I cower in the pews as the priest lifts his arms. I can smell his body odour from here. Thick, sharp, fetid. I wonder if he sleeps in his soutane, sloughs it through the sins in his dreaming, an armour against the lusts of the untamed dark underside of the mind. He bellows air and I watch as it pours out of his throat. He has dark smears on his molars, tar-coloured, and I wonder whether his teeth are stained with the heavy words that he preaches, with the dark stories that he drags from the page into his sermons, drenched with horror and evil. The ceiling fan circles overhead, racing itself around like a sugar-drunk fly. The congregation rises around me and I lurch to my feet, follow the dirge leadenly, half a note behind. I think about Latin. I think about Caesar writing ‘veni, vidi, vici’ and pronouncing it with soft w sounds, sucking the power from the words, turning them fey. The priest whips his arms to the heavens and a flood of stench oozes over the murmuring devoted. The woman next to me, seventy-six and tottering on four inch heels, sways as it reaches her, shakes herself, paints on a new face of stubborn piety. The grey-suited man in front of me retches, just for a second, and turns ashen like his suit. I let my eyes go liquid, and they slide up a stained glass image of the risen Christ, golden and bleeding, his heart fiery red and leaping from his chest. As I stare, a bird comes searing through the sky and slams – SHLUNK – into the glowing glass heart and slides down with nauseating slowness, leaving a bloody smear down the stomach of the Lord. The priest’s jaw tightens. A muscle pulses in his cheek. The organ roars to life and dust settles from the ceiling as Frescobaldi’s old dead notes come flooding back upright like a steam-powered zombie.