Excerpt from Chapter 9
New Atlantic Sermon
The priest was halfway through the homily, and it gave Barnabas time to review his plans. Seated next to him in the first row were his wife, Shannon, their four children and his chief constable, Brady Langley.
Bethany, now Nora, was in position in Tarrytown. The xombies called it ‘Reverside,’ as if you can erase the Rockefeller family’s rich heritage from place with a goofy new name. In a week, her contraband skill in manipulating the xombie tech would be put to the test. Four clans of Raiders under his brother Daschel should have had enough time to amass in Ramapo by now. Daschel will have to keep them from firing off prematurely. Barnabas had suggested raiding some of the weaker xombie towns near by, but not so close to the bridge as to set of any alarms, or they would all be chum.
“And do not lead us towards temptation, but save us from all evils, amen.” The priest went on. Barnabas remembered a diatribe in his great great grandfather’s memoirs about how the mass was ruined when it had been translated from the original Latin. The man would now be fully apoplectic at the Great Consolidation under the One True Holy Father.
Barnabas turned his head to gaze at the congregation. The church was not accommodating enough to provide attendance by the whole town, and hundreds stood outside in the mud. A new, larger church, under construction replaced a block of homes to the north. It would not be ready for another 2 years.
Gladys’ caravan had indeed arrived as promised, yesterday afternoon. The bars and restaurants were full again of beer, gin and whiskey. The good times had returned to New Atlantic once more, and the revelers came this morning, seeking forgiveness. Citizens here showed signs of the degradation of their weekend drinking.
Gladys herself had left by boat for her meeting with the United Protectors of Liberty in Arlington. Before leaving, she had disclosed to Barnabas that the spy in his midst had been a trusted colleague and member of his advisors, one Harold Boucher. Harold must have caught wind of his impending capture and disappeared with his family, as a search of his home revealed a hasty exit. He would be found, no doubt, but punishment would be difficult, owing to Harold’s strong reputation among the major families for being a loyal traditionalist. Perhaps some accident will befall him. Barnabas decided to leave that to Brady.
“We believe in the one true god; the lord; the giver of life, in who’s form we are perfectly made, forbidden from all corruptions…”
The dust motes in the old church floated in the bright light shining in from tall stained glass windows. Barnabas remembered staring at motes of dust in these same pews when he was a child, sitting next to his father and grandfather. He remembered the strong smell of alcohol radiating from his father’s skin. The shaved back of his father's neck, bulged outwards from the collar. The sense of kindness, gentleness, misery and doom lay about him. And he remembered his grandfather’s naked disappointment, radiating stronger than the light from the windows, stronger than the smell of booze.
“He couldn’t help the way he was.” Barnabas remembered his sister saying to him. They were still in their teens, dangling their feet over their father’s new bulkhead, steadily becoming swamped. “His nature was never anything like grandfather’s. He cared too much about too many things he could do nothing about.”
“He was weak.” Barnabas said watching their feet, anger, fear and sadness fighting within him for dominance.
“You know he wasn’t.” Bethany said. “You know he wasn’t. He just couldn’t shut everything out the way some of us can. None of us can feel everything nowadays and keep going. The drink didn’t help him, so he turned to the pipe, which also let him down. He kicked the opium you know, when you were ten. He was never okay with the family, tradition, and all the tradition. He didn’t fit in here.”
“Not a good reason to just go ahead and drown yourself.” Barnabas felt the pressure behind his eyes building, a wall of grief held back by just some skin and will. “What about all of us? He had a responsibility. He was a coward.”
Bethany put her arm around her little brother, and he accepted it. The wall behind his eyes burst, the flood came and the young boy was washed away in the outpouring.