Fiction Posted: 612 words
The Font of God had stood at the head of the Bay Cerosa for as long as he could remember: it was here that the baptisms happened.
A young woman had been the last one to descend those steps, between the stone bannisters, and stand on the sharp rocks of the base. The Priests of the Keep each stood in front of the crowd, so that all they could see was her head, bare, and then a moment later the splash of the water.
He had craned his neck, but the secret was well-preserved, and the wooden shields of the priesthood were stout. The crowd listened, but the water had stopped rippling. When they pulled away the shield wall, all that could be seen was a ripple across the top of the bay, gradually receding out into nothingness.
Now, it was his turn.
The Keep had accepted her. It was known to be true. The priests had made sure that the people knew it to be true. But they didn’t have to work hard to spread the word: all of them had seen the ripples, fading out into the water. Where else could she have gone?
Now, standing at the front of the crowd, watching the priests solemnly pace, the Font seemed enormous. The railings were comically large – an armsbreath across, hewed from the solid stone of the mountain. What need was there of such railings? The thought flashed through his head that maybe it was not, as he had supposed, to keep people from falling in. Maybe it was to keep the fallen from clambering out.
Then he was upon the step of the Font, and the priests closed the line behind him. The murmur of the crowd faded, and the faces of the priests were invisible behind the wall. Only the chief priest stood with him now. He was a better man: not malicious nor cruel as some of the priests were. When he was a baby, the chief priest had given him pieces of apricot from the tree in the south garden.
“Now, it is your turn, my boy,” the chief priest said to him, and smiled.
The boy took a step closer. His feet were on the rough stone of the edge. Then, he took a step forward.
Blue surrounded him suddenly and the noise of the outside world vanished. He tried to open his eyes, but the water, though crystal clear, held nothing for him. There was nothing – no one. It was only water.
The others had all vanished, or descended, or been caught up. Had he already been transported to another place, and he had yet to surface? No. His lungs screamed at him, and after he could hold it no longer, he bobbed to the surface.
It was the priest’s face he would always remember. Disappointed, a little shocked. He looked something like a withered crow. The other priests, pulling away the massive wooden shields, shot worried looks at the chief priest. And the crowd all but ran to the railings to look over the edge at him. Fear of the Font was all that kept them back.
Strong arms reached in to pull him out of the water, and left him gasping for breath on the sun-warmed stone of the Font. The chief priest blew the horn that always hung at his side.
“The God has rejected him!”