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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
How many times as a child did your mum and dad take you to places you found very dull? Perhaps it was just as well you held their hands. Old ruins hold secrets.

Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Submitted: June 09, 2019





Matilda trailed along behind her parents through the gardens of the old abbey. It was a Sunday afternoon, and very sultry. She had been promised ice cream in the National Trust tea room at the end of the walk so long as she didn't complain. Her parents were always true to their words. At ten years old she knew any whinging would result in no cold drinks, cake or ice cream. Letting them indulge their passion for yet more plants and old stones would get it over quickly and she would be rewarded in good time.

The cloisters of the old building were largely intact and gave a cool retreat from an afternoon that was threatening to turn to thunderstorms. Matilda listened as her father read out a piece about the history of the abbey, how monks had worked and worshipped there for hundreds of years before Henry VIII had ruined the place and taken all the land and money. As they passed a window that looked into the remains of an old cell Matilda saw as clear as day, a monk at his lectern, working on a book. He held a quill pen in his hand and was bent over intent on his labours.

“Look Dad” she called and pulled on her fathers hand “There's one of the re-enactors in there”.

By the time her father had turned round the monk and his equipment had gone. Matilda looked genuinely confused and her father sensed it had not been a lie or a prank as such. His daughter was prone to have a vivid imagination and had been convinced before that things were there, that nobody else could see.

“It must have been a trick of the light love” he said and gripped her little hand, smiling his benevolent smile that said to her, he kind of believed her. “Just a few more minutes and we can get to that tea room. Honeycomb ice cream today or chocolate? We can mix and match if you like?”

Matilda felt a little frustrated but knew from experience that insisting and making a scene would not convince him of the reality of the monk. When she peered through the stone archway again he was back. Hard at work and from the angle she was at now she could see the ornate and beautiful page of illuminated writing he was working on. She slipped her hand out of her fathers grip and went closer. The monk looked up and the face of a kindly looking old gentleman smiled at her. She pulled herself up on to the stone sill and jumped into the room with him.

“Are you a re-enactor?” she asked.

“Well I suppose I am in a way. I'm Brother Gabriel. Would you like to see what I'm doing?”

Matilda nodded and went closer to the old man. She could see the work he was doing. It was exquisite. The page was adorned with images of angels and beasts worked in the finest lines and coloured with the brightest of pigments. Gold and blue shone out from the vellum, the part still to finish a blank yellow tinted background.

“How long has it taken you to do this?” asked the girl.

“Many, many hours and the work is slower than it used to be . My eyes aren't what they were when I was a young man and my hand shakes”.

“Why do you keep doing it then?” Matilda enquired.

“God demands it of me. He made me a literate man and gave me some talent with drawing and painting so it is my duty to use those gifts to spread his word”.

“You could have a break. We are going to the tea room. You could have a cup of tea and rest your eyes for while. We are getting ice cream. Are monks allowed ice cream?”.

“Why yes my child we are. It's not all bad taking holy orders. I know a short cut to the tea room. Come with me. Your parents must be nearly there already”.

Matilda looked hesitant, but her mum and dad had told her that monks were good people and kind. She couldn't envisage that she would come to any harm. She took the old man's hand. It felt as dry as the animal skin he had been writing on.

Matilda's father turned round and couldn't see his little girl anywhere. A terrible panic started to rise inside him and he called out to his wife, stood only ten feet away,

“Is Matilda with you?”.

The panic now spread to the two of them. Her mother trying to use reason said she would head for the tea room, he must track back along the cloister and any guides they saw along the way they must alert to the fact that their ten year old daughter had wandered off. She can't have gone far. She might have just got separated in the crowd and be looking for them too.

Matilda was enjoying her walk with her new found friend. The corridors in the monastery were cool and dim. She could hear the most wonderful music coming from another room.

“That's the chapel. Some of my friends are practising their singing in there. Would you like to listen?”

“Just for a moment. Mum and dad will be worried if I am gone for too long.”

The chapel was still intact and sunlight was hitting the stain glass, creating rainbows across the floor. This and the chanting was quite the most lovely thing Matilda had seen that afternoon. She watched the dancing light and the chanting in her ears made her feel quite sleepy. She felt herself fall backwards into the arms of her friend the monk.

Out in the sunshine the panic and the blaming were in full swing. The parents were dissecting the final moments that they had seen their daughter and each blamed the other for not being more vigilant. The manager was trying to reassure the parents that there was every chance Matilda would be just sitting behind a wall and they hadn't seen her. It happened from time to time. She couldn't come to any harm here. He started to usher them through to the tea rooms, the age old standby of a pot of tea, on the house, while they waited for news, was offered. He felt sure it would be no time at all before the family was reunited. They walked through the door of the tea room to find Matilda already there. She sat calmly waiting with her legs swinging under the chair.

“Mum, Dad! I got lost and thought if I came in here you would find me eventually. I wasn't watching you and took a wrong turn in the ruins. I saw a sign for here and it seemed to make more sense than running about looking for you. Will I still get some ice cream?”

The look of relief on the parents faces told her she would. In fact her father said she could have some every day for the rest of the week, they were that relieved to see their only child again.

Brother Gabriel congratulated himself on his new choice of host. This body of a young girl was pain free and had 20:20 vision. She had a keen intellect that he could make good use of and in all possibility he could use it for the next 70 or more years. Yes, little Matilda would do very nicely. He would be able to continue his work and his studies very effectively. The gifts that the Lord had given him would be put to good use once more now he had discarded the old man's body that had trapped him for the past few decades. The ice cream arrived. He had never tasted honeycomb ice cream before and he found it delightful.



© Copyright 2019 Petula Mitchell . All rights reserved.

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