He dressed in front of the window, the curtains pulled open, the room as dark as it was silent. When he finished he turned back to the
bed and saw her; a nude moonlight silhouette. He closed the curtains, switched on the lights and walked over to the opposite side of
the bed.

Now physically separated by only a few feet – farther than they had been for the last two days – he did not touch her; did not reach
out to her like he knew that she wanted. Instead he reached over to the nightstand and picked up the bottle of whiskey for a long

As he handed her the bottle he looked into her eyes. He knew her deep, childlike affection for him and the anger he caused her
because he was leaving. Purposely his returned stare into her eyes was unemotional. She was a piece of meat, a good time, a warm
place to squirt – nothing more.

“Do you really have to go right now,” she said cradling the bottle between her breasts.

Taking hold of her hair he pulled her head back for a rough kiss, whiskey splashing onto the sheets as his other hand occupied her
breasts. Letting go of her he laughed, but said nothing. He walked away from the bed to the closet, slipped on his jacket, and took out
his cigarettes. The Zippo clanged shut when the cigarette glowed orange through a cloud of smoke. He took in a few relaxing puffs as
he slowly approached her again. After a deep inhale, through the haze emanating from him, he offered her the cigarette.

“Candy, you know that I have to leave,” he said quietly after she took the cancer-stick. “I thought that we had already been through
this. I have to be back by nine. Don’t make this harder that it has to be.”

She did not respond. They went through this every time that he was with her. And like each time before, his naïve toy silently
displayed her sadness through her dying eyes. And like each time before, her eyes filled with tears. She forced back the waterworks
with a quick nicotine blast. He turned away from her, grabbed his suitcase, and headed for the door.

“When will I see you again,” she asked.

Dropping the suitcase in front of the door he turned and went back to her.

“You’re real pretty, just not too bright.” Roughly he took her face into his hands and kissed her. He then forced his hands between
her legs and then squeezed.

Laughing he said, “You know that I’ll be back for another piece of this.” Standing up he took out his wallet. “I had a fun time with
you these last few days. Do I owe you anything?”

The only answer she gave was a tear that fell down her cheek. When he saw it he chuckled and threw a one hundred dollar bill at her.

“I love you, Chris.”

He did not answer her.

“Check out time is at noon tomorrow,” he told her as went back to the door. “I’ll call you later this week.”

Stepping outside into the cold, the mountain air smelled of burned fireplace wood, wet mud, and frozen pine. Fog clung low to the
ground giving the landscape a deserted, otherworldly look. He jogged across the parking lot to his car, the gravel beneath his feet
crackling. After jamming his suitcase into the trunk he started the car and while it warmed up he scraped the ice from the windows.

After a freezing five minutes he pulled out of the motel parking lot onto the two-lane highway. It was going to be a long four-hour
drive, but as long as it didn’t snow he should make it home in time to get a couple hours of sleep. Looking up through the moon roof,
through the needles sprouting forth from the massive pine trees lining both sides of the highway, he saw thin, transparently glowing
clouds zipping across the sky.

A furious search of the radio produced nothing but static, as the tall mountains and dense foliage repelled the majority of radio signals.
The road was lonely and a lonely road was sure to bring on fatigue. Without something to occupy his mind’s need for stimulation he
worried that he might fall asleep at the wheel and end up running through a guardrail, crashing to his death.

On a long straight-away when he felt it safe to divert his attention from the road, he flipped on the lights and started searching for his
IPOD. Rummaging around the myriad of lose papers sitting on the seats, the various client folders, grabbing his briefcase and opening
it up – all at seventy miles per hour – he couldn’t find it.

“Son of a bitch.” He slammed his briefcase shut. It dawned on him that he packed the IPOD in his suitcase, and his suitcase was in
the trunk. Of course he could simply pull over and get it out, but he did not want to stop and he was pissed off that he packed it away.

Angrily he hit the power button on the radio eliminating the increasingly irritating static. At first it was all too silent, even with the
sounds of the tires against the roughly paved highway. There was a little gas station that looked like a shabby log cabin about an hour
and fifteen minutes away; when he got to it he would stop and grab not only a cup of coffee, but his IPOD as well. Besides, he had
enough to think about to keep him occupied for a very long time.


Sweet, sweet, Candy. Even though he was playing with her mind he really did not want to leave her. It wasn’t that he was overly drawn
to her on a personal level – in fact she was an air headed girl that, in an intellectual regard, he could crush. To be perfectly honest, she
was shallow and self absorbed; superficial matters were paramount in her eighteen year old world. When they would actually have a
serious discussion he felt like he filled the role of ‘daddy’ instead of an equal.

So why did he continue this relationship for well over a year now?

“Damn,” he said. “I can’t believe that it’s been that long.”

It was all about the sex. She was a stupid girl that was absolutely wild in the sack. And, as it turned out, she was desperate to be loved,
which made her desperately easy.

He met her while he was out of town on business. She was starting her senior year of high school and working as a waitress at a small
diner. He introduced himself and she told him that her name was Jessica. She brought him his steak and eggs and he made small talk
with her. About the time that her shift was over he just happened to show back up at the diner, a very nice man who happened to
have more than enough money to buy her lunch.   

Her life at home was hell. She was unloved and it was made perfectly clear after years of abuse, she was unwanted. Her father had
left her mother when she was a little girl, and her mother was a raging alcoholic.

She was easy pickings: Pay attention to her when she talked (even though it was excruciatingly stupid), flash a warm smile, a little (or a
lot) of money, and soon he was screwing her tight teenage body.

When they first started their relationship he was very cautious, as she had just turned seventeen. A man could do some hard time if
convicted on a sex charge. It was almost too much for him to risk. At first he did not tell her his real name, did not give her his phone
number, did not let her ride in his car. They met at the diner where she worked and walked over to a run down motel across the
street. But as he spent more and more money on her, as he spent more and more time with her; he was able to trust that she wouldn’t
turn him in.

The first night he fucked her he told her that she had an ass like a candy apple. From then on he called her ‘Candy’. About a month
later she told him that he was the best thing to ever happen to her. Nobody had every treated her like he had. Nobody had ever
bought her anything. Nobody had every listened to her and made her feel wanted.

“I feel so safe when you hold me in your arms,” she cooed one hot summer night.

He didn’t answer.

Eyes burning with fatigue, he put the window down half way. The ice cold air stung his face and shot a burst of energy through him.
When he began shaking from the cold he put the window back up. A patch of fog, glowing from the moonlight, enveloped the car for
a few seconds until he had sped through it.

The situation with his teenage mistress had grown slightly more complicated in recent weeks. Each time he thought about it he always
arrived at the same conclusion: it was his fault for becoming too complacent.

As he used her she grew closer to him and he became too lax in his control. He allowed Candy to have his cell phone number. He
took her around in his car. And then there was that one week when his wife and kids were visiting the in-laws, he bought her a bus
ticket and she stayed at his house. He kicked himself for that one. It turned out okay, but that was much too dangerous. She could
have been seen with him, and now she knew where he lived.

Then there was the fact that he had been talking to her too much. Telling her things about his personal life that gave her false hope
and put him in a potentially costly situation.

“Chris, I love you. I have fallen in love with you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know that I can make you happy,”
she said late one night as they cuddled naked together, the sound of a warm, fall rain beating on the window.

Too lax in my control, he scolded himself. Thinking back on it, she professed her love for him just after he had told her how horrible
his marriage was; after he had told her how much of a complete bitch his wife was. He could not allow the situation to get out of
hand, so then began damage control.

“I, uh, love you too,” he said. “I want to be with you, too. But, things are complicated. There is no way I can just leave right now. I
just need some time. Candy, you’ll give me time, won’t you?”

For a little while that satisfied her. After that when she would start with her stupid-ass ‘I want to be with you forever’ bullshit he just
told her what she wanted to hear and that kept her quiet. And kept her legs spread.

At least that one problem he was able to keep control of. Nothing compared to the hell he had to live in at home. He really didn’t lie
when he told Candy how much he hated his wife and his marriage. He even resented his two daughters. He knew that his wife lied to
him about being on the pill and she got pregnant on purpose, though he had made it clear that he did not want children, let alone twin

Dreams have a way of keeping a man going, keeping a man sane and motivated. His dream was to one day look at that bitch and tell
her that he never wanted to see her again. Some days it was that fantasy alone that kept him from jumping off of a tall building, or
better yet, pushing his wife off of that same building.

For the time being divorce was not an option. There was no way in hell that bitch was going to take half of his money. Not now, no
way. He had worked too long and hard building his company up from nothing to now being on the verge of the big time. There was
no way she would get half of his company. He would do anything to make sure she never saw a single dime of what he made. If that
meant acting like he loved her and those two brats, then that is what he would do. Or if it meant…

Murder. He had actually considered that for a time. Not too long a time though. He hated her, but he wasn’t a murderer. He wouldn’t
have minded a car accident or a plane crash though.

Since he had yet to be that lucky he was resigned to spending as much time away from home as possible, pretending to love her and
their girls, keeping his sanity by going on business trips.

“You are gone on business so much,” his wife commented one day. “I know how lonely you must get. How do you do it?”.

He chuckled before answering. “Well, it’s rough some times, but I eat a lot of Candy.” She didn’t get his joke.

A strong gust of wind shook the car. Looking again through the moonroof, he saw the clouds gathering in the sky, filtering the moon,
a huge, glowing ring encompassing it. The sky was growing darker and he worried about snow.

Soon the possibility of snow was the last thing on his mind. Just before he left home he had another fight with his wife. The fights
were becoming more frequent and it was starting to take a toll on his resolve not to divorce her.

That crazy bitch insisted that he be home on Sunday for his girls’ birthday. Unbearable as it was, he would suffer through it. What she
really wanted though was completely moronic and he refused to be a part of it.

“The girls and I want you to go to church with us this coming Sunday. I scheduled the girls to be baptized.”

He hadn’t been paying much attention before, but for that he slammed his paper down on the table.

“You did what?”

Shannon set her coffee cup on the table. “I called the pastor of the church I have been taking the girls to and I asked him to baptize
Ashley and Courtney. I asked for this coming Sunday because I thought it would be neat for them to be baptized on their birthday. It
just turns out perfect that their birthday falls on a Sunday this year.”

“I cannot believe it. I cannot believe that you would be so stupid. I don’t want them to get involved with that crap.”

She got up from the table taking her coffee cup to the sink. “I want the girls to be baptized and they wanted to be baptized. They like
the church I’ve been taking them to. They have made lots of friends there and all of the people are so nice. I wish you would just try
to go for me and for the girls.”

He laughed. “You know, I’ve changed my mind. Do whatever you want with the girls, I don’t care. Just don’t expect me to waste my
time with that crap.”

She is such a stupid bitch! Anger burned inside of him, his hands crushing the steering wheel, knuckles white. Church and God, the
biggest scam ever. The only people who believed in some sort of “God” were mindless, weak people.

Gliding around a sweeping curve, ascending up and then over a hill, he saw the lights of the log cabin gas station off in the distance.
He took a deep breath and pressed down on the accelerator. Almost there.

About a minute later he pulled into the parking lot. Getting out of the car ice cold air attacked his face. When he opened the door into
the store a ding-dong chime announced his presence.

Looking around for a moment, he nodded to the middle aged man behind the cash register, and then headed for the coffee pot. After
he poured himself a cup of coffee a sticky bun caught his eye. He transferred the sticky bun from the case to the microwave, and
while it warmed he looked at the magazine rack.

Sports, cars, fitness, hunting, and tabloids. Nothing too exciting. The microwave beeped; he was just about to walk away when he saw
a magazine published by one of the more popular weekly news periodicals. The magazine was a special on religion in today’s society
with a picture of Jesus Christ and his apostles on the cover. He scoffed as he flipped through the pages. Pictures of churches,
congregations gathered in prayer, a minister blessing an infant, an ugly-ass elderly lady taking communion, an article entitled ‘What Can
Jesus Do For You?’

Disgusted, he tossed the magazine down on the rack. With sticky bun and coffee in hand, he went to the checkout counter. The clerk
nodded again and quietly said hello before ringing his items up. Irritated with the lack of speed with which the clerk performed his
duties he looked over the various items set out on the counter.

Standing upright in a cardboard case with ‘Do You Know Jesus?’ printed on it, Chris saw a stack of pamphlets. He picked one up and
stared at it for a moment. On the cover of the pamphlet there was a drawing of Jesus cradling a lost lamb, the phrase ‘Jesus Loves
You So Much…’ set around the drawing. A strange tingle ran down his spine as he opened the pamphlet.

“That will be two dollars and eighty six cents,” the clerk said as he looked up from the register. His customer did not answer.

On the inside of the pamphlet there was a picture of Jesus crucified on the cross, bright red blood spilling from his side. The caption
continued from the cover, ‘That He Died To Save You!” The picture captivated him and he was unable to look away.

“Hey mister.”

Startled Chris shut the pamphlet and stuffed it back in the case.

“Sorry. That was how much,” he stammered as he reached into his pocket.

“Two eighty six.”

He paid the clerk and grabbed his stuff.

“Hey mister,” the clerk said just as Chris turned to leave. “Please take one of those pamphlets; they’re free to anyone who would like

He waved him off, embarrassment showing in his face. “No thanks. Just a bunch of bullshit. It isn’t worth my time.”

Following the last bite of the sticky bun, he gulped his coffee, and thrust the cup into the cup holder. He hit the power key on the
radio and tried to find something on talk radio. Again, static dominated the air waves. He had remembered to get his IPOD, but now
he was not in the mood to listen to music.

The fog was getting thicker. Nervous, he lowered his window half way, pulled out his cigarettes and lit one. He tried to let the nicotine
calm him, but he was becoming more restless. His mind ran through all of the ‘God’ references he had come into contact with over
the last week.

He told himself that he was letting his ‘Jesus Freak’ wife get to him and that all this ‘God’ stuff was just coincidence. Angrily he
jammed the cigarette into his mouth for another puff. Mumbling to himself, he argued the points of his case.

The entire idea of ‘God’ repulsed him. It was such an outlandish concept brought about by scared people trying to explain what
science had not yet proven. To make it worse, greedy people took advantage of all these superstitious beliefs by scamming those who
believed in them. More than exposing those people for the greed and power that drove them, it was more of a condemnation against
all the mindless fools who fell for it.

“Pray to your ‘God’ for what you want, but know that ‘God’ wants you to give me all of your money. Fucking morons!”

It amazed him that so many people could be stupid enough to believe those crazy bible stories. How can there be a ‘God’ who has
always been around? How can something just have always been? All things have a beginning and an end, so how can ‘God’ not have
been created?

And how can this uncreated ‘God’ make everything in the universe. There are billions of stars and planets in the Milky Way Galaxy
alone. The other day he read an article in the paper about all of the other galaxies in the universe that they are finding, almost on a
daily basis. Millions of galaxies with billions of stars and planets, in each galaxy!

“Come on, how can a being create all of that?”

“How about all of the people on earth?” He shook his head as he considered it. “There is no way that a billion people all came from
Adam and Eve! Billions from two? But that wasn’t even the stupidest part of the story. Now you got a damn talking snake telling
Adam and Eve to eat an apple? Please!”

He waved his hand in the air. “Oh, but wait, it gets better. To make everything okay with ‘God’ and us humans again he sends his son
down here – I didn’t know ‘God’ got married and had any kids – and Jesus dies on a cross. So noble of him. What the hell was that
supposed to do about our supposed sins anyway? What a load of crap!”

Throwing the cigarette out, he rolled up the window and listened to the sound of the road. After a minute he scoffed again.

“And what kind of ‘God’, who supposedly loves us so much, allows so many bad things to happen to people? Sure, thousands of
people died when the twin towers crashed down, thousands of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, but don’t
worry ‘God’ loves you. Sure, your little girl is diagnosed with cancer, she’s only four years old, but don’t worry ‘God’ loves you. If this
so called ‘God’ loved us as much as they want us to think, then he wouldn’t let people suffer.”

Up ahead something caught his eye. At first he did not recognize what it was. Against the dark sky, darker black spots swirled around
darting every which way.

“What is that?” Instinctively he let up off of the accelerator and coasted towards that black swirl. Once close enough to make out
what it was, he squinted and then broke into a relieved laugh.

“Oh wow, a bunch of bats.”

The bats flew over the roadway, like a swarm of bees. They were flying high enough that he didn’t worry that they would strike his
car. As he drove underneath them it struck him that it was quite unusual to see that many bats flying around in the winter time.

The bats now behind him he accelerated around a gentle curve. Suddenly a brown goo hit the windshield with a wet thwack! He
jumped in his seat and then examined the goo. On the other side of the windshield another gooey thwack! made him jump. He saw a
large moth fly strait at the car just before the third thwack!

Three large splotches of moth remains spotted his window so he hit the windshield washer. The bug guts streaked across the window
and smeared making an even bigger mess.

As the wiper blades traveled back and forth four more moths hit the windshield. Just after that three more. And then two. And three.
And four more.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

“What the hell is going on? Does it look like I have a bulls-eye on my car?”

Mashing the accelerator all the way to the floor, the car’s engine whining loudly, he kept the pace up until the bombardment ceased.
Slowing he pressed the windshield washer on.

Through the bug streaks, the motion catching his eye at the last moment, he saw something run onto the road just before his front
right tire crushed it.


The car veered slightly as he looked back to see what it was, but the darkness swallowed it up.

Slowing a bit more, he took a deep breath. Checking the time he thought that he should make it to the interstate in about thirty
minutes. Maybe it would be good to be home.

Hovering in the distance, two yellow glowing dots appeared. Slowly at first, but then increasingly faster, the dots closed in on him,
growing bigger.

It was too late when he figured out that it was a rabbit, its eyes glowing from the reflection of his headlights. The rabbit looked like it
was playing a game of chicken with his car. It ran straight for the car and then leapt into the car’s grill. He covered his face with his
arm and screamed as the rabbit bounced off of the grill and then underneath the car, the rear wheels running it over.

Close to losing control of the car, he screamed as his sweaty hands veered the car into the other lane and then back again. Once he
straitened the car back out again he slammed on the brakes and coasted. He was breathing like he just finished a marathon.

After a few minutes passed without being attacked by any other suicidal animals he had regained his composure. Sure that there was
damage to the front of his car, he decided against getting out and checking.

He increased speed. On the side of the road, to the right of him, he saw what he thought was a large dog sitting on its haunches.
Stepping on the brakes he merged into the vacant lane for on coming traffic, no animal death by BMW this time. His heart pounded
when he drove by the dog. As he passed he saw another large dog sitting on the other side of the road.

“What the hell,” he said going back into his lane.

After seeing three more dogs, their blue-gray eyes piercing him, realizing that they were not dogs at all, but wolves, he pounded the
accelerator down. Home was looking better and better all of the time.

It had been a couple of minutes since he passed the last wolf when he thought that he saw another one. The car lurched forward as he
stomped his foot down, he turned and looked behind trying to see it, but behind him was only darkness.

Turning forward he began to scream, furiously slamming on the brakes and yanking the wheel. It was not in time. A huge buck ran
directly at his car, horns down. The front of the car smashed into the animal full on, caving in the hood. The mangled animal bounced
off the hood and smashed into the windshield shattering it. The car careened off of the road, hitting boulders and bushes, shot into
the air, and flipped over.

Gradually the darkness faded, the sound of the rain echoed off the metal. Sprawled across the roof of the car, now lying on the
ground, he smelled smoke, gasoline, and engine coolant. He waited for the pain of gnarled limbs and gaping wounds to inundate him,
but he felt no such pain. Only his head throbbed slightly.

Outside of the car he heard what he thought was an owl hooting. Through the crushed window holes and bits of crushed glass he saw
numerous things moving about the car. Initially he had no idea what they were.

Quickly they scurried around the entire car. He could hear them: tap-tap-tap-tap… tap-tap-tap-tap… tap-tap-tap-tap… tap-tap-tap-
tap… tap-tap-tap-tap… tap-tap-tap-tap…

Some of the things stopped. He heard what he thought was scratching on metal, and then a snorting. He turned his head to where the
sound came from.

A wolf thrust through a window and sunk its teeth into his arm. Screaming as the wolf’s teeth tore a chunk of his flesh, he punched
the wolf weakly in the head. As the predator retreated from car the other wolves started barking and growling.

Blood flowed down his arm and he pressed his hand against the bite. Once again the wolves started circling the wrecked car,
scratching, looking for a way in.

Chris had never been so scared in all of his life. He did not want to die; he did not want it all to end like this. With his life flashing
before his eyes he saw his little girls and he saw his wife – who he really did care for. They were a reason to live.

The wolves continued to scratch, and now they were digging, growling, foaming at the mouth for a taste of his flesh. Even if he could
escape the wreck, he couldn’t fend off all of those wolves. His eyes began to fill with tears when he remembered the pamphlet from
the log cabin store.

It was like he could see the pamphlet perfectly, like he had it right there with him. He remembered the caption:

‘Do you know Jesus? Jesus Loves You So Much…That He Died To Save You!’

Bitterly, Chris began to cry. For the first time in his life he felt truly loved. And for the first time in his life Chris prayed.

“God, I know that I don’t really know you. And I know that I haven’t been very religious. But, it said in that paper that you loved me
so much that you died for me. Please God, if it is true that you love me, please save me. Don’t let me die like this.”

As if God Himself commanded an answer, a loud cry came from the demolished buck, not yet dead. All of the wolves immediately
became still and silent; they then bolted to the buck carcass. He could hear them rip into its body, fighting for position to enjoy the
tasty meal.

A peaceful calm came over Chris and he knew that if he climbed out from the car that he would be safe. Painfully he emerged from
the twisted wreck. He stood up and looked at the car: It was truly a miracle that he survived.

Limping, he hobbled away from the car, across the road, and into the woods. The wolves, fifty yards away, feasted on their prize.

Moving as fast as he could, looking back, he tripped over a rock and crashed to the ground. The wolves all looked up, his grunt
catching their attention. They watched as he picked himself up, looked back at them, and moved further into the woods.

The wolves sprinted after him. He saw them closing in on him and he ran as fast as he could, pain firing throughout his body. In a
clearing stood a large pine tree, the branches low enough to the ground that he could reach them. With all that he had left he fought
through the pain and burst to the tree, scaling it.

At the moment that he pulled himself into the tree a wolf clamped down onto his foot. Chris screamed but continued to pull himself,
along with the wolf, into the tree. He kicked the wolf, knocked it into the tree, and kicked it again. Finally it let go and fell to the

Now safely in the tree, Chris looked down to see the frenzied wolf pack jumping up trying to reach him. Somewhere in the distance
he heard the hooting owl again.

Looking back toward the road he saw lights from a large SUV stopping at the accident scene. Red, blue, and yellow strobe flashers lit
up on the SUV – it was a highway patrol unit.

Chris laughed. It was over. Everything was going to be fine. He didn’t die. He was alive, and he had only himself to thank.

He was the one who recognized that the wolves were busy eating the buck.

He was the one who pulled himself out of the wrecked car.

He was the one who ran from danger and was smart enough to climb to safety.

He was the one who fought off the wolf.

He saved himself, not ‘God’.

“I don’t need God,” he screamed up into the sky. “I am alive because of me, nobody else.”

He laughed and raised an arm in triumph.

“Hey God…Fuck you!”

As the words left his lips the owl streaked across the sky and smashed into Chris’s face, knocking him out of the tree. The wolves
jumped to receive their next meal and as Chris struck the ground, while the wolves devoured his flesh, the owl sat up in the tree softly
hooting into the night.