Monday, 31 October 2011


We've arrived. And Avondale is kinda what we expected.

It is, to be blunt, a hick town. Less that 600 people living here,  not too hard-up - a lower-than average number of people below the poverty line - but still strangely stuck in time. Barely five minutes from the comparatively built-up Kansas City, where we'll be staying at first, but at the same time, it has that distinctly middle-of-nowhere feel. In all the cities I've been to, five miles outside the city would still be heavily-populated suburb, what with the British population density and the far less sparsely populated New England towns. We saw these little smatterings of settlements all the way here, but never with any realisation that that's what passes for a city here. The space here in the "flyover states" is unlike anything back home.

There's a road here called Antioch Road. It's long and stretches up to Gladstone, a much larger suburb, the dividing point of which I am utterly unable to ascertain. It reminds me of a book a friend of mine showed me which talked about an ancient religious sect based around a philosopher called Antiochus, and "The Books Of Terror And Longing." I always wondered whether or not it was real, but in light of what we're here to find out about, this little thought rather springs out at me.

Even in little details, I find myself wondering about the Church of the Faceless Angels.


Roland and Rachel are feeling much better. Patience and Paracetemol (or acetaminophren, or Tylenol - we spent about a half-hour looking for it before we thought to check if it's sold under a different name here) eventually made the pain go away, as they always do. The tears and thrashing stopped pretty soon after we loaded them into the car (The cars here are bleedin' huge, so luckily they didn't want for space.)

But everyone's on edge here. The fact that she's one of very few ethnic minorities here is making Shannon very uncomfortable - though you'd assume a black woman with an Irish background would be more accustomed to this kind of ethnic alienation - but I guess that's only to be expected when our knowledge of the American heartland being mostly "It's got racists, fundamentalists and zealous nationalists", even though, to be honest, this isn't that far south.

We're gonna go exploring tomorrow - right now, we're staying in a pretty nice hotel in Kansas City itself. If something is going down in that town, we want to be at least a little bit away from it.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

We just found Roland and Rachel in the other room, screaming and writhing on the floor, clutching their heads. Roland had almost torn his scalp open with his nails.

The headaches are getting worse. And what's more, he's here. He's close, and he's being much more aggressive.

We're moving now.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


We're going to Avondale.

That's the town in Missouri this whole "Faceless Angels" thing started up in. We've just been driving around for the last couple of weeks, from urban settlement to urban settlement. Without a real direction, we've not gone far - we're currently in upstate New York. I will admit, in my ignorance, that I did not know there was a state outside of NYC itself until I was actually in it.

We've been here for just over a month now. It's getting chilly in the northeast regions, but to be honest I doubt we'll get anything better as we head south. Movement patterns the same as back home - travel for a few days, rest for a few days, rinse, repeat - but the scale of this country is so unlike anything we've ever come across that we've spent this whole month having gone to a small portion of the north-east tip of the country. I mean, our entire home country is the size of a modest state - more densely populated, but nowhere near as huge as most of them. It literally stretches from one side of a continent to the other - I can't think of many countries which do the same.

For the first time, we're not just fleeing from something, but going towards a goal; looking for answers in this small town in the middle of a flyover state. Everyone feels like they have a renewed sense of purpose right now. We're not aimlessly wandering anymore.

That's not to say the trauma has faded. The deaths of Stephen and Lianne still aches terribly, and I'm not sure, but...Rachel has what seems like panic attacks at particularly loud percussive noises. Sometimes I think she's zoning out, reliving...something. Post-traumatic stress disorder, I think it's called. I read a book about it once. 

Natalie, however, is flourishing, as of late. She really took charge in the period where the shock of the deaths unbalanced Shannon - it was her idea to come to America - and since, she's been incredibly headstrong and assertive. She's been doing her best to keep an eye on Rachel, who seems to prefer her company - I guess having another girl of a similar age about, and such a strong person too, makes her the obvious choice.

In the meantime, Roland and Shannon have retreated inside their roles in the group. They've detatched emotionally from the group a great deal; I know Roland and Lianne were close, and Shannon having two of "her" people die must hurt hugely. I don't blame them for trying to stay aloof. Shannon was always distant - after Richard, I guess - but it's intensified massively. I guess they feel like they can't take another loss like this.

Still, we're all getting by in our own ways. And as is, we are, for the most part, feeling better than we were. That's something.

It'll get better. That's what we need to keep telling ourselves. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

The book so far

In 1905, in a small town in Missouri, a man named Lucas Derosier confessed in church that, the night before, an angel came to him in his bedroom. He claimed that it watched over him as he slept - a tall, thin bald man, dressed in clothes of a fine material and cut - and that its blank face "horrified and comforted" him with its unchanging serenity.

He was considered a lunatic at the time, but three weeks later, a girl in a nearby town, a girl whose family was of Jewish extraction, was found murdered, her corpse in a disturbing state. Witnesses described a man in the vicinity of her house, fitting the description of the "angel" Lucas Derosier described. He began to preach for himself, describing the angel as God's judgement upon humanity, impartial and unchanged by mortal motivations.

Within two years every other christian denomination in the town was essentially amalgamated into Derosier's new church. They never really tried to expand out from their town, but rather cut it off, discoraging outsiders with their emphasis on moral purity - or rather the moral purity of a group of particularly zealous baptists.

Then, Lucas Derosier stopped appearing in public. His son, Jason, took over congregations using notes which appeared to have been scribbled freshly by Lucas himself, but his own absence from the public eye drew suspicion. Eventually some teenagers broke into the house on a dare and uncovered Lucas - entirely withdrawn from the outside world, his hair and beard long and unkempt, his clothes soiled and worn, scrawling wildly in one of a number of diaries scattered around the room. By the next morning, the word was out that the mighty Mr. Derosier was insane.

The mood in the town was hard to ascertain, but letters from the time describe many people leaving altogether - mostly older citizens who hadn't spent most of their lives being told that the outside was sinners' land. Then, one of the boys who discovered Lucas Derosier died. He was found bludgeoned to death against a house, mutilated in a similar state to that of the Jewish girl and other, more recent deaths of a similar nature. Police notes from the time notice a series of descepancies between this death and the others, but the investigation was eventually dropped - as many of these investigations would be over the decades to follow.

The fear this death inspired ultimately renewed faith in the Derosier's "Church of the Faceless Angels", with the townsfolk insisting upon Lucas' status as a prophet, justifying his madness. All evidence suggests that, in the meantime, his insane scribblings were genuinely preached by Jason; the Derosier's believed what they said.


That's as far as I've gotten. Stonehall was very thorough in his research, as he'd probably have to be; the idea of an entire town sucumbing to the mad dictums of a lunatic is alarming to say the least.

In the meantime, we're on our way to Avondale, Missouri to see this town for ourselves.

I'll have more at a later date.

Monday, 10 October 2011

I did not post either of those italicised quotes.

Google tells me they're from an old short story anthology called The King In Yellow. Never heard of it before.

If whoever posted that is reading, they should know that I've changed the password, and that they can suck it.
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"
CAMILLA: You, sir, should unmask.
CASSILDA: Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
STRANGER: I wear no mask.
CAMILLA: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

Friday, 7 October 2011


Rachel again.

This book is terrifying me. To be honest, I've always been scared by religion. All of it. The subconscious act of abandoning reason, abandoning skepticism, to some man in a pulpit talking about a sky-man who created the world. To attribute the words of a man, or of men, or of a two-thousand year old book, with infallable correctness seems ridiculous to me, but then I remember that billions of people the world over live with that as their worldview. I'm experiencing it more and more now that we're in America - more where we were, but still here in Salem, what with the bloody hand of zealotry still remembered here.

There was no scarier sight than me, for a long time, than seeing people coming out of a church and knowing that they were no longer rational people like me, but slaves to the words of a book written by genocidal shepards, and the men who tell them what it says. There was no scarier thought than the thought of the bus I was riding on being destroyed by a bomber inspired by his religion, vindicated by his religion. Convinced, as he gazed upon the faces of the people he was about to incinerate, people with families and loves and dreams, that he was righteous. The IRA, the Taliban. People like that.

The scariest thing I ever listened to was an audio recording of the Jamestown suicides.

I once tried to imagine how my perception of the world would change if, just for a second, I put aside my reason and tried to believe in the Christian God. And up until my life was changed for the worse, I'd never been more scared. Above me, a constant critic, scrutinizing humanity from up high, condemning anyone who doesn't live up to his standards to...Hell. I'd never lived with that fear before, so actually thinking about endless, unrelenting suffering as a plausible thing was beyond any stretch of terror I'd ever experienced. A prison created to punish His own traitorous right-hand man, and there's a spot there for you too.

This is a long-standing fear of mine, but eventually it was replaced with the fear of our assailant and his followers.

But imagine seeing Him - the slender man - and feeling unmitigated adoration. Or worse, imagine everyone around you smiling, laughing, maybe even shedding a tear or two, as you watch, realising that these people aren't seeing what you're seeing.

I can barely put it into words. When the proxies do it, we call it madness. This isn't madness. This is faith. And that scares me so much, because it could happen to anyone.


Dealing with the deaths is beginning to get easier. We're getting past that. It's confronting the fact that they probably won't be the last that's killing us.

Salem, and a book

So we're in Salem, MA right now. It's kind of a depressing town - entirely given over to new-age quacks simply because a few poor women were killed for having mild medical knowledge. And we were walking down a street when, passing a bookstore, Natalie looked the the side, lept backwards into Roland, and let out a shriek. Everyone whirled around on their heels.

HE was right there, in the bookstore window, inches from our faces, looking out over the display of books.

Just standing there.

Not moving.

And way too small.

It was a cardboard cut-out. At the bottom of a stand, was a big red title. "The Better Angels of Our Nature" and the compulsory post-colon "The True Story of a Cult of Death and Angels on Earth". A furious look on her face, Shannon shoved me aside and barged into the store. We followed suit.

Inside, we found a display case, almost empty, devoted entirely to this book. A large hardback, with a photograph on the cover, of a number of adults and children posing for a group photograph. They all have what looks like a small pillowcase in their hands, except for one woman, who stands at the centre of the group, with this cloth object pulled over her head as a mask, hiding her expression. Despite the obvious connection, it seemed more reminiscent of this:

(Magritte's The Lovers)

The cutout in the window, however, was pretty unquestionably him, however. I walked over to the bookshop's assistant and asked what this whole thing was about.

"That's a new book by a local author, a Marcus Stonehall. It's about this cult in the town he grew up in, a totally insane Christian sect. Supposedly they'd put on those masks and kill people, including his cousin. I got an advance copy a few months ago, couldn't put it down."

"And who's the tall guy?"

"He's what they thought angels looked like. They'd put on masks to become like them, and kill people in a meditative state of religious ecstacy."


So we bought a copy each and are reading them now. I'll keep you updated.