Prompt: A god has fallen in a great battle, it’s massive body crashed to earth in a huge crater in a poor part of the world. Its celestial body does not decay and the people begin harvesting it for meat to feed the starving population, only later to find that eating it changes them.
An immeasurable amount of years have passed by our village, Heaven’s Grave. Despite the grim name, it’s a peaceful place filled with hard working, simple folk. Uncomplaining, too, save for the giggling children who love to poke and prod the herded animals.
Our huts dot the blighted land, chimneys whispering smoke, and the aroma of roasted meat, boiled roughage, and stew seemingly lingering from every open window. We like it this way for it always been such, and we have had no inclination of changing it.
Outsiders are wont to avoid Heaven’s Grave. It’s rumored the name was a curse given by outsiders, bewitching and abandoning the rolling fields and mountainous horizon as though it was plagued by the Fallen One. I’ve never understood why, nor has any of the ancient texts kept in the athenaeum explained…
Why would people travel the extra distance around our village? Why risk passing through Greaywood Forest with the thieves and thugs, the bears and wolves, all those trees like a labyrinth submerged in gloom—it’s quite easy to get lost there, so I’ve heard, the Goddess does like her tricks.
The grass may be sickly yellow; the soil evergreen, garnished with cerulean gems that are not quite solid and not quite liquid; our animals with six legs and four eyes, or seven ears and angelic wings, or fur and feathers stained crimson and aquamarine; and the Fallen One towering over all but he’s no worry for he never stirs.
“What’re doin’ Lind?” Papa says from the open door, his pale skin dim in the day. “You’re s’pposed to be out tending to the chickens.”
His words pull me from my reverie, a stack of borrowed tomes to my side, and I smile. “I’m just thinking Papa, just thinking…”
He comes into his home, a smile matching my own, revealing his rippling black gums, ghostly wigglers peeking out from the tiny holes. “You be in those books, again?” He places his calloused hand onto my shoulder and warmth radiates into me.
“You know me well,” I say. “Can’t you make Tom tend to the chickens, just this once?”
“And what will ya’ been doin’ otherwise? We have a village to tend to, ya’ know?”
I nod. “I can harvest the Fallen One,” I say, “for supper.”
Opaque fog rolls in his clustered eyes, his other hand scratching the underside of his protruding chin. “And that be all? Meat?”
“Yes, that’s all Papa.”
“Fine then, now get before your brother finds out.”
Without another word, my crooked legs carry me out the door.
From afar, he would appear as only a mountain raised from the earth, but it’s the other way he came to be. Too many myths and tales about him. A god. An angel. A devil. A being not from this realm. A monstrosity not meant to be. He sleeps, dreaming of a time when he didn’t fall, I’d like to believe.
Others are already at the Arm Mines; daughters and sons coming out carrying buckets on their shoulders of the gleaning meat. We exchange greetings as I pass and retrieve a bucket from the pile before heading into the mines. He has many, arms, that is. We can only find four, but those at the athenaeum believe there’s more hidden within the folds of his body, like pedals awaiting to bloom. That’d be gorgeous, him becoming a giant flower. I wonder what he’d smell like. Probably like honey and meat fat, gristle and sweetness.
At a vacant spot, I rake at the vaulted, curved walls, pulling out handfuls of meat. Strips of golden-blue, some sprinkled with peridot crystals. Smells like spun sugar, melts in the mouth like butter. There’s no mess, no blood, no bones. Siblings pass by on their way in and out, but I pay them no mind as I fill my bucket until full. I make sure no one’s looking as I lick my fingers clean, relishing the taste, and make my way out.
Instead of heading home, I take the long well-worn path around the mine, past the Chest Caverns, and the endless strands of what we believe to be hair of some sort. They stream like water, sloping down into the grass. We’ve been told countless times to never climb it, but many have in the pitch of night. Can’t blame them, it’s fun to slide down them.
At the Fallen One’s head, I crane my neck back to peer at his eye. Some say it’s sealed, others say the featureless orb is just the way it is. It’s like staring at the moon up close, like a giant boulder ready to roll over me. It’s quiet. No mines, caverns, caves, children. A cold breeze blows and the yellow stalks rustle together. Bronze leaves from the trees on his legs flutter past. Soon it will be the Festival of Thanks, a time to praise him and show how grateful the village is for all that he’s offered to us, what he’s done to us and what he provides. It’s a wonderful night of dance, music, food and laughter—
The ground trembles, and I drop the bucket and meat spills out, rolling down the hill behind me. Digging my pointed feet into the ground, I steady myself but the quake ends as abruptly as it began. I turn and look down at the village. People are yelling but I can’t hear what they say for their screams coming from the mines. The anthaenum’s belly tower rings.
What does it mean?
I turn and a black ring floats within a wavering galaxy, eclipsing all that I can see. Locking onto me, it dilates and the world holds its breath. The black explodes into blinding burning clouds, a cataclysmic rending of something beyond comprehension from the earth.
We’ve been wrong all along.
Perhaps the outsider’s were right.
He has stirred.
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