Suddenly the insistent trill of the phone pierced the silence. He swiftly ran down to answer it, his plain back cassock whispering on the stairs. With trembling hands he picked up the phone, the colour draining from his face as he heard the menacing voice on the other end of the line.
Slowly he replaced the receiver on the hook. With a lingering backward glance, he opened the back door and slipped out into the still night. The air was clammy and not a breath of air disturbed the overhanging trees as he hurried up the narrow lane to the church, his heart thudding uncomfortably against the confines of his chest.
He went in the small door to the rear of the church and paused to listen. All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing and the thump of his heart. As his eyes acclimatized to the darkness he walked slowly towards the confessional box, resisting the urge to flee with every step. He paused outside the Priest’s door. The handle wouldn’t yield. He walked to the Penitent’s door and swung it open. As he sank onto the kneeler the metal grille flew open and Father Boyd reared back with a shout of terror, hearing the sickening crunch of bone against unforgiving stone.