Flash Fiction: At the Altar

“At the Altar” was written for Microcosms last week. My prompts were weather forecaster, temple, and crime. It turned out quite… interesting.

At the Altar

The people had chosen him on the day the weather forecaster came to town. Selected unanimously, his hands were bound behind his back and he was marched towards the temple.

“You know not what you do!” he shouted as he tripped over the first step that led up the side of the hastily built altar outside the temple.

“We cannot have a sinner in our midst,” one of the men holding him said calmly. “You see the drought. You see our crops withering and our children dying. There is no place for you, here.”

The bound man struggled, but it was to no avail. They forced him to his knees in front of the forecaster.

“You have brought this upon yourself,” one of his captives said.

The forecaster stood closer. “Uncover his eyes.”

“Look!” one of the men said. “His one eye is the colour of the soil, the other the colour of the sea.”

“You have done well,” the forecaster said, taking out a knife. The bound man struggled, shouting for help.

“He’s a demon!” he shouted, nearly dislocating his shoulders as he struggled. “Spawn of evil! He’ll take your children and make them slaves!”

The forecaster bent down and whispered in his ear, grinning. “Their souls are mine. And you can’t stop me. Not this time.”

Warm blood stained the altar. The forecaster looked down at his handiwork with a smile. “Now I shall take the payment due to me.” Fifty people clutched at their aching hearts.

“We’ve given you gold!” one said, his face pale.

“Useless in my line of work. I need souls. And now that you’ve killed your guardian, I can have as many as I want.”

“The rain?” the other man asked.

“Will come when it comes.” The forecaster grinned.


Behind the story

Partly inspired by the current drought and severe water shortage in Cape Town and David Kramer’s song “Die Verlosser”* (The Saviour) this story took a very dark turn very quickly. I also wanted the guardian’s difference to be subtle while still setting him apart from his fellow townsmen. And the different coloured eyes just seemed to work in the context of the story.

* “Die Verlosser” is an Afrikaans song and tells a story a la “Pied Piper of Hamelin” of a man who comes to dance and bring rain to a drought-stricken community in return for the most beautiful girl in town. Rain comes, but the townsmen will not give up the girl. When they awake the next morning all the children have disappeared, never to be seen again.

Listen to “Die Verlosser” on Spotify.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.


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