Temple Predicted

Caught in the space between refusing and obeying.

Greece 2013 stone wll Ben Ramirez

Photo credit: Ben Ramirez


Balancing effortlessly in the scaffolding, young Haalk watched the distant caravan retreat into the formless desert. “Alik, where do the bringers come from?”

“A city, far away.”

“What’s a city?”

Alik elbowed Haalk toward his task. “Like our mountain, I suppose, only flat.”

Haalk placed another stone. “I wish I was a bringer.”

Alik adjusted Haalk’s stone. “Be proud to be a builder. Builders and bringers, makers and breakers, breeders and feeders—each has a sacred role on the mountain. Fulfill yours, to the glory of Da’atal.”

They made the expected obeisance.

“Will I ever see a city?”

Alik shrugged. “One day, perhaps. When the temple is finished. When the Empress stands at the summit, as prophesized, to ask the judgement of Da’atal.”

Haalk sighed.

“Be patient. I worked this section at your age, but it’s much straighter now. Surely this time, it will be approved. Already we are four levels higher than in my grandfather’s day.”

“How many levels are left?”

Alik gazed up, shielding his eyes from Da’atal’s brightness. “Only the makers know.”

 



Word count: 175.  Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, inspired by the photo below.  Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting!  Click here to see the other stories, or to submit one yourself.

FFfAW.photo-20160222081613639

Photo © Ellespeth’s Friend


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22 thoughts on “Temple Predicted

  1. I enjoyed this in so many ways. You illustrated the struggle so many feel to reconcile our hopes and dreams for something different with the temperance of accepting the value of our current roles. I also liked the humorous way you described the lengths people will go to appease a belief in a God or idea. This was a nice, multi-layered story. Great job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the great comment Chris. It’s great to hear that the complexity I meant to put in there is actually getting through to the reader (and not just in my head). The more of these flash fiction pieces I do, the more I find I can squeeze into 175 or 200 words. I start off with an idea for some event or world “thing” — e.g., hm, what if there were some big monument that was constantly under construction? — then figure out where in my world that idea might fit, and what’s behind it (and yes, I created a whole background for this event just for this), then focus in on a couple of real people and tell that world-building story through the eyes of their lived experience. Now that I think about it, it really is quite a lot of layers. What fun!

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  2. I feel kind of bad for Haalk. He’s young and needs to explore, to see cities. But I see how their culture is organized as in, here is your job, now do it. Hopefully, he is not a builder all his life, as it seems it takes a lot of time to build a small part of this gigantic temple. Pitty, their religion is mythology and the goddess, well she is is going to have to think if something good to say when she “meets” Da’tal. Great Job Joy.

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    • Thanks Amanda! Yes, I’d want to explore if I were him, too! But it’s not that unusual for people in less technologically advanced societies to spend their whole lives within a one-day’s walk of their home village. Probably most people in Eneana will never see a city. So it’s not that different for these people, stuck on “the mountain”, tasked with working their whole lives on a building that the Empress clearly does not want to ever get finished — because then she’d have to meet Da’atal and be judged, better not risk that!

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      • Yeah for sure I get what you mean. I’m glad most societies have advanced to a point where you have a choice what you want to do with your life, in some manner. Funny enough, I was talking to the Dental Assistant today at the Dentist. She is Eastern European and told me where she is from they do not have a choice which profession they are educated in. It is chosen for them. So either they do well, or fail and have no job. Thanks for sharing your story.

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      • In the modern world, we have so many choices for every part of our lives. I’d hate to live in a country where someone else decided my career for me. So it’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like when almost nobody had choices like that– which is the majority of human history. When you’re raised by farmers (or hunters, or herders, etc.) and work on your family’s farm your whole life, and everyone you know is a farmer, it’s just natural that you would be a farmer when you grow up. If someone from the future came and asked, “But don’t you feel terrible not having a choice?” It might seem like an incredibly odd and maybe frightening question to most people. Why would they want to turn away from the life they’ve always known? I guess we always imagine ourselves being that one person who’s the rebel and would choose the adventurous life.

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    • I’m not sure they had to convince anyone. It’s job security! Why wouldn’t someone want to take a job that they can guarantee they’ll keep doing and keep being paid for for a long time? It’s a lot better than not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or how you might support your family next month.

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  3. Poor Haalk – I guess he’ll spend his whole life at this, never to see a city. One wonders if in twenty years time he will be having a similar conversation with his son.
    I love how you make every prompt picture work in your fantasy world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Haalk is a curious one. And no, I don’t think he’ll ever get to leave the mountain. And yes, he’ll probably have this conversation himself when he’s older. By that time, he might be so involved and invested in the society on the mountain that he doesn’t know why anyone would want to go to some nasty city filled with lots of strangers anyway.

      And thanks! I really enjoy how the picture prompts inspire me to “discover” places and people in my world that I otherwise might not.

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  4. This captures the sisyphus feeling of many jobs, and the “blinders on” attitudes of many cultures. “We do this because this is what we do.” Teenagers are probably so exhausting because they’re the ones challenging the status quo. This little story with so few words was really thought-provoking. Thank you!

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    • Glad you thought so, Heather, thanks! Yes, I thought of this as a pretty sociological tale, where I was trying to channel what people would think if they were raised and lived their whole lives in a social structure completely different from what I’m used to. What would seem normal to them, or unknown? What roles would they be proud of playing? At some level, you could argue that every culture in every time says, “We do this because this is what we do” — it’s just that it’s easier to see when it’s someone else’s culture.

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