Here is a piece of fiction that I wrote today - it’s unfinished and presently I have no idea what might happen next in the story.
If there are requests for more, then I’ll gladly carry on with it.
John Shearer was standing alone at a bus stop outside St Aloysius church, Hebburn, waiting for a bus to Newcastle, when he heard a quiet, unworldly, far-away, spirit-like voice say, ‘Is there anybody there?’
John looked around… there was no-one there… just him!
Then, the voice came again, “Is there anybody there?”
This time, John looked around in every conceivable direction – still there was no-one to be seen anywhere near him.
A third time, the ethereal-like voice spoke the exact same phrase as before, but this time John looked down and noticed an airbrick in the wall and was pretty sure that the voice came from there.
John leaned forward and tilted his head down to one side, so that his mouth was now only about 2 feet from the air brick and said, “Hello?”
Immediately, a distant voice came back, “Hello, who’s that?”
“It’s John Shearer! Who’s that?”
“Hello John, it’s Stan Wears, and I’ve locked myself in the basement of St Aloysius church – can you please fetch help?”
“Don’t worry Stan, I’ll go and fetch help immediately… hold on mate!”
John rushed around the corner to the presbytery and informed the priest of the situation. The old priest asked John if he wouldn’t mind accompanying him, as the extra manpower might come in handy - John willingly obliged.
Indoors, the priest soon found 2 torches; he handed one to John and then led him to a small room. In the centre of the room was a thick wooden, open trap door with a dark hole below - John leant forward and peered inside. He could just make out some concrete steps leading down into the darkness.
“We didn’t know that we had any underground rooms until that clever fellow Stan Wears, an Architectural Ecclesiologist, told us about them.”
“How did he know?”
“Oh, he told me that it was all due to his measurements of the exterior of the church, compared with the interior measurements - they didn’t tally, he said. Clever people these Architectural Ecclesiologist.”
“Yes, indeed,” said John, nodding, “Stan is - how did you meet him?”
“Well, it was about 3 weeks ago. He contacted me and asked if he could do some research on the church, with video and photographic back-up. He told me that he would do a thorough investigation and that he would give us a copy of his results for our own use. After meeting him, and seeing his impressive credentials – Stan does a lot of excellent work for churches all over the country - I told him that I’d be grateful if he would do some research on the old church, and told him to go ahead. It was within the first day that Stan told me that the church property extended underground. I contacted our own experts and no-one had ever heard of this, so Stan was given permission to explore further.
The priest switched on his torch and shone a beam of light down upon a set of remarkably clean and new-looking concrete steps and slowly began to descend down underground, closely followed by John and his lit torch. At the bottom of the steps the two men stopped and swung their beams of light one way then the other and saw many passages all clean and aired, so they realised that fresh air must be getting in somehow.
“Hello Stan! Are you there?” The old priest’s voice echoed.
“Yes, I’m down here!” Stan shouted back from a distance.
The Priest and John followed the direction of the voice, calling out now and then, back and forth with Stan, to assure they were still heading in the right direction.
Soon they came to a closed metal door with a large key in its lock and a decorative air vent above the door lintel.
“This must be it,” said the priest. “Hello Stan?”
“Yes, I’m here, behind this door… it’s jammed!”
"Stand back Stan!" The Priest and John both put their weight to the heavy metal door and pushed… it wouldn’t budge.
“Try the key!” Shouted Stan. “It might have locked itself somehow!”
The Priest turned the key and the door immediately swung open without effort. Both the Priest and John shone their torches into the darkness. Stan was standing there with a dud torch in his right hand and his left hand splayed in front of his eyes in a shading fashion, blinking and twitching his head in an effort to avoid the brilliant light from both torches.
The torches were lowered, and after a few second Stan’s eyes became accustomed to the surroundings. “Thank you for rescuing me, gentlemen… may I borrow your torch, John?”
“Certainly, Stan,” said John, handing it over.
Stan put his dud torch into his jacket pocket, and used the lit torch to find his way to an open bureau in the corner of what was an otherwise empty room… “Look at this, gentlemen,” he said. Stan placed his hand into the open bureau and pulled out some clean vellum scrolls.
“What is it?” Said the Priest.
“It’s a very valuable and important document indeed… it’s a record of events that took place in the early days of Hebburn, while the church was being built, and is signed by this gentleman,” said Stan, shining his torch onto the vellum so that both men could see.
“I don’t know that name,” said the Priest.
“Me neither,” said John. “How are you going to find out who it is, Stan?”
“I know the very people to ask,” said Stan, with a smile, “The good folk on Norman Dunn’s Hebburn message board – that’s who.”
John nodded and smiled back at Stan, “Yes, of course, our good friends on the Hebburn message board!”
Stan then lifted the beam of light up to the airbrick at the top of the wall near the ceiling.
“That’s coming out above the path, outside!” Said John. “I thought it was something to do with the school.”
“Yes, ingenious - there are many of them, and very well hidden… in places camouflaged even,” said Stan, “and they ventilate the whole underground area extremely well indeed.”
As the 3 men were exiting the room, Stan inspected the key in the lock, turning it back and forth a few times… “It’s as I suspected… this is a very specialised lock… someone went to great lengths to make sure that if anyone entered this room, that the door would lock behind them, sealing them in… Hmm… this document is of greater value that I had at first thought; I don’t know what that is yet, but I won’t stop until I get to the bottom of it.”
Back in the church, Stan, with the vellum carefully tucked into his briefcase, was about to bid the other two farewell. “Oh, John, I’m sorry that I held you back from catching your bus.”
“It’s okay, Stan, I was only going up to Newcastle because I had nothing better to do and was a bit bored… and now, with all this excitement - thanks to you - I’m anything but bored.”
“Don’t worry, John, I’ll keep you posted via the Hebburn message board… oh, and here’s your torch.”
“Thank you, Stan,” said John, while holding out his hand to take the torch.”
The priest placed his own torch down on a sideboard and turned to Stan. “I know you’ll keep the parchment safe, Stan… please keep us informed at every account.”
“I’ll leave no stone unturned.” Said Stan.
The gentlemen then bade each other farewell, and parted company.
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