I came home one night from work, only to find a dozen fire trucks and just as many firefighters surrounding my burning home. They were blasting water into it but the blaze lasted for several hours. They were able to put the fire out and keep it from spreading after a while. But what was left of my home was completely covered in smoke and char. Some of the walls had collapsed on top of everything inside and all kinds of debris was scattered across the ground.

The only thing I had left then were the clothes on my back and the people around me. It was suspected that the cause of the fire was arson but there wasn’t enough evidence to prove anything. I wanted to return to a normal life.

I had been a practicing catholic all of my life up until that point and I had been going to the same church ever since I moved into town. After a few years of heavy involvement with the church affairs, I served on the team of deacons, led by Father Jacobs. Everyone who knew Father Jacobs became very close to him and we all revered his faithfulness to the church and to God.

So it was unfortunate to hear of the disparaging rumors about him within the church, just a few weeks later. Some of the members claimed to have heard about a police investigation regarding the man but nobody pointed to anything conclusive. It was simply word of mouth. The details of this supposed investigation were also a bit of a mystery. It was only known that it was a homicide investigation and there were multiple victims, with Father Jacobs being one of the suspects. The rest was unclear.

Most of the church members, along with the deacons, disregarded the rumor. Nobody there wanted to believe Jacobs had anything to do with this investigation or any homicides. It would have been too devastating otherwise. The rest of the church were quickly addressed and silenced about the matter. So our focus quickly shifted away, towards our church goals.

During that time, I asked for the church’s help in getting me back on my feet again. So many years had been spent helping others and now I was on the receiving end. Father Jacobs and the rest of the church gave me much more than I could ever ask for. I took ownership of Jacobs’ old home while he moved away to a nicer one. The church helped out with the refurnishing, food, clothes, and finances for the first few weeks. So I was able to get back on my feet again and I felt like a new man.

There was still a problem though. Don’t get me wrong, I was very much grateful for having a shelter over my head and I appreciated Father Jacob’s immensely but the house was obviously quite old. The paint on the walls was deteriorating, the wooden floorboards creaked often, and there were strange thumping noises in the living room walls.

I couldn’t imagine how Father Jacobs lived with it for so long and I knew I needed to get some repairs done on it soon.

The next couple of days were fairly uneventful except for a strange encounter with the police. I had been busy on the computer in another room when I heard my doorbell ring. I answered it and there were two formerly dressed men, one of whom was flashing a badge. They said their names and began questioning me.

“Could we speak with Father Jacobs? We understood that this was his original residence?”

I gulped a little and there was a pit in my stomach. This was the first time I had ever personally seen or heard evidence that Father Jacobs was actually being investigated.

“He doesn’t live here anymore. What’s going on anyways?”

“Do you know him? We just need to ask him a few questions.”

The pit in my stomach was growing and was gnawing at me.

“Yes, I work with him at the church. I’m a deacon there. Is there something wrong?”

“We’re investigating a few homicides and we just wanted to ask Jacobs if he knew anything.”

This was when I knew it wasn’t just a rumor. It was true what they said about the investigation in the church and now I was becoming a part of it.

“I can give you his new address if you’d like. Let me just write it down for you.”

They were eager to get his new address but I was dying inside while I gave it to them. I was getting a bad feeling about the whole thing. I didn’t want to believe that Father Jacobs had anything to do with any of it.

I tried calling his phone number right afterwards but he never answered. He didn’t even respond to my voice message. I didn’t know what to do then. I figured there wasn’t much I could do and I tried not to think about it too much for a while.

It was the winter then and there was supposed to be a winter storm moving through the area. It was predicted to be the worse one yet and we were going to get several feet of snow. Travel during that time would come to a complete halt and most people would be stuck indoors. That included me.

Besides the concern of the storm, there were also the thumping noises from the living room walls. I didn’t know whether it was bad piping, rodents, or something else. The former seemed possible considering the state of the house and I didn’t see any droppings, food remains, or shedding of any rodents.

I would have liked to call someone for it but the snowstorm made that impossible. My only option was to ignore it until the storm passed and then have someone come take a look at it. In the mean time I stuck to reading and watching TV to pass the time.

In the next few days, the thumping from the living room became louder and more frequent. It sounded like people knocking on the wood from the other side. A guttural noise accompanied it too.

I decided I was going to stay away from the living room until the storm passed. I kept to every other part of the house and stuck to reading, since the TV set was in the living room. The noises were frightening for a while but nothing happened.

That was until the final night when I awoke to the furious banging of the walls. It sounded like nothing before. It was frantic, intense, and now it was accompanied by screams. I wanted to believe those weren’t human voices I was hearing from the living room but the sound was unmistakable.

I jolted out of bed, nearly tripping on a few spare items on the floor, and I ran towards the living room. The room was dark and I stumbled through the doorway while I reached for the light. All the while the screams were like mournful wails of pain, sadness, and agony. They went on and on.

The light illuminated the walls and that’s when I saw them. The faces infused with the walls, their skin indistinguishable from the plaster, poking out and twisting from left to right.

I ran towards the front door and opened it. I tried to pry open the glass door which was behind it but it wouldn’t budge an inch. It was stuck from the snow and ice.

Then in my panic, I noticed the words that appeared on the glass in red: “Father isn’t who you think he is.”