The Death in the Vow

Chapter One

Susan H.

Two teenagers sat on the grass, leaning on a building. passing a small pipe full of marijuana back and forth and stifling their giggles. After a few more minutes, they peeked into the window again.

People were clapping and jumping and spinning about.

"Yes, be joyous my children. Rejoice!" A man, wearing a metallic gold robe, yelled from a podium.

"We are welcoming a new brother to our family."

The eavesdroppers fell over laughing silently. They lay holding their stomachs and wiping tears. When they stopped laughing and stared at the night sky, the boy took advantage of the moment to start kiss the girl. Whoops echoed through the building, and they jumped to the window to look.

"Quiet children," The leader commanded, and the congregants immediately settled down. He then beckoned with his arms and said, "Come."

A thin young man in a white robe approached the stage.

"Have you prepared your sacrifice?"

"Yes, Father."

"This sacrifice is your pledge to me, and to your new family, that you vow to be with us until death. You are bidding farewell to your old life, and being welcomed into your joyous new life."

"Yes Father, I do so willingly."

"Will those who sponsor this young man, please bring forth his sacrifice?"

Two young men dressed in black robes carried a limp body between them and laid it on an altar.

"Have you chosen your new name?"

"Yes Father, I have chosen River's Son."

The leader held up a dagger, handed it to River's Son, and said, "Come and claim your name and new life."

River's Son plunged the dagger into the body's chest. The room exploded in celebration.

"Welcome, River's Son," yelled the leader.

Outside, the boy covered the girl's mouth to muffle her scream. The two figures clung to each other as the black robed sponsors carried the body out a side door and past them. The teenagers crawled along the building following them. In the moonlight, they watched as the body was dumped into a prepared grave, and the sponsors shoveled dirt over it.

***

Brennan and Booth raced down a dark country road.

"So, this was a wasted trip." Brennan said.

"I wouldn't call it wasted. We've eliminated one bogus lead."

"Booth!" Brennan screamed as Booth slammed on the brakes.

As soon as the vehicle stopped, Booth jumped out, "I could have killed you. What are you kids doing out here?" Booth shouted, but then saw the girl was crying in his headlights.

"Okay, calm down," Booth said. He pulled out his badge. " I'm Agent Booth with the FBI." Brennan walked to Booth's side.

The boy held onto the girl and spoke comfortingly to her, "Shhh, it's okay, it's the police. We're safe. We're safe."

Brennan and Booth looked at each other.

***

Less than an hour later, Brennan stood next to a growing pile of black robed figures lit by flashing police lights.

"Another effigy," Booth said.

"So, new members make an effigy to represent their old life, ceremonially "kill" it, and bury their past?"

"Yes, and then enter into a new life. At least that's what Star Brother, or Toby Wyatt in his former life, the group's leader, says." Booth said.

"More wasted time?"

"You know, Bones, we had two extremely terrified,"

"…and high" Brennan interrupted.

"…yes, and high, teenagers. Now they can live out their lives without the nightmares. That's not a waste of time."

"Agent Booth, I found something here sir?" a nameless agent called.

Booth looked at where his agent's flashlight pointed.

"Hey Bones," he yelled, "Good news. A skull."