Seville, Spain, 1579
Even in the early hours of the day the people could tell that the day would bring sweltering heat, thanks to the lazy, late summer sun. The people did their best to escape the sky’s light. But deep down in the castle’s dungeon, the stone blocks that made up the slightly moist walls kept the atmosphere cool.
Two figures walked along the cramped quarters of the sepultural corridors. One was short and carried a sheath of papers. The other was tall and foreboding, dressed in red garments as deep as blood. The figure in red began to speak.
“Okay Bruce, what do we have going on today?”
“Well sir, we have the usual poor, deluded souls to force to confess…”
“Convince, Bruce. We convince. Don’t use the ‘f’ word anymore. PR was really insistent on that. Turns out we’re giving the wrong impression about what we do down here. Lord knows it matters. Haaa! *Ahem* Carry on Bruce.”
“Yes sir, besides the usual amount of…eager converts, Eduardo the Extra Holy is supposed to be stopping by to inspect the iron maidens. You know, the same old thing. Checking if the hinges are properly oiled and the blood collection trays are empty and clean.”
“Ughhh. Eduardo. I hate that guy! He acts all holier-than-thou…”
“Well sir, it is kind of in his name,” Bruce ventured.
“We all went to the same seminary and we all learned how to ‘convince’ Jews and Muslims to confess their sins the same way.” Bishop Carocchio said with a sideway glance. “I don’t get how he got a promotion nickname before I did! Alright Bruce, get the slaves, or whatever we call the minions these days, to clean everything. But not too clean, because then it’ll look like we don’t use any of the equipment, (like the annual budget isn’t small enough). Knock the dents out of the thumb screws, make sure the ropes on the racks are taut and throw a new layer of straw on the floor to soak up the excess blood.”
“Anything else I should know about?”
“Ummm, oh, today is Antonio’s birthday, we’re going to have fortified wine and some bread in the break chamber, and it’s also Mauricio’s last day.”
“Wow. No shit. Already? Seems like Mauricio came to us just the other month, dewy-eyed and eager to put the hurtin’ on some heathen Jews.”
“It was just the other month sir. Turns out that he stubbed his toe on one of the dissection tables and managed to get a nice workers’ comp deal.”
“I swear, these new workplace rules are killing me! I remember the days were you’d go home with an accidentally severed arm and you were grateful! These days, a novice gets a hangnail and he goes home with a fat sack of doubloons.
Alright, we’ll celebrate the birthday and the retirement at the same time. Give Mauricio the cheapest hourglass we have as a farewell gift.”
Suddenly, a man runs up to Bishop Carocchio, out of breath and panting heavily. After a few moments, he catches his breath.
“Your semi-holiness! There’s been a…”
“Ah, ah, ah. Try it again and say it correctly this time, lowly swine,” Carocchio said, rolling his eyes.
“Yes sir. Sorry. Oh Bishop Carocchio, He-Who-Has-God’s-Ear (and a God-sized dong), The Scourge of Barcelona, Monsignor of Mayhem, Mr. Brooks…”
“I’m still not entirely sold on that last one,” the Bishop said hesitantly.
“Give it time sir,” said Bruce. “You’ll warm up to it. The guys in marketing said that it’s really testing well in Toledo.”
“Toledo? What a Godforsaken shithole. I can think of no worse place to inhabit or visit in all of Spain!”
“…may I continue sir?”
“The prisoners are attempting to revolt and escape sir! They mean to win Wimbledon!”
“Not entirely sure what that means, but this is bad timing. Besides today’s inspection, Torquemada is in town. If he hears about this, we’re all screwed! Deploy the guards! Get them some pikes and swords and shit! Stab whatever they can, then hide the bodies in one of the rear cells before the inspection! Go man! Go!”
The Bishop shakes his head as the little man runs away to follow out his orders. “These people wouldn’t know how to tighten their bodkins without me. Also, Bruce, can you check to make sure that bodkins is a chronologically correct reference?”
“I’m sure it is your holy-ish. You make nary a mistake.”
“True. True.” He said with an authoritative nod. “By the way, where are with this month’s quota of converts?”
“We have reached 84% of the expected converts and 134% of the confessors/corpses.”
“Oh dear, sounds like the ‘convincing artists’ (honestly, who in PR comes up with this stuff?) are getting a little feisty again. Go out into the back alleys and hire a few of the vagrants and wastrels to stand in as converts for the afternoon. Offer them some bread and a few alms. Then just chuck their dead bodies into the river after Eduardo leaves.”
“Of course master.”
“Alright. Looks like things are good to go out here. I’m going to retire to my chambers to fast and pray to the Lord, our God….Just kidding! I’m going to molest some young boys and make an offering to Ba’al. The floor’s all yours Bruce!”