Mid-week Blues Buster, 3.15

Prompt: https://thetsuruokafiles.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/mid-week-blues-buster-week-3-15/

Sanctuary

He’d outrun the wolves, though not by much, and he’d made it to the cathedral, grey and black against the azure sky. Martin had been baptized in this cathedral once upon a time, and he’d heard stories of redemption and vengeance shouted throughout its close as long as he could remember. But the priests had been the first to leave when the wolves had come, followed by the police and the mayor. God had no place in a world with the wolves, and neither did man, it seemed.

Martin had always been a loner, even as a kid, and he’d survived the wolves not by being faster or stronger, but because he was camping in the mountains when they came, and it took weeks for the wolves to move beyond the cities. Wolves were natural herders, though, and rather than hunting down stragglers one by one, Martin, and anyone else who’d been out on their own, had been forced to come back to the jetsam of civilization for their reckoning.

Running from the wolves was an exercise in instinct and action, not thought. There wasn’t time to formulate plans or consider strategy. You just went where your gut told you to go as fast as you could. And Martin had come to the cathedral.

The face on the Sanctuary knocker mocked Martin. It promised salvation, but how could salvation lie within when all the world was death? Snarling, the wolves closed in on him, cutting off all avenues for escape save through a massive wooden door that he couldn’t hope to move. He almost gave up, but the instinct to survive was strong, and pounding the knocker against the door at least didn’t feel like surrender.

The wolves howled at the sound of the knocker and grinned at him when he began calling for sanctuary. But their howls turned to whines when the door swung open, allowing Martin to scramble inside.

Transitioning from the afternoon sun to the gloom of the cathedral blinded Martin temporarily, and the only sound he could hear was his own rasping breath. Who had saved him? Who was left to even bother?

As his vision returned, he saw the outline of a woman in front of him, indistinct and hazy in the light refracted by the ancient stained-glass windows. She moved without a sound towards him, her legs motionless, and he screamed when she floated through a railing.

Now he could hear her, a polyphonic laugh which rang through the cathedral without joy. And as she drew closer to him, he realized he could smell her as well, a mixture of cloves and rotten meat. The wooden door was as solid behind his back as it had loomed in front of him while trying to escape from the wolves, and Martin wept. But only for a time. When the damned give you sanctuary, you no longer have a need for tears.

486 words

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