'That had to be a hundred and fifty meter shot, not bad for a fifteen year old,' he said to no one, his words soaked up by the falling snow. He looked up into the fork of the leafless tree, then to the dead squirrel lying at his feet.
He stared at it for a few moments, admiring its shiny coat and full furry tail. It was a gray squirrel, common in these upstate New York cornfields. He looked up into the tree and then back down to the squirrel again, staring at it for a long time this time. Then he looked into its eyes, still open and glossy.
The squirrel didn't look dead. It didn't even look as if it were asleep. To him, it looked as alive as any other animal. Its body still steaming in the crisp air.
Rather, it was simply kneeling, paying respect to this man of such great power. He was special, he already knew this; he could feel it. And now this simple creature, his first loyal subject, understood it as well.
'You're lucky. You're the first, so you'll always be special. You'll always rank higher than the others. And I'll always count on you to help me. And I'll always help you, too. That is, unless you betray me. Then, well...you can imagine what I'd do to anyone who betrays me?'
He got down on his knees and grabbed some snow. Rolled it up into a ball and placed it under the squirrels front quarters. Stood up and looked down on the squirrel again.
'That's better. You can see, can't you?' he asked the animal as his heart quickened. 'You can see now what the others still can't, or refuse to see. But that'll change, I promise.' He told the squirrel as his hands clutched the .22 rifle tighter, his chest full of breath.
He looked round for anything moving. He wanted more subjects. But the cornfield was empty. Nothing moved in the slowly falling snow falling down all around him and onto his head building up into a kind of crown.
He picked up the squirrel and stuffed it into his pocket, stood straight up and began to walk home. He could already imagine the world bending to him as a bead of sweat began rolling down his forehead. Tomorrow, he thought. Tomorrow I'll enlighten others.
* * * * *
'You're still my number one,' he said looking over to the stuffed gray squirrel mounted on its knees. 'A promise is a promise,' he said, a smile directed at the squirrel and not to the stuffed cat in his hands; placing it towards the back of the semicircle.
'Only a month and I've got my own congregation. Can you imagine what I can do in a year?' he asked the squirrel as he stepped backwards to take in the full view.
He stood looking at his followers, those he had shown the light to. Each had their place before him within the descending semicircle: the tallest, a black lab in the center. Then to each side of the purebred, a pair of newly acquired cats, a pair of rabbits, many chipmunks and finally birds. And of course the squirrel, standing a meter in front of the dog facing the semi-circle awaiting orders.
The scratching of the oil-less doorknob being turned startled him. He looked to the slowly opening derelict door while grabbing his .22.
'It's me,' stated his ten-year-old brother as he poked his head into the door.
As he peered in and saw his brother, he opened the door wider and stepped in.
'What the hell are you doin' here?' he said as he raised his hand to the light streaming through the open door. 'Didn't I tell you never to come in here! Didn't I? Close the door!'
His brother closed the door as he was told and as he did so he noticed all of the animals kneeling on the loft floor. The he looked to his brother and noticed the rifle in his hands. His heart stepped up its beat and his palms moistened.
'Why are all of these in here?'
'Don't ask why, just kneel!'
'You heard, kneel before me.'
'I'm telling mom you killed all of these,' his little brother said in a softer tone.
'No, you're not. You're gonna kneel before me. Now do it!' he yelled hoarsely from the formaldehyde drenched air as he stepped off the short stage-like box he'd built to elevate himself above the congregation.
His brother turned to leave and began walking to the door, nausea filling his stomach. Then he felt his brother's hand upon his shoulder and the strength of his arm pulling him to the ground. As looked up from the floor, his eyes began to fill with water. His heart pounded blood so fast through his veins that he felt dizzy.
'Leave me alone,' he said in his strongest voice! 'You're gonna be in big trouble when I tell mom!'
'Tell mom? You just don't get it do you? I'll need to show you as well,' he said as his eyes narrowed as he raised the rifle to the center of his younger brother's forehead. 'And as for mom, I'll be enlightening that bitch's ass when she gets home.'
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