'La Chiesa: Facciata Di Puro E Del Devine'

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The bells in the middle of town bombed the buildings with each hideous blast. They broke out of the bottom of the tower and burrowed along the brittle winter ground, shuddering up each tree trunk: snapping and cracking the twigs at the top. Bellerive, Switzerland had awoken on this Sunday morning to yet another aural attack from the bulbous battlements. The church stood vigilant in the center of town awaiting the day's pilgrims, each little person creeping in the giant oak doors to seek atonement'fleeing from the religious persecutions that they place on themselves. Cardinal Victor Acerbi loved this part of his job, or rather, his life's devotion. He bonded himself between the heavy pinewood doors; blazoned beams of black ironwood graced their borders. He balanced on the threshold of this religious asylum, rooted with a stance as strong as the foundation beneath him.

He turned on his heal, crimson robes flowing behind him. They appeared as plumage in the early morning light. His beady eyes darted around to each separate nook of the hallowed hall. His heals clacked. They tapped on the floor, cultivating cracks in the substructure of the towering cathedral. He continued his toddle. His nose hooked over his maw as though he were trying to keep his mouth from exclaiming something awful. He reached the podium at the front of the pulpit and let out a shrieking, cancerous cough. He peered up at the crucifix above him.

'There was a necessary violence in the Messiah's death,' he mused, 'perhaps it will come to that again.'

He flicked a match and breathed fire onto the wick of his favorite altar candle ' he had made it himself. It ignited; dancing high and low like it was playing a cruel joke on all of those who could see it. The traditional beeswax body housed something short of sanctified. It was a mockery of the other candles around it. Even Acerbi could see this, so he cupped his hand over the laughing light and took it to his personal office. In there, he let it thrive.

Plans and sketches lined the walls, some from his hand, some from others. Each one depicted some dark and dismal future. The room was a crystal ball, made up of swirling black smoke and ink. Sometimes, he would get lost in each pen-stroke. He carefully sat down, crimson robes even more blood-like in the sea of candlelight. He picked up and examined each piece of parchment. His life's devotion was almost completely realized. For years he had researched and planned. By the glory of God they would be realized.

Movement outside. Victor pricked his head up. It was way too early for even the early churchgoers. 'It must be Cordelia'sweet girl.'
Cordelia Merlo stood at the altar, awed by her close up view of the ornate crucifix. She renewed her vows with the Lord at that moment. The young woman had felt the increasing temptation that came with adulthood. This is why she decided to play the organ for church: she was searching for a new relationship with God.
As Victor exited his room discreetly, he contemplated over the tragically beautiful girl at the front of the room. As he slowly approached, he laughed to himself. She is so enamored with the cross. Does she not realize that it is a symbol of her sins? A symbol of her decadent ways? A symbol of the death of Christ? Oh how foolish she is. How foolish, how naive. How stunningly captivating.
As he perched above her shoulder, he soothed, 'Hello my dear. How may I help you this fine Sunday morning?' She had yielded the desired response. Shocked, she spun around: her breath stopping for a moment. She huffed heavily as he sneered.
'Cardinal.' She was still reeling and could not remember the formal title. 'Father.'
'Please. As a sibling of the Lord, call me Victor.' He placed heavy emphasis on his name, pushing her into a state of comfortable uncomfortability.
'Oh. Ok. I, um, I came here to practice before mass. I hope I'm not disturbing you in any way.'
'Not at all. I would be honored if you played for me. Let me get some music.' He swooped into his room, alone, in search of a glorious piece that he had had yet to hear performed. There, at the bottom of one pile of papers from months earlier, sat the composition. Bold letters headed the score''La Chiesa: Facciata Di Puro E Del Devine.' It was the perfect song. He hoped it would sooth the parish and its people into submission. He returned to the girl, papers in hand.
'Here you are my dear.' He handed her the music and led her to the organ. Play for as long as you like. I must go prepare for the service.'
She began to play. The notes reverberated unlike any hymn the young woman had ever heard. It was dark, remorseful, ominous, and beautiful. Victor had to stop in his tracks. The melodies swelled behind him and made him almost forget his destination. He pushed these feelings away'he had to focus.
Victor sauntered out to the main hall to find Gill Barone entering the great doors. Smile wide and gait strong, he entered the door with splendor and authority.
'Ah, Gill. My dear friend. How are you this fine morning?'
'Rather well, rather well. Is that the new organ player?' Gill could hear the young woman playing from outside. The song sat like a blanket over the whole area. It captivated and horrified all that could hear it.
'Yes. She's delightful isn't she?'
'She knows her way around the instrument, but what of the song she produces. Is it her own?'
'Heavens no, but it is wonderful isn't it?'
'It's'haunting. I sincerely hope that she will not be playing this for mass. It's borderline decadent! It will never be allowed. Much too dark. Much too dark.'
'Well, you never know how far the people will let you take them. Who knows what we could get away with?' Victor began to dig his roots deeper into this man. They walked further into the building.
Gill would not hear any more of this talk of manipulation over the congregation. 'Do watch what you say Victor, man cannot predict the judgments that God may pass.'
Victor was bored with this conversation. 'Speaking of the girl'Cordelia's her name. She was acting very strange this morning. I saw her praying to the cross behind the podium this morning. I think she was trying to wed herself to God! Can you even imagine Gilbert!
'Bless her soul! I must talk with her about her faith soon! She sounds like a very responsible young lady. You must be very proud to have found her. A pious woman who does not belong to the church'that's a diamond in the rough right there!'
'You must be mad! Trying to find a connection with god without a proper guide, like myself, would be like attempting to converse with a foreigner without a translator. It's absurd!' Victor could not believe the nerve of this man, criticizing every ideal of his church. Like he was a saint.
'You must be mistaken, father. God is with all of us.'
'God is with some of us, yes, but he lays waste to the wayward souls.' The song grew and grew to its deafening crescendo. The weathered stone appeared to be cracking and creasing beneath Victor's powerful feet. The roots that he planted within the wood and stone have drained the church of any power. The waltzing argument spun around the hall until it sustained itself in the center beneath the chandelier.
'What this church needs is a miracle to save its parishioners from your leeching grasp.'
'A miracle!' Victor could not believe his ears. 'I have been a part of more miracles than you've ever known. More than you could ever imagine.' He paused letting one defiant chuckle escape his beak. 'No miracle will be used against me.'
Gill's voice grew to match the intensity of the notes behind them. 'You, sir, continuously make a mockery of God and his will!'
Victor took one forceful step back. The colliding cracks became too much to contain the clinking chandelier. It crashed from its fixture in a flurry of light and iridescence. Hundreds of glass pieces descended upon the spot where Gill stood. Like teardrops from God, they unwillingly became a tool in Victor Acerbi's will. The flurry of blood that unquestionably marked Victor, who stood mere inches away from the light's reach, blended seamlessly with his robes. In a rushing flap, the religious man ruffled his feathers back into place and flew to the door to meet Cordelia, who had finished her song. She had no idea the power and life that she played into Victor's actions.
'My God! What happened here?!'
'A miracle, my dear. A miracle.'





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