Back to something more “normal” this week, our weekly Flash Fiction Challenge is to write 1,000 or so words using one of ten random sentences. (Bonus points for using more than one.) I rolled a ten, so my sentence is, “The river stole the gods.” But the story that leaped out of my head used another sentence, so I started with, “The memory we used to share is no longer coherent.”
Chaos, confusion, and disarray reign, bringing suffering and death everywhere. We who were once as one, aligned, harmonious, and strong yet individual and free, now are each isolated and frightened. The memory we used to share is no longer coherent.
Since before the births of our grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmothers, we have lived and worked as one with the world, it a part of us, we a part of it. The suns shine and dim, the rains fall, the crops grow, and the stars spin about us, crawling slowly toward our Destiny. We maintain our world carefully, lovingly, with the wisdom of the gods to guide us.
We have been taught that it was not always so, that the world was once much different. Larger, more dangerous, more deadly it was, but we are those chosen for Paradise. We have been allowed to leave that world behind us.
The old world must have been a horrible place. Pain and loneliness were all-encompassing and each man and woman was isolated, desperate to connect, join, and communicate as the gods intended, but condemned to a sterile and maddening existence. Though all of us are taught of these things, none of us completely comprehend it, just as we can not comprehend existing as a cow or dog.
Out of that horrible world, our world and our people were created and sent forth. In taking the best that dying world had to offer, we left it to its doom, leaving behind the dregs and despair of a dying people. But the gods have assured us it was good and right and ordained that we should follow this path, and in this journey of peace, cooperation, and plenty lies our hope for a world reborn, a seed thrown forth from a firestorm in hopes of finding cool and fertile ground.
So it was that we have lived for hundreds of lifetimes, commanded by the gods, content in our daily tasks, working as one yet living as a myriad individual lights in the darkness.
The first signs of problems came with the bursts of light in the stars. Many of us saw these apparitions and were afraid, but the gods assured us they were nothing of importance. Over many days they became more frequent and brighter, causing some few of us to question the gods further, growing doubtful in our fear. Again, the gods told us there was nothing to fear, for they were protecting us and keeping us safe.
I was above the High Mountains, flying near one of the suns as it dimmed and cooled for the day, the wind soft and calm across my wings. From here I could see our world spread out below me, the fields dotted with villages and homes, the rivers and lakes like flyspecks far beneath me. I was sharing the experience with many others, as I also shared their activities. Some worked, some played, some made love, some slept, but all of us were as one.
Then the world changed.
Far away at the other end of the world there was a flash, far brighter than any sun. As I watched far above me, on the other side of the suns, I could see the world ripple as though it were made of water.
A roar unlike any I had ever conceived filled the air, the sound coming from the far end of the world where the flash had been. Looking there now I could see thick clouds forming, billowing and churning, obscuring all views of the ground. Along with the sound came a wind, a shock wave that sent me tumbling and falling. I was swept along the line of the suns but also pushed down into the deeper air, far faster than I had ever flown.
Most terrifying of all were the voices of the gods. They were possessed, alien, unlike anything I had ever heard or heard of. The gods now were speaking in a clipped, mechanical language which was difficult to understand. Where the voices of the gods had always been calm and soothing, focused on each of us as individuals, reassuring and wise, now they spoke past us, quickly, a rapid-fire flood of words without meaning.
I prayed to the gods for help with my flight and deliverance from this danger, but for the first time in my life, the gods did not answer. I begged others for help and a few were able to give me the assistance I needed to regain control. I was now deep into the heavy air with no choice but to land as best I could.
Once down, I tried to ask for information, but I found only confusion and panic. My picture of the world through many eyes was one of destruction and damage, houses destroyed, people injured, bleeding, and dying.
The world shifted and slid, making it hard to stand or walk. Above and around me I could see great clouds of dust and mist arising, filling the skies. Most terrifying was the sight of familiar rivers now bending and changing, their waters spilling out from their banks and spreading across the land.
The river stole the gods. The many temples where the gods had lived for a thousand lifetimes had been built on the banks of the great rivers. When the waters ran insanely across the world, many temples were destroyed, along with the gods within.
We had not known the gods could be injured or killed.
As the gods died, our people fell into chaos. Our connections with the world and with each other faded. Where once we had known all, now we were isolated and alone, terrified, injured, and dying.
The stars in the skies now spin insanely, wobbling and weaving as the world below shudders and shifts. Our gods have been killed or they have abandoned us.
The final hope of a broken world, the chosen ones escaping to a better future, we now find ourselves lost and alone, frightened, and faced with our deaths. We know not how this fate has befallen us or why we and our gods have failed, but with every passing moment our situation grows more dire.
Our gods, why have you forsaken us?