You’ll notice upon reading these entries that “men of the cloth” is a bit of a play on words. Enjoy!
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by Martin Reaves
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
The priest does not seem fazed with my confession…he should be terrified, and perhaps he is. But I cannot see his face. I sense movement from behind the screen, a shift of garments, a rattle of beads. Then, the simple lyrics I crave and dread; the easy release of guilt I had thought could never be mine.
Around me, the confessional is silent, holding its breath, without judgment, also without pity. As simple as death, it is done.
I leave the gloom of absolution to a world just awakening. Through the large oaken cathedral doors and onto the street, to a rising sun—a vision my eyes have not beheld in a score of centuries. I turn my face to the fiery orb with more than a little trepidation, but know only sweet warmth. A child passes and nods, smiles, does not cringe away. In a shop window I see—can that be me?—my reflection. Accept for my dress, I have not changed. I walk amongst the living, my myriad sins forgiven by a finite man, the curse lifted.
Hunger stirs within me. Ahead, all chrome and vinyl Americana, a diner beckons. Now blessed, might food once again pass my lips? Saliva drips as I imagine the long-forgotten tang of frying meat. Two steps through the diner door and the reality of that tang sends nausea roiling through my body.
I stagger back onto the street, into the soft cushion of a body wrapped in sweet scent, delicious melancholy fragrance, a perfume of…
No. I have been absolved, I am under the divine Father, Hail Mary, full of grace, I am free of my curse.
The woman apologizes for stumbling into me, though it was I who did the stumbling. I gaze into her eyes, liquid, living, and below those eyes to her cheeks, thriving with a network of capillaries carrying the sweet ambrosia, the simple elixir that will slake my thirst.
My mouth opens of its own accord as my tongue registers the new fact…my canines rest flat and harmless in my mouth, they have not prepared the way for nourishment, they have betrayed my thirst.
The woman’s soft fingers touch my wrist, her small voice concerned for my welfare. Am I okay? The blood scent washes over me with her breath, her pulse pounds like thunder through her fingertips to my skin.
Other passersby stop, bathing me, suffocating me in the glorious aroma of unseen ruby liquid, and they are all concerned for the well-being of a monster, a benign monster, a monster no longer a danger to the living.
A blessed monster cursed to starve for eternity.
Quick note: the following entry is tongue-in-cheek. Consider this me activating your sarcasm detector. Enjoy!
by Raymond Alexander
Word count: 427
The leader of the Tartanistas stood in the hall of the embassy with everything he ever wanted. His fellow beings had found the courage to vote in favour of separation from the evil Inglanders, and freedom was now theirs. The celebrations earlier in the day had been magnificent.
He stood in the hall, arms raised, glancing his wide eyes over his assets. He had done it.
A representative of the Inglander High Cabinet was led into the building and shuffled his way through the many lumbering objects cluttering the great embassy hall. He approached the grinning Tartanista leader.
“Happy Independence Day, my friend. I am the head of the Separation Liaison Committee.”
“Ah, it truly is a blessed day, my friend! My people and I will remember this day until the end of eternity!”
“I’m sure they will,” said the Inglander, who by now had wandered to the entertainment monitor in the corner and switched it off.
“What are you doing?”
“There will be no need for these in your land now. All broadcasters are owned by us.”
The Tartanista leader looked on bewildered as the Inglander waved his telepipe, and the monitor disappeared with a sharp flash.
“In fact,” said the representative, “You won’t be needing these either.”
The Inglander’s telepipe swung into action again, whooshing in the air and causing the sudden vanishing of more objects. The honorary Security Council chair – gone. The much-loved border passes – gone. The giant battle tank at the end of the hall – vamooshed.
“Thanks to your ‘freedom’, the people of this land can no longer afford free healthcare for your sick, free education for your young, or free teleport rights for your elderly. That’s just the way it is.”
A shudder coarsed through the Tartanista’s body as he finally lowered his arms. He stood, paralysed, as the Inglander took everything he didn’t need.
“All I require now are the keys for your submarine outside.”
“We didn’t really want to keep that anyway,” the Tartanista huffed.
The Inglander sauntered to the door and turned his head back as he opened it.
“Oh and by the way, this building is also ours. Well, ninety-two percent ours. Please find your new office in the smoking room out back. You’ll need to acquire your own desk and chair, of course. Maybe you can barter with some sheep, perhaps. You won’t be using our currency here.
“Happy Independence Day, friend.”
The representative was gone.
The leader of the Tartanistas sank to his knees and wailed.
“Curse my people for voting yes!”
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Love and Curses.
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