~ 1988 ~
They're already drunk when they stumble across the Pew. It waits for them in a wooded glade at the top of a hill. They've been here before, when the Pew was not.
"Ohmygodlook!" The boy almost drops his beer. "The Gypsy Pew!" He tramples his way over the underbrush, dragging his girl like a kewpie doll. "It's from an old church that blew away in a storm. It never appears in the same place twice."
"Bullshit." She leans over, nose-to-nose with an engraved crucifix. "You're yankin' my chain."
"No, this is a real thing! Take my picture with it." He puts his sneakers up on the Pew and strikes a casual pose. She fumbles with the Kodak; he flirts with it. "Your turn," he says. She sits and flashes him the Devil horns.
He snaps the shutter a few times, then sits down on the weathered wood beside her. "They also say, if you can find the Gypsy Pew and get a girl to sit with you, you're guaranteed to get lucky."
"Ohhhhh," she demurs, then socks him in the arm. "You put this out here."
He lays one hand on his heart, raises the other. "I swear to God, this is a real thing. Seriously."
She rolls that around in her skull, then slides closer to him. "I don't need no haunted pew to get lucky."
"See? That's why we found it: Fate." They lock lips, tie each other in knots. A few, breathless minutes pass before she stops cold. Someone's walking toward them out of the woods.
The girl pushes away, puts him between herself and the stranger. "When you sit in the Pew," her own voice whispers, "the Black Dog catches your scent." It's wearing her clothes, her face, her blood. So much of her blood.
She tears her eyes away to glance at him, but his eyes are staring into eternity. Time flows past him, toward him, backwards. It blows a church together around him, the floor and the pews, then the walls and the ceiling. He stares out the front doors, open wide onto a moonlit night, as the wind blows a lynch mob together out of scraps of fabric, bone, and gore.
A man dressed in black walks backwards down the center aisle. When he reaches the Gypsy Pew, he turns and leans in, nose-to-nose with the boy. "The Devil is howling... Howling... HOWLING!!!"
She snaps his head around and he's back in the forest, the present. She's screaming at him, dragging him off the Pew. He staggers to his feet, starts running. They don't stop until they're almost home... and they don't stop by choice.
The Church Grim had their scent.- Daniel Bayn, 2013