Deliver Us From Evil


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1: A Scheduled Delay

    Angel Reese was a firm believer in the importance of a good schedule. When planned out just right, they put wild, unpredictable people in a wild, unpredictable world in some sense of order. An organized day, he felt, gave way to a more organized life; an easier, stress free life. Anarchists and rebellious teens could say what they will, but at the end of the day, human nature loves a system that works. He himself had a standard workday schedule, starting at six when he woke up, ending at three when he'd finished his route and parked the mail truck back behind the post office. That Wednesday’s schedule was no different, except for a slight deviation at ten-thirty. It had barely taken a minute. Anyone who scrutinized his movements that day wouldn’t notice a thing out of the ordinary.
    At ten ‘o-clock, his route took him to a block on Essex Street that was slightly better off than the rest of the street. He had never talked to any of the people who lived there, but sometimes a blonde lady named Samantha Maury gave him gift cards or chocolate on holidays. That Wednesday, he wasn’t concerned with Ms. Maury, though.
    In his possession, he had a letter from the girlfriend of a mister Frank Argent, a slightly overweight thirty or forty-something with a noticeable limp who lived in the second house from the beginning of the street, on the right side. The two of them sent handwritten snail mail back an forth on a regular basis, which Angel wasn’t sure if he found perplexing or sweet. Angel also knew that this correspondence meant a great deal to Frank. As soon as Angel had delivered his mail, he would immediately walk out to his mailbox, and search for his girlfriend’s letter to read as soon as he returned inside his house. As far as Angel could tell, this was the only time he left his house. Frank most likely worked from home, considering his age and the fact that Angel had never delivered any checks from supporting family members. Frank ordered everything he needed online, from clothing to food. It took Angel quite a while to figure out how to kill him.
    He stopped by the first house on Essex, the one before Frank’s. Angel could see the man waiting in his living room, even through his curtains. Angel dropped off a small stack of envelopes, bills and a few college advertisements. As soon as he began to move forward again, he saw Frank walk to his front door. Angel stopped in front of his mailbox and dropped off another stack of bills, the newspaper he was subscribed to, and the letter from his girlfriend. Angel decided to leave the letter on top, just for convenience’s sake. Like he always did, Frank exited his house and fetched his mail. Like he always did, he opened the letter from his girlfriend while he was still outside and walking back into his house, but, just as he was closing his front door, his legs collapsed out from under him. He lay in the threshold, still. Angel drove forward to the next mailbox. He continued on down the street, but he made sure to keep Frank’s body within his field of view.
    His route took him down four more blocks, then he looped back around and went back to the beginning of Essex Street. It was ten-thirty when he reached the final mailbox. Frank’s body was still lying prone in the doorway. After Angel closed the final mailbox, instead of driving out and continuing on his route, he exited his truck and made his way across the street. He walked over to Frank’s body and crouched by his head. He felt for a pulse, and found none. Frank’s eyes were still open. Upon closer inspection, Angel found a small needle lodged in his left eye, right in his pupil. Angel pulled out a small pair of tweezers from his pocket, and with careful precision, pulled it out. Then he grabbed the girlfriend’s letter and walked back to his truck.
    Back in the driver’s seat, he shook out the contents of the envelope: two sheets of fancy stationary, folded neatly, and a small device constructed out of a rubber band, toothpicks, and some other miscellaneous metal bits. He placed it gently in the small space between the basket full of mail and the dashboard. It was a tiny crossbow. Angel had it set up so it would fire the needle when someone opened the letter. While opening and resealing the envelope wasn’t a problem, he had to take his time getting the thing in there and setting it up so it fired at the right time. There was also the issue of not accidentally pricking himself. Angel had dipped the needle in some poison he’d mixed himself. A few weeks ago, he’d read about poison dart frogs and had decided to mimic the effects of the slime that covers their skin, mostly for fun. Victims would be paralyzed, then die within thirty minutes. Angel allowed himself a small moment of congratulations inside the mail truck. He normally didn’t even use poisons, he preferred his axes. A poisons effects were often too unpredictable for him. He was certain of what would happen when he hit someone with an axe.
    At three, when he’d finished his route and had finished parking the truck, he saw a few people in the post office watching the TV in the back room. They were watching the news. Someone named Frank Argent had dropped dead that morning on Essex street, while he was getting his mail. The cause of death had yet to be determined at the time of reporting.
    Angel left for his car without speaking to anyone. He knew in time, the reporters would lose interest in the story once they dug around a bit and found out what kind of a man he was when he was alive.
    Frank Argent was a chronic abuser of women. He had two previous girlfriends, both of whom he hit, manipulated, and stole from on a regular basis. the first had caught on to his treatment relatively early, and had left before she suffered any significant damage to her person or her life. The second was not so lucky. She suffered under him for six years, until finally she decided to cut all ties with him after receiving a few instructional booklets about abusive spouses in the mail. He didn’t agree with her decision to leave, and tried to stop her by force. Angel didn’t know all the details, but during the ensuing fight she’d smashed one of his legs into permanent disuse. Naturally, Frank acquiring a new girlfriend made Angel somewhat concerned. So he solved the problem before it even became a problem.
    Angel lived a few miles out of the town proper, his drive way was a long, winding dirt road that ended at a small yellow house that was almost hidden under dead branches and living ivy, all nestled within an overgrown lawn, dotted with weeds. He’d found it like that, and he was content to keep it like that. The inside, however, he worked to keep clean and cozy. The kitchen and den he considered just one big room, and he’d covered the interior with plush rugs and comfy second hand furniture. He’d wanted to add some art, but had forgotten about it.
    When he entered his kitchen/den that Wednesday, he’d found a surprise on his kitchen table. An envelope, laid with care on top of his favorite axe. The envelope was addressed to him. There was no return address.
    Angel opened it with no small amount of anxiety, but it all vanished when he realized who it was from.

To my darling son,
    I hope this letter finds you well. I'm sorry for not calling you all this time, but I've been running into more trouble than I imagined I would. I wanted to visit you in person, but I've run into a bad group of people who now threaten my life. In this town is a cult called Humanity's Paragon. They follow a horrific religion and sacrifice people not of their faith when they can find them. I need you to find every member of this cult and kill them all. I wish you the best of luck.

With all of my love,

    Angel looked from the letter to the axe on the kitchen table. It was his first and favorite axe, the one his mother gave to him as his twelfth birthday present. It’s usual location was right next to his bed, within easy reach.
    He took one more look at the letter, then put it back down on the table. He knew about Humanity’s Paragon, but as a community organization, not as a heinous cult. You learn something new everyday, he supposed.
    But it didn’t matter now. He picked up his axe, twirled it once, then smacked it against his palm.
    He had a job to do.

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