Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is an ongoing work of fiction. If you're just coming in on it, you may want to read the whole thing. If you're a new arrival and short on time, it will help if you read the previous entry before this one.
I’m in luck... I think. The Elders didn’t want me to get rid of Claire - or (to use the same phrase in an entirely different sense) to get rid of Peter. That’s the good news. The bad news? They wanted me to “investigate” them: find out what they know and what they want.
So last Sunday I went to church with Claire. It wasn’t hard to arrange; I just mentioned being curious about it. After all, she and Peter both went there, so it must be a pretty decent place.
Claire said (something like), “I didn’t think you liked churches.”
I just shrugged. “It’s important to you.”
And she hugged me, hard; and that was that.
The church itself is... Well, it’s an older building, by the standards of modern American construction. Despite this, it has (what I think of as) a modernist flavor inside: clean white walls, stylized columns and a low dais to set off the sanctuary from the nave. The outside is simple brown brick, punctuated with stained glass windows. It’s old enough that the trees and bushes around it are firmly established. The building has obviously been well maintained.
The people... well, they were a mixed bag. Well dressed, for the most part, and even those without expensive clothes were dressed neatly. A couple of the younger members had the “Austin Weirdness” vibe - colored hair, piercings, and like that - but for the most part they were... maybe not conservative, but traditional. Claire and I fit right in, except that everyone seemed to know her - and half of them were actively curious about me. That could have been awkward, except that Peter found us shortly after we arrived, and helped run interference for us. He sat with us, too, which should have made me suspicious but (strangely) didn’t.
I followed their cues for the ceremony, but I didn’t rise to take communion. Peter suggested I go up for a blessing, so I did that instead; that seemed to please Claire.
“I like sitting in the audience,” Peter whispered when we sat back down. “It keeps the clergy on their toes.” He was wearing his collar, of course. I smothered the urge to laugh. Everybody around us was quiet, which made it even harder to do. The old guy might be the death of me, but it’s hard not to like him.
Claire and I headed out when the mass was over. Peter waved us off, and Claire thanked me for coming with her. I told her it was no big deal, which was sort of true: no unexpected threats, no sudden revelations, nobody doing anything but acting their part. It was... weirdly comfortable.
I’ll have to go back.