Two Stories — Samuel M. Moss

Near Where the Rector Had Stood

I had to get away from my program, which had turned stifling, so I went to the famous church on the edge of campus. The church was known for being very old, and the group with which it was associated for being very pious. The church itself was not large and was open all the time. I went in in the afternoon. There was a very small ante room and the main back room where they held their meetings. The walls were made of old boards aligned vertically. The boards were deeply weathered and covered in some stuff like tar. These terminated halfway up the wall and from there on up it was that white mud whose name I never learned.

In that main back room I met the rector of the church. He was not much older than I, that is to say in his forties, or at least he appeared so. He wore a black cassock which did not impede him. Otherwise he seemed like any other man. His rosy cheeks and paunch made him seem younger. We spoke briefly, but he seemed very tired. Tired, I thought, like a man who has been pursuing god all his life, pursuing god and trying to convince others of his existence.

“The congregation came together and built the church in somewhere between two and six weeks,” the Rector said. “It has been standing for over a hundred and fifty years.”

I wasn’t sure whether this was fast or slow. The church was small after all.

I asked him if he himself had ever overseen a church being built.

“No. Never. I’m not a builder. I don’t know anything about that.”

He seemed ashamed to know so little. But, after all, this was a man who knew the path to god.

The rector went to attend to something, and left me with a small boy in a small suit, who I assumed was his son.

“Look,” the boy said, “this was the first stave. The whole church was built around this and it holds the whole together.”

There was a long heavy stick stuck into the wall and the floor at an angle.

I sat down beside him.

“Look.” He took the stick in both hands and turned it in a particular way. There was a sharp sound across the room, near where the Rector had stood. “See? If I change it here, it changes over there?”

I looked to where he pointed. There was indeed a long, hairline crack in the white of the wall, though I had not looked close enough to notice whether or not the crack had been there before.


My Program

I had started the program. There was a place under someone else. An older student. I didn’t feel welcome. There was an office for me. I found a newsletter in there. I read the newsletter and familiarized myself with the goings on of the school, of the program. It had been laminated. That is to say: it had been slipped into a plastic sheet to protect it. I thought this meant it was important or was looked after by someone else. Only when I finished reading the newsletter did I find that it was two years out of date. It occurred to me that one of two things had happened: either no one had been in the office for two years, or everyone who had been in the office since then had assumed that someone was coming back for the old newsletter. I took the initiative. I tossed it out. It felt good to tidy up, but then I became worried that someone else would come back for the old newsletter. There was going to be an orientation. They placed me in a room with strange things. They told me to lie on the floor, so I did. I was supposed to stay there for an hour or more. I was only supposed to come out when they came and got me. I stayed for as long as I could. They finally got me. I threw the things away but they said we had to keep them for the next person. The strange things seemed like a joke but they turned out to be very serious. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I didn’t know why someone would want them. Everyone else had been together. There was going to be a procession. They gave me a drum. I got into line but it was the wrong place in line. I had to move back to the end. We continued on through the halls. We came to the end.

Samuel M. Moss is from Cascadia. Recent work has been published in 3:AM Magazine, New World Writing and New Sinews, among other venues. He is an associate editor at 11:11 Press and runs, a site for innovative horror. Twitter: @perfidiouscript