Flash fic – Sacrifice

Why not welcome the month with a small horror story?

Sacrifice

Elena woke up chained to the altar.

The cult was chanting, intoning low words of encouragement to an Elder God who demanded blood and souls just to get out of bed. They were nonsense phrases chanted over and over, the echoes of a long dead language where the meanings were lost, but the malevolence remained.

She knew this because she bothered to do the research. Her mother hooked up with some shady guy, and it was up to Elena to protect herself, because her mother couldn’t. Her mother was kind, but too kind to the wrong people, as if someone had once taught her the way to deal with a monster was to be as accommodating to them as possible, and maybe then they wouldn’t destroy you. In Elena’s limited experience, the opposite was actually true. The more you gave them, the more they took.

Don was part of some weird religious order they’d never heard of, but Mom adopted it, because that’s what she did with her men. Elena played it close to the vest, but investigated. What she turned up was that Don’s “sect” was actually a cult, one tied to dark rituals with Elder Gods, most lost to time. But that didn’t mean the cult hadn’t left death and destruction in their wake. She suggested to her mother once, in private, that this sect was dangerous, but she’d drank the Kool-Aid, and Elena couldn’t reach her. She stopped trying. But Don didn’t know Elena knew the truth, and why a man like him might be interested in a woman with a young teenage daughter.

As the syllables twisted and fused, the darkness grew thick and fast, shadows boiling and slowly filling the room like a living being. The candles that lit the room were being swallowed and doused by the living dark.

The High Priest – Don – stepped forward, dressed in a liquid red hooded robe, and raised his hands towards the ceiling. “O Ancient One, please accept this humble sacrifice as a renewal of our bonds to thy dark and holy presence,” he said, in an overly dramatic way. Elena figured him for having seen one too many horror movies, or being a theater geek as a kid. Neither really spoke well of him.

A rusty but ornate knife dropped out of one of Don’s sleeves and into his hand, and he raised it dramatically, even though he wasn’t within two feet of her. His pale blue eyes were visible beneath the shadow of his hood, and what she saw there was annoyance. “What’s the matter with you, girl? Don’t you care about your life?”

“Of course I do,” she replied. As far as Don knew, she was a nerdy, quiet girl who kept to herself and never made a fuss. He had no idea who she really was, nor had he ever cared to learn. Frankly, what gave it away to her was the fact that there were no children in the cult. As if none of them lived long enough to get to her age.

A man in the back of the room screamed.

It was short lived, cut off abruptly, with an accompanying loud wet noise. The second scream finally made Don turn around.

He was a better door than a window, but Elena could see the edges of the room, and they were enough. The living dark was starting to consume the cult members, tentacles of black smoke suddenly materializing and slamming through them. Others it smacked into the walls so hard they sunk down leaving thick bloody trails behind them. Occasionally Don would make a noise, but it was hard to tell what it was. A squeak of indignance, maybe, or a swallowed scream. It took him a moment to find his voice. “What – what is this ..?”

“Like I couldn’t guess what you idiots were going to do to me?” Elena said, shaking her head. A tentacle of smoke lashed out and cut the chains holding her down. She sat up and rubbed her chafed wrists. “You’re not the only ones who could reach out to the Elder Gods.”

She’d followed many a rabbit hole about the cult, about the gods they worshipped, and discovered there were other less showy ways to speak to them. And if you couldn’t beat them one way – how was a fourteen year old girl going to beat an entire deadly cult? – you could do it in another way.

Don turned back to her, his face bloodless with shock. He was still holding the dagger, but he’d probably forgotten it. “What?”

“Just think about it. If I offered you one virgin apple, or twenty new and old apples, which would you take? A single bite, or all you can eat?”

The deal was simple enough. She pledged herself as the emissary of the Elder God, and in return, it would spare her life, and destroy all her enemies. Sounded like a win-win to her.

The noises continued, sounds of bodies being torn apart like wet dough, and the metallic edged stench of blood and death began to fill the room. Don finally remembered the dagger, and started to raise it, but a black tentacle suddenly looped around his wrist, stilling his arm. A paralysis of fear seemed to steal over him, freezing him to the spot.

Elena smiled at her soon to be late wannabe step-father, and it was genuine and extremely amused. She did wonder if her mother ever meant anything to him, besides being a means to an end, but honestly she didn’t care. In the end, it had made no difference. “I think you’ve forgotten, old man. Some gods wants pomp and circumstances, but most would really rather have blood.”

Elena saw the horror in Don’s eyes right before his God ripped his head off.

**

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