Ye Who Languish

With a whispered prayer and a flourish, I slide the keen edge of the blade across my son's throat. I imagine the old wizened man standing behind me, a looking of approving manic glee at the blood sacrifice. He licks his lips hungrily, red eyes focused on the brackish pool that our lives are drowning in.

You must do this… He whispered, again and again in my dreams. You must. *I* demand it.

In my dreams, he hands me the knife. The same images flash before me. The knife at my child's throat. His wordless protest. His death, and then… my own.

His blood drenches my tunic, and sorrow flows as freely from the wound I made in myself as it does the line in my boy's neck. "Sorry," I whisper again and again as he slowly stops kicking and goes still. "God demanded it. How can I deny him the same sacrifice he would offer for us?"

He offers me no reply, only a reproachful blank gaze and silence.

…Silence…

"What have I done? Oh God, what have you made me do?"

God? The voice again, emanating from the ground, accompanied by the scent of flesh gone foul. She is gone from this place, my son. The old man claws his way free from the Earth before us, before the altar of gore and bone and loss that we have built in his name.

The knife drops from my nerveless fingers.

"You… you are not."

No. He hisses the word right into my brain.

"You… you are-"

Yesss… I am he. The light made darkness. The love gone awry. The righteous become foul. And you… you are mine.

"But what about-"

God? She abandoned this place long ago. She abandoned you to hopelessness, ye who languish here.

He moves like smoke, wreaths around us. My dead son and I. The knife dangles in his loose formless grasp. Dangles before me like an offering. Like the offering I made to him dangles limp in my arms.

"My son, my son…" I whisper.

She sacrificed you, our son, in the name of the new world she would create. You are her offering to me. I yield no sacrifices. I am the one who accepts them. The knife hovers from his ethereal fingers into mine.

You know what to do.

My dreams, of black stares, of death, flash before me. My son's blank stare. My own. Our blood mixing in the dirt between us. To the mud that makes life, all life must return.

Trembling, with a whispered prayer and sobbing flourish, I slide the knife, its edge keen and still red and still slick, across my own throat.

For you… Father.