The sun was sinking toward the horizon an hour later when he found what he was seeking. The path broke out into a cleared area, patches of low
grasses interspersed with sandstone and other crushed rocks making a kind of oasis, an island of rightness
amidst the foreign, invading jungle
behind him. Incongruously, an old church stood in the middle of the clearing, almost as if it was trying to hold the creeping jungle back.
It all seemed so familiar, and yet, he knew he'd never been here before, only heard about it, long ago now. He passed over grasses that appeared
almost manicured, and even a small patch of crysanthemums - the remnant of someone's attempt at a flower garden - struggling to flourish against the
onslaught of the jungle.
Smiling grimly, he marched up to the entrance below the bell tower and pushed open the heavy oak door. It creaked on hinges that badly needed oiling,
but it wasn't locked. He paused at the threshold, noticing a small stylized eagle etched into stone next to the doorframe. Good
, he thought.
This was a place he could trust.
"What's that?" Came the boy's voice, still behind him.
"That symbol up on top." The boy pointed, and he noticed dark reddish-brown grime under his fingernails, and around his cuticles.
"It's a cross, kid. Didn't they teach you nothin'?"
"I know what the shape is, but what's it mean?"
"Nothin' you would understand, kid. Didn't I tell you to go away?"
"I'm just curious where you're going, is all," he said defensively.
"Fine. Suit y'self."
He headed through the door and into the area beneath the bell tower. Looking up, he could see all the way to where the large bronze bell hung, still
and silent. A heavy rope ran from a thick iron cleat mounted into the wall, up the side of the tower, to a pulley where it was routed to hang the
bell. It'll work. If the rest is there.
Off to the side a passageway led to the narthex. He walked through and found a stairwell leading to the basement. Old, worn stair treads creaked as
his boots clomped down onto them, raising puffs of dust. He crossed to the far side, and found the kitchen. Across from the enameled iron sinks, to
the left of an antique oven, white shelves built into the wall stood, packed with jars and bottles of all kinds.
"What're ya doin?"
Nim looked at the urchin with a tight smile. He knew what was coming.
"I'm going to have a drink, kid. Ain't been decent whiskey hardly nowhere since they
arrived." He moved the bottles and jars on the top shelf
around, checking each one that had liquid in it, looking at the labels. He paused for a moment, smiling. There it is.
Pushing a couple bottles aside on the middle shelf, he pulled a bottle off. The yellowed, aged label proudly proclaimed, "MADE FROM A FORMULA OVER
100 YEARS OLD" in white writing on a black stylized ribbon. The front said, "Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey," and a small white sticker
on the bottle had "1.79" in purple printing. Nim gently twisted the cork top out, sniffed, smiled, put it to his lips and tilted the bottle back.
The liquid burned as it went down, and tasted of caramel and vanilla. He savored the aftertaste, then corked it and slid it into his satchel. He
looked down at the boy, still as curious as ever.
"Ain't you gone yet? Quit taggin' around behind me like a lost pup." He walked off, up the stairs and into the sanctuary. He sat down on the first
pew in the front of the church. Pulling out a fat cigar, he struck a match on the bottom of his boot and put it to the end, puffing until the tobacco
"How come you're so angry all the time? Is it 'cause of your son?" The boy came to sit down next to him. Nim inched shifted slightly away, and
looked askance at the child.
"You wouldn't know anything about it, kid, so shut up."
"It's cause he's dead, isn't it? It's 'cause they killed Davy, right?"
Nim waited for a moment, then swore silently, Damn things. Ain't nothing sacred anymore.
He pulled the weapon out and fingered it.
"How'd you get that? Isn't that one o' theirs?"
"I pulled it off a dead one," he said, then pointed the gun at the boy.
"Hey, watch out, those things are dangerous, mister!"
"How'd you know my son's name was Davy?" he growled.
"I," he stammered, hands up defensively, "I - you said so! I swear you did!"
Nim shook his head cynically.
"Y'know, there used to be a book, before they
came and started burning 'em. It was called the Bible, but we jus' called it the Good Book. Was
a warrior in it named Nimrod, the great-grandson of a man named Noah. He was a great and mighty hunter." His voice was low, soft, but it echoed
through the stone and dry wood of the church. "I used to be named Jacob. But when they came, my da' told me, 'Son, you ain't no Jacob no more. I'm
callin' you Nim.'"
Nim pulled the trigger, and a bright blue beam erupted from the end straight into the boy's chest, burning a smoking hole through his shirt. The
boy's eyes went wide in surprise, and his face seemed to shimmer like a desert road on a hot day. Pale, soft cheeks shriveled into to greenish,
pebbled skin, sharp teeth and inky black eyes. The boyishly dirty hands curled into black-taloned claws, stained red with the blood of whatever it
had killed in the jungle for lunch. It let out a soft keening as it died, falling off the church's pew. The holo-projectors on its limbs and torso
blinked furiously in a sickly green, and one red light began flickering in the band around its head. They would be coming.
edit on 7-8-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: Adding part 2.