As the God-Child Sees

Another absolutico magnifico Writer Wednesday Blog Hop Photo-Prompt Flash Fiction challenge hosted this week by Ms. Amazingly Wonderful herself, Carrie Sorensen of Chasing Revery.

The rules are simple: The photo below and all five words must be featured in the piece that is to be no longer than 500 words.

I am DEEP into a rewrite of Primal Hunger (my super light-heart feel-good kind of YA novel, about two gay best friends [a boy and a girl] growing and learning together as they travel the length and breadth of the frozen Siberian tundra of Russia in the winter of 1942), so I was going to take a break from the WWBH–yes, again, sorry!–and just get down on that piece and throw an occasional chapter of another feel-good story, Kayla Mack, along the way.

BUT the indomitable Leanne Sype (and as it turns out rather clever as well) tricked me with complicated symbols in parallel horizontal lines that told me I would find this week’s Photo Reveal very interesting.  And so it is.  I agree completely.

But I also found that I am the lucky winner of the monthly ad award.  Pretty good ambush, Leanne, pretty darn good indeed; like a surprise party of one.  That’s still cool though cuz it’s still my party.  Thank you to you all for that, and thanks so much to you Carrie for hosting this week.  Now I must write something.

(Though I intend to immediately copyright the above story concept before anyone else can snatch it up, it is not at all what Primal Hunger is about–well, kinda is, but the point is PH is graphic and brutal dark fiction, not fun YA.  Kayla Mack isn’t “light-hearted” either – it’s an intense sci-fi/erotica piece.)

Okay!  Enough of that, and on with the photo and the 5 words…

Passport   Sunrise   Carousel   Travel   School

As the God-Child Sees

Every citizen for many hectares around had come to the ancient temple.  The old Mother-Keepers ushered them in, accepting their offerings, and giving passport for each to enter.  As the sunrise thrust golden beams through the rust-stained eastern portholes, the citizens of the Land passed two-by-two through the spinning carousel doors that creaked.  That and the shuffling of feet were the only sounds to echo through the cavernous metal structure.

Every citizen sat in reverent silence.  Though the travel had been long and difficult for many, there was no weariness in them.  They were now as children in school, alert and attentive, as they waited for all the Comers to be seated on the floor.

The Mother-Keepers brought in the offerings to the Divine Temple of Sight Unseen, and placed them up on the step-high stage.  The citizens remained quiet and still.  The Mother-Keepers finished the offerings, and then ambled off through ragged curtains at the far end of the temple.

Then the citizens could hear it, the squeaking of the wheels, and a hush rushed over the crowd.  Water dripping somewhere in the dark, pigeons cooing in the pipes above, and the squeaky wheels were the only sounds to be heard.

Then a Mother-Keeper lifted the curtain–a community of collective breaths were held–and out came the God-Child, his enormously obese body pushed to the edge of the stage in a modified, rusty wheelchair by the Mother-Keepers.

The crowd could not help but to gasp in awe of the God-Child.  They saw not his massive deformities of the flesh, the open wounds, or the dark empty sockets that eyes given unto the Heavens once filled.  Nor did they care that his head lolled about on a neck seemingly without a spine, and that mucus and drool ran freely down his bloated pasty complexion.   They saw only the God-Child gifted with Sight Unseen; the one who would tell them through means of oracles from an ancient age long passed, what this season would bring for them.

Four Mother-Keepers drug a length of bundled cables and wires from the back of the stage.  These the Elder Mother-Keeper took from them, and one-by-one forced the sharp ends of the wires into the God-Child’s head and body.  Once done, all the Mother-Keepers retreated to the far wall where the Elder Mother-Keeper placed her gnarled right hand on a large circuit switch, as another pulled on cords that opened wide curtains on the wall above.

Then the Elder Mother-Keeper threw the switch.

The God-Child’s body shuddered and quaked, his flesh blackened around the wires, smoke came out from his mouth that was wide open in a soundless scream.  His wounds oozed as his mass of flesh shook from violent spasms, but nobody was watching the God-Child.

All eyes, every single one, were on the large cracked screen on the wall above his smoldering body.

Finally sparks and fire shot out from the God-Child’s empty sockets, and then he did scream; a shriek to tear one’s spine from the body.

Then it came–God-Child be praised!–the oracle came!  The Elder Mother-Keeper opened the circuit.

The God-Child stilled.

The citizens of the Land, and the Mother-Keepers stared up at the oracle image given unto them by this season’s God-Child, and wondered as to its meaning, with its many circles, and blue and red fans.

The Elder Mother-Keeper limped to the front of the stage, put upon the blackened and ruptured skin of the God-Child’s smoking skull the same hand with which she had electrocuted him unto death, and then she raised the other high.

All those gathered stood.

“Praise be to the season’s God-Child.”

All in one voice returned, “Praise be!”

“The oracle is clear.  The season will bring plenty.”

There were shouts and cheer and tears.  Embraces were shared, and thanks given all around.

As the afternoon drew on, the citizens of the Land began their respective journeys home, with spirits high from the season’s good oracle, and bellies full from the celebration feast; the God-Child’s last sacrifice.



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  1. I actually read your story a couple of days ago when I was stuck on the ending of mine. I didn’t comment then, because I was suddenly very intimidated by it! But I’m commenting now 🙂
    I really enjoyed it. And from the very first line all I could keep picturing in my head was something very similar to “Dagon”, which is a story that always creeps me out in the weirdest ways, lol

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  September 20, 2013

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I didn’t know what was going to happen with this story. It just came out. Creeped me out too. : )


  2. I feel so sorry for the god-child – customs of other cultures and their traditions (fictional or not) are sometimes way out of my comfort zone. Your writing draws us in to the culture of the place and the reverence that is involved.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  September 20, 2013

      Thanks, Sally. Yeah…I gotta agree that their custom is WAY outta my comfort zone too. Messed up, but the trip is that they’re a peaceful people who live in what seems a fluid harmony. Still messed up though.


  3. Chris–so, I’m reading your story and as it unfolds, I find myself not wanting it to go where it’s going but the story goes there and I go with it. Pretty terrifying stuff, but, oh–so well done! There’s a bit of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in there for me, and that’s good company. It also brought thoughts of how we as societies (both small groups and large) interact with each other. Religions are more pronounced and an easy target, but also political parties fall into this category, at least, that’s how I see it sometimes. I guess it’s just human nature to electrocute God-children (you know I’m kidding…).

    Having said all that, another fantastic story! I love reading them! And thanks for your kind words on my story from last week. Keep up the good work!

  4. Chris! Did they eat the God-Child!? EEK! You certainly know how to write horror, my friend! You imagery is so uncomfortable… in a good way. Meaning, your descriptions are so vivid and real, they make my stomach turn. For real.

    From what I am learning about you and your work, I find myself contemplating the metaphor… what this story represents. I know what I see, but I don’t know if I am correct. Of course, I could be over thinking it… partially in an effort to rid my mind of the image of this poor, grotesque individual being electrocuted to death.

    And also, I confess, I had to look up the word “hectares”; I had never seen that word before.

    Nice work!

    P.S.–> you know you broke the 500-word rule, yes? 😉

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  August 7, 2013

      I do the same thing with my own work; look at it and see what it was that I really said with the piece. Not all my flash fiction pieces harbor a hidden meaning–usually the word count restrictions limit that kind of depth–but when I write a piece without thought, idea, or intended purpose (story line) that is when the interesting things happen.
      One thing that grabbed me immediately was the union & harmony in this apparently wide community of people (I cut a neat paragraph where during the reverent waiting a baby gets vocal and the mother passes her around to all the strangers near). They are a very peaceful and content peoples. It is a story of basic human fear–famine, drought, storms, loss of livestock–and it is about the most fundamental human need; hope. That’s all these gentle people need to make it through another season in peace and harmony is a little hope.
      Frankly, I see their community as idyllic in many ways. What the God-Child endured was not from malice. Take away the misunderstood cultural differences–our judgments of what is acceptable or not–and rather than being a horror story, it becomes a story of a brand new season of hope, and of an entire community that laughed that evening with their families around their hearth-fires, and dreamed that night of a bountiful harvest, productive livestock, and happy healthy children.
      One of my brighter stories when you look at it that way.
      Our world is vast, our people many, and our cultures distinctive and often contrasting. The human heart is our common link. So it is not the cultural or religious practices that define our undeniable humanity, but instead what truly exemplifies each of us is what we keep in our hearts–hope & harmony, or doubt & discord.

      So, yes; there was a metaphor. I’m sneaky like that. ; )

      I was aware of the WC infraction. Frankly, I have been writing feverishly in one opacity or another and just didn’t have the “umfh” to really pick away at the piece. Went over my free-time schedule with the new Kayla Mack posts as it was. Sorry ’bout that. I’ll whittle it down.


      • Well, when you put it that way… 🙂

        Yes, this is an endearing story when you unpack it the way you have. It’s a story of hope and harmony.
        I see it now.

        I love what you said here: “Our world is vast, our people many, and our cultures distinctive and often contrasting. The human heart is our common link.” It’s so true, Christopher, I think that is what makes humanity so beautiful… if we’re willing to dig into it, you know? So often, the darkness in our world comes from a hardening of hearts… closing each other off from the one thing that can bring us together .
        And yes, I know you have been working so hard, crafting and creating and writing! Keep it up, Chris! You’re doing awesome!

  5. Oh goodness Christopher, you’ve given “Bargain Hunt” a whole new meaning. I know several citizens in my own region who make this trip to the temple every weekend without fail, begging, buying and sometimes seemingly stealing what offerings they can.
    I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to go to a garage sale again 🙂

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  August 7, 2013

      Well said. Strange customs and rituals from these ‘citizens’ but there lies within the seeming barbarous practices a state of harmony. Strange dichotomy.

  1. SAFE!!!! (My WWBH Story for Aug 14) | Jottings and Writings
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