Tales from St Hilda's - part 7

By Diana the Valkyrie

I woke up late the next day, it was 3am already! This life as a jet-setting dotcom executive nun was getting to me. Well, bike-setting. I *really* needed to get some serious training done, I'd been letting things slide for the last few days. So, just in time for Matins, I pulled on my chapel gear and trotted off. And then when that was over, I worked through Lauds and Prime, skipped breakfast, and swung straight into Terce and Sex. I didn't stop till the refectory bell went. By then, I'd built up a good burn, not to mention a raging appetite. After I'd converted six eggs, 3/4 of a large loaf, a dozen sausages, a cabbage, and a significant percentage of a pig into nun, I felt a bit better, and looked up to see Vads and Mandy watching me scoff. "That was like watching the Plague of Locusts" commented Sister Mandy. Yes, well. One gets a bit peckish after a heavy prayer session, doesn't one.

"What about the computer?" asked Mandy. Bless me, I'd forgotten all about it. I looked at the refectory hour-candle. Too late now, it would have to wait till after prayers, because I still had some serious eating to do. The body needs food to stay strong, and a St Hilda's nun needs more than most. You need a lot of protein and carbs to keep that 320 pound Temple of God running. I grabbed a few more eggs and some ham, plus another half loaf, and butter to put on it. And Marmite. Chomp chomp chomp. The bells for Nones went, and we all trooped off dutifully, but after that I suggested we take a break until Vespers. That's one of the problem with this life - by the time you've finished praying, there's not many hours left in the day. I didn't manage to get down to Borchester to see how Nora was getting on. But at least I could go have a look at the convent computer.

Mandy begged off this, she reckoned that quill pens were as advanced as she wanted to get, so it was just Vads and me that visited the Sciptorium, where the Armarius, Sister Veronica, ruled with a rod of iron over the two Novices that were training as copyists. "Hi, Ronnie" I said cheerfully. "Where's the box of tricks?" Ronnie nodded to a dark corner. Vads and I glided over, and there was the cardboard box. We sat on the floor, and I opened the box. Inside, there was a huge amount of polystyrene, and right at the center, the notebook computer. I lifted it out, and Vads took the manual and started to look in it. "This isn't like the ones that we had in the office", she said. It wasn't like the one that the kid had, either. It was a lot smaller, there was no big screen thing, just a small square box. I found a catch on the box, and slid it. The computer opened, showing me its keyboard, and what I guessed was the screen, except it was dark. Vads found the on switch, and I pressed it. Nothing happened.

"We have to plug it in, Sister Diana. It probably needs to charge up." Charge up? Plug in? Gulp. Suddenly, I was gripped by a sense of impending doom and an awareness of my profound ignorance about this thing. "Plug in?" "Of course! Into the ... oh." Oh indeed. Oh in triplicate. Oh in technicolour. We don't have electricity. We don't even have gas. What we have is candles, and I didn't think that lighting a candle under this thing would make it work. I looked at Novice Evadne, she looked at me. "We're blessed" she said, succinctly. I nodded. "Cluster-blessed, Vads. Not only is there no blessed juice in the convent, there's no blessed juice allowed within these hallowed walls." "Unless the Mother Superior gives a Dispensation"

I sighed. I wasn't exactly flavour-of-the-month with the Mater, I'd already asked for rather a lot. But, needs must when the devil drives. "I'll raise it tonight, Vads." "We won't need much, Sister Diana. Just a small generator, maybe. And we'll only need it to charge the batteries from time to time." How glad I was that we had an in-house expert.

So I explained to the Mother Superior that a dotcom had to have at least one computer, and a computer needed electricity, so I needed to get a generator and a petrol engine, and ... and Mother Mary Rose looked horrified. "We can't have one of those noisy stinky things interfering with the Sister's meditations!" I hardly liked to point out that what the Sisters mostly thought about was food and sinners. "No no no. You can have your electricity, but no petrol engine." I thought of asking about diesel, but decided not to. "Then how ...?" "On your bike, Sister Diana." For a moment, I thought she was using the vernacular for "go away", then I realised what she meant. Of course! The stationary bikes in the chapel; each of them was actually a generator that powered it's own display. All I had to do was ... "Thank you, Mother Superior, I'll get onto it first thing tomorrow". Or rather, I though, Novice Evadne will. She's my techie, I'll dump this on on her. That's what techies are for, isn't it?

Back in my cell, I told Vads and Mandy the good news. "And tomorrow, Vads, I want you to work out how to hook up the bike generators to the computer battery charger." She looked doubtful. "I don't know anything about that, Sister Diana" Oh, great. A techie without technical knowhow. "Roll up your sleeves and pitch in, Vads. Pray for enlightenment, and God will guide you." She still looked dubious. I don't know, what are the Novices coming to these days, doesn't she believe in Divine Inspiration? "Mandy, you and I will check up on the kid, and see how far Nora's gotten in sourcing supplies." "And can we, you know .." "Save a few sinners? Come on, Mands, we just saved a couple yesterday. There's always plenty of lost sheep to bring back to the path of righteousness, some other day, huh?" Mandy grinned, and knuckled her thighs. Then the blessed bells went for Compline, we all scooted off for evening chapel, which left me tired enough to sleep like a virgin all night.

Next day was Sunday, so we couldn't actually do very much. I mean, you can hardly beetle off to Borchester when you're supposed to be doing the Sunday sporting activities; this Sunday, we were competing against the nuns from Hollerton, who are also a St Hilda's order, just a different convent. After Matins in the chapel, we all got ready for our chosen activities. Mandy entered the weightlifting contest, I did the wrestling again, and Nora went for the boxing, she says it goes with her arms, about which she is inordinately vocal to almost the point of committing the sin of Pride. I promise you, if nuns were allowed to use makeup, she'd be applying mascara to emphasise the cleft, and blue eyeshadow on the veins. Vads, being a Novice, wasn't allowed to fight, but she looked great in her cheerleading outfit. By the end of the day, I'd been trounced four times, but I never did claim to be any good against the other nuns, I'm more your nun-for-sinners. Mandy's thighs were always good for a hefty tonnage, and she did well enough to come third, and that evening we helped Nora stuff cotton wool up her nose so it would heal straight (one of the disadvantages of bareknuckle), but she won all three of her bouts, and was the toast of the convent at refectory that evening. Holy water all round, with a slice of lemon, and the nuns from Hollerton joined us for Compline afterwards.

Next day I left Vads struggling with the dynamo problem, while Nora, Mandy and I went to see how the kid was doing without us leaning over his shoulder. Surprise surprise, when we got there he was fast asleep, and this was in the afternoon. Nora smiled. "Poor kid, I think I must have quite worn him out." "What did you do to him, Nora?" "Oh, usual stuff. Bit of praying, bit of singing, bit of bible study. You know." We knew.