Witless Sacrifice

Cloverdale NM

Photo © Google Maps Streeview

Crouching behind a shrub, Nami sipped from his last waterskin. After tracking the caravan across the drylands for weeks, he was close enough to be spotted.

He still had no plan for extricating his sister from this cult. Be brave, that’s it.

The cultists entered the mountain shadow. Nami darted between bushes, following. Suddenly they disappeared.

Nami reached the spot. A dead end. Pawing the rock wall, he stumbled through the illusion into darkness. He never saw who grabbed him.

Robed figures, red skin smeared with paint, turned at his shouting. One approached: his sister, glaring.

“You’re a fool.”

“I came to rescue you.” She was right: he sounded idiotic.

“From my own choices?” The stone door shut, leaving only flickering torchlight. And something eerier: an eldritch glow deep inside the cave. “Now it’s your choice, too.”

They advanced, dragging Nami. He refused to scream. That much bravery, he retained.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. Thanks as always to Karen and Josh for hosting! This week, Pegman takes us to Cloverdale New Mexico. Pretty unforgiving territory. Nami must have a great deal of skill in survival tactics and tracking to have survived this far. If only he’d used his skill to think ahead about what he’d do once he caught up with the caravan!

Note that the title is intended as a comparison between the sister’s conscious commitment and how the brother’s poor decision-making unintentionally led him to the same fate: from willing sacrifice to unwilling, to unwitting, and then, putting an even finer point on it, to witless.

I hope everyone had a wonderful winter holiday! I had a lovely time visiting with family for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and am now scrambling to get myself ready for the fresh new year, complete with goals and plans and prioritizing, oh my!

13 thoughts on “Witless Sacrifice

  1. A little less courage and a little more caution might have served Nami better. You bound together the narratives of the sister and brother neatly. And, although the sister chose her fate, it seems as though she and her brother will both suffer the same unpleasant end; is she really better off than he is?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes indeed, caution and planning might have kept Nami out of trouble!

      I was deliberately leaving things vague about exactly what was going to happen deeper inside the cave. The main issue for me was that the group that Nami thinks of as a “cult” is a serious religious commitment for his sister. So whether she and her fellow congregants know for sure that they’re heading toward a sacrifice (and feel it is a communion with their deity) or if it’s less sure– perhaps a ritual that ends in death for a chosen sacrifice, or ends in death for anyone not considered devoted or pure — the key thing is that the sister faithfully believes in it and *wants* to do it, whereas the brother Nami has gotten stuck there and may pay the cost without reaping the sacred rewards.


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