His village holds the Passing ceremony as a means to Pass the deceased on to the afterlife. But Cassim's faith has waned out of observance of an inevitable truth when he realizes one member of the village will not be Passed, and he must deal with the dark truth of reality.
A rumble. Low, growling. Then the sound curled upward, as if someone was twisting your insides.
Cassim had felt the pains of extreme hunger for a few hours now. He lay on his straw bed looking up at his contraption and felt a steady stream run down his face.
He blinked and held his eyes shut for a moment.
• • •
The line of horns went off. Six robed men walked to the foot of the mound of sticks and straw, each held a lit torch.
As they approached they recited a line and threw their torches at the base of the pile.
In the name of the Father, the first torch went in.
In the name of the Mother, the second.
You leave your brothers and you leave your home. Two torches landed in the pile.
From birth you learned to see the world alight. Another torch.
Now through this final light, you may embrace the dark.
The final torch landed on the mound, and the fire grew into a great pyre. The horns played for a few moments more as the crowd watched as another member of the village moved on from this life to the afterlife, through the Passing ceremony.
Because of the powers above them, the villagers made it a point to send their deceased to meet their gods through the Passing. Just as their gods believe, the villagers believed life was precious, valuable. Something that should not be wasted. So to show their faith in this belief, they were bound by the Passing ceremony.
Cassim watched as the fire roared. Branches cracked and sticks snapped. The burning wood crackled. Flames grew higher and consumed the passed villager. Cassim was the last to walk away from the mound, as he usually was. He stayed long after the final horn sounded and watched the flames melt into lowly embers before he finally moved.
In his mind he knew the quiet would come after the fire died, and all that would be heard was the chirping birds and the breeze blowing through the trees.
But besides that, he knew there was nothing.
• • •