The Falling Church

THE SIGHTS OF WINGSDALE, WYOMING

If you ever decide to head into the old part of town, through the insect-trees and aged plaster, you may happen upon a bone-white church, its steeple long degraded. Its inside betrays its humble exterior: it's beautifully maintained, from the ornate gold trim to the delicately carved statue of Mary behind the spotless altar.

If one decides to voyage further into the outskirts, such a safe and tucked-away place is a nice spot to take a rest; you can be assured that if you take shelter within it, neither man nor creature shall disturb your sleep. Thus, it has become a common spot for wanderers who wish to view Wingsdale's more exotic locations. This is the Falling Church.

The Church gets its namesake from the titular falling man who comes daily from the hole where the church's steeple used to be. From within, one can watch the man smash into the ground at exhilarating speeds - it's advised, therefore, to wait until the man takes his daily fall to take shelter. Yesterday's mess is immediately cleaned up right before his daily fall - if not for this, the Church would be coated thickly in his guts after who knows how long. Colliding with the man on his path to the ground is a surefire way to get seriously hurt - it's important that when staying within the Church one does not cross the circular enclosure where the man is most likely to fall.

Many mysteries surround the location. Who is the man? Why can his fall only be seen from within the Church? Why does the man not scream? Who built such an embellished structure in the outskirts of our humble town, and who tore the roof asunder? Some say that the falling man is Satan, or Jesus, or the old King Sisyphus, bound to forever fall for his sins. No one will ever know.

Goldman

Jebediah Goldman, 1865 - 1923

HISTORY

During the initial push to reclaim Old Wingsdale from the Mistletoe-God in 1889, a scouting party happened upon the Church after being forced to take shelter due to the rain.

We had arrived in a grand cathedral that smelled strongly of myrrh and pine. It was the first time in my life that I had seen such lavish outfittings; truly, a place suited to the Catholics. Some in the party's eyes lit up as they saw the glittering chandeliers and candles, and implored me to let them pry the gold from the walls. I would not grant them the permission. Something, in my years of seeing things unimaginable by man, had stirred within me; I was beset with the feeling that whatever was in this pompous mess was best left within.

The rain outside did not show any sign of stopping, so Benjamin, ever quick on the draw, started a fire which we huddled about. There was not much room for such a large party of fourteen men; I decided to simply sit on a pew to let the rest of the crew warm their extremities. It was then when the man first came.

He came with a sickening crunch. Turning around, we suddenly felt the rain lukewarm upon our faces once again as the fire sputtered out with a hiss, the scraps we built it upon now stained a splotchy red. Immediately after, we heard a scream. Running past the pews we found him, half-liquefied against the ground, his arms and legs twisting upwards into an inhuman position. Near him we saw one of the boys - he had wandered to the center of the church and the man had collided with his right side. His arm clung to his shoulder by a thread and had seemingly elongated, tendons ripping and tearing through his skin, his bones shining a yellowish-white in the chandelier's golden glow. He knelt there, whimpering, clutching his arm, knees soaked in that man's blood and the rain which poured in through the hole up above. In all my days, even compared to those years in which we warred against the mistletoe-men - I had not seen such a display of brutality.

We certainly couldn't leave, not with his arm in such a state, so we decided to take camp beneath the church's roof. After a day we realized that the beasts could not enter the space, and that afforded us more time to wait for the boy's arm to heal. It was not a terribly uncomfortable living; the forests surrounding were hunted to save on our rations and rainwater was boiled to drink. The others certainly were alright with it. But the uncertainty that plagued me, the unknowable schedule of that man… Day after day he would come, cleaning himself up before his impact and descending once more without warning. And each time I would dread that noise, that sound of brittle bones breaking…but it wouldn't stop, day, after day, after day, that silent man, that unfrightened man.

We left the Church after four days; the boy's condition stabilized, but did not improve. Defeated, we decided to continue our campaign, in which we found victory and returned to town. It should have been a joyous occasion; but amid the celebrations, I couldn't get that sound out of my mind. That squelching impact, that sickening thud. Afterwards, through word of mouth, knowledge about the church and its safety spread, and more and more people learned about the man. A few weeks into my time as mayor I was informed that a group led by Benjamin, having commandeered a set of large fishing nets, wished to stop the man's free fall. They had asked me to give them my blessing. I could not, but neither could I turn away. I decided to be present on the day they enacted their plan.

It was a sizable group of six men; they waited for the man to fall for the day and began to set up for the next. They hung the nets in layers from the top of the church, standing upon large ladders taken from the carpenters. The team worked quickly. Within naught an hour's worth of time I saw the contraption up within the church, its supports hammered fiercely into the walls, each net pulled across the building, not taught, but with a slight bit of slack. It hung there like a cradle. And we waited. The crew, having finished their task, made merriment and ate meat and drank ale. I had no appetite. I simply watched. And after around sixteen hours, I heard in the distance the faint whistle of the man's descent.

He fell through that hole in the sky and into the embrace of the nets. He pulled the supporting bolts from the sides of the church and ripped the nets at the corners where they were secured, falling through all 5 layers, and as he fell I braced myself for the impact. It came, neutered. He hit the ground, yes, but did not devolve into a twitching pile of flesh and bone. There was no crunch, just a hollow thud when he arrived upon the Earth again, in one piece, perhaps in years, perhaps in millennia. He was a thin, thin man of average stature and size, with white hair grown long and smooth, though he didn't seem to be of old age. He stood like an old willow, his eyes a beautiful black. As he pulled himself to his feet, stunned but miraculously, no, accursedly alive, he scanned his surroundings he seemed to break out of a daze as the glaze that covered his eyes broke apart and his face contorted into a tortured, terrified expression.

The men ran up to him - one had prepared a large piece of cloth which he draped over the once falling man like a funeral shroud. They laughed and congratulated each other, paying no heed to the refugee who did not share their gaiety. Brazenly and weakly pushing them away, the willow-man babbled in an unknown tongue, pointing, gesticulating, throwing his arms and fingers about wildly, his hair spiraling about him, thin frame moving like some crazed puppet. He stomped the ground and pulled his hair and screamed and shouted and as the crew of saviors looked towards that swirling cloud of panic they rushed to calm him. After though after some time he seemed to regain some composure, I could still see it in his eyes, an instinct that seemed to escape the rest of the men. As the party led the man, bare like he had been borne yesterday, back to town, I remained in the church, where I stayed until sundown before heading back to the town hall. I locked the door to my quarters and did not leave for a week. From what I hear they had treated the man well, with one giving him room and board within his home, and the rest often stopping by to make conversation and marvel at the stranger.

Three days later they found all of the party dead, their cadavers flattened against the ground, as if they had fallen from a great height. They had all died away from the eyes of others, some in their own home, some behind an alleyway. Their bodies all stunk of frankincense. Benjamin died in the stable, his apparent fall having crushed his prized mare, breaking her back. It puzzled the townsfolk greatly. For all six victims, there was nowhere from which they could have fallen.

And what of the man? As I speak to you now he is still within that facsimile of a church, likely already ground to dust for the day. If you venture out, you may see his remains while taking shelter from the rain. Beware his many deaths. Do heed my warning, friend. Do not give him your pity; I do not believe he wants it. No matter what, you must let him fall.

- Jebediah Goldman, 5rd Mayor of Wingsdale

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