art by Void lon iXaarii
by Mari Ness
The village is not in any guidebook or on any map. Even satellite photos somehow miss it, always by some unexplained chance looking at the area only when it is covered with clouds or fog, or during some blip in the satellite's programming. You will also not find it named on any website, or on any news site, despite the excellence of its single restaurant and the comfort of the small hotel next door. When asked, the residents only shrug, and point out that it is not a very interesting village, after all, however lovely the surrounding mountains, and the world has many excellent restaurants, does it not? And with that, the conversation always shifts to food, or music, or wine, or sports, or tales of long ago. Nothing about the village, which is, after all, not very interesting.
Despite this, one or two strangers make their way to the village every year. Some have come, they say, for the restaurant, or for the hiking trail, or to truly and literally get off the map at a relatively reasonable price. They talk to the villagers, sample the food, wander in the mountains.
And always, eventually, they enter the tiny church.
Very tiny; so small that most of the villagers go to another church altogether if they go to a church at all; so small that it has not attracted a priest or pastor in, the village thinks, two hundred years or so. Perhaps more, perhaps less. Long enough that no one can even remember what church it is: perhaps Catholic, perhaps Lutheran. It doesn't matter. People from the village take turns sweeping it out once every two weeks or so, and the weathered stone does not need paint.
Though no one is coming to the church to inspect the weathered stone, or to speculate on what sect the church belonged to. Instead, as they enter, their eyes shift to the right.
To the glass coffin.
Yes, that glass coffin.