Ray & Gen & The Box of Hope™

The Journey Begins
By Chris Gurnick

     As Mr. Jones arrived back into his own body satisfied that he had found the location of the brother and sister, the electrical vibration running through his nervous system stabilized and the radio navigation and auto-pilot systems on the 737 came back online. He was ready for the last leg of his fateful journey. Ever since he was a child, his mother told him that he was to do great things for the world and that he’d better make her proud.
     The Society had been their only real family. After he finished physically and emotionally abusing his children and wife, Jones’ father left his family penniless to chase more booze and women, The Society called. They literally called Mrs. Jones and told her to come to their meeting the next Saturday evening. Mr. Jones remembered his mom hanging up and saying aloud, “What kind of church group meets Saturday nights?” His mom went, and left him alone to care for his two brothers.  
     Mrs. Jones, never one to fuss about her appearance, wore her finest dress and made up her face for The Society’s meeting. It was the first time that Mr. Jones had really paid attention to the fact that some people might think his mother pretty. Off she went, leaving home just in time for the 11:30PM worship service. While Mr. Jones watched television with his two younger brothers, his mother signed over her soul, and was initiated into The Society.
     His mother never told him the exact details of the ordeal, but when she came home that night at 1:00AM, Mr. Jones quickly figured out, that his mother was no longer the same woman that had stepped out the family’s door just two hours before. After arriving home she sat on the edge of her bed and removed her heels. She had a dreamy look about her, “They said they’d take care of us. They’ll give us everything we need; The Society will help us, son. You will go to your own initiation next Saturday. You’ll see, then you’ll understand,” and she drifted off to sleep on the broken down bed. Mr. Jones covered his mother with her clean, torn comforter and turned off her lamp and went to his own room next door. She spent half the night screaming in pain, and when he went to check on her, she looked up at him with glowing red eyes, and hissed, “Don’t touch me! Don’t you dare touch me. My soul is theirs now.” He returned to his bedroom, shaking with fear. Who was that woman? What happened to his mother? The stunned teenage boy buried his head in his stained foam pillow and cried on and off through the night. Each day, her personality continued to change. She spent most of her days secluded in her room and left Mr. Jones to cook, clean and watch over his two younger brothers.    
     Saturday arrived and Mrs. Jones reminded her son that it was his turn to become a Society member. He remembered his mother’s glowing red eyes and how she had returned home a tormented, possessed woman; he was scared to death that he too would be changed forever.   
     He went with his mother the following Saturday night to The Society’s 11:30PM weekly meeting. As he entered the room, everything seemed fairly normal, until he turned around, and saw a table covered with very old-looking long, thin knives, laid out in a circle around an old stone bowl. He had the sudden urge to run away.
     Just when he was about to bolt, his mother grabbed him by the elbow, and led him to a man who wore a black, hooded cape that covered most of his face, “James, I want you to meet my son, Richard,” she said sweetly.
     “Hello my son. I’m happy to finally meet you. Your mother has told me many great things about you, and said that you are ready for the initiation,” James said.
     “What is this initiation all about, sir?” Richard Jones asked nervously.
     “Well, how would you describe it Edward?” James asked a man standing suddenly next to him and the Jones’. Edwards wandering gaze locked right onto Richard’s eyes; he was trying to read Richard’s soul and take his breath away; the young man grabbed at his throat; he couldn’t breath. Mrs. Jones laughed and patted her son on his back. Edward looked away from Richard and the teenager regained his ability to breath. None of the adults seemed to notice or care about the effect that Edward’s glare had on Richard.        
     James continued as if nothing had occurred, “There is no greater gift than to be part of this group. You and your family will never want for anything ever again, Richard. All you owe us is a promise of devotion and service. That’s all son,” James said; he wore a fake smile.
     Mrs. Jones and James led Richard by both elbows to a table in the back of the dark rectangular-shaped room. The only light in the room came from flickering candles, held in sconces on the old stone walls. Long, slow drumming music played quietly in the background. Richard felt electricity pinging through his body.  His mother sat down and  motioned for him to sit beside her.  James walked back to the front of the room. Richard and his mother looked forward and listened to James speak to the group, “I am obliged to be speaking to you all this fine evening. Tonight, we are blessed with yet another new member to The Society’s family. Thank you, Darkness, for this wandering soul that decided to accept peace into his heart. Let us begin,” he said as he and all the others in the room bowed their heads, except for Richard. 
     Richard stared at James from the back of the room and he felt his mother moving back and forth beside him. She was making the same sounds now that she’d been making in her nightmares a week ago; Richard was scared to death.  He looked around for the nearest exit and started to run for the door. In the blink of an eye, James was at his side and dragged Richard towards the table covered with the scary-looking knives. Richard tried to pull away, but he was losing consciousness. He managed to stay with it and noticed that his mother was at his side, along with many others. Darkness threatened to overtake him; each of the people standing near him lifted the sleeves of their robes and chanted in unison.
     All Richard remembered were people cutting their wrists and letting the blood into the old, stone basin; it had ancient carvings written upon the inside of the bowl. He swayed with dizziness and nausea. His mother took his hand, pushed his head down towards the bowl, and with her other hand, cupped up some of the blood, and pushed it against Richard’s mouth. He tried to resist, but his mother’s hand was strong enough to force open his mouth and he automatically swallowed the thick, viscous blood.  Richard forcefully vomited the first mouthful and sprayed it all over the people standing around him. He was about to pass out and his mother once again cupped a handful of blood. James pulled him by the hair; tilted Jones’ backwards while another person pried open his mouth. His mother poured about a quarter-cup of fresh human blood down her son’s throat. This time, Richard couldn’t help himself but to swallow.
     His next memories involved darkness, pain, terror and feeling total indifference to all people, and all things. He didn’t care about anything, not even his brothers or mother. He would often wander aimlessly through the woods around his house, trying to find things to kill. His mother also gave up caring; Richard’s younger brothers now ran wild, getting into trouble; they had no one left to care for or about them. Many people in the town believed that Richard and his mother were alcoholics. Only those from The Society knew differently.
     It wasn’t until the indifference became mundane, common, and a few more Society meetings, that Richard was finally given his first writings from The Society members. Mildred Hatchins, an older woman that Richard had always thought a witch, handed him a small, ripped black-covered book, and said to him one Saturday night, “I believe that you are ready for this now,” and walked away. At the next Saturday’s meeting, James handed Richard another black leather-bound book, thicker than the one from Mrs. Hatchins, and said, “Finish hers first, then read this one. When you’ve finished, I want to talk with you about the book and what you are to do next Richard.”
    Richard did as he was told, and began reading his books. Every now and then, his mother peeked through cubby holes in his room wall, making sure that her eldest son, a distant relative of the four-thousand year old Egyptian Zosar, was indeed doing his homework.


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