Five bloody, long days since last television broadcast. Two dry, uncomfortable days since the water stopped running from the taps. Five minutes since the last attack on the front door.

I am running out of time.

Fr. Lachlan Connor sat, backed up against the kitchen wall, studying a horde of flies that had descended on six-day-old chicken. Fr. Lachlan could see the intense wiggling of fat, white maggots as they squirmed with joy over the rotting meat. But he was past caring. Things that might have scared the Bejesus out of him before the ‘boom’ now hardly bothered him at all.

Yesterday, he had witnessed Jennie Grady’s dog get torn apart at the hind limbs. That had bothered him but he had seen so much worse that, with prayer, the images faded into a bookshelf memory. A Stephen King novel that had made bile surge into his throat and hair follicles bulge with fright now sat comfortably between The Rosary and Catholicism for Dummies.

‘Dear God! he was thirsty, tongue swollen, lips cracked and if overused, bleeding. He had already drunk the fontal water and then vomited it over the nave’s sandstone floor unable to take the professional guilt of what he saw as blasphemy. The hours that he had spent in prayer when the world had changed, East versus West in a cacophony of blood & hatred, seemed a total waste of time now. Fr Lachlan reasoned that he would have been better off looting Aubrey’s Stores for supplies, and water.

Don’t think about water. Don’t think about it lapping gently at the shores of a frosty lake or dream about waterfalls where even the humid air could quench the cracked & arid landscape of his mouth.

That way lies madness.

Fr. Lachlan had removed his dog collar two days ago and burnt it, without ceremony or ritual, over the gas ring before that had run out too.

God seemed distant, unavailable and even mocking of his children. Religions had always jockeyed for position with random bloody moments in a general acceptance of each other until The Black Hammer group in Germany had fire-bombed 17 refugee camps all over Germany in a co-ordinated attack.

Three thousand, five hundred and sixty-five souls burned their way to heaven that day. Two hundred and thirty-four of them were children under fourteen.

The outpouring of sympathy from the world had done nothing to stem the tide of ‘us against them’ fury from the Muslim community. All the prayer hashtags and cute avatars with flags were seen as a cheap and tawdry sentiment. Easy to do from behind a computer screen, not easy to feel in the heart.

From then it just got worse.

The ‘Jungle’ at Calais was surrounded and as a huge army under the banner of ‘Christ’s Soldiers’ hacked their way through the flesh and faith of every single migrant there. Initially, the far right were blamed but later it came to light that policemen, soldiers, politicians, doctors, mothers, fathers and even a three Bishops had been very active parts of that massacre.

Then came the bombings of Catholic Primary Schools in Southern Ireland and so much weeping and outrage that Fr. Lachlan thought he would drown during confession. And the ‘boom’ after North Korea had joined the party, in that sullen teenage attitude that it had perfected.

After that, it was hellfire and incident after brutal incident all over the world with cannibalism almost acceptable after the food ran out.

The attacks at the door were from an all female Jihadi Group that had once been called Muslim Mother’s For Peace until their Mosque was pipe-bombed and their Iman, crucified to hastily erected wooden stakes in the pale, lemon scented dawn.

Even the thick, wooden doors of St Mary’s of the Sea wouldn’t last the barrage of fists, steel bars and the solid iron Crescent Moon from the top of the Mosque tower. The priest knew that his death would come soon and he smiled, lips cracking painfully, at the irony, that the death of his faith may come sooner.

Fr Lachlan raised his eyes to the drab pebbled-dashed tenement block that rose blackened and windowless in front of the kitchen window. The only colour amongst the muted greys and browns, a slick of scarlet letters, either paint or blood’.

IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE OURSELVES

A surprisingly literary piece of graffiti, stark, against the working class smoothness of age-old poverty and despair. And Fr. Lachlan wondered which bit had taken the most effort? The hatred, the grief, the violence or the ignorance?

Or when the world had stopped believing it’s peaceful rhetoric and had gone to war instead.