The Altar of Fame

I was going to write a blog post today, but instead I wrote a story. My wife originally came up with this concept a while back for NaNoWriMo, but I decided to take a *ahem* stab at it.

The Altar of Fame.

The crowd applauds as the hosts welcome them back from the commercial break, microphone headsets nestling firmly beside their mouths, barely noticeable in the stage lights.

Welcome back, they say, the phone lines have now closed, and your choice of winner will be announced shortly!

The crowd cheers, mindlessly, their voices raised in triumph and tribute as the hosts introduce a band to entertain them through the period of counting, a sea of noise, its waves breaking on the short of the stage.

Backstage, the contestants wait nervously to be summoned, after weeks of competitions. Talent, ability, none of it counts for anything now. All that counts is the thousands in attendance, the millions at home.

As the band draws to a close, they stare at the screen, waiting for the curtain to rise and determine their fate.

The irrepressibly happy and enthusiastic hosts summon the three to their preassigned posts. They take their spots under the lights, beams from heaven fixing them in their luminescent gaze.

The votes are in, their fates decided.

One by one, the lights go out, until only two remain, one boy, one girl. The hosts pause, stretching the tension to infinity.

The last light fades leaving the girl in darkness. The boy is torn between joy and fear, his face reflecting the shock of the audience. Then, they burst into cheers.

The hosts congratulate him, and commiserate the loser. In the background, the stage is set for the final act.

The winner is escorted towards the back of the stage, the loser watches from the side, both saddened and elated by this turn of events.

The winner lays down on the table that has been set at the epicentre of the floodlights, and the high priest walks from behind the scenes. His knife is sharp, his eyes keen.

The straps secure the tribute to the table, and he waits, his mind at peace and resolved to his fate. The knife is raised high, then falls, once.

Perhaps the gods will grant the nation good fortune for another year, perhaps not.

Fame is fleeting.

Bloodstains last.

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