“Pastor Laurence, huh?” Anders loitered outside the pastor’s office. He’d jiggled the shiny silver door handle a few minutes before, but it was still as locked now as it had been then. A limb of some sort kicked the other side of the door, resulting in a hollow thunk and a few shushes being issued. “How physical does cleaning one’s office have to get anyways?”

“I’ll be ready in a few minutes, whoever’s out there,” the pastor answered. The slamming continued for a few more seconds, and then the pastor brushed the curtain in the door’s tiny window aside. Peering out, he caught the man’s gaze, his face lighting up. “Ah, Anders! Give me a few moments, won’t you? I knocked something over and I have to clean it up.”

“Alright…” Anders took a seat on the kid-sized bench outside the office, fiddling with the zipper of his hoodie until his attention was sideswiped by the door opening and the secretary unsteadily walking out of the office. Anders got up and tapped her shoulder. “Hey-”

“What do you want?” She cradled her chest in her arms. Her glasses were crooked, and her shoes were on the wrong feet.

“I, um…” He scratched the back of his neck. “I just thought you should know that your shirt is on backwards. You know, so you don’t get embarrassed about it later.”

She pulled at her collar, noticing the tag hanging out of the front before walking away towards the side bathroom. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Anders turned around and entered the pastor’s office, closing the door behind him. Immediately, the glint of the two dozen crucifixes hanging on the far wall caught his eye, and he slowly lowered himself into the guest’s seat.

“So you’re Anders Shew, correct?” The pastor laid his hands on the recently wiped down table, lifting one back up to scratch his mustache. “What do you seek help with?”

“I, um…” The first chords of the worship team practicing in the background faded into the office. Anxious, Anders settled his eyes on the first item in the office he could think of. “Who’s in that picture by your computer?”

“Oh, this?” Pastor Laurence’s eyes softened as he reached around the monitor and picked up the picture frame. Staring fondly at the picture, he explained, “She was my niece Samhain. She died in a freak accident. I hear the murderer is still at large, unfortunately.”

Anders shoved his fists into his pockets as the pastor set the picture down, attempting to ignore the sweat at the back of his neck. “I’m sorry for your loss.” Your tie is crooked as well, but I’ll wait until later.

“Thank you, Anders.” The pastor folded his hands on the table. “What do you need help with?”

Anders took a deep breath, crossing his feet under his chair and looking down. “I’ve been having some behavioral issues recently. A friend expressed concerns a few days ago about prolonged demonic contact-” the pastor’s eyes flashed- “and my missing fiancée was almost pressured by one of them into consorting with him.”

“Ah, I see.” The pastor reached for his glasses, which he’d left on the computer, and settled them onto his face. “When was the last time you attended church?”

“Not since I was a young child.”

“What church did you attend?”

“I don’t remember. I think that it was the one that was in a fire a few years ago? Possibly?” Anders relaxed his shaking hands. “It’s been a long while, and it wasn’t exactly the most pleasurable of times either.”

“Are you religious at all, Anders?”

“No, sir.”

“Then why are you here, of all places?”

“Because-” Anders laid a hand on the desk- “I’m worried that I’m wrong and that there are demons inside of me, and a friend told me that I should talk to you.”

“So you acknowledge that demons might exist, but not a god?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know what I believe. I haven’t given it any thought since I last attended a church.”

The pastor turned to the window behind him, where the clouds were giving way and allowing rays of sunshine to filter though. “Will you allow me to pray for you, Anders? And maybe perhaps attend a service here on Sunday? Demons cannot pass through these doors, and maybe we here might be able to give you some peace of mind for a few hours.”

Anders nodded yes, and the pastor bowed his head, softly murmuring to himself. Anders lifted up his right wrist, checking his watch. Half an hour had passed by since he’d arrived here, but the meeting itself had only taken up the space of a few minutes.

The pastor turned back to Anders when he was done with his prayer. He took Anders’ hand, ripping his attention away from his watch. “Please promise me that you’ll be back here on Sunday.”

“I promise.”

“Then you are dismissed from here, Anders. God bless you.”


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