Illuminati: A Short Story

For John.

It happened this way.

I was wandering around in a hotel on a Monday evening looking for the meeting room for the drug company I work for. It was one of those meetings that you go to because you have to go to them, and all of a sudden I saw a sign with the word Illuminati on it. I was instantly curious, because I’d had a conversation with a friend of mine named Toby a few nights ago where he tried to convince me that they were real but I told him he was crazy so it was pretty weird seeing a sign for an Illuminati meeting. I figured “what the heck?” and decided to skip my meeting. If this was the real deal it would be worth it – well, more worth it than going to some boring drug company meeting. I followed the signs. Continue reading “Illuminati: A Short Story”

Regis the Cat: A Story for Children

For Hannah.

Once upon a time, there was a black cat named Regis. Regis had rough fur, and his fur had some jaggers in it, because Regis didn’t have a family to live with.

Regis tried hard to be happy in spite of the fact that he didn’t have anyone to live with. Usually he had enough to eat, but sometimes he went hungry.

Regis didn’t understand why people avoided him, or why they often crossed to the other side of the street when they saw him coming. But they did.

One day, Regis was walking along his usual route when he came upon a little boy who didn’t cross the street to avoid him. The boy’s name was Jeffrey.

Jeffrey smiled at Regis and scooped him up off the street. Regis was a little surprised, but when Jeffrey petted his back, Regis was happy.

Just then, the boy’s mother, whose name was Frieda, ran over to Jeffrey. “Put him down!” she said. “But why?” asked Jeffrey. “Because he’s a black cat, and black cats are bad luck,” said Frieda. Continue reading “Regis the Cat: A Story for Children”

Holy Water

Legends from the church tell us that some people who God sees as particularly good will find scars on their hands and feet to match the scars of Jesus. They are only legends.

Two centuries ago, an evil witch placed a curse on a young couple: their firstborn son would be born a vampire. They could not help but let him be born, but when he grew older, he murdered his parents and drank their blood. Among the undead, he could neither die nor live. Roughly a hundred years later, Victor wished to become a Christian. Let us say that he did it for love, for one can hardly have a true wish to become a Christian for any other reason.

He was afraid to dip his finger into the holy water the first time – what was the penalty for defiling holy water? He wasn’t sure. But he did it anyway. He had to.

It is a well-known fact that holy water burns vampires. Victor drew back his finger quickly. It felt like his whole hand was on fire. He shook his hand, trying to get the holy water off, and trying not to cry out.

He came back the next week, and the week after that. The first time he touched the holy water to his throat he could barely breathe for the fire, and when he touched his stomach, the holy water nearly ate a hole in it. When he got as far as the shoulders, he felt as though his arms would fall off from the hissing burning. The holy water was like acid to his skin, but after a few months, Victor was able to completely make the sign of the cross, though it hurt him horribly. And so it was that every Lord’s Day at midnight, he would go to the little church, confess his sins to the priest, large and small, and then cross himself with the holy water.

But on this particular midnight, Father Richards was gone. The week before, he’d thought he’d heard someone following him. Now he was on guard.

Victor investigated. He walked over to the confessional. The last thing he saw was Father Richards laying dead on the floor with a gash wound in his neck and a different vampire leaning over him. Then a second vampire shoved a stake through Victor’s heart.

“Throw some holy water on him,” Vlad said.

“What’s it matter; he’s dead,” Viva answered. But she dumped the holy water from the font over Victor anyway, careful not to spill any on herself.

Then something very strange happened. Instead of eating at his skin like acid, the holy water ate away the stake through Victor’s heart. He rose up with a confused look on his face. Viva and Vlad were stunned, then began moving toward him, stakes held high.

And then a light like the sun shot out from the Victor’s heart. Viva and Vlad melted away like a horrible metaphor in the hands of a great writer.

Victor stood up and entered the confessional. He placed a hand on Father Richards’ head, and to his surprise, the gash in the old man’s throat vanished away. Victor pulled back his hand quickly, but it was done. Father Richards blinked his eyes open.

“What… what happened, Victor?” he asked.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s over.”

Victor confessed his sins to Father Richards, and as he left, he dipped his fingers in another bath of holy water and crossed himself. It hurt like hell.

The next morning, he covered the scars on his hands with gloves and the scars on his feet with socks. He didn’t remember getting them the night before and wasn’t sure where they had come from.

First Baptist

The grass had grown up a bit around the old stone church building. This was the least of Deacon Smith’s worries, though. He wasn’t really even very much worried about the workers from the moving company who were loading the pews into their yellow truck. Mostly what he worried about was the people of First Baptist Church. Ever since Reverend Thompson had passed into eternal life, the church had been shrinking. People had wandered off. Old Mrs. Wilson had stopped coming because her arthritis had been acting up. Doc Lassiter left because the preaching wasn’t really to his liking now that Reverend Thompson was gone. Deacon Smith had tried to preach a little, but he was no Reverend Thompson. There’d been a few interim preachers, but most were young and none could support their families on what First Baptist could afford to pay them, and that amount was dwindling every week as more families left. In the end, First Baptist couldn’t even afford to pay the mortgage they’d taken out on the old building. They had sold the bus first, but it hadn’t made much. The man from the electric company was apologetic, but before the dirt road’s dust had settled after he drove away, the power was turned off. The man from the bank hadn’t been especially spiteful either, but as he put it, “If you can’t pay, we’re going to have to repossess the church.” Continue reading “First Baptist”

The Five Spades of Christmas

A short story by David Schell

What you are about to read is entirely fictitious. Okay, not entirely. The parts that are historical are historical. The parts that aren’t obviously biblical are entirely made up.


I heard this legend from a friend, who heard it from a friend, who claims he heard it from a monk friend of his, who heard it from an archbishop, who found it in a really old scroll that claimed to have been written by St. Augustine in some monastery in Turkey. I’m inclined to believe that this is a true story. I’ve taken a little artistic license with it, but the details remain the same.


Everyone knows that the Romans built roads. But hardly anyone remembers the Romans who actually built those roads. This particular Roman’s name was Claudius. No one really remembered how Claudius got on the road-building gang. Claudius barely remembered it himself. But that is hardly important. The soldiers watching over the diggers and making them work were tired, but they kept going through the early night.

Claudius was exhausted. He stopped for a breath, and one of the soldiers shook his head and started walking toward him with a whip. Then the soldier stopped. Froze, actually, one foot still in the air. Continue reading “The Five Spades of Christmas”

The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon. Starring John Wayne

Author’s note: THIS paper is the worst paper EVER. It’s so bad that it loops all the way around from awful to awesome. That’s what I think.

The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon

Starring John Wayne

Author’s second note: Yes, I know that there weren’t any voicemail recorders back in the first century, or phones either, for that matter. But if there were, and if the apostle Paul had gotten a cell phone in his jail cell and talked a little like a cowboy in a western, a conversation something like this may have gone down sometime around A.D. 60.

The phone kept ringing. “I think it’s gonna go to voicemail,” Paul said. “I really wanted to talk to him.”

A familiar voice, half-drowned-out by static, answered. “Hey, Philemon here. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave me a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

“Hey, it’s me, Paul.” He held it up to the mouth of his much younger friend.

“And me, Timothy!” Then Paul took the phone back.

“Yeah. Hey, this message is for Philemon, our good buddy and coworker – and that great cowgirl Apphia, and our buckaroo Archippus, and the rest of the folks in your ranch church. First off, we wanted to send God’s richest blessings your way. You know, when I remember to pray for you, I always say thanks to God ‘cause of how much you love all His people and how much faith you have, and I pray that your ‘faith gang’ will keep on working better as you really keep getting what Christ put in you. You always make me feel better, bro, ‘cause you’ve just been a breath of fresh air to God’s people.” Paul drew a breath and continued. Continue reading “The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon. Starring John Wayne”

Hope’s Cry

His name was Ariel. At least that’s what I’m going to call him. I don’t know if it’s a historically accurate name, or a Hebrew name, or if it was even HIS name, but that’s what I’m going to call him.

He wasn’t the littlest shepherd, or the biggest shepherd, or the anything that ends in -est shepherd. He was just Ariel. And Ariel had had quite a shock the other night when the angels sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” With the rest, he had run to find the baby in the manger wrapped in cloths. He had stopped long enough to recognize the sacredness of this moment. The birth of a baby, though routine, was also something sacred, and it always made him stop. But this one… this one was different. He didn’t look different. No halo appeared over his head, and when he’d awakened and cried, he cried just like any other baby.

“So you’re Messiah, eh?” he’d asked. “You’re gonna have to get a lot bigger than that before you can take on Rome, kid.” He’d smiled at the boy’s mother.

“His name is Yeshua,” she’d said.

“Our Lord saves. A good name for a Messiah.” And with the rest, he’d spread the news of what he’d seen and heard.

But now it was the day after. Continue reading “Hope’s Cry”

Palentalia (or) The Divorce

by David Schell
based on a re-re-re-re-reposted message some friends posted. 

THE divorce was complete.

Hardly had the ink dried on the separation papers before the great migration began. “Liberals” from the east coast were moving west, and “Conservatives” from the west were heading east. Both had decided that the other could not be saved. A conservative law student named John J. Wall had written up the terms, and after some discussion, the conservatives and liberals had agreed to them. The text was as follows: Continue reading “Palentalia (or) The Divorce”