Someone found out his name was Kevin. That was before they tied him to a tree in the middle of the Irish countryside, far from unwanted company. They travelled in two cars to the edge of a wood, five of them in total and their guest, bound and gagged for the journey.
“Did I miss the memo on wearing a black robe?” Cynthia asked.
Of the five, Cian wore a robe. Cynthia was in a simple tracksuit, Deano, Nicky and Kerrie in whatever clothes they’d worn to work that morning. Cian had travelled with Deano and Kerrie, with Kevin in the back seat. Nicky had picked up Cynthia along the way.
“It felt appropriate,” Cian responded. “When I heard the voice of our Lord, I knew what I had to wear. I knew what felt right.”
Cynthia scoffed. “We all heard the voice. All five of us. No one heard anything about robes. Just this location. Just each other’s names. Just where to find… him.”
“And what to do with him,” Deano interjected.
Kerrie pulled out a knife from her handbag. No one fully understood how she’d kept it concealed all that time. Kevin, still gagged, tried to scream for help. He’d been beaten up to the point of unconsciousness by Cian and Deano. His shirt was ripped and dirty, his face scratched from when he’d fallen onto the ground.
Nicky grabbed him by the throat. “No one can hear you out here,” he hissed. “But that doesn’t mean you aren’t pissing me off.” He pulled out the gag and removed his hand from Kevin’s neck.
“Why are you people doing this to me?” he shouted.
Cynthia sighed heavily. “We heard the Voice of our Lord. We heard his instructions.” She gestured to the sky above, barely visible through the trees. The clouds had turned black, and a gentle rain was beginning to fall. “It won’t be long, now. Our Lord is coming, but a sacrifice is required.”
“Who gets to talk to him, first?” Deano asked.
“Me, naturally,” Cian replied quickly. “I was there in Dublin. I was witness to the destruction, and almost a victim. But our Lord saved me. I was his first.”
Cynthia scowled at him. “But I was there in Galway, where he saved me from the literal jaws of Death. He saw my value. He saw my worth. He interfered with me where no others were saved.”
They argued for a few minutes between them, the other three staying out of the conversation while the rain poured down on them. Kerrie hid under an umbrella that barely did the job of keeping her dry.
Kevin stared on in wonder, clueless as to who they were talking about. He pulled against his restraints, but they held despite his struggles. Whoever these people were, they were good at what they did. But, Kevin noticed, they didn’t know each other. Cynthia was a Galway native. Cian and Deano were Dubs, through and through. Kerrie was from Wexford, and Nicky was from Donegal. Three had met up to grab him in Dublin, and they’d all met together here. But they didn’t know each other’s stories. They didn’t know each other’s reasons for doing this.
The only thing that tied them together were the delusions of a voice in their heads.
“Does it really matter?” Deano snapped. Silence fell in the woods, save for the falling of rain and the rustling of leaves. “You two are arguing over who gets to meet him first, but neither of you are concerned with making sure this works. You know what happens if we fail.”
“He remains trapped,” Cynthia confirmed. She turned to Cian. “He’s right. Our Lord will choose correctly.”
Kerrie handed the knife to Nicky. “You know what to do with it.”
Nicky nodded, marching on Kevin. The bound man screamed, but the knife never touched him. Nicky used it to cut away strips of Kevin’s shirt, tearing the clothes from him without needing to remove his restraints.
Kevin felt exposed as they tore his shirt into strips. Cian and Deano threw piles of logs around his feet, surrounding him on all sides with them. He could see where this was going, but he was out of words. There was no reasoning with these people, who would so liberally expose a man to the elements without a second thought. He shivered in the cold rain as they began pouring petrol around him, stuffing soaked pieces of shirt through the wood, and gathering one large bundle before him in their hands.
“This is necessary,” Cynthia told him.
Under the cover of Kerrie’s umbrella, and with a lighter from Cian, they lit the shirt on fire. It burned hot and bright in Deano’s hands, before he tossed it against the pyre they’d built around Kevin. The fire burst around him, flames licking his skin in an instant.
He screamed louder than he thought he could, but was immediately interrupted by the booming of thunder overhead, and a bolt of white-hot lightning ripping through the very tree he was tied to. His voice died in his throat, and he went limp, the pyre bursting away around him.
The group of five were thrown to the ground by the explosive force of the lightning. Cian and Cynthia climbed painfully to their feet, but the others remained still. They looked to one another, trying not to think the worst. That Deano, Nicky and Kerrie were dead. That they had failed.
Kevin stood up with ease, grabbing the couple’s attention. He rubbed his wrists where the restraints had dug through the skin. Aside from dirt and ash, there wasn’t a mark on him. When he looked to Cian and Cynthia, a pounding filled their ears.
“My Lord Taranis,” Cynthia muttered. She and Cian fell to their knees. He ignored them, looking to the sky as the clouds parted and faded from view. “Is there something wrong?” she asked.
He looked at them with the same fear Kevin had worn before he died. “Something is coming,” he whispered, his voice a booming force against nature, “Something even the Thunderer cannot hope to defeat.”