It’s been a couple of years since I explored the wonder and mysteries of Catholicism in my book, Evil Eternal, albeit it in a very overly dramatic fashion. I decided to dip my toe back in the holy water with a new short story, Confessional, available exclusively at Pen of the Damned.
Growing up an altar boy and singer in the church choir, the one aspect of my faith as a good Irish Catholic that frightened me was the act of confession. I was always worried that the priest would see me in a different, negative light once he knew I lied to a teacher and took the Lord’s name in vain (thanks to my grandfather for that one – he used ‘goddammit’ with positive flair). The act of confession doesn’t get easier as you get older.
Priests are, after all, only human. Could you look the other way if someone you were close to confessed to abusing a child, or cheating on their spouse with numerous partners, or robbing a liquor store, or even worse, murder? We ask for forgiveness, release our burden, perform our acts of contrition. But just as energy can never be destroyed, perhaps so the weight of sin. Confession is an act of transference, so though you may leave the church with a lighter heart, what happens to the priest?
These are the things nagging at my brain as I wrote Confessional. If you’re curious as to what goes on within its confines, I suggest you bow your head and step inside….
Once you’ve cleansed your sins, post a comment here on or on Twitter using #HunterConfesses and you’re eligible to win a signed copy of Evil Eternal. I’ll announce winners next week.
Most of all, what do you think of confession? What are your experiences?
Because I’ve been working on a huge project and beset with other issues, I was, unfortunately, not able to be with my fellow damned on this one. Hell, they didn’t need me anyway. Check it out…
One of Pen of the Damned’s most recent features is the addition of Damned Words into our schedule – once a rotation we review an image, photographed and supplied by our own Nina D’Arcangela, and each write a one hundred word flash inspired by what we see.
It is wonderful to see the weird places each of our different personalities takes us. I’ve said it before but I will do so again – the world is made up of billions of people, and each of them different. Exercises like this are a pleasure and a treat because they serve to highlight those differences. We are working from the same image, we write with the same dark predilections, but still we produce different stories, exploring different themes, told in different voices and tones… It is this unique opportunity to share another person’s private perspective of the world that makes writing so…
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It’s been a while since I posted an original story here on the old blog and chain. This one is for my sister and brother-in-law, right down to the Cowboys jersey. This is a little flash fiction piece I call “Dinner With Ghost Hunters”. Hope you enjoy it. Please comment away!
It had long been a rule of Tom’s not to go to dinner parties hosted by people he either didn’t know or didn’t like. He gripped the steering wheel a little too hard on the ride to the Gundersons, angry at Carolyn for ignoring one of his cardinal rules.
As they pulled into the driveway, he said, “Okay, call me when you’re done and I’ll pick you up.”
Carolyn playfully slapped his arm, ignoring his discomfort. “At least you’ll get a free meal out of it.”
“Yeah, at what cost?”
Tom was so busy fuming about the night ahead that he didn’t notice the parked van until he walked smack into the rear double doors.
Carolyn was already at the front door, pinwheeling one hand to urge him forward. He joined her side, a tad woozy and holding his nose. Carolyn paid him no mind.
Missy Gunderson answered the door wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey and denim shorts. Hank Gunderson came up behind her smiling in his blue Giants jersey.
“Hey guys, come on in!,” Missy said. “We were hoping you could stay after dinner and watch the game. Hank just got one of those huge plasma TVs and is dying to show it off to someone.”
Casual dress? Plasma TV? Football?
Maybe I’ve been wrong about all of this, Tom thought.
After a round of introductions, Hank led them to the dining room for cocktails. As they walked past the living room, Tom noticed three men and one woman sitting in front of a folding table loaded with small monitors and computers. The quartet never looked their way.
“Don’t mind them,” Hank said to Tom. “They’ve been here for a week and we barely even notice them anymore.”
“Who are they?” Tom asked. Carolyn shot him a cautionary look. Don’t pry her eyes pleaded.
Missy laughed and said, “You’re not gonna believe this, but they’re from that TV show, Ghost Trackers. Hank thinks this house is haunted, so one night after watching the show he sent them an email and, well, here they are. I was dead set against it but they paid us some money, so Tom gets his TV and I get my new laptop.”
“And most importantly, I get some answers,” Hank added.
“Sounds exciting,” Carolyn said.
Missy leaned towards Tom and Carolyn and said, “Trust me, it’s pretty boring stuff. They do a lot of walking around and looking at monitors. I don’t know how they stay awake.”
Hank walked in carrying a tray of margaritas and they settled into the dining room. And true to Hank’s word, they soon forgot about the Ghost Trackers team in the next room. Tom quietly admitted to himself that he actually liked the Gundersons.
Two pleasant hours and one delicious steak dinner later, Tom was startled by the sound of high pitched beeping coming from the living room. That was followed by the shuffling of feet and excited conversation.
“What’s going on?” Tom said.
Hank peered into the living room, his arm frozen in place, drink halfway to his lips. “I have no idea.”
One of the team members rushed into the dining room and turned off the lights. “Get a camera in here!” he shouted.
The rest of the team followed, one holding a little handheld device that whined nervously, another with something that looked like a radar gun and two with large cameras propped on their shoulders.
“It’s right over there,” the woman shouted, pointing towards the area behind Tom.
“Flash!” someone shouted and a camera flash went off, momentarily blinding everyone.
“What’s over here?” Tom asked. He was promptly shushed by the woman.
“Do you see that mist, just over his head?” one of the cameramen whispered.
Tom jerked his head around but only saw darkness.
“Temperature’s dropping. Down five degrees, seven, ten degrees.”
“EMF is spiking at five. It’s right here, I can feel it.”
“Whoa, did you see that blue light? It just went behind him!”
Tom grabbed Carolyn’s hand and knocked over his chair as he jumped to his feet.
“We’re outta here,” Tom shouted. Again, he was shushed.
“It’s following him. Quick, keep a camera on him.”
Tom and Carolyn made their way through the darkened house while the Gundresona sat in mute shock. He slammed the front door on the cameraman that was hot on his heels, leaving the madness behind them.
“And that’s why I have rules,” he said to Carolyn, and promptly smashed face-first, again, into the front of the Ghost Trackers van.