It all began with a myth...

Hello everyone

We just finished round 2 of the Halloween Flash Fiction Contest! So far it has been a rousing success. With 50 stories submitted by 46 different writers the response has been phenomenal. Not to mention that we've had some robust voting! And since the contest began the blog has had over 5500 views!

Our finalists so far are....

Week 1:   Hotspot by Rob Holliday

Week 2: Billy Carver by Jason Mueller & Christy Lynn Foster

On to week 3!

Submissions open on Friday, October 12th at 9a.m. (CDT) For complete rules and guidelines follow the link to the Facebook event

Halloween Flash Fiction Contest.

I started all of this to celebrate the release of my novel Lykaia- book one of the Sophia Katsaros series,  Lykaia began as a flash fiction piece about this time last year. I wanted to honor that and have a bit of fun. I am so thrilled that this contest is doing so well.

And now for the story that started it all.... 



Lykaia


It had been so long he was not sure he would still know the way. But like most things that become habit, the body remembers them, long after the mind has consigned them to distant memory.

Through the center of the valley was a stream that laughed its way over rocks and boulders worn smooth from years of such treatment. The hills that rose on either side, thanks to this stream, stayed lush and green long after the rest of the country had been baked to harsh aridity by the summer sun.

He paused to drink the cool water, enjoying the clean, crisp taste. They were chanting; he could hear them, even from this great distance. The corner of his mouth curled up in an approximation of a smile.  He stood, stretched and then began to run towards the voices. Increasing his speed, he traveled up the lichen-painted stone steps that wound up from the valley floor.

He felt the music long before he heard it, a deep thrumming in his core. The drums kept a steady rhythm that his heart heard and threatened to answer. At the edge of the clearing he sat and listened, hidden in the shadows, as the priest began to speak.

“Long ago a great king ruled these lands, and to him were born fifty sons. They were strong and proud, wise and cunning. They built an altar to Zeus and worshiped him faithfully. But the god neglected his people. They grew angry. They wanted a sign of his blessing. Proof of his divinity.

“The king threw a dinner party in Zeus’ honor. As a test, a human child was sacrificed and baked into a pie. If Zeus was truly a god he would know, and resurrect the child, and if not, then the he would never return to Olympus.

“Upon tasting the pie, Zeus immediately knew what it was. He became enraged. ‘Because you have behaved like an animal, so shall you become!’  Then Zeus spoke the curse that had those gathered at the party shaking in fear. Where once the mighty king stood, sat a great shaggy beast. Wolf.

“However, because the king had been a faithful follower, Zeus granted him a small reprieve. If the king abstained from eating human flesh for nine years, he would be returned to his human form.

“Then Zeus collected all the pies, but there was not enough left of the sacrificed boy to revive him. And so, the father of all the gods made a memorial to the boy in the heavens. A constellation that the king would see whenever he hunted at night, forever reminding him of his foolishness for attempting to trick a god.

“As the cold light of the constellation filled the night sky, the once great king raised his muzzle and howled mournfully.

“We gather on this mountain, under the dark moon, the providence of Nyx, to offer our worship to Zeus. As is our custom, human entrails have been baked into this pie. Whosoever eats of it will follow in King Lykaonas’ footsteps and become Wolf.”

This made him laugh. His tongue lolled out of his mouth, exposing canines that were white and sharp. A rustling to his left revealed the dark form of his brother. His shiny black coat made him almost impossible to see. Almost, but not quite.

They rubbed playfully against each other in greeting. Their play became more serious as the younger brother, still trying to topple the elder, bared his teeth. A yelp from the black and a curl of tail ended the game. Hierarchy must be observed, even on this night.

His attention went back to the clearing and those gathered there. The priest had been bringing people up to the mountain every nine years for nearly sixty years. He was old now and smelled of death. The wolf did not like this smell. He much preferred the smell of blood that flowed strong and sure through the hearts of those that knelt in the dew-covered grass around the ancient altar.

So entranced was he in life’s ebb and flow that he almost missed the words of the priest.  He was calling to them. It was time. As one, they entered the clearing. Their coats shiny, their muscles strong and sure. And again, as one, they shed their lupine form and stood on two legs. Some of his brothers were unused to doing so and swayed, unsteady in human form.

He walked forward and spoke. As the eldest, it was his right and his duty. “You have been told a pretty story. Some of it is true. Most isn't.  We gathered on this mountain long before the idea of Zeus was invented by man in an effort to explain away the things that frighten him.”

“We are the terrors that hunt the night. And we have never been human.” There was screaming then. And blood. So much blood. After he and his brothers had gorged themselves, they sang. Their voices lifting up to the moon who hid her face from view. Contrary to what was believed, she did not rule them.

The people that lived in the shadow of the mountain heard the singing and locked their doors. Their ancestors had long spoken of a ceremony that occurred on the mountain and the pile of ash that served as an altar. Modern science and technology eschewed such things as folklore. But the part of man that remembered when all that stood between him and the darkness was a roaring fire, could not, would not forget.

He trotted over to the priest that knelt in the center of the carnage. It was likely the old man would not survive to lead these rites nine years from now when the cycle repeated itself. Truly, it would be a mercy to kill him. But the priest had served a purpose, and because the wolf was fat and sated he gave the priest the gift he had longed for.

When next they gathered, there would be fifty-one.

Comments

  1. Now that this is posted, do you want this used in the anthology, or a fresh flash fiction? I think a surprise is in order...yes? ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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