Jericho [Part 3]
It was dark, cold, and clammy in the spot that Justin Thibeaux woke up on. His throat and mouth were burning and every gulp of air he tried to take in wasn’t nearly worth the effort. He felt every muscle in his body straining against him as he moved.
When he finally managed to stand up, he was immediately dizzy and noticed that his vision was so clouded that all he could see were the lights that seemed to be positioned all over the room he was in.
“Ah, you’re awake,” a voice said. Justin strained to see who it was but could see nothing.
The voice, however, was familiar.
“Reverend Frees, is that you?” Justin called out.
“Yes, son, I’m here.” Justin felt movement around him but couldn’t place exactly where it was coming from. “Don’t try to move so much. You’ll only hurt yourself. Stay in one place.”
“Where am I?”
A light laughter filled his ears. It didn’t sound like Reverend Frees, but it did sound familiar. He just couldn’t place it.
“You’re in my house,” Reverend Frees said. “On a lower level. You’re alright, son, you just have to relax. You’ll be able to see clearly in a moment.”
Justin sat back down on the floor, feeling the stone beneath him. He tried to control his breathing, but each one was jagged and caught in his throat like a shard of glass.
“There, there, son, all is well. You are well,” Reverend Frees said. Justin could sense that he was moving closer, could smell the cloves and bourbon that the old man always smelled like. “My, my, you are a strong one. Most men would be praying to Jesus to take their pain away.”
“What—what is happening to me? What happened?” Justin croaked.
“One more moment and let your vision clear. Then we will discuss our next steps.”
His vision was beginning to clear and he could see he was in a cellar of some sort. It was a large room, which Justin could tell was larger than the cabin itself. The walls were lined with candle holders, each holding three separate candles. There was no furniture, no decorations, and no sign of what this room could possibly be used for.
A large, strong man that towered at 6’3”, Justin was not accustomed to being afraid. But here, in this room, on this day, he felt himself give into the fear that had not claimed him since he was five years old and came face-to-face with a cougar in the hills.
He beat his fear that day. He wasn’t so sure if he’d be able to beat it this time.
“There you are,” the Reverend said, walking into Justin’s view. He bent down, his hands on his knees, very close to Justin. “Well, now, how are you feeling?”
“Not great,” Justin admitted. Reverend Frees extended his hand and Justin took it, slowly getting to his feet. Once standing, he noticed that he could barely straighten up. “I feel like an old man.”
“Uh huh, I see,” the Reverend said, standing back.
And that’s when Justin noticed that the Reverend’s appearance. No longer as thin, he was muscular, strong and lean. He also had a full head of blonde hair and his skin was soft and smooth.
In fact, the old man now looked younger than Justin.
“What-what happened to you?” Justin whispered.
“Me? Why, I’m finally beginning to feel like myself.” The Reverend smiled. “It’s all thanks to your lovely wife. Claire?”
She emerged from behind Reverend Frees, her arms folded and a scowl on her face.
“You wake up in a strange place and you don’t think to ask what happened to me or Audrey?” Claire was beyond disgusted. Justin could tell straight away; he knew that voice well. “You still only care about yourself. You haven’t changed one bit, Justin.”
“I—I’m just confused.”
“Well, why don’t we all just settle down and tell Justin what’s going to happen next, shall we?” The Reverend extended his hand to Claire, who took it and walked forward. “Now there’s a good girl. Go ahead and tell Justin what has happened to him.”
[Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash]