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30 day challenge: Day 1

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Going to write some Flash Fiction every day for the next 30 days. It is time I push myself as a writer. You’re with me, right? Write.

Kan Boar read the stars above and shuddered. Ruler Chan Kawil would be displeased with his reading. But for the past seven days it had not changed. Despite the bloodletting upon the pedestal of the Gods, and the sacrifices,  the great heavenly bodies did not change. Tikal, the center of Mayan society, was doomed. Jaguar Priest Kan Boar sent his servants away and thought in solitude.

The stars stood firm. Their message was clear. A Pale Rider loomed over Tikal. Many arms, strong and terrible, stretched out over the stars, ready to engulf everything it saw. It hungered and would not stop until its powerful lusts were satisfied. The People would be wiped from the face of the Earth. And they were powerless to stop him.

The weight of Kan’s headdress pressed down upon him. The large, golden statue of a jaguar with ruby eyes was oppressive against his forehead. A slow spreading headache wrapped itself around his head. The long Quetzal tail feathers woven into the back hung low and itched his bare shoulders. For long moments he remained in the roof-comb at the top of the temple. Perhaps if he stayed inside long enough, the people and Chan would forget him.

Through the south door of temple he could see the soft glow of a multitude of torches. Murmurs and prayers climbed their way up the temple steps into the room. Kan could feel their anxiety like bugs crawling across his skin. Once more he shuddered and walked out of the room onto the temple steps.

Down the steep steps, in the large open field the People of Tikal had gathered. Since his retreat into the temple more had arrived. The news of Kan’s nightly readings had spread and now they all stood, shoulder to shoulder, waiting to hear his final proclamation. Since the third evening they began to gather. In earnest the People prayed to the Gods.

Spare us.

Kan now stood before them. For the last time. A sea of hopeful eyes and fervent prayers met him. He worked his mouth, but no words came forth. Why was he chosen to be these People’s harbinger of destruction? He lifted his hands, fingers spread, and a wave of silence washed over the gathered masses. Kan, gritted his teeth.

“The heavens have spoken their last message,” his voice was clear to all, propelled by the curvature of the roof-comb to reach the furthers member. A pit grew in his stomach and radiated up his chest. “They say… They have heard the prayers of the faithful. Peace is with us!”

The lie drove him to his hands and knees. But the crowd erupted in cheers and exultation. Children danced, mothers kissed their new born babes, and men called out triumphant war cries. He wept for them. For what he was doing to them. All the while he masked his tears as those of relief.

Ruler Chan Kawil ascended the steps, his long train of golden silks beaded with jade stones billowed out behind him. Chan Kawil lifted Kan to his feet and wrapped his arm around the priest. Addressing the People, “Ix Chel smiles down upon us this evening. Truly she favors our great Jaguar Priest Kan Boar, Star Reader. Heaven touched! We shall erect a temple in his name.”

More cheers and prayers reached Kan. With each shout of his name he twinged. Their words felt like hot coals being drug across his back. I shall bear this burden, he thought. Let them live their last days in revelry.

He dismissed himself from Chan. Claiming he must perform the final rituals of thankfulness to the Gods.

Inside the roof-comb the praises of the Tikal People were muffled. Their torches and growing bonfires caused the carvings of the Gods to cast fierce shadows. The four Bacabs, guardians of the cardinal points, sneered at Kan from their places above the four entrances to the room.  He approached Can Tzicnal, bacab of the north who was painted in a wash of white.

“Does this have to be the way?” Turning in a circle, he looked to each God in turn. “I have served the Gods in every way. I have done everything you have asked of me. The people have followed unquestioningly. Yet you turn your backs upon us.” Kan fell prostrate before Can Tzicnal. “Take what you want from me. But spare them, I beg of you.”

Kan lay in the dim orange light. The Gods were silent.

Jaguar Priest Kan Boar stood up. His face was stained from tears mingled with dirt. Lifting his hands, which trembled in anger, he removed his headdress then cast it to the floor. The golden jaguar statue broke free and clattered across the stone. Kan let out a roar of anger, snatched the obsidian knife from the sacraficial pedestal and pointed it toward Can Tzicnal.

“I will bring my wrath upon you in Xibalbá!” Kan flipped the blade around, grabbed the handle with both hands, then thrust it into his heart. A hollow thud echoed in his chest when the hilt collided with his breast bone. Kan Boar’s dark eyes stared intently upon the carving of Can Tzicnal. A wicked, blood filled grin spread across his face.

Kan’s lifeless body slumped to the floor. His blood filling the cracks of the stone beneath it.

***

The mourning over Kan Boar was felt across Tikal. Ruler Chan Kawil was so overcome that he refused all aid and languished within his palace. On the seventh month the People had  their first encounter with the Pale Men in Silver. While leary of these newcomers, Chan eventually trusted them. They traded freely with their leader. He rode a strange beast of burden, clad in silver.

But the Pale men soon turned on Tikal. With wicked sorcery they cast plagues upon the People. Stole their land, precious metals, and stones. They rode out and consumed all that was in their path. The People cried out for mercy from the Gods. Why did you, why did Kan Boar, forsake us?

If only they knew to not trust these men. If only then, they could have been saved.

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