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The youths shrugged. “Google.”
“And you modern youths, with your modern technology, think you discovered and awoke Tilgoth, am I correct?” They nodded. “Then how did you escape? I know all acolytes in my order, especially the ones skilled enough to bind Tilgoth, and you three certainly are not among them.”
“We don’t know!” another offered. “We were running like hell, with that thing coming up on us yelling FEED ME, and I threw down my backpack so I could run faster! Then it stopped and made all these weird-ass noises, like it was gagging on something, and we just kept running.”
The priest frowned in thought. “What was in there?”
“Spare batteries for my flashlight. A sandwich and a Coke. Some rope.” The kid smirked. “Maybe he got a shower when he opened the Coke. I know it was really shook up.”
“A sandwich.” The priest stared into the distance, long enough for the boys to start fidgeting. “Could it be that simple? Boy, tell me about the sandwich.”
“My name’s Jeff. It was just baloney and Velveeta, with a little mayo.”
“Jeff. You and your friends may take a seat. I must consult some of our most ancient manuscripts. I will have an acolyte bring you meat and drink.”
It took the priest two long hours to find the manuscript he wanted, his aging eyes driving him to concede to the vulgarity of spectacles and a battery-powered flashlight. When he returned to the reception chamber, he found the acolyte glaring askance at the three boys. The wine had made them merry indeed.
He dismissed the acolyte, then turned to the boys. “You three are uncultured, ignorant… and extremely lucky,” he said. “The key to Tilgoth’s destruction has been in our possession for over six thousand years, but you have uncovered it and placed it in our hands this day.” To his amused surprise, the boys stopped snickering and paid attention. “Let me read this passage to you.”
“Sure.” “No prob.” The third yawned, but nodded.
“Hear what was written: In the last days of the land that was called Bochim, where dwelt the abomination Tilgoth, the priest-king Hoat’goth ascended to the throne. In those days, a curse spread across the land, blinding many cattle. So many were blinded, indeed, that the yearly sacrifice to Tilgoth demanded all the remaining breeding stock.
“And so Hoat’goth consulted the priests beneath him, who said ‘demand from the land of Gograh a tribute sufficient for the sacrifice, and if they will not give the tribute, arise and conquer them.’ But these words were not pleasing unto Hoat’goth, and he thought to himself, ‘If Tilgoth could not preserve sufficient cattle, may he share our suffering.’ Seeing that Hoat’goth had determined to do this thing, and would suffer no objection, the priests shut their mouths and said nothing. But one priest raised his voice, saying, ‘do this not, for it will bring down destruction upon us all.’ Then he fled, before Hoat’goth could order him slain.
“Thus, on the day of the sacrifice, Hoat’goth gathered blinded cattle in sufficient number for the sacrifice, and slew them before Tilgoth on the altar. But when Tilgoth ate the impure sacrifice, he vomited upon Hoat’goth, and the vomit dissolved him. Such was the illness brought upon Tilgoth by the blinded cattle, that he rose and vomited across all the land.
“Now when the king of Gograh heard of trouble in Bochim, he arose to plunder what he could. But when he came to Bochim, he found only death and ruin. Only the priest who had spoken true, and fled the wrath of Hoat’goth, remained. He sat upon a stone and told the king of Gograh, ‘The god Tilgoth has cursed this land for three generations, and withdrawn to sleep in the uttermost west. Now slay me, for my purpose is complete. When your descendants see fire in the sky, south to north, then the curse is lifted and they may claim this land as their own.’” He looked at the boys. “Our order followed civilization ever westward, until we found Tilgoth.”
“Whoa,” said Jeff, “a blind cow made him sick? He must have totally puked on a baloney sandwich, then!”
“Oh, I totally know what’ll kill that thing, then!” Jamal piped up. “I’ll tell, but you gotta take us with you.”
“Indeed.” The priest met their grins with a small smile. “It was you who awakened Tilgoth, so it is only fitting that you help with its final destruction.”
“Bring forth the sacrifice,” the priest whispered, and Jamal dug the gallon zip-lock bag out of his backpack. “Now, carefully, boys. Be ready to run, as you did before.”
“You got it,” Jeff replied. They crept forward to the altar, where they had ignorantly sat to take a breather.
“Lay the sacrifice on the altar,” the priest said, “then back away quickly.”
Jamal nodded, opened the bag, and tipped the misshapen ball onto the altar.
As before, Tilgoth awoke quickly, evidenced by the rumbling and hissing they both heard and felt. The priest shouted something in an unknown language, then hustled away to join the boys at what they hoped was a safe distance.
A roar became a retching noise, then a sound that none of them could ever describe. Other sounds, screeching, pounding, vomiting, gasping, followed them up the cave as they ran.
“What was that, anyway?” the priest asked.
“The ultimate weapon for killing a god,” said Jamal. “Spam, rolled in Monsanto genetically-modified grain, all covered in high-fructose corn syrup. My uncle says that would kill just about anything that wasn’t born in Texas.”
The priest chuckled. “The purpose of my order has been fulfilled, and I will soon send the acolytes home. Or perhaps we could become your acolytes. Will you teach us the ways of Google, that we may yet serve?”