Not sure if it’s science fiction or fantasy yet. Don’t have the plot sufficiently figured out to tell.
A young woman learns of a plot by a neighboring village to destroy her village, and she will do anything to stop it from happening.
Flores sunk into the roots of the Mangrove tree, unsure why she was fearful, but knowing there was a dark cloud hanging over the river. She could see the bright full moon hanging over the river, almost red in colour. She waited, watching, wondering. Then she saw the quiet stealth of the canoes and the dark shapes rowing, not her own people, for they would be wearing ceremonial costumes, and they would be coming from the opposite direction.
This must be what I sensed, she thought. She watched the dark people soundlessly approach the shore, getting out of their canoes, and hide in near the shore. She dared not move, giving herself away, but watched helplessly, wondering what evil they had planned.
Oh, it was evil, alright, otherwise, why hide in the smelly roots of the Mangrove? No one did that, well, almost no one, just her. She then saw the ceremonial boats, her people, singing as they paddled down the river, approaching the narrowest part.
She opened her mouth, screaming, but no sound came from her throat. Why can’t they see? Why can’t they sense the danger? And then she saw her own people being slaughtered, trying to fight back. But there was no manoeuvrability, and besides, they didn’t have their fighting weapons with them. Tonight was a night of celebration in honor of the god Ra, who had been good to them with plentiful crops and much prosperity this season, and these were the priests to lead the ceremonies.
She watched, still as the night, as the slaughterers undressed the dead, deposited the bodies on the bank behind the mangroves where they would probably not be noticed for days, and then dressed themselves in the priests’ garb. Normally, the dead would have been left in the river to float downstream, serving as a warning that this tribe was more powerful. Something unusual was afoot.
The men, resuming the singing of the priests, climbed into the ceremonial canoes and resumed paddling downstream, in place of the dead. Flores, feeling herself shaking uncontrollably, opened her eyes, and saw her mother standing over her.
Flores, dear, wake up. It’s just a bad dream. Come on, out of bed, there’s a load of work to be done today. We have to prepare for solstice celebrations tonight. No, no complaining, there is much to be done, and you need to watch the babies.
Flores groaned as she climbed out of her hammock, picked up her youngest brother and played with him as she brought him to the kitchen table. How am I going to warn them? she thought to herself, half speaking out loud. They’ll never believe me. I don’t know if I believe me. She groaned, unsure of what to do next.
Was it just a dream, or was it really a vision? she wondered to herself. This was not the first time she’d had such a dream, so vivid she felt like she’d actually been there, smelling the mangroves, feeling the water on her body, feeling the mosquitoes bite her incessantly. She scratched her arm, thinking about the dream, and felt her hair being pulled. No, Raulo, let go, she said, laughingly, and turned back to her task of feeding her brother.
It was late afternoon, and the celebrations were officially starting. There had been an air of expectation all day, excitement buzzing. Voices were higher, everyone moved a little faster, hurrying to get their chores done early. The boars roasting at the communal fire pits near the ball court, Jaeffa carefully placing corn cobs still in their husks into the glowing coals. This was looking to be the best and biggest celebration her people had had in years.
True, there was much to celebrate. There had been peace for the space of fifty years now with their neighbors, and that meant everyone was free to expand their crops beyond the gates of the city. Tikumsal was expanding, and held a population far greater than it ever had in its history.
This was truly a prosperous city, with much gold, silver, and fine linens. The people were happy, and there were few who were poor, but even they were taken care of by the community. They were a prosperous people, and had much happiness.
Flores knew there were rumblings in the community, rumblings of darkness, but she was unaware of what caused it. Was it because the people were returning to the pagan gods instead of remaining loyal to the new gods? The new gods were very jealous, she sensed. She noticed some of the pagan idols every know and then, hidden in the folds of a skirt or a pocket, barely peeking out, but she knew what they were, and she knew the gods were jealous and displeased. She wasn’t sure what to do about it. After all, she was just a girl, and a puny one at that. Who would listen to her?
The smell of the roast pork was pervading the air, and excitement was mounting. Dusk was settling, and now people were scurrying with hot dishes of food to the ball court. Her mother, Jaenna, had her bringing her younger siblings.
The feasting lasted for hours, and there was dancing, and the warriors played ball by torchlight. The play was swifter and fiercer than usual, befitting an important celebration such as this. Quelcot played his game with his usual shining glory.
After the ball playing was over, people milled about, eating their food while talking with their neighbours and friends. They were awaiting the risen moon for their priests to perform their ceremonies. Eagerly, they watched it approaching ascension, and as it seemed to hang right over top them, the priests, singly jubilantly, came out of the jungle, approaching the temple. Flores glanced at her mother, seeing the expectant face shining with joy, then stole a look at her father, also eagerly anticipating the ceremony.
Why can’t they hear this? The key is off. The priests are fumbling their steps. Why can no one notice? she wondered, looking around at the rest of the crowd. They’re all mesmerized, she realized, thinking that she would have been caught up in the excitement too, if only she was like everyone else. Why did she have to have those stupid dreams of hers? She hated the teasing, being called a daydreamer.
Her father, an advisor to the King, was close to the priests and his hips gyrated madly as he got caught up in the frenzy of the dancing, as were others. The tallest priest, Gomlach, by the looks of it, slowed down slightly as he reached to his side and brought out the ceremonial machete, ready to slaughter the pig for sacrifice. The sword was brought high over his head, and then he swung, but not down towards the pig as everyone expected, but towards the king. King Tikumr gasped, his eyes bulged in terror, and his head rolled to the ground, his body still on the throne. Blood spewed from his neck, splattering on those closest to him, his most trusted advisors. Flores watched, unable to move, as the other priests reached for their swords, definitely not ceremonial, and slaughtered the men surrounding the king. Her mother screamed and ran towards her husband, never making it.