The Casting Of Straws




There were six of them. The air buzzed with resonance as they all chanted in glossolalia, deep in their trance. One of them stepped forward, both fists full of plastic straws, the glow of the barrel fire reflecting off his eyes. To an outsider happening upon the ritual, they are but the homeless trying to make merriment - but witness with your true eyes and you'll see that these six have the heads of moths. The straw was cast unto the flame, and the six ululated. The night suddenly became silent as the grave, as the six stopped their mantra and turned towards one of them. Wordlessly, the one in focus reached into the flames, and picked up a handful of straws, hands unscathed.

"The Moth-that-Was has spoken to me. We have the time, and the place. The fires of uncertainty will be claimed, for the Moth-that-Was."

And with that, the hands opened, and fourteen straws present themselves whole, strange patterns charred on them.
"It's within a compound, held by the ones aligned to the Engineer." One reads aloud.
"Nevada? I haven't been there in ages."
"A moon - oh wait, I get it, we have a month to do this."
"We are to inscribe the runes on something on the site?"
"Something really dangerous, I bet. 'fires of uncertainty' must be."
"We have a way in. Through dreams. We'll need to prepare the rituals for this."

The six scattered in their own directions, just another hobo party breaking up. But they are not what they seem.

One went home to his apartment above a record store, and started writing on pen and paper. It detailed a repeated dream of being trapped inside a concrete box.

Another went home to her family, and they ate dinner together. She informed them that she's having a meeting in Nevada next month.

Another went to a trailer park, and opened a false floor. Underneath lay rifles and shotguns, but he picked up six sturdy wooden rifle stocks, and with cosmoline he drew lines upon lines of runes on them.

Another went back to his part-time convenience store, and did his job for the rest of his shift. Then as he locked the building for the day shift, he prepared a chalk outline of a door in the freezer.

Another slunk under a cardboard tent, and dreamt of a place where the fog is thick. He made his way through it in a winding pattern, eventually homing in on a candle held by another dreamer in the dark.

The last one didn't go straight home, she went to a pay phone and dialled a number fourteen numbers long. She inserts obols instead of quarters, and the dead answered her call.

They were prepared.

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