Brother Valens was nervous, but full of excitement. He had found a note upon his blanket which said he had been chosen to be entered into a special circle within the monastery; one which very few novices had ever been called to.
He was told that he was to go to the library after dinner and before vespers and there to seek a tome called De Joung’s Testimonies. He was to read the first chapter and then return the book to the shelf, but to replace it upside-down on the shelf. This he dutifully did.
The next day he found a simpler note on his mattress which merely said, “Repeat.”
After dinner he returned to the library, and pulled the right-side up De Joung from the shelf. In it was a slip of paper which read, “Well done, turn to page 148.” He did and found a penciled notation in the margin, “Fountain of Abbey garden, before chapel.”
The next day he finished his morning duties and rushed to the gardens. As he approached the fountain he could make out the form of a brother siting on the edge of the pool, his face obscured by his cowl.
“Sit,” the hooded figure instructed, in a voice very similar to Brother Thomas’.
Valens sat, and waited for more information.
“You have done well so far brother,” the monk said. “Return to the book for a third time.” Just then the bell rang for chapel, the hooded man stood, and pointed to the path on the right which Valens made his way to. The man however took the left hand path and each made their way to the chapel individually.
After dinner, Valens again returned to the library. The tome was on the shelf, but with its spine pointing into the shelf and the yellowing pages exposed into to aisle. Valens carefully removed the book, and found another slip of paper.
“Your journey is nearly complete. Turn to page 311 and then return the book properly to its place.”
Young Valens turned to 311 and read in the margin, “To enter the Circle of Four, go to the chapel at Midnight, pray three rosaries, and then descend the stairs into the crypt below.”
Valens returned the book, spine facing outwards, and then headed to vespers with a sense of elation.
At midnight he crept from his cell and entered into the chapel. He knelled before the altar and carefully prayed upon his beads. When he was finished he cautiously made his way down the stairs into the gloom below.
“Come on down!” a voice echoed through the chamber, as he neared the bottom.
When he was all the way down he could make out a light at the end of the long crypt where some sort of table had been erected.
As he approached he could make out the forms of three men seated around it with an empty chair nearest his approach.
There was Brother Thomas dressed in a red track suit, Father Patrick wearing his clerical “street clothes” but without his dog collar, and Father Rodrigo wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt and gripping a cigar between his lips.
“Welcome Valens,” Patrick said with a thick brogue, “You do know how to play poker, I trust.”
Valens looked down at the piles of chips and deck of cards which Thomas had just shuffled.
Valens took his seat and said, “Deal me in.”
Prompt A Comedy (Maybe, as humour is in the eye of the beholder)
Prompt B (sentence starter): “Come on down!”
Prompt C (photo): Above