Faithful unto Death
A Short Story
The club footed hunchbacks are marched up the side of the volcano. Children first of course followed by adults attached to oxygen tanks and dragging IV poles full of life-saving liquids and then the elderly. Ah yes! We cannot forget the elderly. The Helpers: teachers, bus drivers, nurses, hospital cleaning staff, grocery store clerks, first year rookie cops and hey is that the little gal who makes your ten-dollar coffee every morning? are all tasked with pushing the wheelchair bound up the volcano’s face.
These helpers? They thought they were just helpers. But the joke is on them bigly: into the stew for you!
Child by child cripple by cripple geezer by geezer Helper after Helper walk over the edge into the cauldron; each spray of lava and smoke a sign to The Faithful: your offering has been accepted but you know I need more.
Yes. They know. The Faithful (elected and deemed infallible by people of The Land to govern as They see fit nomatterwhat) giddily gather the next group: One foot two foot up the wooden hill foot!
The Faithful whisper to the dead: you will be remembered for your sacrifice, no hard feelings you understand we had to keep The Land open so thank you for your service!
The crowd at the base of the volcano cheer - every belch from the mountain ringing freedom! liberty!
The Faithful speak into a phalanx of microphones repeating Keep This Land Moving! again and again until we all believe it.
These Spectators (some drove their own mothersfathersbrotherschildren to the hill for tribute, gave them a peck on the cheek and without looking back head to the merchandise stalls: red hats, red flags bearing images of four crooked-legged black spiders, autographed prints of football stars, talk show blowhards and framed oil paintings depicting the famous most hallowed scene: The Land’s Supremist of Leaders clutchinghugginggrabbing the Flag of The Land1
The Spectator approaches a stall and greets the vendor with a nod. The Spectator looks around and decides: I’ll take two red hats and a set of those black pajamas. Just as they hand over the money for their precious goods a cheer rises from the crowd. The Spectator turns in time to catch a glimps of the magma as it rises violently then falls transformed into cool black snow.
The Spectator turns back to the vendor, takes his plastic bag of precious cargo, thanks them and adds: hey - that was my kid up there!
The Spectator turns straightens their belt and disappears proudly into the gathered crowd.
Titled See How Much I Love Thee?