Idol of the Birds

Johnathan Wilborn

In a far away land there once was a village which yielded great abundance. Although there was a class system that differentiated people from rich and poor, everyone possessed ample land. Some yielded more natural resources than others. The resources produced from one's own property corresponded to one's wealth. The abundance in one’s land was determined by the favor of the god, Anthros, whose blessings were contingent upon one’s worship. Worship was facilitated by dancing to the songs of birds.

In those days, children had been the primary source of worship as well as the workers of their parents' land. Because of this, many adults sought to have a great number of children so they could receive more labor and yield more from the land. Anthros saw the greed in the hearts of the people, so he forbade the youngest son of every family from losing his virginity to a woman. Because of this, these young men learned to love each other. This angered many of the parents who wished for more grandchildren and could no longer produce for themselves. Anthros grew pleased with his decision, so he made the youngest son of every family an extraordinarily gifted dancer. The fathers of the land built up with rage because Anthros had given their youngest sons' hearts over to dancing rather than field work. So in retaliation, the mothers and fathers of the children built giant machines to do the work of the children when they were dancing. Powered by fire, these farming mills took on the likeness of a tiger covered in gold. The fire was fueled by the burning feathers of the birds which were used to worship Anthros. Unlike regular birds, these birds were made of the leaves, flowers, and twigs of the forest, and were held together by the spirit of Anthros.

The Bishop family was the wealthiest in all the village. The Bishops had the most children, and their children birthed so many more. People rumored that they were the original family that had birthed the entire village. They owned half of the farming land. They did not move like a family but rather mobilized like a single organismfactory. Among the direct descendants of the Bishop line was Joh, the youngest member of the family. Joh was not only a great dancer but he had a zeal for worship. Joh was not only a virgin unto a woman but preferred this. These two traits coupled with the fact that he was a member of Anthros' favorite family to make Anthros favor him more than anyone. Anthros gifted Joh the ability to conjure birds to him as if he were an idol. For whenever he would dance the birds would gather around him and start singing. For this reason, he was known as The Idol of the Birds.

This made Joh stand out to his father, Bruce, and hated by many rival families who wanted to possess the most wealth in the land. See, for many it had only been a rumor. Many people had not seen Joh conjure birds from his movements alone because he worshipped in secret. One day as Joh made his way to the woods, he was spotted by a group of poor young men who labored day and night. They never worshiped and were all forced to take up wives, but none had any children. They could not afford a milling machine so they spent too much time working the fields. Filled with envy, the men devised a plan to cast a net upon Joh and capture him. They hoped to use him to amass birds for their own profit. They quietly followed Joh until they got into the center of the forest. There, Joh removed his clothing and took a deep breath. Upon exhaling he instantly jolted in the air and gracefully landed on one leg. His series of movements were so graceful, poised, and yet flued it was if something had been moving through him. A group of canaries made of white hydrangeas appeared around Joh and sang to the rhythm of his body. While Joh was completely unaware, the group of young men cast their nets upon him. But the nets were soon cast off by a great force emitted from the canaries. They inverted their physical properties of white into black and their light into darkness. The sky tore open with the sound of a zipper and Anthros spoke, "ENVIOUS YOUNG MEN! GREEDY MOTHERS AND FATHERS! BECAUSE YOU HAVE TAKEN WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE AND ARE NEVER SATISFIED, I SHALL SATISFY MYSELF."

After these words, the birds reverted back to their original state, and their flesh began decomposing like dead leaves being torn apart. Immediately, people trembled and broke into hysteria. New law had swept across the land since they could no longer power their machines with birds. In disobedience to Anthros, the parents forced all the youngest males in the family to lay with women in hopes of having more laborers. Upon hearing this decree, Bruce summoned Joh and demanded that he make a child for him to compensate for his own lack of work. Despite the birds' absence Joh still danced daily to Anthros because he was not dead. Joh refused his father's offer, explaining, "Father, I cannot go over the law of Anthros and lose my virginity to a woman." These words upset Bruce greatly because Joh, deep in his heart, knew he would never lay with women. Bruce said, "Boy! If you don't want to work, I will put you to work!" He grabbed Joh by the head and brought him to one of the golden tiger machines, which ran on fire. He turned it on, opened the shaft, and threw Joh in. Inside, however, was nothing short of a miracle, for Joh was not harmed by flame. Antros began speaking to him, "JOH, FEAR NOT, FOR YOU HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL NOT ONLY TO MY LAW BUT YOUR OWN HEART. BECAUSE THE GREED OF YOUR FATHERS HAS SOUGHT TO SUBVERT THE NATURE I HAVE MADE FOR YOU, I SHALL SUBVERT THEM. DANCE AGAIN AND THERE WILL BE BIRDS!"

The next day, Bruce went to open the tiger machine shaft to excavate the ash of Joh's body. Surprisingly, Joh was not there. So he thought that his siblings might have buried him in the forest where he loved to dance. Upon his arrival there, he saw his son Joh alive, dancing in the center of the forest. He was surrounded by all the other greedy parents of the village who took from the land and forced their children into relations. They were all squawking like birds, and some of them had beaks and feathers protruding from all angles of their bodies. One man fell on the ground as sparrows and a crane burst forth from his belly. Bruce felt a scratching in his throat, which soon became the head of an owl pecking through it from the inside out. That day saw the forest covered with guts and blood. After , everyone lived in harmony as greed left the land, and Joh remained The Idol of the Birds.

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