Sparks, like bright orange fireflies spiral into the sinister darkness of the night sky, as if funnelled up by an unseen hand from the huge fire in the centre of the imposing mud huts build around it.
The ridges of the mountain surrounding these huts are darkly silhouetted against the black heavens. The heavy drumming and moaning of many voices echo up into the sky and then outwards into the night.
There are no other sounds, no night birds, no crickets, no frogs - they have all hushed their nightly serenades on this night where the moon hangs colossal, round and white in the sky, floating just above the horizon.
The thunderous, continuous rhythm of the drumming stops abruptly as if gulped down by an unnoticed mouth.
A woman walks into the circle. She is tall, pale, and beautiful. The moon reflects off her ebony black hair hanging down to her waist. As she lifts her long elegant arms up into the air, she screams a blood-curdling scream.
Her face distorts as she screams, turning her once beautiful features into a nightmarish, misshapen façade. Her eyes are deep and black, and reflected within them are the deepest recesses of torment and misery.
She wears a loincloth made from the skin of a leopard around her hips. Her naked breasts sway with her every movement. Around her neck hangs a necklace of leopard's teeth, tightly strung together, representing protection.
Every living being in that circle, around that fire, falls immediately, their bodies flat against the ground. You can taste the fear, thick as peanut butter stuck to your palette.
The fire reflects and dances a frenzied dance in her eyes, making them sparkle with malevolence. She smiles in anticipation for what she knows is coming. Shivering and gyrating, foam coming from her mouth, her eyes roll backwards in their sockets and she starts to mumble the same incoherent string of words repeatedly.
Six men walk into the circle carrying a wooden board. Their faces are turned downward, their expression and facial features hidden. The glow from the fire shimmers off their brown bodies, glistening with oil.
On the wooden board lays a girl of fifteen. She is dressed in nothing. Her hair is plait with the feathers of many coloured birds. Her face is painted with the warm blood of chickens. She is terrified and frightened.
Her moaning is now the only sound in this hushed space, surrounded by the imposing mud huts. She knows her fate and she has seen many girls go before her, the monthly ritual that feeds their god, a god with an unquenchable thirst for human blood. Her ankles and wrists are dripping with blood from where she fought against the ropes that bind her.
The six men walk towards the pale woman and then lay the girl down in front of her, before falling to the floor, their bodies spread close to the ground.
The inhabitants of this village have served her, their god, all their lives, and so did their fathers before them and their fathers before them. They have not seen her grow a day older, so they believe that she is immortal, above them and they fear her with every thread in their bodies, a fear inherited down from generations upon generations of ancestors. She has a skin so pale, as none of them has ever seen before. Her hair is long, as theirs would never be and then the fact that she is never-ending, everlasting makes them believe, beyond a doubt that she is indeed their god. She is not a forgiving, loving god, but a cruel and evil god. She leads through fear, pain, and suffering.
The woman stops chanting. Sudden silence fills the air, except for the crunch and crackle of the fire and the soft moaning of the girl lying before her on the ground.
She takes out a knife from the folds of the loincloth wrapped around her lower body and then she holds it up into the night sky.
The light from the full moon catches the blade and it glistens brightly.
The woman screams again—long, loud and piercing. Her eyes roll backward into their sockets as she swiftly bends her knees and plunge the knife into the girl’s heart.
The young girl looks up into the sky, focused on a star where she believes her soul will ascend to. She listens to her own scream mingled together with the scream of her god. It echoes away over the mountains into forever.
The light in her eyes is fading fast. She senses a darkness soaring towards her, she feels herself moving towards that distant star.
Then she can feel the pressure of her god draped over her chest. She can hear her god drinking greedily, swallowing fast the blood pumping, and draining from the wound where the knife is extracted.
Marlene sits down at her desk and tapping the escape button on her keyboard she brings her computer to life.
With the soft humming of the computer surrounding her, she looks over the screen out the window at the clear blue sky. She has never seen this exact colour of sky before, the blue is almost an aquamarine, but then again it is more of a sea blue, or maybe it is more of a turquoise.
From the corner of her eye, she notices that the computer is ready for her, all her personal settings initialized.
Absent-mindedly she folds her hand over the mouse, moving the white arrow across the screen. She double-clicks the button to open the Internet icon.
Immediately the screen opens and then she waits patiently while the computer waits for the page to load – website found, waiting for reply.
She thinks frustrated that it is time to upgrade to a faster computer. She spends most of her day waiting and she feels as if she is forever waiting for pages to open, waiting for documents to print, waiting, waiting, and always waiting.
How much time is wasted waiting? Yes, she now saves time by not standing in long queues at the bank, because she can do all her banking on-line. She saves time not waiting at the checkout, because now she can buy everything her heart desires off the Internet, with only a knock on the door announcing that it has arrived. All her friends now are avatars.
She really uses the Internet mainly as a giant public library, searching for information on travel, hobbies, places of interest and general information. She also does some emailing to keep in contact with her family.
Although they say that the Internet is also an entertainment dome, playing virtual chess and other games against unknown challengers, she has never attempted this. She has also never downloaded music, a television program, a movie, or a book, preferring the old-fashioned method.
Only once, did she enter a chat room, but felt inadequate. They all spoke so fast, in as few letters as possible and still to this day, she does not know what they were trying to say. She felt ousted and nobody bothered chatting with her anyway. Just imagine, a world where she could be unpopular although no one knew whom she was, what she looked like or her real name. She logged off, embarrassed. Chat rooms are mainly for the young - under twenty-five-year-old - in her opinion.
The Internet has been around only for a few years now and they say that people are already losing contact with their physical social environment, using the telephone less; it is easier to send a mail. People are reading fewer newspapers, watching less television, and spending longer and longer hours surfing the net, thus spending less time in shopping stores and commuting in traffic to and from shops.
Marlene works Monday to Friday at a job she loathes with a passion. She wakes up with aches and pains, tired and in real need of more sleep. She often wonders how funny it is that on a weekend she awakes fresh, invigorated, able to take on the world, but come Monday, the world rests heavily on her shoulders.
Eventually the page opens in front of her and she double-clicks on the link that will take her to her email provider. She enters her username, her password and then reaching with her pinkie she pushes the enter button.
Once again, she waits while the page loads. Normally she would open another page while she waits for one page, but today she does not feel like multi-tasking and besides, it only slows down her computer, bought only last year, but already seriously outdated.
Her mailbox opens and she has seventeen unread messages. She notices most of these are from companies, companies she orders from, or that she once had a query about and completed her email address into the field provided and now, she is on their mailing list, a valued customer.
There are only two emails she will bother opening, the one from her daughter, Lisa, and then the one from her daughter-in-law, Adèle.
Lisa now lives in England with her husband and Marlene’s two grandchildren, Paul and E’lisa. Lisa only wrote a few cursory lines, as usual.
Lisa says they are well, the weather is awful and that she is frightfully busy. Marlene considers amused that Lisa almost sounds as pompous as only the English can. Lisa continues, promising that she will attach photos the next time she mails. Marlene has heard this many times before and never has she seen the icon indicating that a mail from Lisa has an attachment.
Sighing Marlene moves the email to the folder named Lisa; she will reply tomorrow.
She selects all the mails from the companies she has no intention of reading and moves them to her trash folder.
Double-clicking on Adèle’s email, Marlene notices too late the three letters FWD in the subject-field. Softly she swears under her breath. She hates these emails with a passion; emails that need to be forwarded or you will encounter doom. Admittedly she does not forward them all and none of the doom prophecies has come true, such as if you delete this mail, your left foot will rot, start to stink and fall off within one week. Low-and-behold she still has both her feet.Copyright © Stephen Simpson (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.