I climbed the steps, pulling out my revolver, and the knowledge of what it now held made it feel heavy in my hands. I peered in through the gaps in the wooden door where glass once was, but saw only darkness inside. After considering for a moment I decided against using my torch, and crept inside through a gap in the leftmost door.
There were sizable holes in the roof, so some light found its way in further inside, as well as some snow and wind. But for the most part I had left the blizzard outside. I could hear it roaring about against the walls, but that was all I could hear. It was a smaller space than I had expected.
There were no lights on inside, electric or otherwise. Surely this thing wouldn’t be sitting in the dark. He must be out. I could hide out in a corner and surprise him when he arrived. If he arrived. If this slight clue would in fact lead me to him.
I picked over the rubble from the caved-in roof and ruined pews towards the altar. There was a balcony above the entryway, though from the state of the rest of the church I wouldn’t have trusted it with my weight. The pillars supporting it were flaking or gone entirely. I had just stepped beyond them, into the center of the church, when I heard a creaking from above me. I turned and aimed at the balcony, but it took me a moment to discern where the figure was.
I think if there had been only regular bullets in that revolver, I would have shot without hesitation. But the thought of that one bullet, that one shot, stopped me. I had one chance, and without the killing word I was fucked.
I don’t know why Sam didn’t fire.
“Show yourself,” I ordered.
“Faye?” Sam’s voice drifted down to me. He lowered the bow. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“You!” I likewise lowered my weapon. “You bastard! You knew he would be here and you didn’t tell me.”
“You didn’t ask.”
“Come down here.”
“Too dangerous. You come up here.”
“Look at this place.” I spread my hands to indicate everything around us. “That balcony couldn’t hold a kitten.”
“The balcony’s fine. Come up here or don’t, but quiet down. I’m staying here.”
I grumbled but found a set of stairs behind a pile of rubble and climbed them. There were more splintered pews at the top, and another hole in the roof letting in snow and the white glow that snow brings. The wind whipped briefly at me as I picked my way over to the edge of the balcony, where Sam was perched black and gray like a crow.
It was hard to see each other in the dim, but we looked for a long time. I had already said my piece and left him behind, yet here he was like a song I had finally got out of my head only to hear it hummed by a passerby. What more could I say?
“How did you find out about this place?” he asked.
“I went back to Amnon’s.” He couldn’t see my face, but I averted my eyes anyway. “Corrie’s dead. Milo killed her, and he told me Seth wanted him to come here.”
Sam turned his head away to look below at the floor of the church. “Damn it,” he breathed. “I should have known. I should have been there at Amnon’s place.”
Silence again. Did he really care that Corrie was dead? Could he care? How far did that artificial soul of his reach? He didn’t speak again, so I took the feathers from my pocket.
“I had some encounters on the way here. They gave me these to give to you.” I walked, worried that any moment I might fall through the crumbling balcony floor. But I made it to him and handed him the pair of gifts.