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Constrained to Kill
“I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. . . . I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine. And when I came to him I found that it was Laban. And I beheld his sword . . . And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill . . .” —1 Nephi 4:6-10
I remember the first time I heard it. The voice of the spirit at the back of my mind. I was sitting in a fast and testimony meeting listening to the uplifting stories of my fellow ward members. It was nearing the end of the meeting and the Spirit had been with us in great abundance. It was palpable in the air. Sister Knoll had just finished telling us about her experiences with the youth at the temple that week and sat down. Brother Jones, the first counselor in the bishopric, stood up and walked to the pulpit for his closing remarks.
“Brothers and sisters, we appreciate the testimonies that have been shared with us this day. I’d like to add my witness that Jesus is the Christ. We have a Heavenly Father who loves each and every one of us. We have a prophet on the earth today that leads and directs us. How wonderful a blessing it is, to know that God speaks to the prophet to guide his people. I know that he can also speak to each of us through the power of personal revelation. As we seek out his guidance, we can be led to know God’s will for us in our own lives. The Spirit can speak to each of us individually. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”
I watched as Brother Jones turned around and sat back down on the stand.
I jolted. Nervously I scanned the room to see who might have whispered such an awful thing. As soon as my eyes darted towards Brother Jones, I heard it again.
I got up during the closing hymn and excused myself to the bathroom. I felt ill at the thought of someone saying such awful things during sacrament meeting of all places. I rushed home.
A few weeks passed. It was October and the ward had a Trunk-or-Treat planned for all of the primary children. I brought my two sons and daughter. My boys had decided to dress up as Mario and Luigi. My daughter had settled on a classic witch outfit. My wife walked with them around the parking lot as I handed out candy from the back of our truck. I had nearly forgotten about the experience when I saw Brother Jones from across the parking lot.
“He leads my people astray”
I shivered and shook my head. I turned my attention back to holding our bright orange bucket filled with sweets. A little boy dressed as a ghost picked out a pack of twizzlers. A beautiful princess picked out a tootsie pop. A family dressed up as the Heelers came through.
As a masked Batman rifled through the candy, I looked back up to see where my own kids were along the rows of cars. I turned my head to the right and Brother Jones was only one car away.
“It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief”
The whisper echoed in my mind. I had recently restarted my study of the Book of Mormon and had read that verse just a few weeks earlier.
It had been the morning of fast and testimony meeting. That had been the day I read that verse. I hadn’t realized until now that it had been that very same morning. But there was no way the Spirit could be speaking to me about killing Brother Jones. That sort of thing only happened in the scriptures or if you were a prophet. I enjoyed my calling as a ward librarian but I was certainly no prophet. I shrugged off the feeling yet again.
A few seconds later though, Brother Jones approached my trunk.
“Brother Miller” he said “how goes it?”
“Can’t complain!” I said, trying to feign an air of casualness. “How about yourself?”
“Oh same old same old! Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you actually. The Bishopric has decided to shuffle around a few responsibilities and I will be over the library now instead of Brother Tate. Do you think we could meet sometime to go over all the library supplies we will need for next year? I know it's only October but if we put the order in for manuals now, we don’t have to worry about it over the holidays.”
“Sure we could do that, but doesn’t everyone just use the Gospel Library app these days? We probably don’t need many manuals.”
“Oh we still have quite a few people that enjoy having a physical copy. Plus we should do an inventory check as well. We will be the agent bishopric over the building next year so we should make sure we have enough supplies for primary and whatnot.”
“You must slay Brother Jones”
“Yeah that makes sense.”
“He has sinned against me”
“Great! Are you free next Sunday afternoon? Say . . . an hour after the block?”
“Yeah I can do that.”
His batman son tugged on Brother Jones' pant leg. “Dad, come on!”
“Oh! Duty calls! Good seeing you Brother Miller!”
“See ya,” I said meekly back.
I sat there in a cold sweat until my family came back from making the rounds. I told my wife that I wasn’t feeling well. We went home. I did not sleep well that night. After an hour of laying there, I got out my scriptures to read. I pulled open 1st Nephi and read the verse that had come into my mind.
“It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” the scripture read. I dug through some of the surrounding footnotes. I read the following in 1st Samuel 15:3.
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
It wasn’t uncommon for God to order destruction in the scriptures. But that was reserved for the wicked. Brother Jones was a good man. He’d been in the bishopric for a few years and had been nothing but good. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve any sort of punishment, certainly not at my hands.
“Many are called, few are chosen” the spirit whispered. An audible voice, as if someone was standing next to me. I shut my scriptures and lay there staring at the ceiling until I finally fell asleep.
Luckily the spirit was silent for the next few days. But I was in constant fear it might start speaking again.
Sunday came quickly. I attended my meetings, took my family home, then returned a bit later to meet with Brother Jones. I was not looking forward to it. Whatever was happening seemed to be related to Brother Jones in one way or another. I anticipated the voice might speak to me again.
I opened the church doors and made my way down the hallway towards the library. We were the last ward to meet and so not many people were around. I walked into the library where Brother Jones was waiting for me.
“Hey Brother Miller” he said “how’s your Sabbath going today?”
“Oh it's been good” I said “how about yours?”
“Oh busy as usual” he said “do you mind closing that door? Bishop is doing interviews down the hall and I don’t want to disturb him with any noise as we shuffle things around.”
“Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands”
I walked over and closed the door; the voice was louder than I had heard it before.
“Now I think we should maybe start with some of these old boxes of books over here in the back. Some of these are pretty old and I think we can either give them out to members or get rid of them. Don’t want anyone reading old, false doctrine!” Brother Jones laughed. “Mind giving me a hand pulling some of these out?”
“The Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes”
Brother Jones bent down and picked up a box. I noticed a pair of scissors sitting on the bookcase next to him. He put the box on the top of the counter and started sorting through the titles.
“The miracle of forgiveness,” he said. “I remember reading this on my mission. You gotta read the whole thing, though, can’t stop halfway through. Otherwise you’ll just end up depressed.”
“Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands”
I went over to grab another box to start sorting through. As I bent down, the glint of the fluorescent lights caught on the scissors that rested on the book case.
A cord suddenly wrapped tightly around my neck.
“Brother Miller,” Brother Jones hissed in my ear. “I’m sorry, but the Lord has revealed to me that you must be slain.”
I choked, gasping for air. Clutching at the cord wrapped around my throat.
“I don’t know what it is you have done, or what you may do, but it is abominable before God. He has commanded me that I must ensure his people are not led astray. I’m sorry it has to be this way, Brother Miller, I truly am. But I know what God has spoken to me. I know it, and he knows it. And I cannot deny it.”
“Slay him” the spirit said, this time louder than before.
I felt a burst of warmth come over me. A burning in my bosom. In that instant, I knew that everything would be ok. The Lord had provided a way for me to understand His will for me. I reached out to the bookcase. The cool metal graced my fingertips as I clutched the pair of scissors. Without thinking, with a strength I didn’t realize I had, I brought the scissors behind my head, plunging it deep into Brother Jones' neck.
Brother Jones gasped and the cord around my neck loosened. I collapsed to the ground as Brother Jones landed on top of me. I gasped for air. I could feel Brother Jones' blood pooling onto my back.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things”
The rush of warmth returned inside of me, as the warm blood continued to spread through my white shirt and down my neck. I closed my eyes, said a prayer of thanks, and smiled.
This is the first story in Wayfare’s October Foray into Fiction series.
For more Mormon ghost stories, click here.