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Thomas sat in the back pew and stared at the windows on the West side of the church. The colors of the stained glass were beginning to fade. It was almost dark; a decision had to be made. Should they go tonight or wait until tomorrow night? A lot could change in the next twenty-four hours. Nowadays, nothing stayed the same for long. Martin slid into the pew in front of Thomas. “How you feeling about this, Father? Do you think the kid is ready?” “He better be. We need to be off the water before the next plague hits.” Thomas never moved his eyes from the windows. One pane in particular held his attention, the one depicting the crucifixion. Funny, Thomas passed this scene every day but had never paid much attention to it. Heck, he had seen so many other artistic interpretations of Jesus’s execution and never thought much about those either. Such a horrible and violent way to go. Thomas imagined the Savior’s panic and desperation as the Roman soldiers drove metal spikes through his hands. In a strange way, Thomas could relate. After all, his situation was comparable. Wasn’t it? Weren’t they both sacrificed for the sake of mankind? Only, Thomas’s soul had been staked to the earth instead of his limbs to a tree. The Passion of Father Thomas. Yes, but this story was happening in reverse. If Jesus’s crucifixion marked the end of his suffering then Thomas’s marked the beginning. And, all things considered, this final moment in St. Francis was his Garden of Gethsemane, his final temptation before he gave in to his fate. Maybe it was sacrilegious to compare himself to Christ but he didn’t feel like an ordinary man anymore. He had a higher purpose. “What will happen if we’re still canoeing when the next plague strikes?” asked Martin. “W... ... middle of paper ... ... “I don’t need one.” This conversation needed to end so without another word, Thomas folded the map and stuffed it into his backpack. Micah stood silent for a moment and then took the clothing. He put on the boots first and then threw the parka on without zipping it. “Here’s your gear.” Martin handed Micah a large backpack. “Are you strong enough to carry that?” Micah nodded. “Oh and Micah, do you have the dagger?” asked Thomas. “Yup.” Micah tapped the side of his calf. “I found a sheath in the supply area so I strapped it to my leg.” “Good idea.” Thomas pulled his pack onto his back and turned toward the vestibule. “Let’s head out.” As he exited the church, he couldn’t look back. A month ago, he had wanted to run away from this place but couldn’t summon the courage. Now, he didn’t have a choice. He had to move forward whether he had the nerve to do so or not.

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