The Nun's Bones

The nun’s knucklebones, wrapped in a miniature of the Shroud of Turin, clanked like dice as I set them on the interrogation room’s table. Brother Carl didn’t move, but one of the soldiers outside our Plexiglas prison did. He twitched, pumping the action on his shotgun. Some guard, I thought, unable to keep the wry smile from my lips. They weren't the ones in a room with the zombie. I pulled out the small silver cross from my cassock’s pocket and twined its beaded cord around my hand.

The handcuffs bit into Carl’s wrists as he reached for the bones. A zombie might be slow, but it felt no pain. A whitish pink ooze seeped from where his skin broke and an odor of decay wafted from him. I would rather have slept on a barge of fish guts and vomit than stay in the unventilated room with that smell. It felt like being strangled and I fought down the lump of quiche I’d eaten earlier. I was an exorcist, not an NCC negotiator.

I wanted to leave. Go back to Pennsylvania where the ice was all I had to worry about. No more New York crowds and zombies and New Catholic Church officials. Slowly I turned, trying to keep my breaths shallow in my chest like my wife had told me she did when she cramped. Breathing, but just barely.

“Brother Carl,” I said. He lifted his gaze from the Shrouded bones to meet mine. The preservation drugs had worn out and they resembled large raisins. Get it over with. "You stole these from the Vatican and brought them here. Why?”

He stared at me, but his lips tightened. I swung the crucifix around my finger. One of Carl’s shoulders slumped.

“To protect them.” His voice was gravelly, but not rasping.

I kept spinning the crucifix. It vented some of the smell away from my face. “They were protected in the monastery. I imagine the lasers hit you a number of times. That kills living people, to remind you.”

He smiled. “If I tell you, you’ll want to give them to me.”

“Hardly likely,” I said. I grabbed the sack of bones. Carl knew he was too slow to try for them. “I’m thinking I should just tell the cardinal that you refused to talk.”

“Do you gamble?”

The NCC did run a casino, but I’d never been in it. Terrible luck. I inclined my head to Carl, letting him decide what it meant.

Carl motioned to the sack I held. “Those are the bones of Sister Agnus. She gambled.”

“And lost?”

I think he gave me a dirty look. Hard to tell with zombies. All those dried out muscles and tendons. “She stayed above ground after the bombs fell, helped those caught up here die pain-free. And those that didn’t stay dead… She took care of us too.”

“Why steal her knucklebones?”

Carl leaned forward and lowered his voice. “These bones will give you your greatest wish.”

Wordage: ice, strangle
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Word count: 500


  1. Very curious. This is definitely one of your best pieces, Sarah! Nicely done. Catholicism and horror go together like chocolate and... Well, anything really.

    This actually reminded me a lot of your catholic short I read from you, Denise. :)

    1. Thank you :) I've had the character for a while, so it was really fun to work with him again.

  2. I definitely liked this one. It did remind me of one of my stories, strangely, and Sarah's never even read it! haha.

    1. That's interesting! The character is from a novel I've been working on for the last couple of years. I wanna read this story of yours! Now I'm curious :)

    2. Sure. Remind me to send it your way.


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