The Belfry

By Peyton Hendry

Black as the night they come winging.


And silent, too, their wings slicing the air a soft, velvety sound inaudible over the whisper of the midnight air through the trees.

They swoop and dance, feeding on the fauna nocturnum, then retreat to the belfry as morning breaks. Safe among the cobwebs and dust and the secrets hidden away in the places no one goes. Below, the rooms are gilt, the air full of incense and the walls full of imagery. Up in the rafters, the boards are bare, the spiders provide the only decoration and the air is pregnant with mildew.

But the real horrors perch not in the belfry. The real horrors rise with the sun. They chant and invoke the names of powers higher than themselves. And they curse those who come to them, stripping them of all hope and pride. Haranguing them by telling theme self is never enough and that guilt is existential and can never be washed away.

While up above the bats slumber. Creatures of darkness and the darker side of morality. Content and secure. They follow their natures, unchanged from one cycle of the sun to the next.