I didn’t follow today’s prompt. I liked the prompt, but I didn’t have any ideas. Or rather, I started writing and ended up with this! Which may be a mess, but I’m okay with that. I had to try something different-ish.
So, thanks for reading. We’re almost to the end!
Many dark holidays and creatures took hold of the world after the Days of Blight and Ruin. The naysayers shook their heads, of course, but most survivors agreed the time had come for strange deeds.
In what used to be called the Kingdom of the World was a pit. The pit went deep into the earth and could have held a mountain if the citizens had the wherewithal to fill it in. Only the most debased lived near the pit. Toxins curled ceaselessly upward and a sickly orange glow light up its mouth at night.
But the pit, which had formed in the early devastating days, demanded care. That’s what many survivors said and even those who didn’t believe didn’t have the heart to risk pretending the pit and its occupant didn’t exist. For there was, all knew, a terrible beast thrashing and pawing in the dirt and waste, and no one wanted it to escape.
The people marked the Day of Appetite. Days of giving and romance and independence had faded into history, and people who remembered them were avoided or mocked. Nothing mattered as much as doing one’s part for the Day of Appetite.
Citizens who could make the pilgrimage traveled to the pit. Those who couldn’t sent their offerings. And most people couldn’t travel. Injury, illness, and poverty kept most everyone near whatever ground they’d managed to hold onto. Even those with healthy bodies and actual bank accounts were reluctant to leave their plots and fortified houses. They sent emissaries they could trust but wouldn’t miss if they failed to return.
The powers that be made sure everyone contributed to the day. It was the only way to prove one’s loyalty to the security of the Kingdom. What would happen if the beast freed itself? No one wanted the answer to that question. they couldn’t survive the beast again and they knew it.
The holiday proved so successful in keeping the beast sated, the people agreed to celebrating not every year, but every month, and then every week. It didn’t take long before the day went on and on without end, people always coming to feed the appetite of the beast.
They brought gold, of course. The beast loved its false light and warmth. They brought mirrors for the beast was easily distracted by itself. They brought what had been deemed luxuries in the old world that the beast still believed in. But most of all, they brought applause and cheers.
Nothing soothed the beast like the sounds of its own name called again and again in the dark wasteland outside the pit. The beast slowed its frantic gnawing and grasping at the sound of cheers and claps. The crowds that came were music to its savage ears. They loudly proclaimed their devotion and it didn’t even matter if their hearts were in it. The beast couldn’t tell the difference no more than it could tell the difference between the bones of its victims.
Yet even as the holiday came to be every moment of every day, it was’t enough. The beast grew, and so did its pit. The pit expanded, filled with offering and the engorged beast. The pit grew and fields and landfills and cities crumbled and slid within. The people, the worshippers, sincere and false, fell, crushed under the garbage and gold in equal measure.
The day finally dawned when there were no people left to clap and cheer. The beast desperately clawed at the sides of its prison. It clawed and clawed, desperate for sound. All was silent and dark except for the cries of the beast.
And they say, dear children, that world has shriveled and disappeared from view. All that remains is the ever hungry cry for adoration you can hear on a dark, lonely night.
But where did the beast come from, mummy? asked Neeshell the oldest with three great big eyes and green silk hair. The other children wanted to know too.
Their mother stared off into space, considering her answer.
Little Tomay burrowed close to his mother. How could a beast like that even be born? he asked.
Their mother scratched Tomay behind his left horn. They aren’t born, sweethearts, she explained. They are made.
Can we make one? Neeshell asked, putting her arm around her sister, Clee, whose eyes drooped with sleepiness.
Good heavens, their mother said. No. Definitely not.
Why not? asked Tomay. He stretched out his back legs.
Because you’re loved, she replied. Then she insisted they all go to bed. She tucked them in and kissed each one goodnight. Turning off the light, she stood in the darkness, listening.