Welcome back to Clifton Heights.
Sheriff Chris Baker and Father Ward meet for a Saturday morning breakfast at The Skylark Diner to once again commiserate over the weird and terrifying secrets surrounding their town.
Sheriff Baker shares with Father Ward the story of a journal discovered in the ruins of what was once an elaborate koi pond and flower garden, which regales a tale of regret, buried pain, and unfulfilled debt:
"Sophan" – Jake Burns has always been a bit...off. Rude, awkward, sometimes brutish, he's tolerated by Nate Slocum and his friends because he hits a mean line drive, and because they all know but don't discuss the abuse he faces at the hands of his troubled father, a Vietnam veteran consumed by his demons. But Jake is suffering something far worse than domestic abuse, and when Nate discovers what, he faces an impossible choice: help Jake and put himself in the path of evil, or abandon him, only to damn himself in the process.
Father Ward reveals the story of a tortured man from the nearby town of Tahawus, who visited his confessional seeking solace from a cosmic horror he can never outrun:
"The Man in Yellow" – Stuart Michael Evans has suffered from cerebral palsy all his life, but he's made due. Sure, his preacher dad is always yammering about "the healing grace of God" and "God's will," saying all he needs is faith and someday he'll be healed, but Stuart mostly ignores him. Life isn't perfect, but it isn't awful either, so Stuart figures he doesn't need God to heal him, or do anything, for that matter. Everything changes, however, when a renowned faith healer – Reverend Alistair McIlvian – pays a visit to Tahawus' annual Summer Vacation Bible School. Revival sweeps the town as Reverend McIlvian's healing touch makes believers out of everyone. But where do these powers come from? God, or something...else?
Brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths