‘We’re safe then?’ whispered the gangly one.
The fat one nodded. ‘If all goes to plan.’
‘If?’ His beady eyes glared in the shadows. ‘We’re counting on you. A fortune’s at stake. Not to mention our positions.’
‘Yes, yes. It should be over now. But I don’t know -‘ He glanced round. ‘If the you-know-what was strong enough.’
The other flapped a hand in exasperation. ‘Come!’
Footsteps echoing, they scurried through the dark, draughty corridors to the chamber. Timidly, the fat one opened the door. ‘Yes!’
Grinning with delight, the two cardinals danced a sedate jig round the Pope’s dead body.
In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this week’s prompt was Panic at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor. Although this precise scene is not historically attested, many an unfortunate Pope has met with just such a fate. The most recent was John Paul I in 1978, after only 33 days. He upset more than a few with his plans to clean up the Vatican and though it’s never been proved, it’s more than likely he paid the price. Quite a risky profession all in all.
The story teller’s picture: They’ve been used since time immemorial to put us in touch with the Gods. Alternatively, they send us mad or kill us. I’m not a fantasy writer but here we’re clearly in a realm of mythical beasts, warring tribes and sorcerers. “My Lord Argrunthen, I have bad news. An army of Martworgs marches our way. Queen Trecitta’s throne is no longer safe.” (To be continued…)
The picture taker’s story: This was the largest of a vast abundance of different species near Pitigliano, southern Tuscany, early November. Madeleine, who in a former life was a wily hunter-gatherer, was all for a fry-up. ‘What?’ I said. ‘Don’t you remember the St Michel basilica in Bordeaux?’ Many years ago, before they were removed for preservation, we saw a whole family of mummies there, foul grimaces twisting their leather faces. Poisoned by mushrooms in the Middle Ages. ‘Hmm,’ she replied. ‘How about a packet of frozen funghi misti?’ Not very magical, admittedly, and no Gods came to visit. On the positive side, though, at least we’re still alive.
Over to you: Any mushroom pics or stories, real or imagined? Let me know and I’ll link!