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    drsawzall
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This tale owes a debt of thanks to Shirly Jackson’s 1948 short story called The Lottery.  It is well worth the time to check out.

La Tombola - 3. Chapter 3

“It would be the height of hubris to assume sentience is limited to what we know or understand”.
Buck Rogers addressing the Galactic Consortium in ‘Buck Rogers and the Mystery of the Sentient Planet circa 2134 AD

Ned Boone

 

Foreword

What follows is Ned Boon’s story. It is also the story of unexpected discoveries and their consequences. At times our science is incomplete, not having the answers for everything. Reminding us that knowledge is infinite and everchanging previous conceptions.

Ned Boone stands unique among his contemporaries. It is not that he is a favored son, but a child, a boy and yet a man who will stand for what he loves, against all odds.

Completely at home in his surroundings, fully understanding the world that he lives in, having the strength of self not to defy a god, but to hold them both, to account.

Of all the books of the ancients that he had read, there was one passage he could recall from memory that described fully the world he lived in.

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”


Herman Melville, Moby Dick

 

 

Exordium

Each year there was no hiding the deeply held, intense feelings, as the date for what was once named La Tombola, now called The Lottery, drew near. It was a tradition that had been conducted for more than a thousand cycles of the sun. Time and time again had proved its necessity, that their welfare literally was dependent on this yearly event. The records kept in the town, showed the results of the crop failures, the sickness, and diseases that plagued the community when the day was ignored for more than a year. In the case of Ned Boone, the most painful of memories were refreshed, a love lost at his own hands.

Conducting the lottery was a double-edged sword Ned thought to himself. In doing so, the town of New Boston thrived and prospered, unlike the many towns and failed settlements who thought better, and now were but a dusty note in the book of records. No he thought, Mithras ensured that there would always be balance between the Gnos and themselves. Despite the effort taken, himself included, the population of New Boston never exceeded four-hundred souls, give, or take a few dozen either way. It was as if there was some form of birth control, in the substances that they partook of. It was the same in the other remote towns they maintained contact with.

Their ancestors left a world torn asunder by wars of greed, fueled by religious intolerance, and ecological ignorance. According to the history books brought by the first settlers, there wasn’t much to admire or emulate. After much thought on the subject over the decades of his long life, this situation had been humanity’s best chance of survival. In as much as there was an inherent form of birth control, and despite years upon years of trying to advance their technology, it all came to naught. The technology his ancestors brought with them failed within the first few years, became unrepairable and finally broken down to their smallest components to be reused in their labor-intensive agrarian pursuits. What couldn’t be used was left to decay and return to the ground.

To be fair, it was most likely for the best he thought. The air was clean, the water as well. More importantly, if they followed long held custom, their bellies would remain full and they, healthy. The one remaining obligation to the day, was ensuring the yearly gift to the Gnos followed the conclusion of the lottery up on the cliff face. It was payment for a debt that never could be repaid, one that literally saved their ancestors from extinction. When success or failure was in the balance, it was the Gnos that saved them.

What did it say he thought, of the selfless gift of compassion that was made in their name, for them, more than once? A gift that truly could never be repaid, a sacrifice that ensured their survival. An acknowledgement that this world was nothing like the one their ancestors left, that while there may be similar life spread across the stars, it wasn’t always the same.

As he did each year, as the date drew nigh, he went back to the records of the earliest days and his journal to refresh his memory and affirm the sanctity of their peculiar traditions, no matter how much it would pain him.

Ned Boone 1

Theu and the elders of his clan, spent much time in discussion and debate. They all knew it was within their power to correct the imbalance, that the creatures who fell from the sky created. Mithras did not favor them or share herself with them, they knew not of her ways.

From the beginning of time Mithras favored the clans, they were her children. They had learned her lessons well. There was no want or need, sickness or hunger. They lived harmoniously with their surroundings and neighboring clans. They knew when they crossed the great river, at the end of their days, they would live in her valleys and gardens and be at one with everything. They were her offspring and she provided, but as with the ways of this world, she required sustenance as well. Every cycle of the sun comprised of days of many lengths. It was when the days grew longest that the time arrived to honor Mithras.

It had been decided that Theu would approach the sky creatures. To see if the clans could help. After two cycles the wasting sickness was taking too many of them, denying them a chance to live with Mithras. The time for gifting was would be upon them in four, silver suns of the night, and the clans were in a quandary. The days would start to grow longer, if they were to help the sky creatures, time was running out. It would take much effort to understand one another. They would gift for them until they understood.

~~~

Captain Reynolds never expected the search for the man and others like him, to have ended with him walking into their settlement. At first, he was startled at the appearance, that they were humanoid wasn’t in doubt. That they were one with their surroundings was very apparent. Most of all, he knew with absolute clarity, that he was harmless and meant no ill will. He was bearing gifts of wild grown food and was trailed by what appeared to be his family, all bearing similar baskets of food.

The first thing he noticed in their appearance was a similarity to how elves would have been described in the old stories of earth. Tall and angular, lean bodies with taught musculature. Faces set off with almond shaped eyes, hair, like theirs, of many different hues. They walked with an easy grace wearing minimal coverings, not for show but for need. If the nakedness of the youngest was surprising, it confirmed that they were similarly constructed as to the sexes. Everything about their posture was non-confrontational.

It was apparent they had been watching them, the stranger in front of him knew he was in charge. With gestures and sounds he indicated his name was Theu. Copying the gestures, he identified himself as Reynolds. More surprising than not, was the felicity in which they conducted themselves.

Once everyone had a chance to state their names, Theu indicated that within the baskets were the makings of an impromptu meal. The invitation was accepted and for the ease and comfort of all, they moved to the dining hall. Their meal for that night was to be a pasta dish with tomato sauce. The decision was made to combine the two. The most astounding event of the evening was the native’s discovery of oregano, it was unlike anything they had ever seen. When they left for the evening, it was with a large container full.

It had taken much time to be able to converse with Theu and by the third year on the planet they were able hold lengthy discussions. What Captain Reynolds was learning, was eye opening to say the least and challenged the very foundations of his principles. He spent time with them in their villages, walked the woods and fields with Theu and began to truly understand the clans and their ways. Two young boys of Theu’s clan at the cusp of adulthood, lived with the settlers for a full cycle of days, to learn more of their ways and language. Brax and Thet had no problem assimilating into the daily life of the settlers. Both boys were mischievous, full of joy and delighted in the new, extraordinary surroundings around them. They quickly picked up the new language and conversely, the young boys and girls of the settlement were soon able to converse in their language. Their laughter was infectious, bringing life back to a community deep in sorrow over the recent losses. What took longer to understand and accede to, were the reasons for the changes that affected their settlement. Less than a year ago, they were down to half their number and little hope for the future. Since meeting the Gnos, something had changed, they were no longer constantly ill, sick, or dying.

~~~

Thet, Brax, James Bishop, and Captain Reynolds accompanied Theu and his clan along with four others of the settlers, to the ledges that denoted the boundary between their two peoples. It was the height of the summer season, the longest days of the year. That this was an important day was not in doubt. The members of the clan who led them, conducted themselves with the utmost seriousness. If the clans were to define it as such, it was the highest holy day of their year.

Captain Reynolds knew in an abstract way of what Theu explained, of the gifts of Mithras to the clans, and the necessity to give back to her for the sustenance and good health she provided. It was an obligation he exclaimed, that could not be overlooked if the clans were to prosper. Further clarifying in a manner that brooked no argument, explained this was something they would have to do, from the next season on if they wished to survive.

Off in the distance the summer sky was wrathful, portending relentless storms. It was unlike anything that he or any other of the settlers had seen to date. He noticed the Gnos were extremely focused as they went about setting up for their ritual. Wood for a small fire was produced and soon a pot with water was heating. Added to the pot were a mixture of herbs and what appeared to be dried mushrooms.

As the concoction was brewing, the sun had once again broken through the impending storm clouds as if the sunlight was holding the storms away. Captain Reynolds watched as everyone, including the boys, all partook of the heated beverage. When the ladle was passed to him, Theu smiled and told him that he and the others would soon bask in Mithras’ light.

The nervous anticipation that he had been feeling had quietly ebbed and then disappeared. He felt an overwhelming sense of calm, a serenity that had long been absent. There wasn’t any rationalization of how he felt other than he felt a deep sense of connection to those around him. Hinting at the furthest recesses of his conscious, was a sense of relief. There was a path forward out of the miseries they had been enduring. He watched as Brax and James Bishop shared what made each of them unique, the intensity of their shared copulation nearly overpowering, so strong was the connection. No sooner had they finished than Thet and another young boy Sheu, began their dance of connection and it was no less intense, producing visibly strong reactions from the Gnos and the settlers.

Their brief interlude from the impending storm was signaled by a bright flash of lightning producing an equally loud clap of thunder. The electrical storm was moving closer. The darkened, leaden sky was releasing a torrent of wind driven rain, virtually obscuring the view across the valley. That it would be upon them soon was of little doubt. Looking over at Theu and his clan, they all appeared to be unconcerned as they went about their duties. Leading Sheu over to a rock table, the pail with the water was passed all around as everyone present partook of another ladleful. The concern of the impending storm fading as the drink took effect.

Captain Reynolds and his fellow settlers would later state, that they could hear a multitude of voices blending into a single of encouraging vocal sound, coalescing song of comfort. Like a feather wisping on the wind, they could partake of the emotive thoughts of others as they stood there in harmonious trance.

Laying on the table, a naked Shue was caressed with a multitude of hands. Thet stood by his head, holding Shue’s hand, a knife of what appeared to be obsidian, in his other hand. Stunned at what he guessed was about to happen, Captain Reynolds swore he heard Shue call out to Mithras, that he was ready, leaning his head back, before meeting the sharp edge of the blade.

When it was over, his body was gently placed in a wrapping and brought to the cliff face and let over the edge.

Theu returned to Captain Reynolds side bringing Brax with him. As best as he could explain, Brax was one of settler’s clan now, and they needed to appease Mithras. Calling forward James Bishop, he took Brax’s hand, telling Captain Reynolds that Mithras had spoken to him, that James was to perform the ritual.

As with Shue, everyone stood along his side as James held his hand. Clearly, he heard Mithras accept this gift in the name of the settler’s clan, Shaking Captain Reynolds to his very core he watched as the knife did its work. Mithras then spoke to each of the settlers. She was pleased with the gift and so, were now one with her family. That they should remember the selfless gifts given in their name, and always honor this day accordingly.

Brax’s body was redressed in the clothing of the settlers and brought to the ledge face. Reverently he was let over. The drop was at least two-hundred feet. As he watched the body fall, he was stunned to note that there wasn’t any sign of Sheu on the rocky outcrop below, turning his focus back to Brax, he saw the body vanish into thin air in a flash of bright light.

The electrical storm raged all around them, never once getting them wet. Lightning struck the sides of the ledges, the concussive effect of the thunder rendered Captain Reynolds and the rest of the settler’s nearly unconscious, where they all shared the same vision, as they described it later. Bax and Shue sat at Mithras’ side happy and content. Mithras had one other message about James Bishop, which he shared with Captain Reynolds, that he would be the offering next year. Every year after that, they would have to select a young boy on the cusp of adulthood as their gift to Mithras if they wished to prosper and remain healthy.

As always, thanks for reading. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated!!
Copyright © 2022 drsawzall; All Rights Reserved.
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Thanks for reading, your comments and thoughts are appreciated. Please take a moment to let me know your impressions.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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The visions at the end made the sacrifices more palatable. The belief system of the clans are powerful... is that what makes Mithras so powerful? It has often been said the demise of gods is a result of their disciples losing faith in them. Still so many questions, but the fog is clearing. Why must the sacrifice be male? Thanks, buddy. This is quite different, and I still am fascinated. Cheers!

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48 minutes ago, Headstall said:

The visions at the end made the sacrifices more palatable. The belief system of the clans are powerful... is that what makes Mithras so powerful? It has often been said the demise of gods is a result of their disciples losing faith in them. Still so many questions, but the fog is clearing. Why must the sacrifice be male? Thanks, buddy. This is quite different, and I still am fascinated. Cheers!

Thanks, I think exploring the definition of life and sentience is a good point to start with !! What is Mithras is a good question, a living entity or a god?

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It seems barbaric, but with the body disappearing in a flash of light the sacrifice becomes credible. The only question is what lies ahead for those who are sacrificed. Is it a type of Valhalla or hell, dependent I suppose on the true inclinations of Mithra

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It was like wow the nature of the ritual and the amazing disappearance of the body's.  We need more info lol. Surprising that no one got struck by the lighting. All Hail Mithra!

Very much enjoying this story!:worship::worship::worship::worship::thankyou:

 

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4 hours ago, Albert1434 said:

It was like wow the nature of the ritual and the amazing disappearance of the body's.  We need more info lol. Surprising that no one got struck by the lighting. All Hail Mithra!

Very much enjoying this story!:worship::worship::worship::worship::thankyou:

 

Stay tuned, more to come!

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