Preacher

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I stand on the corner of the hastily cobbled street of the colony. More specifically, I stand above the street, on a small plastic crate mounted up on a curb. It is flush against a small, rusted pop-up building; itself a remnant of the Neutrality's initial expansionist thrust. Now, though, it only represents the failings of our government. A small window welded into the metal wall looms above my head, and out of it spills sticky, sweet, warm air. Inside someone is cooking, and I think about how hungry I am. My hand absentmindedly drifts over a pocket in my robes housing a small choba, but I need to save that for later.

I observe the single lane that makes up the colony, watching my fellow Cyclopasians, dour and dull, as they wander the street on their morning business. Business that seems to extend no further than the ten or so buildings that surround the lane, barring the small shelters constructed by the colonists, and the far fewer settlements beyond. What is most striking are the rolling hills, spiked with hundreds of burial pillars in "honor" of the dead. I observe each one, different in size and complexity, unique to the families that erected them, unique to the departed that the pillars represent. For so long those pillars were mixed from concrete, with the ashes of the dead themselves mixed within. The Ancestral Order, where I place my faith, has worked hard to end the practice. The pillars themselves are noble effort, but the desecration of the bodies fills us with rage.

I see the Marshall down the way, across the street, sitting in front of the largest building in the town that houses the extent of the public services of the colony and houses the only real G.I.N. relay that connects Dokanna to the larger system, and to the larger galaxy. His hood is propped up over his head, and his long, pointed ears are tucked beneath it, distorting the hood just enough to give his profile a diamond-shape. I have been careful not to provoke him during my stay. I am here preaching the words, of which I find myself speaking plainly of one set, in order to find those who desire to hear the other set and my true purpose here.

I think about my choba and consider eating it now, but then I will not have it for later. I shut my eye and remind myself to wait. To wait. I will eat soon enough. I will eat something to wash the taste of the blood from my mouth from last night's meal. The blood of the feral vermin was foul, but it staved off my hunger.

I steady myself on my makeshift pulpit and I begin to share the word. "Hear me, brothers and sisters! Our ancestors cry out for you to not forsake them!"

A passerby pauses and looks up at me, and then turns his gaze toward the pillars. He begins to walk away but I take aim with my words.

"You, brother, do you have family in those hills?"

The passerby stares at me a moment with a discernable distrust. "Yes, my mother is there," he tells me.

"Did you burn her body?" I ask him in the most sympathetic voice I can muster.

"E-excuse me?" he says as his eye grows wide.

"Did you burn your poor mother's corpse, brother?"

He furrows his brow and he spits at my feet. "Farking zealot," he yells at me.

I shake my head and turn back to the crowd on the street. He stomps off. I continue.

"We've drifted for far too long, away from the true ways of our ancestors. In our past, we entombed our ancestors. We've abandoned the respect of their physical form!" I stare at the crowd. A few look from the corner of their eye at me.

"How can your loved ones be reborn in the afterlife with no corporeal form to draw from? Think of the existence you are forcing upon them!" I feel the anger rise from deep within, someplace low and primal.

"The act of burning is savagery! We burn the diseased and the plagued! When a field has the blight you purge it with fire. You burn what is foul. You do not burn your children!"

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