Shukkinak literary classics

The Story That Must Not Be Told

Melanie Dunstan 1997

I’ve been in here for three days now. I can tell by the sun crossing the gap no bigger than my largest finger, at the top of the wall.

I’m writing in my blood, on scraps from the concealed pocket of my priests’ cloak. I’ve been using the cloak as a blanket, for Zaraphath nights grow cold. My blood isn’t going to matter; for tonight they come with the purple, and then I shall be put to the sacrifice.

For I am the story that must not be told. I am the evidence of corruption in the priesthood. I am the man that worships the female god.

We make a vow to the truth, as priests. Everybody knows that. But what everybody doesn’t know is that the truth we vow to keep is a limited, bigoted nonsense, for it says only ‘Our Truth’ as male priests, not ‘The Whole Truth’. And if one finds a truth elsewhere, like I did, then he is condemned.

And that is the biggest secret of all. I am sure that in the past, there were many of the purest in the priesthood who longed for the opportunity to make the sacrifice to their god. But not any more. And so the high priests, followers of a male god, take the tools of a female god to uphold their twisted truth. They use drugs to make the sacrifices compliant. This I know, for they have drugged me. I have laughed and screamed at the roof of this cell as the drug has raged in my body. I have known what it is like to have no will and to be helpless in my own body. I have known the secret of the sacrifice - that when asked if I give my body willingly, I would have happily, publicly answered ‘yes’. As I will. Tonight. Soon, for the day is waning and I am tired.

Soon will the guards come, and the priests of the purple. They will brush the dye on, as I shiver in my nakedness. They will administer the drug. And somehow in all this, I will give these scraps covertly to my friend in the guards. And he will decide whether to publish them, or to forget them, and me.

I know there are other lands, other peoples. I have heard they do not approve of the sacrifice. I want them to know my story. I want them to stop the charade. Uselessly, I want to live. The priests have called me ‘The Story That Must Not Be Told’. Not my real name, but no matter. Mostly, I want them to be wrong.

- Found in a sealed jar by a midden

Southern Excavation Site C. (Hopple, Senior Archaeologist)