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The Devil's Work

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New Life 1

Logo of the institution in question.

Air Force Academy

A photo of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.


Background

Written by yours truly for an AP Literature summer assignment, during which I was first reading/listening to creepypasta.

The United States Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, a town that is considered the center of a new religious revival in America. Any cadet training for the Air Force is essentially surrounded by evangilical megachurches promoting conservative values. There was a scandal in the Academy over attempting to cover up a report by a team from Yale concerning an aggressive campaign to convert cadets to evanglical Christianity.

New Life Church is an evanglical megachurch also in Colorado Springs formerly headed by Reverend Ted Haggard, a man in the upper ranks of the evanglical political movement when it was working with the Bush administration, until a scandal broke out involving his use of crystal meth and a male prostitute.

The Story

As obvious as it sounds, many people are Christians. If you have been so long enough, you have heard of the seven deadly sins, violations of God’s moral code: greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, pride, envy, and anger. But to say that those seven are the only offenses that can be placed under this category is equivocal and dogmatic to say the least and I must refute it. There is an eighth deadly sin that remains unmentioned to many. It is a sin more toxic to our society than any other. One might argue that the seven that are acknowledged by Christendom derive from it. The eighth deadly sin is ignorance. It has resulted in the brutal deaths of millions and the demise of entire families.

On the night of December 24, 1990, three boys were born at the same time in a town in central Virginia into very different families. Kyle Austerlitz was brought to parents who loved the adorable face of the newborn, but hated each other. Mrs. Austerlitz could not stand for her husband’s hedonist lifestyle and how that translated into an idiosyncratic obsession with gambling and women that he often took too far in the eyes of his spouse. They divorced soon after Kyle was born, but they both strived to make sure the boy was raised properly in Jewish culture in a loving manner. Ralph Emergences was not meant to be born, but a mistake made by his drunken father resulted in his existence. His father would not last long after his birth, as he was killed in a bar fight. Both of Ralph’s parents had been raised in Christian families, but his mother never paid any attention to him, so Ralph assumed religion was a scam and he was convinced that there wasn’t a god. John Cartine’s parents were named Joseph and Mary and his initials were J.C., so some might claim that he was meant to be a devout Christian. He was raised in a typical American family with his two parents, little sister, and his German shepherd, Hans. His preacher at one point told his father John could be a saint if the boy had the willpower.

These three children from very dissimilar backgrounds met in kindergarten and realized they all shared a deep interest in one thing: flying, airplanes in particular. Together, John, Ralph, and Kyle pursued a consummate knowledge of a variety of flying machines. The discussions were precocious since they were only six years old, but they could go on for hours. Their amicable friendship grew in strength almost as fast as the boys grew in height. They formed their own little group in elementary, continued their near-obsession with the eclectic selection of gliders, propeller planes, travel and fighter jets. They either wanted to be airline pilots or plane manufacturers, but to do so together. All that would change, however, when they began the fifth grade. The television was turned to the news by the teacher. The students watched in horror as the World Trade towers were decimated by the commercial jets as New Yorkers fled in absolute terror. John, Ralph, and Kyle realized that their country needed protection against those who wish to destroy it, and they would vow to safeguard it. They abandoned their dreams of working for airlines or aerospace manufacturers and made a pledge to each other that they would join the Air Force together.

Their teenage years involved many sports and other physical activities to prepare their bodies for the demands of the military. They still maintained their small group but did at times reach out to new kids who sat by themselves and tried to welcome them to their school. The student would eventually think they were weird and move on elsewhere. The three became more sociable with other people and they all had girlfriends at certain points in their middle school and high school years. John and Ralph broke up with theirs for mundane, typical teenage reasons but Kyle lost his in a more morbid way. She was also Jewish and admired the garb of her culture, which Kyle didn’t mind, and in fact, meant that both their parents approved of it. When Kyle was 15, they were walking down the street near a movie theatre when a vindictive crowd raged out of a showing of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, unleashing rancor upon the distinctly dressed couple. Three of them started kicking Kyle as he lay on the street, screaming anti-Semitic slurs at the defenseless Austerlitz. Kyle then watched helplessly as his girlfriend had her limbs torn off, the sound of bone cracking and her screams of pain echoing through the streets, as the crowd continued their violent censure. She died in Kyle’s arms, paraplegic and bleeding, the outgoing life and endless energy Kyle loved of her draining on to the sidewalk. The obstinate crowd continued towards the town synagogue but was quelled by police. Later reports suggest that the riot was incited by a mentally unstable 18 year old who recently became an evangelical. But Kyle didn’t know this and spent three weeks in lonely lamentation in his room, coming out starved. Kyle attended her funeral and even gave the eulogy as the coffin was lowered into the earth. Ever since, Kyle has lived a life of diffidence and rarely talks when around John and Ralph and even less with anyone else, if at all.

Finally, the three friends graduated from high school and headed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs almost immediately afterward. Keep in mind, up until this point, John, Ralph, and Kyle never mentioned their religious backgrounds to one another, since their main topic of discussion was airplanes. John was happy to know that a shuttle van could take him back and forth between the academy and the New Life megachurch, where he could worship and praise God for his good fortune even this far from home. Ralph was disgusted at what he saw as the boorishness of the people who would constantly visit him and tell him to join the church and save your soul, all that nonsense. Kyle was extremely paranoid and depressed from being constantly proselytized and bullied by the other evangelical cadets and even some staff. Once their true religious colors were shown in this new environment, they never looked at each other the same way again. They still got along, since they shared a room together, but the three happy boys who talked about nothing but airplanes were gone.

John Cartine opened the door to his dorm room, the scent of stale air assaulting his nostrils. He noticed that the place wasn’t very clean, but his impregnable immune system could fight off anything, so he didn’t worry about it. The room was very simple. A bunk bed that he and Ralph shared dominated the left side of the room, hugged tightly to the wall. A single bed was on the other side of the room where Kyle slept, close to the right wall just like the other bed was to the left. Between the two beds was a desk underneath the only window in the dorm that held John’s laptop. He was the only one who could afford a personal computer among the three of them. It wasn’t cutting-edge technology, but it worked for his purposes, which included a Christian blog he ran, and a Christian dating site he was a part of. John plopped himself on the bottom bunk that was normally where Ralph had slept and rested himself after a busy day at Basic Training. His years of playing football had paid off for him; he had done well for the first two weeks. He felt a resurge of confidence in his abilities and smiled. Just as he dozed off on Ralph’s bunk, he was jolted awake by Kyle’s entrance into the room. John was the first to speak, “Hey, Kyle. Basic Training was pretty hard, huh?” Kyle said nothing, but maintained a forlorn look on his face, got on his bed and stared at the wall as if John wasn’t there. John was apprehensive of how he was disparaged by the other cadets because he was Jewish. Even if he does not accept Jesus’ divinity, John thought, he’s still my friend and maybe one day he’ll see the light.

His train of thought was cut short by the arrival of Ralph, looking irritated as usual. “First, we have training on the fourth and now this.” “Ralph, what happened?” “The other cadets were making jokes at Kyle during training, but this time they took it too far.” John was puzzled, “What did they say?” As soon as he finished his question, Kyle turned over on his bed and faced John with that lonely look. He then said “Christ-killer”. John didn’t need any clarification; the others had accused Kyle of killing Jesus Christ. He nodded to Ralph in acknowledgement. Ralph continued explaining in an angry tone, “Those “God-fearing” pricks are taking this too far. If Hell ever existed, that’s where I would send them!” John just sat there, processing what he was hearing from his friend. He then spoke, “Things won’t be as bad as we stay longer.” Ralph sighed, “And if they don’t leave Kyle and I alone?” John was silent, but realized that it was the Fourth of July and the shuttle bus would be at the stop in an hour. Maybe a visit to New Life would lighten our spirits and enlighten their minds. John thought with enthusiasm. “There’s a fourth of July party at New Life Church, there will be plenty of food and everyone’s welcome. Want to go with me?” Ralph stood to decline but Kyle beat him to it and said “Anything to get me out of this nefarious open season on Jews.” Ralph then decided to go as well, to protect Kyle. “Wonderful! I promise neither of you will regret this!” “But I already do, John!”

Ralph Emergences waited by John and Kyle for the shuttle bus to New Life, unsure of why Kyle was going into the belly of the beast. Maybe Kyle assumed they would not be as mean as they were at the academy. He certainly made no indication of converting, but wanting to escape. Maybe it would just be a party celebrating the country’s birthday. Despite their conflicting religious backgrounds, the three of them remained loyal to their country. Then the bus arrived. It was white except for the words “New Life Church” printed in black on the side. The driver, a brown haired fat man, opened the doors and they stepped inside. The driver spoke to John in a Southern accent “Welcome back, Mr. Cartine. Looks like you brought friends.” John replied casually, as if he knew him, which was not surprising since he visited the church often “Well, Carl, we had nothing better to do tonight.” “You boys made a smart move, place is happenin’ tonight. Should be fun.” He then started the car and everyone was silent for the trip. On the way, Ralph noticed that there were more seats in the van but they were empty, but thought nothing of it. They finally arrived at the church, which Ralph had to admit, was an impressive structure. It was white and large (hence the term “megachurch”) with a cross at the peak of the building. The shuttle then parked near the front. The driver opened the doors. As he sent them off, he whispered “Have fun! Hahaha!” Ralph was slightly unsettled by the drivers laugh, but John and Kyle were already inside. So he stepped in and braced himself for abhorrent propaganda that awaited him on the other side.

The first thing he noticed is that the room was packed with many people his age and younger. The second thing was that they were in the process of blind adulation of their god. He just walked by the crowd and moved towards the food. There was a large assortment of chips, cookies and soda. Ralph never really liked soda; it never tasted good to him and wasn’t good for anyone anyway. Kyle was already grabbing a plate full of Cheetos and Fritos, but nothing to drink. Ralph guessed he never liked it either. John was the only one with soda. He took a drink, but then spat it out and threw the can in one of the garbage cans. John proclaimed “They had to go for the generic ones. Oh well.” Ralph took notice to the band that was playing some Christian song that had the crowd of ideologues dancing and waving their arms around like maniacs. He then caught John joining in the mass, chanting something with his eyes closed. Some of the kids started to swing their arms violently in all directions. The singer was speaking to his zealous audience in a surprisingly calm and eloquent manner, “They’re telling us that only four percent of our generation are going to be evangelical, Bible-believing people, but we, at New Life Church, are here to declare “Not on my Watch!”” The little zealots cheered and Ralph scoffed at the idea of people believing this. The singer said a prayer and gave laud as usual.

John and Kyle returned to Ralph sitting in the back eating the food as a man, presumably the Reverend, greets John. “Are these your friends, Jonathan?” John nodded and the other two introduced themselves to the man and he smiled. “You boys look thirsty. The lemonade just arrived. I’ll get you some.” Ralph smiled, and noticed that Kyle looked a bit happier. They all remembered how they had lemonades with their long talks of airplanes. The Reverend came back with three Dixie cups filled with Lemonade, “You boys enjoy the show now.”, and left. They drank up the familiar taste of the liquid, satisfying all of them. It was then that Ralph noticed the singer from earlier telling the familiar story of George Washington and the Apple Tree. If only at least a few of the founding fathers were not Christians, maybe this country wouldn’t be so controlled by the ideologues that condone those blasted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It crossed his mind that as soon as they all graduated from the Academy, they would probably be deployed in one of those wars. Ralph pondered this as he finished his lemonade. He noticed that he and his friends were lightheaded. The world spun around Ralph as he thought of the driver’s laugh again as the sounds of Christian rock nearby faded and then everything went dark.

John opened his eyes, but could not see. All of the lights, music and people were gone, but he could still feel the carpet floor of the church. There was little light in the windows throughout the church as his eyes tried to adjust the transition from the bright, loud youth event to the dark, silent church he was in now. He was more confused than he had ever been in his life. Why would the churchgoers leave him in here and not try to wake him up? He then noticed something was stirring next to him. He turned and recognized Kyle by his uniform. Kyle was rummaging through his pockets and found his flashlight. John remembered that Kyle always kept a flashlight because there were two things he despised more than anything in the world: pitch black and dead silence. Kyle never really hated anyone; despite the constant intimidation he faced by the other cadets. He merely disapproved of their behavior. Kyle found his flashlight and turned on the switch. John noticed he was just as confused of why they were left here. Kyle shone the light towards the exit and they slowly walked towards the door, keeping an eye open for anything strange. Kyle was a bit of a laggard and John had to urge him towards the door. John fruitlessly pushed the door, and then frustratingly shoved at it, still to no avail. Kyle tried his best to assist in bringing it down but it wasn’t of any use. John and Kyle felt the hairs on the backs of their necks begin to rise as they noticed someone was slowly approaching them. They both hesitantly turned only to find Ralph with a despaired look on his sweat-covered face. The terrified Atheist immediately spoke “All the doors are locked.” John and Kyle looked at each other then back at Ralph in anxiety. Ralph’s paranoia turned back into his usual annoyance “Well, John, it looks like your loving fellow Christians left us locked in for the night.” John replied in equanimity “I’m sure someone will find us tomorrow. Besides, this church probably has plenty of decent places to sleep. We just have to find them.” Kyle interrupted solemnly “Sleep may have to wait. Do you guys hear that?”

With that statement in his mind, John listened and heard a soft, childish sound creeping from the nearby stand where the band played at the party before all this. John was reluctant to go to the platform, they all were, but he knew he had to. As they got closer to the source, he noticed that it was a soft sob. Maybe there was a child who had also been locked in who was not taking this as well. As they got closer to the stage, Kyle shined his light on it and a small child wrapped in a ragged blanket with holes and cutoff edges became lucid. His head was the only part of him that was visible; it was pale and seemed almost deformed as if he had taken a club to his skull. The child looked no older than seven. As the three walked closer, the crying got louder, more full of hurt and sadness. Kyle walked slowly to the boy and put his hand on what John presumed was his shoulder. As Kyle did, the child stopped crying and turned its head to face the three.

They all looked in horror. Kyle got his hand off him and backed away. The child’s eyes were pitch black as if they weren’t there, but John knew that he did have eyes since he saw them move to look at them all. He could also see sanguine tears dripping on the boy’s face. His nose was horribly broken; his pale skin hugging what was left of it. One ear was seemingly cut off and his delicate, black hair appeared singed as if someone tried to burn it off. Then he tossed his blanket. John had to hold back vomit while beholding the child’s full form. He was horribly starved, with his ribs clearly visible. He looked like he could barely stand. He wore nothing but a ragged diaper that seemed soiled. But the thing that grabbed John most was the badge. The badge had been sown onto his skin over his heart. It was a six-pointed star that said one word: “Jude”. They all stood in silence for a maddeningly long time, about three minutes. Then the starved child began crying again, this time louder and harder. He began to shake violently, bawling even louder than ever. The child fell to the floor, trembling faster and more violently. His tears of blood were flowing fast as his cries of pain became deafening as the three cadets tried to cover their ears. Then the boy started to melt and disintegrate into a pool of blood and flesh, his skin being cooked as it hit the floor of the stage as if it was pancake batter. They all averted their eyes as the child’s sobbing became more violent as if millions of people were screaming in unison in their heads. Then it stopped. Pure silence. Kyle got his flashlight and noticed the only thing that was left was the words “Take Responsibility” written in blood red on the floor of the stage.

John stared at his companions who looked equally shocked. But surprisingly, his disbelief gave way to rage. This was not natural, this was not right! What was something like that doing in God’s house?! He held back the anger he felt inside against the child since Ralph and Kyle felt remorse for that demon. Yeah, John thought, a demon, that’s all that was. A demon was trying to scare us out of the Lord’s guidance. They eventually found some folding chairs that they could use to sleep on. As they prepared their chairs in the closet where they would sleep in peace until morning, John suddenly recalled about how the singer of the band was telling about the story about George Washington and the apple tree. John took comfort that the founding fathers made a covenant with God and vowed to make a Christian nation. Who knows? Maybe every knee will bow in my lifetime, even Ralph’s and Kyle’s. John smirked as he strived to go to sleep.

Ralph could not believe what he saw. None of them could, but he had to be strong for Kyle since he felt guilt for the strange child that died before their eyes. As much as John tried to hide it for Kyle’s sake, Ralph could tell he was spiteful towards the now deceased boy for one reason or another. He tried to put his mind at ease and to sleep, and he succeeded for a half-hour but was awakened by a deafening sound, the distinguished sound of a leather whip. Ralph realized that something was not right. Kyle was already awake and shaking John. Ralph checked his watch: 2317 hours. He wondered if the Academy ever noticed they didn’t come back, or even cared. John was jolted awake finally and was the first to acknowledge the existence of a trail of blood leading from where the folding chairs were at out the closet. John and Ralph stood in paralyzed fear for thirty seconds. Then the whip was heard again. As if out of impatience, Kyle rushed and threw the door open. What they saw next was horrifying.

Roman soldiers led a bloodied man carrying a cross as only Jewish priests and the soldiers mentioned earlier were looking in pride of the deed they were accomplishing. Everyone else was crying. But not because of the man that was to be hung on the wooden cross. Ralph realized that each of the women were carrying an un-melted, but lifeless body of the boy they saw earlier, still starved and with the star stitched into his chest. John got on his knees and started to pray to the dying man on the wooden executor. Ralph could not help but be disgusted by how John venerated the one called Jesus. Ralph detested and cursed the man whose death only brought more death and superstition that has held humanity back for centuries. Kyle only stood staring at the man as he gasped for air. Ralph noted that the priests and soldiers were talking in some dead language amongst each other. John stood back up and looked at Kyle, who was mumbling something. Ralph asked curiously “What is it, Kyle?” Kyle only looked up in sadness and started mumbling again, only this time gradually louder as he repeated it. Then Ralph understood what he was saying. “Roman charge! Roman punishment! Roman execution!” Kyle proclaimed with more volume each time until he was screaming so loud that the conversations among the priests that seemed to be above casual decibels were obscured, despite the lack of acknowledgement of such yelling. John looked up at his two associates with some sort of distaste, clearly disliking Kyle’s interruption of his prayers. Surprisingly, John asked with patience “What do you mean, Kyle?” Austerlitz fell silent, clearly out of breath from screaming.

Ralph responded with a quick temper “What do you mean? What he means is that you need to quit blaming him and his people for your so-called savior’s deserved death!” Ralph saw John feel a flash of rage fill his veins “How dare you accuse my Lord of causing the deaths of so many when those who do not believe in God continue to cause many more deaths for they only hold allegiance to themselves! The only reason so many of the Jewish faith have suffered is because they killed our Lord and had refused to believe in him!” Ralph was fine with John’s accusations directed at him, but not Kyle. Not Kyle. John went on, “Could you imagine how perfect the world would be if we all were Christian?” Ralph retorted with extreme malice “It would only be considered perfect because we would not know any better! I’d rather die than be brought into some blind hero worship!” John curled his fingers into a fist, “So be it, you infidel scum.” He then lunged at Ralph with burning fury. Ralph responded by punching John in the stomach, which sent the recipient back vomiting as he went back with force. John counterattacked by kicking Ralph in the chin, causing the Atheist to bite deep into his tongue. He screamed at the sudden shock of pain, blood trickling out of the right corner of his mouth. Ralph jumped on the Christian as he lay on the floor and they were soon on the stage, tearing at each other as the scene of the crucifixion continued oblivious to the fight. They were scratching at each other, blood running out of the marks made. They tried strangling each other, but neither could an upper hand on the other so it only resulted in them cutting themselves on edges of the stage. This continued for what seemed like an eternity until neither of them could throw any assaults on the other. Ralph looked at himself. He had blood all over his uniform and had many cuts and bruises on the exposed parts of his lower arms and wrists. Ralph looked to John and saw the Christian cadet in the same state. Neither of them had won, but they were very much wounded by their conflict. Ralph then realized that all the soldiers, priests, women, and the crucified man were gone. In the stead of where the cross ended someone’s life before they began fighting was Kyle. He was in the fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably almost as much as the starved child they had witnessed liquefy away earlier. Ralph and John both got up and, as if almost by instinct, walked towards their fellow cadet and started to cry with him. It’s all pointless, Ralph thought, I don’t want to fight anymore. Religion and war are both meaningless. It’s all a means of control. They all continued weeping, but Ralph eventually succumbed to the sleep he desired but could not find due to what he had done and witnessed.

Kyle Austerlitz was tired. He was tired of everything. He was tired of all the names he was called by the other Air Force cadets. He was tired of everyone except Ralph, but including John, telling him to be faithful to Jesus and the Gospel. He was tired of the disturbing images that he had seen while trapped in this megachurch. Most of all, Kyle was tired of his friends tearing each other up because of it. Being tired of it all, he naturally wanted to get some sleep. He did… for an hour or two. There wasn’t any loud noise that jolted him awake like last time. He just opened his eyes by himself. As he did, he noticed a shadow slipping out of the room the stage had been in into the small room he first saw when he stepped into the doors of this godforsaken nightmare. He awoke Ralph easily but had a harder time getting John out of his slumber. Ralph joined him in getting John on his feet. The Christian cadet got on his feet, obviously upset at the interruption. Kyle started to walk down the stage and pointed into the entryway so ominously, like the spirit of Christmas future from “Christmas Carol”, that it scared even him. Ralph crept cautiously towards the doors and saw nothing. He shrugged his shoulders and John had an irritated look on his face.

They were all about to go back to sleep when they heard an all too familiar sound. The deafening noise of a standard M4 assault rifle firing three shots, each bullet striking glass, breaking it, echoed throughout New Life Church. The three of them froze in silence, their hearts beating faster than either of them has had in a long time. Kyle realized that someone may have broken in to the church. No, someone had broken into the church, he was sure of it. And he wanted to confront it. He rushed furiously into the small entry room, ready to attack the new arrival, and found nothing. Frustrated, he turned back to Ralph and John. John spoke first, pleasantly surprising the Jewish cadet “Dude, we all heard it, either you’re not crazy or we’re all crazy.” They both smiled, but Ralph looked past them with wide-open eyes of absolute terror. Then a voice whispered with complete malice and no consideration for their sensitivities: “You’re all wrong.” Now they were all in full panic and fear, each of their heads swiveling in rapid motions looking for the source of the voice. Then they noticed a woman in some kind of dress that covered her entire body, even her face, rushing a child away from an apparent danger. Despite their attempt to flee to safety, two bullets caught up to them and sent them crashing into some grey folding chairs used at the party that got the three cadets into this mess. Then every single light left working in the church went dark and would not come back on. Then all went silent.

Kyle searched desperately for his flashlight in the darkness he now found enveloping him and his friends. He finally succeeded in finding his security item when the voice spoke again with even more mischievousness than before: “Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.” Kyle turned on his flashlight to find two men looked like an anachronism amongst the modern design of the megachurch. One was balding and wore spectacles while wearing a green coat with a white shirt underneath. The other had white hair but no glasses and wore what seemed like a military uniform that was blue with gold on the shoulders. Both were wearing tights of some sort and black shoes. The cadets simply stared in awe of the sight before them. Then they mouthed something in complete unison. Kyle was the only one able to read the lips of these two men: “Liar”. Then Kyle’s flashlight went dead.

He tried so hard to get it working again when they started to hear laughing from that voice. It became loud and superfluous, sounding like that of a grown man who was emperor of his land and was about to execute his enemies. John, Ralph, and Kyle were terrified beyond all reason. Then the laugh ceased and it spoke instead: “You chose to give yourself to us. Now, you must complete the gift.” Then, Kyle saw in the darkness a man with brown hair, a brown beard, and a twisted smile that spanned his entire face. He wore a white robe and brown, cheap-looking sandals. Kyle turned to view John on the edge of weeping again. He turned to realize they were surrounded by different individuals distinctly dressed but all with blood red eyes and the same horrifying grin, each with sharp, bloody teeth. Next to the brown haired man was a guy dressed in simple peasant clothing wielding two stone tablets with writing in a language he could not understand. Next to him was a male who concealed his body with a dress similar to the one the dead woman had, but was more masculine. Kyle could see his red eyes, however, and they seemed to pierce into his soul with uncensored hatred. To the left of this man, Kyle noticed a human similarly dressed like the two individuals who mouthed “liar” earlier, but he was holding some golden tablets in one hand, and a book in another. To the left of him and directly in front of Ralph, was a figure that had a shape, but no solid tangible body. It still stared at Ralph with the same evil smile. After staring at the cadets for a torturously long time, these men spoke with one voice: “Don’t be afraid. It will be over soon.” Then they started to slowly close on John, Ralph, and Kyle. Each man chanting those sentences over and over and over again. The repeated phrases started to invade Kyle’s head and threatened to tear him apart. All he could hear is the words playing in his mind and the screams of his friends. Two of the men grabbed John while Ralph fought back against his captors. John only cried as they bit into his neck at the same time and tore out the veins in his neck. Ralph was pinned down and the ghost-like figure poured gasoline on him, and set him on fire. Kyle was then faced by every disturbing leer among them. Kyle screamed all he could, but it was useless. They all lunged at him, and everything went dark instantly.

Mr. and Mrs. Cartine woke up to a beautiful Independence Day in the home that they had built their thirty years of marriage on. The couple entered the kitchen with a table crowned with a florid tablecloth to what has become their routine breakfast of buttered toast and scrambled eggs with orange juice and coffee. Mary opened the window to hear the daily songs of the birds nearby. Joseph kissed his wife on the forehead; he knew that despite this staycation, she still missed their boy. Their daughter was out on a trip with her friends to D.C. (They finally decided she was old enough to go without them, after much persuasion, of course.) and would eventually be off to college as well. Hans was relaxing under the front porch, since the loveable German Shepard didn’t have the energy like he used to. Mr. Cartine was looking for a means of cheering the spirits of the love of his life, and that’s what he pondered when he got the mail. He came back in and figured they might go see “Mamma Mia!” Normally, the family was very frugal and didn’t spend much on movies to watch at home, let alone the theatre. But he considered empty nest syndrome a good exception. He went back to the kitchen to look through today’s mail. There were the usual bills, advertisements, and other junk. But then one envelope got his attention. It was from the Air Force. Mrs. Cartine had just walked back in from checking on her flower garden and noticed the mail and its source. Hesitantly, the husband opened the envelope and unfolded the letter.

United States Air Force
July 4, 2008

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cartine,

It is with great regret that we inform you that your son, John Cartine, has been found dead off-campus. We send our genuine condolences and have initiated a full investigation. His body was found at New Life megachurch not too far from the Academy. Church officials have fully cooperated with investigators and also send their condolences. According to the Reverend who heads the church, John came to their Fourth of July party with a couple of his friends. He told us that John came here often and that he was a good example to the rest of the congregation. John was found with his throat ripped out, presumably by a massive blade. One of John’s friends, Ralph Emergences, was also found dead, crucified on the cross on the top of the building and burned alive. The only survivor was his other associate, Kyle Austerlitz, who was found hiding in the church closet, mumbling and wide-eyed, and has said only three things during the investigation: “We lied to ourselves. Man is his own demon. He is but a designer that we gave a crown to. ” So far, there is no suspect or person of interest, but we still suspect murder. One of the base chaplains told us that Austerlitz came here often to talk about harassment by some of the other cadets. The families of both Emergences and Austerlitz have also been notified.

I would like to tell you that nearly every single thing you assumed was right about why we’re here is wrong.

As obvious as it sounds, many people are Christians. If you have been so long enough, you have heard of the seven deadly sins, violations of God’s moral code: greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, pride, envy, and anger. But to say that those seven are the only offenses that can be placed under this category is equivocal and dogmatic to say the least and I must refute it. There is an eighth deadly sin that remains unmentioned to many. It is a sin more toxic to our society than any other. One might argue that the seven that are acknowledged by Christendom derive from it. The eighth deadly sin is ignorance. It has resulted in the brutal deaths of millions and the demise of entire families.

It claimed the lives John and Ralph and the sanity of Kyle. He won’t last much longer I can tell you that much.

And one day, the deadliest sin of all shall claim you as well.

Sincerely,

George Washington

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