Photo © Joy Pixley
Marrala led his disciple up the secret path to Skull Rock. The boy cowered before the mountain giants’ god.
“Hold your fear. Nobody has been eaten in decades, since we started making monthly obeisance.”
Marrala performed the prayers and rituals. Bowing, they retreated.
* * *
As the sun set, nearby boulders shifted, dislodging years of dirt, coalescing into two creatures.
“You were right, Geb. I’ve never seen so many humans!”
“There’s a swarm in the valley.”
“But this stone is their god?”
“Apparently. See the resemblance?”
Oggea nibbled on a pine tree. “Are they edible?”
“Barely. Nutritious bones, but otherwise terribly squishy. I tried one some cycles ago. Disgusting.”
“So, only forest skeletons?”
Geb ate another sappy branch. “No, they sacrifice their dead to Mabbedeg, underground.”
“Ah, sacred ground, then.”
Geb stopped Oggea from eating the roots. “Leave the last for Mabbadeg.”
They buried the stump and settled back to silence.
Word count: 150. Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. Big thanks to Susan for hosting, and how fun that she chose to feature one of my donated photos this week! Click on the link to see the other stories written for this prompt, and to write one of your own.
The photo was taken at, yes, Skull Rock in the Joshua Tree National Forest, in Twentynine Palms, California.
As often happens, the story in my head was much longer than I could fit in 150 words. So here’s my postscript: In addition to covering up what was left of the tree with dirt, Geb and Oggea would have said a prayer to Mabbadeg, along the lines of, “All that is organic dissolves into dirt, all that is dirt hardens to rock. Preserve us and guide us through the sacred cycle.” Then they discussed when the Meet was — several moon cycles off still – and sat back for another rest. For space reasons, I also had to cut an amusing exchange in which Oggea asks Geb if the humans can talk and Geb says no, they only twitter at each other like birds.
Update: Oh crap, I just realized I had the wrong maximum word count for this challenge — I could have added 50 more words! Ah well, I’ve already cut it down and didn’t save the longer version; too late.