‘A God Among Us’ by Rhett C. Bruno
I didn't know about this site until recently, but the man behind the magic here messaged me and asked if I might be interested in posting something. After looking through what's offered here, I couldn't say no. A place for writers to freely share their work, critique and interact? Sign me up! It's a great idea and I'm a big fan of Prose so far.
This will be my first post here so I guess I'll introduce myself. I'm Rhett C Bruno, amazon bestselling SciFi author with Random House Hydra and Diversion Books. My published novels include, "Titanborn," "From Ice to Ashes," and "The Circuit Trilogy." The story I'm choosing to post is one I wrote for fun, about a lonely god who has lost his humanity. I was never really sure what to do with it since it's so short, but I hope you all enjoy!
Wind whistled through the deep vales that stretched for miles across the rockbound badlands arrayed before me. There was no other sound. Only the oppressive layers of quietness which enveloped me as they always did - my unseen cloak. I couldn’t hear my heart, for my heart didn’t beat. A god has no use for blood. I couldn’t hear the rasp of air being drawn into my lungs, for I didn’t breathe. A god has no need for air. There, at the crest of the world, I was utterly and completely alone.
And so, on that sleepless night, like all others, I sought solace beneath the moon’s faint glow. Far over my head it climbed the ropes of the heavens, like a lidless eye amongst the stars. The light it exuded barely allowed me to see much in detail beyond the palms of my hands, but it was enough for me to make out smoke rising from chimney stacks in a distant village; enough to remind me that the world hadn’t yet vanished, which would’ve been a comforting thought if not for the well-known fact that even amongst a sea of men and woman I’d feel as secluded as I did then.
While the moon soared ever higher, I reached up to grasp the edges of the golden mask covering my face. For the first time in countless years I decided to pull it off. My mask had become the only face I remembered how to wear. It was as cold and impassive as immortality had made me. However, at that moment, all I craved was to feel the gentle arms of a breeze brushing against my bare cheeks.
I held my mask out in front of me and stared into its golden reflection. Through the darkness, I could only make out my eyes. They were blue as the smoldering coals at the base of a white-hot flame. It was the pupils, however, which most drew my focus. A normal man wouldn’t recognize the slight shimmer deep within the tiny, black circles, but I was not a normal man. To me the difference was blatant, like a pair of finely cut diamonds glinting beneath the rising sun. I loathed what I saw in them with all of my stagnant heart, almost as much as I longed for the days before they were rendered such; days so far gone that they were little more than a collection of meaningless images.
“Sir, are you all right?” a small voice squeaked from my side.
The mask slipped through my fingers. I couldn’t believe it. I’d allowed someone to climb the rugged terrain and sneak up on me as if I were a ragged, old man hard of hearing. No mortal was permitted to view me without my mask on. To see that beneath its gilded surface lay a face no different than their own. Perhaps my skin was smoother and my brow cleaner, but my mask was the face which allowed me to guard and to judge my subjects with impunity. It was gifted to me ages ago, when I was chosen by the heavens to serve as the Guardian Deity of Al’Riviera.
“Sir?” he repeated.
The person was so close now that I could feel warm breath kissing my exposed neck. I scrambled to find my mask so that I could place it back where it belonged, but in the darkness I accidentally knocked it out of grasp and into the feet of my uninvited guest.
I turned to face the mortal. He was a human child, no older than ten. His cheeks were gaunt and his hair was unkempt and mottled with dirt. He didn’t appear frightened, more confused that someone would willingly sit outside so high up, without a fire to keep him warm, or a companion to watch for wolves.
When I said nothing, he slowly bent over to pick up the mask, but he didn’t run. A brave little boy. “Sir, do you have a name?” he asked, a hint of concern edging into his tone.
'A name', I thought.
I had gone by many over the centuries, but whoever I had been before no longer mattered. I was Noden the Worldcarver, living embodiment of the Al’Kari God of earth and water. Of course, the boy couldn’t know those things. As much as I may have wanted to invite him to sit beside me and enjoy the pleasure of company, I knew I couldn’t. Faith was a fickle thing. He had seen what was beneath my mask, and the heavens wouldn’t abide that. Even if it was my own fault for allowing him to get so near, the boy could never return home.
The boy lifted the golden mask and went to hand it over to me. As my fingers wrapped my adopted facade, the light of the moon revealed the ornate designs along its surface. Unmistakable patterns.
The boy’s eyes widened in astonishment. “Noden?” he whispered.
I stared directly into them until his face went white as ash and his limbs went stiff like loose branches on a rotting tree. Then he tumbled over the precipice, leaving me alone again. It was difficult to feel sorry for him. There’d be plenty of souls for him to talk to where he was going. Release… He had no idea how lucky he was.
Thanks for reading! You can find out more about my other work or how to connect with me at www.rhettbruno.com.