The worst—or perhaps best—part of all of this is that the place is packed. It’s standing room only at the back. How has he managed to command such an audience?
Desperation. That’s what people like Wren feed on. Everyone is lonely and fearful. There’s no connection with our community anymore—everyone’s too busy online to speak to the person next door. At the same time, the poor are getting poorer while the rich get richer.
We’re all just trying to make a connection with someone—withsomething—and in this situation, that connection is with God, or at least the person they view as being closest to Him. They don’t know that the truth is this man is the farthest thing you can get from God.
He’s the devil.
They’re all going to learn the truth very soon.
On stage, Wren has faltered slightly, but he quickly regains his composure and continues his sermon. His voice rings out loud and clear across the crowd, and just the sound of it makes me want to draw blood.
“In today’s world,” he says, “there are people who will gladly follow a leader until they come face to face with the true cost of their commitment. Our Lord Jesus learned this for Himself, when He came across his would-be disciples—”
I march down the middle of the aisle and shout his name. “Pastor Wren!”
Once more, he hesitates. That isn’t the name he goes by now, and to hear it called out throws him. But he quickly finds his place again and continues, ignoring me.
“But when it came down to it, there was a lack of willingness to go through with it. For these people, the price was too great for them!”
“Wren!” I shout again. “Remember me?”
More heads swivel in my direction.
Wren falls silent. His gaze sweeps the crowd, searching for the person causing the disruption. He stops when he sees me, and his eyes widen. He lifts his microphone to his mouth one more. “Security. Remove this man.”
I’m putting a lot of faith into the belief that his security won’t shoot me in front of all these people. I’m unarmed—deliberately so. My close-fitting gray tee and jeans mean I have nowhere to hide a weapon, and everyone can see that. The security team won’t get away with trying to make out like they had to shoot me because I’m armed. A few people in the congregation have taken out their phones and are filming the disturbance. This pleases me, too. I want as many people are possible to see what happens here today, and I hope they’re live streaming it to their socials.
I’m nowhere near close to being done. “I look a bit different now than when you used to abuse me as a boy, don’t I?”
A gasp erupts from those close enough to hear exactly what I’ve said. Murmurs of confusion rise from the crowd.
The first flash of panic crosses Wren’s face.
I know what he’s thinking. First, he’ll be considering how many of his security men it’s going to take to haul me out of here. His guys are big, but I’m bigger. Second, he’ll be trying to figure out how to disparage me. He’ll claim I’m a drug addict or a criminal whose word can’t be believed.
He doesn’t know the show is only just getting started.
Rafferty follows in behind me.
“What about me, Wren? Do I look different than the boy you used to abuse?”
Wren’s mouth opens and closes. “Get them out of here,” he grits out to his security.
His security team are approaching now, but they’re also aware of the hundreds of witnesses. They can’t be too rough with us, or it’ll get tongues wagging.
Rafferty is different than me. Where Wren might get away with claiming I’m an addict or a criminal, Rafferty is as clean cut as they come. He’s in a gray suit and white shirt, and looks every inch the respectable businessman.
Then Brody joins us.
“You abused me, too,” he calls out. “It’s about time everyone knew the truth about you. I refuse to be ashamed anymore.”
Wren pales. “You’re all crazy. Get out of here.”
“Are we?” says Rafferty.
The giant screen behind Wren changes. It’s video footage—terrible, awful, heartbreaking footage. The face of the boy in the video has been blurred out, but the man in it is clearly Wren.
In the audience, someone cries out in dismay. Someone else yells, “What the fuck?”