I'm pulling out an older one today, nothing new under the sun for your Garbage Man. I wrote this originally as a prequel short for the untitled novel previewed last week. I just thought it would be neat to see what would happen when a devout group of religious followers get everything that was prophesied to them, still thinking that they'll somehow escape the wrath of their own Gods.
As the thunder heads rolled back from the high peaks of the range beyond, the crowd could feel the charge of electricity with the moist smell of impending water that begs to fall, waiting for just a few minutes more. Everyone had gathered here and, rain be damned, what they were here for would come.
A man dressed in the dark garments of the local priesthood stood upon a boulder, a towering rock laid out in the middle of these plains, as if dropped by a giant and left to time. He stared out in the distance, daring the incoming lightning to strike him and prove all he believed was false. He knew it would not hit him.
Raising his arms slowly, he bellowed the opening chants of the crowd’s religion. An old yet regarded faith, it had all the charms of mighty Gods, ancient history, along with rules of morality that most civilizations require.
It had been bleeding as of lately, losing followers to trends of hedonism that occur when life is easy and forgiving. Those days would be gone after this storm.
The winds blew more fierce with every chant, the thunder causing the ground to rumble in unison with their ancient song. The Gods remember those who remember them. And the crowd wanted the Gods' attention to avoid the Gods' wrath.
A sudden flash of blinding white light and a roar that drowned out every other noise came from the top of the mountains. The priest stopped his chant and pointed to the line of ongoing light that slowly turned red from the bottom. The crowd turned and stared, not in surprise but in amazement of the sight.
Everything had been foretold, yet a story is only that until it becomes real.
The booms had gone from the low rumble of thunder to the crackling shake of the very earth tearing itself apart from the mountain range. It had begun. The sundering of the continent foretold to men ages ago, passed from seer to follower to priest to disregarded stories thought to be the ramblings of ignorant ancients trying to make sense of the unknown.
The blast of the first rupture hit the gathering causing some to fall and others to shield their eyes from the brown mist of dirt that caught them by surprise.
The priest was flung from on top of the boulder and landed on the ground, knocking the wind from his breath. He raised himself up and peered around the boulder, looking into the dusty horizon where once was the clouds and mountains. Now only giant plumes rising beyond the dirty haze, lit up fiercely red at the bottom and becoming dark towards the top.
The shaking was now a constant and the audience struggled to keep their footing as the land tore itself asunder.
The priest held a grimace of satisfaction on his face, knowing that all he had believed and all he had forced himself to believe was truth. The doubt that holds in men of all faiths, the fleeting fear that what they preach and trust might all be false, was completely erased. In its stead he felt utter validation and pride that he had told an absolute truth rather than a scary lie.
The tremors had slowly turned in a steadily rising shake. A white-line fissure overtook the red-black smoke in the distance, coming closer and getting larger.
The gathering figured out what was coming and looks of awe and fascination quickly turned into panicked screams. Some ran, knowing the futility. Others stood their ground, expecting protection from the Gods they trusted.
Only the priest realized the harsh reality: Yes, the Gods remember those who remember them. Yet the Gods still don’t care.
The giant tidal waves of torrential water swallowed the crowd, picked up the giant boulder, and flung it to the new shore of the eventually-named Divided Sea, forever separating the continent and its people.
The Gods adore conflict above all else, for when there is war, there is no need for the Gods to make their presence known.