Eclipse

 

††††††† "Damnit!It smelled us!"Japhron exclaimed after the deer ran off."We'll never catch anything!"

††††††† Japhron and Kentu had been hunting since dawn.This was the fourth time their prey had escaped them.

††††††† "I knew we should have sacrificed the duck."

††††††† "Oh come on, like Tronsis would care whether we sacrificed a duck to him -- or sacrificed anything to him for that matter.Being the god of the hunt, surely he can kill a duck."

††††††† "It's not for us to understand his motivations."

††††††† "If the tribe didn't sacrifice so much of the food we did manage to catch, then we wouldn't be in this mess!What would the 'Gods'," Kentu said the word with scorn, "Want with our food?It's not like they're going to eat it, being immortal and all."

††††††† "You speak as if you didn't believe in the gods!"

††††††† "Of course I don't.Those are just stories people made up to explain to their children what they themselves didn't understand, and to scare the children into behaving.Or, at least they used to be before someone forgot to tell the children that they were just stories.It's--"

††††††† "Stop!" interrupted Japhron, "before you bring the wrath of Malor down upon the whole tribe."

††††††† Kentu chuckled."Ha, Malor, 'Punisher of Unbelievers'; if he has a problem with me, he can come to me and leave the tribe out of it."

††††††† "Look, I'm warning you!"

††††††† "OK, sorry."Kentu didn't want to offend his good friend.

††††††† "How about we just go home," suggested Kentu."The sun is near its peak and it's getting hot."

††††††† "Sure.We're not going to catch anything today."

††††††† The old friends walked home in silence.

††††††† When they got home, everyone seemed a little uptight.Japhron's wife, normally quite cheery, met them while they were on their way to the shaman's hut.She hugged Japhron and quietly asked, "Have you heard?"

††††††† "Heard what?" replied Japhron.

††††††† "The Sun and the Moon are going to collide."

††††††† "What?" demanded Japhron, confused.

††††††† "The Star Reader told us so, about an hour ago."

††††††† Japhron gave Kentu an odd look, but Kentu did not notice.He was looking at the sky.The Moon was very close to the Sun.

††††††† When he looked down, he saw the shaman, in all his cloaks and robes and elaborate headdress approaching.

††††††† "Did you make a kill?" the shaman asked.

††††††† "No."

††††††† "I did not think so.The gods are angry with us, very angry.I do not know why.We have been sacrificing more to the gods than ever, yet we have had no good luck at hunting, and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky for nearly a moon cycle, and now this.All we can do is wait, I suppose."

††††††† The Moon touched the Sun.Everyone was watching, squinting, with their hands shielding their eyes.To everyone's surprise, the spheres did not collide, but kept going, the Moon covering the Sun.

††††††† Kentu was fascinated.Next to him, the shaman started chanting in a trance-like state.Several others joined him.This was definitely something he would never forget.The Moon now covered half of the Sun.A child started to cry.Why didn't Moon catch fire?Kentu wondered.They must be quite far apart.That would mean that the Sun was larger than the Moon, even though the legends say that they are the same size.Three quarters of the Sun was now covered.Kentu's eyes were starting to hurt so he looked down from the sky.In the distance he saw darkness, the shadow cast by the Moon.It was slowly moving toward him.He couldn't move.He was scared.Someone else noticed the shadow, not more than 200 metres from the edge of the village.She cried out and many of the people panicked.Some ran from the shadow, others hid in their huts.The shaman and several others continued chanting.

††††††† "This is Kentu's fault!" yelled Japhron."He's a non-believer!"

††††††† Then, suddenly, everything went black.Everyone was stunned while their eyes adjusted to the darkness.Kentu fell to his knees.All he could think was that this was his fault, that he had doubted the gods.

††††††† "This is Kentu's fault!"Japhron yelled again.

††††††† Someone threw a stone at Kentu.It hit him in the arm but he didn't notice.Others started throwing things at him while the shaman continued to chant.Kentu was bleeding from several cuts now but he didn't care.All he could think was that it was his fault.

††††††† Then a voice brought him out of his trance -- "Stop!Please!Stop!"Usha!His wife!He tried to get up.A rock hit him in the back of the head.He continued to rise.A rock hit him in the face.He fell.Usha screamed.He looked up and saw Japhron standing over him with a stick in his hand.Kentuís world went dark just as the rest of the world went light.The eclipse was over.