This flash piece originally appeared on 365 Tomorrows.
The Death of a Strong Woman
Her hut is digitized light.
They are coming for her.
Her prayers to the netGODS continue.
But there will be no deliverance.
She has heard the whispers. She has seen the dissention. Her daughter screamed at her this morning.
“You must go!”
But she stays.
Her back is angled violence. Her muscles are as a panther’s — smooth, substantial, bulwarks of might.
They smash the walls of her hut, their faces hidden behind hoods and black glass. Fractals rain across her head, shimmer into the ether, dissolve into her bones. Her face does not change expression.
Her blows are measured, precise, deadly. She cracks and breaks.
But what is a strong woman against twenty men?
The might of one cannot survive the will of many.
She leaves behind nine bodies.
Hers is the tenth.
They drag her corpse to the center of the village, but all have seen the violence.
They knew what came.
They did not help.
They are cowards.
Her head is removed with nanofiber blades. Shaking hands place it lovingly upon a digital pike. The hands that mounted it touch a hood in three places. It shimmers away. The face of her son shines in the light of the three moons.
It gleams with blood.
“This woman no longer leads you.” His voice is amplified a thousand fold. Howls and screeches sound from the jungle, greeting his bellows.
Heads emerge from huts, one by one.
They stink of fear.
“Worship of the netGODS is outlawed. This woman died for her heresy. But I will spare you.
“I am your God now.
“And I demand apostasy.”
As individuals and groups, the villagers approach.
They tear off necklaces and amulets, shed helmets and gloves. Brother rips implant from brother, mothers wrench wristlets from children.
All is tossed to the dirt.
The men in black glass set a fire.
It burns until morning.
The next day, a red sun rises over a new darkness.
And the villagers wake to serve a jealous god.