I’ve been a preacher for thirty years and I’ve been doing the Lord’s work in Hawker’s Drift for over a decade now. In its own peculiar way, I suspect it’s about as godless a place as you could find in the whole wide sweep of the world. Each Sunday I give my sermon and all those faces look up at me, most listening, a few pretending to, some still smelling of whiskey and whores from the night before. I used to think preaching meant something, that it gave my life purpose and meaning, but it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a young man’s convictions.
I’ve been dying for a couple of years. Just a bad gut, I thought at first. I kept telling myself that for a good while after too, in the hope it might be true. Doc Rudi gave me some medicine, but that didn’t do much bar make me poorer. And it just kept getting worse. Like having glowing hot stones sitting down in the bottom of your belly. Something is rotting inside me. I can taste it in my mouth in the slow, dark hours when neither sleep nor God come for me.
Dying slowly in a town where people think I’m a bitter, cantankerous old man with no time for anyone bar himself and his God. I hear what they whisper and know that I am not loved.
One day the Mayor came and stared at me with that strange wandering eye of his and gave me a little black bottle. He said it’d take the pain away.
I should have known better really.
Nothing is quite what it seems with the Mayor. He's got a way of wrapping you around his finger while making you think he’s doing right by you. No shortage of fools in the world, but never really considered myself to be one of them. A man of God, an educated man. Huh! Turns out that counts for nothing.
I started doing his bidding years ago and gave him what he wanted one small slice at a time, convincing myself I was doing no harm. Then I took his wretched little bottle. He told me it’d take the pain away. Told me it’d be the sweetest thing I ever tasted too. Sweet black candy he calls it.
He was right too. The pain did go away, but it didn’t taste like any medicine I was ever fooled into taking by quacks like Doc Rudi. But that wasn’t all. No, he didn’t mention what else it did. What else it might do. I lose myself to it, you see. Lose myself from the world and from God. It fills me with a deep, dark, unholy joy and the pain of not having it is worse than the pain in my guts. I know it is wrong, but I cannot stop.
I cannot ever stop and I fear I have cursed my immortal soul…