I’ve stared at this prompt for over an hour nothing comes to mind but I am stubborn so here goes.
The nuns of St. Leon Abbey gathered in the meadow after Mother Superior rang the end of day bell. They paced nervously waiting for the monks from St. Mark Abbey to join them. Both had competed in this odd game of chance by a secret contest that offered them special gifts they coveted from their lives before them went to the abbey. Like one nun, really missed wearing lip stick. Her lips were always dry without the silky gloss. She was ecstatic to find 6 tubes with her name on in her room after winning the challenge. The monks were really annoyed with her winning streak but oh well, she chuckled happily. Mother Superior couldn’t see the invisible gloss at all. In fact, everything they won in the challenges was invisible to their superiors. No one understood how the magic worked, they just accepted it was happening.
But then came the message, that they had to pay a token for the new challenge. What was the token? Why now? None of the other challenges had a token attached. The nuns and monks agreed there was an implied risk now but they couldn’t pin what specifically made them feel like the game had changed. They discussed everything they gained since the first challenge was offered. It had been so much fun competing against each other especially knowing their superiors were none the wiser.
Life at the abbey, was extremely boring. Same old routines, same old food, for that matter same old clothes until their secret benefactor proposed a way for them to have material pleasures without consequences.
It was by mutual decision to accept the additional risk by both sides. How bad could it be?
A card appeared in the morning on the altar stating what the additional token would be if they chose to proceed. The nuns decided to look at what they were competing to win. A garden of vegetables and fruit that abundantly produced in all seasons. The nuns agreed never having food shortages was worth the risk. They had to beat the monks.
At the same time, the monks were having similar discussions about taking the risk. Food was huge at both abbeys.
Eating once a day might work for their superiors but both the monks and nuns were tired of a grumbling tummy before bed at night.
Neither dared open the other card until they met in the meadow after the night bell rang. They scurried through the days mundane tasks ignoring the hunger. The thought of having ample food made their suffering fade.
The nuns and monks opened the risk card together. There were four levels to the challenge. What made this different from the other challenges was on each level the loser sacrificed their soul. The silence mocked them. Accept or decline. They had never declined but then there had never been a risk like this. Both agreed hunger was a great motivator. Each side secretly agreed they weren’t going to lose.
In the morning, the first quest appeared stating each side must choose a competitor to complete a spiritual quest. There are trinkets that must be collected before they return. Suzanne was chosen by the nuns and David by the monks. They were young, energetic and competitive.
Suzanne didn’t return by the time the Mother Superior rang the night bell. The nuns rushed to the meadow, hoping David would be missing as well. David and the monks were waiting for the nuns. David quickly produced the selenite, the grapes, and the book. David handed the book to Naill. He opened the book, to discover it wasn’t actually a book but a cover for a glass box. Naill lifted the glass box out so everyone could see.
“Suzanne! ” The nuns screamed in horror. Their beloved sister was trapped inside the glass box. A note fell beside Naill’s foot. David picked it up and read it. “Soul number one has been collected.”
The jarring dead silence was like a hopeless black void that swallowed them all. This was real. Both sides decided to end the challenge, they would find another way to get the extra food needed to feed them all.
No one slept well that night especially the nuns. They knew Mother Superior was going to ask where Suzanne was. Sneaking around after dark was one thing but thus far they hadn’t lied until now. They couldn’t tell the Mother Superior the truth.
The note on the altar was quickly grabbed before Mother Superior saw it. The nuns feverishly prayed Mother Superior wouldn’t notice the missing nun. The cards fell in their favor for now. Once Mother Superior headed to her office, they huddled to read the note from their mysterious benefactor.
“One task was completed, three to go. Declining the challenge will cost both sides more souls than the four potential souls.”
What did he mean more souls at risk? The nuns sent a message to the monks to inquire if they received the same message. They tried to focus on their cleaning tasks. Hours had passed since Sister Heather left, she should have returned by now. Where was she? As soon as the bell rang they fled to the meadow.
The monks shackled by fear watched the nuns reaction to the two books lying on the log. The books were identical to the one that held Suzanne. Neither group had the confidence to open the book. The thought of opening the books made them nauseous. They knew something had to be done, but what. How do they get out of this nightmare?
not sure how it ends..