The Forsaken by Patrick Best has two short stories of about equal length. The stories are untitled. The first is a story of spiritual possession by the devil; something that calls for an exorcism. Father Jacob Gleick has not been in his parish long. At his age, he might not have expected to be given a new parish but there had been a problem with Father Russell. Jacob didn’t know what the problem was and those that had reassigned Father Russell, the bishop and the office of the Archdiocese didn’t want to answer questions about the reassignment. Something troubling was going on and Jacob thought had found the source, a ten-year-old boy named Stephen. Stephen was the only boy who attended his church; there were no other children and only ten adults. Stephen was also present in Father Jacob’ dreams.
After Jacob witnessed Stephen kill a classmate by pushing him into the path of a speeding train, Jacob knew he had to act. No one believed his story when he spoke as a witness with police. But Jacob believed in himself, his church, and his past experiences during a war in Vietnam. He had killed then, so the experience was not new. But he was repelled by killing; that is why he became a priest. It looked like he might have to put earlier learned skills into practice. He had to kill again, but this time it was for his God.
But which god was his God? The answer to this makes this short story a quick, interesting read. For me, it warrants investigating the author’s other works. This story is followed a bonus short story which is also worth reading. It is more of a horror story and has some gruesome depictions of death.
Frankie lives with her father and she is not happy about it. They live in one of the most decrepit trailers in the Par. Her main job seems to be running, literally, to a nearby convenience store to buy beer for Dad. Today is different. She has heard that a circus had come to this very small rural town in Georgia and she intended to see it. There was no sense in asking permission; she sneaked away from the trailer to see it.
Unfortunately, the circus was not yet open for business. Frankie met an Indian, a Cheyenne named Teddy, who empathized with Frankie over the terrible life some were forced to live under oppression by those with power. In Frankie’s case, this was her father. Teddy claimed that he could give Frankie a tattoo that would protect her from further harm. On returning home, her father forced her to accompany him to a neighboring trailer where Frankie was to apologize for some imagined insult to the mother of two boys who had been tormenting Frankie.
But Frankie had some new powers and the story was going to turn out in a surprising way for Frankie and readers.