After all the introductions were made, Abe and Anna and their extended family bid farewell to everyone. Linda looked around but couldn’t find Father John anywhere. He had disappeared at some point earlier—after the destruction of End House. He didn’t even stay to meet Abe’s family. This had her worried. She questioned Shana, David, and Mike about his absence, but no one had noticed him leaving. She looked around for him, but had to finally give up and follow the others back to their cars.
When Abe returned to his house, he opened his hand to reveal the small folded-up piece of paper that Father John had slipped into his palm. The Father had brushed past him just before he’d disappeared. Abe sat on his bed in the darkened room, slowly unfolding the note.
Written inside were the few words “Meet me at midnight at the church.”
He wasn’t too eager to visit the church so late. But he had no choice.
Later, when everyone was asleep, Abe left the house and walked to town. He approached the church and saw for the first time the utter devastation the last storm had bestowed on the beautiful building. The once-white church was now darkened to almost black. All of its windows had been blown out and its roof had caved in. The tall bell tower was no longer visible; it must be lying somewhere amidst the rubble of the building’s interior.
He didn’t see the priest anywhere outside, so he walked through the doorway or what had been the doorway. He climbed over large pieces of wood that must have been the front doors.
Inside, nothing remained standing. Statues lay smashed on the ground. The pews had been crushed flat by the fallen roof. Even the stained-glass windows had been shattered to pieces. As he was lamenting over this terrible loss, he heard a shuffling noise behind him. He turned around to find the Father walking toward him.
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