Introduction: Today marks the moment that I slip over the halfway mark of this daft challenge and I am quietly proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for a second think every story is good, but I’ve managed to keep going, sitting down every day to come up with an idea and, more importantly, writing it. I think there is merit in that, right? Anyway, today’s prompt was the bulk of the first sentence, enjoy.
There were 48,000 gods in their mythology, and not one of them had prepared them for this.
‘What is it?’
They walked around the steaming hole, staring down at the object below.
‘It looks like, and please do tell me if I’m hallucinating, a fridge.’
‘Nope, no hallucinations here. It’s definitely a fridge. One of those fancy American ones, I think.’
‘Do fridges normally fall from the sky as balls of fire? I thought that was more a meteorite thing.’
‘I was under that impression too,’ Craddock drew his hand over his eyes, hoping it would make the weird sight go away, it didn’t. ‘Zanzibar,’ he turned towards the youngest member of the group, ‘I need you to run back to the town, tell The Chief.’
‘Yes, boss.’ The kid hesitated, though.
‘Em, what if he doesn’t believe me?’
Craddock’s first thought was to give him a slap around the head and send him on his way, but truthfully, he had a point. ‘Maybe just tell him that I need to see him out here ASAP.’
As he ran off, Craddock turned back to the fridge, disappointed to see it still hadn’t chosen to vanish.
‘This could be bad, Craddock. There ain’t nothing in the books that explains this one.’
‘I don’t think there’s ever been anything in any book that explains flying fridges, Jasmine.’
‘No, but most books don’t claim to have the answer to every question.’
‘You heard correctly.’
Craddock looked around, nervous even out on the plain that there might be someone listening in on his wife’s casual heresy. Thankfully the only sight was the rapidly diminishing Zanzibar sprinting back towards the village.
‘Look, it’s a fridge, how much commotion can it cause? It’s just an everyday thing, nothing to see here, move along please.’
‘Uh-huh. If you say so.’
‘The world out there is gone, Jasmine, if anything flying fridges prove that. They didn’t do that before, did they?’
‘No, they didn’t, and they’re unlikely to do it in a world without humans. Something made it fly.’
‘There could be a million reasons for that.’
Before Craddock could expand on just what those reasons might be, the sound of hooves became audible.
‘That was quick?’ Jasmine turned towards the horizon, shielding her eyes against the hot red sun.
‘Well, The Chief trusts me, doesn’t he? He knows I wouldn’t send for him without good reason.’
‘The pride in your voice is sickening, husband.’
Craddock chose to ignore that, turning towards the approaching horses and standing to attention instead.
‘What’s going on, Craddock?’ The Chief, a small man who was more hair than flesh and released a stream of spittle with every word, didn’t bother to dismount, glaring down his nose at the people who had disrupted his day.
‘Sir, a, well, a fridge has fallen from the sky.’
‘What?’ For the first time, he seemed to notice the giant smoking hole that they were standing next to. ‘How by the holy word of Slivernia does that happen?’
The guards around him couldn’t help straining for a look until a spit filled growl sent them back to their normal position.
‘We don’t know, sir.’ Jasmine stepped forward, ‘presumably something made it fly.’
Craddock flinched, even suggesting that there was something out there that wasn’t them was considered blasphemy by at least 20,000 of their gods, and the others weren’t particularly fond of it either.
‘And what does that mean, Dr Schaffer?’
Jasmine sighed, well aware that it was time to play the game. ‘Perhaps it is a sign from the Gods, sir. Maybe they are trying to tell us something.’
That got The Chief’s attention, making him sit up and stare even harder at the kitchen equipment in the hole. Nothing got him hotter under the collar than a good sign from the Gods. In the past, he’d been known to get two or three before breakfast, hence the overload of deities in The Last Town.
‘Yes, you’re right. Of course, you’re right. It’s a sign. Now we must interpret what the sign means.’
‘You’re the expert at that, sir.’ Craddock could hear the sarcasm in his wife’s voice, but that appeared to be a perk of ten years of marriage, as The Chief was oblivious.
‘Damn right, I am. Help me down, boy.’ He waved to one of his guards who leapt off his horse but still wasn’t quick enough to stop The Chief wiggling off the side of his, falling to the ground in an undignified heap. ‘Did I not tell you to help me!? You two!’ He pointed to some of the other guards, ‘take this worm back to the city and punish him, now.’
‘Yes, sir!’ The poor guard didn’t even get a chance to protest as he was hoisted off his feet and dragged backwards away from the group to spend what was sure to be an ugly couple of hours in the dungeon under The Chief’s house.
‘Now, what could this be.’ The Chief didn’t even spare a glance for the man he’d consigned to torture. He was too busy wandering around the hole, a hand on his chin and a look of intense concentration on his face.
He snapped his fingers at the last guard, ‘open it.’
‘Sir?’ The man’s face blanched, there was still hot smoke coming off the fridge.
‘You heard me!’ The horrid little man practically screeched, his ridiculous beard bouncing up and down as he did so.
‘Yes, em, yes, sir.’ He couldn’t have been older than eighteen and when he dropped into the hole, sweat instantly began to pour off him. ‘It’s very hot down here, sir?’ The hopeful question was a clear sign that he hadn’t been in his position long.
‘Get on with it.’ The Chief turned to Jasmine and Craddock with a roll of his eyes which they begrudgingly returned, well aware what would happen if they didn’t.
A small shriek and the smell of burning flesh was all the needed to know the fridge had now been opened, and Jasmine and Craddock were saved from having to act any further as the world’s worst boss turned away from them, greedily staring into the hole.
‘What’s in it, boy?’
‘No- nothing, sir.’ There were tears in his voice as he spoke, a near whimper.
‘Hm, well then, the answer is clear. Craddock, please come here.’
‘It’s obvious this box requires a sacrifice.’
‘A sacrifice, sir?’ There was a weary resignation to Craddock’s words, a lot of The Chief’s religious symbols seemed to require sacrifices.
‘Yes, and I think it’s obvious who it needs to be.’ With that, he shoved Craddock in the back, sending him tumbling into the hole and causing Jasmine to yell out in anger.
‘What are you doing?’ She rushed towards the laughing man, only for him to calmly sidestep her and send her flying after her husband, landing hard on the side of the white box, its burning metal searing her flesh.
‘Shove her in, boy, there’s a good lad. Otherwise, it will be your turn to meet the Gods.’
Jasmine heard rather than saw the guard approach as she lay there dazed. The combined pain of the fall and the burning leaving her unable to respond. He whimpered as he pushed her over the edge, but he did it all the same.
‘Now, close the lid, there’s a good boy. You’ve done well today.’
‘Wait, you can’t do th-‘ Jasmine’s words were cut off by the slamming of the lid, The Chief not wasting a second on mercy. The rest of her life was heat, pain and the sound of her husband dying beside her.