Fallen One (04)

Stefan Keller – Pixabay

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.

“Behind you.”

“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.

Rollin

Fallen One (03)

Stefan Keller – Pixabay

He awoke, startled to a sound that he may or may not have heard. Jared wasn’t sure as he sat there, in the dark, his chest heaving profusely, his body sweating despite the cold.

The old barn seemed to have a life of its own as it groaned under the force of the wind that rattled the doors. The smell of rain dominated the air, and Jared could still hear it falling though it did so in a more gentle manner.

Whatever it was that sent his mind into a panic, he couldn’t hear it now, and he thought it might have been part of a dream. He started to pick up his phone to check the time but thought better of it. There was only so much battery life, and it wasn’t like there were many options for plugging in.

Whether there was anything to the noise or not, Jared knew that he wouldn’t be able to go right back to sleep, so he got up and slipped on his boots. The breeze whistled through the slats as he worked his way around his motorcycle in the dark. A hue of moonlight painted the night, the rays of which joined the breeze through the slats. It striped the barn floor with faint prison bars, enough to avoid any tripping hazards, as he unlatched the doors and pushed against the wind.

Slipping through, he stepped away from the barn a few feet, his arms outstretched and his eyes closed, the breeze having the desired effect. Soon, his mind fell at ease, and he felt a sudden chill. His eyes popped open when he heard it again. He spun around, crouching, hands raised, his head rotating like a turret. The grass fields surrounding the barn were empty, but he wasn’t surprised. He was pretty sure that whatever it was, it came from inside of the barn.

He found an old shovel leaning against the side of the barn. Its handle was ashen with age and the extremes of weather, its blade brown with rust. Jared picked it up, gripping it tightly, and started to swing it. It was cumbersome but doable, and it gave him enough of a boost in courage to go back inside.

Pulling open the door, he peered inside, the wind catching the door and slamming it against the barn. Startled, he stepped up the plate, wielding the shovel like a baseball bat, ready to send one to left field. Claps of thunder caused him to shudder as he adjusted the grip of his hands on the handle. Leaning in, he looked around, carefully stepping as he did. Much of the barn was cloaked in shadow, and it was there that he focused his attention.

A sudden flash of lightning thrust him inside, and he made a mighty swing, one that would have made the mighty Casey proud. With the shovel at the ready, Jared crept forward, moving to the left, a large pocket of shadow ahead. As he took another step, a metal clang stopped him. He turned to see that the blade had struck a lantern hanging by a nail on one of the support poles. His eye caught it as it settled from his wild swinging.

He reached up; his eyes split between the lamp and the shadow until he had it in hand. He backed up quickly, his back to the falling rain, and held the lamp to his ear and shook it. He smiled when he heard the swoosh and dropped his Casey stance, and patted his pockets.

Finding what he was looking for, he dug deep and pulled out the lighter. It was the only other thing he had from his father besides the Triumph. Flipping the top open, he spun the flint wheel three times, sparks flying. The fourth time, the spark led to a flame. The rain was cold in his back, and he had to cup the lighter with his hand because the wind was so strong. It was all becoming an unwieldy mess, so foregoing the shadows for the moment, he dragged the shovel, its handle pinched under his upper arm, held the lamp in one hand and the lighter in the other, and sidled his way back to his corner.

Leaning the shovel against his bike, Jared lifted the lantern’s globe and lit the wick. Then he heard it again. He crouched low behind the Triumph, shoving the lighter back in his pocket. With an outstretched arm, Jared held the lantern as high as he could from his crouched stance, his eyes looking just over the leather seat of the motorcycle.

With the only sound being the effect of the wind on the old barn, Jared took a breath, reached for the shovel, and slowly stood up. With the lantern, he couldn’t play the role of Casey at bat, but he figured that he could do some damage swinging the shovel with one hand.

His sweep of the barn was slow but methodical, and after a few minutes, he stood in the middle wearing his mud-caked boots and holding a shovel like a farmer waiting to be painted. All that was missing was someone standing by his side, and there wasn’t anyone in the barn. He was certain of that.

He trundled back to the corner, his senses remaining on high alert despite the sweep of the barn. He found a nail in the wall close by where he hung the lantern, its warm flame glowing. He then propped the shovel in the corner, leaning so as not to fall over, and sat down. His eyes looked past the Triumph, watching and listening when he remembered that he left the barn door open. As he started to get up, he looked over to the door and, to his fearful surprise, saw that it was shut.

“What the?” was all he managed, as he pulled the saddlebags close and started looking for his Colt. When he again heard the noise, he ducked his head below the level of the bike, the cold steel of his gun in hand. Pulling back on the hammer, he opened the loading gate and spun the chamber. It was fully loaded. His hand had started to tremble as he closed the gate and lifted the gun.

This story of Fallen One, is a first draft. I encourage anyone to provide comments, make suggestions, and point out problems.

Jared Cooper, forced to find shelter in an old barn awakens in the middle of the night to strange sounds.

Have a great day.

Rollin

Fallen One (02)

Stefan Keller – Pixabay

The air washed over his face as if he dove into an assault of waves on the beach. The rejuvenating experience kindled something long forgotten. It was the beginning of something new, a budding sprout of life breaking through cracked and arid soil.

Clusters of woods, populating ravines, gullies, streams, and river banks interrupted the flow from one farm to another and one pasture to the next. Sheep and cattle were grazing everywhere, but not in large numbers. Nearly all the farms were quite small. And many of them appeared abandoned, or at least in great disrepair.

As Jared road past a patch of woods, another farm appeared on his right, this one appearing active and well taken care of. The roadside fencing was painted white, and all of it looked in good shape. The main barn and other outbuildings were also in good condition, standing tall and upright, at least as far as he could see from the road. Most of the house was hidden behind an assorted umbrella of trees, providing good shade in the summer for yard activities and sitting on the porch.

Jared got a good shot of the porch, peeking through the branches, and there sat a woman, a fan in one hand that was busy at work and a glass in the other. Sweet tea, he suspected as he slowed to a stop, careful not to put the nose of the bike in the irrigation ditch. 

He could see that she had a thick book on her lap, and though she wasn’t wearing any glasses and her hair was long, draping over her shoulders, she reminded him of his grandma. And with that reminder came the tension, creeping slowly into his head. It remained with him as he pulled back out on the road, an unwanted travel companion for several miles before fading away.

It seemed, however, that he couldn’t be left alone. As soon as one unwanted companion left, another appeared as if out of nowhere. The hand of darkness crawled toward him; the vivid day swallowed up in a mass of clouds. 

A couple of cars rolled over a small hill, headed my way. Their headlights burned yellow, and their wipers beat in overdrive. It wasn’t looking good for Jared, and he started thinking about his options. The cars flew past, buffeting him with a soggy wind that coated the screen on his helmet, which he smeared away with his hand.

Jared slowed down, knowing how treacherous a slick road could be, and spotted a sign pointing to the next town. The first wave of rain hit him as the sign came into focus. “Twenty miles,” he said, shaking his head, his thighs and knees soaked in a matter of seconds. While he knew that he could make it, drenched as he would be, he kept his eyes out for some immediate shelter.

A flash of lightning chased away the gloom long enough for Jared to see something that gave him hope. A barn stood alone just off the highway, surrounded by a grassy field. The flashing light shined between the slats of the walls, and its weathered wooden structure was the color of ash. But at least it was standing and had some semblance of a roof on it.

A small bridge crossed the irrigation ditch, providing access to the clearing. As Jared pulled off and made his way across, he looked down. A warning sign, weathered, rusted, and covered in dirt, bearing the words No Trespassing, was pelted with raindrops. It gave him pause as he looked around, not eager to find himself at the wrong end of a shotgun.

He rode right up to the doors, bumping it with his front tire and shoving it with his outstretched hand. They both gave, wobbling open with the least amount of hesitation, when a quick roll of thunder broke loose into thunderous applause. With a short spurt of gas, he rolled inside and shut off the engine.

The dirt floor was covered in spotty layers of hay, manure, and more ash-colored planks. Climbing off the Triumph, Jared balanced the bike and reached for one of the shorter planks, using it as a bed for his kickstand. A drop fell on his cheek, and he looked up, the roof of the barn looking like a star-filled night. Each hole gave way to the occasional drop of rain. It could have been much worse, Jared thought as he looked around, his hands already untying his sleeping bag.

The space between his bike and the closest wall looked to be the most waterproof. Jared looked up. At least the area had the fewest holes in the roof. Leaving the sleeping bag resting on the leather seat, he began gathering the dryest hay from around the barn. As he did, he took inventory of everything he could find, which beyond a couple of hanging lanterns and old rope, didn’t amount to much.

The lightning ravaged the black sky, and the booming voice from heaven seemed to shake the ground. Dropping the hay in place, Jared walked over to the barn doors, now flapping in the rising wind, banging against the walls. One moment he was dry. A second later, the wind’s course changed direction, giving him a hard shove toward the barn’s interior and layering him with a new coat of rainwater.

“This is going to be a bad one,” he muttered, stepping out into the storm, grabbing the doors, and pulling them closed. He stood there, momentarily blinded by the deluge of rain, securing the doors with the wooden latch. Leaning over, he shook his arms, wiped his eyes, and ruffled his hair. Unbuttoning his shirt, he took it off, wrung it out, and hung it on a nail before turning to his saddlebags for a teeshirt.

As the storm raged on, Jared collapsed onto the sleeping bag, the small Bible in his hands. What remained of the light of the day was nearly gone, blanketed by the deluge of rain. It was too dim to read it, and he was too tired to get up and do anything about it. The last thing he saw before falling asleep was a falling drop, landing inches from his face.

This story of Fallen One, is a first draft. I encourage anyone to provide comments, make suggestions, and point out problems.

Jared Cooper in riding west, through a long stretch of farm land. Running into a storm, he is forced to find shelter, which he does in an old, abandoned barn.

Have a great day.

Rollin