The lamp still burned, the barn glowing in medium light. The shadows in the corners remained, but they were smaller now, having lost ground to the lamp. Jared searched for the source of the sound, his nose just behind the cocked hammer of the Colt. But there was nothing he could see as he circled behind the motorcycle to get a better view. With his back pressed against the front wall, he inched his way closer to the barn’s doors. With his free hand, he reached upward, crawling along the dry wood slats, feeling for the lantern now above his head. He stopped when his fingertips made contact, the lantern just out of reach. Willing himself to stand up, he grasped the lantern and was about to pull it off the nail when the sound of a chilling voice invaded the space.
“I hope you do not mind.”
Releasing the lantern, Jared grabbed his gun with both hands, the barrel swinging left and right as he moved back behind the Triumph. “Who said that?” His finger pressed against the trigger, testing the resistance when he heard the soft crunch of a step. And then another.
“It is just that it is so wet outside,” the strange voice said, “and cold. I was seeking shelter.”
“I’m asking you again,” Jared said, shaking, resisting the urge to run. “Who are you?”
Another step was heard, and Jared started to pull on the trigger. “An answer, perhaps.”
“An answer?” he muttered to himself. “What are you talking about?”
“I promise I will not be a bother,” the voice said, taking another step, shifting Jared’s eyes to the right. But still, there was nothing he could see. “I will be gone first light, rain or shine.” Jared pulled the trigger a little more.
Hearing another step, Jared moved back into the corner, bumping into the shovel. “Don’t come any closer. I am pointing my gun at you, and this Colt will blow a mean-sized hole in you. So tell me, who are you?”
Another lantern hanging on a far support post lit up as if on cue, illuminating the area in front of him. There in the light stood a man, his wide-brimmed hat pulled down, shadowing his eyes and obscuring most of the features on his face. Rainwater that had collected on the brim rolled forward and dripped to the floor.
He was clothed in black, his long coat squared at the shoulders, reaching to his boots. He stood motionless, at least 8 feet from the lantern, well out of reach of his being able to light it. “How did you…” Jared started to ask, interrupted as the stranger took another.
“Please,” he cried, filled with terror, “I don’t want to have to shoot you, but I will.” The stranger took another step, and Jared, not believing this guy, pulled a little harder on the trigger. It was bound to go off anytime.
“There’s no need for that,” the stranger said. And when he did, Jared’s hands were empty. The Colt was gone. He looked down at the ground, but it wasn’t there. His gun had vanished.
“What?” Jared said, confused. But he turned around his eyes all over the walls and the floor. When they got to the sleeping bag, it was there, the hammer forward.
Fear was now fully in control of his mind and body as Jared turned back and looked at the stranger. The hat and coat were gone, not on the ground, just gone. “This doesn’t make any sense,” Jared whispered. The stranger’s face was now clearly visible. His face was striking, with deep-set eyes, sharp cheekbones, and a strong chin, slightly pointed. His blond hair shimmered in the lantern’s light, and for a moment, Jared imagined that it was the stranger who was giving off the light. But it couldn’t be, could it?
The stranger’s eyes met Jared’s, and he smiled. It was unnaturally comforting, somehow whisking away the fear and tension in Jared’s body. He suddenly felt at ease.
“My name is Landel.” He held out his hand and waited.
Jared glanced back at his gun, then turned back to the stranger and eased around the motorcycle. Jared took each step carefully and calculated, looking toward the barn doors as a way of escape if needed. The eyes remained fixed, the hand unwavering, and the more that Jared gazed upon him, the more confident he became.
The remaining distance between them closed quickly as Jared hurried over and took Landel’s hand. “Jared,” he said as they shook.
“Jared,” Landel repeated. “A strong name. An old name, reaching back to the beginning.”
“Excuse me?” Jared was confused. “What do you mean by back to the beginning?”
“I mean what I say,” Landel said.
“The beginning of what?” Jared asked.
Landel lifted his head and held it there for several moments before lowering his gaze. “The beginning of the world.”
Jared stood at the open door, the wall of rain falling at his feet. Visibility was low. The beams of a passing car failed to cut more than a few feet through the barrage. Sticking his head outside, he ran his fingers through his hair, pulling the mop back on his head, and squeegeeing out the excess with both hands as he stepped back inside.
“Better?” Landel asked.
“Yes,” Jared said, shaking his hands to dry them. “I needed that.” He walked over to his cot and pulled a clean teeshirt from the bag. Throwing it over his head, he dried his hair and wiped his face, his eyes returning to the stranger who had not moved. Draping the wet shirt over the motorcycle seat, he approached Landel.
“You’re serious?” He asked. But it was an unnecessary question. He already knew the answer.
“Always,” Landel said.
“The beginning…beginning?” He made looping circles with his hand as he spoke.
“Of course,” he said flatly.
Jared looked at him, exasperated with what he was hearing. “Okay then. Tell me how my name reaches back to the beginning.”
Landel nodded. “In the days before the flood, your name—”
“Woe,” Jared said, stepping closer with both hands in the air. “The flood?” He whipped around, hands on his hip, clearly frustrated. “What flood are you talking about? There hasn’t been a flood in this part of Kansas in several years.”
“What I speak of has nothing to do with Kansas,” Landel said, “other than that is where we are now standing. No, I am speaking of the great flood that God sent to judge the world. And I speak of Jared, the son of Mahalalel and the father of Enoch.”
“This isn’t making any sense.” Jared looked at the open door, his motorcycle, and back again at Landel. His mind was spinning; his head was spinning. He had to sit down. He flopped abruptly onto the barn floor and buried his head with his hands. He raised his hand; his finger pointed as if he were going to make a point. Instead, his hand fell back to his lap.
“So, you are unaware of Jared and those before the flood.”
Jared only nodded.
“And what do you know of Noah?”
Jared’s body stiffened. Suddenly this whole strange afternoon was turning a lot stranger. “Noah? As in Noah and the ark?” The silence returned at that moment, and it was only then that Jared realized that the rain had stopped.
This story of Fallen One, is a first draft. I encourage anyone to provide comments, make suggestions, and point out problems.
Jared encounters a stranger. His name is Landel. Strange things are starting to happen, and stranger still is the direction the conversation is going.
I hope you enjoy.