In the morning, I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major–General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition.
Newly-turned-eleven-year-old Eleanor Peterson closely examined the 362 year old diary, completely forgetting the world around her.
Ever since she’d received the Diary of Samuel Pepys from her parents for her 11th birthday that morning, she’d been so engrossed in it that she’d forgotten that she’d had other presents to open.
“Are you going to open any other presents, darling?” Sarah said.
Eleanor said nothing, still transfixed by the diary.
“I think we’ve lost her, love.” Dave said.
“Hmm,” Sarah replied.
“Nerd.” Will said.
“Don’t say things like that about your sister, Will.” Sarah said.
“But she is, just staring at that leather book like that. It’s weird.” Will said.
After a while, Eleanor put the book down.
Dave, Sarah, and Will sighed with relief, their day could continue.
“I’m going to start writing a diary,” Eleanor said, “I want to write the 21st Century equivalent of Samuel Pepys’ diary.”
“That’s a good idea, darling.” Sarah said.
“Why don’t you open some more presents and see if someone’s given you a diary to write in.” Dave said before adding under his breath, “And so I’m able to go to work soon.”
As Eleanor opened some more presents, Dave received a phone call.
“Hello, Simon.” Dave said. “Yes, she’s having a nice birthday so far. What’s up?”
“There’s a lunatic in the church claiming sanctuary.” Simon said.
“But I thought that wasn’t really a thing anymore.” Dave said. “The death penalty in England has been abolished for almost fifty years for one.”
“I know. But this person clearly thinks it still has legitimacy. He won’t leave the church.” Simon said. “I’m worried he may kill me if I call the police.”
“Is he armed?” Dave said.
“I don’t think so. He just seemed unhinged.” Simon said. “I need back up, the rest of the PCC are busy.”
“Well I’ll be needing to head up to London soon myself.” Dave said. “But I might be able to help if I come right away.”
“Sure. See you soon.” Simon said.
“And you.” Dave said before hanging up.
“Look, I’ve been given a diary.” Eleanor said. “From uncle Jeff.”
“That’s wonderful, dear.” Sarah said.
“Sorry to ruin the mood, as it were,” Dave said. “But apparently a madman has entered the church claiming sanctuary.”
“Like what criminals used to do in Medieval times in order to avoid the death penalty?” Will said.
“Exactly.” Dave said. “So I need to go over there and try and get this man out. I’ll see you this afternoon.”
Dave prepared to leave the room.
“You don’t think I’m going to allow you to go near a potential psychopath by yourself, do you?” Sarah said. “I’m coming too.”
“Don’t. It’s far too dangerous. Besides, Simon will be there.” Dave said.
“No. I’m coming as well.” Sarah said.
“I’ll join you.” Will said. “It will certainly be more interesting than watching Eleanor read a leather book.”
“Hey!” Eleanor said. “But if you’re all going, then I want to come too.”
“You two are certainly not coming.” Dave said. “I don’t know who this person is, but if he’s claiming sanctuary then he must have committed a heinous crime.”
“Or he’s just gone in there to pray?” Eleanor said.
There was a moment of pause.
“No. Simon wouldn’t be so worried if that was the case.” Dave said. “I’m going alone. You’re all safer here.”
“So are you.” Sarah said. “Either we’re all going or none of us are.”
“Yeah.” Eleanor said.
Dave looked at his family for a moment.
“Fine.” Dave said. “Let’s go.”
And so Dave, Sarah, Will, and Eleanor made their way to the church. Eleanor making sure to pick up her new diary and a pen before leaving.
“You can’t make me leave.” The sanctuary claimant in the church said to Simon. “They can’t arrest me if I stay.”
“Yes they can.” Simon said. “You just won’t be executed. But you would have to go into permanent exile.”
“No. I don’t want to do that.” The sanctuary claimant said. “I just want to go home to my family.”
“Well, you should have thought about that before you decided to murder someone.” Simon said.
Just then, Dave, Sarah, Will, and Eleanor barged into the church.
“I’m here, Simon.” Dave said. “I hope you don’t mind the others being here too.”
“Besides the fact that this man has just murdered someone, no.” Simon said.
The sanctuary claimant turned round and stood up.
“Oh no! You called the heavies, you bastard! I told you not to call anyone.” The sanctuary claimant said whist grabbing Simon by his cassock.
“They’re not Police.” Simon said. “They’re just a family in the village. I just thought it would be best to have them with me.”
“Why? You scared of me? YOU SCARED OF ME?!” The claimant said, shaking Simon as he did so.
“Ok, ok. That’s enough.” Dave said to the sanctuary claimant, deciding to take action.
Dave managed to free the man from Simon, and the man safely sat down in the pew.
Simon quickly rushed to the vestry to call the police, whilst Dave tried to find out more about the man claiming sanctuary.
Sarah and Will safely sat in a back pew, watching the scene unfold.
“Well, this is certainly an exciting way to start the year.” Will said.
“Yes.” Sarah said. “You weren’t expecting your birthday to pan out like this did you, Eleanor.” Sarah said, before realising that Eleanor wasn’t next to her.
“Eleanor?” Sarah said. Looking around the pew. “Where’s Eleanor gone? Eleanor?”
“Relax, mum, she’s over there.” Will said, pointing to Eleanor, who sat in another pew, writing something in her diary.
Sarah sighed with relief.
After a while, the Police arrived to safely escort the sanctuary claimant out of the church.
“Not sure it was wise you to have a woman and children here, Reverend.” Stuart Kennedy said.
“That wasn’t my intention.” Simon said. “I just wanted Dave here. The others decided to tag along as well.”
“Hmm,” Stuart said. “Well, thanks for continuing him anyway, Reverend. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
“Enjoy the rest of yours.” Simon said.
“Thanks,” Stuart said before returning to his car.
“A bar fight got out of hand.” Dave said. “He panicked, knowing he’d go to prison. He thought he couldn’t afford to, so he claimed sanctuary, thinking he’d be safe.”
“Was he planning to squat in the church?” Sarah said.
“I don’t know.” Dave said. “If he was, then it’s a good thing we managed to get rid of him.”
“Yeah.” Sarah said.
“Hmm.” Dave said. “Well, I better get to work. I’ll see you this evening.”
“Ok,” Sarah said.
With that, Dave went to his car and went to the station.
“I’m sorry you’re present opening was disrupted, darling.” Sarah said as she drove Will and Eleanor to their respective schools. “We’ll do something nice when you get back from school.”
“It’s fine, mum.” Eleanor said. “I quite liked having a bit of excitement.”
“That’s fine.” Sarah said.
There was silence for a moment, before Eleanor broke it.
“I’ve decided, I’m not going to be a diarist.”
“Oh, you’re not?” Sarah said.
“No.” Eleanor said. “I’m going to be a crime novelist.”