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As insignificant as it was compared to caring for the less fortunate, Amanda couldn’t rid herself of the disappoint she felt for not having been home on Thanksgiving for the Krueger family tradition of decorating the Christmas tree. For the past fifteen years, ever since daddy had first placed the angel in her little three-year-old hand and rose her up above his shoulders so she could affix it to the top, it had been her annual job to do just that.
“Angel to angel,” he would always say with each passing year, Amanda’s character becoming more and more like one. She couldn’t pass a homeless person on the street without giving them at least half of what she had, couldn’t visit a hospital without consoling every ill patient. A natural instinct to help those suffering, it came as no surprise when Amanda declared at the age of ten that she would one day become a nun.
And now here she was, her first year as a novice, serving the Lord by serving the mentally ill inmates of the Westin Hills Asylum. The worst of the worst were housed in The Tower, its crazed residents so far gone that they were left to drown in each others madness, looked over by no more than two guards during daylight hours, with no one to watch over them on nights and weekends.
This was an area not even the convent’s Mother Superior dared to go near, yet something in Amanda’s heart told her this is where she needed to be, and so she had put in the request back in September.
Since no one in the church had any experience with these mad men Amanda only ever received one piece of advice from one of the guards.
“Never forget, they’re like wild animals. They can turn on you at any time.”
But right away something seemed to be different when she interacted with the inmates. Behaving like rabid dogs, lunatics of the highest breed while under the authority of the male guards, when it came time for Amanda to visit an unusual calm would take effect, all beasts tamed by an unseen force, perhaps her kindness, as she tried to communicate with them, console them, pray with them.
This companionship is why she hadn’t had the heart to abandon them on Thanksgiving, but by choosing to stay near she couldn’t help but feel guilty for having missed the tradition of placing the angel atop the tree. She felt she had not only let her family down, but the angel as well. Sure it was just an inanimate object, but it represented the angels in the Kingdom of Heaven. No matter how nonsensical it was she couldn’t rid herself of the image of these heavenly beings shedding tears.
In the end Amanda knew in her heart she had made the right decision, which in turn gave her the confidence in knowing The Tower was where she needed to be on the day before Christmas as well. This would be the last day before the celebration of Christ’s birth, the last day she’d have to pass on the teachings to those she looked after before the guards locked them up for the long holiday weekend.
That Christmas Eve afternoon Amanda arrived at The Tower with two full baskets of freshly-baked Christmas cookies. The two guards on duty were the first to taste the warm soft treats, both cheery and excited for the upcoming holiday weekend.
Like a kindergarten teacher calmly controlling her class, once she was in their hellhole Amanda passed out cookies to every inmate there was, eight dozen plus four more to be precise.
Next it was time for the lesson of the day: The Virgin Mary giving birth to the Lord Almighty. All ears listened to their beloved teacher, all child-like eyes transfixed on her.
Once Amanda’s watch read ten minutes to five she had everyone hold hands so she could lead them in prayer.
This was followed by the reciting of Our Father, many of her pupils echoing the title of the prayer as she said it aloud.
Mid-way through and the unmistakable CLANK of The Tower’s caged pin locked into place. Amanda’s chant immediately came to a halt, everyone looking up towards the entrance.
The novice nun hurried for the caged door, the others following not that far behind, her heart now beginning to beat twice as fast as usual.
Indeed the wall-high cage had been locked. A second before Amanda called out to the two guards the heavy iron door of The Tower shut hard and loud, the thick bolts that secured it letting off rusty thuds as they slammed into place.
In their haste to get home for the holiday weekend the two guards had forgotten all about sister Amanda. Her long innocent hands, which were now gripping the wire fencing of the metal pin started to tremble in fear.
She closed her eyes tighter than ever before and began to pray deeper than ever before, pleading with her God to place a thought of remembrance into one if not both of the guards’ minds.
A hard hand came down on Amanda’s shoulder, jolting her eyes wide open. Trying to keep her composure she turned around, removing the hand and speaking in an authoritative voice. “Now boys, you must behave yourselves. The guards just stepped out to get more cookies. You want more cookies, don’t you? Come now, how about another story while we’re waiting?”
Their eyes were no longer childlike, now crazed with dark intent, their mouths salivating in lust.
She tried reasoning…
She tried threatening…
The hands of a hundred maniacs closed in.
As they tore away her white dress of innocence, her bridal gown to Christ, she begged, implored Him to somehow save her, but was only answered with images of his battered body being nailed to the cross.
So this was her fate? After having preached on The Virgin Mary, the extreme irony of losing her pureness to a hundred mad men?!
As they tore…
As they ravaged…
The angels above wept like never before.
Son of a Hundred Maniacs