Enchanted Spark

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Congratulations to our October Winner Ellen Denton!


The Cock in the Cloister


By Ellen Denton

Father Luchesi hurried along the corridors, huffing and puffing under his corpulent bulk. Even rising from a chair normally caused his flesh to jiggle like Jello, so the nuns emerging from chapel prayers stopped to watch him with surprise and curiosity as he scuttled by them and careened around a corner.

With rasping breaths, he stopped at the Monsignor’s chambers and rapped sharply.

“Enter.”

He pushed the door open. "My Lordship, the Prophecy has come true."

Monsignor Antonelli was absorbed in paperwork at his desk and barely even glanced at his visitor.

"What prophecy is that, Father Luchesi?"

"The Devil. He's come!"

"What? What are you babbling about?" Antonelli looked up now, annoyed.

"The rooster. It's outside in the cloister gardens."

*

Antonelli and Luchesi peered surreptitiously around the stone wall leading into the gardens. Five other priests leaned over their shoulders or craned their necks to get a look. A group of nuns were huddled a short distance away, whispering and fingering rosaries. They had approached the archway where the priests gathered, but were waved back by the Monsignor.

The rooster strutted imperiously, his neck bobbing in and out or sometimes stretched low so that he could peck the ground. The soft click-click of his talons against the stone pavers sent an eerie chill into the hearts of his observers.

He suddenly flew diagonally across a patch of garden to leap at a dragonfly sunning itself on the base of a statue. The jewel-colored bug swirled off into the air, leaving the rooster at the feet of The Blessed Virgin. He squirted a grey-white blob onto the marble hem of her robe, causing a tall, balding priest watching from behind the Monsignor to gasp at the rooster’s insolent blasphemy.

Hearing him, the cock whipped his head around, fixing a furious, beady black eye directly on Father Luchesi. The horrified father lurched backward, and in doing so, stepped on the half-bare, sandaled foot of Father Elisio, who in turn let out a pained, surprised yell. He yanked away hard in an effort to pull his foot out from under Father Luchesi’s and banged into Sister Marietta, a young recent addition to their community, who was at that moment was rapidly tiptoeing forward to get a peak at the rooster. She was a small, slight girl, and was knocked to the floor by the collision with Father Elisio.

By the time priests and nuns had finished bumping into and tripping over each other and trying to help each other up, no less than three priests and two nuns were on the floor in a black-and-white tangle of arms, legs, and half-raised habits, murmuring apologies to no one in particular.

As they sorted themselves out and onto their feet again, the flap of wings and an ear-splitting screech sent the entire group scattering like billiard balls through doors of the chambered abbey.

*

In a private meeting room, a contingent of gaunt priests and a pasty-faced Mother Superior ringed a thick hardwood table. It was Monsignor Antonelli who spoke.

“There can be no doubt anymore that he is among us. The prophecy of Saint Pielo, given to me on his deathbed, was that the Devil would come in the guise of common poultry and defile a virgin. The question now is only what we are to do about this.

The others in the room crossed themselves and lowered their heads in either prayer or thought.

Antonelli rose and walked to one of the pointed, Gothic windows looking out onto the cloistered garden. What he saw made the hair on his body stand on end; the rooster was fornicating with a black-and-white speckled hen.

At that moment, there was a brisk, urgent knock on the door, and Sister Bernadine entered, her face strained with concern.

“Fathers, Sister Marietta is missing! We’ve searched everywhere for her. We found only her habit lying cast off onto the floor of her sleeping cell, and THIS upon her bed!

She held a black and white feather out at arm’s length to the now wide-eyed panel ranged around the table. A flurry of hands groped for rosaries, crosses, and pocket Bibles.

*

The abbey was located in an isolated area of the

countryside with no one nearby to go to for help. The speckled hen was obviously Sister Marietta, transformed by the devil for his own nefarious purposes, and the other priests and nuns, all themselves virgins, now feared they would undergo the same fate.

It was agreed that there was only one logical course of action – pray. And pray they did, night and day.

Meantime, the doors and windows of the abbey were barricaded in the hopes that, while in the corporeal form of a rooster, the Devil could not get in. The molested hen was protectively brought inside to safety. There was always the chance she could eventually be transformed back to her human form. She was placed in an underground storage room with Father Luchesi given the daily task of ensuring she had food and water.

On the third day of the lockdown, he had waddled his way down the steps with bowls of cracked corn and water for her, but she wasn’t there. There was no place for man or bird to hide here – this storage room hadn’t been used for years and consisted of only four bare stone walls.

Perplexed and concerned, he set down the bowls and started back up the stairs. Half-way to the top, he began wheezing and stopped to rest. He glanced up only long enough to be smashed in the face by the screeching hen. Spiked talons dug in and clawed rivulets of blood from his skin, and the pointed beak pecked viciously at his eyes, finally sending him, with flailing, windmilling arms, falling backwards down the stone steps.

He landed head first with a resounding crack, the fall breaking his neck and paralyzing him from the neck down. As he lay motionless and dying on the floor, one eye dangling from its socket, blood flowing out of his split scalp, he saw the swirling black skirt of a nun’s habit descending the steps. A moment later Sister Marietta stood beside him, bareheaded and flicking a few remaining feathers out of her hair.

Father Luchesi rolled his one, still-good eye up at her.

“Sister, quickly! Go get help! Thank God you’re back.

“Back? Back from where? I never left.”

With labored, dying breaths, he explained to the new nun the “poultry” prophecy, the defiling of a virgin, and how she had been transformed by the Devil in his guise as a rooster.

“Oh, him? Actually, he was just an ordinary, barnyard cock, who incidentally, did happen to be a virgin.”
Sister Marietta grinned cheerfully down at him and with that, turned back to the stairs. She would fly up to the ledge above the door again and wait there to ambush the next priest or nun to show up.






Ellen is a freelance writer living in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and two demonic cats who wreak havoc and hell on a regular basis (the cats, not the husband).

2 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Deb | November 02, 2013 at 12:25 PM EDT

Very well done! (I little gruesome, but appropriately so.) The photos are strong with this story.

2. Holly Jennings | November 03, 2013 at 02:42 PM EST

I agree with Debbie on this one; appropriately gruesome and excellent use of the photos. I loved the dark tone too. I wasn't expecting that from the beginning and it was a nice surprise.

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