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MURDER IN THE MONASTERY

A Novelization of a Computer Game

Chapter 1: The Gate

“Merde!” The word oozed past the lips of the dour, mustachioed man as he leaned back to read the wrought-iron inscription above the massive gate. He pulled his trenchcoat tighter about him—although it was warm for All Saints’ Eve—and remembered what the superintendent had said to him that morning, “Don’t let it get to you, Claude. It’s only The Abbey of St. Isosceles.” Easy for him to say—he didn’t have to spend the night digging up clues in the most mathematically mysterious place on earth.

Claude la Mort, Inspecteur d’Hommicide of the Sûreté, had hopped a jet from Orly to Dulles, and after a short briefing by the DC police chief, been driven to the small village outside of Washington D.C. He now stood outside the Abbey gate, feeling like a very minor imp, dwarfed by the twenty-foot walls that surrounded the 14th Century monastery. One hundred years ago it had been brought over from France and reconstructed, brick by brick, and now it was the home of a group of monks and nuns. The sun was just starting to dip over the wall to the west.

The superintendent had picked him to investigate the death of Abbot Costello, the head of the Abbey, who had been killed the night before. La Mort figured he had been chosen because of his “success” in the Calhoon Museum caper earlier that year, although the superintendent probably knew that if it hadn’t been for a lot of luck, and a well-placed adze, La Mort would be pushing up grapevines right now. But maybe this case needed a Lucky Pierre.

He knew that once he entered the Abbey gate, he would be expected to stay inside until he solved the case so he looked around the area surrounding the gate. Who knows? Maybe the killer left his car parked in a No Parking zone. La Mort smirked at his natural pessimism, then leaned over and picked up a piece of paper sticking in a nearby bush. It was a newspaper clipping, a review of a book by one Father Murphy, called “How to Change a Light Bulb”. Murphy’s main claim to fame seemed to be the invention of “soul-detecting” lights and sound-sensitive locks. The inspector vaguely remembered hearing about Father Murphy. Didn’t he live at the Abbey? He put the clipping in his trenchcoat pocket.

La Mort looked down to review an info sheet the chief had given him. He might as well know what he was getting into before he entered what may be his own private apocalypse.

The sheet read:

 

~ At 8:03 A.M., October 31, 1963 a monk reported to the police that he had discovered the body of Abbot Costello on the floor of the south confessional of the church.

~ The lab reports that he died of a synthetic strain of the Bubonic plague, so all residents of the abbey have been evacuated to St. Dismal’s.

~ Six people are missing. Since the villagers didn’t see anyone leave the abbey it is assumed they are still inside.

~ No one seems to know how to get into the library so it hasn’t been searched.

~ Matins, a bell and prayer ritual usually rung at dawn, was mysteriously heard at midnight last night.

The missing and/or deceased are:

~ ABBOT COSTELLO (deceased)—the saintly figurehead of the abbey.

~ CARDINAL MUSIAL (missing)—visiting consul from Rome, arrived October 29.

~ FATHER NOSTER (missing)—the head monk, in charge of the monks and novices.

~ MOTHER PULEEZE (missing)—Mother Superior of the cloister, in charge of the nuns.

~ NOVICE SCOSHA (missing)—fledgling monk, reputed to be a practical joker.

~ SISTER DEBBIE (missing)—young nun, said to have several un-nunlike tendencies.

~ DOCTOR DEE (missing)—the village physician, last seen entering the abbey the night of October 29.

 

Not much to go on.

He turned the sheet over and saw that there was a map of the abbey drawn on the back. He glanced at it and saw that the abbey was a typical monastery/cloister, except for an unusually shaped building in the center of the vaguely square grounds. This was the famous Library of St. Isosceles, a four-lobed building with angular slits between each of the lobes. Judging by the building’s shape on the map, it seemed to have triangular rooms, rather than rectangular.

To the right of the gate, inside the abbey, was the house where the victim had lived. Directly north of it was the church, and beyond that the stables. Continuing on around the library were the barracks for the novices, then the monks’ quarters and finally the Cloister of St. Catatonia, which was just to the left of the gate. Each lobe of the Library faced a building, with the church to the east, barracks to the north, monks’ quarters to the west and the cloister to the south.

Well, I’ve got all night, La Mort thought, and maybe I can find one of those missing people to give me a better idea of what went on last night.

Taking one last look at the wrought-iron inscription that read “The Abbey of St. Isosceles: Abandon Joy All Ye Who Enter Here”, La Mort sighed and shuffled through the gate.

 

 

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