📅 Published on June 5, 2023


Written by Alexander Grayson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Rachel sat alone amongst the dilapidated pews strewn carelessly on the church floor. It had been longer than she cared to remember since she had visited the church, and time had not been kind to the once-warming embrace of its dimly lit walls. Now it stood frozen in time, as a relic of a bygone age. One filled with love and compassion, all too quickly forgotten. The air reeked of plants and animal feces. She could hear the faint scurry of little feet carrying themselves to the safety of a secluded corner or under a nearby root.

The elements had eroded all her favorite murals, and the windows only housed shards of the shattered stained glass she had enjoyed looking at. Typically they would be beaming a rainbow of colors into the church halls, but now they sat vacant and as dark as the rest of the building itself.

It had taken years to find this place. She stumbled upon it by accident while trekking through her old town. Like the rest of the abandoned buildings, it had been swallowed up by the ever-encroaching wilderness surrounding the city. She had checked a few other buildings, but no sign of life was left.

The roads were riddled with potholes, vines and fallen trees. The buildings she could see were beyond the point of repair. Her fond memories of here had been devoured just as the rest of the town was. She couldn’t remember the people’s names or faces, just the veil of sadness that hung over each of their faces.

She looked around at the pews that sat motionless exactly where they were when she left. Some had been toppled over, and others had been pushed into walls. The church hall itself was already a battlefield before it had been left to rot.

There was no closure to be found here, at least the closure she sought. She wouldn’t get the forgiveness she hoped for from the empty voices that now sat silently among the ruins. The peace of listening to the darkened nightlife of the forest was not as comforting as she had hoped.

The very wildlife itself seemed to repulse at her presence. Rachel had noticed sitting here that the noises of crickets and birds had slowly dimmed to an almost inaudible level. All she heard now was the door creaking in the wind as it gently tapped against the stonework every few seconds.

There was no telling how long she waited in that church. Ruminating on the transgressions that led her to return here. Her whole life was betrayal after betrayal. People could never trust her and had always found her presence a torment. She had longed for one thing, peace. But here she was again, sitting alone among the wreckage of her past.

“Do you seek forgiveness?” a voice came from a darkened corner of the room. Rachel raised her head and squinted to make out the frame of another woman. Barely visible among the foliage and darkness. The only light source was the moon that trickled in through the smashed windows.

The woman didn’t step forward but repeated herself. “Do you seek forgiveness?” “I would never presume to believe I am worthy of such things,” Rachel responded. The woman stepped into the light shaft before her and revealed her half-missing face.

“You would be correct. I cannot give you what you seek. None of us can.” As she finished, other people emerged from the shadows. All were covered in a litany of grotesque injuries, but none showed any sign of being impaired by such things. A man who held one arm in the hand of the other. A young boy whose neck was cut open and another woman had multiple bullet wounds. They all wore what would be considered modern clothes for the early nineteen forties.

“Why would you come back?” The young boy asked.

Rachel turned to look at him, “I always come back, it just takes me some time, but I always come back.”

“Was once not enough?” The older man asked.

Rachel paused before answering, “Once is all it ever takes, but I am compelled to return. I cannot help it. How can I be punished if I don’t come back to bear witness.” “You bore witness when you caused this,” The older man yelled at Rachel while he flailed his arm towards her.

A tear rolled down Rachel’s brown cheek. “You don’t understand.” She said. “We understand just fine. You are a blight, a cancerous stain on the world. You were welcomed into our community, and you brought only death.” The woman responded. “What would you have me do? I cannot fix the past.” Rachel pleaded.

“We would have you leave. Do you think that we would want to see you again? You are lucky that it’s just us. There are plenty of others who would have harsher words.” The older man said.

“Your words are not what I’m looking for.” Rachel rose from her seat as she spoke. “Then what do you want from us?” The young girl said.

“I want only for you to stay here and suffer as I do,” Rachel said before leaving the church.

“You travelled all this way just to ensure we were still stuck here?” The older man asked, confused.

Rachel had one hand on the door on her way out, “Consider it a gift, given the alternatives are a coin flip, and given what you all did. I would say you were going to land tails anyways.” Rachel slammed the door on the church behind her as she left.

The brisk winter’s air chilled her to the bone before she could adequately put her black coat back on. She pulled up the sheep’s wool collar and ventured back through the town. The earlier empty windows and doorframes were now filled with the images of their occupants. Each one hurled obscenities and vulgarities at her. Their words were the only weapons they had left to use.

“You couldn’t leave us in peace here. You had to come back for seconds.” One man yelled from his broken-down porch.

“A pox upon you and everyone you love.” Another woman screamed out as she hung from the window frame backwards.

“All I ever wanted was to grow up, and I’ll never get that because of you.” A young boy yelled in a teary broken voice.

Rachel kept moving, reminding herself the dead were nothing but anger and remorse. Their words, while accurate, didn’t matter. She turned back to look at the border of the town. It wasn’t even visible among the tree line. She hoped it would be the last time she would visit this one.

After a weary and lonely journey, Rachel finally returned to the closest thing to civilization. A town barely fit enough to be considered one, but it still managed to be big enough for a small motel.

She approached the front glass door and gave it a small knock. A haggard man came from behind a wooden door and buzzed her inside. The heady scent of tobacco permeated the air despite the best efforts of the window rattler in the corner pumping in cold but not fresh air. “Just one for the night?” He asked, fumbling over the paperwork on the front desk. “Do you have one just for a few hours?” She asked leaning over the counter. He looked up at her swirling amber eyes and felt his gaze transfixed on hers. The words wouldn’t come out of his mouth. No matter how hard he tried to say no, he couldn’t get the words past his lips.

“Just a few hours? It’s all I ask for,” she asked again.

“Just a few hours, sure,” the old man replied in a monotone voice. He lifted up a set of keys and handed them over.

“Thank you so much,” Rachel responded with a tiny smile.

She made her way down past the occupied rooms. Each darkened window flicked on its lights as she strolled past. Once she had made it to her room, she stopped momentarily to take in the sounds.

What was once a night so quiet you could hear a pin drop was now choked in screams and rage-filled moans of the other patrons. Accusatory tones and lamp smashes echoed over the parking lot. Rachel waited out the yelling and listened for the next part. The yelling matches escalated so quickly now.

At first, it was muffled begging, which then gave way to deathly screams and a few gunshots. Then it was quiet again.

Rachel entered the motel room, slumped on the bed and pushed off her boots. The soles of which were almost completely worn down. A thin sheet of rubber was between her and the pavement underneath her feet.

“No rest for the wicked.” A woman’s voice came from the bathroom.

“Never is, but you know that already don’t you?” Rachel replied. She didn’t bother opening her eyes as she lay on the bed.

She could feel the woman lie down on the bed beside her. There was a silence that felt like it went on forever between them.

“Do you grow tired of this?” The woman asked.

“I’ve been tired for a long time. Eventually, you just give into it.” Rachel responded. “So why Rachel? Why not J–”

“Don’t say that name.”

“Why not? You’re not Rachel.”

“I’m whoever I need to be, and it isn’t her. Not ever again.”

There was another eerie silence between the two. Rachel kept her eyes closed and didn’t budge an inch. She felt the bed lighten as the other woman got up.

Rachel shot out of bed and turned to see the long brown-haired woman returning to the bathroom. “Will you ever give me a second chance?” She pleaded.

“Do you think you deserve one yet?” The woman responded, stopping in the doorway. “It’s been long enough, I’ve seen enough, I’ve lived enough,” Rachel replied. “You’ve got the opportunity I never did then. Why can’t you see that for the blessing it is?” The woman said before disappearing into the bathroom.

Rachel knew better than to try and follow. She wouldn’t be there.

“I loved you. I loved you more than any of the others. I made a simple mistake. I trusted the wrong people.” Rachel stood at the door, tears welling up in her eyes. “You come back time and again just to taunt me. Don’t you think I suffer enough being stuck here without you?”

Rachel held onto a faint glimmer of hope as she clicked the door handle open and slowly pulled it back. Before she could glimpse inside, a voice boomed from inside the room, “Betrayer!” It roared, and with it, a torrent of wind sent her careening into the wall behind her. She looked up just in time to see the silhouette of the woman who had just left hanging lifeless before she disappeared before her.

Rachel picked herself back up and grabbed her worn shoes. She wasted no time putting them back on and headed outside. There were a few police cars around with officers investigating the scenes of carnage scattered around the motel.

A nearby police officer began to walk up to her with a finger held up, hoping to stop her. He, however, stopped dead in his tracks. Then he turned around and walked up to his partner, writing notes near the car.

“Why would you sleep with her, man?” He yelled as he slammed the notepad out of his partner’s hands.

“What are you talking about?” The partner responded.

“I’m talking about my wife? You slept with her?”

“Are you serious? I didn’t sleep with your wife?”

“You’re a lying piece of trash.” The officer didn’t wait for a reply and swung at the other officer. Suddenly both were on the ground, each giving as good as the other. Neither was holding back from blocking and was simply trying to kill the other.

“Betrayer.” One screamed before pulling his gun and unloading almost the entire magazine into the other.

His eyes glazed over as he looked down at his partner’s lifeless body. Rachel came over and put a hand on his shoulder.

“It’ll all be over quick,” she said softly to the officer while she helped pull his gun up to his temple. “You’re so lucky.”

The bullet penetrated his skull, and she had positioned herself so it went straight through hers too. He fell to the floor, and blood poured from the wound. She, however, continued to stand. The gaping wound in her forehead sealed back over.

“No rest for the wicked.” She repeated aloud.

The first officer stood beside her. Confused, he looked down at both their bodies. “Why is it just me?” He asked.

“Murder and betrayal are what hold us here. He gets a ticket to move on.” Rachel responded.

“That’s not fair, though.” The man replied.

“Life isn’t fair, and neither is the afterlife,” Rachel replied before walking away. “So what now?”

“Nothing, but I’ll probably see you again in a few decades. It depends on when I get drawn back. I’m sure you’ll be stewing with anger at me. It’s what I deserve. It only took her a few days to reach another small town. News spread faster and faster these days, and the trail of bodies she left in her wake was beginning to draw eyes. She didn’t pick where she went. She had to go where she was drawn to, her ever-walking curse. Finally, her deeds had caught up to her. As she approached the town, she could see a small blockade of police cars. One of the officers called out to her over a megaphone. “Stop where you are. We don’t want to hurt you. We just want you to stop so we can ask you some questions.”

Rachel looked over at them with continued footsteps. The row of cars each barricaded a few officers with their weapons drawn. Her footsteps were quickly muffled as a helicopter approached the horizon, shining a blinding searchlight directly on her. She covered her face from the light and wind from the aircraft.

It pulled back after one of the officers signaled for it to move around and give them some room. However, it wasn’t one of theirs. It was a news crew, and she felt the camera trained right on her. There was a moment’s hesitation before she looked up at the camera. Once it pulled back the wind, it picked up and pushed her long hair out of her face revealing the swirling amber eyes.

She couldn’t hear the officer’s words, but she could hear the gunshots. The helicopter kept itself steady until it began to swing and veer. An apparent scuffle ensued inside, but the camera had taken enough of a look at her that she knew what it meant.

People had ignored and hated her for as long as she lived. Now the entire world would bear witness. Every television set, every mobile phone, every computer screen. She was being spread across all of them. The face of betrayal sweeping the globe.

The woman from earlier stepped out of a nearby house behind the police cars. Rachel’s vision was obscured by the flashing lights.

“You’ve done enough, Judy.” The woman called out.

“I never wanted any of this.” She responded.

“Then you shouldn’t have helped them put me on that cross.”

“I was weak. I never thought it would end like this. Now look where we are.” The woman stepped into the light, revealing her brown face and similarly colored eyes. The darkened, dirt-stained robe hung over her body.

“They’re free to make their choice, as were you. You could have stopped at any time but always felt compelled to walk on. Do you know what that is?”

“Because you made me do it,” Rachel screamed in anger.

“No, you did. You put this punishment on yourself. You put this punishment on everyone. You just had to forgive yourself, but instead, you look for it in everyone else.” Rachel dropped to her knees, “Please, Jes, just let me rest.”

“Not until you can forgive yourself. I loved you too, you know. Did you ever think about how I felt knowing you gave me up?” Jes disappeared among the flashing lights. Rachel finally stopped and sat on the bitumen. Flashing lights occasionally brightened her vision. The distant echoes of fighting subsided. She took a few deep breaths and looked up at the night sky. “I don’t deserve this, neither did you, but I’ve suffered enough. I forgive you, Judy.” She spoke the last words and collapsed to the ground.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Alexander Grayson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Alexander Grayson

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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