Richard Harland's Vicar of Morbing Vyle

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... in the Vicar of Morbing Vyle

 

#1 - a sinister setting

Leaving behind the town of New Morbing, Martin Smythe comes to a burned-out forest. White ash covers the ground, and the trees are charred and black and twisted. The heat of the fire that burnt them still lingers inside the trunks.

In the centre of the forest is a mile-wide clearing, with fragments of building scattered all around. Martin sees stone blocks and Gothic arches, pillars and sections of wall. At first, he thinks he's looking at the ruins of an old church. But then he notices the scaffolding, the trenches, the freshly-dug earth. So this church is under construction. And what a church! Judging by the size of the foundations, it's the biggest church the world has ever seen!

#2 - a mad scientist's contraption

The machine stands about six feet high and ten feet wide, bristling with pipes, rods and cogs. It looks like a cross between a bren gun carrier and a combine harvester. At its heart is row of cylindrical glass jars, and a squat square box covered with fur or felt. The jars are filled with bright red liquid.

From out of the heart of the machine comes a rubber hose. It leads across the room to a large wooden board, tilted slightly forward from the wall. There on the board, supported by straps and pegs, hangs Mr Caulkiss. He looks as though he is being crucified. His shirt is pulled open at the front, and the rubber hose snakes up towards his chest. It seems that some kind of instrument is sticking into his chest ...

#3 - the supernatural

The congregation faces towards a white marble tomb, which also serves as an altar. Mr Caulkiss reaches into the tomb and pulls forth a long leather bag. Seventy years ago, the dead body of a man was sealed inside that bag. Martin watches as the congregation prays. Surely the body must have long since rotted away? But now there are ripples beginning to move under the leather. Ripples like muscles flexing, like limbs stirring! Is the will to evil mightier than the force of death?

#4 - an assault on virtue

Innocent young Martin Smythe shuts himself up in his bedroom, away from the lunatic inhabitants of Morbing Vyle. But there on the bed is an enormous Christmas present for him, with love from Mr Quode. He pulls off the wrapping paper and discovers - Mr Quode himself, curled up inside, all pink and plump and naked.

Then comes a knock at the window. It's Melestrina again, advertising sexual temptation with placards by candlelight:

THE PASSIONATE PUDENDUM OF MELESTRINA QUODE

SEVEN GREAT POSITIONS FOR MASTERS AND SLAVES

THE INSATIABLE BODY: A CARNAL EXTRAVAGANZA

Meanwhile a tide of red meat has started sliding in under the door - cutlets, chops, rumps, livers, loins, kidneys. Martin backs away into a corner of the room. But suddenly a glittering silver needle stabs up at his feet through the cracks in the floorboards. Wild howls and shrieks of laughter burst forth on every side:

"Don't be shy!"

"You've got us all excited!"

"Now you're ready!"

"You know you want to!"

"It's time, Mr Smythe, it's time!"

#5 - infinite evil

The Vicar, supreme maestro of evil, composes his Works of Art with human beings for raw material. But his ultimate Work of Art is so unthinkable that even his own body rebels at the thought of it. As he struggles to assemble the composition, he is stricken by violent headaches, then a coronary attack, then a sort of fit. Lying on his death bed, unable to speak, he writes instructions for his followers on a sheet of paper. Finally, the pencil falls from his hand and drops onto his chest with a tiny tap. At that very spot, a small purple bruise appears. Then the bruise begins to spread ... growing and growing ... over his torso, his thighs, his arms, neck, face ...

 

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1997 - 2015

Richard Harland.