Prologue: Recruiting
rating: +17+x

A dreamless night is not a happy night for an aspiring member of the Fifth Church.

Louis Anna is startled from his slumber by a loud rap at the door. Slowly peeling his face from his table, he examines the empty bag of powder, and for good measure, crudely throws it under his old bed.

“LOUIS, YOU IN THERE MAN?” exclaims a voice from outside the door, “I AIN’T BEEN SEEIN’ YOU FOR A FEW DAYS AND I WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU WERE A-OK!”

After a brief stumble in the direction of the door, a ray of midday light strikes his face as his neighbor falls through the old trailer door. Santana Taylor, a large man who consistently manages to have more grease on his shirt than the actual cotton, lay on the newly broken door a few feet from the stunned Louis.

“Uhh, sorry ‘bout that” Santana muttered awkwardly, pulling himself up from the ground, “I heard you went on some bender and I wanted to make sure you ain’t dead. Also, you should fix your door, some fella is gonna end up stealin’ your provisions and such.”

“You gonna pay me back for that?” grumbles the hungover Louis, moving away from the sun.

“Wish I could Louie, but I ain’t the one tryin’ to get tax cuts,” mused Santana, “besides, during your little bender you pissed in my AC! You know I just paid that off and now my whole trailer smells like piss.”

“Sorry, but what the hell are you talkin’ about with them tax cuts? I don’t know nothin’ about that.”

“You barged into my trailer the other night rantin' about how you were gonna start up a church. ‘Course, can’t be trustin’ your coked up mouth.”

“Wha-what did I tell you?”

“Something stupid about your dad and a starfish. You got a whole crowd though, your buddies were all cheerin’ you on, making a huge noise outside while I was tryin’ to sleep.”

“Who would I have been with?”

“The hell is this, The Hangover Part One? Just ask them, they’re all outside.”

Stumbling into the sunlight, Louis sees a rough assembly of four men in soiled blue bed sheets laying under a large oak tree. The noise of Santana’s yelling stirs a few of the men, who gazed around the area blankly. Upon noticing the arrival of Louis, the two awakened men awaken the rest.

One of the men immediately jumped up and ran towards Louis. In an attempt to run away from this clearly deranged man, Louis attempted to run away, but was caught in a bear hug by the man.

“Thank God-err, the Starfish-thing that you’re okay! You stumbled into your trailer a few days ago and I had to keep these fuckers off the congregation crack supply!” the man cries into Louis’ shoulder.

“Uhh, thank you, but what the hell is going on?” Louis replies, out of breath, “and could you please release me, I can’t breathe.”

“Sorry Father Anna!” the man replies, releasing his hug, “You told me this might happen so here’s what I’m to give you.”

Fumbling around under his robes, the man produces a damp sheet of paper. Gingerly picking it up, Louis reads his own sloppy handwriting on the paper.

I’m going to hate this but I accidentally roped these idiots along on our little religious escapade. I don’t know if I will remember any of this but they might be useful. Hopefully by the time I’ve sobered up I’ve finished what I was going to write. In a moment of lucidity I am writing this to me because I can’t let myself lose the only people who have actually believed in our holy mission. I’ve given this note to Kevin Jones, the lanky one with the weird teeth is John Hines, Frank Miller is the redhead, and Brian Perkins is the bigger one.

Don’t fuck this up,
Louis Anna

Louis glanced up at the expectant face of the man, Kevin Jones, and sighed.

“What have I gotten myself into this time?”


"How the hell have y'all fools not finished fifty fundraising flyers yet! Y'ain't even done ten!"

Louis Anna is practically foaming at the mouth. The First Southern Fifth Church of Texas huddles in a small mobile home, the smell of sweat and permanent marker floating through the air. The mobile home has been retrofitted into a small base of operations, with a hand-drawn starfish hung up on the wall. Symbols similar to an ampersand with five points sticking out of it had been carved into an excessive amount of space on the walls.

"Please be forgivin' us sir, but most of us don't gotta write all too much. And these symbols are hard to draw." Brother Hines mumbled. Crumpled up beside him are dozens of crumpled up pieces of paper.

"How could you not be gettin' that symbol memorized yet? You can't even look around this room without seeing it."

“These hicks are too illiterate to write the same few things over and over again.” Louis thinks to himself. "How am I supposed to lead them?"

"Alright, fine, let's take a break to read. If y'all want to become Fifthists you gotta learn how to write and read for yourself." A general cheer arose from the congregation. All eyes turned to Father Anna as he retrieved his annotated copy of Seventeen Red Tales. "The fruits of my days labor are right here in this book. I got somethin' new for you, my ex-ca-loosive 18th tale."

A murmur overtakes the congregation as Father Anna retrieves his transcript from the back of the book. "SHUT YER TRAPHOLES!" Brother Perkins yells to the congregation. "We gotta listen to Father Anna!"

"Thank you Brother Taylor. Now, listen up, I don't want none of y'all missin' this." Louis Anna boomed, the sound echoing through the small mobile home. "For Five nights I slept, for Five nights I dreamed,

and for Five nights I wept. Waiting for a sign, a dream, a feeling. In my dreams, I waited for anything that would prove my convictions, but nothing came in Fives. When I dreamed, it was meaningless, lacking in imagery, cohesion, and feeling. When I awoke, I felt no compulsion to write, sing, or preach. My faith was shaken. "Give me the signs my brethren have received!" I cried to the heavens, to no avail. I reread, and reread the Seventeen Red Tales, but I felt nothing. Could I have been wrong all along?

No.

In my despair, I slipped back into my bottle and snow, and in my darkest hour I was spoken to. Five bottles and I wanted no more. Five lines, and I stopped. It was then when I realized my purpose. It wasn't I who was to be taken to World 390, but I was to lead others to it.

My father taught me of The Fifth Church and his congregation, though he was called, leaving me behind. I realize now that I am to bring others to Georgia, to join the congregation and expand the will of the Starfish. If I will not be shown in my dreams, then I will show myself, making myself a vessel of the will of the Five. While my pen is guided, my steps will be my own to take.

Who will join me on this journey?

Father Anna stopped speaking and glanced up from his paper. The four other men gaze blankly up at Louis. Brother Jones was the first to recover, opening his mouth and saying,

"So, uhhh, when are we leaving?"

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