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Ringing in the Holiday

Church bells chiming on a Christmas morn ....

At 7 am. For ten minutes. Can't someone hit the snooze button? They finally stop, and then three loud gongs. I keep waiting for the next four, to indicate the hour, but nothing happens. I close my eyes and drift back to sleep, hoping to tune back into the dream channel where Mick Jagger is coaching me on weight loss.

The bells begin again. Perhaps not everyone in Fowey is up and checked in for the morning service. It's the exact same song, if one call call the less than a-pealing melody a song. I'm thinking that one of the local pranksters has broken into the bell tower and pressed the big red "DO NOT TOUCH" button. I close the window above my head, which muffles the clanging, but only by a little. Mick is nowhere to be found, but now I'm in a boat cruising through some tranquil islands. Some are inhabited, some are not. One is a giant cube of granite with what seems to be a bar cut into its midst. I see Larry partying in the bar with people I don't know, wearing the same gold and black women's necklace he had on the day we first hooked up. I don't know who he's with, and the boat won't stop for me to find out. I'm furious. He told me he was working, and there he is at some new Cliff Bar. How dare he.

How dare those bells start up again for a third time. This is not the peaceful Cornwall Christmas that I've signed on for. I become convinced that until everyone is up and accounted for at the church, the bells will keep on ringing. There must be some annual Fowey tradition on Christmas morning, one not published in the guide books. All residents MUST report to the graveyard underneath the church's bell tower. I've sensed an underlying darkness here the past couple days, something sinister beneath the idyllic charm. Surely this doesn't apply to guests. It's time for the yearly Christmas stoning. The call to arms continues, ringing through the town, drowning out the twittering sea birds and my snoring bed companion.

They'll have to come for me, these Cornish ritual assassins with stones in their pockets. This attic bed is far too comfortable. I close my eyes and wait for the bells to stop and the screams of this year's seasonal sacrifice to begin.