Outcast Online - Adrienne Kress

1.

They come out of the sky and take you.

Everyone knows that.

Why? Nobody could answer that one. Not really. Not when you thought about it. Sure the conclusion was that it was a Glory, but what happened after they came, after they took, after they left? No one could say for sure.

The first time it happened, it freaked everyone out. This was god-fearing land. It said so right on the town sign. You knew the second you passed into our community that this was a god-damned god-fearing place.

I’d always wondered if it was maybe ’cause we feared god so much that they came.

Anyway, the people here couldn, didn’t you?J2?” asked Father Peter’t understand why they came when folks went to church every Sunday. Everyone blamed everyone else. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, though. Well, as far as I could tell.

They’d started coming six years ago, just that one day, just after the sun had set. They came, they took, they left. They scared the shit out of everyone. When they came the next year, same day, same time and everything, that’s when people started thinking there might be more going on. That’s when the church went up. I mean, we’d always had churches here, but the other church was built. The one devoted to them.

The Church of the Angels.

See, people were conflicted, and the only way to reconcile it all was to see it as a Glory. It couldn’t be that we were being punished. I mean, some had speculated exactly that—that those who were taken were bad. But then someone pointed out that Georgia Banks had been taken. There was just nothing about Georgia Banks that was sinful.

Then a newcomer, a man by the name of Pastor Warren, explained it to us. He pointed out how god-fearing the town was and that maybe this was all a holy blessing or something. I mean, they’re angels, right? And they take them straight up, right? It wasn’t like they were going…you know…down. Maybe we were looking at it all wrong.

And the new church went up.

Pastor Warren saw to it that the church went up.

People went to the new church because they claimed they wanted to thank the angels for choosing us. They claimed it was to pray that next time they could be taken too. But that just wasn’t the way of it at first. In the beginning they went to the church and prayed to be left alone. They left offerings and hoped that if they said just the right thing the angels would let them stay on this earth some time longer.

The third year there was a celebration. Instead of locking ourselves in our homes, windows boarded up like some hurricane was blowing our way, we all made our way out to the gazebo in Codghill Park. It was like Fourth of July, banners blowing, fireworks and everything. Hot dogs. And the little kids playing carnival games. When the time came and we couldn’t be sure for sure they’d come again, we stood and waited and looked up into the sky. The silence was meant to be reverential, but I could feel the terror. The dogs could feel it too, twitchy and howling, yanking on their leashes. Buster broke clear off his chain, and Buster was such a good dog most of the time.

Then there was a scream, and Bernie Wilcox went flying into the sky. He was the first they grabbed that year. We saw the shadow behind him, thick arms wrapped tightly around his chest, and wings that spread twenty feet across the sky.

You never saw them come down, but you always saw them fly up. Some reckoned it had something to do with the extra weight, but they were angels, and I just didn’t see them as finding things particularly heavy.

My thinking was they didn’t want to be seen coming in because then we might be able to run away. But they wanted us to see them leave. Because they wanted us to know that they’d been.

Fourth year there was another celebration. By now Pastor Warren had started to really convince us of the Glory. Well, most of us. So this time we tried something different. We thought that maybe we could think a couple steps ahead—that maybe if we gave them some individuals, at least in that way we could have some control over the situation. It was a really strange celebration that year. You had, standing on the makeshift stage, these hardened criminals sentenced to life or