Ichor Falls

Religion

by admin on Nov.12, 2008, under Horror

Ichor Falls isn’t exactly what I like to call my dream town.

As if the name of this place wasn’t bad enough already the college kids who come in from Maple Grove University call it The Ick. Almost everyday the town is submerged in mist, and the clear days (technically they’re only clearer) always happen to be when I’m at work. The constant fog is so bad I can’t go out on a drive and enjoy myself without the fear of hitting a deer, or worse, a person. Even the simple act of having a barbeque in this town seems depressing. I usually spent my weekends trapped inside the house, only venturing out to go shopping downtown.

On one of these Saturdays I was sitting at home and reading a book. I’m usually more of a TV man, but I had the audacity to challenge the fog and buy a satellite dish. The reception was pretty poor and I still hadn’t made the change over to cable. After only a few minutes of reading, a knock came at my door.

I haven’t had any guests since I moved in, not even neighbors. I made my way through the house and peered out the window. To my surprise, an old man wearing clerical vestments was standing on the doorstep. He had a bible in one hand, and a crucifix was dangling from around his neck — a Catholic priest by the look of him. I wished he would go away, but I decided to answer the door. Better to rip it off like a band-aid and get it over with, rather than have him interrupt me again later.

“Hello,” I said as I opened the door. “What can I do for you?”

“My name is Father Thomas Caldwell. May I come in, sir?”

I didn’t want him to. “Sure.” I led him into the living room and offered him a seat. He took it with a smile. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, thank you. May I ask what religion you belong to?” Looks like he was getting straight to the point at least.

“Well, I’m a non-practicing Catholic. I haven’t gone to church since high school.” The father’s genial mood didn’t waver at this.

“On behalf of the congregation of St. George’s Parish, I extend an invitation for you to join us at mass tomorrow morning.”

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m not what you’d call a firm believer.”

“I implore you to reconsider. Some of the other… religions in town can be a bit more… persistent about obtaining new members. They wouldn’t bother you if you belonged to a church such as ours.”

“What, do you have a particularly bad case of Jehovah’s Witnesses around here?”

“You could say that.”

I just wanted him to be out of my house so I could get back to my book. “I’ll think about it, Father. I don’t think I should make a decision like that without serious thought.” I hoped he bought it.

“Indeed. I pray we see you there tomorrow.” He was sold! We shook hands and I showed him out. With the door safely sealed, I ran back to my reading chair.

As soon as I sat down there was another knock at the door.

Who could this be… ?

5 comments for this entry:
  1. Xavier Brentwood

    I really like this - understated enough to be very scary in implication. St. George was a good choice for the patron, too.

    (Minor nitpick - “Mass” should be capitalized.)

  2. Sarah

    Yes, I really liked the understatement that this entry had. Though-how long had your character been living in the Falls? Was his lack of watching TV what gave the callers their opening, or was it something about the book he was reading that did it? And what were the odds that the character, being a non-practicing Catholic, would just happen to be visited first by a Catholic priest? Intriguing concept-was that even a man, or was he something other?

    And I wonder now, what sort of internet service does the Falls have?

  3. Xavier Brentwood

    @Sarah
    I thought Fr. Caldwell showing up first was very realistic. The Teutonic Order established lists of all lapsed Catholics living in spiritually dangerous areas. While that was in Mergentheim around 1594, the database is maintained to this day. When the narrator moved to Ichor Falls, the Magisterium would have sent a note to Fr. Caldwell, and his quick arrival was a nice touch of verisimilitude.

    I could be wrong, though, the protagonist might have picked up a copy of something like the “Malleus Maleficarum” (kind of an early version of psychology’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual”) and it set off alarms.

    But more seriously, in-jokes aside, stories with this kind of theme usually have some kind of moral attached and I was glad the author set out to just be scary and not to prove a point. :)

  4. Matt McArdle

    @Sarah
    The Priest was definitely a Priest and I made them both Catholic because chances are, if their religions were different then the main character probably would’ve said “No thanks” and closed the door in the guys face. I also wanted to make the satellite dish not work because technology being disrupted by the fog lends it (i think) a sinister, but not purposefully evil aspect. What if your car broke down near town and your cell phone couldn’t get a signal? Stuff like that.

  5. Bess

    Wonderfully creepy, Matt. It makes me wonder if something cultish is going on in town… Puts a new spin on “Jesus Saves”

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