In a Gothic-styled monastery, a monk named Javier sees the face of another monk, Juan, and suddenly attempts to bludgeon him to death with a heavy crucifix. Both men then relate their own versions of a story of romantic rivalry between them. Javier, a consumptive musician, fell in love with and was betrothed to Anita. When his old friend Juan appeared, he was ecstatic. But soon, it seemed that Juan was making a play for Anita. When Javier found them in an apparently compromising position, a tussle ensued, and Anita was accidentally shot and killed. The two versions of the story differ significantly in Juan's motivations and in the details of Anita's death. Both men later became monks, leading to their latest encounter. As Juan begins to recover from the blow, Javier is subjected to horrific hallucinations.