Sue Vincent’s last #writephoto prompt is
The fog had filled the valley bottom for weeks. Local people spoke of how their great grandparents remembered a time when a cruel cold miasma covered the land; when it was said the gods were displeased; when the harrowing howls that filled the air would never be forgotten. The elders warned against venturing into the mist, for fear of whatever manner of kraken laid buried there.
The sounds that emanated from deep within the soupy clawing air were enough to freeze the blood of any man.
‘It’s Devil’s work,’ one said.
‘Cruel, it is. Torture,’ opined another.
The villages kept up a vigil. Something awful was happening deep in their valley and instinct said that whatever it was, whatever Crisis was approaching was near to reaching its peak. The people clustered for support, watching and waiting.
It was on the fortieth day. As the skies lightened a glow, sharp and tumescent appeared from the far end of the valley. It grew and grew, accompanied by a deep guttural whining, of someone – or thing – in pain. The men instinctively formed a safety cordon around their families, willing whatever it was that was suffering so, to be put out of its misery.
What, they all wondered, could it be?
‘Horace, you are such a baby.’
Pallas Athena knelt next to her prostrate son. The young god had been kept chilled in accordance with the wisdom of the oracle for forty days and the moment was close. He squeezed his eyes tight shut as his mother pressed hard.
‘Your father was just as bad. Olympia told me that Atlas cried for weeks. Now hold still.’
‘Mum, can’t you leave it? It’s agony. The humans don’t go through this.’
‘That’s because we’re gods and they’re not. It happens to every teen god; it’s a rite of passage. Once it’s done, it’s done. Humans have them for years but gods get one zit and it has to be squeezed like….’
The eruption and Horace’s howl combined to terrify the people, chilled as they were to the marrow. When finally the murk cleared, brave souls ventured forth to see if there was any sign of why the gods had been so displeased. After walking the length of the valley they came to a place where the land had been scarred by the writhing Horace, whose frantic scrabblings had left a cross scored bed into the bedrock.
As the Sages of the Ages said, whatever it was that had happened here, X now marked the spot.