It was the sixth day of Lent, and Hans Hogunhoffer was already wishing it was Sunday every day.
As his alarm clock beeped at 06:00 in the morning, Hans groaned, and slowly pulled himself out of bed, trying his best to ignore the stinging pain on his back.
He was still tired, as the pain was keeping him awake at night.
Although he did get some sleep, it was not enough to sustain him.
He painfully took off his pyjamas, his top stuck to the raw wound, and had a shower whilst yowling in pain as the water stung.
After the shower, he began to put on his uniform, but was interrupted by the yowling of the other PCC members; it was time.
Hans sighed, the picked up the Cat-O-Nine Tails in his bedside cabinet. He looked at it before doing the deed.
He had doubts about flogging himself for forty days when it was first mooted by Simon at the PCC, and thought John’s Comic Relief bake sale would be far more preferable.
But he voted to flagellate himself anyway, mainly to maintain the status quo and also because he knew he would loose the vote regardless.
But even on the first day of Lent, when he only flogged himself once, he was beginning to wish he was more assertive at the meeting.
And now, here he was, about to whip his back six times.
He considered skipping a day, surely the others wouldn’t mind?
But he knew that if he did, he would be letting them down. They were still committed to it, so he must also commit to it.
With that in mind, he began to flog himself. “Eins,” he said to himself before hitting his back, which was already painful enough to make him buckle. He slowly got up.
“Zwei,” he said as he flogged himself the second time, followed by a loud wail. He was already wanting to give up, but the people in the world he was flogging himself for kept him going.
“Drei,” he groaned his he flogged himself the third time. He knew there was a quicker way of doing it, but he liked to prepare.
“Vier,” he shouted has he flogged himself the fourth time, wondering what he old friends at the Lutheran church back in Augsburg would think if they could see him now.
“Fünf,” he said has he flogged himself the fifth time, relieved that there was only one more to go.
“Sechs!” Hans said as he flogged himself the sixth time, allowing himself to fall to the floor.
Feeling proud of himself for not giving up, Hans slowly got up, put his shirt on, and walked down to the Butcher’s for another days work.
He considered taking time off work during Lent, because he knew his work would not be as good due to the pain in his back and especially because his boss surely wouldn’t mind because he was also on the PCC and therefore also flogging himself, but he knew that the Hangman’s Noose plus his other customers would need meat during Lent, so he carried on despite it all.
As he slowly cut up some pork with his cleaver whilst trying to ignore the pain in his back, Bruce Richardson entered the shop. Looking like he was in the Australian outback rather than the English countryside as he always did.
“G’day, Hans.” Bruce said.
“Good morning, Bruce.” Hans replied.
“How’s the back? Not too painful I hope?” Bruce asked.
“It is… fine, thank you.” Hans said. Trying hard not to show his anguish.
“It doesn’t look fine to me, mate, you look awful.” Bruce commented as he swaggered to the counter. “Seeing you in this state makes me glad I don’t believe in that crap.”
“Do you want to buy some meat?” Hans asked Bruce, getting infuriated by his presence and his self-righteous toothy grin.
“Nah, mate. I just wanted to check in on ya, that’s all.” Bruce replied before leaning in close to Hans, breaching government COVID guidelines in the process.
“You know, mate.” Bruce whispered into his friends ear. “Simon’s just a man at the end of the day, he’s not God on earth.”
“I knew that,” Hans replied.
“Then you’d know that you don’t have to obey his every word. He can’t make you flog yourself, you’re your own man. You don’t owe him anything. Go on, stop flogging yourself. Or take tomorrow off,” Bruce said whilst slowly backing away towards the front of the shop.
It was at this moment that Hans realised that the man in front of him was not Bruce Richardson the Hog Killer, but Lucifer Morningstar himself, tempting him as he had tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
“Geh hinter mich, Satan.” Hans said under his breath, reverting back to his mother tongue as he often did.
“What was that, mate? Didn’t quite catch that.” Bruce responded.
“GEH HINTER MICH, SATAN! WEG SEIN! DIE KRAFT CHRISTI ZWINGT DICH!” Hans shouted whilst throwing pots and pans at Bruce.
Bruce began crouch by the wall, no longer high and mighty. “Ok, mate. It was just a suggestion. Let’s calm down a bit, mate. Shall we?”
“AGGGHHH!” Hans shouted, before Bruce quickly opened the front door of the shop, dashed outside, and ran down the street.
Feeling extra proud of himself, Hans went back to work. Working at a gentle pace as a reward to himself.