Part 29 - Trudging and Texting

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'SISTER' COULD WALK unaided, "It's not too far," she said.

They trudged after her. Skylab was trying to text Gatts, which was difficult with her phone in a tight pocket in pitch darkness.

"Are we there yet?" asked Far.

"Not long now, dear," answered Sister.

Skylab turned the phone's sound off in case Gatts answered. She would look later.

"My feelings are a mess, excited and scared, I don't know what to think?" whispered Pru.

Skylab didn't know what to say, so she grabbed the older woman's hand.

"Where are we going? It's getting darker and darker. Are you lost?" asked Skylab. "No, I am not lost. We will move towards the hills any minute now," grunted Sister.

The man also grunted, not bored answering stupid questions, but because he was having trouble keeping his shoes on, they were making a sucking sound with each step. Pru also had problems with her footwear. One heel had snapped and was flapping about. Sister turned left off the tarmac road. Now it was just mud and puddles.

Pru threw her shoes away. On other occasions, she would have enjoyed the mud squelching through her toes. They had lost most of the car tracks in the wet, but Skylab nudged Pru.

"We must be getting near, I wonder where my cousin's car is?"

A warm gleam could now be spotted in the distance. There was a break in the clouds moonlight gave them a good feeling, it didn't last long.

Sister turned to the man and Far, "You two go ahead, quickly now. Tell the brothers we are near."

"Why can't we all go together?" asked Skylab.

Sister glared without answering. The other two rushed ahead.

With the moon shining brightly, they could just about make out some deep puddles and the shallow ones they often sank to their ankles.

Skylab took a chance to look at her phone. There was no signal. The message she had carefully tapped out had gone nowhere. Skylab was unsure, but she reasoned it would go automatically as soon as there was a signal.

"Is it because of the weather or the rocks?" she asked herself.

Pru had held on to her questions for too long. She could wait no longer.

"Why has my daughter not contacted her father or me for weeks?"

"How do I know? She's a young girl on an exciting adventure. Maybe you are not at the front of her concerns," an evil leer accompanied Sister's heartless comments.

Pru was getting upset again, tiredness did not help. As keen as she was to see her family, she was ready to drop. Skylab, the much fitter person, was also struggling.

"How much further?" she asked.

The glow was getting brighter.

"Nearly there now," promised Sister.

"Peter, are you ok? Your face is red," asked Kev.

"As red as hell, is that what you are saying?" said the inverted man.

Neither man thought it funny. Kev was a man full of useless information. Such gems of nothingness often helped him with his cryptic crosswords.

He blurted out, "Did you know David Blaine once remained upside down for sixty hours?"

"No, Kev, I didn't know that, but it makes me feel a lot better," Peter answered sarcastically.

"I wonder why they only did that to you and I'm just tied to the chair?"

"The inverted cross was torture for unworthy vicars in the middle-ages. People died well before they reached sixty hours."

"Some people say it is good for the body," a thoughtless Kev stated.

"Kev, I don't pretend to be a history teacher, but did you know that in ancient Rome, they crucified people by hanging them upside down?"

Debbie wandered in and stood between her father and Kev, looking at each she finally said, "Mum will be here soon."

"With the police, I hope," said Peter.

"Oh, dad, what is it with you?" said Debbie.

"What is it with me? Your friends did this to me, you think it's a game or a joke?"

"Dad, I've found the true path."

Peter started mumbling prayers. Kev kept his mouth shut.

"Better go, sounds like we have more guests." Debbie skipped to the entranceway. Far and the man were welcomed. Mat appeared from an opening.

"Now then, you two, Far is it? And Khun O? Those are your names, correct?"

The pair nodded.

"You have been attending services for some time, I believe? What you didn't realise, is that we have a much bigger calling than the false front we show to people. Today, you will get the chance to join us."

He signalled to two of the black-clad followers; they moved forward and stood a threatening distance from O and Far.

"If you remain loyal to Jesus, up to you, you can leave now and go back to the church. I prefer you don't mention what you've seen here. I will trust you."

Mat looked each in the eyes. Far fell at his feet and kissed them.

O turned to run, he was easily halted; the men caught his arms and forced him to stand straight. Mat moved nearer when he was one pace away. As quick as a cobra, he thrust a rusty blade deep into O's stomach. His knife arm moved upwards, opening his victim up to his breastbone. There was a gurgled splash as his intestines flopped to the ground. The men released their grip and O slumped to join the rest of his stomach. "Tidy the mess, the others will be here soon." Mat turned and stalked away.

Far remained on her knees. Forehead pressed on the rock.

Kev and Peter didn't see what happened, it took little guessing. The noise turned the men's own stomachs.

A few minutes passed as they removed the body with a sloshing noise, which didn't make Kev feel any better.

Kev suddenly brightened. He heard Skylab's voice.

"Where are our men?" she shouted.

"Skylab, we're here, through the back," shouted Kev.

"Stay right where you are," Sister meant it as she flashed a knife from her waistband. "Peter, are you there too?" asked Pru.

"Yes, dear, I'm here. Do what they tell you. They are all mad," called Peter.

Seconds passed, then Mat appeared.

"Welcome one and all, to the dark lord's cave."

"What do you want from us?" timidly asked Pru.

"I want nothing from you. You all came into my orderly life and caused me problems. What am I going to do with you all?" said Mat, as he mockingly scratched his chin. He carried on, "This lucky girl," he pointed at Far, "was living a boring Christian existence. At least she can see the benefits of the true way. Unlike her colleague, the old man, who had a sad little accident," he chuckled. "He and Fred are now playing in the mud."

Skylab was losing her temper, "What the hell is going on? We came here looking for Debbie."

"Well, you've found me. I didn't ask you to come hunting for me, did I?"

"Debbie darling, please come home with us," pleaded her mother.

"I've explained to dad, that I have a new life with Mat. I'm going nowhere. Being with Mat is ... is ... special."

Mat slowly clapped his hands.

If I walked all that way, I'd need a vote!

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