Bell, Book and Candle. The aftermath of an event that took place in Chapter Twenty-four of book one of “The King’s Jew”.

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I have been writing ‘modern’ Flash Fiction for quite some time. Flash Fiction is usually less than one thousand words and the subject matter comes from a given ‘prompt’. I have taken some of these works and ‘translated / transported’ them to Thirteenth century England – the setting for “The King’s Jew” trilogy – only book one is available at the moment and can be viewed here http://bit.ly/1yop3AK

London. December twenty-seventh, 1307.

It was the noise that disturbed him. Chanting, shouting, all in unison yet the words were indistinct to his tired brain.

It had been another cold night and sleep was a drug he seldom used nowadays.

Tiredness was part of his life; that and the waiting. But he couldn’t quite remember what he was waiting for.

Still the noise surrounded him, rising to a cacophony. Christ’s bones! What was it all about?

One eye opened slowly. The other joined its neighbour then closed tight shut as the dim light from a horn lantern sought entry. He didn’t like light. It disorientated him. Better to lie still and quiet. Wait for peaceful normality to return. No such luck!

Struggling to rise he got first to his knees then with a wide-mouthed sigh rose on unsteady legs, one arm supporting him against the rough wall of his chamber and looked around.

His space was full of people, strange people murmuring foreign-tongued words whose meaning eluded him. Latin?

“Go away. Leave me alone,” he screamed. “This is my place, not yours. Leave me be!”

Nobody listened, nobody heard. They carried on regardless.

A black-robed Benedictine monk, obviously the leader of this gaggle of strangers threw water in his direction; it spattered all over his unkempt lank black hair.

“Do that again and you’ll feel the edge of my blade you bastard!”

“Vade satana retro,” exhorted his tormentor.

More water came his way.

Another fool raised a book in the air and waved it in his direction.

The chants reached a crescendo; then silence. Deep, black mind-numbing silence and they all stared at him.

A bell rang and he knew he must leave this place and quick.

“There’s no peace with you idiots around. Get out of my way!”

After a while the people looked to their leader. He smiled, nodded with satisfaction and walked slowly round the room.

“We can go now,” he whispered, “the wandering spirit has departed and your cellar is free from such abominations.”

His assistant tugged urgently on his arm. “You spoke the words in the wrong order. The correct form is ‘Vade retro satana’.”

The young novitiate received a blow for his audaciousness and the priest made a mental note to have him flogged when they returned to Westminster Abbey.

***

In a cellar on the other side of town in London’s Queenhithe a ghostly figure appeared, looked round and smiled to himself, “Ah, The Queen’s Tavern. Peace at last. This is where the stranger slew me and I died unshriven. Here I will rest and continue my master’s work unhindered by the petty squabbles of Christian men.”

An hour later a comely girl had an urgent word with her master, the one-armed Eric.

“There is something evil in the cellar,” she mumbled.

Eric laughed and surveyed his crowded establishment. “Something evil you say? How can that be, girl? All the evil men in London are here at my tables.” He reached his one arm around her narrow waist and leaned in close saying, “Accompany me to the cellar now and I will teach you the meaning of ‘evil’.”

She slipped from his grasp and went about her work serving ale to the noisy throng but nothing on God’s Christian earth would ever persuade her to enter the cellar again. Not until the priests had been called anyway.

Down below the spirit slumbered and gathered his strength for the coming battle that had been foretold since the beginning of time.

Nobody heard the screams of the novice as the lash bit into his flesh.

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4 thoughts on “Bell, Book and Candle. The aftermath of an event that took place in Chapter Twenty-four of book one of “The King’s Jew”.

  1. I tried to comment here, but WordPress refused me, somehow. So, I’ll have another go.

    Yes, I do remember parts of this chapter from the Flash Fiction stories Darius writes. Darius is a great storyteller and I very much enjoy reading his Flash Fiction every week. This is a great excerpt. 🙂

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  2. Thanks Sebnem for your kind comment. What really amazed me when I thought of moving ‘modern’ Flash Fiction back 800 years was this – Those people from all that time ago are exactly the same as us. Anything we write nowadays is immediately valid for the medieval period. Example – for a car – think horse. For a tower block – think castle. For the poor – think peasant. For the violent – think outlaw. The ideas are the same, It’s only the technology that’s changed. I think I’ll turn this exercise in to an eBook of Medieval Shorts.

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  3. Ah, great idea, Darius. I’m sure it will be a very interesting project. Human nature doesn’t change much despite the progress of ‘civilization’. Hence, all the stories from the Greek tragedies are still valid, as well as those of the fairy tales. 🙂

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  4. Ah the Greek tragedies – high theatre at its best.

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