Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Sixty-Two

Dion stared at the centuries of writing. His shack quivered in the wind. The river had risen, splashed against the shack, slipping in through the cracks in the wood, kissing the journals, then rushing away. Each wave that splashed the docks had grown larger.

For the first time in his long memory, Dion was afraid.

He’d abandoned Raine, disappeared when fear overtook him. He’d claimed he didn’t want to live in the shadows any longer, yet here he stood — alone again, hiding, counting the years passing by. Each one of these journals — hand bound with twine, rope, whatever he could find at the time — marked a period in his existence as a god. Maybe even before that. He hadn’t gone back and read them in as many years.

It hadn’t seemed important.

And now they’d be lost to the sea.

He pulled a random one off the wall, almost tasting the dustiness, the old, wafting off it as he cracked its spine.

His tight, messy scrawl dotted every page, each line, never outside the margins.

A knock struck the door.

The book fell from Dion’s hands.

It smashed against the ground, threads snapping as the pages swept across the floor.

The knock sounded again.

Dion turned, hand wrapped around his jug of liquor. He crossed the room, feet stamping out his words with the sound of wet shoes. Easing the rickety door open, he came up short, finding another god waiting for him.

Liam watched him, head bowed. “I don’t mean to intrude.” His eyes flashed.

Dion’s cane went up in an instant, pressing up into the god’s chin. “How’d you find me?”

“Most don’t take notice. I do.” Liam leaned ever-so slightly, peering into the humble single-room dwelling. His eyes widened and he pushed away the cane, walked to the shelves and reached out.

“You can’t—”

The red-headed god drew out a journal and, with the reverence of a pious worshipper, cradled the spine as he slipped it open. In an instant the page turned without him moving, then another, another, another. Dion could hardly take a swig before Liam closed it on its final page and slid it back to its position. “You’ve been around a long time.”

“Longer than you know.”

“I can only imagine.” Liam took another out. When he tried to open it, the pages came unstuck, but he cradled it in one swift motion. He caught it before it struck the water. Kneeling on the ground, he laid it flat on a small table and began to turn the pages with his hands as if in a trance.

Dion watched, the alcohol withering his senses. He leaned into the cane, hobbled over to Liam.

He placed a hand on Liam’s shoulder, much like he’d do with a child. “There’s much more to read in the coming days, but now we’ve got to save all this. If you can follow me here, this place isn’t secure any longer. We must leave the city.”

Liam didn’t respond for a minute, then shook his head. “We can’t.”

“What?”

Another minute of silence. “Go outside and look.”

The wind howled as if in response to Liam’s command. Shack shuddering around him, Dion crossed to the doorway, lurching it open to be greeted with a blast of sea foam skimming off the water. He took three steps out to the water’s edge, shivers wracking his body. Peering out from underneath the overhang of rocks, he stared up at what remained of the sky, at the columns of smoke. The smell of charred flesh mixed with the salt of the sea.

His voice distant, Liam said, “The city is rioting. I don’t think anyone is safe.”

Dion watched another jet of flame jut into the open air. “By Oki, what have you done, Raine?”

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.