Chuck has picked 13 titles from the more than 300 entries, and the challenge is to pick one and write a story to go with the title.
I picked ‘You Don’t Bring Me Dead Things Anymore’ by Chantal Nair, and the resulting… story?… monologue?… clocked in around 640 words.
You Don’t Bring Me Dead Things Anymore
By Trine Toft Schmidt
Once you adorned my brow in gold, painted my eyes black and bathed my hands in blood. Once you sacrificed on my altar.
You came to me, your guilt as plain to see as the moon in the sky. You knelt before me, brought me your sacrifices, a lamb, a goat, the carcass of a chicken if you had no more, the tear bathed corpses of your children if you had even less.
You worshiped what I was, even though you never gave me a name. I was the cow you stole, the wife you beat, the child you raped or the man you murdered. You came to me with your sins and bathed my hands in your blood. You gave me the power that still flutters inside of me. Your guilt and shame was my air. Your blood, my food. All you wanted in return was the cathartic release as you kissed my cold lips, and sucked the black air from my stony lungs.
But you let new gods in to take my place. Gods of light and forgiving. Gods that demand no blood. Gods that were strangers in our lands, grew and grew, and you built them temples and altars.
You pulled down my beautiful dark temple when you needed stone for those altars. And when you needed to fill the howling holes in your children’s stomachs, you didn’t come to lay the fattened calf before me any longer. When your guilt grew too large to hold, you turned to your new light gods and thought yourselves blessed.
You have left me forgotten in a sprawl of haphazardly built clay, shit and straw buildings. Nowhere is the gold of my brow, nowhere is the black of my eyes and the red of my hands. I thirst for blood, but am forced live off the dead that casually falls to me, the leaves, the rotten garbage that collects around my feet, the hollow corpses of mice that die in the hole in my chest where you once lit the black light.
You’ve forgotten the things you once did in my honor. The slaves that you bled on the Festival of Night, the mewling babes you slaughtered for your release. I see it in the carefree tilt of your heads when you pass, and the laughter that is not silenced in respect, when you touch upon the blackened earth around me. You have forgotten me. I am just another relic of the times before civilization, before order was restored and peace fell on these lands. You claim to have forgotten what I am. Once you took my powers for granted, now you doubt them. You shake your head and think yourself foolish for your old savagery. You swallow your sins instead of giving them to me. You turn your head up instead of down.
But I know you.
I see the guilt and shame that festers inside of you. You still paint the black eyes on your forehead on the Festival of Night, you still kneel before each animal you carelessly slaughter. You wash your hands in blood. You may think nothing of these rituals, but you have forgotten that they were once done in my honor. They feed my power, the black, fierce, terrible power that once led you to my altar.
The power flutters in my fingers, like the wings of ravens and in the darkened hole where you once placed the black light, an ember burns, small but steadily. I will make you remember me once more. I will cast off my mantle of stone and I will rise above you, I will take the lives you owe, and absolve the pain you have forgotten to feel.
You don’t bring me dead things anymore. So I will bring them to you.