“We have nowhere else to go. Out there is scary and he tells us if we leave, we’ll just die like the rest of them.”
“How many of you are there?”
“There’s about seventy of us who can’t take it anymore. We’ve been thinking of a way out of here and we think you’re our ticket.”
“Why us?” Ariel stepped back, surprised.
“We overheard you guys speaking about another place back where you’re from and we want to go there. Seems like it’s actually fair.”
“Alright, but you’re going to have to work just as hard. Deal?”
“Now to confront the Archbishop himself.”
Friday, November 16, 2018
Night - Apocalypse Month 2
Ariel and Lincoln had stayed inside of the misleading church walls for another week planning out how they were going to leave with the mistreated workers. Within a week, they’d found almost no plan but only hope to guide their way. Entering the mess hall for their last supper of the day, Ariel and Lincoln had to make their choices tonight. The mess hall was just like every other day as they observed, orderl, clean, and nothing out of place. It was like the routine was physically ingrained into everyone’s head and muscle memory didn’t help either. ‘It feels robotic at this point,’ Ariel thought.
“Run that plan by me again, Ariel?” Lincoln asked, confused.
“I’m going to go talk to the Archbishop and convince him to let them go.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“He doesn’t have a choice,” Ariel said as she scanned the room. It all made sense to her now as to why only some seemed like they were tired beyond belief. Overworking can do that to almost about anyone. “These poor souls shouldn’t need to overwork themselves.”
“I’m assuming you have something in mind?” Lincoln guessed, pushing his back on his chair and relaxing. Taking a quick sip of his water, trying to figure out Ariel’s endgame.
“We try to accuse someone of insubordination?”
“Ariel, I don’t think that’s your type of style. Besides, you truly want to get someone innocent in trouble?”
Ariel shifted uncomfortably in her seat realizing what she said, “I don’t like it either but maybe...”
Lincoln sighed and rubbed his temples, “And you’re sure, she had true intentions?”
“Lincoln, she was fearing for her life!”
“I know, I know-”
“Maybe we can convince Dee to help us?”
“Ariel, I don’t think Dee will-”
“Hey, y’all,” Dee announced himself while he sat down at their table. His main big as usual and his attitude even as high-spirited as before.
Ariel gave the most practiced smile she could, “Hey, Dee!”
“Someone’s up and perky today! I just wanted to join in and keep y’all company. Don’t stop now, what were y’all talking about?”
“Ah, nothing. Just talking about how our community would find this place interesting!” Ariel lied.
“It is great, huh! Everything is so orderly and right. Just to think two months ago we went through the worst event known to man,” Dee shuddered. “Really gives you goosebumps!”
“You wouldn’t believe it!” Lincoln chimed in. “Imagine being in your house cooking and then all of a sudden everything shuts off!”
Dee laughed, “You’re telling me. I was mid-shower. Oh, it was horrible!”
For a while, they had put up the charade of being buddy-buddy with Dee. Trying to get him to be ignorant of the problems that would soon come. Though it was effective, it confirmed Lincoln’s belief in finding Dee as an ally. ‘How could he when he has everything right here?’ Lincoln asked himself, trying to put himself in his shoes.
“Where’s the bishop?” Lincoln asked looking around the room, “Cause, I don’t see him.”
“What do you mean you don’t see him?” Ariel asked. The spot where the Archbishop sat was empty with no meal in front of the chair either. Ariel turned back to Dee, “Sorry to bother you, but where’s the bishop?”
Dee turned, “Today he usually goes out and does his weekly communion. You can probably find him out back near the pond… but I don’t recommend going out there and disturbing him!”
“Thank you, Dee,” Ariel smiled and turned to Lincoln. “Gather the people who want to leave and make up your mind now before we have to do something stupid.”
“Something going on?” Dee asked.
“You have a better chance at figuring that out than me,” Lincoln lied, chugging the last of his water.
Archbishop Reed kneeled at the bank of the small pond in his holy clergy robes. Praying to his God while holding the cross necklace in his hand, then grabbed the wine in one hand and the holy bread in the other.
“Thanks be to you, O’ Mighty God, for your presence and your purpose, for your loving kindness and your steadfast spirit. May the blessings of this fruit and labor strengthen our faith, increase our generosity and unify our hearts, for we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen,” Archbishop finished his prayer before downing the wine in his hand and then taking a bite of a piece of the wafer that was in his hand. He savored every swig and chew as he reflected upon his actions.
“Archbishop Reed, I’m sorry to bother you at this time but we must speak,” Ariel said.
The Archbishop stood slowly and turned his head to greet Ariel, “Ah, ma’am, you have not. I was actually just finishing up, what causes you to visit me in the middle of night?”
“Well, I just wanted to thank you for your hospitality in these last few days. You’ve kept us fed and under good grace.”
“It’s been a pleasure. God always directs me to help those that I can,”
“Exactly, we should always be good samaritans in this world!” Ariel agreed. “ … And speaking of, I’ve been hearing some rumors.”
The Archbishop stopped what he was doing and raised his eyebrow at Ariel, “What type of rumors have you been hearing about lately?”
“Well, about your… workers,” Ariel said. “How they want to leave, but you won’t let them?”
“Ah, those silly rumors? Preposterous. Who even gave you that idea?” Archbishop asked, refuting any possibility of the rumors being true. As if Ariel was lying and anything that came out of her mouth was as legitimate as a heretic.
“Just some talks I’ve been hearing around the church,” Ariel lied.
“Nonetheless, it’s nothing but silly rumors,” Reed explained. “Don’t listen to them. At. All.”
“Understood, Archbishop. I’ll make sure to ignore them.”
“Good, now if you’d excuse me, I have to get back to the mess hall,” Archbishop said as he walked back to the church, but the further he walked Ariel’s heart started pounding harder and harder. Feeling her mind race because if she didn’t do anything right here and right now, many people could still be hurt.
“What if I want to take them away from this place? Assuming these rumors are true.”
“Assuming they are, I wouldn’t let you take them. Who says you’re not holding them against their will or leading them to their death? I wouldn’t trust you with that power.”
Ariel paused before she continued, “You know of my community. That would never happen under our control.”
“Under a Godless and unknown people?” Archbishop Reed laughed and it echoed among the stone walls of the church. “I don’t think the big man upstairs would appreciate that of me. Now, I suggest you drop it before my hospitality runs short.”
Ariel staggered in her mind as she tried to find a way out of this without getting hurt but the more she thought about it, the less it seemed plausible, “Before you do, I do have one other question.”
“And what is that?”
“How much do you depend on your faith?”
Ariel walked back into the mess hall, her nerves running wild. Blood pumping and her senses heightened. The Archbishoped followed right behind as he returned to his reserved seat where he sat every day of the week.
“How’d it go, Ariel?” Lincoln asked.
“Not good, just a lot of denying,” Ariel sighed as she sat down.
“So I’m gonna have to cause a scene aren’t I?”
Ariel nodded, looked at the girl who confronted her last night, and gave her the signal. She nodded and slid out of the mess hall. Lincoln stood up sighing and walked over to Dee, towering over him like a pit bull to a chihuahua.
“Woah there buddy, what are you-”
Before Dee could finish his sentence Lincoln grabbed Dee, picked him up and threw him onto the table, and dragged him across it. Gasps and screams came from the audience of people who were once whisperishly talking and laughing. A loud crash followed by Dee hitting the ground hard.
“That’s what you get for talking to my queen like that,” Lincoln yelled. “Who’s next!”
“No one is next!” The Archbishop bellowed. “What in God’s name is going on here?!”
Dee got up shaking himself off, “I don’t know, your holiness. He just attacked me out of nowhere.”
“Lies! You were coercing my queen into leaving this church with you!” Lincoln lied. The people inside the room began to whisper about the accusations and what was happening right in front of them.
“I would never do such a thing!” Dee exclaimed. “He’s the liar here! An outsider!”
“Why you little-” Lincoln ran up to Dee with a knife in his hand and right before he had attacked, Ariel shouted.
“Stand down, Lincoln!” Ariel commanded, her voice booming in the room making her presence known. Lincoln stopped immediately and set down the knife backing up to Ariel, whispering into her ear of his plan.
“It seems like the cat is out of the bag. I’m sorry Dee. I tried to keep your name out of it but Lincoln here ruined your secrecy,” Ariel said glumly.
“You think we’ll just let that go? He attacked me!” Dee argued not even paying attention to the nonsense Ariel spewed.
“And you were the one spreading the rumors of leaving the church?” Lincoln yelled
“What are you talking about!? I would never do that! You believe me right!?” Dee turned to the Archbishop. The Archbishop only looked at him with betrayal and anger in his eyes.
“Priests, take him to my office! We have some speaking to do,” The Archbishop commanded and turned to Ariel, “I’m sorry for this inconvenience and impious acts that have occurred today. We will have much to talk about after I’m done with him.”
“As well as I,” Ariel commented. “But, we will be leaving immediately. Don’t try and change our minds.” She put her hand on the sack of her quiver on her side. Ariel and Lincoln walked out of the church quickly.
“We make a good team, huh?” Ariel asked.
Lincoln smiled, “We’re not just done, yet.”
Getting their horses they made their way to the rendezvous point which was their carriage. As they got there they saw a little over seventy people there, scared and whispering in hushed tones.
“You guys are safe now. Get ready for a long way trip to your new home, “Ariel announced.