Oblation

As the train jerked to a stop, Meghan’s head lolled backward, causing her to wake up. “Last stop. End of the line. All passengers please depart,” came the staticky voice over the speaker. She squinted against the bright lights illuminating the interior of the carriage. Last stop? The words registered in some far off recess of her mind. Her eyes widened in dismay as she realized she had slept through her own.

Great, she thought to herself as she gathered her belongings, now I have to take a cab home. How much is that going to cost me? Then she remembered her husband. He would be sick with worry about now. She pulled out her phone to call him, only to be greeted with no signal. She threw it back into her bag and stood up to leave the train. It hadn’t occurred to her that no railway employees were on-board, hurrying her along.

She threw her backpack on, slung her purse over her shoulder and started toward the door. The conductor stood waiting for her, but something about him made Meghan uncomfortable. His smile looked fake, and reminded her of the sewer grates in the sidewalk her mother attempted to avoid when walking downtown. She didn’t trust that smile.

As she stepped down onto the concrete, she looked up at a world that was not her own. Above her was a sky of pale pink filled with magenta clouds, floating like cotton candy on the wind. She stared, petrified, at the creatures before her. Their heads were lizard heads, planted on human bodies. Long, green tails stretched out behind them, tapering off to a fine point. They were everywhere, and now they were watching her. She slowly backed away, hoping to board the train back to reality, but when she turned around, it was gone.

“She’s here!” shrieked someone in the growing throng. Everywhere she looked she saw her face. Plastered on billboards, on windows and even on vehicles that drove by. What was going on? She wanted to run, wanted to get as far away from these things as possible, yet she remained firmly rooted where she stood. A pair of scaly hands grabbed her roughly by the arms and led her deeper into the crowd.

A voice boomed before them, leading the way. “Behold, she has arrived! Our Oblation is here!” They pressed in on her, gathering together for a closer look. Oblation. Where had she heard that word before? Then it occurred to her. She struggled to free herself from her escorts, but their vice-like grips were too much for her. Besides, where was she going to go? There were so many of them.

Cheers of joy and triumph surrounded her. She sobbed and begged for mercy. Pleaded to be released. She may as well have been talking to a brick wall for all the good it did her. Soon her energy was expended and she resorted to letting them carry her limp body along, her feet dragging on the rough pavement.

They stopped.

The mob quieted and Meghan looked up. A prominent individual on a podium stood before them, speaking to the congregation, preparing for the offering. Behind the speaking creature stood a pyre, waiting to be lit. The shaman motioned for Meghan to be brought up to the stage. Her bladder let go as they climbed the final few steps, leading her to her fate.

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