The Unseen Four at Mattie's Diner

Submitted into Contest #110 in response to: Set your story in a roadside diner.... view prompt

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Fiction Speculative Fantasy

The Unseen Four at Mattie’s Diner

“We have long known it would come to this.”

“True.”

“Why now?”

The three paused their conversation, unspoken syllables hanging in the air between them, invisible to Mattie as she walked by to top off coffee at another table, cast them a quick glance reassuring herself they didn’t need refills, and returned to the counter of the diner.

Though their projected appearance was innocuously, humanly non-descript, they saw each other as they truly were: a Kelpie water spirit with devilish horns atop her pale, heart-shaped face, a Dullahan Unseelie usually carrying her head under her arm—though it now sat on the diner table amidst the coffee and pie, and a Gwyllian Dog of Darkness five times the size of a mastiff, his eye sockets filled with burning coals.

The air rippled around them.

“Hello, Ensos,” Ritassa the Kelpie said as the tall, skeletal figure in a dusty black top hat slid into the booth beside her, his frail fingers spanning half of the table.

“Thought you weren’t coming,” growled Tadzio, his breath fouler than any corporeal canine.

“He’s here, talk.” Lenonirie pulled her head closer toward her body, leaving smears only the four of them could see.

The Babadook, grief made bone, took his time to speak. “The vortex has doubled.”

His companions swore in their native tongues.

Mattie, noticing the human facade Ensos wore like a shell, brought him a cup of hot coffee and a smile.

“How many?”

“Too many.”

“What are they?”

“Gesher, CkouTow, Akuma, Bukavac, Jorogguma, Seoneeda, and Doremus.”

They filled the silence by stirring their coffee and picking off pieces of Mattie’s Pie of Day, a gelatinous caramelized sugar with lumps of pecans atop now-soggy crust.

“Anything there the humans would notice?” Ritassa asked.

Ensos nodded.

Lenonirie speculated, “Piles of dead frogs, rats dead in mid-swallow of snakes, flies dead in airborne clumps.”

“Spiders arranged in the Grimmordium Verum,” Tadzio added.

“And the hail started just before I arrived.” Ensos wrapped his porcelain fingers around the two nearest coffee cups, staring at them as he clasped and unwrapped them.

“The hail will obscure the other signs,” the Kelpie observed.

“For now.”

“We must summon Melatemey.” Lenonirie sat solemnly, allowing her words to settle.

“No—” Tadzio rumbled.

Ensos and Ritassa regarded each other wordlessly.

“Agreed,” they said as one.

“NO!” Tadzio roared and leapt to his four massive, clawed paws.

Mattie looked sharply in their direction at the outburst.

Ritassa tucked Tadzio’s human projection back into his seat and added an apologetic wave to Mattie, who smiled back, reassured, returning her attention to the plaid flannel shirt and dirty jean-clad trucker seated at the counter.

“We do not need you to agree,” Lenonirie reminded him.

“It will reduce your numbers when you can ill afford that,” he replied.

“Which will be your responsibility.” Ensos gazed calmly with empty eye sockets into Tadzio’s raging embers. “Would you do this now?”

“When we have Melatemey, we will not need you, Tadzio.” The Unseelie lifted her head off the table to meet the Gwyillgian’s burning countenance.

Tadzio hesitated before shifting his form back to the size of the others.

Lenonirie returned her head to the table.

“When?” Ritassa asked.

“Now.”

Reverend Nelson stood in the hailstorm, golf ball-sized spheres of ice bouncing off his wide brimmed hat; he protected the Bible in his hands, holding it close to his chest. Looking down at the piles of dead animals at his feet, he knew what this foretold.

The next morning, the twelve deacons of the Bantry Church of the Holy Redeemer gathered at the reverend’s request.

His pockmarked face was grim and paler than usual against the unrelieved black of his daily shirt, slacks, and jacket—spotless and pressed into sharp creases.

An uncomfortable silence descended, sending each man into silent prayer.

“I have seen the Signs,” Reverend Nelson said, finally breaking the silence. “The Plagues. The End Times.”

Alarm scurried in the voices along the pews until the reverend held up his hands.

“Peace be upon your hearts, because though we all are sinners, you are the faithful. God will grant us time to repent our sins and will bless us with his forgiveness.”

The men, quieted, nodded and pressed their palms together before them.

“We know the Unholy here in Bantry, those who have strayed from His Path; they too can be redeemed by His grace.” Reverend Nelson paused, knuckles whitening on the Holy Book of generations of his devout ancestors, gripping it as a weapon in battle. “But there is also Evil here. True Evil. Not merely the temptations of Lucifer, the trickery of Satan disguised, the Devil’s traps set for the unwary, not Mephistopheles’ trails to sin. The Evil of the unseen demons we feel in the very air around us. And we, in our foolish complacency, in the sin of Pride, have failed The Lord Our God in not casting out these abominations from His Holy grounds.”

Deacons wept, covered their faces in shame, dropped to their knees, murmured fervent prayers.

Reverend Nelson bowed his head, his own prayers and pleas for forgiveness, and strength whispered into the leather bound Word clutched in his feeble fingers. He allowed the men in the church time to do the same before speaking again.

“Our Lord tells us through the Holy words of Second Corinthians, ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ So saith The Lord. Amen.”

A chorus of Amens echoed through the small church.

“We will stand ever faithful, though the blood runneth in the streets, and the deaths of the firstborn sons rend our hearts. By His Grace, we will stand. And by His Will, we will triumph, or join Our Savior in Heaven. Hallelujah!”

Melatemey, having joined the four, hovered above the humans’ gathering. Now five, they were silent as they listened to the inconsequential words.

“I will close the vortex,” she told the others. “But it will only be temporary if all of you remain in this human nest. One must remain as Watcher.”

Ritassa and Lenonirie nodded in silence. Tadzio remained stubbornly still, flaming gaze fixed of Melatemey, which she chose to ignore rather than waste energy disposing of him.

“I will stay.” Ensos spoke quietly, solemnly.

This surprised none among them.

Melatemey nodded. “You are the best suited Watcher. It will be.”

Ensos inclined his skeletal head, his hat respectfully removed in Melatemey’s presence.

“But the human will burn,” she said.

Lenonirie and Ritassa glanced at one another briefly. 

It was not a question.

The five watched in silence as Reverend Nelson caught fire, screamed for his god, and was reduced to ash in front of the horrified occupants of the building.

September 06, 2021 15:36

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5 comments

Kate Winchester
03:00 Oct 03, 2021

I like this one too! It’s cool learning more about the world you’ve created.

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Elizabeth Fenley
20:16 Oct 03, 2021

Great! This is where they were born--and why they parted ways. Perhaps there's a prequel to this one set in Bantry with the 4 of them. Although, I am less fond of Tadzio. He added an element, but I doubt he'll get his own stories. Ensos is way cooler. Glad you liked this one too.

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Kate Winchester
22:27 Oct 03, 2021

Awesome. I think Ensos is my favorite lol.

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Elizabeth Fenley
22:45 Sep 21, 2021

Thank you. I enjoyed creating the supernaturals and seeing where they would go. I imagine I will use them again.

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Jon Casper
09:28 Sep 08, 2021

Powerful, evocative prose, and fascinating characters. I enjoyed this!

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