by Jonathan Pinnock
The crypt was cold and damp, and the stairs leading down to it were slippery. Father Pietro led the way with a burning torch.
“Don’t you have any fucking lights down here?” said the journalist.
“No,” said Father Pietro, “We feel that electricity would destroy the atmosphere that our pilgrims find so special about this place.”
“Well, as far as I’m concerned, it’s got about as much atmosphere as a dead dog’s armpit. Can we just see the relics and piss off back into the real world?”
“Patience, Mr Armitage, patience. You will have your story all in good time.” He held the torch in front of his face and smiled. “Excuse me for asking, but I can’t help feeling that you are a little–how do you say–cynical?”
“Listen, mate, I didn’t pick this story. Just my editor back in London told me his readers wanted to know more. As if a fucking miracle could happen in this day and age.”
“Ah, you sadden me. How can you be so sure?”
“Look, can we just get to the fucking relics?”
“We are there already. They are in this cabinet. See here: one of the largest fragments of the True Cross in the whole of Christendom!”
“Yeah, right. If I got together all the fragments of the True Cross that I’d seen in my time, you’d be able to build a fucking housing estate out of them.”
“Then perhaps you will be more impressed in the holy bones that cured that child?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. Just let me take a pic, and I’ll be off.”
Father Pietro lifted out part of a skeleton. “But perhaps you would first like to touch the bones of the greatest of all the disciples?” He held it out. “Go on!” he said, “Go on!”
Armitage reached out and touched the bones. Immediately a look of agony shot through his face, and he ran off screaming into the darkness, scrabbling around and trying to find the way out.
Good old Judas, thought Father Pietro. You could always rely on him to put the wind up an unbeliever.
Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedfordshire, England, and--despite having so far visited over forty other countries--has failed to relocate any further away than the next-door county of Hertfordshire. He is married with two children, several cats and a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. His work has won several prizes, shortlistings and longlistings, and he has been published in such diverse publications as Smokebox, Every Day Fiction and Necrotic Tissue. His unimaginatively-titled yet moderately interesting website may be found at http://www.jonathanpinnock.com/.