June 16, 9:55 am
The neighbors across the street from Keith’s and Richard’s house were the Weavers: Martin and Cathy.
They were a young couple with no children. Martin Weaver was a home handyman with a garage full of tools he was cheerfully willing to lend to his neighbors, along with his time and expertise. His wife was seriously in to latch hook rugs, which she produced with such enthusiasm that most of the houses on the block had at least one. She had made one with two bears on it for Richard and Keith, and it still adorned their guest bedroom.
The Weavers had hunkered down in their house early in the crisis and had barricaded themselves in an upstairs bedroom overlooking the street. They’d ignored the reports on the news to secure all weapons, and Martin Weaver had the shotgun he had used as a kid for trap and skeet shooting. His wife had her favorite butcher knife.
Mattie possessed Cathy Weaver, and stabbed her husband in the throat, using the knife already in her hand. Before he had even bled out on the bed, Mattie made the woman bury the knife in her own belly.
She stepped free of the dying woman and stood back to admire her handiwork. It had only taken seconds, and Mattie thought it to be a bit dull. She would have liked to play with the couple for a while, but she was in a hurry. Both of the Weavers lay dying on their bed as she joined Justin, looking out on the street below them.
So messy, she thought, glancing back at the Weavers. So messy and so unclean.
She joined Justin just in time to watch the three living humans and the two ghosts outside, as they made their way toward the yellow house across the street. The three living humans all looked battered, as if they had escaped from a war zone. The half-naked chubby man was the worst off, with his short and burned arms held out from his pudgy torso. He reminded her of her pa after he’d delivered a breech calf.
I should have doused him more thoroughly before torching the car, she thought. But it was too late for regrets now.
The ghost named Richard Pratt, the one who had caused so much consternation from God, followed quickly behind, looking like a puppy dog, whimpering with his tail between his legs. Why God thought that this pathetic ghost should be of any concern was beyond her.
And then there was Billy. She watched him with the loathing she would save for a rat, or some other filthy animal that should be exterminated for the good of everyone.
He knows I’m here. I can feel it.
The loathsome boy stopped in the doorway and looked directly into her eyes, before the one with the tire iron came back and motioned him inside.
Of all of them, Howard Gunderson, the medium, looked the strongest. She could understand why Justin would want him. He looked tall and proud, his bare chest muscled, and his belly flat and hairless. He was a lovely boy.
The woman on the bed was still alive, and her whimpering was annoying. Mattie wished that she’d just bleed out already, and be done with it.
Justin stood next to her at the window. She felt him there, fearful and trembling, and as she spoke, neither of them looked at the other. And neither of them moved.
“I’m angry with you, you know,” Mattie said.
“I know. I’m sorry, Princess. I think I… forgot who I am.”
“No,” she hissed, still as a statue, “you forgot who you serve.”
From the corner of her eye, she sensed Justin as he dropped his eyes to the floor. That pleased her. The boy should be full of shame and regret.
“You do know what you’ve done, don’t you? You know what you’ve done to that boy, Howard?”
“I know. I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to… feel myself in him. He wasn’t like any of the others.”
“You’ve made him powerful, and very dangerous. God will be furious with you.” Silence. “You’re obsessed with this boy,” she said, and it wasn’t a question. “You’ve forsaken God because of your lust. You’re being dirty and nasty, just like those other two. You don’t want to use him, you filthy thing. You want to… You want to have him. In a way that God forbids.”
“No, it’s not that,” Justin said, his voice hoarse in a desperate whisper. “It’s just that…”
Mattie didn’t let him finish the sentence. “I tried to kill that boy, you know. I tried to kill them all. For you. I thought maybe if that boy was gone, you’d stop this nonsense, and that maybe we could hide what you did from God. But he’s dangerous now, because of what you did to him. He can see us, and he can reset us. Any time he wants. He just has to get close enough. That’s why God said we must never make one of our tools into a medium.”
Justin was crying now, the tears running off his face and dripping into the air before disappearing. When he spoke, he sounded like a little boy.
“Are you going to tell?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “You are going to tell. You’re going to tell God what you did. And you are going to say that you’re sorry. Maybe he won’t leave you here to rot after the Cleansing. Are you going to say you’re sorry to God?” she asked.
“I will,” Justin sobbed. “I promise I will.”
“Are you going to tell him what you did?”
There was silence. The house across the street was quiet. Cathy Weaver’s moans were very weak now, as the last of her blood seeped from her body. Already, Mattie could sense that the woman’s pulse was slowing. Even as she was waiting for Justin to make his promise, she reveled in the joy she found in hearing a living heart beat its last.
It was a delicious sound, and it made Mattie smile.
“Do it now,” she said. “Open your mind to God. Tell him. Tell him everything.”
The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.
For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.
To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.
If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.
Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.