"9-1-1. What's your emergency?"
A frantic voice carried over the line. "This is Father Francis Michaels of Saint Benedicts Parish. I'm under attack! Help!"
"Sir, please remain calm. Police are on their way."
"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry... Please forgive me!" An agonizing wail ended the recording as I raced to the parish.
Minutes later, I burst through the front doors, drawing my gun in defense. "Police! Put your weapon down!" A metallic clunk echoed through the Nave, and the emergency exit door slammed shut, filling the sanctuary with an eerie silence.
I eased forward toward the grisly scene in the Chancel. Reaching the body, I discovered Father Michaels lying splayed on his back with an axe buried in his chest. His robes were torn, and a Bible lay open next to him with Deuteronomy 22:25 highlighted.
I stared at the Bible in awful recognition. It was the same Bible given to youth at their Confirmation. Donning a pair of gloves, I documented the scene before lifting the Bible from the muck and reading the passage aloud: "But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die."
Kneeling next to the corpse, I closed the priest's eyes and crossed myself. "Who would do this to you, and why?" Placing the bloody Bible in an evidence bag, I followed the killer's footprints through the back door to the prayer garden. The bloody footprints disappeared in the grass, leaving no further sign of the murderer.
Throughout the neighborhood, children scurried from home to home dressed in their favorite costumes. "Trick or treat!" As the children left the neighbor's house, I knocked on the door in search of information.
A nun answered the door wearing a wide grin. "Happy Halloween!" She stopped short at my appearance, all signs of amusement disappearing from her face. "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were one of the neighborhood children. What can I do for you, officer?"
"I'm sorry, sister, but I'm investigating a murder at Saint Benedict's Parish." I flashed my badge to prove my identity. "I'm Detective Chenoa Downing. Have you seen anything unusual or suspicious recently? Any information could be useful."
The neighbor squinted at my badge and shook her head, removing her wimple. "I'm sorry, Officer. I'm not a nun. This is my Halloween costume. I haven't seen anything unusual, though. Children have been ringing my doorbell for the last hour, asking for candy. What's happened at the parish?"
I took a deep breath, weighing my response with caution. "I'm investigating a murder at the parish. Any information you can provide may be useful in catching the killer."
To my surprise, the neighbor burst into laughter. "Oh, my! A murder, you say? I hope someone finally killed that old bastard! I haven't been to confession since he raped me!"
A knot formed in the pit of my stomach. "Wait a minute...Father Michaels raped you during a confession?"
The neighbor spat on the ground. "Father... He loved the title but used his position to satisfy his own perverse pleasures. Anytime someone accused him of immorality, he denied it, and the accuser was shunned. I hope the bastard burns in Hell!"
"I'm so sorry!" I reached out to comfort the woman, but she jerked away.
"I don't want your pity. I just want your confirmation that he's dead!"
I sighed and nodded my head. "Yes, he's dead."
"Well, good riddance! I don't know who murdered the bastard, but if I did, I wouldn't tell you. Whoever did it should get a medal and sainthood!" Before I could question the neighbor further, she slammed the door in my face.