The Monk

This tale is by Terry Morrison, author of “Mattress-ide and Other Grammatical Atrocities”.

“I have to get out of here,” screamed Father Klaus from the confines of his tiny cell. “Please! Please! I can’t stand it in here. I can’t breathe. Please, won’t somebody help me before the walls close in?” His pleading trailed off into the stale air of the monastery’s damp stone halls.

Outside the bolted door, Fathers Pietro and Alberto shook their heads in pity. Father Klaus’s condition had gradually worsened to the point where it became necessary to lock him away every time he had an attack.

They were reluctant at first but when he threatened to jump from the belfry a few months ago, the monks were left with no choice. Besides, none of them had any medical training so they would be unable to help their unfortunate comrade.

Not that such training would have done any good. Father Klaus’s condition was more psychological than physical and thus, required a completely different method of treatment. None of them felt qualified to delve into the deepest caverns of his troubled psyche. And Father Klaus always pulled through, seemingly none the worse for wear.

“How long do you think it will last?” asked Father Alberto.

“It could go on for hours, or days, or it could stop this very moment,” Father Pietro answered. “The attacks vary in intensity and duration so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Inside the cell, Father Klaus began screaming again. “Get these robes off me … get them off … I’m burning up. Doesn’t anybody understand, I just want to get out of this damn place. Please! Please let me out.”

“Poor devil,” said Father Pietro. “He’s hallucinating again. Last time we had to remove all the prayer books and crosses from his cell. He thought they had come to life and were trying to smother him.”

Father Alberto nodded in sympathy. . . . “That’s the worst thing about cloisterphobia, you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

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