[Trigger Warning] The following reading contains potentially distressing information about violence, brutality and sadistic practices. The reader is advised to use their discretion to continue reading.
“For the last time, you don’t have to do this. They will finish the report thoroughly and extensively and you can cross-examine them all you want after they get back here!” said William Jones. He was an anthropologist too, so he knew how dangerous this little expedition was. “Billy, could you not, please?” She said, exasperated. “I have been telling you about Orissa for months now, and what, some sticks and stones will break up our entire operation? We are riding in, with the cavalry, Billy!”. “Sticks and Stones?” William scowls. She pauses, taking a breath. “Look, I’m not stupid alright? I know it’s dangerous, and I’m not trying to discredit them but this is 1854 that we’re in! They’ve rescued almost twelve hundred ‘Meriahs till now. We’re not walking in blind. I’m sorry but we leave for India tomorrow.” William sighs, disapprovingly. “I can come with you, perhaps? I just told Mr. Stockport, I was thinking of taking a vacation anyways.” She smiles instantly, “I already got you a ticket.” He smiles weakly. She hugs him, then says “Everything is going to be wonderful, okay?”.
Lily Jones and her team were on the way to their billet. “Finally you see, ‘Meriah’, the victim, could be male, female, or even a child. The belief of this village here is that the Earth-Goddess’ quench for blood has to be satisfied through the sacrificial ceremony of cutting open parts of people’s heads”. Every single person in the car leaned in at the same time. “So, lads, all we have to do here is take interviews of as many rescued victims as possible, figure out how often they do this and how exactly they perform the ceremony and we can all be back home in a whiff, alright?” Everyone affirmed excitedly.
Sunset was approaching. Just as they were about to cross the plains, one of the wagon’s wheels got ruptured. The wagoner stopped the wain and got right on repairing the flat tire. Everyone got out of the wagon and started wandering. The wagoner yelled something in his native tongue, which no one understood. “Don’t get too close to the forest”, she said. Everyone looked at Lily, as she looked at everyone with a pensive look on her face. They began pacing around, near the wagon, never leaving the sight of the cart driver.
After a while, Lily started talking. “I guess, the reason that our diligent driver had warned us about the forest earlier is, ‘The Panos’ kidnap and supply the victims for the sacrifice from the plains. And they do conduct their transactional businesses in the forests.” Everyone slowly walked towards the wagon. “I mean, it’s not like they do that every day is it, Mrs. Jones?”. “Well, No James, but either way, I believe they only kidnap the locals but it is pretty unfortunate for us that we’ve had this transportation trouble approaching dark,” she says, as she chuckles to herself. “But, have you ever come across any firsthand accounts or journals discussing the abduction of any outsiders, Mrs. Jones?”. There was no reply. Everybody panicked and shouted again, “Mrs. Jones?”. The silence was absolutely harrowing. Everyone, in dismay, started running around the wagon. They looked all around. There was no sign of either the head anthropologist or the wagoner.
It had been just shy of thirteen hours since the wagoner had taken Mrs. Jones hostage. He took her to his meeting with the Head priest of that particular village, whom they call ‘Jani’. He is meeting the driver, regarding the ‘Meriah’ for today’s auspicious sacrificial ritual for the oblation of earthlings to Mother Earth. Mrs. Jones could only get the gist of what they had spoken of but not the exact nuanced literal, as they conversed in a quick-paced manner. The ‘Jani’ was furious at the ‘Panos’ member, for the ‘Meriah’ being so late. The priest had given him multiple bags of various crops and a promise that he’d be given a piece of land by his name.
The Priest’s henchmen took Mrs. Jones from the wagoner’s custody into theirs. They took her into a hut, behind the enormous grandstand where the scarification happens, for the villagers to indulge in the prayers of Mother Earth. The hut was filled with ornaments and other household items used to decorate her. They hit her if she shouted or even cried and tied her legs up and prepared her as the offering to the divine. They rubbed turmeric paste all over her as a part of their custom before sacrificing the being for Mother Earth.
For all her majestic wrath over our nature, may she be appeased with the blood that has been shed in her honor. For all her mystic wisdom, may her will for lives to be sacrificed, be satisfied. Holy Mother Earth shall show some mercy on the world and grant us the sweet release from our pestilence in our purgatory, and lead us to a powerful crop yield. May she bless thy village with beatific rains and profitable harvests and pure harmony upon our village. May the goddess bless you!
The Priest began to shout out chants as the people of the village hummed to a reverberating rhythm, in unison. Once the text on the parchments was over, Lily Jones was escorted to the ‘Meriah’ sacrificial post. There were men and women who tied her to the post and then stood beside it, banging drums, after.
The ‘Jani’ then took the holy axe, covered it in turmeric and other godly decoratives, and went at the first victim in line. He swung the axe, right at the victim’s neck. There was blood all over the victim, the axe, the priest, and on the ground. People ran onto the victim in anticipation of their token from the ritual, being the victim’s blood or a piece of them. The priests cut the victims into many pieces and helped distribute them to all the villagers.
Lily Jones, as she was next in line as one of the victims, was bewildered observing all of this. She couldn’t think of any of the research that she did over the years about this tribe, her husband, or her family. Her brain went blank, with no thoughts, no questions. As they start taking her up to the sacrificial post, it hits her, what is happening to her. It was finally registered to her that she was going to be executed in a few minutes. As she was tied to the post, facing all of the villagers, who were cheering, she started shouting and crying and tried to get her hands untied, as the priest approached her. He kept the sacred axe on her neck. He murmured to himself, a chant, and took a harsh swing to her neck. There was blood everywhere, drenching the land. The crowd cheered on.
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