The Tempter Comes

18) The Plan



18   The Plan


The cynical see a plan and say, “It won’t work,”

the fearful see a plan and say, “Let’s wait for something better,”

the lazy see a plan and say, “Let someone else do it,”

the ambitious see a plan and say, “Let’s make it work.”



Thomas woke up the next morning feeling strangely anxious and yet, in another way, he was feeling better than he had in a while. Yes, his friends were there for him. He sat up in bed and inhaled the breakfast that Mrs. Donnelee was crafting.

Sarah had heard about what had happened and wanted to hear it from Thomas’ mouth. After all, he was the first person that she knew who had ever been inside a Narciss.

The four got together in the park. It was a crystal clear day with a refreshing breeze. It was a day that almost washed away the last few weeks.

At Sarah’s prodding Thomas reluctantly shared the story about the Narciss. Sarah was full of questions but Toni sensed that Thomas did not want to relive the experience that deeply again so she tried to cut the account to the quick.

They talked about the change in Floyd and his family although one was getting worse while the other three were doing much better. Toni commented, “I noticed that in the couple of weeks right after the Niss that Floyd sat at the very back of the church while his wife and children sat up front in their usual places.”

Russell added, “And last week was the first time that I didn’t see him in church at all.”

“But the rest of his family was there,” put in Toni.

Everyone looked contemplative.

Finally Sarah spoke out. “Well, what do you think?”

“About what?” replied Toni.

“What do you think about what is going on?” Sarah answered. “I mean, we’ve never had this many creepy things going on all at once.”

Thomas cut in, “I think ‘evil’ would be a better word.”

“Well, you like puzzles, Thomas. Isn’t this like one big puzzle?” Sarah had something deliberate in mind that no one else was getting at the moment.

Thomas appeared confused. “A puzzle? What are you talking about?”

Sarah took a rather serious posture. “Think about it. In the last few weeks we had the Niss, a Narciss, really big rats, a snake-man, several large men, an influx of creepy visitors, and, as if that wasn’t enough, the Devil.”

Thomas added, “Don’t forget about the angst-feeders.” He started to feel bad again.

Sarah continued with purpose, almost enthusiastically. “See, we rarely get any of those things let alone all of them all at once. Something is going on. We just need to put the pieces together. See, it’s like a puzzle.” She sat up straight waiting for the light bulb to come on in everyone’s head. However, no one stirred. Sarah became disappointed and tried once again to rally everyone to her idea.

“Don’t you see? Why is all of this happening? Why here and why now? I’m sure that the Devil has better things to do than hang around Jabesh. We’re a nothing town in the middle of nowhere. Why is he here? Any why are all of the other things here?”

The others began to stir. Sarah was beginning to feel vindicated. She continued, “In my lifetime (which admittedly isn’t all that long) we’ve never had any of these things. Now it’s as if they’ve all been summoned here for a reason. The question is, ‘What is that reason?’” She felt that she had made a brilliant summation to the jury and that they had no choice to return a favorable verdict. She waited.

Toni spoke first. “Sarah’s got a point.” Sarah squared her shoulders and tried to suppress her confidence. “Something is going on here. The last time the Niss were here my grandfather was a boy. I remember him telling us the story. Let’s face it, an awful lot of particularly bad things have happened lately.”

Russell added, “And we’ve had an awful lot of visitations by bad people and bad things; particularly some of us. Something or someone is attracting them here.”

“So what is it?” asked Thomas.

“You’re the puzzle boy,” affirmed Sarah. “That’s what we’re hoping you’ll figure out.”

Thomas quickly shot back, “Everybody else here knows way more about these things than I do. You’re the ones who should be figuring this out. I’m only here for the summer.”

“You know,” Sarah alleged, “all this seemed to start when you got here. Are you sure that you didn’t bring them?”

Thomas looked exasperated.

“I’m only kidding,” Sarah said. She was going to lightly punch Thomas on the shoulder, but Thomas sulked so she left it alone.

To break the tension Russell took a swig from his glass and proclaimed, “The water from the fountain is particularly good today.”

Sarah knit her eyebrows and looked intensely at nothing. Her mouth twisted. Everyone else silently scratched at the table or played with their fingers. Suddenly Sarah bolted upright. “I know the answer!”

Everyone quickly looked at her. Toni spoke. “You do? You’ve figured it out already?” She paused in amazement. Then she said, “So what is it? What’s the answer?”

“Water,” Sarah proclaimed loudly. She then looked rather pleased.

“Water?” Russell looked more confused than ever.

“Yes, water,” answered Sarah.

Thomas was even more confused than Russell “What are you talking about?”

“Water. That’s the answer to your last riddle. Remember when we were sitting at the bench just before that guy got into the car with Terese? I forget exactly how it goes but it was something about you can’t burn it but it can burn you. It can move big things but is small enough to hold in your hand. The answer is water.” She leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She did not even bother to conceal her triumphant smile.

Thomas spoke hesitantly. “I, um, guess that you, um, won that one.”

 “OK,” said Toni, “since we’re apparently in a riddle solving mood let’s get back to tackling the big one. Let’s see what we can come up with. All of these… horrors have come here for a reason. They want something here in Jabesh. What can it be?”

“Wait a second,” Russell responded, “maybe they don’t want anything here in Jabesh.”

Sarah returned from her victory pedestal back to the grave situation at hand. “Then why are they here?”

Russell continued, “Maybe they are going someplace else and are just gathering here. You know how troops gather at some agreed on place before heading out to the battlefield. Maybe this is where they are gathering before heading out.”

“Then why are they causing trouble?” asked Sarah. “It seems that if they were merely gathering here then they would lay low. And anyway, why here? Why not gather somewhere deep in the woods where no one will see them?”

“And besides,” suggested Toni, “they’ve been here for a while. And those creepy guys, you know, the ones that seduced Floyd and Terese and—from what I understand, some others—they came in and took jobs. They are planning on being here a while.”

“And another thing,” added Sarah, “the Niss came and went. It’s not like they are hanging around and waiting. I don’t think that this is merely a gathering place. I think that Jabesh is the battlefield.”

That last remark startled Thomas out of his pout. “OK,” he said, “then we have to figure out what is in Jabesh that they want. It’s time to start putting the pieces together.

“It could either be a person or a thing. Let’s start with the idea that it might be a person. It seems that no one person is the focus of these attacks. Terese was ensnared by Peter. Floyd was baited by what’s-his-name. There have been others that were also roped in by these new comers.”

Sarah jumped in, “My neighbor, Dan, I think was one of them.”

“There you go,” Thomas affirmed. “Plus each one of us except for Sarah has been attacked. So I don’t think that there is any one person that they are after.”

Toni’s “hmm” stopped anyone else from talking. Then she said, “It may not just be one person. Maybe they are after a number of people although that does seem rather farfetched since it is hard to see a connection between all of those people.”

“So then that leaves a thing,” suggested Russell. “But what? If this were a movie it would be some ancient relic or book that would give power to the forces of evil so that they can overthrow God, or something like that.”

Thomas responded, “As silly as that might seem, let’s examine it anyway. We shouldn’t dismiss anything out of hand. Does anyone know of anything unusual in this town? Maybe a rumor about something hidden in a church.”

Everyone thought for a while. Then they all mumbled variations of, “No, nothing that I can think of.”

Thomas pressed on, “Is there a history of some settler or strange gentleman who passed by the town and left something?”

There was again a long moment of contemplation. Then several, “No, nothing that I ever heard about.”

“What about people’s souls?” asked Sarah. “Maybe that’s what they want.”

Russell said, “I doubt that the ‘souls’ here are any tastier than anywhere else.” Sarah shot him a look. He continued, “It’s too much firepower for just a few souls. It’s got to be something more important, more special or unique.”

“Well then we’re just going to have to do a little scouting around,” proposed Sarah.

Russell got a bit boisterous, “That’s easy for you to say! You’re the only one here who hasn’t been attacked. The rest of us were nearly killed. I don’t think that the rest of us have much blood left.”

Toni felt the need to defuse the situation. “Speaking of which, Russell. How did you go from being passed out in the woods to being at your front door? I rather doubt that Satan took pity and brought you home.”

Russell seemed uneasy. “I’ve wondered that myself.”

“I have a suspicion about that,” said Thomas.

Russell anxiously looked up. “What?”

“Remember how you said that just before you passed out you saw the shapes of people out beyond the earthquake or whatever it was?”


“I’ve wondered if that might have been Jocum and some of his buddies. And that he carried you home.”

“But there were a number of them. You’ve only mentioned Jocum, Seth, and the guy in the car,” Russell stated.

Abil,” Toni interrupted.

“Yea, him. But I think that I saw more than that.”

Thomas thought for a moment. “That’s the only ones that we’ve seen. How do we know that there aren’t more?” He paused. “Another clue that it was one of them was the bag of wafers that were left with you. Somehow that seems to be their trademark.”

“Or at least Jocum’s trademark,” Toni affirmed. “The big guys seem to be on our side. But anyway, that is all a side matter, what are we going to do about the not-so-good guys…things?”

Sarah seized the opportunity. “Like I was saying, maybe we should do some investigating.”

Toni shuddered and looked sideways at Thomas. “The last time anybody tried to do that it became a crisis.”

Sarah agreed, “Well, we don’t have to go hunting them down where they live. I’m talking about going to churches, talking to the pastors and priests and see if there is any history there that we don’t know about. Maybe someone should go down to the library and see if anyone wrote a history of Jabesh. Things like that. I’m not suggesting that anyone charge with head down and lance in hand into the enemy’s lair.”

No one seemed particularly enthused so Sarah tried more convincing. “Admittedly it’s a rather fetal plan, but if we want to figure out this puzzle we need to gather more pieces.”

“Sarah’s right,” Thomas added reluctantly. “If we are going to figure out anything we need more information.” Toni and Russell fidgeted. “It should be fairly safe.” Toni rolled her eyes; Russell sunk his head into his hands. “How about we split up this way?”

Russell’s head snapped up, “Hey, I don’t remember green-lighting any plan.”

Thomas gently responded, “We’re all in this together and without each other we’ll never get anything figured out. We each have a necessary role. If one of us cuts out then the whole thing falls apart. It’s more dangerous if fewer of us are involved.”

Russell countered, “Why don’t we just get the Yellow Pages and look up suicidal spies? That would make our roles just that much easier.”

Thomas ignored him. “Sarah, since you were the one who suggested going to the library why don’t you…”

Copyright Bob La Forge 2011        email: