Written for the Santarium Magazine weekly 500-word flash competition on Google+, which it won by a tie-breaking vote!. The only prompt for the competition was the word 'Moon'.
He marvels at the moonlight, cold, blue-silver, as it washes over the congregation below him. The Reverend sways drunkenly, leaning out to look down upon his flock as they swarm around the cathedral's mighty buttress. The half-full bottle of wine he grasps, clinks loudly against the stonework, drawing a groan of unearthly longing from below. A vile stink pushes him back from the edge. Instead, he sits on the lead roof and stares at the moon, so dead, so barren and yet so beautiful.
The cathedral had never been so full, his congregation swelled as fear of the contagion spread. When medicine and science failed to explain, when the authorities, police and army had failed to stop the spread, the people turned to faith, to him. The irony was, this apocalypse had caused him to lose his own.
Revelations, that's all they wanted to hear. Now he finally had the audience he had yearned for, how could he refuse?
"The sea gave up the dead who were in it," his voice echoed over those below him, the pews filled to overflowing, "and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them."
Shouts broke through his words, a commotion near the back. At first, from his elevated position in the pulpit, he thought the old lady was having a seizure or fit. Then he saw her rise up, those unfortunate to be nearby reeling back in horror. He saw the blood running down her chin, her face locked in a lunatic grimace and her hands hooked into claws as she reached for those around her. The plague had found them, even in the house of the Lord, it had found them.
His flock, fled. Pews fell, bodies tumbled, many were crushed in the stampede.
In their time of need, he abandoned them and escaped through the vestry door. It's heavy oak planks and iron bolts would hold back an invasion but they couldn't stop the screams, the fists banging with urgency and desperation.
As the screams intensified, the knocking faltered and stopped.
He'd watched the city die from the cathedral roof. At first the riots and sirens, then the fires, conflagrations that spread and polluted the sky with black smoke, bringing ash rain and blotting out the sun. A vision of hell.
As days passed, his congregation returned. The dead raised their faces up to him with longing as he delivered sermons of hellfire and damnation. They were beyond that.
The moon; so barren, so beautiful, so dead. Was that such a terrible thing?
The wine bottle is empty, he casts it away, over the edge, and hears it shatter, probably on the upturned face of one of his flock below.
He moves to the edge, vertigo turns the wine in his belly to vinegar. A sigh moves through his congregation, a low growl of hunger and need. How can he deny them?
He steps forward. It feels like flying.
YOU ARE READING
This is a collection of flash fiction. Each chapter is a complete story and each story is less than one thousand words in length. Genres are science-fiction, fantasy and horror.