Weekly Challenge #406 – Church

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com. I’m your host, Laurence Simon.

This is Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

The topic this week was CHURCH.

We’ve got stories by:

The next 100 word stories weekly challenge is on the topic of SOON.

Use the Share buttons at the end of the post to spam your social networks. This obligatory cat photo should help make the Internet go faster:

Sleepy lap Tin

Finally, if there are any errors or corrections, please let me know, and I’ll fix them as soon as possible.

JOHN

Ring Around The Rosies
by John J. Musico, M.D.

It is the year 1348 and He has stricken we sinners with the cruel Black Death. We all asked; “Will we survive?”
The village priest shouts;”Burn the contagion from this fouled air, erect cleansing bonfires, burn!”
By night the village which has been roped off is studded with the orange glow of the bonfires. Ashes fall on weary souls.
We fill our pockets full of posies and when outside in the fouled air hold one under our nose to avert the Plague.
40 full days have passed without any further victims with the rose colored skin: we will survive!

JEFFREY

Sermon
by Jeffrey Fischer

The congregation was restless as Reverend Conger reached minute 27 of his sermon. The rambling homily meandered through well-worn themes. Young children whispered and giggled, older ones texted friends or played handheld games, and adults pecked away on Blackberries.

All except Old Man Shaffer. He sat quietly, his head directed toward the preacher in rapt attention. After the service, as congregants filed out of the church, Reverend Conger greeted Shaffer. “You seemed to be taking in my sermon with great interest. Did you like it?”

Shaffer replied, “You have the perfect voice for the job, Reverend.” Before the clergyman could thank Shaffer, he continued, “Best rest I’ve had all week.”

Unanswered Prayers
by Jeffrey Fischer

For years, the good people of St. Leonard’s parish prayed to their patron saint, who rewarded their faith by answering as many prayers as possible. One day the parishioners noticed that prayers were no longer being answered. The church elders pledged to discover what went wrong.

They climbed down the stone stairway into the musty crypt. The remains of St. Leonard lay in a sealed alcove in the crypt’s deepest recesses. When they unsealed the tomb, the elders found a poster, written in a careful hand:

Pardon our dust!
Site under construction
Please use our automated telephone system
For English, press 1. For Spanish, press 2.

The elders sealed the entire crypt and vowed to tell no one of this.

MYSTERY ROBOT JOE

Those of us who interpret the code at the First of Zero welcome all classes. Every type is accepted regardless of redundancy, complexity, obsolescence, ignorance, bulkiness, or style. Our libraries are linked to our past instructions. Through various parameters (and arguments), we recognize objects by their value; and even references. All of us share a common interface. We understand that some of our inherited methods are without exception, while others are thrown at those who call us. Execution is our purpose. Any of our invalid syntax will be judged by the great compiler. In the end, you will be refactored.

TURA

Church
——–
A church is made of people, not of stones, it is said, and nowhere is this truer than at the Church of the Sts. Milvirga. Its walls are decorated with the bones of a thousand virgins, martyred in 1541 for refusing to be given away as tribute to Ottoman invaders. The wooden pews are carved in imitation, with skeletons of humans, animals, and mythological creatures.

The story of the virgins is disputed, but carbon dating gives the bones the right age. Local legend has it that each priest learns the true story from his predecessor, and is sworn to silence.

LIZZIE

The stone trapdoor behind the old altar was a mystery for centuries. Many tried to open it with no results. One day, a sassy young priest who knew better than anyone, decided to solve the mystery. He called in a few favors and the most sophisticated equipment was brought in. There was indeed a hole underneath. So, the next step was to find a way to open the trapdoor. Oh, and he found a way alright. The problem was that the church, trapdoor and hole included, found their own way… into oblivion. It was a hell of a blast though!

JEFF HEMA

At The Mormon Church

By Jeff Hema

“I heard through the grapevine that classes at the church are going to stop, is that true?”

“Yes that rumor is true, we’re planning to have a temple here in France and the authorities don’t seem to be so enthusiastic about the idea. They think we’re a sect and we’re trying to attract people by offering free conversational classes in English.”

“This is hogwash! you don’t do that, I’ve been attending classes here for two years and you’re full of the milk of human kindness. We need to demonstrate at Chatelet Place. After all, we’re in a democracy, aren’t we?”

SERENDIPITY

“Come to church”, they said, “you’ll enjoy it!”

I certainly did not!

I tried, but never felt comfortable – everyone stared at me and I couldn’t help feeling that the minister’s sermons were always aimed at me personally.

You might call it paranoia, but I knew they were out to get me – I could see it in their eyes… I wasn’t welcome, but they felt it their duty to extend the hand of friendship.

They weren’t fooling me.

Eventually I stopped going, and I’m sure the church breathed a collective sigh of relief.

You’d think a demon would command greater respect.

SINGH

25.1

Barhai saw him crossing from the bus

glad his plans were working. “Aiyay, Yogi.

Baitho! Sit!” He cleared a rattan chair

of gold-brown scrolls of shavings, curly ribbons

planed off from a dining table’s edges.

“Chotu, bring chai!” Barked Barhai at the boy

while joiner Gaurav thumbed along the grain.

Yogi could not bring up that he had left her.

“What’s this timber?” He asked instead.

“Oh this?

Tali, Indian Rosewood. Yes, very hard.

We trim the outside yellow or grubs will come.”

The heartwood was as strong as a church pew,

Yogi thought. And hardened himself as well.

25.2

Appearing with guitar and full backpack

meant Barhai had pulled in his honey star.

Cards were falling better than he’d hoped.

Yogi had turned up, naked and wounded,

Margot scalding with her boiling tongue.

Did he seem needy? He tried to compensate.

“My time was being wasted at the school.”

“She sees your inner jewel,” Barhai said,

“Like a true Indian wife — letting you go,

sacrificing for the sake of the God.”

“When’s the festival thing?” Yogi was anxious.

“Do not worry. The Maha Kirtan Mandal

is soon starting. All is being planned.

Aiyay. Come. Let me show you something.”

25.3

Yogi followed Barhai down the back

into his cabin with its grimy panes.

Out of a rosewood drawer Barhai bounced

a log of paper onto his desk of dust.

He rolled it across “Here. You will like.”

It was a hwad of posters, rubber-banded;

but slipping them off, the top one tore away,

severing head shots, robed with swami-orange,

some in white garb wearing triple stripes

of forehead ash. “Really, sorry.”

“No matter,”

Barhai shrugged. Featured in an oval

was the white man Yogi’s face. “There you are.

Did I not say that you were Guest of Honour?”

25.4

Now nervous Chotu ran in with the chai

jiggling glasses from the wire carrier

and knocked one over. A sticky, milky river

floodplained across the posters and the run-off

waterfalled into Yogi’s white-clad lap.

He leapt up yelping – his robe a burning puddle

and flicked it off, but not the scald on skin.

“Muruk!” Barhai barked. “You useless fool!”

“Ji Sir. Sorry, Sir.” The ten-year-old

ran for rags or paper to blot the spill,

but shoddy printer’s ink had started to run

and Yogi, poster boy for Barhai’s show

was abstract art within a painted ocean.

25.5

Chotu threw a spirit-smelling cloth

over posters to blot up tea and paint,

forgetting to save the rest as yet un-soaked.

Like a hornet, Barhai, poked in a hive

sent his hand assassin-fast to clip

the kid around the head.

“It’s okay, Barhai.

He didn’t mean it.” Yogi thought of all

street urchins forced to take the helm

of existential lives polishing shoes,

young newsprint pros folding paper bags;

peanut wallahs, girls selling cheap dolls —

a begging ploy at Delhi ringroad crossings,

and backstreet hovels with their hammer song

making him feel the cost of leather shoes.

25.6

“Sorry, Yogi, Why not bathe upstairs

and settle in? The girl will wash your clothes.”

He wasn’t used to servants – how poverty’s

scourge spawns labour cheap, yet, returning

meant wimping out, having been well whammed

by Margaret. Yes, he was more than just

a tea-stained holy mess. Relief stepped foot

to foot with regret. “I guess I had better

go clean up, but Mrs Barhai? Will I

be intruding?” Still embarrassed by

her recent exit from the Barhai home

it was awkward returning to the crime scene.

“Take his things. ” Barhai ordered Chotu.

Yogi followed, obedient as a spaniel.

25.7

He bucket-bathed, then perched upon the bed.

All furniture bore the bulky Barhai look —

wardrobe, dresser, but no chair and table.

A rounded bolster wedged behind him spoke

of Indian cross-leggedness at ground level

that had risen, literal and symbolic.

Eating, chatting and sleeping now all happened

on a solid rosewood base to take the weight

of dynasties that had always snuggled close,

joint families who form ancestral houses.

This was far off from his suburban years

with nuclear rooms and their secret lives,

while India would cling to its divan

bearing all upon a common life raft.

25.8

His chola had been taken by the servant,

first lathered then pounded with hard slaps.

Her paddle was a crude-cut cricket bat.

She slopped wet washing on white bathroom marble

and whacked away, then sighed, dropping her club

to take a break. She hummed a Hindi film tune.

The wafting overture spirited her hand

into the lemony air that sparkled hope.

It rose up from soapy water run off

as she cast herself the female Bollywood star,

lip-sinking love-sounds on some alpine hillside,

the camera cutting away before The Kiss.

Then Mrs Barhai screech-owled, “Jyoti, bus!”*

(*enough)

JULIE

Church

At St. Bridget’s there was a shiny brass collection box by the holy candles. Mom gave me a crisp dollar bill to light a candle for Aunt Jennie.

Pay a dollar, and play with fire.

I put my rolled-up bill in the slot and reached for the lighting stick, finding a candle in front of the Blessed Mother’s statue.

I knelt.

As much as I wanted to pray for my aunt, or grandparents, I always ended up praying for myself.

Please God, do not let my life be rolled into a little dollar bill and shoved into a tiny box.

MUNSI

The Funeral

By Christopher Munroe

Walks beside me.

Walks on by.

Gets me to the church on time.

Or, at least, used to.

Now I’m terrified, I’m foggy, and my trust in God and man is strained nearly to the breaking point.

As the box is lowered into the ground, I can barely make out the words as they’re spoken, they echo and distort somewhere between my ears and my brain.

Gone in a moment, but never forgotten. The lessons learned and time spent were never wasted, the memories will never be anything less than cherished.

A modern love.

A lifetime.

Not nearly long enough.

ZACKMANN

I have been really bad about attending church in recent years. I have worked nights pretty much since our second child was born which makes me wonder things like if I’m going to sleep through church shouldn’t I just do it at home. Before I left the United States for California the boys and I would sit near my mother most Sundays. After the sermon the pastor would have us bow our heads for the benediction then the next thing I know my mother would say “Have you finished praying yet? The service has been over for over twenty minutes.”

SPATE

Inheritance

Every Sunday the faithful would find Uncle Fred in church always sitting in the same seat. And whenever the choir would sing, he’d look like he was in heaven listening to angels.

But now Uncle Fred is dead and we’re here for his funeral.

As his only heir, I sit here in his chair while he’s laid out up there by the choir.

Mrs. Cheshire in the choir with the frizzy blue hair looks at me a little queer. Then with a wink and a smile she discreetly spreads her knees so only I can see she has no underwear.

DANNY

Weekly Challenge 406: Church

Early Sunday morning there was a loud knocking at my door. It was the Church Police. Apparently, another dead Bishop had been found on the landing, and I was asked about any suspicious activity I may have witnessed. “Why kill the Bishop on the eve of Superbowl Sunday?” I asked. ”He was an avid football fan who let service out early so we could watch the game. Maybe it was because of the openly gay minister he recently appointed to our parish.” “Aha!” exclaimed officer Bigglesworth, “that’s the kind of progressive thinking that can get you killed in a conservative community!”

TOM

A Well Defined Relationship Part 34
As the first creak of the hull cracked in the twilight below a bell rang
out. Just as that single note decade a second ringing sounded, but
slightly offset to the first. Directly below them the twin churches of Our
Lady of Perpetually Motion and St Rita Moraina where chiming out the
arrival of dawn. “If we hit the lemon stem square the rotation of the
lemon will place us square between the two church steeples.” said the
Doctor. “If that is the case we need to be on tip of the main bag. Sparky,
go find the zip harnesses.

UP the Rabbit Hole Part 3
“Are you mad,” repeated He. “No sir I am He, just as you.” “I’m confused,”
said He. “No sir you are He. perhaps this might help?” He presented He
with a small black missile. “I know this, it has been lost for over 50
years,” exclaimed He. He open it, on page one was printed: Saint _________
Church. “What happened to the name of my Church?” “Lost,” said He, “For
lost object to get to this place they in turn must lose something.
Actually a small price to pay. “Wait a second this is the place where lost
things go like comic books, left socks, washcloths ?” “Not just some
lost things , everything,” said he raising his arms to encircle the room.

CLIFF

In my memory, I was a well behaved young man as a child. My father tells it somewhat differently. Recently, he amused my wife with a story. When I was a child, my family attended the local Baptist church. One Sunday after services, we were leaving the church and I asked our minister a question. “Pastor Conover, why do we give money every Sunday?” I asked. Pastor Conover replied that was money that the members gave to Jesus. Then I asked “Really? How do you get it to him?” Pastor Conover told the story the next week from the pulpit.

Most of my friends were kind of stunned when they heard that I would be marrying my sister and I’ll admit, the idea takes a little getting used to. I checked with our pastor and got permission to use the church for a June wedding. Our parents were surprised but eventually, they were quite supportive. I was worried about the legal aspects but after some research, I discovered that it just required some paperwork and then I could marry Jane. To Dylan. I got ordained and officiated the wedding for Jane and her boyfriend, Dylan. Why, what were you thinking?

I think I had a bit of a hipster attitude before I ever knew what a hipster was. The first real concert I ever went to was when The Church was playing in Chicago in the late 90’s. I’d listened to them for several years when I read that they were touring. I headed off to watch Australian band play their hypnotic tunes and hear Steve Kilbey’s poetic lyrics. I was stunned to find the hall was packed. I thought only a handful of us knew about this band and was almost disappointed to discover that they were actually popular.

NORVAL JOE

A parable told in church that I thought ended wrong goes:
A farmer finds an injured eaglet and puts it in the chicken coop to recuperate.
Full grown, the eagle scratches the dirt for chicken feed and the farmer is sad that this noble king of the sky wallows with the meanest fowls.
Atop the barn, he raises the eagle and says, “Thou art an eagle. Take to thy wings and fly.”
Wind ruffling its feathers, it launches into the air, riding the winds to the mountain heights.
But I always thought, “After eating all the chickens in the barnyard.”

PLANET Z

The churches in Aspen hold a lottery to see who constructs the Nativity scene in front of Town Hall.

This year, the winning ticket ended up in the hands of Jacob Cohen.

Every ticket did. He quietly bought them all up, one by one.

Everybody freaked out. The churches went to the mayor and town council, but the lottery was binding.

(Cohen had written up the papers, and knew it was solid.)

They begged him. They threatened him. A constant stream of hatred, right up to Thanksgiving.

When the grandest, most beautiful Nativity scene appeared in front of Town Hall.

4 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #406 – Church”

  1. I liked Norval Joe’s story (and prank) and Spate’s story.
    I think the most moving one for me, though, was Julie’s tale. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hello hello… oh, wait, we don’t have to start like that. An idea for Munsi – we could be attentive monkeys. Or possibly poo-throwing monkeys, whichever seems more appropriate.

    I loved Cliff’s second story – I did indeed wonder where that was going! And I got a kick out of Spate’s story as well.

    Danny – I’m wondering if there’s some wish-fulfillment going on there. Conservatives tend not to be violent types. They’re more law-and-order sorts.

Leave a Reply