Chapter 42 - Father Adam
“I’m here,” Marina’s voice rang out shakily, betraying her fear.
“I’ve got her,” a male voice called out as more footsteps approached. “What do you think? Shall we take her to Father?”
The sound of a small scuffle tore through the air cut by a yelp from Marina, presumably as she was overpowered. Hallie stifled a whimper, straining her ears as footsteps began to echo down the hallway. Once they were almost out of earshot, she dared to poke her head out of the supply closet. The classroom was empty, and she could no longer hear any noise nearby. She crept over to the doorway and apprehensively peeked out into the hallway. She could just see them disappearing out into the daylight, three of them surrounding Marina’s small figure as they shepherded her out. Holding her body close to the wall, Hallie swiftly tiptoed down the hallway towards them to try and glean anything that might hint at where they might be going.
She squinted out into the brightness of the daylight. She’d tucked herself into the corner of the foyer, leaning towards the doorway just enough so that she could inconspicuously watch the scene playing out before her. The men were dressed strangely, wearing matching plain two-piece outfits that had been crafted from a deep green material. Two of them held Marina still and the other bound her wrists and ankles as she looked on helplessly, before they forcefully lifted and shoved her into the trunk of their car. Hallie ducked back from the doorway as one of them looked back towards the school on his way to the driver’s seat. She stood rigidly as she held her breath, terrified that one of them would come back, but let it out in a relieved sigh as the car engine roared and the squealing tyres signified their departure. She stepped out into the daylight, watching the car tear through the swinging gates that they’d busted open on the way in. She felt as though she was suspended in time, helpless to do anything, but she quickly shook it off. Marina had given her a plan, and that’s what she was going to do. She hesitantly approached the grave that her aunt had been lovingly tending to, running her fingers over the engraving in the wood.
Her heart ached seeing it in words. There was no sadness in the world that felt even remotely comparable to hers at that moment. She only wished that Esther could be here too, as close to her mother as she was.
Hallie bit her trembling lip to try and quash the feeling that she was deserting her mother, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’ll come back soon, I promise.”
She’d never run so fast in her life as she tore down the streets, perfectly navigating her way to the crumbling house where her safety lay. She panted through the fatigue, letting the adrenaline encourage her feet to lift from the pavement until she almost felt as if she were gliding. When she arrived at the house, breathless and dizzy, the men all jumped to their feet, instantly gathering around her.
“What’s happening? Is someone following you? Did you find her?” Jimmy blithered, almost dancing on the spot with impatience.
“Shut up, Jim,” Brian scolded, putting his hands on Hallie’s shoulders. “Are you okay? Is
Hallie nodded at him, still panting too hard to talk. She desperately tried to get her breath back to spit out the words she needed to say. Brian handed her water and she gulped it down gratefully, letting it soothe the burn in her throat and chest.
“I found her,” she managed, eventually, “but so did someone else.”
Jimmy screwed up his face in panic, “What? Who? Has someone got her? What happened?”
“Jimmy,” Brian reprimanded him again, giving him a glare. “What happened?”
“They took her. I don’t know where. They went off in a car,” she recounted in between her gasping breaths. “They were dressed... weirdly.”
A look passed between the men as Brian visibly paled.
“What do you mean? What were they wearing?” he asked, urgently.
Hallie shook her head, “Some weird green stuff, I don’t know.”
“Green stuff?” Brian repeated, firmly shaking her shoulders. “What do you mean?”
“It was like… I don’t know,” Hallie stuttered, wriggling out his grasp. “Like doctor’s clothes or something, but not.”
Brian’s face dropped, the blood freezing in his body as her words sunk in.
“We know where she is,” Matt interjected, quietly, reading her confusion at Brian's reaction. A disconcerting silence had fallen over the group as Hallie looked between them all. She let out a gasp of surprise as Brian suddenly jumped to his feet, rounding on Matt.
“I fucking told you we should have killed him.”
I looked up at him as he approached me. The redheaded girl was practically jittering in the corner, furiously staring at the wall with large unblinking eyes. I could hear my heart in my ears, each thud escalating my panic further. He reached down and unknotted the rope around my ankles.
“Don’t run,” he warned. He didn’t need to tell me twice. I had no idea where I’d go anyway. Whatever building these guys had holed themselves up in was full of twists and turns, and I’d stupidly not memorised any of them when they were bringing me in. Pulling me to my feet, he looked me over.
“Come on,” he ordered, pushing me to propel me forwards. I looked back briefly at my new roommate, or perhaps ‘cellmate’ would have been more appropriate, and it occurred to me that she was wearing rather odd clothing. A long, dark green dress, unremarkable in its styling. No frills or bows, just some forgettable plain buttons climbing up from the waist. My jailkeeper interrupted my curiosity as he nudged me out of the door. He slammed it behind him, though I noticed he didn’t lock it. Had he locked it earlier? I couldn’t think if I’d heard a key turn or not. Now that I thought about it, the cowering girl hadn’t been tied up either. She could have easily run, but seemed to have no desire to, despite being obviously afraid… What’s going on here?
We kept walking, him occasionally breaking the silence occasionally to direct me down another corridor until we reached a doorway that he stopped me in front of. I felt the tingling trepidation of what lay beyond dancing across my skin as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Why has it taken all this to make me realise that actually, I’m quite happy here on earth and I don’t really want to leave anything behind. My own impending doom was causing an emotional fray. A thousand thoughts were whipping through my mind like a tornado, pulling violently me in multiple directions until I was sure my heart was going to tear itself to pieces inside of me. Would I ever see Hallie again? Was I on Jimmy’s mind? Was Viola this scared before she died? Did she realise she was dying? Was she comforted by my arms in her last moments, or did she die despising me for my hesitation? Would she have forgiven me?
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll do what he says,” he informed me, ominously, interrupting my emotional paroxysm.
“Is he going to kill me?” I asked, my voice coming out as an almost whisper, hoarse with the fear. He shrugged as he knocked on the door.
My skin prickled as a voice emanated from within. “Enter.”
My escort opened the door and nudged me through, closing it behind me. I stood, frozen to the spot, as his piercing eyes drifted over to me. Blue like Jimmy's, but without any of the love or kindness. They trailed over me, taking in my wispy hair and bony figure as I did my own examination of his appearance. His blonde hair hung shaggily around his face in loose waves and his thin lips curled upwards slightly at the edge. His features played a game in my mind, teasing me with their familiarity, but I couldn’t quite place him.
“Come here,” he instructed, beckoning me with finger. I remembered my jailer’s advice to comply with this man’s wishes and, not wanting to find out what happened if I didn’t, I followed his order, treading slowly towards him.
“Stop there,” he commanded as I reached the centre of the room. I did I was told, holding myself guardedly as he began a slow walk over to me.
“Welcome,” he addressed me, warmly. “Tell me your name, Sister.”
“Sister?” I repeated, incredulously. He held his hand out before him, his palm turned upwards. “You are within my house now, and so you are one of my children.”
“What?” I asked, blinking at him as I tried to process his gibberish.
“I am Father Adam, and I lead those who join me into the light,” he effused, with a smile on his face. “I do hope you choose to join us,” he continued, his tone suddenly washing with malevolence, “for we do not take kindly to sinners here.”
I swallowed, trying not to let my fright become evident on my face.
“Now, you were telling me your name,” he reminded me, the unsettling warmth dripping from his voice again. A veiled ultimatum. Give him my name and join this… cult? Or find out what happens when they don’t ‘take kindly’ to you… I had only a split second to make my decision...
“Marina,” I uttered, in a tiny voice, trying to shrink away from him without angering him.
“Sister Marina,” he smiled, “how wonderful of you to join us.”
He looked at me expectantly, as I fidgeted under his intense gaze, finally placing his face. This was that whack job from Walmart. This guy is still alive?
“Sister Marina, we value manners here. If someone welcomes you into their home, you should thank them,” he informed me, already testing my pliability.
“Thank you,” I uttered quickly, trying to reverse his displeasure. He still stared, an eyebrow raised.
“Thank you, Father Adam,” I corrected, easing his annoyance.
“You’re welcome, Sister,” he replied, his brow dropping again. “You know, there are lots of other things that we also value here, but above all, we value integrity. Dishonest activities will be punished accordingly, and that’s something worth remembering.”
“Yes, Father Adam,” I answered, in a gracious tone, quickly catching on to the best way to keep the peace. He gave me an oily smile as he clapped his hand together in glee.
“Wonderful. You are one of my children now, Sister Marina,” he gushed, looking genuinely thrilled. I stared up at him, hoping my eyes weren’t betraying my repulsion.
If they were, he paid no attention as he called towards the door, “Brother Marcus, could you come in, please?”
The man who’d escorted me to the room, the very one who’d brought me here in the first place, reappeared in the doorway.
“Yes, Father Adam?” he asked, his eyes flickering to me for a moment.
“Sister Marina here will be needing clothing,” Father Adam answered, gesturing for me to go with ‘Brother Marcus’. I silently obeyed, planting myself at his side and waiting for him to lead the way.
“I’m glad you made the decision to join us, Sister,” Brother Marcus smiled, once he’d closed the door. I followed him as he wove his way to wherever we were going. “You’ll be very happy here, everyone is. Father Adam is a gracious leader, we are lucky to be under his guidance.”
I couldn’t work out if this guy was for real or not. The words pouring from his mouth were simply delusional. I didn’t know what to say, so I simply stayed quiet, allowing him to continue on in his unreserved praise of Father Adam and his wonderful ways. He eventually brought me before a young woman who eyed me with interest.
“Sister Abigail,” he nodded to her.
She bowed her head back, “Brother Marcus, a new sister for our ranks?”
“This is Sister Marina,” he replied, introducing me with a smile. “She needs measuring up.”
Sister Abigail approached me with a tape measure, twisting and turning me as she held it against my body. She worked quickly and soon was jotting down measurements on a piece of paper.
“Done,” she announced, dropping the pencil. She looked up at me, a wide smile plastered on her face. “Welcome, Sister.”
“Thank you,” I replied, quietly, though I was not thankful at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was already planning my escape, though I wasn’t entirely sure where the exit even was at this point. How long would it take me to learn? Would I be able to keep an act up for that long? I couldn’t see how Hallie would ever be able to find me, even with Jimmy and co in tow.
We arrived back at my prison cell, and Brother Marcus untied my wrists. He opened the door, but barred my way before I could enter.
“I’d like to remind you of Father Adam’s words,” he dropped his voice to a low tone. “Dishonest activities will be punished accordingly.”
Ahhhh, you thought we'd gotten rid of those pesky italics didn't you?! Then, BAM! There they are.