posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 12:26 AM
The abbey was usually a quiet place, serene, somewhere one could contemplate deeply and find God. The rhythms of life had continued here for as long
as everyone could remember.
Of course, to maintain that peace, silence was essential. Many times a novice would knock over a cup or bump into someone and forgetting, say
"sorry" in hushed tones, only to be "shusshed" by multiple elders. It was a source of gentle humour amongst the initiates who smiled at each
other, remembering the foolishness of their own youth.
There was a gentleness of social interactions.One would nod to another, who would smile and nod back, as they went about their individual duties, or
one would write a note and it would be accepted by its recipient in silence.
There were rosters and lists posted on the common dining room walls, of course, but there was hardly ever an absence of willing workers.
But something was changing and it had begun in the least likely person.
Father Williams was an older monk, who shuffled around, helping out where he could, but his advancing years had put limits on his endurance. As the
years went on, he had developed tremors in his hands that the old are sometimes afflicted with. This excused him from scribal duties and, quite
frankly, I believe it was hastening his decline, robbing him of a purpose in life.
So, when an opportunity arose for him to go into the Castle Houska to retrieve items and books for the abbey from the estate of its previous owner, he
had jumped at the chance.
There had always been dark rumours about that castle. Some said it was haunted, some said it was built around a bottomless pit where demonic creatures
arose and men were driven mad. Of course, this is all superstitious poppycock, fanciful tales of a fearful uneducated peasantry.
Apparently, the castle was a treasure trove of historical knick-knacks and old books which would either be donated to museums or be restored and sold.
They found an entire apothecary of old cures and chemicals, in glass stoppered flasks and jars, some dating back hundreds of years. Though many still
had their original labels, a few were missing or dislodged so we had to test them to find out their contents.
As I had a university degree in the Physical Sciences, I had become the default 'source of all knowledge' to the abbey. So I was seconded into
identifying and labelling and even writing up the histories of the old cures.
For this I was allowed access to the abbey's one computer in the 'telephone room'. This was a little conservatory at ground level towards the road,
where they could pass a telephone wire through the wall without disrupting the ancient stonework. I attacked the job at hand with relish as I was
missing the outside world a bit and the Internet opened up vistas of knowledge, albeit at some delay over the antiquated modem and similarly aged
Father Williams had also returned from his forage with several potted Chrysanthemums of a beautiful deep copper-red colour. He kept them close and
indicated that he wanted to replant them and care for them. This seemed entirely appropriate for giving him something to do and so I organised for
some novices to help him dig the garden and replant the flowers.
One evening, I noticed a light in the garden after sundown. We had a number of battery powered torches in the cupboard adjacent to the power
switchboard and one had already been removed from the shelf. I took the torch and quietly ventured into the dark garden.
There I came upon the strange sight of Father Williams dancing spastically around his plot of Chrysanthemums. He was making a wordless mumbling song
and appeared quite out of breath, puffing and panting between the notes of his song.
Of course, I had immediately extinguished my torch and I do not believe he knew I was there.
After a moment, he stopped to catch his breath and plucked several petals from the flowers, putting them in his mouth and chewing. Then he picked up
the torch and bowed and saluted the flowers and began back towards me and the house.
I ducked back off the path behind the leaves of a vine that overhangs a decorative metal filigree arch and watched him closely as he passed by. His
eyes were wet with tears and his breath misted and he sniffled several times in the cold night air.
When he had gone, I examined the flower bed but did not notice anything strange except for the height that its soil was piled up to. It was like some
sort of mesa of soil with a flat area for plants on top. Actually quite unusual, well not really as high as a real mesa, but that sort of shape
I went back inside and returned the torch to the cupboard. His torch had also been returned and there was no sign of him, so I put it down to a
strange act of dementia.
I did search on the computer for possible side effects of eating Chrysanthemum petals but it appeared that it was a traditional remedy for prostate
cancer, angina, high blood pressure and type II diabetes, so I decided it was not a concern.
It was soon noticed that Father Williams had begun lapsing into fugue states and could not be aroused for several minutes, even when lightly shaken. I
examined him during such a fugue state and his breathing and heart rate seemed normal. I did notice an orange staining around his lips and fingers and
supposed that it must be from the flower petals. His eyes were dilated but responsive to light as I faced him towards the windows.
Abruptly a look of confusion came over him and he began to cry, as he woke from his dream state. I heard him say "I miss her so, I miss her".
It was almost a week before we found the body of that novice buried beneath the Chrysanthemums with his neck broken and with no external marks on his
It is my opinion that Father Williams could not have killed the novice, he did not have the strength to break his neck, could not have dug the grave
and could not have buried the body.
There was silence in the court. The prosecutor drew a slow breath, "Who do you think killed the novice, Ryan?"
He was eating the flowers. Perhaps they had psychotropic effects?
"Ryan, Father Williams is not on trial here", said the prosecutor.