Oracles. Short Story.

Happy St. Patrick day! Hope everyone has a good day!

I’m not up to much today, just going to have a relaxed one. I always find Paddy’s day can be a bit stressful, town is always packed and it’s a hassle trying to get in and finding somewhere to go. Really you just spend most of the day walking around looking for somewhere that isn’t packed so you can go drinking there and trying not to lose everyone on the way.

I’m also super aware that the above makes me sound old, but it’s not that, it really isn’t. I’m just really lazy and unsociable. Wait. That’s worse. Let’s just go with the getting old thing instead!
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“How are you this morning sweetheart?” Angela walked into the dark room, it stunk of sweat and fever, beneath it was a faintly sweet, spicy aroma. The girl lying on the bed groaned slightly, her skin was coated in a thin sheen of sweat, strands of dark hair clung to her face. Angela gently pulled back the curtains, allowing some light into the room, the girl groaned and rolled away from the light. Angela opened the window slightly and a cool breeze entered. Angela went to the small table, the girls morning tray was already there, carefully she picked up the glass and brought it over. “Here, drink this, it will help” Angela held the girls head up slightly while the girl took slow, careful sips. Even though she knew it was for the greater good it was sometimes hard for Angela to look at the oracles, with their gaunt faces and staring, black eyes. The girl finished the drink and sighed in relief. “Better?”
“Much. I can think again. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. When you’re ready let me know and we’ll go and get you cleaned up.”
“I think I’m ok to stand.” Angela helped the young girl from her bed and together they made their way to the cleaning rooms.

Already the rooms were full of men and women preparing for the day, most of them stood in sprays of water or rested in warm baths while their caretakers scurried around the room. Most caretakers had a few charges to look after, Angela was lucky in that she only had to care for Serena, after all she was the strongest of them all.

Once Serena had bathed she felt almost human, the shakes were mostly gone at this point, though the doses she had been given were just to level her off she was already craving more. That was the worst of it all, the constant need. Once she was dressed in a light cotton robe Serena was brought to her room. “Are there many today?”
“No, they wanted to give you a bit of a rest after last week.”
“Yes, that was a busy one.” Serena frowned, “I feel like I’m on the edge of something, some knowledge. I think maybe I should take the usual doses today, just in case.”
Angela smiled and shook her head, “I’m sorry, I can’t get any more. I will ask though, they may make an exception.”
“Thank you.”
They both knew there would be no exception, there never was. Angela donned the thick, heavy gloves and went to the small cubby, there she removed the small pot of God’s Eye and brought it to the table. Serena removed the lid and instantly the room was filled with the tantalizingly sweet fragrance, the scent of it alone made Angela feel a bit light headed. Serena picked up a good pinch and carefully put it into her mouth. She chewed for a moment, almost moaning as the flavours danced across her tongue, then she swallowed. Angela carefully closed up the pot and put it back into its cupboard which she locked. When Angela turned back Serena was slumped over the table, after a moment she sat up again with a dazed grin. “Oh Angela, it’s so beautiful, you’re surrounded by a golden light. Good things are coming.”
Angela gave her a small, tight smile, “Please don’t do that. I’ve asked you this before.”
Serena’s face dropped, “I’m so sorry, I forgot, it was just so overwhelming. I’m so sorry” tears started to well in her eyes, “Can you ever forgive me?”
Angela smile grew a little more, “of course I do. Always.”

A man entered the room, Angela didn’t look at him, nor did Serena, “I’ll be back to give you your next dose later. Ok? If you need anything, just let Christopher know.” Angela left the room, suppressing a shiver as she passed Christopher. She hated his presence, that dead look on his face. He was one of the blank slates, completely clear of destiny or fate, whose only job was to protect the oracles without distracting from their predictions.

Angela changed the sheets in Serena’s room and opened both the window and the curtains wider to clear out some of the smell. The girl didn’t have much longer left, maybe a year if she was lucky, then the God’s Eye would finally destroy her mind. Addictive and destructive, seeing the future required a price to be paid and that price was life. People came from all over the world to talk to the oracles, where else could they find a direct line to the gods? When she had first started working at the House of Destiny she believed that it was all done for the greater good, but after ten years she saw what it really was, a machine that would chew up young boys and girls and spit out their corpses. Not everyone was blessed with the second sight, but the only way to truly access it was through the God’s Eye, without it predictions were vague and almost useless, but with it everything was clear.

Angela half walked, half carried Serena towards her room, Serena was giggling to herself as she stumbled down the hall. Angela carefully tucked her into her bed and smoothed some hair from her forehead. “You have a good nights sleep, rest and I’ll see you in the morning.” Serena’s hand shot out and grabbed Angela’s, “Stay with me until I fall asleep, please.” Angela sat on the edge of the bed and smiled down at her, “of course sweetheart, I won’t go anywhere if you don’t want me to.” As Angela watched Serena’s breathing slowed, her chest rising and falling softly, carefully Angela let go of her hand and snuck out of the room, gently closing the door behind herself.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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