Feature Story; Maledictus Deus & Cui Non Licet Vivere

  Fire blazed brighter than the sun during the summer solstice. Smoke caked thick, it’s swirling beauty transformed into that of a suffocating fog that consumed and never freed. There stood the spider that sought the blood red lily. Behind them stood a child, it cowered in silence with rivers of salty tears streaming down his face. It’s throat caked with the smog was no longer able to scream, only able to hiccup and sob. The spider fiercely stood in front of the child, before it stood a monster. 


  It’s mouth was filled with seemingly human teeth, rows and rows of human teeth reaching into its throat, drenched with the blood of the poor souls it had taken. It’s mouth unnaturally widened and stretched with its horrific body contortions. It’s body looked nothing more than a heavy mass of flesh with thousands of long arms to carry its fleshy body across the burnt ground. But by far it’s most haunting feature was its eyes. Its thousands of eyes that saw every movement. It felt as if one would suffocate underneath it’s gaze.  


  Curses poured out of its mouth, raspy and inhuman was its voice. It called out in pain, “You..You son of a-..You..Curse you, you will forever be cursed. For each sin you have committed..You will pay in full with your life.” Silent and stoic remained the spider. 


  “It is your sins that will be punished. For each sin I will list off, you will be striked with divine punishment. Murder and Massacre.” The Spider raised it’s hand and struck the horrific beast with thorned crested vines that wrapped around it’s fleshy body. 


  “Heed your tears and cries, for there is much more to come.” The spider continued to list off the creature’s unforgivable sins, striking it with more vines each time. By the end of it’s punishment, it was restrained by a blanket of vines. It wriggled and cursed. Hatred filled it’s eyes as it glared at the Spider, who stood there silent and stoic.


  “..Heh..Hypocrite!” The being, with all the hatred left in its heart crawled towards the spider, grabbing their leg with the only limb it had free, it cursed and cursed. “You..You..Hah..I curse you, I curse you to be banished to your realm! I curse you to remain there forever! You will be bound by chains just like me and see how painful it is.”  The being began to get swallowed by its own flames. They licked at it’s fleshy body in hunger for more blood. It laughed as it burned and faded away.


  In a sudden pulse of pain, the spider collapsed to the ground, rolling up their sleeves and sat upon their upper arm- eyes. Eyes that sat flat upon his skin, inky and emotionless, yet crying the spider’s blood. Chains emerged from the ground and encapsulated the spider’s limbs. They dragged it down, through the floor and into the deathly soil below. The child watched in horror. 


  “Worry not child..I’ll be fine..hah.” The upper half of the spider’s body remained above ground, but not for long. It struggled to keep itself up. “Go to the nearest village down east..the people there will help you..never- hah.. never come back, okay? And don’t cry.” With the last of its strength, it held it’s hand to the child’s face, in it bloomed a radiant red spider lily, before being dragged down all the way into the dry soil below.


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  Sunlight peeked through the blinds of a nearby window and Amnon’s eyes opened from his slumber. He sat up, groaning in pain from sleeping in an awkward position. “Crap crap crap..” He hissed and brought a hand to his head. 


  ‘Not that dream again,’ He thought to himself. Ever since childhood and as far back as he could remember, he’d had that reoccurring dream. His parents had told him it probably had to do with the halo that hung over his head. In which Amnon despised. 


  In this world, certain people are born with halos that represent a blessing from a god and the virtue that’d earned it. Each halo had different yet similar engravings and adornments that made them special and each halo had special properties that made them visible to the world, yet untouchable to those except those who were rewarded with it. Speaking simply, one could see it, however one could not feel it, as if it was not there. Only the wearer can touch it.


  Amnon’s halo was given to him for the virtue of fortitude. The god who gave it to him? He didn’t know, and no one else did. Every halo had certain differentiations that allowed people, specifically those educated in that field, to figure out which god it had been gifted from. But Amnon’s engravings had not the differentiations of any known god. Which not only made him an oddball amongst normal people as well as others with halos, but it made him an object of heavy interest by the alliance of churches.


  In any case, it was time for Amnon to start his day. He arose from bed with a tired groan, he always felt more drained than well rested whenever he woke up from that dream, which was often. He walked over to his vanity dresser and peered into his mirror. 


  Eye bags, sickly white skin, and a mop of chestnut brown hair. That’s what Amnon saw when he looked into it. He sighed as he reviewed his unattractive features. He turned away from the mirror and reached into his drawer, then threw on some casual clothing before leaving his dorm. 


  He didn’t have any lectures until the afternoon, so he took to wandering the nearby park connected to the woods (so-called ‘haunted’ woods). Once one passes the noise and bustle of the initial park and into the forest, time seems to stop. Amnon passed through the park, walking along the paths until it became beaten and overgrown and the trees surrounded him indefinitely. 


  “Hhhhh..” He collapsed against one of the tree trunks, he always felt more relaxed here. Amnon could hear his thoughts clearly here, and the only other people who dared to enter the so-called ‘haunted’ forest were the park volunteers. So, he was often alone here. “Fortitude, dreams, halos, god, who cares anymore,” He groaned. “Who actually cares, cuz I sure as hell don’t!” 


  Amnon may have been part of the reason why the forest was regarded as haunted..


  “Ack!” Amnon was hit in the face with a leaf, the wind had suddenly picked up. The willow trees shook with the rising winds, the leaves shuffled and the wind whistled. Amnon stood up and decided it’d probably be best to exit the forest now. 


  As he began heading out, he saw a red spider lily, a flower that was extremely uncommon where he lived. He was only human, so naturally he was drawn towards it. He crouched by the flower and gently brushed against it’s odd tendrils. Upon looking up, he was met with a trail of the spider lilies. Curiosity brimmed uncontrollably with this discovery and he began to follow the mysterious trail of equinox.


  He followed the flowers until their sudden stop. When he looked up, his eyes laid upon a statue. It seemed to depict one of the many gods worshipped, however he couldn’t recognize them. In one hand, it held what looked like a long whip, fashioned to look like a thorny vine. It’s other hand rested behind it’s back and it stood in a relaxed pose. Amnon’s attention was mostly drawn towards its face which carried a calm smile and atop its head sat a crown of red spider lilies.


  He stared at it for a few moments before moving past it, somehow he felt a sense of Deja Vu when looking at it for too long. Past the sculpture was an abandoned temple. The willow trees draped over the entrance and into the building’s collapsed roof, ivy and spider webbing creeped up its sides and caked the building’s outer edges. Amnon approached the building, brushing his hand against the doorway as he entered.


  “This place must be decades old,” he mused upon entry. He was more or less correct, seeing as the place was completely caked with dust, and flowers bloomed from the cracks in the floorboards. At the center was a masterfully carved table that held a plethora of candles and a vase in the middle that held flowers that looked as if they’d died hundreds of years ago. He decided that it’d be best to avoid that.


  His eyes drifted to the ornate walls, various paintings adorned them, each seeming to tell a different story. Sadly, the paint had long faded and most of the paintings were unintelligible…most of the paintings.. Amnon was then drawn to a painting hung on the wall in the middle. It depectited what looked to be the statue in the front of the temple. It showed the being sleeping amongst a bed of red spider lilies. Unlike the other paintings, it looked as if it was painted recently. The colors were so vibrant and life like, Amnon could have sworn it was a picture. He reached his hand towards the painting…


  The moment his hand made contact with the canvas, he saw a light brighter than any other he saw in his entire lifetime, it was as if a cloudburst of emotions erupted within his heart. He’d never felt more safe in his life, enveloped by this heavenly light. In the daze, a figure emerged from the light and he couldn’t help but open his arms to welcome it. Amnon closed his eyes as the figure collided with him and the two fell to the floor.


  As Amnon opened his eyes, he saw something of the utmost ethereal beauty. He saw a God.


End Chapter One