Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Fifty-Three

After a flurry of knocks, Raine positioned himself at an angle, letting the shadows drape his face. The wetness from the dew coalesced along the brown stones. The morning bell sounded in the distance.

He watched the street, a film of fog obscuring his vision of the passersby. He heard their steps, but couldn’t make out much more than that. This far from the lower district, people walked at night without a worry that some hooligan would appear.

After a moment, the door lurched open, a mighty creak hitting the air.

“Mr. Morgan,” an ancient voice came out in a whisper.

“I need some supplies.”

Silence followed as the keeper Fergal watched him with the focus of a viper. His salt and pepper hair fell in curls. A three day beard had settled on his skin. A smile did not crease his face. He stepped aside. “Things are getting heated out there, sir.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You might want to return home.”

Raine paused at this, knowing he wouldn’t say any more. “Help me suit up. It’s my next stop.”

Fergal nodded, closed the door behind him, cutting the moonlight off abruptly. He’d grown soft, his bed clothes fitting a bit too snug around the belly. “Follow me.”

Raine weaved through the sparse furniture. The place stank of blood, of many deals gone wrong over liquor and women. Raine marveled at the constant stench. “What’ve you heard?”

“A bunch of rumors. You know I don’t linger on them.”

“And about me?”

“From the looks, you’ve had an interesting last few days.”

“Most of it’s true. Unfortunately,” Raine lamented.

“Messy bit of business.”

Raine grabbed Fergal’s arm, fabric scrunching under his fingers. “It isn’t a joke.”

The curator looked down, his lip curling ever-so slightly, before he reached over with his free hand and removed the grip.

“Not much to laugh about these days,” Fergel said without much commitment. He continued down the hall, eventually turning into a sitting room. A partial sandwich and a half empty glass of milk sat on a table next to an olive chair.

Raine paused, watching the soft spoken warden draw open a giant wardrobe’s behemoth doors and extract a fresh suit. Just beyond the tailored garment, a small armory set recessed in the mahogany.

“Well, we all have to grow up sometime,” Fergel whispered.


“You know I hate these colors.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Raine rolled his shoulders, stretching out the three piece navy suit. With a white and blue over plaid, his clothing resembled his namesake a bit too closely. He shook out his legs as he stepped forward, testing out the new digs. Sliding one of the doors aside, he picked up a revolver, slipped it into the shoulder holster, then grabbed another, secured it in his waistband.

“I thought you’d said you were headed home,” the strained voice came from behind.

“It’s not safe.”

“Has it ever been?” The question came as a reminder, firm and pointed.

“No,” Raine said, adjusting his silver tie. “I guess not.”

“Keir would’ve been proud.”

Raine’s back went rigid. “What’d you say?”

“You need to go home.”

He spun, advanced on the keeper. He struck a round end table, which vaulted from him, splashing the contents of Fergel’s meal onto the rug. Raine latched onto his evening attire, twisting the white shirt in his hand. “You’re going to tell me everything you know.”

“Now, now,” Fergel said in his usual cadence. The edge of a straight razor tapped against Raine’s throat. It ticked twice against his Adam’s apple, but didn’t retreat. “I’m not one to gossip.”

“Is Keir okay?” Raine searched the lined face, eyes darting in frantic movements.

Fergel’s face remained placid, his eyes betraying some foreign emotion for only a moment.

“Go home, boy.”


Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.