Forgive Us Our Sins

The sirens were coming from every direction. Leon could feel the iron fist of the law tightening all around him. He never should have listened to Jinx. Just the man’s nickname should have warned him that any plot the skinny gang banger came up with was doomed to failure.

The jewelry store on Fifth and Walnut seemed like an easy mark. It was a corner building with easy escape routes in multiple directions; an antiquated alarm system and only one old man ever minding the store. When Jinx and Leon burst through the door as the old man was locking up it should have been a fast in and out grab of cash and jewels; how could they have known that the old man was a kung fu expert. Jinx was through the door first. He pointed a pistol right at the old man’s nose and was in the middle of barking “This is a robbery,” when the old man exploded into action. Jinx lost his gun in the first second and then was hit about a dozen times in the face before becoming a human shield for the old man. He was marched forward, held between Leon’s shotgun and the old guy until with a kick he was propelled directly into Leon. The crazy old dude somehow grabbed the shotgun and held men both at gunpoint.

Their bad luck waned for a moment when the old guy looked away to trigger the alarm and that’s when Leon abandoned Jinx and ran for his life.

The alarm klaxon spurred Leon to greater speed. The neighborhood was the type people described as gentrified which meant that Leon only had a matter of minutes before the cops were all over him. He turned a corner as the first siren echoed down the concrete canyons. Every time he turned a corner flashing blue lights greeted him. Had the entire force turned out just for him?

Leon ducked down an alley and emerged next to an ancient church. There were no cops in sight so he bounded up the steps and through the massive doors. The church was dim and really old. Wooden pews lined the center of the space and they were worn and faded. The altar at the front of the church was a simple stone affair with no ornamentation.  A man knelt in front of the altar, facing away from Leon. He was dressed in a simple black jacket and slacks, Leon assumed it was the priest.

“Faddah, you gotta hide me.”

“Have you come for forgiveness child?”

The priest’s voice was high pitched and scratchy. It echoed off the curved wall behind the altar and sounded like it was coming from all around Leon.

“No man, I need someplace to chill ‘til the heat is off.”

“All who seek will gain forgiveness.”

Leon was losing his patience with this priest. The dude wasn’t listening and wouldn’t even show Leon the respect of facing him. The kung fu dude may have taken his shotgun but Leon still had his knife. He flicked the knife open and advanced on the kneeling priest. He was going to make the man show him respect.

“You ain’t forgivin’ shit man,” Leon said as he came around the priest, knife at the ready. “You gonna stop disrespectin’ me and get me someplace safe.”

Leon was in front of the priest and recoiled. The kneeling man was dressed in a priest’s outfit and clutched a Bible and rosary but there was no way he was an actual priest. The man’s face – if you could call it a face – was wrinkled and leathery. He had no nose, only a pit in the center of his face and his lips were almost non-existent where they pulled back from crooked teeth which looked like moss covered tombstones. The worst was the man’s eyes; but they weren’t really eyes, where a normal set of eyes would have been there were two round spaces stretching from the priest’s eyebrows to his cheeks. The round shapes almost looked like openings into the man’s head but instead of blood and bone they were filled with a blinding white light.

“Do you wish forgiveness from your sins?”

His horrible mouth opened and closed like a ventriloquist dummy rather than a human and Leon thought he saw a black, forked tongue within.

“Fuck you man, stay back.” Leon brandished his knife at the priest creature.

“No forgiveness then,” the voice croaked and somehow the creature’s lips drew back further revealing even more teeth.

“Damn you Jinx,” Leon shouted as the creature leaped at him with blazing eyes and snapping teeth.

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