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Story #4





A Pact with Demons (Story #4)

Copyright © 2018 Michael Adams

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All aspects of this work are intended as fiction.





About the Author

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...and it goes on. Every generation considered themselves the greatest good and the greatest evil to exist. Every generation considered themselves on the leading edge of spiritual awakening and at the tipping point of irredeemable depravity. Every generation thought they were the one to save the world and the one to destroy it. Every generation was quite self-absorbed. But every generation must’ve had some understanding of its own smallness. Because why else would they’ve been so desperate to put their name on everything? They didn’t care about the names that came before them. But they needed to believe theirs would be different. Theirs would matter. Why was Philips Avenue named Philips Avenue? Who was behind the name on any street, bank, school, or library? What great deed did Philips do that this town thought he needed to be remembered? We thought the most successful and famous books and movies would live forever, instant classics. Some did. Most didn’t. Right now, someone was telling the story of our times and we didn’t know it. The future would discover it for us. We believed future generations would need what we needed. Only scholars and the self-conscious who needed a canon to tell them what was appropriate to think about and what to like really cared. Great men wanted their names to be immortal, but they forgot that what was once new and monumental would be overrun with weeds and mold. Bricks eroded, and there was a whole new generation of monuments needing funds. A name could resonate forever, but that didn’t mean anyone really heard it.

No one knew the tale of the two bridges. Everyone thought that the two bridges were built so we all had a place to watch the Witchta burn during the Twilight Festival.

‘The Tale of Two Bridges’ was ‘The Tale of Two Towns’. ‘The Tale of Two Towns’ was ‘The Tale of Two Mayors’. Towns were often defined by the interests of important people, even if none of us citizens shared those interests. Sometimes we all united under one interest because one great man needed a cause so he could be a leader. Reading about the twin bridges as history was interesting enough, but I think I would’ve plucked my eyes out with a spoon if I had to live back then. Ninety-six years ago.

A vast river ran between my home of New Haven and the northern town of Fairfield. New Haven was a small town that could still feel pretty sprawling. Forests and fields unfurled between neighborhoods. Memorial Highway divided the town in two. Main Street was the only commercial center, with certain places here and there. Sestina’s, a gourmet Mexican restaurant, was stationed next to the train tracks. Black’s Hardware was planted in the middle of a cauliflower field. The preservation of more pastoral times led to our small town being quite the country mile.

We were a destination for the rich in the summer. They made sure to elect local officials who would manage things while they were gone nine months out of the year. We voted down chain restaurants and luxury developers to preserve our local culture. We voted down youth centers and commuter rails to keep out the riff raff. New Haven’s purpose was to provide a rustic retreat for those who didn’t like the outdoors. The public school kept losing the vote for a new auditorium. An unnecessary expense. Why should some taxpayers pay for a school addition when their children didn’t go to school there?

Almost a century ago, New Haven had finally voted to finance the Garnet Bridge. The vote had failed annually for thirteen years. Then four months before the mayoral election, which also held the ballot measure for the bridge, the Witchta Tree burned.

Rooted at the heart of the Thimy River, the river that flowed between New Haven and Fairfield, the Witchta was once claimed as the Tree of Life. By the church, of course. The church had a faithful, to the point of insane, dedication to one cause. They insisted on proving that Man was created at his most pure and fell to his most condemned right here in New Haven. The tree couldn’t be dated because a sample could never be taken. Both bark and leaves were petrified beyond earthly physics. The church claimed they were able to date the tree to the creation of Man. Whenever that was.

The exorcists of yesteryear were hellbent to prove themselves as God’s chosen knights. They, and only they, could eradicate demons from His lands. Demons had been relatively dormant for centuries. They were about to fall the way of myths, like dragons and fairies if you believed in that sort of thing. Honestly, they would’ve become folklore at best. And maybe that was the problem. People wanted to feel safe. We needed something to believe in. We needed life to matter. We needed to matter. Demons gave us importance. They gave us something to strive for. We worked to be pure, or we set out to find evidence of more. Something more than a world where lives were routines. And we expected to be rewarded. If we weren’t, then it was all unfair. Even though no universal law promised us anything.

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