“We walked in deeper cautiously. Every nerve, hair, and fiber of my being stood on edge. Instincts shrieked retreat and avoidance, but we could not risk neglecting some forgotten pocket of diapers or formula. Not now.
A rotting corpse stood nailed to a cross in front of what remained of the church, its arms spread in crucifixion homage to the plain, crossed white boards. Its bare skull hung to the side, the mouth agape in frozen horror. Flesh slumped and pulled toward the ground. All the blood drained and rotted long ago—if they didn’t fucking drink it. They had gotten to human sacrifice. Just when I thought there were no more horrors.
Forfeit just enough lives, and God will take it all back. Commit enough atrocities in His name, and He will just make it all stop. As if a deity would be so easily swayed from purpose and punishment.
‘Jesus fucking Christ,’ I breathed. ‘When does it stop getting more horrible?’
He stopped and stood under the corpse, looking up at it and tilting his head as the child wiggled on him. At the bottom of the cross, below the decayed feet, something appeared scratched into the grain of the wood. The paint peeled back from the lines. I hesitantly stepped forward and reached toward it. Leaning back as far as I could, I let my fingertip trace the shape. It almost looked like a Z.”