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They're Here

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Melissa knelt down beside her bed and took out her unadorned bible. She could hear the distant chanting of the monks as they made their nightly procession to the chapel. Melissa

was on the verge of starting her prays when she heard it. Gathering up her plain black dress around her Melissa dashed over to the window. There it was again. Slow, loud, deliberate thuds, like iron on iron, followed by an unholy screeching. Rather grumpily, Melissa looked out of the small window hewn into the wall of the bedroom. Who on earth would come banging on the monastery gates on a Sunday of all days? Surely it could wait until tomorrow?

Melissa peered out of the window, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of the front gates. Then she stopped, eyes wide open with fright, her fingers slack with shock. Melissa's bible crumpled to the floor just as another onslaught of noise echoed throughout the monastery. The terrible grinding sound startled Melissa into action. Scooping up her bible, she flew out of her room and down the corridor, yelling at the top of her lungs.

'Follow me! Quick! They're here!' she bellowed, hearing small cries and whimpers of fright as the true meaning of her words sunk in. Soon the cry was taken up by the monks and nuns who began to follow Melissa down the corridor.

'Follow us! Quickly! They're here!' Melissa could feel the words reverberating through the crowd which had now swarmed together frantically. Monks in their night shirts, nuns clutching bibles to their chests, the cook brandishing his large frying pan, encouraging anyone who lagged behind. And still, in the background, the persistent banging continued on.

Finally, Melissa found what she was looking for. An ancient tunnel leading deep under the earth and towards safe refuge. Their ancestors had prepared for events like this of course, though they probably couldn't have comprehended the violence and sheer brutality from which Melissa, and indeed, everyone else in the monastery were fleeing from.

'Quick! In here!' Melissa whispered urgently, prying open an old trapdoor then nearly dropping it as centuries of rot and decay wafted up to meet her. Holding her breath against the oppressive stench, Melissa ushered everyone through the hole in the floor and down the into the darkness beyond. It was a hard task, considering every nerve in her body was screeching at Melissa to run away and leave everyone to their own devices.

But she managed. Melissa made sure every person in the crowd was safely down the trapdoor before going down herself. In fact, she was just taking one last look around the chapel, making sure no one had been left above ground, when she heard it.
Clang! It echoed throughout the entire monastery and right down into the marrow of Melissa's bones. The sound of the wrought iron gate, the only thing separating them from the terrors which lay outside, had been pulled down.

Melissa was there in a flash, sprinting down the tunnel to catch up with the group. They continued down the winding tunnel, twisting and turning into the very depths of the earth. The floor was littered with broken axes, blunt swords and shattered maces. Melissa picked her way as fast as she could while avoiding the rotting corpses that decorated the rough, dirt track. Soon she was ahead, leading the group to safety.

For a few minutes Melissa actually believed that they could make it, that the will of god would pull them through. That's when one of the more senior monks twisted his ankle. Melissa sighed and called for the group to keep on going, doubling back to the monk who was now moaning in pain.

'Can you walk?' Melissa asked. There would be no beating around the bush here, this was a matter of life and death. The monk tried to get up, stumbling a few steps before collapsing in a heap. Melissa hesitated. She knew there was no helping the monk, even if they somehow managed to save him, he'd probably die of infection anyway.

Nevertheless, Melissa sent for two more strong monks to help her carry the injured man. They made it about two, three hundred metres before she heard the trapdoor screech open above and realised it was too late, the time for fleeing was over.

The vikings were upon them.




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