The Fallowing – The Second, Part VI

by Steppen Sawicki

Novel: Occult adventure

That night I walked down Copper Street, heading again towards Marx’s house. It seemed half the population was out in the street, shifting suspicious glances at each other and especially at me, looking over my coat and rifle, appraising how much Gehazi would give for them. Several fires were blazing in trash cans or in piles right on the ground. Usually one person to a fire, and over the ones that were shared the people stared at each other, distrusting as if one or the other would steal the fire itself.

A woman shuffled into my path. She was covered in rags hanging off and around her in strips. A large tattered hole was on her left shoulder and the skin showed through blue from the cold, but she didn’t seem to notice. Her face was young, but filthy. Her eyes were heavy with exhaustion.

She smiled at me. “Your gloves are filthy, ma’am. Might I take them off you? They can’t be doing you any good.”

I looked at my hands. My gloves were pristine save for a little wear in the fingertips. I looked up at the woman, who was still smiling and wringing her hands, which were covered in strips of cloth that could barely be called gloves. Her breath puffed in the air expectantly.

“My gloves are fine,” I said.

“Oh no,” she said. “They’re all worn and frayed. You can find better ones. Let me have these.” Her face brightened. “Mr. Gehazi can give you some new gloves. Lovely ones. You can ask him. But these, these you don’t need.”

She moved to touch my gloves and I stepped back. “How long have you known Mr. Gehazi?”

“Two months, ma’am. Since March.” She shuffled closer and whispered “He claims to own an antique shop, but it’s really full of junk. And he’s such a fool, giving such nice things for more junk. You should go see him too. Now, those gloves.”

She reached for them again, but I batted her aside – perhaps too harshly – and continued down the street. She shouted after me angrily but didn’t follow.

Two months. Not enough time to learn that people don’t just hand over their belongings when asked. Not long enough to find that people don’t want to part with their “junk.” But enough time to consider my gloves and everything else of worth garbage. How long did the brainwashing actually take? Did this Gehazi start out giving away good things, transferring over to less and less costly items until he was giving them trash, or was it instantaneous? Did he just have to show them a threadbare glove and tell them it was treasure, and they would believe it? How much did I really have to fear tonight?

I tried to shake these thoughts from my head, but they lingered. Before I knew it, I was standing before Marx’s house. It looked even more decrepit in the nighttime, a dark outline crooked with broken siding and sagging roof overlaid with polluted snow. It seemed to promise rot inside. There was a faint light glowing yellow through the wooden slats in the windows.

The thoughts I held would have deterred many a man from entering, but I strode forward, ready for anything. And besides, Sam was depending on me. I hoped I could depend on him.