Soul Shard Chronicles: Houses of the Holy; Episode 1, Chapter 2



John was paralyzed by the scene playing out in his head. It felt so real that he thought he was literally there! It was so dark! So frightening!

Santa appeared. Not the traditional Santa, though the creature was dressed in the same red, white, and black suit, but a Santa that had fiery red skin and a hideously demonic visage. Instead of a bag, this Santa wielded a sword and a club.

“You will bow to me!” It demanded. “I rule the world! I am your god! You will observe my day! You will speak of no other! You will bow to me!”

“I bow to no one,” he heard himself say.

“Then prepare to die!” the Santa cried.

It seemed to take him forever to come to the realization that he didn’t need to run. After all, the dream had begun the moment he had gone to bed and fell asleep. How long he had been asleep was anyone’s guess. One hour? Two? Three? All night?

Then, he turned and faced the monstrosity. Suddenly, it stopped chasing him and became indecisive.

“You hold no power over me,” he stated, “be away with you.”

And then, it was gone. A wisp of smoke marking its passing. He opened his eyes and looked at the clock. It was 4:30 AM. he had been asleep most of the night.

Again he had been shown something. But what? What had been revealed to him? And why?

As with his vision of the headless bodies, he could tell no one. Not one soul. Otherwise, they would think him crazy. Or merely seeking attention.

He knew he wasn’t crazy. Nor did he really want attention for such things. They frightened him. Confused him.

He didn’t like the idea of having those kinds of dreams. Nightmares. Nightmares that he couldn’t wake from until they were over. Nightmares that held messages.

No, he would rather gain attention from things he did right. Not dreams he had. Or visions. Or anything that could be misused.

He rolled over and went back to sleep. Maybe he would have better dreams from this point on. Darkness consumed him and he drifted back to dreamland. This time, there were no Santas. Only dark worlds filled with war. Destruction. Like an old war movie.

But at least it was less frightening. Less abrasive. He could handle war scenes.

Perhaps it was because home was a warzone. Or because it was a break from the religious crap his parents believed. Whatever it was, he was willing to watch it play out.

Bombs were exploding everywhere. And yet, he was oddly unafraid. It was as if he was in the lead of those around him. They seemed to follow him into the thick of battle without question.

But who were they fighting against? And why? What had happened to the world?


He hated dreams. But here he was, in the middle of yet another terrifying dream. Mystery of mysteries. And all mysteries seemed to be shown in dreams. And nightmares.

This time, he was being chased by a giant horned ram’s head. Or was it a goat’s head? Or a mixture of both?

There was no body. Just a head. A living, bodiless ram’s head. Or goat head. First black, then changing color constantly. And that grin!

It was almost human! And extremely evil! As if the head meant him harm.

No words. No warning. It simply appeared and began chasing him in his room. Then up and down the stairs.

Again, it took him seemingly forever to realize that all he had to do was turn and stand his ground. Maybe hours. And even when he did, he hesitated.

When he finally turned to face it, it shrank and disappeared. He was getting tired of the cryptic dreams. The strange, otherworldly visions. He wanted a peaceful night’s sleep.

Something he had not had for a while. When he wasn’t having dreams that scared the shit out of him, he was dreaming of wars in places he had never been. Ruined cities. And yet they all felt so familiar. So normal.

It unnerved him. He was a child. He wasn’t supposed to have these kinds of dreams.

And yet, here he was. Being given clues. But to what? And why?


He loved hearing the coyotes howl just outside his window. It was one of the plusses, for him anyway, of living in the country. Another was being around animals. Playing hide and seek with the goats. Having a safe haven from his sister in the old barn near the lower pastures.

For some reason, the spirits there defended him. Hid him. There was no other way to explain it.

The old tack room was a great place to find solitude. And John loved to be alone at times. Especially after being threatened by Leanne.

There, he could ponder the meanings of his dreams and visions. Not that he would have any revelations, but he pondered them anyway. But because they haunted him on a daily basis.

And the coyotes put him to sleep. So soothing. So serene.

Thunder had the same effect. It was soothing, especially when it was distant. Even the sound of rain soothed him.

But there were dangers out here as well. Lightning. Tornadoes. His sister.

But he had friends. Billy Marliss and his sister, Nicki. Their sister Regan was too young to hang out with them on the bus. Nicki, though seemed to have a crush on him. Billy, though, watched his back.

And then, there was Nicole Arlington, who also seemed to have a crush on him. She would sit with him when Billy was not on the bus and want to play house. Not one of John’s favorite games, but it passed the time.

Then there were Craig Wills, Danny Harolds, Wynn Paldry, Jonnie Pensley,  and Stan Johnson. Chuck Fields and Jeff Upheldt didn’t really count. They weren’t as close as ‘the gang’. Penn Dringer had moved in Kindergarten, so he had long since faded from importance.

But even ‘the gang’ was not as close as Billy and Nicki. Or Charles and Nikki. Those were John’s closest friends.

Billy and Nicki lived just up the road. John could go visit them any time. Charles and Nikki were family friends and he could visit them whenever his mother went to visit theirs.

And then, there was Ellie, Donnie, and Daria. The Morrisons. John’s father was a friend of their father, his mother a friend of their mother.

Finally, there were the Walstons and the Maldwells. The Maldwells were also old friends of John’s parents. But the Walstons were ‘church friends’.

The Maldwells had seven children. John had become friends with the two youngest, John and Terri. Leanne was friends with the others as they were too old for John to get close to.

The Walstons were a whole different matter altogether. All of the Walston children were too old for John to be friends with and their parents made him uncomfortable. Robert Walston was a braggart and Mindy was a prude. A snob.

All the boys were too old to be too friendly with. The girls as well. John was too young to enjoy cars or girls. Nor was he interested in racing, football, or wrestling.  


The Soul Shard Chronicles: Houses Of The Holy, Episode 1: All Visions Remain, Chapter 1



It was so vivid. So surreal. John, at eight, lay on the hide-a-bed eyes wide open as the headless bodies filed one by one out of his parents’ room. He opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Nothing at all.

He knew there were presences everywhere on the farm, he had felt them. The old barn at the top of the cow pastures. The old barn down in the center pasture. Even in the old house they lived in. They were there. He had sensed them. He had seen them.

And now, this. No one would ever believe him. They would claim it was his overactive imagination. Or just a nightmare. But he knew that he could not have nightmares while awake.

But what was he witnessing? The past? The present? The future?

Or was it a warning? He was unsure. At eight, he knew very little about interpreting such events.

The only thing he knew was that he could never tell anyone. They would think him crazy. Or seeking attention. Neither of which was true.

After all, they had company. His friend, Nikki Norton. And he had given up his room for her to sleep in while he bunked on the hide-a-bad with her brother Charles.

Charles had introduced John to computers and Star Wars. He had also introduced John to peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. And Rube Goldberg’s wondrously complex machines for simple everyday tasks.

Nikki and Charles’ mother didn’t really care for John. She merely tolerated him because she was friends with Charlene, John’s mom. Their dad, though, liked everyone. As did their grandpa.

John was just happy that Charles and Nikki liked him. Nikki seemed to flirt a lot with him, making him both uncomfortable and thrilled at the same time. Perhaps it was her way of getting him away from her brother. He didn’t know.

But here they were. Spending the summer, or at least a couple weeks of it, together. Last year, he had stayed with them at their home. This year, it was their turn. Next year, it would be his again.

It was the closest he ever came to being able to stay with friends. He couldn’t spend the night over at the Marlins, oh God no. they were ‘of the world’. A petty view to take of neighbors. A wrong view.

But John was a mere child and could not speak his mind. Oh God, no. To do so would be to incur the only wrath stronger than God’s. His father’s.  

So he made do with what he was allowed to do. Perhaps one day, he would set the score right. Or maybe, he would just be long forgotten by those he never got to enjoy the company of.

At the moment, though, headless bodies filed from his parents’ room. Single file. Spreading out as they came. Filling the living room. Surrounding the hide-a-bed. And all pointed to him, then vanished.

He lay there unsure what to do. What had just taken place? Were they accusing him? Were they trying to tell him something? Or were they pleading with him?

He got up and went to the bathroom. Shaking, he wondered what he was supposed to do. He was only eight. He wasn’t anyone of power.

At least not in his mind. Hell. He barely had permission to have toys and play. And most of those toys were given to him by others. Friends. Some had been bought, but he had to beg for money in order to do so.

Sadly, most of his friends knew nothing of his home life. He didn’t want them to know either. Not that the farm was a horrible place, but his father was not a kind man.

Alan Perdue. Youngest son of Henry Perdue. First prize winner in ‘Asshole of the Year” every year. Ran around with men just like him. Or so he thought. They mostly wanted to steer him in the wrong direction, then laugh at his frustration. It caused friction. And fear.

John was the youngest child in the home. Leanne was entering her teens and it made her more cruel. More jealous. More dangerous to John.

Her darkside rarely showed when Charlene was in the room. But when she wasn’t, John usually ended up getting beat up. Thrown across the room. Threatened.


Weeks later, John and Leanne went to town. Northboro was a small town. And it was only a mile from the farm. The journey to town went without any event. In town, they bought pop and candy bars.

One pasture length away from the farm, to the southwest, apricot trees grew in a neighbor’s fence line. On the way home, Leanne noticed the apricots.

“What are those?” She asked him.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged, “can’t see them clearly from here.”

She got off her bike and went over the fence. Once at the trees, she picked two for each of them. She returned to the road. She handed JOhn the two she had picked for him.

“They’re apricots!” She squealed, overjoyed. “Want one?”

“Sure,” he nodded.

He bit into one. It was juicy. Sweet. He walked on to the farm next to her in silence.

Their mother had been watching. She was not happy. They had stolen fruit from a neighbor’s tree.

But instead of letting Alan deal with this, she would do so herself. Then sweep it all under the rug. Alan would make a major production of the whole thing if he were to find out and possibly beat both children to within an inch of death. He knew nothing of tact or mercy.

No, she would deal with this. She would punish them, then have them apologise to the neighbor. Then, she would make the whole thing vanish.

After all, they were her children and she would protect them. It was bad enough that Alan tended to see the children as slave labor who deserved no allowances. She would not allow him to harm them over something that she saw as trivial.