The man in filthy priest’s robes was dragged into the room and thrown onto the cold stone floor. When the hood was torn from his head, he cried out at the sunlight streaming in through the great stained glass window that framed Archdeacon Tongryn’s tall, thin silhouette. The colored glass shattered the sun into brilliant color, except for the center, which gleamed in purest white the shape of the Church’s most treasured orthodoxy. Brother Deskel groaned and averted his eyes in shame. One of the burly guards who had brought him in gave him a kick to the ribs, rolling him over.
“Enough,” the Archdeacon said, holding up a shadowy hand. The guard looked up and nodded, taking a step away.
“Brother Deskel,” the Archdeacon said. His voice was warm, a voice known by all who attended services in the great Cathedral. When he spoke of God’s love for man, about the order inherent in the Universe, that voice was a source of peace and reassurance. In this room, however, it was stripped of such kindness. “You have been brought here on most grievous charges.” The Archdeacon clucked his tongue. “Most grievous indeed.”
“The truth,” Deskel found himself whispering. “I only spoke the truth.” He cried out as the guard kicked him again.
“Now, now,” the Archdeacon said. “No need to resort to that.” He walked around his desk, his hands clasped behind his back, and the light from the window illuminated his features. There were many who said he looked like a generous grandfather or a kindly uncle, and indeed his expression out among the faithful was affable and merciful. There was no kindness in his eyes today.
“Heresy, Brother Deskel,” he whispered. “Heresy is a poison to the church. An infection that must be stopped.” He stood next to the prone man, and Deskel could smell the incense that the priests burned during their services. It burned his nose. “There are those who say that you should cut infections out. Slice off the limb before it rots and destroys the rest of the body.” He looked up into the light. “I would prefer to prevent the disease, of course. To keep it from spreading at all.” He looked down again. “That would be the best for all of us.” He paused. “Will you recant?”
Brother Deskel’s ribs throbbed. His head felt like it was splitting in two. He had barely eaten in days, barely slept, and his limbs felt like great bags of sand that he was forced to carry with him wherever he went. He longed for rest, and even that cold stone floor would feel like paradise if he knew he wouldn’t be hurt anymore.
But he also knew the truth. He knew that the Church had strayed. He had read the manuscripts that they had tried to suppress. He had listened to the teachings of Tequalor Saf, the renegade who spoke out in defiance. Feros Deskel knew the truth in his heart, and his tongue would not let the lie catch air.
Archdeacon Tongryn knelt down, carefully arranging his robes. He grabbed Deskel’s chin and pointed the man’s face to the great window. Deskel tried to look away, but he was too weak to overcome the older man’s grip. “Look at it,” the Archdeacon growled. “Look at what a thousand years of Church thought and tradition have upheld.” Against his own will, Deskel opened his eyes and looked at the great stained glass window. “The paper,” the Archdeacon hissed, “goes over the roll.” He shook Deskel’s head. “Look at it! Over!” He gave Deskel’s head another shake and then let it drop. “As Our Lord intended,” he said, standing up.
The room was silent except for Brother Deskel’s quiet sobbing. The guards looked down in him with contempt.
The Archdeacon turned to face the window. “You are found guilty of heresy in the eyes of the Church, the punishment for which is death.” He ignored the cry that came from the floor. “Be assured that we will root out the rest of your confederates – especially Tequalor Saf.” His lip curled as he said the name. “They will all be given the chance you were. Recant or face the judgment of the Church.” He looked down at the man, who had curled up into a ball. “I hope they choose more wisely than you did.” He gestured to the guards, who picked Deskel up off the floor. He hung limply in their arms as they dragged him away.
Archdeacon Tongryn gazed at the window and thought on the heretics. They would be destroyed in the end. Destroyed or made to see the truth. He clasped his hands together and offered up a silent prayer that the Lord might guide him and the Church to a victory for the truth. At the prayer’s end, he passed his right hand over his left and made a short bow.
The interesting part of his day finished, the Archdeacon sat down and went back to the more mundane business of the Church.
This was inspired by a writing contest over on Worth1000.com, where the topic was to invent a new religion based on something unlikely. The first thing to come to mind was the old story about Ann Landers’ column, how the most mail she ever received on a single topic was about the proper orientation of toilet paper.  The limit on the entry was 150 words, which was harder than I thought it would be. Here, of course, I’m allowed to use as many words as I like, even though it leads to the devastation of the virgin electron fields of South Hackensack….
 The correct orientation, of course, is over. Anything else is clearly wrong, wrong, wrong.