Run!

The time of the holy rites of the Feast was upon the people of Grook and the priests were performing the last of the preparations on the Veil that opened into the Big Temple as they chanted a slow and melodic hymn. One thousand and one younglings stood outside Big Temple, in front of the Veil and the priests in a line. They had been chosen to worship Heroku the Vicious, God of Grook, who would awaken tonight.

Samira stood in the front of the line. She was the high-divya – the most devout, the bravest of them all. She had been chosen to lead this year’s Feast. She and the other divyas behind her looked at the horizon. The sun was fading. The stars were beginning to peek through the curtains of the dark sky. Samira was scared, but she also knew her duty. When the moon rose tonight, Heroku the Vicious would rise from his one thousand and one nights of slumber. He would be hungry and Samira would feed Heroku. She would feed him her memories first. Then, her soul. And finally what remained of her body. The other divyas would do the same. One thousand and one life stories, so that Heroku the Vicious would go back to sleep for another one thousand and one nights and so that he could dream one thousand and one dreams – one for each life-story he devours tonight. Samira was scared but she had to do this for her family and for her people. She looked at the divyas around her and she could see the same fear on their faces and the same resolution. They had to do this tonight, as it had been done the last time, and the time before that and before that.

Samira could see the top of the blue moon start to rise above the horizon. When the full moon would be completely visible, their God would waken and eat the moon first. But it would not satiate his hunger and he would spit it out. That’s when Samira and her brothers and sisters would offer themselves up. The moon edged upwards in the sky.

Samira could see that the priests had finished the preparations on the Veil. When it was time, Samira would enter through the Veil and into the Big Temple, and the Feast would begin. When she would lie down on the altar inside, her God would pick her up and make her part of himself and she would be no more. She would have served.

The moon rose completely. The chants from the priests now grew faster now. Heroku the Vicious’s shadow appeared over the moon. He had started eating it. He swallowed more and more and having tasted it fully, he spit it out. The priests rang the gongs loudly and opened the Veil. Samira took a scared first step towards the Veil and then another more resolute step. She was scared but she was duty-bound. To save her people from her God. She had accepted her fate. She reached the veil and stepped through it.

The hall of the Big Temple was big, much bigger than she had ever imagined. She didn’t waste any more time admiring the hall. She could see the marble altar in the middle of the hall below the open eye in the roof that looked towards the abode of their God and she walked towards the altar.

Samira took one final deep breath and was just about to place herself on the altar, when she heard a whooshing sound. The sound echoed throughout the hall thrice and then from out of nowhere a blue box appeared behind the altar. A man stepped out of it. He looked at Samira and said, “Remember this face. This is the face of the man who will kill your God. Now, run!”

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