This week’s prompt for Quill Shiv’s Flash Fiction Faction is this photograph. Prompts are published Sundays, and work is uploaded Thursdays.
Our forefathers destroyed the bridge many years ago; the illuminati, becoming bolder, had been using it to cross the water in the night to steal the souls of our children, slaying all who tried to stop their fiendish plunder. Their visits had become more frequent.
During one such raid, those who pursued the illuminati back to the river watched as two of the raiders, each over-burdened with the souls of at least four of our children, had stumbled off the bridge into the water.
The waters around them had foamed and boiled until they perished screaming, and the childrens’ souls, as yet undevoured, wound their way in silver spirals to the heavens above.
Devastated as we had been at the loss of these our children, we recognised the sacrifice that had been made, and a towering monument was raised to honour the role they had played in uncovering a secret that was to safeguard our tribe for generations to come.
The illuminati were apparently unable to survive in water. We knew it, and so did they.
With only a handful of rotting pilings to show where the crossing had been, the river had kept us safe for years. But now successive hot summers had reduced the once powerful flow to nothing more than a creek, trickling disconsolately past our settlement.
Today we watched, as the illuminati gathered on the other side of the creek bed. They’d been there for several days, keening amongst themselves, shifting their shapes to insinuate themselves amongst the branches of the trees, some suspending themselves from the branches, others undulating along the ground. Their red eyes, glittering but unblinking in the gloom of the trees stared out at us, lingering on the faces of our children. Now that the creek was running dry, they were preparing to invade.
Gradually they began to line up along the opposite bank, more of them slipping insidiously out of the forest, their shapes constantly shifting, drifting and reforming, seemingly energised by our presence across the creek bed.
We’d prayed for rain as never before, and though thunder heads towered in the west, if rain were falling out there, the flow along the creek bed had yet to reach us, and may come too late.
The largest shape slithered onto the creek bed, and slowly others dropped into the channel to follow. There were more of them than we had ever anticipated, and our throats tightened with fear, as we pushed our children behind us. We knew of no weapons that would destroy illuminati, other than water and prayer.
Then, as if in answer to our prayers, the first drops of rain began to spatter onto the sandy creek bed; the illuminati stopped and appeared to confer. At that moment we heard from some way off, the distant rush of flowing water and our hearts quickened. Glancing to the west, we saw the flow approaching and our hearts were glad. The illuminati turned back for the bank, but this wave, from heaven some said, broke over them and a great cheer rose from the throats of our tribe.
Alas, the gods have a way of offering hope, only to snatch it away again. As the illuminati emerged from the waves, they quickly recovered from their initial drenching and continued their steady progress towards us, gliding along the surface of the water, animated now that they knew the water could not harm them.
As I turned to meet the eyes of my young son, a dreadful realisation swept over me.
The illuminati’s vulnerability was not simply to water; the real catalyst for their demise was the souls of the children they were carrying when the water engulfed them.
If our tribe were to survive, not only did we need more rainfall, we needed an endless supply of children.
There were to be many more monuments erected in honour of our saviour children.