This is the 15th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.
Cult of Amara, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 16th December 2012
Word count: 995
Theme: mystery, religion, chosen one, cult
“We who are beholden to the true one,” the acolyte said, garbed in his thick brown cotton robe, “I am yours for now, and forever, to command, for I obey,” he said lowering his head to the floor.
“Arise, you are acolyte no more,” a priestly figure said from a top of a high seat, he was wrapped in purple robes, so much so no one had actually seen him for years, “You are now a priest of the order of Amara, come replace your robes.”
It was a solemn ceremony, one which Jaximus, (his Amaran name), watched with trepidation. It would be his turn to be called next week. Once they had appointed priests just twice a year, then once a month, and now they were doing it weekly. The end must be near, Jaximus couldn’t help feeling, yet all the priests remained in the compound.
It was a very confusing time for Jaximus, he was having doubts, yet, he’d manage to pass the tests of the faithful.
After the latest acolyte became a priest he resolved to go see Amarakin himself, the head of the order, the one who spoke directly to Amara.
“Come in,” an old gravely voice said.
“Father,” Jaximus said bowing.
“Ah, we were going to be sending for you soon, it seems Amara has granted you the wisdom to anticipate her needs,” the figure behind the desk wore the purple robes, but for the first time Jaximus say the face beneath the hood.. “What can I do to help my most loyal child?”
Jaximus stood there trying to find the words, he shouldn’t even be here, the order did not usually allow acolytes to see Amarakin directly, but Jaximus in his urgent need for answers had sneaked past. “I have doubts,” he finally blurted out.
“Come sit,” he gestured to a seat before the desk. As the young acolyte sat down he realised how much he had missed life’s little luxuries like a cushioned seat. “So, you’re having doubts? That’s understandable, we ask a lot here on simple faith. How can I put your mind at ease?”
“I don’t know, father,” Jaximus said his head bowed low in shame, “I’m confused. I know I have doubts, I don’t disbelieve, but yet I pass all the tests.”
“Good,” Amarakin said raising himself up in his chair, “Finally an honest acolyte.”
“Excuse me?” Jaximus asked confused.
“The tests are a test, they never worked truly,” Amarakin said.
“No, sir, I don’t,” Jaximus said.
“The tests are irrelevant to whether you become a priest or not. The order needs priests, it is chaos outside. The time is coming for the transformation. The true tests sought my replacement,” Amarakin said.
Jaximus sat there stunned and confused.
“Amara tells me that next week it will be the end of the world, and that she will transport this compound and all those inside who have attained rank back in time to safety, so that we might spread the word earlier, and save the world,” Amarakin said.
“I was fearful, I had doubts. I am a very old man, at my last count I was one hundred and twelve,” the Amarakin said, “How could I go back? I would I survive that trip?”
“You are the true one, though,” Jaximus said protesting.
“The true one, the name Amarakin,” the head of the order leaned forward, his steely blue eyes seeming to cut through Jaximus’ soul, “These are trappings of the office. A necessity for the order to work. Amara has shown you to be the one to take all of this.”
“I can’t sir,” Jaximus said, “I’m not even sure I should take the final trial to become a priest.”
“No need, no need,” Amarakin said with a wave of his hand. “You will assume my office today, and I will retire to become your adviser. I will teach you all you need to know, and you will learn to use your judgement to protect the order. When the time comes for the world to end, you will lead our people back, and I will go finally to Amara.”
“I don’t know,” Jaximus started to say.
“Nonesense, you haven’t a choice. You have been picked, and by the time I’m done all your doubts will be over.”
In the days that followed Jaximus was tried and tested many times over, acolytes and priests alike treat him with contempt. His name was added to a warrant for the rest of significant members of the order.
“It is time,” Amarakin said one day inside his office.
“Time?” Jaximus asked, and then it clicked.
“In my drawer, the bottom one on the left, there is a small television, it should be charged,” the old man was saying, now dressed in his black robes. “Turn it on, and tune it to channel twelve. We shall see the start of the end together, and then you shall gather the priests in the great hall. I will gather the acolytes, as sadly they will not be able to go back with you.”
“I understand,” Jaximus said, and he did truly.
They watched as news spread of a war in the east, missiles were fired left right and centre, and news came in that the West was joining too.
Jaximus gathered the priests in the Great Hall, and they barred the door so none could enter during their transformation back in time. It was to be a glorious moment, and Jaximus stood at the head of the gathered priests.
“Our time has come,” he said gravely, “Amara will do what she has promised.”
That’s when the great hall exploded, erupting in flames and smoke, the walls caved in.
Minutes earlier, the acolytes and the old Amarakin had left the compound into the waiting arms of police, with tales of fear. The police were too late to go in, before the young usurper killed them all, or so the police were made to believe.
Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve become slightly obsessed by the whole end of the world thing on the 21st December. I don’t even believe in the slightest any such thing will happen, but I like to look at the people who do. Now, in all honesty, despite the media’s attempts to stir up another Y2k, there is no hysteria. Mostly what’s out there is people like me, making fun of the whole thing.
Of course, if the world ends, it’ll be egg on our faces, oh noes.
It did however get me thinking about one of my most favoured topics of research from several years ago, cults. Especially the negative ones, (i.e. there is a distinction between cults that destroy people, steal from them, and generally try to spread like viruses, and cults that just go about their lives in a manner of their choosing, with everyone free to leave, or stay), yet I’ve never incorporated the theme into one of my stories. Well I have now. It’s a very depressing tale, but when these cults go bad, they do so in the worst kind of ways. These cults brainwash, and use the most vulnerable people they can find, and quite often the “cult leader” sees them as nothing more than pawns to be disposed of.