This is a new story that’s a sequel of sorts to Fetch. I plan on writing many, many Father Ian stories.
Father Ian relaxed in his side of the confessional. It had been a light day and for that he was thankful. The whole month since the incident at the cemetery had been hectic, a flurry of studying and phone calls to other priests he felt might see things the way he was now beginning to. That and regular meetings with Jared made for long days. The school teacher still didn’t know what to make of his experiences, but an intellectual interest in things he had previously not cared about was promising.
Times like this the priest was somewhat greatful that his little parish was, well, little. The demand of Mass and pastoral care were ones he took more seriously now than he had in years, but it still left him time for his other pursuits. The squeak of shoe leather outside brough him out of what should have been a time of prayer. He had time for a flash of guilt before a familiar voice came to him through the grate.
“Father, forgive me. I’m not here on the usual business.”
“Garda Coleman?” Ian was surprised. The big man came like clockwork on Thursdays. It was Monday. “Go ahead, my son.” He felt the confessional shift as Coleman sagged.
“Father, I figured this was the only place I could talk to you about this and not have anyone overhear. I think my Ma’s going crazy.”
Ian sat forward. “I’m sorry to hear that, Coleman. What can I do?”
“Well, Father, it’s like that thing out at the cemetery. You know how you blessed it in honor of Caffrey’s last wish. There was nothing wrong with it, but you did it anyway?”
Ian nodded. That was the story he had told even his closest friends. He still didn’t know if that lie was a sin or not. ”Go on.”
“Well, Ma’s been seeing things out on her farm. I know they’re not there, but I’d like you to go have a look, maybe talk to her. Drive out what it is she’s seeing. By me some time to get some paperwork pushed through.”
“You’re going to have her committed? That’s very serious. What does she claim to be seeing?”
The next few seconds stretched out. “A giant, Father. She says there’s a man, nine foot tall, living out behind her barn.”
Of any answer he did expect that wasn’t one. “Well that is odd, Coleman, but is it something you want to take away her home over?”
“Oh, there’s more, and this is why I’ve come to you. She thinks he’s one of the Fir Bolg. Do you know what they are?”
if he had been asked that question a few weeks ago the answer would have been no. Since the incident at the cemetery he’d been delving into the history of his land in a way he never had before. “I do. There’s not a lot known about them. Some legends say they were giants that ruled Ireland before the Tuatha Dé Danann.” He also remembered something about people called the Fomori but that whole period of Ireland’s history was a right mess thanks to his own Church’s activities since then.
“Aye, Father, that’s them. She thinks it’s one of their descendants come back to take Ireland from the occupiers.”
The way the man said made Ian think he was quoting someone. “I see. Well that’s serious indeed. Have you been out to her farm lately? Is it possible someone’s out there and that she’s confused?”
Coleman shifted again. “Course I have. What kind of son do you take me for? I’ve seen nothing out there. So, will you go talk to her?”
He held out a placating hand. “Of course I will, Coleman. Don’t fear. I’ll let you know what I think, too.” He didn’t think the man wanted a second opinion, but he’d give one in any case.
Coleman slipped a card under the grate. “There’s her address and GPS coordinates. She’s off the track you might say.”
Ian took the card and looked. He’d have to use his phone to find the place. “I’ll go see her tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Father.”
“Anything else you’d… like to take care of before you leave?” He could almost feel the nervous smile on the Garda’s face.
“It’s not quite Thursday yet, Father Ian.” The confessional rocked again and Garda Coleman exited.
The rest of the afternoon went by at a faster pace. He called Jared as soon as he was able.
The phone rang three times before the American teacher answered. “Your dime.”
Ian smiled. “Glad I could get in touch with you.”
“Ian, good to hear from you. What’s going on? We still on for the Green Man tonight?”
“I’d like to, Jared, but I’ve got some research to do. I’m calling to see if you’d like to go with me for a drive tomorrow.”
“Are we packing a picnic lunch?” The smile was audible.
“This will be something of a business trip. I was approached by someone today who wants me to go and visit his mother.”
“And this is of interest to me, how? It’s my day off, so I’m hoping there’s something big here.”
“Well you could say that. Provided that what I understand is true, it may be very big. This woman claims that there’s a giant living on her farm, one from our country’s past who’s here to reclaim Erin from Yanks like you.”
“Consider my interest piqued.”
“Get a good night’s sleep. I want to leave here around sunrise. The woman’s farm is a good two hours drive even in the best weather and I’d like to have as much of the day as I can. Bring your camera and you may want to pack a picnic lunch after all. We’ll make a day of it one way or another.”
“Will do, Ian. See you at my house at sunrise.”
Ian hung up and began to go through his still small, but growing occult library. This didn’t sound like the ghosts and demons he had been spending much of his time studying, but provided this wasn’t just a case of a woman entering senility, there was a good chance this would be his second brush with the supernatural. He wanted to be ready. The rest of the night was spent in prayer and study.
The next day was cold and windy. It promised to warm up as the day progressed, but Ian dressed in stout hiking trousers and a bulky grey sweater, with a light turtleneck underneath. He also brought along a small black leather bag that held the sacramentals and a thick walking stick. He was ready for whatever the day brought, even if it was just a jaunt through the countryside.
He pulled his small sedan to a stop outside Jared’s house and saw that the bespectacled teacher actually stood there with a wicker basket in one hand and a modern hiking staff in the other. The messenger bag slung across his back would likely hold a laptop, camera, and a few books pertinent to their discussions and the day’s journey. The priest smiled and shook his head.
Jared opened the rear door and placed his things carefully on the back seat. Everything was in easy reach from the front if he needed anything. Apparently satisfied with placement, he held out a finger. “Back in a sec.” When he returned he was carrying a large thermos. He opened the passenger’s side front door and placed it on the floorboard. “I don’t know about you, but I need my coffee.” He climbed in and patted the thermos.
“I hope you have two cups.” He was more of a tea drinker, but Jared was a wizard when it came to the black brew Americans were fonder of.
He reached back and produced two collapsible travel cups and while Ian got them on the road, he poured two generous tots. “So tell me about this giant.”
Coleman hadn’t come to him as a confessor, so Ian didn’t feel terribly odd about telling his friend some of the details. He filled the man in as he drove.
“So you don’t think she’s crazy?” Jared sipped at the lightly sweetened coffee.
“I didn’t say that. I have to meet with her and try and assess her condition as best I can, before I can be certain of her mental state.”
“Ian, Ian.” He shook his head. “Someone says ‘I’m seeing giants.’ and you don’t automatically go ‘You’re frickin’ nuts.’?”
Ian shrugged “Well to be sure she could be entering the early stages of Alzheimers, but there are certainly men around of that stature. Perhaps he’s real and he’s the one that’s crazy. Perhaps Coleman’s mother is just lonely and is buying into the story.”
“And Coleman doesn’t see the nine foot tall revolutionary on his visits because?”
This is the reason Ian wanted to bring his friend along. The man was a first class skeptic. “Suppose he lives rough. Could be he’s off the property when Coleman visits. The man also isn’t known for moving through the bracken like some ginger ninja.”
Jared let out a hearty laugh. “I think you’ve been hanging around me too much. ‘Ginger ninja’, indeed.”
“Let’s just say that there are more possibilities than mystical giant and crazy mother.”
Jared nodded. “But you’re laying odds on the former, aren’t you?”
Ian thought for a moment. He didn’t know why precisely. “Perhaps not in a gambling sort of way. More of a desperate hope really.”
“Nothing’s happened in the last month and you’re hoping that what happened then wasn’t a fluke.”
Ian looked in the rearview mirror at the hair on his head, more silver every day. He had been changed spiritually and physically by the run in with the demon who called itself a Fetch. He still felt thin, though better than he had. There was truth in what Jared said though. He nodded. “I suppose that could be it too. I want there to be more to this world than just men and their tainted souls.”
“Isn’t that interesting enough?”
“Oh it is, or else I wouldn’t have become a priest, but having seen what I’ve seen, what we’ve seen, I want more. If this is just a big man or even an adult’s invisible friend that would be interesting enough and I can help her, but I so hope it’s more.”
Jared nodded. “Me too.” He reached back and pulled out a notebook. “I did some reading last night and a bit of writing too. What you’ve said would certainly jive with the Fir Bolg, if they were still alive. Heck, most scholars think if they lived at all they were nothing more than pre Bronze Age farmers. The mists of time had made them more than that. They may have considered themselves the Kings of Erin back in the day, though there weren’t kings like we think of them back then.” He flipped through the pages. “On a more mythological note, your Tuatha Dé Danann came in and took over a lot like the English did. They stole the land from the Fir Bolg and the Fomori and if either of those groups managed to survive they’d want their land back. Your people are crazy about this island.”
“No crazier than you Americans are.”
“That’s fair.” He closed his books. “Brief history lesson over. So what do we do if there is a nine foot tall dude living on her property and we see him?”
“Nothing to ‘do’ I suppose but to report back to Coleman that his mother’s not going crazy on him. If the Garda wants the man gone he’s got resources to make that happen. If he’s more than a man though…”
“You think he’s a demon or something?”
“Could be. Whatever he is, human or not, I hope it’s peaceful and that we can work things out. I’ll fight though, if I have to.”
The Bag Man by Scott Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.scottroche.com.