Chapter 7

Walking back to her room, Epps came across Pastor Mitch stepping out of his, bible in hand. "Pastor Mitch," she said in greeting. "You're up early," she observed. "So are you," he replied with a smile. Epps pulled out her key, and fumbled with the lock. "I never really slept," she admitted. "Early morning bible study?" she asked, nodding towards his bible. "Something like that," he answered. "I know it sound lame, but God woke me up a little early this morning for his own reasons. Plus," he added sheepishly. "I didn't really sleep either." She couldn't explain it, but her heart started pounding. "Actually, it's a good thing I ran into you," she began awkwardly. The Pastor gave a quick glance towards the heavens, as if to say to his God "you did this, didn't you?" "Would you like to come in for some tea? Or coffee," she amended, remembering that he, like herself, had not gotten much sleep.

Ten minutes later they were both seated opposite each other in the two armchairs in Epps' suite, mugs of coffee in hand, engaging in small talk. "So, what did you want to know?" Pastor Mitch asked finally, after a short, slightly awkward silence. "I wanted to ask you about the supernatural," Epps replied. Mitch's eyes went wide, and he choked on his last swig of coffee. "Ok," he replied once he had recovered. "Well, to be honest, I don't really believe there's too much of it about." "Are you kidding?" she asked. "It's all through the bible." "You've read it?" Mitch asked. "Parts of it," she answered. "I went to a very Catholic elementary school."

Mitch thought for a short time before he replied. "Well, Epps - it is Epps, isn't it? – I don't think anything supernatural is around anymore." Epps took a deep breath. "I think you're wrong, Pastor," she replied. She'd decided she could trust this man with what happened on the Antonia Graza, and so she told him what had happened. She then proceeded to tell him about what had happened on this voyage. When she was done, the young pastor stayed silent for a long time. Sometimes Epps noticed his lips moving slightly, correctly assuming he was praying.

"Well, Epps," he said at last. "You seem to be a logical woman, you've certainly got your wits about you, so I'll trust that you are telling the truth." "How decent of you," she replied, not without a touch of sarcasm. "I don't quite believe it is all real yet, but I'll trust you. The question is, what happens now? Jack said he wasn't going to try to regain his immortality." Epps nodded. "I want to believe him, but it wouldn't be the first time he's." "I can't say I blame you for that," Mitch agreed, absently picking up his bible. "Is there anything in there that could help?" Epps asked, gesturing towards the great leather bound volume. "I wouldn't be surprised," Mitch smiled. "I'll do some research in my spare time. If he tries anything, I want to be ready."

Pastor Mitch was absent minded all day. Many small objects were knocked off tables, and more than one fellow traveller was bumped into in the halls. That the supernatural elements of the bible were still alive and well was something of a new concept for him. He'd been brought up to believe that all that had died out after biblical times. Now he found himself reading much of the New Testament in rather a new light.

"Earth to Mitch," Maggie called, snapping her fingers in front of his face, effectively pulling him from his thoughts. He was in one of the coffee shops, a once steaming cup of coffee now rather lukewarm. "What's up?" she asked, sitting down next to him with a sizable square of chocolate brownie. "You've been drifting all day." Mitch sighed, had a mouthful of coffee, then regretted it. Coffee was never at its best lukewarm. "I'm starting to think you were right," he admitted. "Of course I was," Maggie agreed enthusiastically, examining her brownie. "What are we talking about?" She finally decided which part of brownie she would bite first, and did so. "Last night, about the supernatural," the young pastor answered, jogging her memory.

"Oh, that," she replied nonchalantly. "These are really good brownies, by the way." Mitch dropped his jaw in surprise. "How can you be so casual about it?" "Well," Maggie said, gathering her thoughts. "It's an important part of our beliefs, but we have to remember that it's not all of what we're about. Only part." Mitch nodded. They moved in to talking about lighter subjects; mostly the strange antic of some of the teenagers they were chaperoning and the rising price of petrol.

The voice echoed across the coffee shop, though nobody else stopped to look. "Man of God," it called. Both Maggie and Pastor Mitch look up to see the figure of a man standing in the doorway. "Yes, I'm talking to you," the man spoke again. "Come with me," he commanded. Mitch stood to obey, but Maggie pulled him back. "Let go of him, woman," the man said. She obeyed, suddenly finding great interest in the remains of her brownie. The man walked away, and Mitch followed.

They walked in silence, Mitch a few paces behind him. He followed the man into a dance studio (there were ballroom dancing classes every evening). The man stopped somewhere near the centre of the room. Mitch kept walking towards him. "That's far enough," the man commanded, taking a step back. Mitch obeyed. "You're Jack Ferryman aren't you?" Mitch said, crossing his arms. Jack clapped his hands sarcastically. "Very clever, Man of God," he said dryly. Mitch bowed ever so slightly. "What do you want of me, Ferryman?"

"Keep away from Maureen Epps," Jack ordered. "Excuse me?" Mitch exclaimed at the audacity of such a command. "You heard me, Man of God," came the reply. "Keep away from her." "What authority do you have, that you can order me around?" Mitch asked defiantly. "I don't want to have to hurt you, Man of God," Jack said. "Poppycock," Mitch snorted. But then Jack shifted a little and the Pastor realised that he spoke the truth. "Taking on Men of God tends to work out the worse for my comrades and me," Jack explained. "But believe me, Man of God, if I have to, I will do it."

With that, Jack turned and marched out a door on the opposite side of the room, leaving the Pastor alone with his thoughts.