Characters Environments 
Author Marian Parisher-Nichols
Poems and short stories, free to read.
"When I write, I shoot from the hip!"

Shocking Revelations

A few hours later, Kristyn pulled her seven-year-old Mazda into the church’s parking lot.  She had changed her jeans for a light blue suit with sling-back white heels.  Nathan wore dress trousers, a vest and a white shirt with a bow tie.
“Is this the church, Mama?” asked Nathan from the back seat.
“Yes, Nate, this is it.  This is where I went to church when I was a little girl.”  Before getting out of the car, she surveyed the church grounds.  Not too much had changed since she had attended.  This church was located out on old 446, just off of the four-lane highway that replaced it.  The church dated back to 1848; there had been renovations over the years but the church retained its conservative façade.  It had been modernized as much as possible, with electricity and insulation plus central air and heating.
When the church was first constructed, it had only been a large one-room sanctuary, which received its warmth by way of wood burning stoves situated at both ends of the room. Two large rest rooms had been added and the outhouse at the back was long gone.
Also added were several sections that were now the Sunday school classrooms and a Fellowship Hall.  She had wanted to be married here but it just didn’t happen that way.  There had been no time or funds for a large ceremony and so she and Nathan Lance had eloped to South Carolina.
The church retained its historical veneer.  But now the structure sported white aluminum siding, which had been added as an upgrade from the clapboard originally used, although the appearance was unchanged. On both sides of the double doors were two stained glass windows and Kristyn recalled that five more stained glass windows lined each side of the church’s outside walls, making a total of twelve; a symbolic number.  They also had been part of the renovations of the church, replacing the older glass panes.

Concrete steps replaced the original wooden ones; Kristyn knew there were twenty-four of them because she had counted them as part of a game she had played with the other children.  Solid white double doors opened into the narrow receiving hall while another aperture, without doors, just a graceful arch, opened into the sanctuary.  The one wide aisle had pews on either side, twenty each.

The steeple had the bell tower located within it and now the bell tolled the call to worship.
Kristyn had given her life to God when she was twelve and had been baptized in the church’s new baptismal vat a few weeks later.
For a long moment, she felt grief at the fact that she had not attended church on a regular basis since leaving home at eighteen.  But she had placed Nathan in a Christian daycare where he had learned his Bible stories and how to pray.  This they did every night.  It was the simple child’s prayer of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and it ended with special blessings and small requests.  There was always a request for a pet but he had only been allowed stuffed animals in their apartment - the apartment she had shared with her husband and continued to inhabit after he had left for duty.  Even after Nathan’s birth, she had remained in the one bedroom apartment, her last link with Nathan Lance.
Kristyn knew, but was unable to see from her present location, that there was a cemetery located behind  the church.  It was actually older than the church by several years and at one time had been a private cemetery.  It was considered an historical landmark and funded for upkeep by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, because many a young rebel solider was laid to rest there, as were her parents, her beloved grandparents and her only love, Nathan L.  She hadn’t visited the graves as often as she would have liked, but living in Rock Haven made her a good hour away from this part of the state, which was east and south from her apartment.
The cemetery had been modernized with a tall white picket fence and a white swinging gate.  It had a schedule for viewing by tourists that were interested in the history of the people that were entombed there.  There were varieties of burial methods, from graves with head stones to mausoleums.  It was unlocked on the weekends, on Wednesdays and by appointment for schools and other organizations.  The caretaker lived in the grounds of the church, and he pretty well knew all there was to know about the cemetery, often acting as a tour guide for visitors who requested his services.
More and more vehicles were pulling into the parking lot, with the parishioners headed for the church.  Kristyn glanced at her watch and saw that it was nine thirty eight; they needed to head inside too.  As they made their way across the parking lot, she was greeted and welcomed to the church.  Some were old friends from her childhood and they were glad that she had returned.
She followed the crowd, which she saw was heading for the back of the church, for Sunday school.  With help, she found her class but declined taking Nathan to his class; since this was his first time here, she did not want to leave him alone.  The class more than made her feel welcome and before the study of God’s word began, she was told of all the local gossip about people she had known, where they were and what they were doing.
After the Sunday school class, she followed them to the primary Sanctuary; she could hear the organ pumping the deep tones of an unknown hymn long before reaching it.  She wondered if Miss Applegate still furnished the music, and, as she entered, she saw that she indeed did.
She and Nathan took a seat on the fourth pew on the left side of the church.  Most parishioners left their children in the nursery or children’s church if they were nine and older.  Looking around, she saw that the church was integrated with African-Americans and Hispanic members.  She liked this idea a great deal, for what did the color of one’s skin have to do with anything.  Nothing, and all were children of God.
There was singing of hymns, one was known to her and two not, then a prayer and then Pastor Doyle made his way to the podium.  Before getting into his sermon, he took a moment to introduce Kristyn and Nathan to the congregation.  The pair stood as requested and waved as the parishioners acknowledged their presence.
“Turn your Bibles to Revelations, chapter two …” instructed Pastor Doyle and the sermon began.  At the end of the sermon came the altar call. Kristyn decided she needed to renew her relationship with God and the church and, during the song, ‘Just As I Am’, she took Nathan’s hand and they made the short journey down the aisle, up to Pastor Doyle.
She said a prayer of repentance and made a request to renew her membership.  After the song ended, Pastor Doyle asked the congregation if they accepted the pair into the church and there was a resounding applause as the motion carried.

Now the parishioners lined up and each one personally welcomed her into the church,  with many inviting them to their homes for a meal.  Nathan was a little overwhelmed by all these strangers and stayed close to his mother’s side with one arm about her knee.  Kristyn felt his apprehension and was reassured by the warmth of his young body next to her, as she knew he was near and safe.

Long minutes later, on the outside, as she was heading for her car, Pastor Doyle called to her and she waited for him to catch up, “Mrs. Spencer I want you to meet someone.  Wait a moment, he will be right here.”  Straining to see through the crowd, he saw the one he wanted and called to him, “Tyler, can you come over here?”
A young man of about thirty-two or three approached them.  Tyler was nicely dressed in a dark blue suit, with a pinkish shirt and a striped pink, blue and grey tie. It was his eyes that drew Kristyn’s attention however, and she felt her heart skip a beat.  They were a cobalt blue, insightful and compassionate.

“Hello,” he said, with a deep baritone voice and met her eyes with a piercing look that sent tingles down Kristyn’s spine.  He was deeply tanned, with a strong jaw, a straight nose, narrow mouth and heavy brows.

Stop it! she silently scolded herself.  “Hello, Mr. …” she hesitated.

“Doyle,” he smiled, extending his hand to take hers in a warm and firm grip.  He looked deeply into her eyes and smiled, sending new chills through her, then glancing at the Pastor, said, “This is my father.  Dad told me something about the situation with the barn when he returned home the other day, I would be glad to get my crew to check it out and even clean it up for you.”

“That would be nice,” she replied still mesmerized by his gaze.  “But I wouldn’t want to impose upon your time.  I am sure I will get to it myself in the next few days, as soon as I find someone suitable.”

“I think you have found someone,” said Pastor Doyle, giving her a knowing wink.

Kristyn smiled shyly and turning back to Tyler, said, “Thank you then. Any time is fine with me.  I am home all day right now.  But I do admit I must be making plans to return to work.”

“Did you get the broken pot cleared away, okay?” asked Pastor Doyle.
“I just went ahead and did it myself,” replied Kristyn.
“Now, I would have done it if I had known you weren’t getting help,” smiled Pastor Doyle.
“It was rather strange when I went to clean up the mess.”
To which the pastor raised his eyebrows, and asked, “Strange?  How so?”
“Well, the window was broken.  It was broken from the inside, but how could the pot have broken it just by dropping from the ceiling?”
“That is odd,” said Tyler after silently listening to the conversation for a bit.  “Was the pot hanging within the window frame?”
“No, I made a point of hanging it from the ceiling; I didn’t want water or dirt to splatter onto the glass when I watered the plants, so it was at least a foot and a half from the window.  Also, it was like a freezer when I went back upstairs, right after Pastor Doyle left.  Now that is just wrong, I mean, it was ninety-five degrees outside.  I have an AC window unit in two of the bedrooms but they aren’t powerful enough to bring a chill such as that out into the hall.”
“Cold?” inquired Pastor Doyle.  “Cold like cooler or freezing like winter?”
“Like winter,” she emphasized.  “You could see our breath, that’s how cold it was.”
“That’s not so unusual if it’s cold enough but the question is, what made it that cold?”
“It wasn’t the AC,” declared Kristyn.  “It felt like thirty-two degrees or colder, cold enough that Nathan was shivering!”
“That’s odd for this time of year!” said Tyler.  “I have a thought on that but we’ll wait for now.”
For a moment, Kristyn considered this remark and wondered what ‘that’ could be.  Deciding not to pursue it, she remembered the attic door being jammed and said, “And while you are there, maybe you can help me open the attic door. It’s stuck!”
At that, Nathan joined into the conversation, “That’s where the light lives.”
“Light?” asked Kristyn looking down at her son.  “Whatever do you mean, Nathan?”
“The light!” he replied excitedly.  “’member, I told you, Mama.”
“I do not remember anything about a light.  Yes, it was dark in the stairwell because there isn’t a light in there.”
“That’s where the light lives,” Nathan insisted.

By now, Pastor Doyle and Tyler had both squatted down to Nathan’s level.  “What makes you think a light lives in the attic?” asked Pastor Doyle.

“I know!  ‘Cos I saw it go under the door,” stated Nathan firmly, as if a little irritated that no one believed him.  He poked out his bottom lip and crossed his arms in front of his chest.  “It wanted me to go in there too.”

“Is he given to flights of fantasy,” asked Pastor Doyle glancing up at Kristyn who stood close to her son with her arm about his shoulders.
“No more than any other five year old,” she replied.  “Nate,” she said squatting down next to him too, “darling, now is not the time for make-believe, what makes you think that the light wanted you to go into the attic?”
“It said so,” he replied.
Tyler took up the questions now, “What did the light say?”
“It woke me.  ‘Member, Mama, I was taking my nap?  It was a bi-i-i-g light,” now Nathan unfolded his arms and stretched them wide as he dragged out the word ‘big’.  “It covered the whole wall.  It said, ‘Come.’”
“Are you sure you heard the word ‘come’?”

Nathan nodded his head vigorously.  “‘Come, come, come, come’, is what it said.  Then it got real tiny,” said Nathan drawing out his last word while bringing his hands together in a cup.  “That little.”

By now, the adults were looking at each other and wondering how much Nathan was making up and if any of this was true.  Not wanting to make Nathan think they didn’t believe him, Kristyn said, “What did the light do then, Nate?”

“It went out into the hall and wanted me to go too.  It was sooo little that I had to bend over to see it.  It went down the hall!  It stopped at that door.”

“The attic door?” asked Tyler.

Nathan nodded.

“Then what,” continued Tyler.

“It went under the door,” said Nathan.  “It’s real little, so it could do that but I’m too big.  I cain’t go under any door.  So I opened it.  It was real hard too.  But I pushed and I pulled and it opened really fast and made a loud bang when it hit the wall.  That’s what y’all heard, Mama. It was real dark in there and I was scared!  But I was going to go up those steps until Mama stopped me.”

The adults stood up and looked at each other with questioning expressions.  Kristyn spoke, “When I checked the door later, it was shut but I don’t remember closing it.  I tried to open it but it would not open.  I wanted to lock it but then it came to me that I had no key.  I don’t know where the key is.”

“Can you and Nathan sleep downstairs?” asked Tyler.

“Well, I guess.  There’s a hide-a-bed in the den.  Why?  Is there something wrong upstairs?  Something you aren’t telling me!”

Father and son looked at each other and then Pastor Doyle said, “I am going to be honest with you, but first, do you mind if I call you Kristyn?”

“No, please do.  But you were about to say…”

“Something strange is going on there.  Not to frighten you but the church does believe in spiritual visitations.”

“Spiritual visitations?  What is that supposed to mean?”

“Visits from the spirit realm,” he said.

“You’re joking, right?  You don’t mean ghosts?”

“No, not ghosts, especially.  Not the way most people think of ghosts. No, there are other members of the spirit realm.  God and Jesus are part of the spirit realm as are angels and demons.”

“Okay…” Kristyn paused as this thought sank in.  Here was a man of God telling her that spirits might be haunting their home.  “My house could be haunted?”

Nathan had listened to this dialog intently and he began jumping gleefully, “Oh boy, Casper!”

Now all of the adults looked at each other and burst out laughing.  Kristyn just shook her head in a way of apologizing and said, “Cartoons.”

A flash of lightning, followed by a thunderclap, alerted everyone that the storm which had been anticipated, was upon them.

Tyler quickly escorted Kristyn and Nathan to her car and aided in getting Nathan secured in the backseat, after which he told Kristyn, while leaning his hands against her door, “Don’t sleep upstairs tonight and I will see you tomorrow evening after I get off from work.”

Then the rain broke hard and furious, Tyler exclaimed, “Well, gotta run, see you tomorrow!”  He then made a mad dash to his truck.