By Robert Adair Wilson
Copyright 2012 Robert Adair Wilson
Published by Robert Adair Wilson at Smashwords
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Charles lay in bed on his back and prayed for salvation, his hands pressed palm to palm tight above his chest, ... Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name ... What did he have to do to find the peace and serenity the Sunday school teacher talked about for the last two years? Every Sunday he faced the hope of deliverance in the low-ceilinged church basement surrounded by dark-framed depictions of suffering. The teacher implanted a level of fear in young Charles that made him feel 'only with the acceptance of the Lord as Savior and the peace of redemption' could the damnation that stalked him in sleep be withdrawn. Grimly she would admonish the assembled children to rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer and weep with those who weep. This seemingly unattainable state became a lumpy pillow he grappled with night after night. Turning to face the wall, gargoyles and demon faces formed in the cedar laminate fading in and out of focus a few inches from his face. Malicious stares of accusation lurked on the wall of the attic dead space just beyond his bedside. He strained his hearing, trying to catch any sounds of torment coming from within the walls. The eyes and mouths of the faces twisted and skewed into the most horrible grimaces. If he closed his eyes he could make them disappear but, unable to sleep, he kept returning to this disturbing vision. The pattern repeated every few panels, haunting him with a host of evil faces. The predawn light from distant French doors only increased his desperation, making the evil ones dance and shift, his nearest exit too far away for safety. Unable to stand the terror any longer and needing to pee badly, he bolted from his covers and scrambled downstairs. The chill of the house and cold linoleum on his feet was a welcome relief.