So, in the days since we've been here, we've been exploring the town. If anyone asks, we're staff and kids from a UK foster home - nothing invites less questions than parental abandonment. Talking to people, playing the tourist.
We decided we could be kinda open about the book - it's for sale everywhere here, and has been bringing tourists to town ever since it came out. It turns out, the church disbanded almost 25 years ago, after the Derosier insanity got to the at-the time minister Caleb, who killed his family and later immolated himself in an insane asylum. Everyone north of thirty-five years old has a story to tell. Most books, TV, modern music - anything they felt could bring in the inherently sinful culture of the outside world was banned. Most people couldn't work within the city limits, so they had to go outside, but the general agreement was that no-one under 18 should do so, leading to generations of children who grew up never seeing anything but a fraction of a square mile of Missouri. Church gatherings were held daily, though they were largely social events.
Most bizarre are the masks. One of Lucas Derosier's adapted mad scribblings was an emphasis on, of all things, sensory deprivation and meditation. Every few days, it was encouraged that everyone place these individually decorated cloth masks over their heads. They were little more than cloth sacks, but the children would scrawl and paint the masks with all kinds of designs, as long as they were minimalist in nature. And they would place them over their heads, and a black inner lining would block out light and muffle sound, and entire families would sit together in their front rooms and get lost in their own meditation. One store-owner showed us a photograph he had of one such family, sitting at the dinner table in their Sunday Bests, their heads covered in white hoods, staring at nothing in particular.
Marcus Stonehall's accusations that the "angel"'s murders were committed by church members wearing the masks is something that makes the townspeople very angry. While they do blame the Derosiers, or rather the Derosiers' insanity, most are either ex-members of the church or the children of ex-members, and the idea that their loved ones can be implicated in the murders is defamation in their eyes.
The townspeople have, until recently, viewed their personal connections with the church with some embarrassment - the churches in the area even skew more liberal than the in similar town simply to distance themselves from the extremism of the Faceless Angels. However, in light of the tourism it's bringing in, they're rather warming to it - an imprompteu museum was set up collecting old stuff that most people had lying in the backs of wardrobes and in attics, and most people are aware that talking on the subject will bring in money. They are rather taking liberties though, tying it all into paganism rather than christianity. They're even going so far as to claim that the patterns on the mask were pagan symbols and the like.
In the meantime, the library was, even before all this, full of documentation about the church. We're gonna go trawl through there, looking for information. We're hoping to stick around for a while. On the 22nd, they're putting on a big tourist drive, getting dressed up and the like. Everyone's making their own sensory deprivation masks, putting on a whole-city event for out-of-towners off work and school for Christmas.
And it's pretty plausible that we can stick around. It's odd, but since we've been here, we've had complete peace. No sign of any proxies. No sign of him. Bizarre. We're all the more on our guard, after what happened to Steven when we stuck around in one place for a long time. But there's...an odd sense of optimism.