Truth Lies Beyond the Lines

The sun shone brightly as John Solorus made his way down the suburban street toward the local church. He had already helped a lost woman that morning and felt that he had done his good deed for the day. Not that he intended to stop at only one. Clouds loomed on the horizon, threatening to cover the sun and bring rain but he did not mind. Today was a good day. 

Just as he was nearing the wide wooden doors of the church he saw that an elderly lady was handing out copies of ‘Good morning magazine’. Slowing, he bought one with a smile and entered the church with it tucked beneath his arm. The vicar had not begun his service yet so John seated himself and opened up the magazine. He skipped past the first few pages that were dedicated to a young man from the village who had been killed in Afghanistan, instead favoring the more cheery articles about charity and marriage. Reading too much into negative things just left him sad and angry. Not like his wife who loved to read sad things like Shakespeare.

Despite the sun, inside the church was cold and grey, lit only by carefully arranged candles and what light was able to flood through the stained glass windows. John liked the atmosphere. Most modern churches were too bright and clean cut. They had no soul. If it was up to him, all churches would be grand buildings of stone fit for the Lord’s worship.

Mrs Clenmoor entered the building and took her seat on the front row of pews. She offered him a slight nod of her head. She was short and wore clothes that had not been in fashion for decades. The clothes hung from her bony body. She too was devote of faith.

Now more people were starting to fill the church. There seemed to be so few though. When had people turned their backs on The Lord in such numbers. He questioned the fate of humanity idly as he waited for the service to begin. God would judge his children in time and after the non-believers their ilk had been dealt with he could live in paradise. 

The vicar, Martin Wordbane, now made his way to the front of the assembly with a child’s photograph in his hand. The man told the congregation about the child and his Christening earlier that day. John tisked to himself. Any true Christian parent should have their child Christened as soon as possible. The photographed child was a toddler. John’s mother had had a vicar ready and waiting at his birth. If possible, he would also have one with him at his death. To leave it so long simply felt wrong.

Martin continued with a speech on how they should all vocally condemn the muslim terrorists of ISIS as they were an abomination to both the true Lord and there of twisted reflection of God. He told them what it was to be good Christians, not that John needed telling, and condemned all who had renounced their faith and abandoned the one path to salvation. Those men were destined to Hell. It happened all too often. Leaving the embrace of the flock was unacceptable.

When the vicar had finished he invited Mrs Clenmoor to the altar to make her announcements as the Community Leader. At her mention of graffiti on the church, John clenched his fists angrily. Who would do such a thing? Whoever it was deserved the eternity in Hell that was their inevitable punishment. 

After that she proceeded to question local government policy and the like until she finally reached the words that John had been waiting for. Conformation of the annual ‘Most Pious Award’. This year it would go to a truly deserving soul. John Solorus. God had told him so in his dreams and who could deny Him?

The vicar took to the front again to relay the usual points like ‘love thy neighbours’ then stepped aside for the Choir Master. He was an old man with white hair who had a deep, bass voice and a keen ear for tone and pitch. A moment later the delightful voices of the choir filled the church with life. It was so beautiful compared to the brash sexual innuendos that were screamed down microphones to form modern music. John had tried to explain this in a school assembly once and remembered the scornful looks of the children. That night he had cried. They didn’t understand. 

John looked to the side where the Jones family had once sat. they had all perished in a car accident several weeks ago. Their pew remained empty. They were in God’s hands now. Weren’t they all? God’s hands guided everyone in every action they made. Why then was there sin?

He sat, humming along with the choir as they began to sing ‘All things bright and wonderful’. It was his favorite song. Here in church everything felt so right even though he knew that outside humanity was teetering on the edge. None of the world leaders cared that Jesus was being ignored and that society was descending into a Godless Hell. Everyone inside of here knew. Did they? He thought they did. They would soon.

So many questions came to mind but there was only ever one answer. God was punishing the world for man’s sins. John Solorus was no philosopher but he knew what was right and wrong and knew that he would help anyone in need. Why was that example so hard to follow? He wanted to purge the world of sin. Any true Christian wanted that. He would be the man who led his fellows from the ashes and toward salvation. He wanted, he deserved to be, the Noah of this age when the Lord sent forth a new flood.

He had a strong feeling that these days of peaceful worship would soon end. He tried to be absorbed by the music but his mind continued to wander back to the decay of society. Only yesterday had the local post office been held up by a youth with a gun and a mask. He had been caught but the crime had been in broad daylight. 

The smell of smoke caught in his nose. John smiled, thinking back to youthful days at church camp where they would sing hymns and tell biblical tales. Back then he had sat in front of the blazing fire and truly felt at peace with the universe. To this day he had God’s love. What more could a man want?

A melodious voice took to the foreground, commanding his attention. Juliet Goodman sang so beautifully. Back when he was younger he had had strong feelings for her but she had turned him down. From then on he had had to act. Act that he had moved on, lived a happy life with his wife and not wished that Juliet had returned his feelings. He was sick of acting.

Just last week he had been fired from his job at the bank. Then only days later his baby son had died. He had sought comfort from the vicar. The man had been in Barbados at the time and had not responded to his emails. There had been nowhere to turn.

Screams sounded outside. It sounded like children playing. Children who should have been in church absorbing the teachings of God. Sin was all around him. He knew that humanity was damned. He listened to shouted profanity that came through the windows to cut across the wondrous singing. 

He looked at the congregation and realised that several were on their phones. He would have to have some serious words with the church council. If they wanted even a shot at keeping the church at the centre of the community then they would have to listen to his advice. This run-and-gun approach to worship was getting them nowhere. They needed a plan that aimed at those who ran from the Lord. Too many strayed away.

He drew out his hipflask an tipped its contents down his throat. The taste was strong but it numbed his feelings and helped to drown out his negative thoughts. He had turned to the flask increasingly over the last few weeks. It made him feel wooden just like the pew beneath him. He was okay with that.

Flames rose up within him as the alcohol spread through him like a blazing tide. His fingers tingled. He loved that feeling. He reached out his hand to the Heavens. Warmth bathed his skin from the sunlight that flooded in through the windows. Something would have to be done but at that moment he was at peace with himself and the world. The angels sang as the fires of hell burned around him.

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