No Other Gods

A reddish glow began to appear beyond the fields of newly harvested corn. Most mornings, one would expect to watch the golden burning sphere raise itself above the horizon in peaceful quiet. This morning, however, was alive with sound. A second glow, less intense than the rising sun but conspicuous in location, eminated from a large building rising forcefully from the sleeping fields. One could see the bodies scurrying in the light, disturbing the morning quiet with their urgent activity. The morning had come, and preparations were almost complete.

All throughout the building, strange symbols covered the walls. Simple shapes put together, never changing from one to another. The workers decorated themselves with similar pictures, blazoned across their chests or placed conspicuously on the foreheads of their exaggerated hats. All were dressed in loose coordination, ready to work.

Detailed instructions for all participants covered nearly every wall, ensuring that all would comply. Few heeded the advice any longer, however—they had grown accustomed to their work from many long hours that had gone before. Each continued along his way in a very cautious and paced sort of way, as if they did not know whether the day was at the beginning or at and end, nor did they care. Were their eyes filled with devotion? It was hard to tell, for eyes were continually diverted; all workers kept to themselves in their own little worlds.

Great mounds of material were brought in, as quickly as possible, the first fruits of the year’s labors. The preparations were perhaps almost complete, but the work was far from done.

The work, however, seemed weighty. Appeasement was never easy. To slow one’s work was treacherous; to stop, unthinkable. There was always more work to be done, and it required every last effort of those involved. Those less willing were compelled, even forced, despite their kicks and screams, and thrown in through the great doors that leaked the reddish light to the whole countryside. Fear was rampant—who knows what the gods might do if the sacrifices were not sufficient for the day?

The work continued. And continued. Minutes, hours, days, and months passed in endless work.


Work. Sweat. Work. Never ending, never changing. Mind-numbing. Monotonous. Fearsome. Necessary. What might the gods do?

Changes did come. One at a time—small changes. Special men brought them, revered by all. Priests who knew the ways of the gods; the wise ones who knew the methods of appeasement best. They worked many hours in seclusion, refining their arts, preparing to appease the gods with new favors, new tricks, new sacrifices. Who knows what the gods might do if they were not appeased?

Dreams had been forgotten. Families broken. Fear consumed—all energy went to appease the gods. What else could be done? Who knows what the gods might do? They must be appeased. More material! More tricks! More men! More women! More work! More sweat! Never ending, never changing. The gods must be appeased.

The pace was frantic. Fear ate humanity alive. And, soon, all was done. No-one was left. No-one, except the reddish glow, leaking from the door as the very eye of an angry god.

The sun was setting in the west: another red glow, slowly disappearing beneath the newly-ripened fields. For a moment, the strange symbol above the building’s door was lighted by the rays of the setting sun. Finally, as the last rays of light flickered down past the horizon, one shone across the writing on the sign that labeled the building for the world to see:



© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle