It had arrived three days ago, a carved wooden box left on my doorstep. Within, a large brass key with a scroll of paper wrapped around its trunk. Thick letters drawn in black ink:

              If you must


Savannah, IL. Classic farmhouse, the Midwest's own. Barn and Silo are the Castles and Keeps of rural America. The Serfs are still here, we just import them from Mexico now. Pay 'em enough to eat in our free country. Never pay 'em enough to quit. The Serfs bow to the Sheriff ... and that's where they get lucky. The Sheriff in these here parts is none other than one Barney Fife, esquire.

I always wave at a Barney - they look funny when they smile.


A decidedly odd lock is centered in the farmhouse door. Very not farmhouse. The key slides in and turns after a little coaxing.

I can't remove the key once turned. I leave it and close the door behind.

The house is empty.


I take a quick fix in the front upstairs bedroom. The Amityville room. The weather outside has gradually gone from sloppy to what I like to call "rot".

It seems about right.

8 p.m.


The front door opens into a small foyer and then into a large living room, fireplace and obligatory Big Chair included.

I take a seat in the Big Chair, facing the front door, and try to focus. The best I can come up with is a tired slouch.

Dying is harder than I remember.


A dream I had seven years ago ended with my descending the stairs of a high school balcony. I'm still near the top when the fire doors below open inwardly and a man steps inside.

"Coming down is the hardest part," he says.

Coming down is the hardest part. Every spiked vein has a dead zone. Every pantheon has a Ragnarok. We were due.

The website was of a new design - no temples, no churches, no clips of carpet for facing East - just submission after submission by those who were true believers. A constant prayer of total dedication. A feast of faith.

No more.

Gods fade when followers flounder. For the past five months I've been noticing the changes. A subtle slide, at first, just little things. Eventually more profound, fundamental problems ... inabilities ... mistakes.


I called out to Nathan.

There were consequences.

A sacrifice.

It was worth it.


I knew now what they must be made to know.

The Gods would gather, a final time. I owed them one last story ... a rhyme and a reason. I owed them an ending.

I slouch a bit further into the chair. I offer up a brief prayer of my own.

                A prayer for the dying.