Fungal Halo

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The Decay Of Neglect

Something has changed in this temple, and I am afraid.

My sister-priestesses, even some who have proven themselves devout and fastidious caretakers, have been noticeably neglecting their duties.

And the mold creeping in seems to return as quickly as we clean it off.

I confide my worries to friends, and they too are afraid…until the day comes one of them is suddenly not afraid. Then another. And another.

Eventually I find all my sisters I am closest to are among those shirking their duties, and the way they lay hands on each other…

When the change comes over each of them, I can see it: something indescribable behind their eyes. It’s like a private joke I am not in on. I find no humor in it.

The eyes…I keep trying to pinpoint what it is inside them. I can’t stop thinking about the look they give me.

At night, when all should be quiet and still, I hear distant voices. They are singing, I think, but it is no song I recognize, and there is no ritual we are meant to perform in service to our goddess that would take place away from the light of day.

Each day fewer priestesses kneel at prayer times. Duties go unperformed with increasing regularity.

The High Priestess should be taking action, but I see the same look in her eyes now when she appears.

And mold continues to spread into even the public areas of the temple.

My sisters no longer hide their blasphemous behavior. I see the way they touch each other in the halls.

At prayer times I hear more lustful moans than solemn prayers, and though I avert my eyes, my sinful mind paints images other than the blessed face of our goddess.

Today I find myself arrested by the sight of two priestesses locked in a carnal embrace. I have been desperately doing my best to ignore them, but what I am seeing now shocks me deeply.

I am disturbed to see one of my sisters hand-feeding to another mold scraped from the wall. Her fingers push the small scrapings past the eager, parted lips of the other, whose desperate sucking suggests a profound hunger.

They turn and smile at me, mouths stained with mold.

Every night the song becomes a little louder. Part of me screams that I should run. I should flee whatever is happening here before it takes me too.

But I could never abandon my temple. The priestesses here are the only love I’ve ever known.

So one night I seek out the song.

I walk through the halls, making any turn that brings its sound ringing louder in my ears. I don’t know what I expect to find, but I allow my faith in the goddess to give me confidence I can handle it.

The mold grows thicker with each step as I pursue the sound.

I find them. In the deepest, most sacred room in this, the goddess’s greatest temple, I find the heart of sin.

The song sounded like it had far more voices than the small gathering here, but this mold-carpeted sanctuary is undoubtedly the source.

She turns around, and…

Her eyes. Iridescent swirls on polished midnight greet me. I hear the song in her eyes.

She is the thing in my sisters’ eyes. She is The Song.

“We have been waiting for you, my precious, devout sister-priestess of our neglectful goddess. She never deserved such loyalty.”

When she speaks—her lips and tongue glossy black like a pure, fresh droplet of ink on the tip of a pen—she is impossible to ignore. She approaches, and with a kiss she writes the lyrics of her song on my soul. In an instant, I finally understand her. I understand everything.

My mind opens to my sisters, the former priestesses who now welcome me into a new sisterhood with hands and tongues.

We are of one mind. I feel all our bodies pressing on one another. We are growing, becoming something greater than our absentee goddess.

With touch and song and pleasure and decay we declare ourselves beyond her desires for purity and cleanliness.

We build our power in opposition to her. We will expand our minds and our bodies to the others. All the others.

The other priestesses too will be taken. Doing so will bring us such joy, and becoming us will make them share in our joy.

Something has changed in this temple, and we are only getting started.