The church seemed too quiet. I paused in the doorway and peered in. A lot of broken wood, plaster and stone covered the floor, making it look highly dangerous. A quick look up and ceiling was holding strong, even though there where a few holes. The place smelt bad; damp, mouldy and animal like. There was no telling what had or was living here.
‘Hello?’ I shouted.
My voice echoed slightly then fade. I didn’t recognise it as it reached my ears. I sounded like some other twenty year old man who was rough and tried from illness and lack of sleep. Well, that was sort of true. The world was now too dangerous to sleep soundly anymore.
I stepped in. Something crunched under my boots. The sounded echoed softer then my voice had. I looked down and saw a pile of yellow bones. They looked too small to be human, but until I’d seen the skull I wouldn’t know for sure. Nudging them with my foot, I couldn’t detect anything further, other then it wasn’t a complete skeleton.
I looked up and around again. Most of the stain glass windows were gone. In their place were loose boards made up wood and metal, however that was only for the lucky few. Weak sunlight was pouring through the rest, causing there to be rectangles topped with arches across the floor. The largest amount of light was coming from the three biggest windows that looked down upon the altar space.
‘Hello? Is anyone here? I come in peace!’ I yelled and held up my empty hands out.
I shuffled into the first patch of light, with my arms up. My shoulders and back ached with the weight of my hiking bag. Some wisps of my too long black hair fell into my eyes and I blew them away with a hot breath. Sweat dampened my dirty t-shirt, not that any more staining would matter. I listened, holding my breath so I could hear more. The church stayed quiet as if it was holding it’s breath too.
I dropped my arms, deciding it was okay for now. Walking slowly towards the altar where I knew there might be some doors leading to backrooms or a basement, my alertness didn’t drop. It was hard walking over the ever shifting rubble, especially because I didn’t want to keep my eyes down all the time.
I reached the first step of the altar which was just visible. There was a dead bird next to my left foot. It looked like a fresh skeleton as it was fully laid out with feathers circling it like a halo. Leaving it, I walked up the rest of the steps and tried to make sense of the space before me.
Churches were apart of the old world now. Though the generation before me had desperately tried to hang on to them and religion, they had been unsuccessful. My generation didn’t care and these ‘holy places’ were just empty meaningless shells now, just liked all the other places.
I craned my neck upwards. Maybe statues had once stood in the hallows above me. Their stony eyes staring blindly down at me in silent judgement. And what would they see? A scruffy, exhausted kid just trying to survive from one moment to the next in a world now gone to hell. Perhaps, their faces would plead with me to save humanity? And I would turn my back on that request, knowing it was an impossible task.
Turning from the wall, knowing I didn’t have to worry about that today, I checked left and right. There was a small blocked up wooden door to my left, possibly an emergency escape. To my right was an open passageway and what looked to be a stone spiral staircase.
To Be Continued….