The Convent

As I secured my concealed weapons and got ready to leave site, an echo of footsteps came toward me.

“Ready then?” a familiar voice called out.

My CO has always seen me as the baby of the group, and I guess in a way I am if you count my being the only female in his team. I simply nod a turn to face what’s left of my team.

“Be careful – no man who has gone in there has ever come back alive.”

That last part brought back memories and images of David; the first of our team to go in. The first of six. We managed to find his head on surveillance one day, the others we’ve found nothing. I pulled myself from the images and locked the memories up tight. I can’t afford any sort of weakness in the hours coming.

“Good thing I’m not a man.” I bite out bravely as I can muster. I can see my CO’s lip quirk at that before I turn and leave the site. After all, why send a man to do a woman’s job.  It’s not like they could blend into the Convent.

The details of my mission are simple: infiltrate, recon, extraction. I wish I could say it’s just the latter I’m worried about considering the lack of success from my teammates, but they also got to go in for their recon with high tech surveillance and satellite equipment along with weapons. I have two weapons, thankfully, but knives wouldn’t be my pick if I had a choice, although that is it apart from the clothes on my back.

On approach to the large, old building, and eerie sense of silence settles over me. Our intel had the population of the convent around 300 hundred give or take but I get the impression of abandonment.

Though most Convents would be shut out from the rest of the world, the tall gates I pass through are wide open, though hardly inviting. I come to a stop in the courtyard and turn on my heel to study my surroundings. The silence continues and I can’t help but feel the ball of foreboding grow in the pit of my stomach.

I start to wander through the outside pathways, reasonable fear keeps me from trespassing any further inside. It takes almost an hour, but I am finally found by someone. Though she wears the clothes of a nun, something about it isn’t right.

As she takes me to another room and undresses me, confiscating my lesser of the two concealed weapons, I focus on trying to put my finger on it. By the time I’m redressed the same as she and lead to a large hall, my mind has failed me and instead I take in everything I can of the journey.

The room is filled with what I’d equate to the 300 nuns we’d accounted for in our intel. I read my vows and pledged myself to the convent and the divine cause in a daze before being led to dinner.

Every little detail of the events and rooms etch themselves into my memory and yet my mind continues to work tirelessly to find the fault in it all. Though I can’t see it, I can feel it and I know it is there.

During dinner, the hall is silent. It remains that way as the room begins to file out. I’m gestured to to follow and I do so silently. We travel to the far side of the lot and descend down a vast network of staircases. My mind begins to formulate exit strategies but I keep coming to the same conclusion: one way in, one way out.

We finally enter a vastly cavernous room at what seems to be the front. It is very old world, all stone with braziers alight. not too far in front of me there is a raised stage and at the center is a dais.

I’m huddled into the masses like cattle but take a moment to turn and survey the back half of the chamber. We were wrong. Our information was so very wrong. Before my eyes the population of 300 exploded in excess of a thousand.

Whilst my brain tries to process this my attention is pulled back to the front of the room where a small group of nuns are mounting the stage. One addresses us all and welcomes those of us who are knew, but I don’t hear anything else she says. Instead my focus is drawn to the two men being dragged out behind her to the dais.

Steve and Carter.

The last two men we sent here.

I stand rooted to the ground and force my eyes to stay open as the woman around me abuse and destroy my friend’s bodies. I force my stomach not to betray me as they begin to partake in their flesh. And I will myself to stay standing, for my face to not betray emotion as a cup of their blood is sent along the line of women in my direction.

I have five more days here without extraction. And extraction only comes once I’m outside of these walls. So far, I haven’t seen how that will happen.

Prompt: “Be careful – no man who has gone in there has ever come back alive.”
“Good thing I’m not a man.”

Ummm. Idk? Lol.

X.H.

I grew up never knowing my father. I can honestly say that I never missed that aspect of my life and I only remember a wonderful childhood with my single Mother. I was a little confused as to why she never dated anyone else, but it never concerned me until I was about nineteen. In the year leading up to my eighteenth birthday, Mum started getting increasingly skittish and paranoid, also pushing me to apply to universities and get my life onto a good path after high school. I just assumed she was being a normal, over protective Mum. That was until I found the boxes of postcards in the attic.

My eighteenth was just Mum and I. It was a perfect and quite day at home; but when morning came, she was gone.

It wasn’t until a year later when I was cleaning out the house of clutter that I found the postcards from a X.H. There was never anything written explicitly, but it was easy to tell he was bad news. Especially when most of the contents contained demands – one being that she join him once I was eighteen, no questions.

I showed the cards to the police but they did nothing, so I changed courses at university to give me more skills and resources to look into my Mother’s dangerous contact and disappearance. A year and a half later, I was still hitting dead ends but apparently, my digging had caught someone’s attention. Or rather, a whole lot of someones.

Which is how I came to be 26, and working for the NSA with my heart torn between bringing my Mother home alive and putting a stop to a man third on the most wanted list.

Prompt: Cleaning out your parents’ attic, you find a shoebox full of postcards from a person signed X.H. addressed to your mother that date back from the day of your birth to your 18th birthday.