In the Shadows

Submission for the God Killer Flash Fiction Challenge

It was a gray day. Although the boy tried to run as fast as his legs would carry him, it was never enough. The gods saw to that when they cursed his legs.

All his life, Aapo only wanted to be equal – not faster, stronger, taller or braver. Just the same. That is all he ever prayed for. But the gods made sure that was not meant to be.

His brother turned and paused long enough to laugh at Aapo before resuming his run towards the stone pyramid in the city center. The massive temple to the gods was a glorious site to see. It was built over a century with giant stones carried for miles on the backs of several generations of slaves. Even when Aapo could see it, he knew he was still at least half the day away. And he already knew he would be the last to arrive. This was his truth. The gods made sure of that.

The sky was turning darker as the day progressed. By the time Aapo reached the temple, hundreds of villagers had already arranged themselves into rows of half-circles around the stone pedestal at the base of the main temple. The shaman was standing next to the pedestal delivering a sermon to the less divine.

“I bring you good news!” the shaman shouted, “your crops will thrive this season! Your bellies will be full! And your numbers will grow!”

The crowd erupted into cheers at the sound of this blessed news. The villagers were smiling at each other and congratulating themselves on their good fortune.

Aapo didn’t care much for what the shaman was saying, all he wanted was to find his brother. He searched the crowd and found him seated near the temple at the front. He moved through the crowd as quickly and quietly as he could, but he was clumsy.

The shaman held both of his arms up in the air and held them high until the noise of the crowd silenced.

Aapo had almost reached the front, when he bumped a large man and knocked a cup of water out of his hand. Everyone turned to look at him.

“Hey!” the man shouted as the cup fell and the dry ground drank all of the spilled liquid.

Aapo just lowered his head and continued to push through the crowd. He was so close.

“You! Boy!” the shaman pointed to Aapo. “Come here.”

Aapo shook his head. He was frightened. He had finally reached his brother and he clug tightly to him as if his life depended on it.

“Bring him to me,” the shaman demanded.

Aapo’s brother was also scared. So he grabbed Aapo’s arms and dragged him up to the temple.  Once they reached the base of the pedestal, his brother released Aapo’s arms and ran back into the safety of the crowd. Aapo crumbled to the ground and buried his head in his own lap.

The shaman pointed to Aapo and took pity on the boy. “This bastard child is cursed. His mother is to blame for losing faith and damning her bloodline. His body is mangled, and his tongue is tied. This is what happens to those who would kill a god!”

The crowd erupted into cheers again. Several old men near the front of the crowd picked up stones and threw them at Aapo. “God Killer!” they shouted.

Dark clouds were beginning to swirl and tumble above the temple. The shaman saw this as an opportunity. “A sacrifice is needed!” He pointed to Aapo, “.. and they have chosen this boy.”

“Sacrifice! Sacrifice!” the crowds chanted.

The boy tried to shrink himself and be as small as possible. But this only made it easier for the shaman’s guards to lift the child onto the pedestal.

The shaman pulled a long knife from his robe and raised it above his head, “We give this life to you! And ask for your forgiveness!” He prepared to plunge it into Aapo’s back.

A hole in the clouds formed above the temple and a bolt of thick white light funneled downward. The bolt arced through the knife and split into two blinding streams linking the shaman to Aapo. People in the crowd screamed and ran for cover.

The shaman was knocked backwards and pressed against the temple walls by some invisible force.

Aapo’s beam raised his body and suspended it several feet in the air. But his shadow stayed curled on the ground. Aapo’s brother noticed this and stared at the shadow which didn’t follow Aapo’s body.

The shadow then stood and cast itself onto the temple as it moved to match the shape of Aapo’s floating body. With a gasp, Aapo opened his eyes wide and stared with rage at the shaman. He unfolded his body and lowered his legs to touch the ground. Then he straightened his spine so that he was standing upright and facing the shaman. He had grown. He was strong. And all traces of fear had left his body. He was powerful. The gods made sure of that.

The knife floated into Aapo’s hand and fired a powerful beam of light from the tip which ripped open the shaman’s torso. The spray of blood painted the walls of the temple behind the gaping hole in his chest.  Aapo flicked the knife and pointed it towards the ground, and the beam of light slammed the lifeless body of the shaman onto the ground. The crowd watched in horror as the shaman’s limp body disintegrated into black dust.

Aapo then turned to face the crowd. He could speak. And his voice echo’d for miles, “We are the shadows who exist between the weakest and the earth. THIS … is what happens to those who would kill a god.”

~ end ~

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Balancer by Patrick WongWhat if you had the power to control Life? But in order to heal you had to harm to maintain balance in the world. Find out what happens to Nicole in The Final Deity Series. Available now at Amazon.

A suburban teen finds herself caught up in a series of inexplicable miracles, until she is forced to confront the startling truth about herself: She has the power to give life or take life from every living thing around her. As Nicole explores the extent of her powers, her activities attract the attention of government agents. The concepts of right and wrong will be blurred in this new urban fantasy novel as Nicole struggles to maintain her innocence in a fight for her life.

BALANCER is also available for download for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Genre: Middle-Grade/Young-Adult, Urban Science Fiction, Coming Of Age