Title: The Hidden Congregation
A Reverend Christie Mystery: Book One
Author: William T. Delamar
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3
The Reverend Oxford Christie is called to the nondenominational Church of the One Soul in Philadelphia. But...what has happened to the congregation?
The Reverend Oxford Christie is called to the nondenominational Church of the One Soul in Philadelphia. But...what happened to the congregation? No one has joined the church for many years. The previous minister’s portrait is now hanging in the basement far from all eyes. Though there is a cemetery, there are no graves for the spouses of the remaining members. Something sinister has taken over the church. But those left behind won’t talk about it. Angel, the church secretary, is clearly hiding something. Nehmi, the caretaker, lurks about, watching Ox’s every move. Ammahn, a visitor, sneaks in and sits in the back pew, never talking to anyone. What is found in the deep recesses of this sanctuary will haunt you.”
The powerful jet whistled and left the ground, circled toward the east, climbed and gathered speed, a six-hour flight. The clouds shut out the ground. Eastward, toward the source, but the source was everywhere.
The seats were wide and the one next to him was empty. He adjusted his chair to lay flat and allowed himself to relax, thrusting feet first through space, toward the rising sun.
Sand, ancient rock, and a wailing wind escaped from a corner of his mind, something about ancient stones that dwarf all human importance; the ice age lying in shale, waiting for a trigger. Destination: Cold Point, Pennsylvania; a prophetic name. It was a cold prophesy of the past—the shallows of a great Pliocene lake, gone but still emerging, like light years; a wink in the eye of infinity. There were creatures not mentioned in Holy Writ lurking at the edges of the unknown.
"Sir, would you like a cup of coffee or tea or juice?" asked the stewardess.
"No. Thank you. You're very nice, but I'll just lie here and restore my energy."
She smiled and moved on. He could hear her recite her liturgy. "Would you like a cup of coffee or tea or juice?"
He let his body sleep as the earth and its creatures swept beneath him on a moving tapestry. Through the windows of his mind, he could see the stars, whistling cold through space and burning hot to the touch. The plane, too, was a star, while the spinning earth below brought the burning sun from the other side of the world slowly overhead.
They crossed mountains and rivers. Far below and to his right, lay the grasslands of Kansas. He could feel its rich heat in the thin light over Missouri. Evolution was taking place as time's invisible presence processed earth and air. Flesh cracked open and bone turned white. He could feel the blood in his veins, flowing at a steady pace, like the continuing kaleidoscope below him.
Time sang, bathing space—the origin of all music—centuries of music in a calling note; cries of ecstasy and terror. His blood sang and the world sang with it, from air to grass, from fire to rock, to silent chalk. All the life that had surged and died, fluid eyes long closed, reduced to powder, a sweet dust with pungent mystery, unknown but to a few of his colleagues in archaeology.
Mid-afternoon: the cries of life beyond the chalk blended with the whisper of the jet as it began its descent into the thicker air.
"Sir, you need to bring your seat to an upright position and fasten your seatbelt."
We're all fallen angels. The House of Sleep was rising toward him—the archive—the bone land. He would haunt the past.
The old business in Philadelphia had only aged a few grains of sand. There would be time. There would always be time. The figures in the Museum of Man were silent witness to that. The findings, whatever they might be, would hardly change the balance of good and evil.
Insignificant, except to certain people.