The yellow sign stood by the road, its color a thousand times brighter because of the fire. Dancing, brilliant flames were reflected on its shiny surface, blinding anybody who stared for too long. “Church” was written in deep, black letters against the sunny background color, shining in the night.
Terrible, harsh light stood out against the dark sky across the road. It was a deep blue overhead, like the dark parts of the ocean where no human life should ever explore. The fire was burning brightly, uncontained, uncontrollable, hopeless. Clouds sailed past overhead.
A crowd of people stood helpless as they watched it burn. The few firemen tried to keep it from spreading, but a few poor buildings being consumed were already counted as lost. Behind the dramatic scene, a country road ran far and wide in either direction, heading towards Werifesteria or towards the outside world, depending on how you turned. Those were the only two places you could go.
“How many dead?” the police chief asked another man, also staring ahead at the dismal scene.
“We aren’t for sure,” the detective reported. “There are a lot. There as some youth event going on inside, youth and children. Adults, too. They were having their own religious thing. Probably to raise money for something.”
“Keep your bias out of this, okay? I just need to know how many died.”
The detective nodded.
“What terrible person burns down a church? The only church?” The chief shook his head. “We’ve got to catch this guy.”
“Sir, there won’t be much evidence after the flames-”
“Don’t talk to me about evidence,” he growled. “We don’t have a choice. We have to get him.”
“And if we don’t?”
Nobody said a word as they watched the firemen do their best. There was no hope, but they all clung to something impossible to say out loud. If the church was already lost, at least there would be justice. They would find whoever did it, and that despicable person would pay. With their life.
Slowly, the crowd disappeared. Only the men with hoses remained, watching as the church burned to ashes and everything inside was lost. Fourteen people, the church building that has stood for over a century, and now it was all ashes on the ground.
Eventually, even those men left, and the smoldering pile was left on the smooth, green lawn. It’d been mowed just the other day, and piles of grass stood beside the pile of wreckage. Across the road, the yellow church sign was standing peacefully, observing.
It would take them 15 years of waiting before that became a reality. Because in Werifesteria, it takes an outsider to catch one. Cyrus Streett was just that man.
Yellow, rusted, and marked with bullet holes-