The God of Debris
by Joe Thristino
I'm to be sacrificed.
At an altar.
A kind of altar, at least. One of those fold-out cafeteria tables. But they'll dress it up.
Granted, aesthetics haven't been the biggest priority in the post-apocalyptic winter. Most of the focus so far has been on, you know, surviving at all costs, protecting one's own, hunting down non-contaminated animals for food, manic breeding, et cetera, et cetera.
We're not at the rebuilding part yet.
Going to be nice though. A clean slate. The biggest blank canvas in history. What will our new settlements be like, our new towns, our new cities? Same as before?
Not with folks like these running things, no ma'am. They have a plan, they have an idea. The divine master they worship is Dorvanu, the God of Debris - capital "G," capital "D." Solid deity to have in these times. Especially since the world is now mostly debris. But, hey, what god worth their salt isn't an opportunist?
Do I believe in this god? I was never really a pious gal. But I like the Debrisians. The folks over there chanting and dancing and sharpening things. They're a smidge bloodthirsty, sure, and primally driven, yes, but hey, they're coordinated. And in a global wasteland that goes a long way, you come to find out.
And they're not a capricious bunch either. For example: Me. They didn't just pick my name out of a
hollowed-out monkey skull. Nope, they chose me as a sacrifice. They decided upon me. They looked me up and down and nodded at each other. It was nice. Like being the first kid picked in basketball. I always wanted to know that feeling.
Plus, they trust me. Look, I'm not bound! Only my hands and feet are! It's nice to be trusted.
It's nice to be wanted.
A gift for a god. Look at that. If only my family could see me now. If only they didn't get completely vaporized.
My step-mom, she used to say, “When are you going to get a real career, Germaine?" “When are you going to stop drawing pictures, Germaine?”
She called it “drawing pictures.”
“Germaine, when are you going to lift that restraining order against Jeff?”
Ah, Dorothy. You cold, cold bitch.
But in a way, she was right. Not about Jeff. No way. About my career. Turns out there's very little call for illustrators now. Maybe a draftsperson might come in handy after civilization's reborn dawn. But right now things are all about utility, not style.
They have different plans for the creative likes of me. A more useful function in these times. Worthy food
for the hungry master in the sky. Or wherever it is this Dorvanu resides.
They're getting louder now. The drums.
I still have time. I think there's a goat before me.
I hope not a dog. Can't sacrifice a dog, right?
No culture has ever sacrificed dogs. Have you ever heard of a culture sacrificing dogs? Never. Even if a giant hand reached down from the heavens and hand-delivered a note saying, “Sacrifice one dog and you'll have peace and prosperity forever,” people wouldn't do it.
But is a dog really different than a goat?
Like a dog, a goat obeys, a goat cohabitates, a goat is a mammal, a goat provides, much more than a dog provides. Goats have been at our side from antiquity, as have dogs. And baby goats, little baby goats, are as cute as any puppy.
We eat goat. See, therein lies the rub. I don't. I never ate goat, but people eat goat. Lots of people. And I never, I mean, I wasn't planning on ever trying goat, so it's not like, it's not as if that's the thing I'll miss out on. After I get sacrificed and everything.
Didn't take long for us to revert back to our beastly natures, did it?
I could see if it was all because of a war. A real war. A battle. Two sides in pitched battle. I think that's why people like Revelations and Planet of the Apes so much. Two distinct teams coming from two
distinct directions. And there's a catharsis in that distinction.
But it wasn't really like that, our downfall. Just a bunch of powerful people with nukes taking continent-destroying shits on everyone. Couple that with a few Big Ones: weather and earth convulsing and fissuring and spazzing. Then, before you know it, embers and ashes. And ruin. And then tribes.
Tribes can mean any grouping of people, by the way. “Tribes” doesn't mean loincloths, “tribes” doesn't mean backward. And “backward” anyway, what's really “backward?” What's really “devolved?” Who's to say?
The Debrisians are highly organized, did I mention that?
They have someone. A priestess. She seems to be the one everyone listens to. But then there's this assistant priestess. I don't know if that's even a thing, but she's a subordinate for sure. And, I don't know, during the sermon things I would just look at her. I'd watch her watching the head priestess rant and rave.
And I - you know how you make up back-stories about strangers on the bus? In your mind, just passing the time? So, in my mind, I kind of pictured the assistant priestess being super jealous. She wants to be head priestess, of course. But she won't show it because the current head priestess will, I don't know, remove her viscera. Something to that effect. I don't know how they handle things in-house around here.
I'm realizing I’m going to die. Shit. I'm going to die! Torn open! In public! The worst possible death! Top seven at least!
Ohmygodohmygodohmyfuckinggoddamngod, oh my Jesus, oh my Allah, oh my - I don't know who else - Pegasus? Fuck it, I can worship a flying horse.
Those drums. At least change the rhythm up, people! Syncopate! Something! The thudding monotony.
Not sure what happened. Knowing my death was coming, I could at first embrace it. Just before, you heard me. I felt, in me, a sublime place. I went to that sublime place. I dipped my toes in its water. But now I'm back on empty land.
And I see the nothingness.
Although a sacrifice rests on the premise there isn't nothingness. That beyond this life there is something in which to sacrifice. I'm now realizing the idea behind sacrificing people might have some holes in it. Relies on some big assumptions.
That's all we are anyway. If you had to categorize humans as one thing only, we're assumers. When people first crossed oceans and continents, it was a hunch. Even at the zenith of human insight it's still guessing. The grand assumptions of a Socrates and the grand assumptions of a Rory Palmer from East Orange, New Jersey have the same level of validation. In that there is none. I never studied Socrates or anything. I'm... well, I’m making an assumption.
See? It's at the crux of everything. That's why everything eventually crumbles. It's all held up by matchsticks.
The drumming stopped. Probably goat time.
Yep, there it is. One, final bleat.
I knew that goat. He was a decent soul.
Guess the countdown's on for me.
Oh, lordy. This is heavy stuff. Heavy stuff right now.
I'm trying to get my life to flash before my eyes. Guess you can't force it. Don't think I want that anyhow, more I think about it.
Not that I didn't have a nice life before the cataclysms. Wasn't amazing, by any stretch, but nice, fine. Still, I don't need a montage of it. Because montages are supposed to end with something good happening: an inspirational sports victory, a handy new skill, an improved wardrobe.
Fuck it, I'm ready. I'm ready. Be a badass about it. That's the secret to getting through this: Confidence. Fake it. All confidence is fake anyway. And the thing is, doesn't matter that it's fake. Because it looks the same as real, it sounds the same, smells the same.
Push your chest out, Germaine. Big inhale. Con-fi-deeeennnce…
Shit, pulled a muscle, pulled a muscle, charlie horse right in my rib meat! Damn it!
Alright... Alright... I think it's good…
Never doing that again.
I can’t accept my death right now. I can’t. I just can’t.
Fuck you, Debrisians! You crazy sons of bitches, motherfuckers, filthy, patchy-haired troglodytes - I hate your sect!
What's this? A sharp-edged slab.
I can do things with this.
I can use it as a weapon. Fight my way to freedom.
Except there's hundreds of them. And I've never actually fought another single person in my life, let alone...
But I can take a hostage. Someone important.
The priestess! I'll sneak up, grab her, keep a knife at her throat.
The devout followers will just have to stand back, right? While I inch myself to daylight?
I'd have to show them I mean business. That's crucial. Otherwise it won't work. Maybe, if I make her neck bleed just a little, just to show them? And I project my voice.
This all goes back to the confidence thing. I have to be confident, I have to be convincing.
More a tool than a weapon, this slab, now that I look at it. A door stopper really.
Still, I can... I can do the deed myself. Right now and here. Take my own life. Ruin the ceremony. People are drinking, fucking, having a good time out there. They won't be happy.
But I'll spare myself the anxiety and the prolonged suffering. Give myself over to a different god. A less demanding god. A god of practical choices. A god that says, "Listen, I get it."
Or I can draw with this slab. What will I conjure in the dirt as a final image? The only choice, seems to me, is a circle. Feels right. Feels very right.
She’s addressing her people now. Will she tell them my name at least? Does she even know my name? Does anybody here?
It's Germaine! My name is Germaine!
How would I even do this? Stab myself in throat? In the heart? I’m not even sure where my heart is exactly.
This was all a mistake.
I always had a problem saying "no." I get sold too easily on things.
Who knows, though? Maybe I will be rewarded in the afterlife for this. Maybe there is a Dorvanu and
they’ll be pleased with me. Then they'll shower their earthly followers with…
More debris? Is that what this is all about?
I mean what else would a "debris god" provide?
Man, this whole thing is fucked.
Got to see the end of the world at least. So there's that.
About the Author
Joe Thristino a full-time copy writer and a freelance writer based in New York City. He's also a produced playwright and screenwriter as well as a working ghostwriter.