"Anger," said Father Joseph, "May at times be your ally, as well as your enemy. In fact, there will be times when, as it were, anger could conceivably be thought of as a sort of
friend . The tigers of wrath may indeed be..."
There was a mass and approving cheer at the outburst, which faded quickly as the Headmaster's upper lip curled back from his yellowed teeth.
Father Joseph had a pretty good idea from whence the disruption had come. His shoes tocked loudly on the linoleum as he strolled at a frighteningly casual pace toward the rear of the room.
wiser than the horses of instruction. Anger is an energy. One that God and His servants have employed to great effect since long before dawn of Man. I'm quite certain that you'll have no idea whom it was that I was quoting, do you, Monatague?"
There was no snickering now. Montague, a lanky youth with sallow skin and a pasted-down cowlick, picked at a shard of skin on the side of his thumb in an effort to avoid eye contact.
Father Joseph leaned over the desk and spoke slowly and distinctly to the top of Montague's head. "Well?"
"S'in the Bible?" The boy savaged his thumb anew, and let a good few seconds pass before he forced out the obligatory, "Sir."
"Astounding!" roared Father Joseph.
"Yeah, and that geezer from the Sex Pistols."
Twenty-seven pairs of eyes suddenly found themselves glued to various, alternate points of interest when their Headmaster swivelled a savage glance around the room, triumphant for what further proof was needed to demonstrate the fact that Frederick Montague the Third was, like his father and God knew, his father's father before him, the worst kind of semi-congenital idiot.
The priest returned his stare to the boy, drew a deep breath and slammed his hand down hard on the desk. There was a distinct sound of something splintering.
Montague had quite spoiled the lesson, an important lesson, a lesson that everyone, man or boy, who'd ever passed through the halls of this venerable college had failed to learn.
"When anger walks
" he wheezed, "It is at its strongest
The priests mouth suddenly split itself into a wide and rather snaggle-toothed gape, and from it spilled a hideous, malodorous cloud of black smoke.
The rest of the class remained rooted in their seats while the miasma that had erupted from the priest's interior solidified around Montague's head and torso, transforming their classmate into nothing that any of them could recognise or would ever want to.
The foul amalgam of boy and darkness then sprouted a bewildering array of eyes and limbs. It managed, somehow, to both teeter and slither toward the front of the class, making a beeline for the foreign exchange student, a pale fellow from Belgium who had no friends at all and whose surname no-one remembered nor were apt to pronounce properly in any case.
Father Joseph made a sound which crawled from his throat, an unhinged, diseased sort of bark. Then he spoke as a man would, though his tone boomed several octaves below its usual register, "Alf, oh dear, dear, Alf. It appears to me that you have been remiss in visiting the barber this week, as instructed. As indeed you have been instructed, for the past three weeks. Clearly, you are in dire need
Half a second later, the atrocity summoned from its lair shot forth a sickle-shaped appendage and shore off the top of Alf's head. The creature slurped gleefully as it feasted on the greyish pulp its action had exposed.
of a haircut."
The students, to that point still gaping. all at once erupted to their feet and attempted to flee for the door, in the process falling over one another, trampling and moaning like panicked cattle.
"You there, Johnson! Do, please, tell me is it just me? Or are you actually harbouring an entire cholera plague beneath those fingernails?" Several large and invisible dogs were minced alive, or Father Joseph laughed, it was difficult to tell. "Hygiene, dear boy, makes the Infant Jesus smile!"
Archibald Johnson, unfond of soap and a little too well-fed to make the front of the pack, found himself abruptly bereft of both hands, each grasped in turn by a pulpy tentacle and bitten neatly off at the wrist.
Father Joseph's eyes rolled back to their whites. "As for the rest of you..." he resembled a beast more than a man now, his features twisted, his fingers clawed to hooks. "
you're all on detention!"
Montague came around slowly, with the impression he'd either just woken up after the best bender yet of his brief but soundly wasted life, or that he had been smacked over the head with a breeze block. He opened his eyes, to a nightmare of bloody shreds and spattered gore.
"Who then is he that can stand before Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine."
It was Father Joseph. Or what was left of him; the terrifying, ageless man was crumpled beside him like a battered, lumpish overcoat.
"What the hell
?" Montague tried to rise, but a feeble hand, of no more substance than a dry bit of kindling settled on his arm and yet it bore a weight that defied his attempt to get up. Montague thought, then, that he just might wet himself. "What happened? What the fuck just
"Behind him he makes a wake to shine; one would think the deep to be gray-haired." Father Joseph exhaled a snort, the breath rattling deep in his lungs. "Nothing on earth is like him, one made without fear. He looks on everything that is high."
The old man wheezed, his mouth buckling into a grim thing that could have been a smile. He collapsed then, leaving Montague witness the priest's remains visibly shrivelling, shrinking into themselves until all that was left was a set of Master's robes from which protruded greasy, translucent flaps of skin. These rapidly dried to a paperish brittleness as he watched. Yet Father Joseph's words, impossibly and very clearly, came to him:
"He is king
A bell tolled - the sound of second period ending, the scuff and thud of teenagers making their way to the next class.
Montague stood, shakily, staring about him at the butcher's shop of human parts and too the withered Headmaster, who resembled an empty sausage-skin. The youth though he could hardly be termed as such now reached for the robes, shook the parchment shreds of Father Joseph free of them and trod with great deliberation toward the blackboard. He slipped the robes on, letting loose a soft, copper-tainted burp before the doorhandle turned. The first of his pupils were arriving. He felt his lips slide apart, unsure whether his face was attempting to bend itself into some expression resembling joy, as the rest of it came to him:
the sons of Pride."
Righteous anger churned like a bitter ocean inside him, and the man who had for a time lived as Frederick Montague the Third knew, with absolute and terrifying clarity, that they were all of them terrible sinners.