For the third morning in a row, Father Barnard Saunders woke up where he had fallen asleep – on his knees by his little bed, his back bent over the mattress, his head buried in his arms. The demons had come in the night, again, and again, and again, until the only rest he could find was in prayer. As he wiped the sleep from his dark-rimmed eyes, he could still feel the tingle of the devil’s storm that had surrounded and attacked him the day of the village christening.
He looked down at his hands. A bit of the soot from the bones he’d found on the altar had worked its way under his fingernails. He swore and immediately blessed himself in penance. With his hands flat on the hard mattress, he pushed himself to standing and stretched his tired muscles. A chilling breeze filtered through the still cracked window. He would have to find that handyman and put him to work.
Father Barnard spent the next hour in the tub, scrubbing the ash, dirt and pain out of his body, and carefully dressing in his cassock. He slipped down to the kitchen and snatched a warm muffin from under the beguiling and yet reproaching eyes of the studious Sr. Agatha, and headed for the crypt, leaving a trail of crumbs behind him.
He reluctantly trudged through the rain soaked ground to the village and into the chemist’s shop. The man either wasn’t home or was, perhaps, sleeping. The priest didn’t care. He plopped the bag down on the bench, found some paper and a quill, and left this note. “These bones are cursed. Destroy them. Completely. Grind them to dust and see they never attack me again! I shall see you are compensated!” He turned and fled back to the abbey.