They had been walking for weeks by the time they reached the abandoned castle. The group of thirty tired men, women, and children had been turned away by one town after another as they fled from the new government. They had numbered over fifty at the beginning, but weather, starvation, and sickness had claimed many on their trek. The castle was damp and drafty, but it offered shelter from the worst of the north winds. There was, of course, no food to be found within its walls, but that was not what worried them the most. The women and children felt it first, a darkness beyond the physical hung over the place. The men ignored their warnings, content to take solace in the slight fulfillment of their manly obligation to provide shelter to their families.
For three days they said their prayers sheltered by the castle walls, the same prayers that made them the enemies of so many across the land. In unison they prayed to their god for peace and a new home where they would be welcomed, a prayer that had gone entirely unanswered for weeks. It was on the fourth day that Baby Isaac told his mother about his friend. At first she was concerned that he had encountered a villager who would return to his home and gather a group to force them out of the castle; such had happened many times to their group. Fear spread quickly before Baby Isaac mentioned that his friend was invisible, at which point everyone laughed that they should have known better than to listen to him. Though nearly ten years old, Baby Isaac was weak of body and mind, and it was hard for most to believe the boy was any more than five years of age.
After seven days in the castle with no sign of outsiders the elders began talking about staying permanently. Discussions went long into the night with no clear resolution. Would they hide or fortify? Food had to be acquired, and to do that without being discovered would be difficult.
On the eighth day the soldiers came. Nearly a dozen, armed with rifles, emerged from a heavy truck and stormed through the front door before any resistance could be mounted. Screams came from every woman and child while the men struggled to shield their loved ones with their own bodies, themselves begging to be left in peace. One of the soldiers grabbed Baby Isaac and forced the barrel of his gun into the child’s ear. He shouted that if silence wasn’t restored that he would end the child’s life, swearing that it would be nothing to him. Silence fell over the room, a silence that persisted when the soldier released Baby Isaac and levitated a foot into the air before his head cocked to the side with a snap.
There can come a point in a person’s life when they’ve witnessed so much pain and violence that the sight of more can not make them scream. I am sad to report to you that not even the children screamed as the soldier’s lifeless body dropped to the floor. Indeed, the entire group stood silently as, one after another, the soldiers were disemboweled by an invisible hand moving among them.
Baby Isaac was the first to speak, uttering a simple thank you to his invisible friend. According to the boy, his friend wished for the group to stay and keep him company, and in return he would protect them from any bad people that came to hurt them.
The elders discussed the matter long into the night. It was clear to them all that the devil controlled this place, but what choice did they have? By morning the decision was made to stay in the castle under the protection of the boy’s friend, because sometimes when left with no other option for survival, good men must side with the devil.