Friday Fictioneers – Murder in the Cathedral

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

I have to confess that I’m not quite sure where today’s story came from. It’s an emotional response to the prompt.

FF - Murder in the Cathedral 190710

Murder in the cathedral

On to the dead go all estates,

Panting, I crouch, hidden behind the High Altar.

Princes, prelates, and potentates,

The Dean manages to wrest a sword from the grasp of one of the murderers; blades clash. A jet of blood, bubbling with his mortal scream, sprays over the altar, while the assassins’ ring-leader bays in triumph. They skewer the Archbishop as he babbles prayers, shrinking into his Cathedra.

Both rich and poor of all degree;

Will they butcher me too? I’m only a monk. I have no part in great events. I tell my rosary, shuddering.

Timor mortis conturbat me.

 

Notes

The story is written interleaved with a stanza of “Lament for the Makers” by William Dunbar. I first wrote the story using the original words, but that looked a little daunting, so I turned them into present day English. The final line of the stanza is Latin, and means “The fear of death troubles me”.

Murder in the cathedral

On to the ded gois all estatis,

Panting, I crouch, hidden behind the High Altar.

Princis, prelotis, and potestatis,

The Dean manages to wrest a sword from the grasp of one of the murderers; blades clash. A jet of blood, bubbling with his mortal scream, sprays over the altar, while the assassins’ ring-leader bays in triumph. They skewer the Archbishop as he babbles prayers, shrinking into his Cathedra.

Baith riche and pur of al degre;

Will they butcher me too? I’m only a monk. I have no part in great events. I tell my rosary, shuddering.

Timor mortis conturbat me.

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50 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Murder in the Cathedral

    • Dear Susan
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s helpful to learn that the structural device I was experimenting with didn’t quite work for you. The theory is that the lines of poetry set out the thesis that death is inevitable and frightening; the prose story then makes that more vivid and immediate. Or, you could view it the other way round. The prose story tells of a medieval murder in a cathedral, to which the lines of the poem add a commentary. The two should work together to make the whole experience more involving – I obviously have more work to do!
      So, this sort of constructive criticism is very helpful, and thank you very much for it!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Michael
      Thank you for reading, and for your very kind comment. You’re right about the importance of experimenting, and it’s sweet of you to give me such encouragement.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear James
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, the two big powers in the land were church and monarch and, like all controlling powers, they struggled constantly for supremacy.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and for your encouraging comment. I agree that it’s good to try new techniques. I’m a bit timid about actually doing it though!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Keith
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comment. I’d like to hope that the monk survived, and I think perhaps he did. The murderers were more interested in making their escape than in searching for possible witnesses.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Interweaving lines of a poem or song with the story is something I have done a few times with, I think, some success.
    I think this works for you too, although I confess that the relevance to the prompt was beyond me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear CE
      Thank you for reading and commenting. The relevance of the story to the prompt is emotional. The prompt looked desolate, with the foreground almost devoid of people and a portable toilet prominent. The slogan on the “art-work” translates as “plugged into your event” which seemed like rather bitter sarcasm. The whole thing gave me a feeling of desecration.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Plaridel
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. You’re right; the story was inspired by Becket’s martyrdom in Canterbury cathedral. As I’m sure you know, though, it’s not by any means a re-telling of that story; it’s not historical fiction!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m taking this as King Henry VIII sending his soldiers to take over the property of the Catholic Church. From what I’ve read it was very brutal. I’m not sure but that’s what it sounds like to me. Well written, Penny. 🙂 —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It could well be a story about Henry VIII’s seizure of church assets. The poem was written somewhat earlier than that, but the sentiments expressed are just as valid. In fact, if you live in the Yemen, or are a member of a persecuted minority, the verse is as valid today as it was then.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for reading and for your kind – and thoughtful – comments. You are right of course. The last line of the stanza is Latin; the other three lines are middle English or rather, to be more precise, middle English/Scottish.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

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