Midnight Mass




A battered plastic clock hangs on the wall. It reads about a quarter past eleven.

Balding tinsel has been blue-tacked to the water-damaged coving.


The scratching continues.

Goes quiet.


Something heavy slams into a heavy wooden door.


The rusted metal bolt holding the door closed pings across the room and lands in a corner.

The big wooden door eases open with a CREAK.

A bitter wind whistles into the room.

JAMIE, 19, tall with broad shoulders and wearing a heavy parka, peers into the room. The coast is clear.

He pulls the door open and beckons.

MARIA, 15 and slender, follows him in. She wears a quilted body warmer over a hooded sweatshirt. The sleeves hang below her fingers.

Her teeth chatter.

JAMIE: Come on. Quick.

From the way he stands and his broad gestures, he is not sober.

MARIA: We shouldn’t be doing this.

JAMIE: You stay here. I’ll have a look round.

Maria perches on a scratched and bashed table. Some plastic cups and paper plates are on it.

As she uncrosses her arms we see she is sporting a developed baby-bump.

Jamie quickly clatters through cupboards with practised speed and purpose.

MARIA: Shh. Someone will hear.

JAMIE: Who’ll hear? It’s the middle of the night.

He pulls some dusty box files onto the floor. Nothing valuable.

He looks up, sees a door to his left, ajar. Beyond is a small office.

JAMIE (CONT’D): I’ll try in here.

He disappears through the door, pushing it to behind him.

Maria, still shivering, looks round at the table she is leaning on.

Someone has decorated a small plastic Christmas tree with some baubles. Coloured glass lights blink gently on and off.

Thumb-tacked to the wall above is an advent calendar. The main picture is a slightly over-rendered depiction of Shepherds and Wise Men crowding round a glowing infant in a stable.

Maria looks at the clock on the wall. The date is displayed below where the hands meet.

She traces her finger over the paper doors of the calendar to find tomorrow’s day.

She works her finger into the card, popping the perforated door open.

A painting of an angel, palms out, smiling gently with a halo glowing behind her.

Maria studies it.

After a moment she folds the door shut again, pressing it back behind the cardboard to hide her interference.

There is a sudden, loud CRACK as the door to the main body of the church opens.

MARTIN: It’s okay, Alison, I’ll get them.

MARTIN, a small man in his late 30s or early 40s, wearing a priest’s black clothes and white dog-collar enters, shutting the door behind him.

Maria panics and freezes. Martin notices her right away.

The two stand in silence for a moment.



She flicks her hand up and down in an awkward wave.

MARTIN: Are you okay?

Maria nods.

Martin’s eyes pass her to the heavy door to the street.

He gently slips past Maria to the door.

He runs his thumb over the splintered wood where the bolt used to be. He SIGHS.

He goes to a cupboard by the window. Opens it. Takes out some plastic cutlery.

MARTIN (CONT’D): Are you alone?

Maria shakes her head.

MARIA: No. My boyfriend’s with me.

MARTIN: Boyfriend. Is he…?

He gestures to Maria’s bulging stomach.

Self-conscious, she crosses her arms across her belly.

MARIA: No. That was someone else. But he looks after me.

Martin looks at the up-ended box files on the floor.

MARTIN: I’m afraid there’s not much of value here. We had a bit of a fire sale two years ago when the roof sprung a leak. But if you need food or shelter–

MARIA: No. We’re fine.

Martin nods.

MARTIN: I don’t think I’ve seen you before. Are you from around here?

MARIA: No. We’re going somewhere.

MARTIN: Isn’t there someone missing you? Parents? Sibling?

Maria shrugs.

MARTIN (CONT’D): Do you have anywhere to stay tonight?

Maria shakes her head.

MARTIN (CONT’D): Listen, I’m friends with the woman who runs a youth hostel just up the road.

Over Martin’s shoulder the door to the office eases open.

MARTIN (CONT’D): Why don’t I call her and see if she can put you up for the night?

Jamie tiptoes out towards them.

MARIA: We’ll be okay.

MARTIN: Are you sure? It must be nearly freezing out there.

MARIA: My boyfriend can take care of me.

MARTIN: I’m sure he can, but–


Jamie belts Martin across the back with a brass candlestick.

Martin drops to his knees.

MARIA: Jamie?! What are you doing?!

Jamie grabs Maria’s wrist and pulls her towards the door.

JAMIE: Come on! Run!

Martin, on all fours, COUGHS and SPLUTTERS.

The door to the church opens.

ALISON, a bustling woman in her 60s enters.

ALISON: Are you okay, Reverend? You’re taking–

She sees Jamie and Maria by the door.

She bends to help Martin.

Jamie disappears through the door.

Maria has just a second to look back.

MARIA: I’m sorry…

Jamie pulls her through the door.

Martin pushes himself to his feet and struggles after them.

He struggles to pull the door open.


Martin staggers onto the street followed by Alison.

He hurries into the middle of the deserted road, spinning round, looking for them. Listening.

All is quiet and still. There is no sign of either of them.

Alison shuffles after him.

ALISON: Did they take the candlesticks?

Martin nods.

ALISON (CONT’D): I’ll call the police.

MARTIN: No. I’ll do it in the morning. We have people waiting.

Alison wraps her arms round herself and shivers.

ALISON: Come on, Reverend. It’s freezing out here.

MARTIN: I’ll be in in a moment.

Alison shuffles back towards the door.

Martin looks up at the cloudless sky.

MARTIN: I didn’t ask her name…

He turns to the door.


Written by Samuel Marlow from the key phrase Midnight Mass.

  4 Responses to “Midnight Mass”

  1. WOW! Sam – this is one of the things that is so good about flash fiction – it can give a window to something that needs to be developed more and this one – I couldn’t stop reading and like Rachael wanted to know more. Such strong imagery and storyline and a very good voice.

  2. Love the advent calendar detail. Who could resist a sneaky peek?

  3. Thanks Samuel – such a strong image was conjured up by your words and I’m left wanting to know so much more.

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