This is the story I submitted for Week 6 of The Great Challenge. A 52 week challenge put on by Dean Wesley Smith at WMG Publishing in which I must submit a short story of 2,000 to 15,000 words every week. I will leave this story up until about Friday next week, then likely take it down and make it available as an eBook on Amazon.
Some of the stories from previous weeks are also available for purchase on Amazon:
Don’t Feed the Wolves
Green brush, red rock, blue mountains, grey rock, white snow, blue sky. The Colorado mountains in their mysterious, looming wonder. So was the backdrop behind Faith’s homestead.
Her one room cabin stood like a sore thumb sticking out of the landscape. It’s four walls of roughhewn wood were the only thing protecting her from the open range, and the predators that sometimes came down from those mountains.
Freezing winter nights and dry weeks in the summer were always a concern, but those she could face with dignity. It was the evil that lurked in the shadows of towering pines and rocky crags she feared. Her eyes drifted past the woodpile to the lonely cross jutting out of the yard, seemingly placed there at random.
It wasn’t the spot she would have chosen to bury him, but she’d been a slight thing then, fresh from the city without a lick of muscle on her arms. So where his body fell was where his body lay. It took days and every ounce of strength she had to dig the grave. Then it took all her grit to roll his body into the hole.
Her fingers tickled at her chest, searching for the silver crucifix that used to rest there, hanging from a delicate silver chain given to her by her papa. Her papa had been her whole world until an overzealous pioneer swept her off her feet.
That had been her first mistake, marrying a wild man. But he’d been fun, and handsome, and romantic. The romance quickly died when she realized why her father sent her with the warnings he did. Things stopped being fun the day she had to take things into her own hands—and bury a husband.
Faith’s skirt was cinched at the waist with a thick leather belt. A pistol shoved into the belt pressed into the small of her back. Her skirts brushed in the dirt, like a broom sweeping away her tracks as she walked.
Leather boots flopped on her feet, rubbing blisters on top of blisters on the sides of her feet. The bucket she carried swung, the handle squeaking with every step she took. As she walked, she plunged her callused hand, dirt in the cracks of her dry skin, into the dry corn, and then sprinkled the handful on the ground at her feet.
Some of the kernels landed on their wide end, the tips pointing towards the sky, like tiny, lonely golden mountains in the dust. Her chickens bawked and be-kawked and pecked and scratched until there wasn’t one lonely mountain left.
She wished the Colorado mountains could be pecked and scratched into the dust, then the monsters that hid there would be exposed, and the Clergy could annihilate the miserable race once and for all.
With only a few kernels left in it she turned the bucket on its end and shook it out. The chickens danced and fluttered around her skirts.
“Good chickens.” She said.
It was silly and her mother would have scoffed to see her do it, but her mother wasn’t here. Nobody was here, and she needed some semblance of conversation. She turned and walked away from the chickens. All their scratching for corn turned up bugs and worms which they now squabbled over.
Feed the chickens…
She thought of her father’s strange advice. Especially strange because he wasn’t a farmer. He’d never had to work an honest day in his life. He was a Clergy man, and the son of a Clergy man. What did he know about homestead chores?
She walked past the creaking tin windmill that pumped water from the deep well for her. Only a few feet past was a shack, their ‘barn’ Nat had called it. It was a poor excuse for a barn, but the sheep found shelter there in the night.
She grabbed a pitchfork and used it to reach over the fence and knock open the bar that kept the door closed. The sheep bleated at her as the tumbled out of the barn and into their small pasture. She stayed on this side of the fence for morning chores, to avoid them rubbing their filth on her so early in the day. And to avoid the ram, he’d taken to circling behind her and bunting the back of her legs with his thick skull.
She disliked the sheep. Their wool coats she had always imagined were soft and white like clouds, but really they were wiry and greasy and yellowed like the skin on a smoker’s fingers. She’d been offended that the Clergy compared the First Christian’s followers to sheep, but now maybe she shouldn’t think so highly of her own race. They were weak, and stupid. Always going where it wasn’t safe on some outlandish whim.
Look at her, she was out on the Colorado range, stuck there because her husband was dead and she’d no knowledge of even the direction to get home. She was weak and stupid.
She used the pitchfork to heave hay over the fence to the sheep. It was pitiful to call it hay, really it was grass she had pulled one painstaking handful at a time from the fields around her house.
There was a scythe, sharp as all hell, and she could have used it. It was laying not far from her husband’s grave. The blade still had blood stains on it and the wood was drying out from laying in the sun for so long.
She probably could have let the sheep go. Opened the gate to their paddock and chased them out into the wild, to fend for themselves. But she couldn’t forget her father’s words. It was all she had left to cling to.
Feed the sheep…
She propped the pitchfork up against the paddock fence and watched the sheep eating. She counted their dirty tails. They wiggled the dirty little things as they ate. The lambs especially. She frowned, there were only five sheep, there should be six.
Grumbling under her breath, Faith hitched her skirts, and climbed over the paddock fence. She peered in the door of the shack and rolled her eyes. The smell of mud and sheep urine brought tears to her eyes. Turning her head into the fresh breeze she took a deep breath, pausing a moment to savour the sweet aroma of half masticated grass floating up from the sheep, then she ducked into the shack.
The ram had his head stuck in a hole in the wall. They must have knocked or rubbed a board loose and now he’d gotten his head through, but his ears stopped him from backing out. A typical sheep behaviour.
She walked up beside the sheep, thanking the heavens for the thousandth time since Nat died that they hadn’t decided on cattle. Never would she have been strong enough to handle cattle on her own. She grabbed the ram around the neck and tried to push him forward so she could turn his head and get his ears out of the hole.
He started lunging forward so it was like I was trying to wrestle an out-of-control rocking horse. At one point her shoulder was thrown into the wall of the shack and she let go of the ram to step back and yell at him. She kicked at the dirt and stamped her feet. It didn’t change the fact of the matter though, she still needed to get him out.
Rubbing at her shoulder she stepped back and looked at the hole he was caught in. The board came loose at the bottom and was swinging like a pendulum from the top nail every time he jostled it. She grabbed it and pulled until it came free. Throwing it aside she started yanking on the board beside where it had hung. If she made the hole bigger he would be free.
The moment she had the board loose enough that he could have pulled free, the ram threw himself to the side. It broke the board on his left, and because she was successful in pulling the board on his right off the wall. That left a hole of three board widths in the shack.
It was gaping.
It was large enough for a full-grown male sheep to leap through and run off onto the Colorado range.
And that’s exactly what he did.
Faith lunged after him, holding onto the wall of the shack and screaming at him. Tears of fear and desperation and rage pricked at her eyes. It was dumb, but she felt betrayed by the ram. By an animal.
Don’t feed the wolves… her father had said.
He’d put special emphasis on that last piece of advice. He really didn’t want her to have a wolf problem.
She threw the board she was still holding out the hole onto the range and turned to leave the shack. She was greeted by a row of sheep, most of them with grass peeking out of the corners of their mouths, watching her intently.
She snarled at them, and they scattered. Stomping out of the shack she slammed the door shut and made sure the latch was in place. The last thing she needed was to have the ewes and lambs follow the ram.
She reached a hand back and fidgeted with the pistol in her belt, repositioning it so the trigger guard wasn’t digging into her back.
“That stupid sheep just created a whole day’s work, and now I’m going to have wolves on my doorstep in the morning.”
She slammed into the cabin and pulled out her toolbox. Muttering to herself she dragged it towards the door. Touching the pistol at her back once more for reassurance, she left the cabin again to start on the shack. It had to be done before nightfall.
She muttered and cursed all day as she nailed the board into place. She wasn’t tall enough to reach the top of the board, so she had to roll the chopping block into the shack and stand on it. The hammer was heavy, and her forearm ached by the end of the day. The taste of rust coated her tongue from holding nails in her mouth.
She had slivers in both hands and under a fingernail.
Her braid had lost its tie and her hair was unraveling into a knotted mess. Everything smelt like old wool and sheep poop. It felt reassuring to herd the sheep into their newly secured shack, but she still had no peace.
She stood in her yard, with the toolbox in one hand, and the other hand on the small of her back, and she stared out at the range. The sun, a giant orange ball, was setting behind Pike’s Peak, turning the mountains into looming shadows.
A wolf howled in the distance, but it carried through the evening mists and sent a shiver down her neck. With the setting sun, the air quickly cooled. She rubbed at the goose flesh rippling down her arm and shuffled to the cabin as quickly as she could with boots too big and a heavy toolbox in hand.
Letting the toolbox thud to the floor she hurried to close the door. The cabin had one room. There was a large iron cookstove that heated her home. One stretch of wall was lined with a counter made of wood beams, planed and sanded to a level finish.
The walls were natural wood with pictures and tools hanging in haphazard array. She’d been so depressed when she saw the home Nat brought her to, she didn’t put much energy into decorating. And she didn’t have energy to spare as it was, Nat insisted she plant the garden and care for the chickens herself, on top of cooking and mending clothes.
How she allowed herself to be brought so low, she still didn’t know. How her father had allowed her to be brought so low, that she really didn’t know. She could have been a Christian’s bride. Now look at her… No more than a liar’s widow.
She looked out the small window on the cabin’s west side. The cross in the yard cast a long shadow in the evening light, as if it was reaching out to her. Why had she even bothered crafting the shoddy little thing?
Because, despite Nat’s lies, and how he wronged her, she still loved him. Every day she looked at that cross. Not just a symbol of his laying to rest…
Just beyond it, also casting a shadow so it looked like a smudge in the dirt, was the bloody scythe. It was a heavy thing, how she was able to lift it and swing it she didn’t know.
Why she did it, she didn’t know.
That’s a lie, she did know.
“Why did you bring me out here?” She’d yelled at him. Tears ran down her face, leaving tracks in the dust that she couldn’t seem to keep off her skin. For five months they had been there, and for five months she hadn’t felt clean. In that moment she was dirtier than ever, her fingernails were cracked and her hands were blistered. The scythe was heavy in her tired arms, tired from a day spent swinging it back and forth through the grass around their yard.
Cutting feed for their sheep, because it wasn’t wise to let them roam outside the paddock.
“To start our family, to build a community.” He replied, as passionately as she had yelled.
“To build a community with who?” she swung her right arm out wide, “look around Nathaniel, there’s nobody here.”
She had been complaining about it for months to him. She was lonely, in her papa’s home there were always visitors. And they lived in the city where she was within walking distance of numerous friends, and carriage ride distance of even more.
He stilled then, hesitant. Like he was going to resume the walking-on-eggshells he’d been doing around her since they arrived. He had a secret, something he was keeping from her, and he desperately hoped she would take it well, but deep down he had known she wouldn’t.
Nat approached her then, reaching out, with hope rising in his eyes. Everything he had secretly dreamed about, hidden behind half-truths so she would fall in love with his dreams too and follow him on the crazy goose-chase.
He took her by the shoulders, his warm hands kneading the tense muscles as he turned her to face Pike’s Peak. “There,” he said, “they are out there, waiting to welcome us, but you have to be open to trusting them.”
“Them?” She knew who they were, but why did he want to build a community with them?
“They have knowledge, Faith, and something incredible that people in the cities could never dream of.”
“They’re savages, Nat.”
“No. They are not.” His voice got hard. He clipped each word and his fingers clenched before his hands dropped away and his absence made her shiver.
She turned to look at him. Maybe he didn’t know. He hadn’t grown up with her education. She could explain it to him.
“They’re freaks, Nat. They were genetically engineered to become creatures with the strength and instincts of animals, but the intelligence of humans. They reject the Clergy’s teachings, and they kill anyone that strays into their territory.”
“Those are only half truths, Faith, you don’t know the half of it. You only know what your father wanted you to know, what made him look good.”
“Don’t you dare speak poorly of my papa. I love him.”
“I know you do, but I thought you loved me too.” His eyes flashed, he was manipulating her, into feeling guilty so she’d submit to him as a good bride would. She’d been raised and trained to be a good bride for a nice Christian boy. But he wasn’t a Christian boy, he hadn’t taken that name.
Her papa offered to put him through seminary. Why hadn’t he accepted?
“Tell me then, Nat, since I am so naïve, why don’t you explain it to me?”
“We are a peaceful people, Faith, we just want to be left in our homes to raise our children and praise our God.”
Her stomach dropped. The baby beneath somersaulted and she pressed a hand against her barely showing abdomen. She remembered staring at nothing, her mind slowly digesting what Nat said, and how he said it, and all she wanted to do was vomit it out. Unhear it. Forget it all and go back to being nothing more than a married couple clearing the air.
This wasn’t clearing the air though. This was uncovering a terrible, horrible, disgusting lie that he’d used to trick her into a life that she now couldn’t refuse.
Because she was in the middle of nowhere.
Because she had no idea how to get home.
Because she was carrying his baby…
“You… you’re a canid?” she whispered.
“Half. My mother fell in love with my father, but he died before he could take her back to their home. She told me about it and when I was old enough, I went and found them. They’re good people Faith, trust me.”
Now she wanted to vomit for real. She felt the cords stand out in her neck and so much tension gathered in her face she felt it pulsing at her temples. Her grip tightened on the scythe.
“You lied to me…”
He tried to bring her back to him but she tore away from his grasp and lifted the scythe between them.
“My, my baby…”
“Faith, sweetheart, I love you, and I’m still the man you fell in love with. I’m no different than any other man you’ve known. Look at me, you can’t tell I’m not a human.”
“No!” she yelled at him. Spittle flew from her lips and tears burned her eyes. Then she lifted the scythe and swung with all she had, just as he was taking a step to try and embrace his wife, try to calm her down.
She’d had tantrums since they got married, he’d seen her fury. He’d always quelled it with a tight hug and a kiss on the crown. He never would have believed that his tiny, delicate, city-raised wife was capable of such a reaction.
But then, she never would have believed it either.
She looked down at her hands. Calluses cracked around the edges. When they got really bad blood would cake in the cracks and she’d spiral into a mess that crawled under the bed in the corner and prayed the world would be gone in the morning.
It never was. She was still here. Alone. Alone with her guilt, and alone with her grief.
Something rapped on the door. She froze. Then she heard the familiar and irritating bleat of her ram. There was no way the sheep had been smart enough to not only return home, but also knock on her front door.
She reached a hand back and touched the pistol, to reassure herself of its presence. It was still there. Her other hand flew up to her neck, seeking the comfort of a crucifix. It was no longer there.
There was no comfort for someone like her. No Christian bride would ever kill her husband, even if he was a canid.
It only took a few steps to reach the door. She lifted the latch and kept her weight behind it, so she could slam it shut again if she needed. What was standing outside her door felt like it could be a dream or a nightmare.
She hoped it was a nightmare, one that she had been in for a long time and soon she would wake up to find herself laying beside Nat, not a canid Nat though, in their bedroom at her father’s. Everything was normal, he was excited to claim some of the land on the range to start a farm, put to use his education in restorative farming and provide food for the cities.
Nat’s fake dream, the one that was a lie he shared with her so she’d join him, was a good dream. Too bad it hadn’t been real.
Hopefully this nightmare wasn’t real.
Outside her cabin door stood a man, a tall man who would have needed to duck through the six-foot doorway. He wore a black and orange plaid flannel shirt tucked into blue denim pants. They were worn, and held up with the help of an old leather belt, the end of it so long he had it looped and tucked back through the belt so it didn’t flap around.
Her eyes froze on his face. He had the same breathtaking masculine good-looks that Nat had. His eyes were a warm brown, a shade that invited her to keep looking. His eyelashes were dark and thick, and his jaw was strong. Thick whiskers shaded his cheeks, like he struggled to keep up to them even with a daily shave. Brown hair fell in thick waves over his head and brow.
The masculinity of his strong jaw line was emphasized even more by his wide shoulders, she wondered if he would be able to fit through her door without turning sideways. And his arms were long, of course they were long, he was so tall. She followed his shoulders, to his arms and practically gaped at the size of his hands.
That’s when she noticed he carried something. Well, two somethings. One was a small leather pouch he had tucked under his arm. The other thing, though, was in his hand. It was a rope. She followed its length and he tugged on it and stepped aside.
“Ma’am, is this your ram?”
The deep timber of his voice reminded her of the last six months spent alone, with only chickens and sheep for company.
“Yes, he’s mine.” She said, her gaze fixed on his face again, hardly even glancing at the ram that was twisting his head and bouncing around at the end of the lead. What should she say? What should she do?
She swallowed, what would her papa advise? A lifetime of advice from her beloved papa and her mind was drawing a blank, all it quoted back to her was ‘don’t feed the wolves’. That was silly though, this was obviously a man.
And a very attractive man.
A cool mountain breeze brushed past the man and swirled into her cabin. Her mind turned to the canid community Nat wanted them to join. Was this man one of them? She must have been hesitating too long because he cleared his throat and took a step towards the shack where the small herd was already contained for the night.
“I’ll just put him with the others than.”
“Um, yes please, and then come back here and I will give you something to eat.”
He nodded and smiled. His teeth were so white, and his smile brought a blush to her cheeks. She closed the door and pressed her hands to her face. What about his teeth though, had the canines been slightly longer and sharper? That was a canid thing right?
She hadn’t thought to look that closely.
Why had she offered him food? Because hospitality was part of her training as a Christian’s bride. And because she was lonely.
Shaking it all off she jumped into action, pulling out salted lamb shanks and pickled eggs. She trimmed mold off the cheese and flicked it into the fire. Then she smeared the cheese across the crust left from yesterday’s loaf of bread.
She set it all on the table, almost jumping out of her skin when the kettle whistled at her. Carefully she took down her tea set and prepared a nice green tea, with leaves her mother had sent as a going away gift.
She couldn’t spare sugar for the tea, so she hoped her guest didn’t mind. She had plenty of sheep milk though. She was staring down at her plain wood table, wondering if the fine China was overkill, when he knocked on the door again.
Her hands flew to her face again, and she smoothed them over her hair, realizing with shame that it still hung wild down her back, she hadn’t re-braided it since her altercation with the ram that morning.
She couldn’t leave him waiting for long enough to braid it now though. Straightening her shoulders she stepped up and opened the door. Carefully she stepped back and invited him in, placing herself so he couldn’t see the pistol that hid in her belt.
She watched him duck through the door, his shoulders brushed against the jams, but he didn’t have to twist to get through. He smiled and nodded his head in a ‘thank you ma’am’ gesture when she indicated that he should sit.
She served them both some tea and seated herself across from him. Perhaps he was from the city, maybe her father had hired him to come find her. He was here to save her from this ghastly life and she could go home, have a proper bath and haircut. Get herself a new dress that wasn’t threadbare at the hem, and forget this terrible excursion onto the range.
He set his leather pouch down and only her mother’s many lessons about discretion kept her from nosily peering at it. Instead she filled a plate with food for him and pushed it towards him.
“Might I say a blessing?” he asked.
“Of course.” She replied. She made the cross from her forehead to shoulders and bowed her head.
“Father in heaven, bless this widow and the works of her hands, bless her for her hospitality.”
It was a strange prayer, definitely not something her papa would have prayed. Her mother would have outright disapproved. But perhaps he’d gone to one of the progressive seminaries on the west coast. She watched him eat, wishing to ask if he was a Christian.
She didn’t though. It would be rude for a woman to ask a man his position in society. Instead, she watched him eat, picking at the small piece of cheese and bread she’d taken for herself.
He ate quickly, cleaning every last bit off his plate, and then he lifted the small tea cup in his hand, and it practically disappeared. Gingerly, he placed it to his lips and took a quiet sip. “Ahh, green tea, I haven’t had this in a long time. What a treat.”
“I am glad that I can share it with you. It’s the least I could do after you returned my ram.”
“That is just the neighborly thing to do.” He said.
Her stomach dropped. Neighborly, so he was from around here. Not hired by her father to track her down and bring her home.
“We are neighbors?” she asked, taking a sip from her own teacup. But she didn’t pause to savor the warm tea.
“Yes, I was walking at the base of the mountains today, taking my dogs out for a run, and they started barking at your ram there. Silly animal had his head stuck in a thicket.”
“Yes, silly animal indeed.” She said, setting her teacup back on its saucer. The silly animal was her though. She’d been so enamored to have company, and handsome company at that.
She looked over at his leather pouch, set on her table, his hand seemed to follow her gaze and he stroked it. His fingers traced the cross stamped in the leather. The empty cross, not a crucifix like she had worn.
Her mouth went dry, and there was no amount of tea that could refresh her. Her eyes shifted to the plate he’d emptied.
Don’t feed the wolves. Her papa had made it very clear. Something began to buzz in her ears, like static, a while later she realized her guest was speaking to her.
“What happened to the baby?”
“Nat said you were expecting.”
“You spoke to my Nat?” she asked. Nat had spoken to them? The deep pit of betrayal in her heart yawned wider. Her stomach rolled. She looked down into her lap, unable to miss the flatness of her stomach, and the emptiness of her arms. Then she stared past the man to the chest in the corner, where all the baby clothes she made still were neatly folded, never touched.
“Yes, he was very excited to be a father.”
She swallowed. “The baby, it came too early, it was blue—”
Then she was sobbing, sitting there with her hands in her lap, tears falling into them. And he only looked at her with those warm brown eyes. They were full of compassion. It was only because he didn’t know. He didn’t know what she was.
But she knew what he was.
Sniffing she lifted her chin and wiped the tears away. Glaring into his face she said, “God took my baby as payment for my husband’s life. Children are a reward from God, I was not deserving.”
His face fell, and his sorrow was tangible. His fingers tightened on his Bible and he spoke. She saw his canines flash when he did. She was watching this time.
“That’s the image of God the Clergy would have you believe so you don’t draw near to Him and learn how merciful and loving He really is.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. How dare he come into her home, and eat her food, and ask after her baby, and presume to give her a theology lesson. She was the daughter of an esteemed Christian, a Clergy member no less.
Reaching behind her back she pulled out the pistol and pointed it at the man. She pulled the hammer back with her thumb and leveled the barrel at him. There was only one bullet in the gun. She only had enough silver for one.
She had no way of knowing if silver would kill a canid, but she had heard that besides beheading it was the only thing that could. Carrying the scythe around hadn’t seemed practical. So, this silver bullet was it. Her crucifix, her salvation against the wolves that lived in the shadow of Pike’s Peak.
“You don’t seem to understand what happened to my husband, canid. I killed him.”
Her guest didn’t flinch. He didn’t even look at the pistol pointed at the space between his eyes. Instead he still gushed compassion all over her with every blink of his eyes and nod of his head.
“Why did you kill him, Faith?”
“Because he was a canid, because he lied to me.”
“But you loved him.”
She choked on a sob. Why was she still crying. Where was the rage she had when she found out what Nat was? Why wasn’t that serving her now to get this savage out of her home?
“Yes, until I knew what he was.”
“I think you loved him even then, I think that’s why you put the cross on his grave.”
“How do you know that cross wasn’t for the baby?”
“Because you buried your baby beneath the tree by the creek. In a pretty place where a grave should be. You couldn’t get Nat that far though, he was too heavy.”
“How do you know these things?” she asked. Her hand shook and she was glad Nat had taught her to never put her finger on the trigger unless she was ready to fire, otherwise she would have already shot her guest. She wasn’t ready to shoot him yet, she needed answers, or something.
She didn’t know what she needed, but maybe this stranger had it.
“I’ve been looking out for you Faith, since Nat stopped coming to see me, I have been checking in on you.”
“Because the Good Shepherd always wants to find His lost sheep.”
“So, I’m the lost sheep in this analogy?”
“What does that make you?”
A corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile, and he tilted his head. She noticed that he never moved his hands, he wanted to appear as benign as possible.
“You know, I’m not sure. Because I’m not the Good Shepherd, but I am someone He has tasked with caring for His sheep.”
“You don’t know anything about God.”
“I know enough. I know He loves you and He wants you to come to Him.”
“He wouldn’t want me, not after what I’ve done.”
“He has forgiveness for everyone.”
“The Clergy would never absolve me.”
“You don’t need absolution from them.”
She wasn’t sure how she did it, because her hands were still shaking so bad, but she laid the hammer of the gun back down and set the weapon on the table. It thudded, dropped the last inch, and made the teacups rattle in their saucers.
She knew why though, because somehow this stranger knew what she needed more than anything. Absolution.
She folded her arms on the table and collapsed into them. Hiding her face from him she wept. What had been worse, the heaviness of bearing the grief alone, or the fear that the first person she saw again would see her crimes and condemn her for them.
“Who was Nat to you?” she asked. Why did this stranger care?
“My uncle was his father.” He said.
This was Nat’s family. Nat was his family. She killed his cousin, he had every right to avenge his cousin’s death. It was his right to demand of her the price for Nat’s life.
She must have said that to him through the sobs because he leaned forward and said, “It’s already been paid, Faith. By Christ himself.”
“You mean the first Christian.” She said. Her papa had told her, there was no Christ, just the first Christian and he taught the others how to be Christians and he gave them the right to carry his name as a sign of commitment to his teachings.
“No I mean the Christ. The one and only Son of God. Who was born as a man and died to save you from this sin, and all your other sins.”
Faith sat up, spread her arms out and said to the stranger, “But why would He do that?”
“Because He loves you.” The stranger said. She froze, dumbfounded and without a response. In her mind she kept asking, but why? She was an awful, vile thing…
“Because, just like you loved that baby that moved in your womb – that baby that you declared an abomination – God, your Creator, loves you.”
She fell into a heap on the table again, sobbing. The stranger picked her up and carried her to the bed. He covered her with the quilts and whispered, “Rest, Faith, I will send my sisters to minister to you, and I will feed your chickens and your sheep.”
He rose to leave, but she stopped him, with a question made jagged by hiccups and a hoarse throat, “but what if you’re just a wolf in sheep’s clothes?”
He chuckled, “then you will have to test the spirits to find the truth.”
This story is dedicated to Shauna, my friend with the ‘sheeps’.