It was a usual, overcast, misty December morning, and the alarm clock of the Reverend Simon Abernathy of Lower Strangling began to beep. He groaned as we woke up to turn the clock off. He sat up, rubbed his eyes, stretched, and finally got out of bed to start the day.
He walked over to his bedroom window and drew back the curtains in order to look out at the village before he had his shower. The view was as it had been throughout November, the picturesque village of Lower Strangling shrouded in mist, the naked trees dotted all around, and the imposing structure of St Gerald the Damned overlooking the rest of the village on its island. Nothing was out of the ordinary, as Simon wanted.
Except, there was something out of the ordinary. Poking out of the mist in the graveyard, was a tall, slim, structure.
“That’s strange”, Simon said to himself as he scrutinised the object. “I don’t remember any gravestones being that tall… or metallic.”
Deciding to take the object out of his mind, Simon walked over to the bathroom to have a shower.
After getting dressed and having his cornflakes, Simon left the vicarage and walked into the mist. The mist was such that he could only see what was directly in front of him. Seeing that gate leading into the graveyard, the Vicar opened it and walked in the direction of the object he saw in the window.
Simon could not see anything except for a few gravestones dotted about within a metre of where he was standing. Trying not to trip on anything, Simon walked on.
Eventually, in front of him, he saw the silhouettes of two people. Both of them were tall, one seemed quite muscly, the other skinny but with a wide brimmed hat… and a gun. Simon walked closer to the two people, until it appeared. The two men were looking at the mysterious column. So, he wasn’t imagining it. Simon crept behind a gravestone and called out to the two men.
“Excuse me, gentlemen, can I help you with something?” The Vicar asked.
The two men slowly turned round and looked at Simon; they were John; the owner of the Hangman’s Noose, Lower Strangling’s pub, and Bruce, the Hog Killer.
“Yes, Simon,” said John, “you can start by giving your verdict of what this Monolith is.”
“What are you doing hiding behind that gravestone?” The Aussie Hog Killer asked. “I’m not gonna shoot you if that’s what you think.”
Realising that they were his friends, Simon chuckled awkwardly and walked up to them.
“Sorry Bruce, John, I didn’t recognise you from behind. I thought maybe you’d placed the monolith here.”
“No. It just appeared this morning,” John explained, “I wondered whether you put it there during the night.”
“No, no. I wouldn’t do something like that, no,” the Vicar reassured, “I’m just as clueless as you.”
Bruce raised his gun at the monolith.
“I could try shooting the blighter,” Bruce suggested.
Before the Vicar or the Publican could protest, the hunter pulled the trigger. But all the bullet did was bounce of the monolith and glide though the air before creating a hole in the grave of Victor Minster 1764-1857, Vicar of St Gerald the Damned, beloved husband, son, and father.
Simon examined the damage done to the grave of his predecessor, and groaned.
“Oh, now look what you’ve done. The church finances are in dire straights anyway without me having to fork out several hundred pounds on a new gravestone!”
But Bruce wasn’t listening, instead he was examining the monolith.
“This bugger’s invincible, it doesn’t even have a dent on it.” He chuckled as John and Simon walked over to him to look at the monlith.
“How did it get here?” John asked urgently.
“It looks like something out of 2001,” Bruce remarked.
“I hope you were referencing the movie and not making some awful 9/11 comparison,” Simon said as he took a fleeting glance at Bruce.
“I meant the movie mate, geez. It’s exactly the same as the monolith in that.”
“Oh,” John muttered to himself.
Simon and Bruce looked at him.
“What?” Simon asked.
“There was that monolith they recently found in that valley in Utah about a week ago that disappeared over the weekend… it looked exactly like this one.”
Simon, Bruce, and John stared at the monolith for a moment. Bruce began to panic.
“Crikey! What the hell does this mean? Why would a monolith move from Utah to here!”
“Relax, Bruce. I doubt it’s the same monolith. The monolith in Utah turned out to be a tribute to a minimalist sculpture,” Simon consoled Bruce.
“That’s what they think, but then this thing appears out of the blue.”
“Maybe it’s going on a world tour,” John said very seriously. Simon looked at John briefly.
“Oh for goodness sake! It’s not the same monolith! It’s either some kind of practical joke or an art installation. It’s nothing more than that,” Simon exclaimed.
“Maybe it’s sign of the apocalypse? Isn’t there something about a monolith in Revelation?!”, Bruce enquired.
John stared in the distance as he recited an ominous passage, “and I doth saw a large monolith in the middle of a desert, and then knew that my time had come.”
Bruce and Simon looked at John horrified, their hearts pounding in their chests.
“I don’t remember that verse being in there, and I’ve dedicated almost my entire life to studying the scripture,” Simon said.
John looked at Simon for a few seconds, not responding until finally he said, “I know, that’s because I made it up.”
Simon sighed angrily, “look, we’re all getting worked up over nothing. It’s probably just an art installation. Let’s go home. We shouldn’t even be together, we’re in tier 3.”
Simon prepared to walk back to the vicarage, but John stopped him.
“Or we could discuss this over a pint at the Hangman’s Noose? It should be fine, there’s only three of us. You two could be two metres apart at the bar, and I could be safely behind it,” the Publican suggested.
Simon looked at him angrily, “no, that’s still irresponsible. We’re in tier 3, the Hangman’s Noose should be closed until it can safely reopen!”
“Well, it’s not like Stuart’s going to come here and arrest us,” Bruce argued.
“It’s unlikely, but you never know, he might come to check,” Simon answered. “Now good day gentlemen, I’m going to write my sermon for Sunday’s online service, I’ll see you when I see you.”
And with that, the vicar disappeared into the mist.
John and Bruce looked at each other.
“Fancy a pint, Bruce?” John asked his Aussie friend.
“Yeah? Why not?” The Australian answered.
And so Bruce and John also disappeared into the mist, in the direction of the pub. Leaving the mysterious monolith to stand alone in the St Gerald the Damned graveyard in the mist and overlooking its new surroundings.