Read (1995) The Oath Online

Authors: Frank Peretti

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(1995) The Oath

BOOK: (1995) The Oath
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FRANK PERETTI

Other Books By Frank Peretti

Piercing the Darkness

This Present Darkness

The Visitation

Hangman’s Curse (Veritas Project #1)

Nightmare Academy (Veritas Project #2)

Monster

© 1995, 2003 by Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Peretti, Frank
  The oath / Frank Peretti.
  p. cm.
ISBN 978-1-59554-045-4 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-59554-119-2 (Trade Paper)
1. Dragons—Fiction. I. Title.
ps3566.e691317027 1995
813'.54—dc20 95–14508

Printed in the United States of America
08 09 10 11 12 QW 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3

To Dan, Mike, Chaz, & Dave,

You know what? It’s been great doing
things that make sense—basically. Moses only had
two guys to hold up his arms—I’ve had four.
Thanks, guys.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

So much in today’s world is disposable. From fast food to fast news. Even more so with our entertainment options.

People can’t wait to see the “can’t miss” movie—then forget it by the next day. Music that’s hot one week is outdated the next. The
New York Times
best-selling novel is soon on the bookstore’s discount table at 80 percent off collecting dust.

When a novel is being read and celebrated ten years after its release, you know it is unique.
The Oath
is such a novel.

First published in 1995,
The Oath
was a major international publishing event from day one. In fact, it made the bestseller list prior to its release through an innovative pre-sale campaign in Christian bookstores across the nation. Countless readers were riveted by the story of a deep secret that was destroying a small mining town. Throw in an invisible enemy with an unquenchable desire to devour all within its path and sin so real that it turns people’s hearts an oozing black—and you can see why the story would keep people turning pages long into the night. But
The Oath
is far more than just a fast-paced adventure. The story skillfully shows the devastating power of sin in a manner most readers have never seen before. Sin has become a word that our culture rarely uses anymore . . . a word to avoid as superstitious or outdated . . . something we’re far too sophisticated to really believe in. Frank Peretti’s story offers another perspective. Sin is real. Sin will find you. Hunt you. Destroy you. Sin is something to run from and avoid at all costs. That’s a core theme of this supernatural thriller . . . and a core truth according to Scripture.

Now, ten years—and more than a million copies—later,
The Oath
continues to immerse readers with its heart-pounding ride and more twists and turns than a dozen other novels combined.

If you’ve never read this classic, you’re in for an incredible experience. If you’re already a fan of this story, I trust you’ll savor this special hardcover 10
th
anniversary edition. For the first time, this anniversary edition includes an exclusive author interview where Frank Peretti reveals fresh new insights about his classic tale.

Enjoy the read.

— PUBLISHER, THOMAS NELSON FICTION

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY- ONE

TWENTY- TWO

EPILOGUE

THE OATH AN INTERVIEW WITH FRANK PERETTI

INTRODUCTION

S
IN IS THE MONSTER
we love to deny.

It can stalk us, bite a slice out of our lives, return again and bite again, and even as we bleed and hobble, we prefer to believe nothing has happened. That makes sin the perfect monster, a man-eater that blinds and numbs its victims, convincing them that nothing is wrong and there is no need to flee, and then consumes them at its leisure.

We’ve all been assailed by this beast, sometimes face-to-face, but all too often from a direction we aren’t prepared to defend, and it’s only in recognizing the beast for what it is that we can hope to escape at all. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven and empowered to overcome sin, but opening the door and tossing the beast kitchen scraps of our character is no way to drive it off. Toying with an animal that is actually toying with us is a sure way to lose part of ourselves.

I was watching it happen to some friends of mine the year I began writing
The Oath
. As the rest of us just kept on praising the Lord, loving one another, smiling, and trying not to be judgmental, some really good people walked stupidly, blindly into the jaws of sin. The tooth marks still show today, in ruined marriages and soiled ministries. The rest of us should have said something.

In
The Oath
, I tried to say something through a vicious drama. I gave sin a form, an identifiable embodiment hellbent to consume the hero. I chose an obscure, remote setting because sin shies from examination just as vermin flee from the light, and in this place, there are no rules. Denial is easy, and sin is protected. The consequences, of course, play out just as they do in so many real lives: we’ve all seen friends, relatives, and fellow believers dragged out the door by a pet that got too big to control. Some have managed to come back, bleeding and bruised, hopefully healing and wiser. Some have never come back at all. And some of
us
have been there.

The Oath
is a story we’ve all had a part in, to one degree or another. And years later, it still cries out the same warning God gave Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door, and it wants you, but you must overcome it.”

— FRANK PERETTI

Twenty-seven people died that I know of, and I can only guess that the others fled with whatever they could carry away. I could hear the screams and the shooting all night long, and I dared not venture out.

The Reverend DuBois was left hanging in Hyde Hall until this afternoon. I informed Ben and the others that I would not attend the signing of the Charter until the body was removed, so Ben ordered him cut down, taken out, and buried with the others.

By late afternoon, the men who remained in Hyde River were back in the mines as if nothing had happened, and I also attended to my business. After nightfall, we gathered in Hyde Hall under cover of darkness and signed the Charter. With the signing of our names, we took the oath of silence, so I cannot speak of these things, but only write them secretly.

The trouble is over, but I am no happier. I am afraid of what we have done. I am afraid of tomorrow.

From the diary of Holly Ann Mayfield July 19, 1882

ONE

THE KILLING

S
HE RAN
, tree limbs and brambles scratching, grabbing, tripping, and slapping her as if they were bony hands, reaching for her out of the darkness. The mountainside dropped steeply, and she ran pell-mell, her feet unsure on pine needles and loose stones. She beat at the limbs with flailing arms, looking for the trail, falling over logs, getting up and darting to the left, then the right. A fallen limb caught her ankle, and she fell again. Where was the trail?

Blood. She reeked of it. It was hot and sticky between her fingers. It had soaked through her shirt and splattered on her khaki pants so her clothes clung to her. In her right hand she held a hunting knife in an iron grip, unaware that the tip of the blade was broken off.

She had to make it out of these hills. She knew which way she and Cliff had come and where they’d parked the camper. All she had to do was backtrack.

She was crying, praying, and babbling, “Let him go, let him go. Oh, Jesus save us . . . Go away, let him go,” as she groped her way along, stooping under limbs, clambering over more logs, and pushing her way through tangled thickets in the dark.

At last she found the trail, a narrow, hoof-trodden route of dirt and stone descending steeply along the hillside, switch-backing through the tall firs and pines. She followed it carefully, not wanting to get lost again.

“Oh, Jesus,” she said. “Oh, Jesus, help me . . .”

HAROLD
BLY
had no reputation for mercy and no qualms about dragging his whimpering, pleading wife out of the house, through the front yard, and into the street where he tossed her away with as much respect as he would have given a plastic bag filled with garbage. Maggie Bly tumbled to the street with a yelp, bloodying her palms and elbow on the rough asphalt. Hurt and afraid, she righted herself and sat there, a blubbery, blue-jeaned mess, her tousled blonde hair hanging over her eyes. With the back of her hand, she swept her hair aside and saw her enraged husband walking away from her, a silhouette against the porch light that formed a glaring, dancing streak through her tears.

“Harold!” she cried.

Harold Bly, a tall, barrel-chested man, turned, one foot planted on the top porch step, and deigned to look upon his wife one more time. There was no pity in his eyes. In his mid-forties and twenty years her senior, he was and had always been a boss man who did not take kindly to betrayals. He’d enjoyed throwing her into the middle of the street. In fact, he wished she would get up so he could do it again. “It’s all over, Maggie,” he said with a slight shake of his head. “It’s a done deal.”

Her eyes widened in terror. Gasping and whimpering, she struggled to her feet, then ran to him. “Harold, please . . . don’t. I’m sorry, Harold. I’m sorry.”

“You think you can go two-timing on me and then just say you’re sorry?” he shouted, then pushed her down the porch steps with such strength that she fell again, letting out a cry the neighbors could hear.

“Harold, please don’t make me go. Please!”

“Too late, Maggie,” he said with a wave of his hand as if passing sentence on her. “It’s only a matter of time now, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Now you’d better get out of here, and I mean get way out of here.” He turned to go inside, then added, “I don’t want you around me when it happens. Nobody does.”

“But where can I go?” she cried.

“Well, you should’ve thought of that a lot sooner.”

Across the narrow street a lace curtain was pulled ever so slightly open, and the wife of a mining company foreman watched the drama while her children watched cartoons on a satellite channel. Two doors down and opposite the Blys’ large, brick home, a miner and his wife cracked open their front door and listened together.

“Harold,” they could hear Maggie almost screaming, “don’t leave me out here!”

He was just opening the front door, but he turned once more to stab at her with his finger. “You stay away from me, Maggie! You come near here, and I’ll kill you, you hear me?”

The front door slammed, and now Maggie was alone in the dark.

I hope she doesn’t come here, the foreman’s wife thought and quickly let go of the lace curtain. The miner and his wife looked at each other, then closed their door quietly, hoping Maggie wouldn’t hear the sound.

BOOK: (1995) The Oath
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