The autumn air became crisp as the sun set. To Melanie Logan it felt eerily energized. She breathed its sharp freshness and sighed a supplication for strength and patience as she headed into the makeshift classroom.
Melanie was a volunteer teaching the sixth and seventh grade catechism class at a small mission church. She loved its long narrow chapel with floor to ceiling arched windows and the pot-belly stove near the altar. And she loved the ten kids from the small, poverty-stricken town that attended.
Since it was a mission, there weren’t extra funds for luxuries like classrooms. Her little group met in the large storage room behind the altar, and other classes divided areas in the chapel. Normally the room felt cozy and blessed, but tonight, Melanie shuddered. She sensed uneasiness in the air and steeled herself to deal with rowdy kids. She pushed two tables apart, one for the boys and one for the girls, knowing from experience this arrangement was best for class control.
A gust of wind, like a boisterous paranormal suddenly flipped the pages of the bible she left open on her table. Just as suddenly two boys jostled in the doorway.
“Hey, Ms. Logan,” chirped Matt Rydell as he shoved a smaller Bobby Gomez.
Bobby banged his hip on a table and acted macho. “Watch it, Mat-tubbo. You’re big belly’s killin’ me.”
Melanie gave them her sternest look hoping to turn their rowdy into receptive. “Sit, both of you. Think about how you’d really like to be treated and how to change your rude actions in the doorway.”
Keeping an eye on them, Melanie greeted the rest of the students. The kids were just seated when a mournful yowling echoed through the air vents totally disrupting the room. Melanie groaned inside and held out her hands to re-settle them.
“Ms. Logan, did you make that happen for Halloween?” asked Mr. Inquisitive, Joe Peters. The class relaxed and began giggling.
“Of course not, Joe! Let’s get started with a prayer.” As Melanie began, the haunting yowl repeated. The wide-eyed kids began clamoring for an explanation.
Namoi Moses said it sounded like a crying baby. Ellie Darnell though it was a big cat stuck in the wall. Matt thought it was his older brother playing prank on them.
Melanie assured them that the Director, Pat Ryan would certainly be checking on the cause. They weren’t convinced, so Melanie sent Naomi to summon the Director.
“Ms. Logan,” a frightened Naomi stammered. “Can I take someone with me?”
Melanie sent Bobby with Naomi and began to teach the lesson. She hadn’t uttered the first sentence before the howling became more frequent now sounding outside their door.
She stopped, letting the curious kids talk. While they waited for Naomi and Bobby to bring Pat, they heard the wailing of sirens. Again the kids became silent. The sirens became louder, as if there were dozens of vehicles screaming by the chapel.
Melanie began to think evil spirits had sprung chaos on St. Anthony Mission aiming to disrupt any Christian learning that night.
Class time was ticking away. Melanie told the kids to sit tight while she investigated. Just outside the storage room was a door to the parking lot. She gingerly unlocked the door and peeked outside. In the dim lights of the parking lot she discovered the cause of the yowling.
When she returned to the classroom; the kids were crowded around the doorway.
“Wha d’ja find,” pestered Joe.
“Have you seen the homeless woman pushing her grocery cart in town?” Melanie asked the class. There were nods all around.
“Rose, that’s her name by the way, has a tom cat in a cage that she keeps in the cart with her. It’s the only thing that she has that she loves.”
“What’s that got to do with the weird noise?” Matt grumbled.
“Well, Rose is somewhere here in the Mission, but has parked her cart and cat cage outside our door. The cat is unhappy at being left and has been telling us about it,” Melanie told her restless class.
Just then Naomi and Bobby returned with Pat, and Melanie explained what she found. Pat apologized for the disrupted class, because now it was time to go home.
Driving home, Melanie saw flashing lights, police cars and yellow tape blocking the entrance to a video store.
“The sirens,” she thought. “The devil sure did some work in town tonight.”
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