• Once upon a thyme, there lived an insect. Well, maybe twice. But probably only once, seeing as the unwholly priest kicked it up in a hurry.

    Nathaniel Punndet was a priest. Or, close to one. You see, he never fully took Priesthood school, mainly because it was too big to fit in his briefcase. Instead, he went for a more compact companion and took "Werbshire's Guide to All that is Holy: Beginners, Level 3" for his case. Unfortunately, the case went dismally and was never solved, so he was prompted to pick up a copy of "Werbshire's Guide to All that is Holy: Beginners, Level 2" instead. Also unfortunately, he happened to be the only one in or near town with any degree of training on this subject (everyone else had learned priesthood 101 on chairs) and was taken unanimously as the "unwholly" priest.

    I say "Also unfortunately" for the town's sake.

    Nathaniel rather enjoyed his job, though his performance was only fair; he refused to hire enough clowns to act in a full-fledged circus, as his book clearly stated: "RULE #4- No clowning around on the job!" The unwholly priest, stern-minded as he was, worshipped the book, but only on the Sundays when he could freely stand on his head. This often brought the people to Tiers, a neighboring civilization with a bar that happened to be several miles from the town. Whether this means the bar was far from Tiers or our priest's home, and what the bar was called, has been obscured through history; the name of the setting town, however, was mainly just too unimportant to remember.

    The unwholly priest was much too busy for such trivia matters, however. And rightly so, having passed a trivial quiz on trivium and anxious to waste no more time. Now he regretted throwing all those clocks in the waste bin to fill space. Nathaniel was going to perform a house cleansing at the local theatre, and I regret to say he was going to perform it rather poorly. A do scampered by as the last re of sun fell; Goodness me, the priest thought, the la's of the theatre's singers are so fa away, I'd better make it in time for ti or they may bring me back to this do. Finally the theatre was in sight, and in recycled time from the waste bin, the unwholly priest stepped through the large, oaken doors.

    Sir Halsyon, the theatre owner, was up in flames at how late Punndet was. Quickly the choral singers splashed water over him in an effort to retard the fire, while Nathaniel stood there reciting "RULE #53- Holy water is for religious use only! See footnote 2." "Thank you for being such a WONDEROUS HELP, Punndet!" Sir Halsyon spat. "Well, you're welcome," the priest replied, "though I apologize for not reaching the footnote in time."

    "Never mind that!" Sir Halsyon fumed. The chorus girls stifled the smoke with more water. "The demon is out! He's about!"
    "Well, where?"
    "How should I know!? You were late, you find him!"
    "Well, then…"
    "Stop saying that, it isn't well! Now get moving!" Sir Halsyon shoved the unwholly priest into the dressing room hall.

    "Very dismal, then," Nathaniel said, "Wrong. Awry, let's consult the book." The priest opened his copy of Werbshire's Guide to All that is Holy: Beginners, level 2 and leafed to the page on exorcism. "On Locating Evil Spirits…" the title was read. The text below was green, and the footnotes were a nice cyan. "Step 1- Holy water must be sprinkled upon items and trinkets for the flooding of vile energies." Punndet grasped his aspergillum and began sprinkling items in the candle-lit hall: nameplates, sconces, and the pots of some creeping ferns. He could tell what the plants were in the dark, because he nearly tripped on one creeping halfway down the hall and stumbled into a dressing room. Flailing about and trying to regain balance, the unwholly priest wholly tripped on the floor rug, moving a wardrobe aside which dislocated a hand mirror which knocked a tray of perfume bottles over which rolled to the glass coat-stand in the corner which toppled a vase full of flowers at the entrance of the room.

    Smoke billowed from the inert vase. It rose to the sealing, stopped for a moment, broke through the sealing and gathered at the ceiling. Nathaniel almost swooned as the smoke condensed into a horrible form, a sick and twisted form, the horn-clad form of a spiteful, bloodied demon. The demon crossed his arms and promptly told them to relocate themselves onto his upper torso, where they positioned themselves across his chest. Two yellow, glowing eyes glared down at the priest as he lay on the floor in awe.

    "ARE YOU THE PRIEST SENT TO VANQUISH ME?" The demon snarled. "Er, no, I mean YES, I mean, well, I mean, not well, I mean, horrible, I mean…" Nathaniel stuttered before the demon cut him off. "WELL?? GET ON WITH IT! ARE YOU A PRIEST OR NOT?"
    "Well, yes, I mean, no, I mean, not exactly…"
    "OH, COME ON!"
    "I, I have partial training, yes, but not complete, no, well, not whole to say the least, that is, UNWHOLE, I mean…"
    "… Yes?" uttered the unwholly clear-thinking priest.

    Nathaniel picked up his aspergillum with wavering hands. "Wait!" He shouted. "I have to consult the manual for this!"
    "UGH…" The demon put his hand to his forehead as the scatter-brained priest searched through his book.
    "Right, grasp with one hand, quick flick, quote… Okay." Punndet flicked the gilded device and quoted, "The power of Christ…" The aspergillum flew from his hand. He scampered and picked it up.

    The demon moaned when Nathaniel realized the ball was empty. He howled when the priest spent 10 minutes looking for how to use the thing in the book. He wailed when the priest lost his place, screamed as the priest quoted each footnote for memory, and nearly cried when the priest discovered he was out of holy water and had to get more from Sir Halsyon. When Nathaniel finally returned, reread the instructions, loaded the aspergillum, and bookmarked the proper page, it was early morning. The demon woke up.

    "UGH! BY LUCIFER'S FLAMES! YOU KNOW WHAT, FORGET THIS! YOU'RE USELESS. ABSOLUTLEY USELESS! I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS… THIS FOLLY! I'M LEAVING!" The demon fumed back into a cloud of smoke, floated out of the dressing room, through the foyer, and out of the great oaken doors into the morning air.

    "You fool! You idiot!! You numbskull!!" Sir Halsyon raged.
    "Distressingly then, Sir Halsyon, your demon is gone," Punndet stated. "Stop that!" Halsyon shouted. "Say 'well'! You're getting on my nerves!"
    "But Sir Halsyon, you told me to-"
    "Never mind what I told you! I've had to hold up two shows tonight waiting for you! Just… Get out of here, you nut!"
    Sir Halsyon kicked Nathaniel out of the theatre. Another job well done, the unwholly priest thought to himself as he grinned in the crisp morning air.