Parsec - June 1995
The Son of the Eye - Stian Ingebrethsen
(page 8/13)

The Son of the Eye

Huge, monstrous, overshadowing and darkly foreboding, Naga was standing still. His Jaws were agape as usual, but the fires that used to kindle so bright had winked out. The acolytes had neglected their duty again. They would feel his wrath. He who still had power, they said, would find a way to fry their hides.

They said many a foolish thing these days. About how he had grown rounder, less sharp, less menacing. About the reason for him being unapproachable. Someone had suggested that he was diseased, that he was growing buboes like the ones they all had barely survived last year. The blasphemer had been drawn and quartered.

He was still several meters high, nobody could take that from him. His forehead was enormous, square and supported upon large stringers that were thick as a man's thigh. The lower jaw was twenty meters long, and went through the mouth, throat and neck, showing the forest that stretched on for miles behind through the large hole in the head. It wasn't really a hole, as much as it was a non-continuation of the head. From the jaw a semicircular flange on each side of the head led all the way up to Naga's ears, showing evidence of him being able to close his mouth only by having the lower jaw pivoting wholly upwards. In fact, it seemed like that the whole arrangement had once been meant to pivot... But that was betore Naga had become angry. even before Naga had fallen asleep. His fury would surely be unabated, once they had awaken him again. His eyes would burn as brightly as the stars that looked down upon him. The moon had not yet risen above the horizon, meaning that the ceremony wouldn't start for quite some time. Not before the white eye in the sky had unobstructed view ot the god, Naga, would the shamen start the chanting. The Eye was the father of Naga. He would look down upon them, seeing the ofterings to his son, seeing the devotion of his believers. That would surely please him, hopefully to such a degree that he would command his son to wake up once more. Naga, son of the Eye, would surely have some power left. They had done nothing to anger him, nothing that could have caused him to withdraw completely.

Maybe it was a test. A test of devotion, courage or sturdiness. They had heard of catastrophes before, in ancient times, that had caused large numbers of the people to perish. There was a way to avoid that, the people thought. It had almost been suggested by Naga himself. When the people had struck upon Naga, he was covered in moss, long vines hanging from what could be taken to be his forehead. A slight humming had emanated from his cold, angular bulk. The insects that were teeming in those parts did not bother Naga. There weren't any wildlife around, save from spoor and tracks. There were many tracks leading up to his jaw, and into his throat, but none leading therefrom. When the bravest of the people had tried walking up to him, they had disappeared. No one had seem them since.

Naga had grown to become the people's protector and deity. Other tribes came from afar to see him, and no one dared to attack the ones that held Naga as their god. The foolish, the criminals, the blasphemers and the deformed were sent into the jaw of Naga, never to be seen again. It was an easy way of getting rid of problems.

Until Naga had stopped humming. The insects had closed in again, the wildlife appeared, with the predators and parasites that naturally followed. Other tribes had learnt of the "demise" of Naga, and started to become aggressive. Sickness and plagues had struck, and newborn babies withered and died. The people weren't happy.

Weo contemplated the shape before him. The mosquitoes were buzzing him, landing on his uncovered forearm and probing for blood. Naga was still, some dark red skin falling off in the passing breeze. Na~a has ~ot to be old, Weo thought. Cracks were running along the clumpy beams that separated the head from the jaw. Something heavy rambled through the underbrush not far away, the vibrations in the ground resonating in Naga, causing yet more red skin to peel off. Weo' s grandfather had told him of Naga. Weo's father had told him of Naga, and Weo's mother had told him about how Weo' s great grandfather had told her about how his grandfather had told him of Naga.

Naga was very old.

And he had to fall asleep when Weo was a grown up. Weo cursed his luck. His whole family had lived in peace, under Naga's protection, and it HAD to be Weo who would live to see the time after Naga. That was why he had joined the secret chapter of "Naga's own disciples". They were intent on waking Naga up, on forcing the people to return to the straight and narrow, and to make the shamen stop sugaring their own cakes.

They met once a week, performing rituals they thought would please Naga, sacrificing everything from goats to babies. When that failed, they had started to ofter themselves. Monthly they performed rituals in front of Naga, which ended as one of them walked through the head of the god. This they hoped would please him enough to take mercy upon their tribe, the selfless sacrifice of young men in their prime, such that their people could survive.

The shamen would have fits of rage if they had known the secret ritual Weo's group performed, and would have them skinned alive if they knew of their ceremonious self- sacrificing. Theretore, it was a good night tonight. Nobody was around, and wouldn't come near until the Eye was ready. It was Weo' s turn tonight. Having been put on standing patrol around the village, to hunt down small game for meat, and to scare off bigger game, he could go where he pleased, and could thus perform his ritual undisturbed. He had been standing in front of the jaw for nearly half an hour, concentrating, conjuring the spirits of his ancestors to help him in this hour of need. The stars were out in crowds, almost giving enough light to reflect off the forehead. The painted eyes were nearly washed away, moss covering the pinion wheels that could make the jaw pivot and tilt upwards .

Standing before the lips, he made the sign, said the prayer, and performed the deep bow. He could hear singing from the village, the women were preparing themselves for the shamen's attention. Stepping onto the jaw, he expected the worst, expected the jaw to throw him upwards, smash him, chew him, crush him, evaporate him and spit him out.

Nothing happened.

Weo walked serenely through the throat, expecting every moment to be struck dead, but he stepped down into the undergrowth at the back of Naga, not a hair out of place on Weo's low forehead.

The singing reached a crescendo, and trailed off into the night. The smell of the fires reached him where he stood, reminding him of the ceremony that was about to start.

He hefted his spear, and set out among the ferns and the shrubbery that surrounded Naga. He might get a rabbit tonight. Possibly a fox. He might even get the deer he had seen around for two weeks now.

Unless the sabre-toothed tiger got him first.

The god lay silent. Square forehead completely still above the lower jaw that stretched forever forwards. No teeth, just a very flat jaw. It didn't look like a human. It didn't look like a god. But Weo knew better than to say that aloud.

He silently disappeared between trees and high grass, the skin about his torso briefly flashing as the trail of torches trom the village slowly wound its way up towards Naga.


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transmit...
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oh well. Nice talking to you to, you fatty old walrus..."

Stian Ingebrethsen