The Sun God

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Chapter VII: Janus

Janus’ cell was on the ground floor, in a row of around one hundred. Each row of a hundred was multiplied upwards, ending out of his sight a kilometre or more above his head and mirrored across the central corridor in front of him. An endless repetition of correction. He knew this place, though he had never been a prisoner of His majesty, as it could be seen from every point in the city. A towering black block, born from the thin white sands of the Eastern part of the city. An abomination against nature. This was the Eastern Correctional Facility; a glittering testament to His renewed desire to end the Night and the insidious activities with which it was associated. It was not possible to see or hear the other prisoners as the doors to each cell were flush to the walls and made of pure light, which silenced all sound. It was similar technology to the arcing, purple cascade from the Dam and Janus knew that it was Solispherical in origin though he could not identify the source of it’s light. The sound here, and for the citizens underneath the Dam, was like when walking in a fresh snow. The sound somehow dampened and immediate, sounding close and crisp. The door though, as the Dam, shimmered and cracked the same and spat it’s faint colour into his chamber. The kernel of personality that had resisted each daily immersion from youth now began to shrivel and die, baked as it was in the hot light of His truth. Each whirring hiss from the door and each cold monotone from his robotic captors crushed this seed and ground its power to dust. Each time the automaton came to enforce the immersions, Janus looked desperately to see any sign of how or from where the door originated but he could not. There was no weakness in the design of this place and Janus passed the weeks in binary fashion, between the dark of his cell and the brilliance of the emanations. He was beginning to fade. He was afraid. He feared the weakness he sensed lay on the other side of his submission. He feared that this failure would signal the end of his life, the end of hope, the end of joy. So he held her, tight within his mind, picturing her as the new life that would spring forth from the seed if it survived, green and lush and fragrant. Saw her nurtured by the sun; not His sun but the pure, golden light of old and watched as this image persisted though he felt all else recede.

“Alecto”

The emanations shimmered.

“Alecto”

“Go to the light, Brother Janus.” The automaton chirped.

“Alecto”

“Know your lord.

Feel his warmth.

Breathe his light.”

“Alecto…..”

He fell then, out of time and space. He and her falling in the darkness, entwined and dancing on the structure of the night. Memory ceased and all he knew was her and what she meant. That he had persisted, that the light had not broken him, that she remained and he with her and that his mind was his because she was still in it.

“Brother Janus,” spoke the automaton,

“your sentence is almost completed. His light is with you. You will be burnt for His glory. His light is with you now and so shall it always be. By new ordinance, you are to rise to His people, beyond this sun and return to the source whence all light comes.

There is no night for you now”

He felt no pain, only the slow scratching of the needle. He was there and yet not. His body lay in the chair where they scorched him, but his heart and mind skipped through the night in her arms, dancing. When it was over he stepped out into the pallor of the day, un-blinded by the light despite the recent darkness of his cell. They had burnt his eyes, and like all the most faithful he now wore dark eyes that shielded the sun, enabling him to stare unblinking into the skies. In their arrogance, they had assumed him broken, assumed him devout following the submergence in His light. But he was otherwise unchanged. His submission was not complete, rather his rebellion simmered, stronger than before, fizzing as anger and hate. Hate with purpose and anger with power.

Janus followed the others, burnt eyes closed to the day. He felt his way along the walls that surrounded him, each bump and crack tingling under his fingertips. People jostled at him, shoved him this way and that in their panic and more than once he fell at the rushed feet of the masses. Once, a hand grasped his and as he looked up, eyes still closed, he imagined her standing there, helping him to his feet. But it was a child, who, as Janus squinted to look, recoiled in fear from the wet blackness within his skull. His eyes burned still and tears of both pain and sadness smudged his cheeks.

He did not want to be amongst these people who now feared him so. Their fear was for what his new eyes represented. Fanaticism. Power. Control. None of these things existed in him however they had marked him now and all people would see were his eyes. He had to escape this crush. It overwhelmed him and he quickly turned around and tried to push his way through the crowd but he could not see a way through with his eyes burning and blinding him with tears.

“Excuse me” he whimpered, his weakened voice struggling to be heard above the background hum.

“Sir!” he exclaimed as he grabbed at the arm of a passing blur.

“Yes priest. What is it?”

“What time is it?”

“It is time for the sacrifice.”

Janus looked up then and saw it, rising high above him, across the plaza from the prison. His great Temple crowned at is summit by the fierce light of The Sunbeam. It seemed to move and sway as the vicious winds licked at its stones and the fire from the beam boiled away the clouds, soaking it and they in a hot mist that fell from the sky. As he gaped upwards, his new eyes taking in every detail, of this most holy of places, the sound of horns began; a deafening drone from every alley and street. They came in their hundreds, dressed in the simple clothing of the chosen and led by the burnt eyed priests of His Church who carried the gold plated skulls of their first kills on decorative staffs in mimicry of His. The hot mist fell and still they came, gladly, swayed as they were by that malignant orb and the promise of rebirth through Him. The horns played still and a throng began to gather at the foot of the great pyramid as the chosen began their ascent to death and glory. Men, women, children even babies still at their mother’s teat carried aloft towards sacrifice, driven by the low Braying of the horns and the strength of their belief. A belief that through Him could they be reborn, just as the sun, and bathe forever in His light, high above the world at that eternal, Celestial place with the elders of His kind. As their blood nourished Him so would he reward them with eternal life.

Janus felt himself pushed forward and turning saw a thick line of automatons at his back. Drawn to the horror of the scene he moved with the other prisoners to join the volunteers at the foot of the Temple steps. As the chosen continued to climb to the altar beneath the Sunbeam, he appeared as though part of the procession and with his burnt eyes aroused both fear and admiration as he moved in time to the rhythm of the horns. A calm was upon them as they moved and Janus felt the pernicious work of the Solisphere in their demeanour, eyes closed to all but His light. More than once a member of this slow, macabre procession met his gaze and smiled the shallow, contented smile of the righteous whilst he and his fellow prisoners jostled and panicked against the unbroken line of automatons at the rear.

The procession slowed and soon stopped as the leaders of the column reached His altar and the blood and filth began to flow down the gullies on either side of the stone stairway up which they had climbed. The burnt eyed priests began to ululate and shriek as heads were severed from torsos and cast down the steps to the feet of the many rapt onlookers who had gathered below the Temple and who now gladly soaked in the hot red mist of His Sunbeam and His sacrifices.

“Know your lord.

Feel his warmth.

Breathe his light.”

“There is no Night for you now”.

He was there too. Seated and calm. His black skin shimmering in the light of The SunBeam as each disciple kissed his feet before turning to the altar and their sacrifice. As Janus watched, a mother approached, head bowed and with her baby held in outstretched arms to Him. He turned to her and spoke in a low, polyphonic whisper,

Thank you, sister”.

He gestured to His priests to take the babe and place it on His altar and stood, His huge black frame casting all in shadow as he approached, whispering to Himself in His own tongue as he walked. In is left hand, he held one of the needles with which His priests were made. The baby began to cry. Desperate shrieks and bleats, searching for its mother in the noise and stench and rising in pitch as His God burnt his tiny eyes before holding him up, high above His city. A cheer went up from the crowd and a passion was upon them all as their God turned and climbed His throne, at the back of the platform, and stood facing the source of The Sunbeam into which he placed the desperate child. His arms entered the beam and shimmered with perfect light as the baby evaporated, in a cloud of ash which sped upwards and outwards, showering the altar with the remains.

“Know your lord.

Feel his warmth.

Breathe his light.”

His mantra ringing out as the passion of the crowd amplified into a fervour of chanting and wailing as the sacrifices continued, the baby’s ecstatic mother first of all.

Janus turned then and looked to the city in surrender. Its endless streets fanning out from that central monument to the deserts of the south and up high, shrouded by sand and the resonant violet of The Dam, his home in the Northern Rise. The power of this place overwhelmed him and he fell, screaming into the gully of blood at his feet. He was washed away and down, riding a crimson wave of submission into his oblivion at the foot of His great pyramid

“There’s no hope”, he guttered as the Priests turned to catch him, burnt eyes flaring after him as he fell.

“There’s no hope.”

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