"Th-that's not t-true," said Red, "Th-that's-"
"I assure you," said Father Patrick, "It is entirely possible
and it's entirely true. Simon, the pictures, please." Simon walked up
to Red and held a photo in front of his face. It was a picture of Alison,
all decked out in her full Goth attire, being escorted out of DI&R. Simon
flipped to another picture, and another, and another all similar shots, Alison
with her parents leaving, Alison with Argento…
Father Patrick, clad in his robes once more, rather than the borrowed sweats,
smirked. "As you can see, the tender young lady you once knew is gone
yet again, replaced by the brooding suicidal girl the rest of the world remembers.
By now she's home again, with no memory of the Rechristening, you saving her
life, or even you existing. Probably not the Christmas present you'd asked
Santa for now is it?"
"Christmas?" Red asked. He could feel his limbs begin to loosen
as the effects of being frozen wore off.
"Oh, yes, it's Christmas day, my birthday in my previous life on Earth.
You've been frozen for four days. We thought it the best way to keep you from
interfering with our preparations. We've got quite a holiday event planned,
and you're an important part of it."
"Not a ch-chance," Red said. He lifted his right foot off the floor,
the first bit of movement he could manage, but was unable to shift his balance
fast enough to keep upright. Fortunately, Simon was still close enough to
"Lay him down on the couch," Father Patrick said. Simon swiveled
Red over to a sofa in the corner of the room and lay Red down upon it. The
movement gave Red a chance to see a bit more of the room. It was very unfinished,
as if it was a room in a warehouse or factory that had had some furniture
put in. "Come now, your Holiness, what have you got to lose? You know
you can't trust DI&R- they betrayed you. They were going to wipe your
mind of the incident, just as they did with Alison's. Your good friend Argento
knew about the whole thing- I was there when he got the order. A whole troop
of their men waited in the room and when Kimmy and Scott came back, they saw
you and Alison and took them before they even said a word. Isn't that what
Kimmy glanced nervously at Patrick, who nodded at her. "It's true," she
said. "They only took… Scott and I because they thought we were
you. And they did 'Rechristen' Alison."
"Join us," Father Patrick implored. "Get revenge on those
who would use you as nothing more than a tool to be discarded at will. They've
lied to you from the very start. The Holy Implements we had, the masks, the
cryonic freezing device, where do you think we got them? They gave them to
me to facilitate my rise to power, before I revealed them to be the corrupt
and sinful organization they truly are." Father Patrick leaned in and
whispered into Red's ear, so no one else could hear. "How do you think
I received this Holy power?" He kissed Red's cheek lightly before he
rose again. "They wanted me to be their tool as well, but they were mistaken
trying to use the Son of God thus. Join me and they will pay for their discretions
against us both."
As the cold numbness began to leave him, Red realized that every muscle in
his body ached immensely. "What are you going to do?"
"It's not what I am going to do," Father Patrick said, "It's
what He is going to do. His justice will be served and I shall be revealed
as Savior, and with you by my side, no one will stand in our way!"
Red would now had regained the full range of movement from his body, if not
for the fact that even the slightest utilization of his locomotive functions
caused tremendous shooting pain throughout his being. "You can take your
"Before you decide," Father Patrick said, walking close to Red
and grabbing him by the hair, "There are a few choice bits of information
you should consider. First, considering what you did to Scott, I am being
a benevolent and merciful God, am I not? Were I to do unto you as you did
unto him, you'd be a bit more widespread right now. Second, you have a very
simple choice. We've already made arrangements to ransom you back to your
old pals. Either you join us, we steal their five million dollars, usher in
a new era of paradise with all the… girls you could ask for, and, hey,
why not, I'll even get back Alison for you, or…" he let go of Red's
hair and smoothed it out gently, "Or we can refreeze you and give you
back to them and you forget all about her as she has you."
Red looked up at the Father hovering above him, waiting smugly for the answer
he knew Red would give. Red desperately wanted another option, but could think
of no alternative. Until he could find out more, find out what was true, he
had no choice. They had him against a wall.
"Fine," Red sighed, "I'll join you. What are we going to do?"
"That, your Holiness, is a surprise. Just remember- if you want me to
heal your little girl's brain, I expect everything to go perfectly at this
exchange. If it doesn't… I may still stop by her house. It might do
a pretty young thing like her some good to find Jesus."
"If you even think about-"
"I wouldn't dream of it, your Holiness," he said. "She's all
yours, as long as that money is mine. Deal?"
"Deal," said Red.
"Wonderful," Father Patrick said, "Now you're one of us. You
should meet the team. You know Kimmy and Joshua, of course." Kimmy was
sitting nearby sort of anxiously. Joshua was in a rocking chair nearby, rocking
back and forth. Father Patrick stood beside him and put his hand on Joshua's
shoulder. He nodded towards Simon. "Simon is my right hand, the first
I ever healed. These two fine gentlemen over here," he gestured behind
Red, "Are Charles and William."
Red craned his neck to see the two men who had operated the frog launcher
almost a week earlier. The searing pain made him wince.
"Oh, of course," said Father Patrick, "Forgive me, your Holiness." He
walked back to Red and placed his hand on Red's chest. Almost instantaneously,
Red could feel the pain melt away from every muscle in his body. "That
should be better."
"Much," said Red, sitting up on the couch.
Father Patrick sat down on the matching loveseat. "We have about an
hour before we need to leave to get ready to meet Argento." He looked
at Joshua and patted himself on the lap.
"Argento?" Red asked.
"He's supposed to bring five million dollars to a certain phone booth
all by himself. We'll have Charles here watching him there. If he's all alone,
we'll call him, tell him where to meet us. That's where we're supposed to
make the trade, but instead, you can help us take everything." Joshua
draped himself across Father Patrick's lap, resting his head against the priest's
"Oh, Jesus, guys, no, please!" Red said.
"Come now, your Holiness," said the Father, "It's just a little
affection." He rubbed noses with Joshua.
"Yeah," said Joshua, "A boy's gotta get off somehow, no thanks
to your cocktease girlfriend."
"Oh," said Patrick, "My little boy sounds so grown up!"
"God," said Red, "You guys are going to make me sick…"
Father Patrick clucked his tongue, "Why, because he's a boy? You're
just as bad, and you know it."
"I am not a pedophile!"
"Not this again…" he rose, taking Joshua's hand. "Joshua
and I are going elsewhere to amuse ourselves. Kimmy, take Red and get him
"Gladly," she said, rising.
"I told you," said Red, "I'm not-"
"Kimmy, give me your wallet," said Patrick. She picked up a purse
from one of the end tables and took out a wallet. She handed it to Patrick.
He flipped through it. "Let's see… OK, here we are. Date of Birth:
December 19th, 1984." He turned it to Red, then after a moment, he flipped
it closed and tossed it back to its owner. "Do the math. It really was
her eighteenth birthday. Girls turn eighteen every day."
"Come on," said Kimmy, picking up Red's hand.
"No thanks," Red said, pulling himself away.
"We can just talk."
"Forget it," he said, "Just leave me alone."
"I'd really like to talk to you."
"And I couldn't give a crap what you'd like, so bug off."
"I think it would be best if you did come with me. I am eighteen, see?" she
opened her wallet back up and held it towards him.
"Yeah, yeah, I saw."
"With a set of goggles like those, I'm sure you-"
Red rose and slapped her. "Don't you ever, EVER say that again," he
said. The outline of his hand slowly began to shine bright Red on Kimmy's
face. Her eyes were wide and her hand went up to cover her cheek. She began
to tear up. "They're glasses, you call them glasses. And when I tell
you to leave me alone, you leave me the hell alone. I'm a Saint, who the hell
are you to push me?"
"Exactly," said Father Patrick. "That's exactly right. You're
a Saint; you can do whatever you please. These children, they are all below
you. They are yours to do with as you please. I'm glad to see you finally
assert yourself. Bravo."
Red stood staring Kimmy down. She looked as though she would burst into tears
at any second. "Red, please, I-"
"Why don't you just stick with 'Your Holiness', ok?" Red said.
"Kimmy," Father Patrick said, "You can join Joshua and I."
"But I-" she said.
"Kimmy!" said Father Patrick. Without another word she rose and
quietly and walked to the priest's side. "We'll all leave you alone then.
Simon, Charles, William. See that everything is ready when it's time to leave."
"Yes, my Lord," said Simon.
Once the six of them had gone, Red sat back down on the couch and found
himself recalling chapter eight of Oliver Twist, "Oliver walks to London.
He encounters on the road a strange sort of young gentleman." It was
the chapter in which Oliver first met Dodger and Fagin. With nothing better
to occupy his mind, he recited the book to himself.
"OK," said Father Patrick into his cell phone, "I'll give
him a call." He clicked the device off. William was in the driver's seat
of the van, Kimmy was in the passenger seat, while Red was in the rear with
Father Patrick. They had parked in a parking garage, on an empty floor, about
twenty minutes before, waiting for Argento to show up at the phone booth. "Argento's
in place," Patrick told them. "I'm going to call him now. Let's
get out of the van. Red, you get down on your knees."
"Yeah, fine," said Red. He got out of the van and knelt on the
ground behind it. Patrick walked up behind him as he dialed. "Argento," he
said, "Get back into your car and go into the parking garage down the
block on the right. Fifth floor. I see anything I don't like, his Holiness
gets one in the back of the head." He hung up the phone and pulled out
a silenced pistol. He put it to the back of Red's head. "Ok, Red, now
remember the plan."
"I got it," Red said.
"First we get him to show us the money, then I make my speech, and when
I say 'the might of my Righteous Angels and…' then I'll pause for effect,
'even your own Saint,' that's when you jump up and grab Argento."
"Yeah, I got it," Red said, "Don't worry about it. Then we
get Alison back and make everything better."
"Quiet, here he comes," Patrick said. Red felt the gun jab into
the back of his head a little harder. Argento was driving a black sedan. He
appeared to be alone. Red did his best to look vaguely nervous. He kept his
hands behind his back, as if they were tied. Argento pulled his car to a stop.
Father Patrick gestured for him to come out.
"Are you all right, Red?" asked Argento as he climbed out of the
car and approached them.
"I'm just peachy, Frankie," Red said.
"Did you bring the money?" Patrick asked.
"Five million dollars," said Argento. "In twenties. Nonconsecutive.
Right in the back seat. Just let us have Red back, that's all that matters."
"You son of a bitch!" Red said, springing to his feet and punching
Argento in the face. In his left hand he'd been holding the cryo-freezer.
He grabbed Argento by the back of his collar and put the tip of the device
up against his face, careful to keep his finger off the button that operates
"Red!" said Patrick. "Uh… Yes, Mr. Argento, now you
realize the wrath of my fully-"
"Shut up!" said Red. "Have them get the money. Frank and I
need to talk."
"Red, what are you… whoa! Hey, hey, easy!" said Argento as
Red jerked him over to the side of the garage. Red pushed Argento's torso
over the edge so that only his own grasp on Argento kept him from falling. "Please,
what are you doing?"
"You know, Frank, ever since we first met, you've been holing back information
from me," said Red. "And I've heard the key to a good relationship
is communication, so, I think it's time for you to communicate some things
to me, ok? I am sick of this mysterious crap, dancing around the truth! I
want you to tell me straight, and I mean now, unless you'd rather find out
how many pieces you'd shatter into if you fell frozen from this height?"
"No, no, please, of course not, no" Argento stammered. "What
do you want anything, anything!"
"Red, this was not the plan!" Patrick said, hovering behind Red.
"You got the money," said Red, "And I think Argento knows
whose side I'm on, so just get over it. We all know you’re not the Son
of God, all of us with half a brain anyway. Now, shut the hell up and let
me find out the truth!"
"Fine," said Patrick, "Do as you will. He'll only confirm
what I have already told you."
"Ok, Frank, here we go, answer everything truthfully and I'll let you
go- in the non-falling-to-you-death way. First off- what did you do to Alison?"
"Alison?" said Frank, "Alison, you mean… oh… Alison,
Alison is back with her parents… we, ah, had to put her mind back the
way it was intended to be…"
"So, when you captured Kimmy and Scott, you were trying to take us?"
"Red, you have to understand," he said, "Oh, God please, I
was just doing my job! We're trying to make the world a better place, and
sometimes we, ah, you see, have to do things that-"
"Did you give Father Patrick his power? Did you set this sick bastard
up so he could do the filthy things that he's done?"
"Hey, now!" Father Patrick said.
"Red, that's not fair," Argento said, "We didn't, we didn't
know he was going to, you have to understand, the prophets told us he would
help children, they didn't, they didn't tell us…"
"Father!" called William from next to the van.
"Red," said Patrick, "Bring him."
"How could you do this to me?" Red said as he pulled Argento back
from the ledge and threw him onto the floor of the lot.
"Red, you have to understand," Argento said, "You don't know
the half of it yet, what they put you through, what they put Alison through… that's
just the beginning, but trust me, I'm on your side, I promise, I'm not trying
"What the hell is this?" Father Patrick said from near the van. "Argento,
you shouldn't have, you naughty boy."
Red dragged his former partner to where the others were gathered. Kimmy and
William had been taking the packs of money out of the bags that Argento had
brought them in and been transferring it all into a huge box that they had
brought with them in the back of the van. They had also been unwrapping each
individual packet of money, checking quickly for markings or tracking devices,
leaving a huge box full of two hundred fifty thousand loose twenties. It seemed
it had paid off however, as William held in his hand an incredibly thin device
that had been slipped in between some of the bills.
"And what is this?" Father Patrick asked.
"I don't know, I swear!" said Argento, "I didn't put the money
together, I'm just delivering it, I promise you, I didn't, I…"
"Don't worry about it," said Red, "We caught it, so it's ok." He
pulled out his gun and fired at the device in William's hand. He missed. "Heh…" he
said. He tried again. He missed again. "Oh, just leave it here then,
"You see, Red?" Argento said. "That proves it, what you're
doing isn't right, Just like I told you, please, you have to come back with
"So you can wipe my mind, too? No, thanks."
"We're finished here. Red, take care of Argento's car," Father
Patrick said, dialing a number on his cell phone.
Red tossed Argento back onto the ground. "Stay down," he said.
He drew his sword and slashed through the hood of the car and the engine beneath.
Another car pulled up, this one driven by Charles with Joshua in the passenger
"William, Kimmy, you take the van and the money back," said Patrick, "I'm
going to go with Red and keep my part of our bargain."
"Wait," said Kimmy, "Let me go with-"
"Kimmy!" said Patrick. "I am tired of having to say things
so many times."
"Kimmy," said Argento softly, "I know."
"Shut up!" she said.
"I didn't tell," he said. "Not anyone."
"What?" said Patrick, "What is he talking about? What do you
"What do you know, Frank?" Red asked, touching the cryo-freezer
to his neck.
"I know… I know what was done to Kimmy," said Argento, "When
DI&R took her."
"What was done?" Red asked.
"Shut up!" Kimmy shouted at him, kicking Argento. "We don't
have to talk about this!" She was almost in tears again. "We don't
need to talk about this right now, let's just go."
"I'm on your side, Red," Argento said, "I promise you-"
Red froze him. He threw the cryo down on the ground. "Let's go get Alison," he
said, climbing into the back of the car.
"But-" said Kimmy.
"Kimmy, we'll have words later," said Patrick. He joined Red in
the rear of the automobile and they took off, heading for New Hyde Park. "That
girl," he said. "I don't know what they did to her in there, but
since she came back I've practically had to rape her… it's not like
her, not like her at all."
"Oh God," said Red, "Can we not talk on the way? Thanks."
Red was doing his best to block out every word, squeal, or giggle coming
from the back seat of the car. Red had remembered from his childhood that
ever Christmas night, Alison's parents would go out for a special dinner,
just the two of them, having had the family dinner the night before. They
were waiting for the couple to leave before making their move, which is why
the car-full had been sitting just down the street from Alison's house for
just over an hour. About half way through that, Joshua had climbed into the
back seat and rather than be next to anything unseemly, Red had moved up front.
"Wait, hold on a moment," Red said. Alison's parents were leaving
the house, dressed to the nines, just like every Christmas night since Red
had known them. "OK, here we go, guys. Put your… pants back on,
or whatever you need to do. It's time." Red slouched down low as the
Inneses drove past, although he realized it was pointless a moment later.
After their car was out of sight, Charles drove them up to Alison's driveway.
"Alright, let's do this fast," Patrick said. "We break in
and Charles, you help Red hold her down and I'll work the healing on her head."
"No problem," said Charles.
"You keep my seat warm, Joshua." Patrick winked.
The three of them walked up to the door and Charles, being the biggest, threw
himself into the door with all his weight and strength. The bolt cracked out
of the frame and gained them entry. "Upstairs," said Red, taking
the lead. He ran up the stairs to Alison's room and threw open the door.
Alison was lying on her bed writing in her journal. Her face was much paler
than when Red had seen her last, makeup of course, and the black eyeliner
around her eyes was drawn in elaborate designs. Her lips, both black with
lipstick, spread apart wide as she screamed a piercing b-movie shriek.
Red and Charles lunged at her and were able to grab her before she could
move. "Alison," Red said, "Please, just relax, this is for
your own good, I promise you." They held her down on the bed. As Father
Patrick came into her view, her screams turned to tears.
"Oh, God, no not him!" she wailed, "Don't let him touch me,
please! This has to be another dream, please!"
"What is she talking about?" asked Patrick, moving in closer.
"Please, God, don't let him touch me!" she said, "Don't let
him touch me again!"
"I don't know… a dream?" said Red. "Maybe she saw you
in another prophecy. I don't know, just do it!"
"Alright," said Patrick.
"Please, Alison, just relax, it'll be over soon, I promise," Red
As Father Patrick put his hands onto her head she fell silent. Red could
feel an energy in her, making her body feel exceptionally warm. After a moment,
Patrick took his hands off of her head. "She is healed," Patrick
A moment or so later, Alison's eyelids fluttered slowly open. The tears that
had been welling in her eyes rolled down her cheeks. "Who… who
are you people?" she said. "What do you want from me?"
"You didn't do it right!" Red said to Patrick. "Do it again,
you didn't do it right!"
"I did, I swear!" Patrick said. "I did the same thing I did
before, I swear on my Father in heaven! They must have… I don't know,
they must have found a way to stop me!"
"Please, don't…" Alison said, her tears flowing more freely
now, "Please, don't let him touch me, please…"
Red looked deep into Alison's eyes and saw no recognition, only fear. Her
tears were leaving black streaks running down her face. He had never seen
her so sad, so afraid. "Let's get out of here," he said. "Fast."
As they released Alison, she curled up into fetal position on the bed, hugging
her legs tight to her chest and sobbing. Chaser was rubbing against Red's
leg. Red picked him up and put him on the bed with her before leaving and
closing her door behind him. He said nothing as they went back out to the