“How long has she been out there?”
“Oh, round about four hours now. You think she’ll come in when the rain starts?”
“Better get her in anyhow. That damned thing’s still loose.”
She was a young woman, sitting in a faded dress by a makeshift cross buried in the ground. Sweat and tears glistened on her dark skin; her sobs were heard in the house, but a roll of thunder soon drown those out.
He had been her fiancé. He’d come in from the big city to visit his grammy, spent a month wooing her with fine words and jazz, and had decided to stay. He was staying for her. But now…
“Hetty! Hetty, get in here! Storm’s a’comin’!”
She ignored her mama’s shouts. She couldn’t leave him. The thing might come back to finish its meal. She couldn’t let that happen.
A flash of lightning lit up the cross. The funerals were always short when this happened. They tried to bury the victims as quick as possible. Someone once said they ought to just let the thing have the bodies, maybe it wouldn’t come around so often. But that was blasphemy.
“The good Lord told us to take care of our bodies as a temple,” the preacher had said, “and we don’t go in for desecratin’ bodies and we won’t let no one or no thing do it neither.” His thick dark eyebrows had bristled and his bass voice had thundered through the church. No one said a word after that.
No one knew where the thing had come from. The white folk in town blamed voodoo and African magic. But none of her people, Hetty knew, did magic. They were all good Christians, trusting in the Lord.
Hetty wiped at her eyes, but it did no good. The rain was coming down now. Still, she wouldn’t leave her vigil. Just in case. Just in case the thing was too evil for even their wooden makeshift cross to drive away.
A hand fell on her shoulder, and she jumped.
“Get your ass in the house, girl!”
“No, Pa,” she said softly. “I’m not leavin’ him like this. I’m not lettin’ that thing get to him.”
“That cross’ll do just fine. Get in the house!”
The noise that interrupted her was no burst of thunder. It was a growl, low and dark and evil. Hetty leapt behind the cross and clung to it.
“Hetty, get in the house!” Her Pa’s voice took on a desperate tone.
“Pa, we can’t let it—”
The growl was closer now, very close. A flash of lightning revealed two huge yellow eyes glaring at them from the dark. Her Pa ran over to her, grabbed her up and slung her over his shoulder.
A dark shape sprang from the darkness at them. Hetty felt a scream rip from her throat, just before something heavy hit them both.
She rolled away. The thing was on her pa now, and suddenly she felt a burst of anger. What was this thing, to take them as it pleased? Her pa was shouting at her to run, and she did; but she ran for the shed. There had to be an ax, or something in there.
Her pa never let anyone come into the shed. He said he was working on something to make a bit more money and keep them fed in winter, but he never said what. Now she saw.
Thin pieces of metal, all twisted in the shape of a cross, littered the table in the shed. Her pa wouldn’t want to admit he was doing something like this; it wasn’t manly enough. But she saw one piece of metal, still rather sharp, and she grabbed it before she was aware.
Outside, in the open yard, her pa and the creature were facing off. She couldn’t see much of the thing, but saw enough of its twisted form to know it wasn’t anything holy. It had its back to her, and she was thankful she couldn’t see its terrible eyes.
As she moved closer, she found herself reciting the Lord’s Prayer, just as she was taught from the time she was a babe.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name…”
She crept up behind the creature, that metal cross held tightly in both hands.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…”
Her pa noticed her, shook his head, but she shook her head right back.
“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
Her pa was shouting at the monster now, keeping its attention, taunting it…she saw coarse fur on its back bristle up…
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
She lifted the cross above her head.
“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever and ever AMEN!”
She shouted the last word as she brought the cross down onto the creature’s back.
The metal slid into the soft skin between its ribs; as the creature writhed her pa ran to her and helped her shove the metal farther and farther down, until the thing was pinned to the ground.
“Hetty, get my gun.”
Hetty ran, ran to the light of the house, where her mama and John’s grammy were both hugging each other. They had been watching.
“Pa needs his gun!” she shouted before she even made it to the house. Then a sharp crack of thunder boomed across the land, and a flash of lightning, brighter than any, lit the yard.
The noise was horrible.
Her pa let out a yell, Hetty hit the porch with a thud, and the creature screamed. After that followed the smell of burnt flesh.
Mama came out on the porch and helped Hetty up. They looked at the yard.
Her pa was standing up shakily, pointing and shouting incoherently. The metal cross was still embedded in the ground; a blackened hole and some bits of fur were all that was left of the monster.
A/N: To sum up my reasons behind this story, 1.) I wanted to write a story involving a very different culture-in this, a small segregated town in the 1920's; 2.) I wanted to write a story playing against an emerging cliche. It was once innovative to have the typical religious ways of combating monsters to fail. Now it's just becoming cliche. The Priest Always Dies. I decided to include explicit Christianity, and a Deus Ex Machina ending.