In the Valley

Let me tell you, young one, of the god of split-fork sky, his guardians, and child. Let me soothe you young one, with the how, the where, the why.

Tell of how bold and how horrible, the baying of the hounds howling at the half-horned man. How laudable, the maiden handlers and the hoc. Candled in the darkness, a robed runner slips in silence down the stairs. Lurking in the church, a harrowing for our hallowed halls: the runner resolves to act.

The stars scream ‘Enemy,’ and ‘Loss’ – a screeching summons to the sacred pact. Children first, cackling in cradles. Mothers moan and curse, calling to their kin. Brothers of the Bell bang brazenly to bring to bear: Singing sisters stick and snag the hounds to nag the hare. In her arms sleeps a child of our god, slick still with sticky starlit slime.

Stench in these low places, stench in higher places still. The runner sticks to the child and the wall with same-sweat smack. The hounds draw dearly near, and the woman runs deerly there and here. But stench in these low places, stench in lower places still; the snout-sniff snarling nips at scraps of the runner’s scent but steal no certainty from her devilish intent.

They permit an unintended pardon on the runner as they pass, pressed into an alcove they must have saved for last. Gambling, as strangers do, she escapes the way they came. Climbing stairs, the hare splits hairs, praying for the babe. A stranger to our city, this stranger can be stranger still: she sees the bolts but not the sky, perceiving split in malice and in light.

But no such thing exists, my child, fear not shadows nor the night.

She creeps through streets and sees the blooded sheets of every household in our town. Time ticks by and the hour draws nigh, clouds gather in unrest. Our stranger, knowing sacrilege, does what she does best. She takes the child to the well, hooded and on guard. She washes it and washes it, seeing self as child’s ward.

The stickiness? It sticks, of course, it’s the substance of the gods. But the rumbling rolls deeper now and rage writhes within. Aware and unrelenting, it retaliates in kind. It robs us of our Children. It awakes in them. They twist and split and set to killing everything in ken. The Brothers hide, while Mothers die with a chide upon their lips. They ravage town, raving savage, tiny feelers on the ground. Our mutant-spawn howl long and converge upon the well. Our stranger runs and runs and runs towards the gates away from Hell.

Through gate and street and forest still, she forgets her foot and falls by root before a clearing and a lake. The laughter looms and loudens, in mirth and manic grief. She crawls to the edge, babe still sound asleep. She means to run, to fly, to fall, but the cliff is much too steep. Thunder cracks like whips at back and the Children thus arrive. Wakened by the water crashing on the stone, the thunderbolt, and all the demons it had shown, the babe gasps for air and the woman sees its yellow, thousand eyes. She yells and screams and backs away, and cries and cries and cries.

The darkly demon dares to dash the newborn on the rocks. Children cry and split-fork sky scans the coast for culpa. The Children fry and split-fork sky by whipping further wakes the wind and attends to burial by ash. Our god then grieves, a soaked runner leaves scattered or as one.

It matters not, the damage done, we’re dealt our dreaded fate. Now we wait as stone, my Child, for a runner at the gate.


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