Chapter One : The Absence of God Murders Me

"The light of God surrounds me. The love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me. The presence of God watches over me. Where ever I am God is." this prayer was whispered softly and desperately from the lips of a woman. It was dark and she was afraid. She wore a silver cross around her throat and now it was clutched tightly in her unsteady hand, the chain woven around her fingers, and her knuckles white.

"Where are you?" her assailant asked in a concerned, heartbroken voice.

Only a few minutes ago, the woman had been preparing dinner for her and her husband. The door bell rang and she happily went to answer it. It was a girl. She wore a white blouse with a black neck tie, a gray plaid skirt that fell just above her knees, white knee-high socks, and saddle shoes. Her hair was thin and black and woven loosely into braided pigtails that fell to her shoulders and fastened with white ribbons. She had a bright smile on her pale face, her eyes a dark brown with thick lashes, and in her hands was a basket of pocket bibles.

"Can I help you?" the woman asked kindly, thinking it must be a bible school girl trying to sell the books for charity money and she was more than happy to contribute. She also wondered why she was out so late and why she was outside without a coat when it was the middle of winter.

"No, I'm here to help you. It is my wish to spread the word of our Lord, help those in darkness find the light, and to purge the suffering of the devoted." the girl said in one breath and without stuttering, as if she had said it a million times before.

The last addition confused the woman but she ignored it, and welcomed the girl inside to see what else she had to say. She already was devoted to the Lord, but she thought it would be rude to shut out the girl saying so.

The woman joined the girl at the dinning table after putting dinner in the oven and making tea. The girl put six sugar cubes in her tea, and had the woman stop pouring half way, filling the rest of the cup with milk. She sipped her tea contently as they conversed over the utmost amazement of the Lord.

"I'm delighted to see such a young girl so active with the Lord. How old are you?" the woman asked.

"I'll be fifteen in a few months." the girl replied.

"Happy early birthday, may God bless your fifteenth year." the woman smiled, this girl was wonderful. What parents could have raised such an angel?

"Thank you." the girl giggled, finishing off her tea. "I must tell you something though."

"Oh what's that?" the woman inquired, taking the girl's dishes.

"Have you ever thought that those who are misfortunate, but devoted ,deserve for their suffering to be purged?" the girl's tone was of innocence.

The woman thought her words over for a moment. What did she mean? Her first thought was a dark one, so she set it aside. The child was a young, well behaved girl after all. She tried to put it in words that made more sense before answering, "It would be a blessing for those, but if they are truly devoted they should be happy with what they have." the woman looked distracted as she said this. She did not want to admit to this girl that she was poor and often prayed to God for a better life. She knew though that she should be satisfied with what was given to her.

"So, you disagree?" the girl inquired.

"No, I'm just saying that they should be content." the woman answered protested.

"So you think they do deserve it?" the girl pried, a coy smile forming on her lips.

"Yes." the woman said in a stressful manor, reminding her self that patience was a virtue.

"I should get it over with then..." the girl sighed, as if talking to her self.

"What do you mean?" the woman asked. The girl didn't answer her, she simply stood up and walked over to the woman, throwing her arms around her waist and hugging her tight.

"What's wrong dear?" the woman asked, a bit taken aback, placing a hand on the girls back comfortingly. Then she felt a sharp pain in her side. She pushed the girl off her and staggered backwards disbelievingly. In the girl's hand was a Swiss Army Knife, the blade coated in blood.

"Why?" the woman managed to say after placing her hand on the wound and seeing the blood.

"I'm going to free you from this mortal life so that you shall be born in to eternal life." the girl said as if it was the most obvious thing ever, a smile still on her face. She made a move toward the woman, and she screamed as she threw a chair at the girl and ran into the basement. The lights were broken down there, she prayed the darkness would save her.

She heard the stairs groan, adjusting to the weight of the girl as she descended them, slowly. The dampness from the pipes of the furnace made her breath heavy and long drawn. The heat bore down upon her, giving her a sense of fatigue. She felt a drop of sweat trickle down her back, and it made her shiver and she began to pray.

"The light of God surrounds me. The love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me. The presence of God watches over me. Where ever I am God is." as she said this, almost silently, she fumbled with the crucifix that was suspended at her breast. She pulled it from her neck and held it so tightly that her knuckles turned pale and she winced at the agony of her finger nails imprinting in her palm.

"Where are you?" the girl asked, in a sad tone, flipping the light switch a few times before giving up. She sat down on the bottom stair and closed her eyes, listening. She let her other senses take in the room. It was like an oven down here, which was understandable. It was winter and the house needed to stay heated. The furnace, from which the heat was emitted, made a low humming sound. The woman was thankful for this, because it muffled her prayer.

"The light of God surrounds me. The love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me. The presence of God watches over me. Where ever I am God is." the woman repeated for a sixth time, feeling tears well in her eyes. Her legs began to protest from kneeling, but she ignored it, closing her eyes, and started the prayer over again.

Half way through it she heard another low voice, whispering the same prayer. She opened her eyes and froze,her heart feeling as if it stopped. The girl was about a foot in front of her, on her knees, just staring at her. She blinked once and then closed her eyes, bowing her head, and slowly continuing the prayer. After about five words she stopped and looked up, looking at the woman expectantly before returning to the prayer. The woman reluctantly joined her, feeling her tears falls and unable to control the tremors that suddenly over came her.

She shut her eyes tight and made the sign of the cross, trying to stay clam. When she looked up she saw the girl standing above her and before she could let out another breath, that Swiss Army Knife was plunged into her jugular vein.