A cult’s ritual goes wrong when their sacrifice doesn’t die.
When the sack came off Gia’s head, she found herself strapped upright on a spinning wheel in a dimly lit circus tent. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her. After seeing the performers’ mind-blowing act, she had to know how they did it for her shows. While she was sneaking around after the show, someone snuck up behind her with a sack over her head. Now, she hung before cult-like gathering.
Using her crowd scanning skill, Gia counted 30 people in bright clown nose red robes with white plastic masks of a cartoonishly broad smile. The outfit vaguely reminded Gia of a production she put on with some friends, but what that was was a hazy memory.
“We are gathered together here under the first full moon of the new decade for our sacrifice,” the cult leader announced. Gai recognized the voice belonged to the ringleader.
The crowd cheered. The only thing Gia could spot on the cult leader that made him stand out from the others was the golden inverted pyramid necklace.
“Sacrifice, huh?” Gia said with excited curiosity. “If I may make a suggestion, the lighting is awful. How are people going to see me die? Do you have anything else other than the torchlights like some portable LED stage lights? Surely you got some of those.”
“We can see well enough,” the cult leader grumbled.
“If you say so,” Gia snarked. “By the way, what’s your cult or organization or whatever’s name? Or is this some tradition with your circus.”
“We are the Cult of Mischief,” the leader proclaimed.
Gia remembered the show she was trying to pin down earlier. She giggled like she was part of an inside joke.
The leader picked up the jewel-encrusted ceremonial dagger from a pedestal and pointed it at Gia. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh, you’ll find out. Carry on.”
The leader faced the crowd. “Let the ceremony commence!”
With the crowd cheering, the leader stabbed Gia in the chest. Silence fell.
“Oh, what cruel world,” Gia cried out. “There was so much I wanted to do. There’s so much in this world I wanted to see. But now, my time has come. Farewell.”
Gia’s body went limp. The cultists chanted in unison, “Our sacrifice is yours. Take this soul and bless us.”
Per cult order, the youngest member pulled out the knife from the sacrifice.
Gia raised her head, unharmed, and smiled. The cult gasped. “Okay, I thought that was a rather stirring death performance.”
“How are you not dead?” the young cultist asked with a quiver in her voice.
“You picked the wrong kind of person for a sacrifice. Hashtag cult problems, am I right?”
“We cannot stand for this,” the leader said. “Our god will not be pleased with us.”
“You mean, Loki?” Gia said. “I’m sure he’s getting a good chuckle right now.”
The leader got in Gia’s face. “How do you know of our god?”
“Oh, we go way back,” Gia explained and then thought about the chronological order of time. “Or forward technically. He casted me as the first leader of the Cult of Mischief centuries ago to fool some traveling act for him to study their reactions. I’m surprised the cult is still around, to be honest, but knowing him and his partner, I bet they’re watching, studying.”
There was a hushed discussion amongst the members when two people revealed themselves from a stack of cargo containers. One was a slender man in a pink suit with bold, black outlines and a young woman in a red satin dress holding a transparent tablet device. Both had black hair and flowed in sync with each other.
“It’s them!” one of the members shouted. “From the painting of the first ritual.”
All the cult members dropped to their knees.
“Loki, Raven, how are you two doing?” Gia cheerfully greeted.
“I must admit, I find it humorous they tried to sacrifice you,” Loki dryly said while adjusting his cufflinks as they approached Gia.
Raven worked on freeing Gia. “It’s been fascinating studying the cult’s evolution throughout the centuries.”
“But I am growing bored of it,” Loki confessed.
“Shall we end?” Raven asked him.
“Yes, let’s go out on top.” Loki turned to address the cultists, who were still bowing down. “Since you tried to kill my friend, I will now forsake you and no longer give you my blessings – ever. Begone!”
The cultists scattered away as Raven undid the last strap around Gia.
“Thanks,” Gia said. “What’s next for two?”
Loki and Raven exchanged glances and spoke in unison. “More mischief.”
This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You have been kidnapped by a cult preparing to sacrifice you to their god. Problems? You’re immortal, the god they worship is a close friend of yours and the entire cult was the result of a prank you forgot you pulled centuries ago.”
I got inspired by this prompt to write a story with my end-timer characters. Thank you for reading!