Requiem for a Moon Goddess
Editor's Choice
Category: Fiction
Author: Rachvik Arora
Season 6

“If that is God…” I whispered, stepping back, “Who have I been praying to this entire time?”

It was a harsh December winter. The winter my entire family was electrocuted, ordered by the government; and I didn’t know what I was doing in the prayer room in the airport, staring at the oddly twisted cross, engraved with a picture of a nun kneeling to a golden light.
I sat in screaming silence, rubbing my icy hands together and wrapping my shawl closer, my only warmth remaining in this cold world. I looked around the bare white walls, feeling the soft carpet under my legs.
I closed my eyes, , and prayed to the Almighty. The One Above Us All.

I prayed to him to give me strength and show me the path during this catastrophic calamity.
I prayed and kept praying, as I remembered the ecstasies of my family—our happy little spring life.
Miami nights, bathed in silver moonlight. Laughter bubbled over steaming teacups with my aunts. Salty spray kissed my face as I cast a line beside Dad. Rooftops and chilled beers with my brothers, their playful taunts echoing in the twilight.
I remembered. I remembered. It was a good life. A life vibrantly painted, now a bittersweet memory etched in the moonlight.
The memory faded, a door closing on the past, leaving me in the shadowed presence of a desolate, dimly lit prayer room in an airport, flying back home to see my lost loved ones. I sat, praying for a minute, then an hour, then another, maybe a decade, as my eyes poured silent streams of tears like a gentle waterfall.
Crucified on the electric chair, my family perished one by one. The devil’s whispers returned, haunting me in solitude, calling me an empress. I felt as helpless as a newborn calf without its mother.
In a swirling vortex of grief, I knelt in the hushed airport prayer room. Tears streamed down my face as I pleaded with a God who felt distant.
A feeble voice, soft as a pillow, startled me. I met her gaze, the nun’s eyes, serene on the surface, held a storm I couldn’t name. With her hand on my shoulder, her touch felt like a flicker of warmth in my frozen world..
“I am Sister Agnes,” she said, with a plastered-on smile, “May we pray together?” Her voice held a quiet power, a deep faith in a God I yearned for. Sharing a silent prayer, I felt a sliver of hope bloom amidst the desolation.
After an eternity, she spoke. “Forgive my intrusion, sister, but why such desperation in your prayers?” My voice thick with sorrow, revealed the horrifying news. With a heavy heart, I confided in her my solemn resolve to reclaim their beloved bodies from the somber depths of the Huntsville morgue.
“May their souls rest,” Sister Agnes murmured, eyes flickering with a hidden glint. “Tuscaloosa can wait.” she declared, her voice dropping to a hushed whisper, “Fate, calls me to Huntsville. With you.” Her unexpected offer hung heavy, a lifeline in the storm of my grief. I accepted it.
“I am Luna, by the way” I said.

“Luna… it means the moon in Latin doesn’t it?”
I nodded.
As I wrestled with overwhelming grief, a peculiar warmth emanated from Sister Agnes’ touch. A voice, a malevolent whisper unheard by Agnes, slithered into my mind: “Moon Empress… you are close…” I,
A chilling thought slithered through my mind, dismissed as a morbid fantasy born from sorrow.

Sister Agnes clutched my hand, her eyes like hidden knives. The morgue loomed ahead, a grim promise.
The morgue door swung open, revealing seven steel beds draped in identical black shrouds. My breath hitched. The stench of disinfectant couldn’t mask the suffocating weight of loss. As the morticians unzipped the bags, the whispers in my head morphed into a maddening cacophony. Tears streamed down my face as I gazed upon the faces I loved, now cold and forever still. I embraced them all, wailing, remembering all our sweet memories. Our past spring life.
“We will always be there for you Luna,” they all used to say to me, “Our moon. We will hold out our lanterns for you to bring you back home. To protect you.”
Lies. All lies. They lay here now, dead. Dead for their heinous crimes. “Murderers,” I whispered, angry tears welling in my eyes, “Every single one of them,”
“Pardon?” Sister Agnes asked.
“That’s why they are dead,” I snarled, “They are all murderers. They murdered 50 people. 50 people, Agnes! Can you imagine? Will God ever forgive them? Will I ever forgive them?”
“Come, spend the night at my house, we can plan the funeral there, together” she said, gently, “The matter of your family’s fate is now in God’s hands alone. All we can do is hope his judgment is fair.”
I nodded, “We will collect the bodies tomorrow,” I said to the morticians.
Her smile, a lighthouse in the storm, seemed to dim the demonic whispers. Her touch, warm despite the chill, anchored me. “Settled,” she chirped, taking my hand. A single, insidious whisper slithered through the lull: “Trust is a weakness, Moon Empress.”

Darkness settled in the city like a blanket. I laid down, restless, in a bed in Sister Agnes’s house.
My phone suddenly rang. Why would anyone call me this late at night? I thought.
“Luna Spector?” a voice inquired.
“Yes, this is she.”
“This is the St. Bernard’s Morgue. We have some… troubling news about your family, their bodies are missing.” The phone slipped from my grasp, clattering on the nightstand. Panic clawed at my throat. My hands trembled as I banged my head against the pillow in disbelief.
I gazed through the window – Sister Agnes, axe glinting. My gaze plummeted. Mother’s body lay still on a wooden block. The axe swung, a choked gasp escaping me as demonic laughter shattered the night. Sister Agnes, eyes wide, fled. I scrambled to grab my phone, crying and screaming like a little girl. Hands frozen with fear.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t breathe.
A sharp pain struck my head, and everything turned black.
A cold hand clamped over my mouth, stifling the scream that clawed its way up my throat. Sister Agnes, eyes blazing with manic glee, hissed, “He’s here, Moon! Your ascension begins!” Demonic chants filled the air, a chorale of the damned. Terror coiled in my gut, a viper awakening from its slumber.
Through blurry, tear-filled eyes, I saw figures cloaked in black robes and silver masks bowing before me. I was draped in a silver gown, the pristine fabric marred by crimson stains. A macabre queen in a twisted court.
“Moon Empress,” they chanted, the name echoing off the damp walls. My gaze darted upwards, landing on a nauseating tableau. My family, their faces etched with a horrifying serenity, hung suspended from the ceiling, their blood dripping down, a grotesque reverse baptism. “They were good people, Luna,” Agnes said, her voice a low murmur. “But sometimes, even the most faithful must endure hardship to reach a higher purpose. Their sacrifice… it will not be in vain.”
A sudden silence ushered between the robed figures. Sister Agnes gasped and kneeled, “My Lord,” she said, “Blood sacrifice enacted. Moon lineage secured. False accusations painted the Empress’s family as heretics, their deaths fueling the ritual. Fifty of the sacrificed souls stand ready.” The robed figures stood lifeless, their eyes vacant voids, yet a sickly green luminescence pulsed beneath their skin, mocking life. A voice, a seductive caress of sound, slithered into my ear, “Look upon your god, Moon Empress.” A primal fear, cold and sharp, clawed its way up my spine. My hands trembled uncontrollably, and a strangled gasp escaped my lips, forcing me to obey. Slowly, I turned. But instead of a monstrous deity, I saw… emptiness. A swirling vortex of inky blackness pulsed in the center of the room, a nothingness that devoured light and hope. “If that is God…” I whispered, stepping back, “Who have I been praying to this entire time?”
Sister Agnes shrieked “No! This isn’t god, this is our savior!”
Then, from the shadows beyond the vortex, a familiar glow flickered. My breath hitched. Seven figures emerged, their forms shimmering with an ethereal light. My family. In their hands, they each held a lantern, their soft light pushing back the encroaching darkness.
“Luna,” my mother’s voice, a beacon in the storm, “We never left you. We are your light, your guiding stars.” Tears streamed down my face, a mixture of grief and relief. The true enemy, the entity that craved power fueled by blood sacrifice, writhed in the vortex, its form dissolving as the light from the lanterns grew stronger.
With a final, earsplitting shriek, the entity vanished, leaving only the silence of the room and the glow of love that surrounded me.
Distant, a twisted cross lay shattered. A broken memory of a false god.

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