Before the Cult

       Sandy Masia / Thrillers & Crime
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They had been waiting for me, set aside a chair for me completing the triangle formation. Having just walked in I was not in the mood for a little conclave. I conveyed my unwillingness by shuffling over to my designated chair and dropped my bag on the wooden floor. Took every opportunity to show my enervated state in my actions, breathing, posture and facial expression. Macxermillio was not discouraged a bit by my display of unwillingness.
“Look, guys,” I suspired, “I’m a bit doped. Can we –“
“What the fuck happened?” Macfearson interrupted.
I sighed, clearly reluctant to explain, slightly because of the difficulty I sensed would come with putting some words together.
“Do you find yourself troubled by the philosophy lesson today? I know it can be a tight noose,” Macxermillio said.
“It’s not that.” I glanced at Macfearson. “Fearson did you kick Jay’s ass?”
He shook his head. “Nah, that’s part of the reason we should have this meeting now. We think enough time has passed since the last sampling to take on the next one.”
Macxermillio added. “The town has quieted. Does not seem to have gathered a lot of information regarding the disappearances. The whole thing has spun into senseless sensationalism that nobody cares about from some student newspaper and nothing major. The one that everybody always makes fun off?”
“You mean The Active?”
“Yeah, that one. Nobody is taking it seriously and everybody is circulating memes on the internet about The Active’s speculative article about the missing students which was not even close to the number we have nabbed. This means we have been extremely careful, having devised a new technique I think it is time for our next sample. Maybe our last before all of this catches fire.” Macxermillio paused. And later added, “This time it must work.”
“You know I have been thinking about this a lot,” Macfearson said, wagging his index finger. “I mean the reason for these experiments is to avoid going to heaven or hell or staying in this calling haunted world. It is so that we end up at the crop where we truly belong.” He paused.
The calling, an unfathomable being like time, everybody had an idea of what it was, but they were never quite sure what it entailed. Not of this world but interacting with this world. No telling if it was merely a deep feeling of loss and homelessness inside us or the cause of that feeling, whether it was an entity with the best of our interests at heart or a force of this world designated to choke and drive us to self-annihilation eventually cleansing this world of lunatics like us. For most of our time, we had known rejection and the unflinching arms of acceptance and love the calling embraced us with where suitably a subject of such doubt and scepticism. The calling had one promise: Do as I say and all will be alright. Just a string of words which never correlated to nothing tangible this far. Trust is earned or promises are subjected to tests like any hypotheses.
“Yes, that is the reason we study their eyes when they transition,” Macxermillio said.
Transition was just another euphuism for dying.
“What if there is nothing wrong with how they transition. That we are missing an element. I propose this element is not control over their state of mind but control on the state of their soul,” Macfearson said.
“This means what?”
Macfearson hesitated. “I was thinking we lack an occult element. A ritual or a sacrifice of sorts. Something to manipulate the transition process. Then if it works we could use it on ourselves.”
Macxermillio shook his head. “No, we can’t mess with the unruly forces and spirits and shit. Don’t wanna find myself in a situation I can't get myself out of. The occult is extremely dangerous it might require us to even add a stranger to our team, someone we can trust. Who even knows if deathling blood is very precious and on crazy demand for those occult lifelings? Let’s keep things within our vicinity where we can control it and remain safe and discreet. I hear you can’t even read an occult writing without inviting some spirits. We already have enough on our plate with the weight of the calling on our backs. That is as much as we can handle now.” Macxermillio paused and shifted in his seat. “It’s too much of a risk. Too demanding and not dependable.”
Macfearson grimaced. “You have thought of doing this before?”
Macxermillio looked away a degree. “Someone I knew tried. Let’s just say that.”
“What happened to him?” I asked.
He sighed. "Men came in the middle of the night where he slept. They dragged him out to the graveyard. Whipped him, flayed him and drained his body of blood. They took his soul too. Only these things weren't men, but spirits summoned upon him by studying the occult arts."
“Was he one of us?”
“I was too young to tell.”
Macfearson nodded.
"Now, as I was saying we are ready for our next sample. This time, I think we should strike close by. Three doors down from here and end the reign of Jay. His been a jerk to you and everybody else. People would be relieved his gone and we will be happy we got to break him. And when alarms start going off that students have been disappearing hopefully we will have our hands off.” Macxermillio turned my way with command and control, “We need you to have your lunch on the same table as him and his cronies. Find out what they have planned for the weekend.”
I sighed. "You mean I should watch him until he goes to the dining hall and then go to eat," I complained. "I'm already starving, Mac. What if he goes there after an hour and a half because he has a lecture or something? Can't we do it tomorrow? It's only Thursday tomorrow."
Macfearson intercepted. “We need time to prepare and gather resources.”
“Why are you so cranky though?”
I kept quiet for a moment, rubbing my neck. “It’s Courtney, Mac.”
“Courtney?” He leaned forward. “What happened? You finally spoke to her?”
“I tried. My words died in my mouth. I felt like such a fool.”
Macfearson laughed.
I continued. “She waited on me to say something but I was stuttering like I never had before. Then that pretentious class rep bitch interrupted us and ruined the whole thing. She chatted to Courtney and basically blocked me.”
“At least she gave you the chance to escape,” mocked Macfearson.
"Why now, though?" asked Macxermillio.
“It just felt like the right moment to talk to her. She had remained an enigma for far too long. It felt right.”
“Next time I guess.”
“How will I face her tomorrow? I feel so embarrassed now. She knows I’m that weirdo guy who tried to talk to her. I don’t know what to do.” I jumped up and threw myself onto the bed burying my face into the pillow. "I don't wanna deal with anything right now I feel like such a loser.”
“What?” they asked, having heard nothing but muffled ramblings.
I shifted my head to the side. “I feel like such a loser. I feel quite sick actually. Hope I haven’t ruined the little thing we had by being such a freak. I was basically choking for about twenty seconds in front of her my mouth gaped like a…”
“Like a?” asked Macxermillio, amused.
“I don’t know! I don’t even know what I was gonna talk about or do. I wonder what she is thinking of me now.”
“If she is a petty lifeling who cares?” said Macfearson.
“No, she could be more than that. She is quite unique.” I paused. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
“It sounds like you ruined it with your dirty cursed hands. You are not meant to be loved or liked by any of those folks. They look at you and they just see waste. They don’t care about you. They would rather have you stay away than come near them. I’m sure you saw the disgust in her eye when you approached her. She might have signalled for the girl to block you away. She does not want you. Maybe you were wrong thinking there is any hope for companionship in this piss of a world. Isn’t she part of the very fabric that is so intolerant and coarse on our souls? She blends easily doesn’t she?” spoke Macfearson.
I stayed silent for a moment. "Maybe you are right. She is just as superficial as the others. Nothing of substance there. Took being closer to her to finally see her true colours.”
Macxermillio solemnly spoke, his hands clenched together in front of his groin. “It is such precious things that the world constantly denies from us. Twisting and driving us under the soil they tread upon. It forgets us and misunderstands us, judges us and reminds us we are of no value to it. But this is not a new thing to a deathing but a horrid truth like death that no one ever gets used to or gets over. I grieve for you, deathling. And this is exactly why you should have that lunch, we can’t be here any longer to endure such torment even souls as hard as ours grow frail.”


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