural. Secondly, it read that male and female were both created in Elohim’s image, meaning there were either both male and female deities, or that God contain both feminine and masculine qualities. Then there was the most obvious verse, Genesis 1:26, which stated in plain English, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Nick also understood that much of the creation story in Genesis was borrowed from ancient Egyptian and Babylonian creation stories. Most Bible believers would deny this. Nick sometimes thought that if they would just be a little more open minded, it would help create more religious unity in the world.
As he left the building, he looked over where the strange man had been standing. For some reason, Nick was not surprised to see that the man had vanished, which he was actually relieved about.
He attempted to stick with the speed limit when heading home. The thoughts in the back of his mind were really bothering him, and he hoped to ease it by seeing his wife there. On top of that, he was looking forward to giving her the gift.
It was 11pm when he arrived at the house. He was hoping to see his wife’s car when he got there, but he was disappointed. The blackened driveway seemed to mock him as he pulled into it.
What the heck is taking her so long!? He said to himself. He tried calling the church again. No answer. She must have left. At least he hoped. The sooner she came home the better. A call would have helped, or at least a message on the answering machine. He thought about the kids over at his mother-in-law, Jane’s, house and thought maybe Lisal stopped by. Yet, Jane was a stickler about not staying up after nine at night, and would almost literally kick people out of the house at quarter of. Lisal would definitely not be over there.
Nick threw the dove necklace in the nightstand drawer by his bed and waited for another half-hour. The house felt barren, and the howling wind outside did nothing to ease his tension. He munched on some chips, trying to get his focus away from the situation, but that did not help. Finally, he hopped in his car, and drove back to the church. He drove faster than he should of as a result of being nervous. A raccoon suddenly ran out in front of him, and he swerved to save the animal’s life missing a tree by inches. He took the detour again just so he didn’t get stuck at the accident, in case there was still a roadblock. However, when he arrived at the church, his wife’s car was no longer parked there.