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A soft wind blows in the hidden little copse. Tucked away in a forested enclosure, far from the nearest signs of human life, a building that once housed the worshippers of the one true God lies sleeping. No clear path leading to the Church, no clear reason as to why there would be a church in such a secluded area. It sits sequestered, no trees or bushes growing within its immediate vicinity. Chalky dirt, devoid of the ability to nourish any form of plant or insect life, surrounds it out to where the trees begin.
From afar you could tell it was once a handsome little building. At one point, it was either a slate gray or soft white but now the color was faded, paint cracked and peeling. Holes could be made out here and there, years of neglect showing. Still, it wasn’t the ugliest building to look at. For something found in the middle of nowhere it was well kept together, far nicer than some abandoned inner city buildings that were waiting for the wrecking ball to do its job. Yet looking at it for too long made your eyes hurt, as if they were being strained from trying to make out a figure in the dark. Despite the warm sun shining down on the Church and the soft wind playing in the trees, there was a gloom sitting around the building.
No, that’s wrong. The gloom wasn’t surrounding the Church; it was emanating from it like the heatwaves that play tricks on the eyes when looking down a lonely highway on a hot summer day. The gloom was there and yet it wasn’t. The more you tried to concentrate on it the less you saw. You could only catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye, like that shadow you swear you saw last night before turning out your lights. The more you think about the gloom the more your head starts to hurt. Still, you can’t shake the feeling that there’s a certain darkness that muddies your vision when you look at it. As if you were being forced to wear sunglasses at an unnecessary time.
The closer you get to the building the more you’ll notice the many scars left on it. The steps leading up to the entrance are still solid, not a squeak or a squeal when stepped on. Yet the hand rails hang there, broken down the middle and looking as if they had been broken a few hours ago. All the windows are completely cracked but still intact, looking like they were shattered by a sonic boom. On the right side of the building, just out of sight from the front, is a door that looks like an exterior access point to a basement. If you look closely you can see that it’s locked tight with not one but three different locks. While the neglect is evident it’s apparent that time has refused to touch this place.
Stepping into the Church is like stepping into a pool of depression. The feeling of not belonging is strong and the thought that you shouldn’t be there is constantly in the front, middle, and back of your mind. Inside it’s eerily normal, the chapel is neat and small for a place of worship. Six rows of pews sit neatly on either side, creating a natural walkway leading towards the very modest podium that occupies the front of the room. The only symbol of religion left in the building is a large wooden cross, or the remains of one, that hangs against the wall behind the podium. The middle beam of the cross hangs crooked, sagging to the left.
The feeling of eerie normality is amplified by the fact that the gloom that was emanating off the exterior of the building is now suffocating. Where you were only able to see it out of the corner of your eye outside you could now see it no matter where you looked. Despite the sun shining in through the shattered windows your eyes will feel the strain, like the strain that’s exerted from trying to read a book in the dark.
While you’re still dealing with the straining of your eyes you’ll start to notice the chalky taste in your mouth and the odd smell within the Church. Trying to figure out the smell will lead to you realize that the smell changes depending on where in the chapel you are. The closer you get to the podium, the stronger the smell. If you sit in one of the pews, say the second row on the left, you’ll notice that the smell changes very slightly. If you move back towards the door leading into the chapel, you’ll notice the smell fades but the chalky taste in your mouth intensifies. As you concentrate on the taste you come to realize that it’s hard to pin down the taste, it could be described as a mixture of burnt toast and wet wood or it could be a mix of dust and gasoline.
Regardless of what mixture you come up with, you can’t quite pin it down, as if the taste changes with each guess. Yet one thing is constant, your mouth is dry and no matter how much you try to lick your lips you can’t get rid of the chalky sensation.
After five minutes of trying to pin down the smell and the taste you’ll notice that you can’t quite hear right. You feel as if everything is muffled, as if the volume has been turned down on everything. You remember that the wind was blowing lightly outside. You remember hearing the wind follow you into the Church yet when you press your ear to one of the shattered but not broken windows you can’t hear any wind. The chalky taste makes you cough and it sounds distant, as if the cough was by someone else from a fair distance away. You stand still, taking deep breaths, knowing full well that you should be able to hear yourself inhaling and exhaling. Yet all you hear is a muffled attempt to take a heavy breath and the quiet exhaling of a foreign breath.
The discovery that you can’t quite hear right distresses you, so much so that you start making your way towards the entrance. Five feet away from the entrance you can finally hear your own breathing, your own heartbeat, your own thoughts. You stop to catch your breath and mop up the sweat that had collected on your forehead. You wipe your face with the front of your shirt and you realize that you’ve left a murky stain on it. Confused you wipe your face again and the stain deepens. You then wipe your face with your hand and come to realize that your exposed body parts are covered in a light soot.
Not sure what to make of the odd soot that seems to have collected on you, you continue to wipe your face until you’re sure you don’t have any left on it. Through slightly closed eyes you see another door, one that you hadn’t noticed on your way in. This one had the number three nailed to it in a lazy fashion. In direct contrast to the rest of the Church this door seemed old, beaten up, and out of place. The wood for the door seemed to belong to a completely different building, as if it were taken from a make shift hut and randomly put in. The door didn’t fit perfectly into the door frame as it slanted away from the frame and revealed a crack.
Curious you decided to look in the room without trying to open the door. From the crack, you can see a faint light, candle light. The flame flickers lightly, as if dancing to the wind outside. Yet from the crack you can tell that there aren’t any windows in the room. The room is small; you assume it’s a closet or something of the sort. Yet you see no coats, no hangars, no cleaning supplies. Just the single candle sitting on the floor, flame dancing. The more you watch the candle the less you find yourself able to look away. The flame seems to be dancing for you and only you, seducing you, enrapturing you. You forget the ominous feeling you had when you first entered the Church. You forget the fact that you know you hadn’t noticed another door when you had first entered. You forget that only moments before you nearly had an anxiety attack. All that mattered was the dancing flame, the seduction of its perceived curves. All that matters is the swaying of the flame, the –
“Run.” Hisses a voice as the flame is blown out. Startled, scared, at wits end, you scramble up and away from the door. Running, scrambling, right out the entrance and away from the Church of the one true God. You know what you heard, you know what you saw. A face in the dark, featureless and nondescript. No nose is all you’ll remember.
Behind you the entrance slowly closes with a soft sigh. Behind the podium a door softly clicks open.