The Gods Of Today

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Chapter Seven: The Destroyer

Steven’s unconscious and naked body dangled above Kali’s claw foot tub as if he were a piñata. Sweat trickled off his forehead, gathering into a small puddle below. Slowly becoming cognizant, he grunted loudly, unable to move. His body ached immensely while his hands and feet were bound in barbed wire. The slightest movement he made felt like several knives digging into his skin. He wanted to scream from the sheer pain he was in, but only faint muffles could be heard from his gagged mouth.

The only view he had was a tub surrounded by dimly-lit candles and a rusted knife carved with Hindu lettering resting on the edge. Afraid beyond comprehension, he wiggled his tongue around gently, trying to push the gag out of his mouth. At this moment, it was the only action he could control. Exercising his jaw in a circular motion, he managed to spit it out. He took a deep breath of air before yelling for help. Even if it seemed hopeless, he still had to try for his sake. Maybe those occupying rooms next door could hear. Trying to remain an optimist, Steven only called out twice before someone spoke through his hysteria.

“The sounds of your suffering nor false hopes for aid will help you mortal. That wretched goddess assured that. I have tried myself and to no avail,” they informed.

With minimal sight, Steven could not identify where the voice was originating from. “Are you hung up like me?” he asked despairingly.

“Of sorts, yes,” the stranger spoke. “Although, at least she will be giving you the gift of death. Something I will cease to see.” Becoming more erratic, he asked how death was a gift considering the predicament he was in. “You could end up like me,”they countered.

“What do you mean by that?” Telling Steven to turn his eyes toward the toilet, he followed along the wall until he spotted a towel rack. A withered and decayed voodoo head was hanging down the bar by its hair. Its eyes were radiating red, and its mouth was moving freely. This was Steven’s companion through his current situation. Shocked and utterly speechless, he did not know how to proceed.

“Oh my god... Wh-what the fuck are you?” he asked, frightened.

“I am Raktabija. You are not the first nor last to act in such a manner. My essence bound and trapped with Kali as a prisoner upon her very being. I dream of the day death comes and sweeps me from this plain, but she will never grant me such a wish.”

Kali abruptly interrupted their conversation and walked inside the bathroom in her natural godly form. Free from her human suppression, she waved her finger at the demon. “Now, now, do not spoil his mind with your putridity’s. You know as well as I, the punishment fits the transgressions you have chosen.”

Looking at the helpless mortal, she tried to explain. “You remember the painting, yes?” Steven could do nothing but acknowledge Kali’s words hoping if he went along, he could be freed. “This demon was at that battle, destroying everything sacred to us. I was the one who stopped him from annihilating the gods. I single handily ended the war, and I kept his soul as a constant reminder of vile acts he has committed as rightfully so.”

In a calm, collected voice, Rack lashed back. “It amuses one to mention the safety of your kin when you now flee from them like a coward. You spite me for the actions I believed in were noble for my kind, yet you betray yours. So tell me, who is really the monster in this fabled tale you tell yourself?” Falling silent to the demon’s words, she hid the pain she felt bubbling within her heart. She had to focus on the task at hand.

Grabbing the knife from the tub, Kali softly let the blade run down Steven’s belly. “Please! Please!” he yelled. “Let me go, please let me go! I promise I will not tell anyone what this was. I will change it! I will be a better man and husband, please!”

Angering Kali, she lacerated his left cheek. All he could do was control his breathing as blood dripped from his wound. Pulling his hair back, Kali pressed the knife against his neck. “Men like you have no heart. Have no respect, conscious, or the slightest fathomable idea of the atrocities that you commit to those who give their all for you. Do you know what I loathe more than anything?”

Steve kept begging her to put the blade down, but she had no care as to what his wishes were. She only cared to prove her point. “It’s not a deceiver. It’s not an adulterer nor a cheater, but a man who blatantly lies about change. You, dear Steven, will not change because men like you never do. You only learn to get cleverer with your activities.”

Kali plunged the knife into his left leg, telling him to hold it for her. Wailing in searing pain, Steven yelled out for help. He couldn’t die like this, not in this way. He didn’t believe such things could exist in this world. Deities and other religions were always just stories to him. Now, he’s face to face with a goddess whose sole purpose was to kill him, and that realization hit him hard. Walking to the bathroom counter, she prepared herself for the ritual.

“Your methods are still barbaric despite this new world you have dragged me in,” the demon informed.

Exasperated, she sighed, turning to the demon. “No one asked you for your opinion in the matter.”

“How long will blood magic conceal such a disgraced being…” Rack pursued, “...from Shiva.”

Grabbing the head, Kali squeezed with enormous pressure. Rack’s outcries flooded the bathroom as her eyes locked onto the demon’s soulless gaze. “Careful of the names you speak of to me. There are far worse things in this world than death. You as well as any know of such places.” Pulling out an object from underneath the bathroom sink, she set it down on top of the toilet.

The demon became enraged. “Put that nasty thing away. You and I know you’d only rerelease me when seen fit!”

“You are right, demon. I may release you when I reach a vulnerable state of loneliness as I have felt recently. That time has ended. I’ll assure you that it shall not happen for a long while.” Unscrewing the lid from an ancient Hindu jar, she uttered a phrase that the demon dreaded in her foreign tongue.

With one last chance, the creature spoke his peace. The words uttered next would stick to the goddesses mind like an ever-glowing fire. “You will be found, and when you do, I hope each god unleashes their own wrath onto you. I shall shed tears of gratitude as I hear them torture you endlessly. Imprisoned or not, your day shall come, and your end will become far worse than I.”

Determined to make the demon suffer, she chanted the last of her words before its soul was sucked out of the doll and swirled right inside the jar. Sealing the lid quickly, she shoved it back underneath the cabinet and slammed it in anger. Deep down, she knew the demon was right. Her kin would never forgive her. Not after what she did, not after she ran away and went incognito.

Sighing from her past decisions, she looked into the mirror and studied herself. The only god who never saw her as a real monster was her husband, and she let him down. He tried endlessly to correct and set her on a straight path to help deal with such temptations of bloodlust and rage. With all his efforts, she repaid his kindness and patience by committing the ultimate crime. Everything she’s done, and with all that has transpired, maybe the other gods had the right to kill her. Perhaps she truly is a monster after all.

Steve tried using her moment of vulnerability to possibly be released from her grasp. “I-I understand your p-pain.”

Kali scoffed at his comment. “Darling, you have no idea what pain is. Not until you have lived as long as I.” Walking toward the tub, she readied her knife against his chest.

“No, WAIT! Wait, please, wait,” he begged. “When you s-showed your painting I could see your pain that came from it. Almost as if you were that figure and you were, I mean- you are, you did.”

Kali stopped and decided to amuse him. “What point are you trying to reveal to me, Steven?”

“My point,” he strained, “Is that you don’t have to be the figure in that painting. You seem like you did not have a choice, but you do now. You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to be a monster. Please, just let me go, and I’ll never bother you again. I-I’ll love my wife unconditionally, and I’ll make a vow to be a better man.”

She looked at him from a moment of clarity. “You think I’m not a monster?”

“No, no, I don’t. You can be more. I know you can,” he tried convincing further.

“Then you haven’t been paying attention from your outing,” she informed him.

He yelled out in agony while she began carving Hindu words into his chest. स्थानांतरण was shaped into a perfect circle and was final piece to her ritual before crawling inside the tub. Chanting in her foreign tongue, Steven could do nothing but cry and shout for help. Raising her knife to his throat, he begged one last time for mercy before Kali slit his neck from ear to ear.

Muffled choking could be heard from Steven as he fought to survive. Knowing his end has come, his life began flashing before him. If he had just stayed at home, ate dinner, watched a movie, and loved his wife, he would not be here. Instead of talking to her about their problems, he decided to bury them elsewhere. Now the consequences of his stupidity have led him here, and all he could do was watch as this creature used him just as he used others for himself.

Struggling for one final breath, his spirit finally left him. His body swayed motionless, still providing Kali with a singular purpose. Her skin started glistening as her pores absorbed his blood. The sacrifice she performed proved successful. Kali smiled in relief as she slowly started reverting back into her mortal form until no traces of divine essence remained. Feeling completely rejuvenated, she soaked in every last drop of Steven’s blood until none was left.

Once finished, she stepped out of the bathtub and wrapped a towel around her body. Grabbing a brush from the drawer, she began combing her hair. Looking into the mirror, she couldn’t help but replay the demon’s words in her head. It was like a parasite that couldn’t be snuffed out. Angered by this, she balled her hand into a fist and punched the mirror. An indent formed as several shards of glass fell into the sink below. Sighing from her outrage, she slowly picked the pieces out and threw them in the trash next to her toilet. She could not let its words capture her mind no matter how unsettling the truth is.

Composing herself, she walked over to her phone and dialed a number. Three rings passed before a man answered. “Dave’s Towing, Don’t want it, we got it. How may I help you?”

“Ah, yes,” she answered. “A vehicle at the front of the White Marble has been parked in a red zone for several days. If one could be so kind as to come and remove it from the premises, that would be most delightful.”

“Whatever, ma’am,” the operator responded. “Like our slogan says, don’t want it, we got it. A driver will be there shortly to retrieve the vehicle. Have a nice night.” She reciprocated the gesture before hanging the phone on him.

Grabbing her glass of whiskey off the table, she smelled it before taking a slip. Kali held it close to her chest as she walked out onto the patio and gazed up at the night sky. Recollecting on her life, she couldn’t help but have tears build in her eyes. She remembered a time where something as simplistic as this was peaceful. How watching the stars with Shiva felt at home. Now, all Kali felt was shame and regret. For the stars did not illuminate as brightly through the world as it once did. Feeling a deep-rooted knot in her stomach, she knew as to the reason why. Dropping her drink to the floor, she began to cry.

“I am sorry,” she whispered. “I truly am so sorry.”

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