Home > Uncategorized > At Home in Heinz Hollow – #5

At Home in Heinz Hollow – #5

This is the final piece of this short story. There will be other shorts involving Sepp and various characters in his story, but it took me forever to get back and finish this one, so likely it’ll be after NaNoWriMo. So here it is:

*   *   *   *   *

He raised his head from the stinking sand slowly, trying to spit the rotten taste out of his mouth. He was dizzy, parched and his raw skin burned from the sand and heat. All around him were rotting corpses, the bodies of his friends and neighbors. He spied his father’s broken body lying farther down the beach, the overturned wheelchair broken next to it, and beyond that was a grove of gnarled old trees. Large birds of all descriptions were wheeling in the sky overhead and cawing from the trees. They circled and began descending, tearing at the decaying flesh to feast on the storm’s victims. A massive, gleaming raven landed on a driftwood log and perched there, gazing at him with knowledge far beyond that of mere humans.

“No!” croaked Sepp, dragging his hand up to protect his eyes. “Get away! You can’t have me, I’m alive!”

He felt the bird alight on his arm, and cruel talons dug through the skin to draw blood. Sepp tried to shake it off, but he felt paralyzed. He tried to scream but no sound made it past his lips. He prepared to die, a last desperate prayer erupting from deep in his soul. Then he woke up.

Gasping for air, he struggled to force the dream from his mind. It took time, and he needed to get up from his bed and head for the kitchen. The eastern sky was brightening. It must be near dawn, he thought. His heart was pounding furiously and he needed water. Hastily he slopped water into a glass and gulped it down. It tasted as wonderful as though he had actually been in that terrifying dream. Normally he was accustomed to being alone, but in this moment he’d give anything for another person to be there, to make him feel like part of the living world. He drank another glass of water and then flung open the kitchen door. Stepping out onto the porch he breathed in and out, over and over, and gradually he felt his pulse slow. He sank into the rocking chair. He saw that his hands were shaking. Was he going crazy? Never had he dreamed such a dream! The books were affecting his mind, those stories of ancient Greece that seemed to draw him in. There was no one he could talk to about these things, no one would understand. He groaned. Maybe his brethren had the right idea, and he should stay on the narrow path, reading only Scripture and tending to his home and work in the community. Slowly he began rocking in the chair. He would overcome this moral weakness. He must. If these sinful dreams and fantasies continued he might grow mad, and would certainly be unfit to live among Menno’s People. He let his face fall forward into his hands and let the hopeful sounds of the early morning surround him.

*   *   *   *   *

A few hours later, Sepp stepped out of the kitchen door and put his hat on. He would have to hurry or he would be a few minutes late for Sunday service, but his mind was calm now. As he strode down the lane he mused on the act of putting away the box of books. In fact he had sorted through his bookshelves and removed anything resembling those books about ancient Greece. He still recoiled at the idea of destroying books. His sinful dreams were not the fault of the written words; the fault was in his own sinful nature. The location of that wooden crate still burned in his mind, up in the corner of the attic behind his father’s old clothes and crutches. But over time that memory would grow dim and with God’s help he would grow in acceptance of his life’s work.

Sunshine fell on his shoulders as he walked quickly toward the town, warming him. The trees were still mostly a rich summer green, with only a few maples hinting at the scarlet splendor they would wear in a few weeks. Up high on the sloping hill there were black and white cows grazing placidly. This world, the place he lived in, was full of beauty. If he was stifling a tiny kernel of doubt, that would pass. He was part of Menno’s People, a unique and necessary part of this community of the faithful. Up ahead he could see the Radamacher family approaching the road from their farm. In response to Dan’s friendly wave, he quickened his pace to join them.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 31, 2010 at 14:30

    Nice nightmare. I like how you tied up his religious upbringing into it too to give a more complete picture of how much he grows in your books. 😀 Thank goodness he found Claire!

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