I don’t who did this artwork, but i love it.
Ever since Angela had called to tell him she was preparing roast beef for dinner he couldn’t wait to get home. He knew when he walked through the front door of their modest home he would smell the meat, potatoes, onions and garlic all soaking in the wonderful juice. Shawn knew like always the beef would be so tender it would literally fall apart and melt in his mouth.
He knew when he walked through the door he would see her standing in her linen apron with a smile on her face. There weren’t too many days that he hadn’t seen her long blonde hair up in a ponytail. She often thought that she was plain and no matter how many times he tried to convince her otherwise she wouldn’t take his word for it. Yet she never complained about the way things were. The choices that they had made in their lives together.
Shawn knew when he stepped across the threshold of the modest home he shared with his beautifully plain wife and his two children he would hear their footsteps galloping down the stairs from their rooms, arms wide awaiting the embrace of their father. Sara and Trey were exactly seven minutes and forty-five seconds apart. He often joked, although it was true, that Trey was a surprise child and Sara was planned.
Shawn knew all these things to be true, just as he knew that leaving the motel at seven thirty in the evening to go home to that perfect life was a bad idea. He knew that turning his car onto the dark stretch of road that led through the beautiful countryside was the wrong thing to do, but with all of the things he knew, Shawn could not figure out the one thing bugged him. Why through all the things that he has done his beautiful family has stood by him.
“Are you sure you can do this,” Bailey asked him.
Shawn had met her through a friend of friend and they had hit it off wonderfully. Even though she was twenty-three, ten years his junior, he never felt she was less mature than him.
“I know how you feel about this Shawn, but we have to do this. I’m compelled to and I know you are. We are two of a kind.”
“It would just be so much easier if we did what we promised,” Shawn said. Something inside felt wrong, he could feel his stomach turn just saying the words. His hands began to shake and he dropped his scotch glass. It fell and time seemed to slow. A million thoughts were able to rush through his mind as he watched the glass fall. He felt a sudden pulse of sadness for the glass, which struck him as odd. He knew no matter what he did to save the glass from hitting the thinly carpeted floor it would, and when in did it would shatter into a thousand tiny pieces, broken forever, unable to be repaired. Perhaps it could be replaced and maybe it was the most logical outcome. And just as he thought the thought the glass crashed to the hard floor and shattered, just what he had suspected would happen.
“That’s nonsense, Shawn and you know it.”
“Maybe, but what other choice do we have. Nothing good can come of what we are doing. The people we love could get hurt.” Shawn didn’t want to discontinue their meetings. Although the cheap motels weren’t his favorite place to meet. The tables and chairs looked as though they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks and he often wondered how clean the beds were. They very rarely offered anything in the way of a well stocked beverage bar. Today he felt lucky to have had the scotch to spill.
“Freedom to do what we want.”
“I have to go now, Bailey, but I will see you at least one more time,” he couldn’t help but say the words. He felt an itch behind his eye, almost as though something were tickling his brain. He quickly placed his palm on his eye, applying a little pressure. For some reason it always seemed to help.
“I promise.” Shawn opened the heavy metal door into the darkness of the night. Two lights stood lonely in the empty parking lot. His car parked in front of their door, Bailey’s next to his. A black sedan sat across the parking lot in front of another row of motel rooms. A tall man in a black suit leaned against it. Shawn turned to Bailey and reached for her. She stepped forward into his arms and they hugged.
“I think he’s a Sentry.” Shawn whispered into her ear.
“Just remember you promised, at least one more time.”
Shawn leaned and pecked her on the cheek. His kiss was soft and moist. A faint hit of vanilla filled his nostrils as he inhaled. He turned, kept his head down, counting steps to his car.
The man in the black suit got in his car and backed out.
Rain beat hard against the windshield and Shawn had the wipers whipping so hard he thought they might fly off blinding him. He hit the scan button on the radio station for at least the twelfth time. There had to be a radio station on somewhere. Someone had to still be broadcasting.
The smell of vanilla still filled his thoughts. Damn Bailey, she’s gonna get one of us hurt, he thought. But he couldn’t help himself. Angela, as perfect as she was, didn’t understand him the way Bailey did. Like she had said, they were two of a kind.
His foot pressed easily on the brake and his old car slowed. He looked up at the sign that always caught his attention as he drove by it. The lights so bright they shown through the heavy rain. He saw the beautiful face covered the large football field size space. It remained smiling as it always had. The dark eyes stared down at passers by for years now and no one ever complained. In fact, everyone loved it. Almost everyone, Shawn found it disconcerting that the eyes seemed to follow him as he drove past them.
What is so special about this woman, Shawn thought. His gaze never leaving the sign until his car had crept passed it and the gaze was broken.
Shawn’s drive appeared as he made a curve. Even though the rain poured like buckets being dumped from the heavens he made the turn onto the asphalt nearly blind. He had made it so many times before that it was almost instinct now.
Just as he turned to pull up the long drive a station crackled to life and Shawn stopped.
“What makes your message so different from everyone else’s, Mercy?” the disc jockey asked.
The voice who replied was like an angelic choir. One of the voices sounded familiar to Shawn, but his mother had been gone for several years, since before the arrival of the Sentry.
In the voice of hundreds of people She replied, “It’s not that different. I just believe that now is the right time. Others before me were just well before their time. Love and peace are as natural as feelings of hate and anger. We just have to learn to control those feelings.”
“How can we learn to control those feelings?”
“Easy, listen to me on my free radio broadcast sent out every Sunday evening by thousands of stations in hundreds of languages all over the world. Or stop by one of my many camps around the nation for a tour of the lovely estates and get personalized program built specially for your needs and wants. All free of charge.”
“Sounds too good, to be true.”
Damn right it does, Shawn thought as he turned the ignition off near the front of the house.
Shawn gazed upon his lovely home, mouth watering from the thought of Angela’s pot roast. Something didn’t fit though. He looked at his watch, eight o’clock, all the lights were off. Their bloodhound, Jefferson, stood outside the front door, shivering from the cold rain. Shawn leaned across the cold interior of the car and lifted the small lever for the glove box. He peered inside and the light from the dashboard reflected off of the barrel of a gun.
His door slowly creaked open and the night sat silent, save for the rain hitting the top of the car. Shawn placed one foot in front of the other in a near crawl. His heart beginning to beat hard in his chest. Why had the Sentry been outside his motel room? They couldn’t have known about him. About Bailey. Only they themselves knew. It was their secret, the only thing the Sentry’s didn’t know about them.
Shawn slid the gun into his jacket pocket and slowly took one step onto the porch. The silence of the night broken by Jefferson letting out one loud bark. Shawn suddenly pulls the trigger, erupting the night in thunder and blood explodes all over white door forever covering it in red. Jefferson’s limp body falls over, landing on Shawn’s foot. Silence again.
Shawn turned the blood stained door knob, waiting for the all he knew to come flooding at him like a wave of glorious light, feeling him with happiness. He stepped into the cold foyer, longing for the gallop of feet and the smell of meat and onions and the sight of a blonde ponytail, but all he saw was darkness. He closed his eyes, wishing they would adjust to the blackness within his picture perfect home.
He opened them. They had adjusted. But not to what he wanted to see. First he saw the blonde ponytail in the doorway to the kitchen. She was as he had imagined she would be, her white lacy apron tied around her waist in a yellow dress like she was June Cleaver. The smell didn’t fill the house, however, she must have never started dinner. She lay in the doorway beneath her was a pool of blood.
Shawn’s stomach turned, did flip flops and it’s contents landed on the floor beside his wife. Her eyes peered into his and she seemed to be smiling.
His feet moved quicker than they ever had before and he took the flight of stairs in three large bounds. He reached the top and time seemed to slow again. He threw his head around the doorway into Trey’s room. He saw the race car wall paper that Trey had begged for repeatedly. In the corner his television buzzed with snow and his radio crackled with static. But his room held no sign of the boy.
Shawn bolted down the hall passed he and wife’s room to his Sara’s room. He whipped around into the still of the room. Quiet. Her ball glove lay on the floor next the bat he had gotten her for her birthday. His eyes moved along the floor and up the bed to his children laying on the bed holding each other, wrapped in each others arms as if comforting one another from a vile creature. Oh, God! he thought. Sara’s white blanket held all that Shawn had ever lived for. All that ever truly made him happy. The one reason he had to live. The lives of his children.
He sank to the floor, pawing at the carpet, trying to generate the energy to reach them. Oh, God. His stomach turned again and what had came up in the living room now landed on the floor next to Sara’s bed.
Shawn stood up and leaned in close to his babies’, he breathed in, taking in their scent. He leaned closer and kissed them on the forehead. Then he saw pressed between the twins was a photograph that once sat on Sara’s dresser, a photograph of their mother and father.
Shawn knees hit the carpet again.
Shawn sat idly outside one of Mercy’s camps. He listened quietly to the message of love and peace emanating from loud speakers that hung outside the walls of the compound. He was curious as to why they even bothered playing the message anymore. Only a few people wondered outside the restricted walls of the compound these days. Her love was all that the people needed anymore. Love and Peace were her only rules.
His brain tickled again. He placed his palm against his eye and pressed firmly. He stopped, something caught his attention, a smell. A familiar smell, sweet and relaxing. Vanilla. Shawn’s hand reached into his jacket pocket and he fingered the cold steel of the pistol.
“Shawn, come in and listen to the message of Mercy.” Bailey’s voice was soft and soothing. His fingers relaxed from the trigger. Her voice echoed throughout the empty streets that surrounded the city sized compound.
“What about freedom?”
“Everyone loves everybody here. We even love you, Shawn.”
“I loved my family.”
“So did we.”
“Then why did you murder them? That isn’t love. That’s confinement. And where is Bailey? What did we ever do to you?”
“Bailey is safe with us. She saw the truth. It’s not too late for you.”
Thunder bellowed behind Shawn. He whipped around but saw nothing behind him. He fingered the gun again, pressing slightly on the trigger. He turned his gaze back to the gate.
Light filled the sky, illuminating the space between him and the gate. Shawn jumped at the sight of three Sentries standing in front of his car.
“Just come in, Shawn, I promise if you don’t like it you don’t have to stay.”
“Has anyone ever left?”
“No but they are all welcome to at anytime.”
Shawn slowly pulled the lever and the door popped open. He gently touched his foot to the asphalt of the wet street.
Shawn’s brain tickled again, and the smell of vanilla filled his nostrils. The tickle turns to an unbearable pressure and he pulled out the gun.
Shawn felt the cold of the steel on his temple as he placed the gun to his head.
“Don’t do that, Shawn.” Bailey’s voice begged. “It’s not the answer.”
“All I wanted was to be free.”
“You promised me one more visit. To talk about our things. The things we can see.”
“I’m here. I kept my promise. Now I‘m going to see my family one last time.”
Shawn held his breath, and squeezed. His brain tickled and hurt. Light flooded his eyes and he saw his wife standing at the end of a long row of pews in long white gown, holding a bouquet of flowers. Trey sat on the couch next to him watching racing. Sara stood holding a baseball glove awaiting the arrival of a ball.
Those where the last images that Shawn saw and those where the things he knew.