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  • Writer's picturemarikenney

Esther Needs a Friend - Chapter 2 - Jesus Lock-In Massacre: '99

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Continuation of Jesus Lock-In Massacre '99

Chapter 2


Esther Bang didn’t want to go to the Gulf Coast Restoration Church Youth Lock-In tonight, but she knew that if she wanted friends, she had to. She knew her parents would be a lot happier if she had friends.

Esther sat in the backseat of her family’s emerald green minivan, fumbling through her CD book trying to find the perfect soundtrack for her new social adventure. Her eyes focused on every page, scanning, and occasionally sweeping her thick red curls out of her eyes. Esther and her family had just moved to the South and Esther’s hair hadn’t quite gotten used to the humidity.


Esther hadn’t imagined the South to be so hot.


Esther continued flipping through her CDs, wanting to pick the best music for every scene, just like in her favorite tv show, Dawson’s Creek. A good song can change a bad situation for the better. Esther just knew it.


Esther loved Dawson’s Creek. She could tell you everything about every single episode. She especially loved the songs for the show. On Dawson’s Creek, when everything seemed to be going wrong, the music would start and Joey and Dawson would remember why they were friends, and everything would be okay - until the next episode. Esther knew the power of music and knew that tonight would be just as magical as Dawson’s Creek.


Unfortunately for Esther, this wasn’t Dawson’s Creek. Esther was on her way to a fundamental evangelical Christian church in the Deep South. And unlike the end of every Dawson’s Creek episode, there would be no peace for Esther tonight, but she didn’t know that, so she smiled as she flipped through her CD book.


“Should we really be letting her do this?” Sylvia asked, eyes focused on the road and on the objective at hand. Sylvia always remained alert. Her training and her experience in active combat kept her like this. Focused on the objective, the task at hand. And her objective for tonight was getting Esther safely to the Youth Lock In, and she and her husband safely to the black jack tables at the IP Casino.


“It’s what she wants.” Chester responded, “and I think if we let her out there and explore her own interests, she might find a nice little niche for herself...where her little quirks will be accepted.” Chester added, glancing at Esther’s reflection in the rear mirror.


“They aren’t quirks. She just sees things differently.” Sylvia corrected, motioning for the driver on her right to go ahead. “She’s like me. A late social bloomer.”


“Sure.”


“And do you think Esther is going to fit in at a church?” Sylvia asked, eyes surveying the road ahead.


“I hope so.”


Chester and Sylvia continued their conversation as Esther’s mind wandered to all the wonderful things that would happen tonight. She envisioned how everyone in the youth group would be impressed by her Hawaiian t-shirt, (She had many. She started the collection after seeing Pacey wear one in an episode of Dawson’s Creek), her pair of mustard-colored short overalls, and the piece of her wardrobe she was absolutely ecstatic for the other kids to see, was her new discman. She had saved up her allowance for three months to afford it. Now she carried it with her everywhere she went. They would love it.


Esther put her headphones on and pressed play. The intro of No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom filled her ears and she was instantly transported to a daydream. Esther stands in a massive hall, filled with gold fineries, statues and big ornamental crosses. Esther had never been inside a church as large as the Gulf Coast Restoration Church before, but in her mind, she imagined that the inside was just as grand as the outside. In the daydream, Esther’s eyes glance across the room and stop on a group of youth who look oddly familiar. Esther realizes that it is Joey, Jen, Dawson, Jack, and standing in the center of the group with his charming smile, is Pacey. Esther’s heart races and she smiles.


“Do we know the church’s denomination?” Sylvia inquired.


“I don’t really know, Baptist? Maybe. But whatever they are they seem to be helping Ang.”

“For real this time?” Sylvia asked. As long as she had been with Chester, Ang had been the type to cause family drama. First it was drugs, then it was dancing and next, she wanted to become a self made millionaire selling trinkets for her home.


“Yes. For real. She’s kept her job for the last five months, and Brit seems to be calming down as well. And Mom and Dad even want to go. Depending on how tonight goes, maybe we should try it out?” Chester answered, leaning closer to Sylvia. “I grew up in church and I loved it.”


“We’ll see.” Unlike Chester, Sylvia had a distaste for anything church. But being stationed at a military base in the Deep South, she knew church would be something she couldn’t avoid.

Sylvia peeked in the front mirror and looked back at Esther, whose eyes were closed. Esther was lost in Pacey’s beautiful hazel eyes.


“I think it’s good for Esther to get close to Brit. They’re cousins and I think Brit might help Esther get over her obsession with that show.” Chester offered.


Sylva, amused by the answer, let out a chuckle, eyes still on the road.


“We’ll see.” She remarked.


“Sy, you know how she was with sharks. She usually peaks and then moves on. Maybe a friendship with Brit will help Esther move forward.” Chester suggested.


“Do you think Brit is going to be a good influence?” Sylvia questioned, eyes still firmly on the road.


“She’s not that bad.” Chester defended. “She’s just.” Chester stops for a moment, thinking of the correct way to phrase his words, but answers before he does ,“she likes to..um..”


“She likes to start fires with Aquanet?” Sylvia interjected as she waved a “thank you” to a car letting her merge on the congested back road.


“That wasn’t her idea.” Chester defended.


“Oh, right. You’re right. It was a cartoon that told her to do it.” Sylvia teased.


"You really think Brit would light Esther on fire tonight?” Chester responded. “We’ll see.” Sylvia’s eyed a small black Hyundai trying to merge using the right lane.

“Asshat.”


WOOP WOOP


Blue lights flashed behind them and zoomed by, chasing down the Hyundai.


“Justice.”


“What are you hens clucking about?” Esther interjected; the sounds and lights bringing her out of her Dawson’s Creek daydream.


“Your cousin’s delinquency.” Sylvia answered, as she turned down a gravel road, passing a sign that read “JESUS LOVES YOU...TODAY”, with a lily white Jesus, tears streaming down his judgmental clear blue eyes plastered on the billboard.


“Is she a delinquent?” Esther needed to know to better understand how Brit fit into tonight's episode.


“No, sweetie. She was just lost there for a minute.” Chester answered.


“Where was she?” Esther responded, brows furrowed in genuine concern.


“She wasn’t really lost. She was confused.” Sylvia answered, quickly fixing the miscommunication, as she always did.


“Oh. Okay.” Esther put her headphones back on and returned to her daydream. Now with a new character, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, as the new girl in the Capeside. Her name was Brit. She was a delinquent.


Chester looked over at his wife, her eyes still focused on the road, but her pointer finger absentmindedly playing a drum beat on the wheel.


“Are you okay?” Chester asked.


“Oh, yeah.” Her eyes never leaving the road.


“Then what’s that?” He pointed to her finger, she stopped and looked at him quickly, giving him a knowing glance and then back to the road.


“Church.” Sylvia said.


“Yes. Church?” Chester responded. “What about it?”


“I don’t want her to lose who she is. She’s weird. And I like that.” Sylvia took a sharp turn down a poorly marked road.


“I don’t think this will change her.” Chester remarked, looking back at his daughter. She looked so much like Sylvia.


“I hope so. I really hope so.” Syliva responded.


Chester reached out his hand and gingerly placed it on the drumming finger.


“She’ll be great. This night is going to change her life forever.” He smiled.

******************************************************************************

Jacob Maloney stood in front of the mega church, bucket and sponge in his hands, the evil thing close behind him, awkwardly juggling a bundle of towels.


“Just drop those there.” Jacob directed. The kid, annoyed by its situation, growled out a protest and dropped the towels to the ground.


“When?” It hissed.


“Soon. I promise. ” Jacob responded.


Jacob leaned down to grab a sponge and plopped it in the bucket, ringing it out, splashing the evil thing right between the eyes.


“I’m sorry.”


The evil stares at Jacob.


“Not much longer, okay? We have to wait until everyone arrives and then….”

The evil, not amused, turned and retreated towards to the woods.


“Where are you going?” Jacob inquired, as he turned to wipe down the words “HAIL SATIN”.


The kid growled as it slunk back to the thick woods around.


“Oh, okay. I’ll call you, when…” Jacob trailed off, knowing that the evil thing cared little for what he had to say. Jacob watched as it went, hoping for a good turn out tonight. The more sacrifices, the stronger the thing would become. The stronger this thing became, the stronger Jacob would become.


“Hey, son.” Jacob turned to see Pastor Gary, the Youth Pastor, in his finest attire: a tight polo shirt, bedazzled jeans, and frosted tips. Pastor Gary thought that people would take him seriously if they saw just how much effort he put into himself. Jacob thought he looked like a chubby Lance Bass.


“Hey, Pastor Gary.” Jacob answered with a fake smile painted on his face.


“I can’t believe someone would do this to the church.” Pastor Gary stared in disbelief at the graffiti, chubby hand on his chin, eyes narrowed. “Do you know who it could have been?”

“I don’t know. Maybe Mikey and his crew?”


“Oh yes. Those boys. It’s a shame their families worship the almighty dollar and not the Lord.”


“Huh, yeah.” Jacob half-heartedly responded.


“I wish more kids had found Christ when you did. How old were you again?” Pastor Gary inquired.


“Three.” Jacob answered, a since of pride in his voice.


“See, you knew. You saw Christ’s love and knew.” Pastor Gary sighed. A beat of silence.

“Is there anything you need?” Jacob rushed out, still trying to wipe the graffiti off the brick walls. He didn't want the Pastor there. He had come to hate the man.


“Always observant.” Pastor Gary laughed. Pastor Gary took a moment to collect his thoughts. Finally, for Jacob what felt like an eternity, Pastor Gary finally spoke. “The Lord laid it on my heart to talk to you about something.


“And what is it?” Jacob responds. “Only one more night of this moron.


Pastor Gary moved towards Jacob and put his hand on Jacob’s shoulder. Pastor Gary felt a shiver run down Jacob’s spine. “He must be frightened by the power of God.” Pastor Gary thought, pressing down harder on the boy’s shoulder.


“Jacob, I want you to become my Youth Assistant.” Pastor Gary let the moment sit. He knew Jacob must be overwhelmed. Pastor Gary cleared his throat and continued. “But, I need to know that you are ready and that you aren’t...doing anything that is against God.”

Jacob stopped his cleaning and faced Pastor Gary, his mind a chaotic knot of anger and confusion.


"Like what.....sir?" Jacob shot out, almost letting the Christian politeness fall away. But he covered it well by ending the statement with "sir." Pastor Gary didn't even notice.

“I’ve noticed how you’ve gotten close with that DaSato boy. Especially after the camping trip a few weeks ago.”


Jacob looked up at Pastor Gary, confused. “Does he know?” Jacob thought.


“And I’ve gotten a few remarks from concerned members wanting me to talk to you about your….relationship with the boy.”


“Oh.” Jacob was relieved. Pastor Gary had no idea that Jacob has teamed up with an ancient evil to destroy the town.


“Is there anything you need to tell me? And before you do, realize that I and God will forgive you.” Pastor Gary’s eyes zoned in on Jacob.


“Oh. No, no sir. Bradley wanted to learn more about Christ.” Jacob spat out. "He said he didn't want to be at home because his parents told him that Jesus wasn't real and he shouldn't waste his time on -


Pastor Gary raised a hand for him to stop. He smiled.


“Good. Good. That's what I thought. I just needed to be sure. Jacob, it might be best if you cut back on your quality time with that boy, though. Maybe focus your sights on a nice young girl.


Jacob nods. Maybe this will get him to leave Jacob alone.


“That’s what I want to hear. So...about my proposition, would you like to be my Youth Assistant? Maybe even one day, if the Lord lays it on your heart, you can take over the Youth Group.”


Yet another pause.


“I’ve seen you and your love for the Lord. I believe you will lead your peers to eternal glory.” Pastor Gary let the words sink in. Pastor Gary remove his hand from Jacob’s shoulder and smile at him. Eyes bright with the love of the Lord.


What an ass.” Jacob thought, but kept the Youth Group Glaze over his eyes.


“I think you’re right, Pastor Gary. I can lead my peers to something great. Jacob answered. “Maybe even greater heights than you, Pastor Gary?”


“Ha. You need to start working on your humility, boy. But I like your spirit.” Pastor Gary laughed and jokingly slapped Jacob’s shoulder.


“You know it.” Jacob returned the joking slap, landing squarely on Pastor Gary’s shoulder, just a little too hard.


Pastor Gary’s face tightened, but then after a quick breath, changed to a smile.


“Now just remember, no more alone time with that kid. Focus on finding yourself a nice young girl instead.


Jacob nodded, smiling. “Pervert” Jacob thinks. “A young girl, just like your wife?”

“Well, Praise the Lord.” Pastor Gary responded. “I’ll see you inside?”


Jacob nodded, again.


“Good. Good.” Pastor Gary began to waddle back towards the church doors, stopping to welcome an emerald green minivan pulling into the church parking lot.


“Worthless piece of shit.” Jacob whispered under his breath.

******************************************************************************

“Do you see Brit?” Chester asked. Sylvia’s eyes, now free from the road, scanned the church parking lot, stopping on one of the red-brick walls.


“Someone wrote Hail Satin on the church wall.” Sylvia observed. “Is that blood?”


“Excuse me, ma’am. I’m sorry you had to see that.” Pastor Gary responded, head now in the driver's side window. Sylvia jumped back.


“Is that blood? Sylvia needed to know the answer.


“Sy?!?” Chester, embarrassed by her response, answered.


“Ma’am, it’s just paint. Some of the local, godless kids like to make a mockery of the sanctity of the Lord’s Tabernacle. I’m Pastor Gary. Welcome to our Church.” Pastor Gary responded with a smile.


“I’m Sy and this is Chester.” Sylvia pointed back to Esther in the backseat. “This is our daughter, Esther.”


Pastor Gary leaned in and looked at Esther. Her eyes dreamily gazed out the window. Pastor Gary smiled, knowing that with this introduction, he would kill two birds with one stone. He turned to Jacob and called him over.


“Ma’am, sir. “This is Jacob Maloney. He’s my new Youth Assistant. He’s a fine young man.” Esther whipped off her headphones and leaned up towards the front, and extended a hand out to Jacob.


“My name is Esther Bang. Do you know you look like Dawson from Dawson’s Creek?” Jacob, surprised by her, stood motionless for a second. Finally brought into life by a quick nudge by Pastor Gary.


“Um.. oh.. Yeah, nice to meet you, I’m Jacob Maloney. Are you coming to the lock-in tonight?” Esther excitedly shook her head “yes”.


“Awesome.” Jacob responded.


“Well, that’s nice. Making friends already.” Pastor Gary smiled. “You two seem to hit it off nicely.” Pastor Gary gave Jacob a quick wink. “Now, why don’t you head back and finish up cleaning.” Jacob nodded at Pastor Gary, thankful he could leave this awkward introduction and return to his spot, scrubbing down the church walls.


“So,” Pastor Gary continued turning back to the van, “Are you Saved?”


“From what?” Esther, genuinely curious, asked.


“From Hell.” He smiled.


“Hell isn’t real.” Esther placed the headphones back over her ears and leaned back, now bored with this interaction.


“I’m sorry about that, Pastor. She’s shy.” Chester offered.


“Oh, okay.” Pastor Gary eyed Esther, knowing that she might be a problem. But he knew God had a plan for the girl. Not much he could do to force anything - he'd let Jesus do that.

“Well, folks, we have about 15 minutes before we lock these kids in. We’re happy you're dropping off your daughter with us. We know that tonight God is going to show up and show out for her.” Pastor Gary smiled.


“Um. Sure..” Sy responded.


Pastor Gary smiled and waddled back to the church.


“That wasn’t odd.” Sylvia remarked.


“Jacob really looks like Dawson,” Esther volunteered.


“Are you sure we should do this?” Sylvia asked.


“Yeah. I think it will be fine---


“There’s Brit.” Esther yelled.


Brit, a tall,all-american, big blonde haired, blue eyed teenager, turned towards the van. The door flung open and Esther jumped out, running towards her cousin. Brit in seeing this, swiftly retreaded around the corner.


“That’s not a good sign.” Sylvia remarked. “Should we intervene?” Sylvia asked, looking as Esther sprinted awkwardly towards her cousin, a large blue backpack slamming up and down with every footfall.


“Tough love.” Chester responded.


“Are you sure?” Sylvia asked, eyes filled with concern for his daughter.

"I'm sure."


Sylvia knew Esther would be fine, but as the two drove out of the church parking lot, she still couldn't help but feel like something wasn't right.

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