Just want to know what you all think, whether this grips you as the opening to a novel and whether I've done enough to present the characters (one of my usual weaknesses). Thanks in advance
Preacher's Son, Demon's Friend
We communicate in hushed whispers as we make our way through the graveyard. It’s so cold that my breath is misting in front of my face and my fingers feel like they’re about to drop off. Behind me, Jack trips and swears and I turn to hush him. I can hardly blame him for losing his footing though, as the only light we have to guide us is that of the moon, not quite bright enough despite how bloated and full it hangs in the sky. Just in front of me, Joe is swigging from a vodka bottle like it’s water – which, when I think about it, probably is water. To my left, Ashley unzips his fly and stops. “I swear to God, if you piss on a grave I’ll actually kill you and bury you beneath it.” I threaten, and it seems to do the trick. With much grumbling he finds his way to the outskirts of the graveyard to pee against a wall.
As we amble along, we get progressively closer to our goal – the church. It was built in the 19th century to replace the old church, which burned to the ground in a blasphemous arson attack. The roof is leaking and the central heating is atrocious but it’s home a rather large congregation – the residents of Llandiafol are a very religious bunch. We reach the ancient wooden door and I search my coat pocket for the key, eventually pulling it out and then struggling to put it into the lock. I drop the key, but before I can bend to pick it up Jack has grabbed it. He puts one of his hands on mine as he nimbly slots the key into the lock and turns it until there’s a faint click. His smaller, thinner hands are much more suited for the task than my own. As he takes the key from the door and gives it back, we’re briefly touching with both hands. I shake myself mentally, then break the contact and push open the door. I don’t want to open that jar of worms again. It ended messily enough last time.
The door creaks as it opens, echoing loudly in the wide open space ahead of us. I search for the light switch with one hand, and once I’ve found it the lights flicker on lazily, hardly giving off any luminance whatsoever. I can’t bring myself to worry too much, we won’t need them for long. “Come on!” I say, my voice a stage-whisper. Jack, who was right behind me finds his way immediately but the other two seem to be taking an age. Finally, Ash and Joe stumble through the door together. “I hope you weren’t shagging behind a gravestone.” I joke.
“Nah,” replies Ashley slyly, “we’re not all benders like you and Jack.”
The inside of the church is pretty typical – whitewashed walls, squat wooden pews, and at the far end beyond the altar, a rather small and sad stained glass window depicting the crucifixion of Jesus. “Let’s get started then.” says Ashley ominously, pulling out tea lights and matches, heading towards the altar. As I see them being lit, I switch off the lights and head up the aisle. Joe has pulled out the piece of card he had hidden beneath his jacket. It’s covered in letters, with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in each of the upper corners. At the bottom is a star, drawn from straight, intersecting lines which is framed by a circle. It’s time to summon a spirit.