An Espresso Tale
Accipiter G. Goshawk
That night, he was particularly cautious when exiting the monastery.
First he checked the beds to make sure all the brothers were fast asleep. Then, when he was sure that even Hujin –the cook- had nodded off, he crept out the scullery door.
He was tense all the way to his alcove by the cliffs, and he often peered over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being followed. Finally, he reached his safe space, and he heaved a sigh of relief.
The cork easily popped off the bottle and he was once again taken over by the mist that poured out of it.
Immediately he realized that something was horribly wrong.
He was in a labyrinth, running for his life. The walls of pale grey stone towered over him and seemed to constrict around him, slowing his progress, binding him. Behind him, someone was coming. He couldn’t hear them, or see them; he just knew.
He tried to struggle, to clamber and crawl, legs and arms flailing against the floor and walls; trying to break free. He began slipping backwards, and now he could see it, the dark bent shape, drawing him towards his ruin. He gasped as he saw father Ionus’ wrinkled face grinning from within a hooded robe, grabbing his neck and forcing his mouth open.
“You must be silent,” he whispered lovingly, as he pulled an old kitchen knife from the folds of his tunic and moved it towards Ouon’s mouth and tongue.
The scream brought him back to the alcove and out of the dream.
Only to be plunged into a waking nightmare.
“It is as I suspected, brothers,” Ionus whispered, as three monks grabbed Ouon to prevent him escaping. “Our young novice has been tainted by darkness. He must be purified. Take him to the Silent Hall. There he shall repent and be punished. We shall execute the will of the Mute and take his senses from him: thus shall he be raised above us and become a paragon of silence.”
Ouon’s eyes grew wide in horror, as his mind struggled to understand the words the deadpan voice was spilling into the darkness above the cliffs.
A spark of realization hit him as they dragged him towards the monastery, and cold sweat began to drip along his spine.
The bottle had been Ionus’!
The emotionless father desired to doll out punishment, and now he finally had the chance!
Ouon peered at the wrinkled old man marching next to him, trying to find anything that would disprove the gnawing fear in his heart.
The old man caught his gaze and the side of his mouth twitched imperceptibly.
The young man struggled and tried to free himself, his instincts for self-preservation finally kicking in.
“Restrain him. He is possessed,” murmured Ionus, as he swung his stick at Ouon’s head.
For a while, the young man was lost in darkness.
When he finally regained consciousness, he found himself tied to a stone chair in the centre of the Hall of Silence. Above him, the grim statue of the Mute stared down at him; eyeless, tongueless, earless, noseless.
He lifted his heavy aching head to stare at the far side of the hall. Something was moving in the shadows…
He jumped, as a long bony hand appeared from behind him and grabbed his mouth, forcing it open.
Ionus stared down at him, smiling, but saying nothing.
In this room there could be no noise. In this room, there could only ever be silence.