Wedding Night, by Bruce Priddy
This is my wedding night. I can hardly believe it has finally come, having heard about it for so long, every day far back as I can remember. And probably even further than that. Each night before bed, mama would brush my hair, and tell me how I came to be the chosen of Magna Mater, to be a mother to sacred abominations. I was only a few months old when it happened. Mama crept into my nursery for a late-night feeding to find the Great Mother standing over my crib, Her womanhood fragrant, Her manhood engorged. The Great Mother bent down and touched her spiraling, thorned, nanny-goat horns to Mama’s forehead. Mama was struck with a vision of me, the grown-up me, and my husband rutting, our marriage consummated.
The next morning, mama took me up the mountain to the church. I was laid out on the altar, and the preacher split open a goat-kid over me. The way the blood and offal ran down, pooled around me told the preacher when I would be ripe and strong enough for marriage to a Yeohah.
Twenty-one years, four months and six days later, I stand at that altar, mama beside me, before the entire congregation. Every member has come to the mountain to be witness. My body shakes with a nervous excitement. Beneath a figure of Our Mother stuffed and stitched together from goat, man and woman parts, the preacher gives a sermon. He calls the true name of the Magna Mater and the congregation chants it back in response.
The rest of the sermon is lost to me. My ears feel like they are stuffed with cotton. A cloud hangs across my eyes. The world has become a dream. I was too excited to sleep last night, despite mama’s scolding that I needed my rest. “Your husband ain’t gonna let his bride sleep after the wedding,” she said.
A yawn works its way out of me. I do poor hiding it. Mama nudges me. “Manners, young lady. These are sacred proceedings.”
Preacher dabs my brow with something wet. He smears it down my nose to my chin, then across my lips, corner to corner. A coppery rank wakes me. “We reject the weak, dying god of man,” preacher says. “With the offering of this womb we embrace Magna Mater, Our Mother Who Fell to Earth.”
“She shall be a mother to abominations!” the congregation says.
Preacher raises his arms to the image of Our Mother above. “May she birth Shaggath! May she birth Yeahoh!”
The congregation responds, “She shall be a mother to abominations!” Some fall from their pews to the floor, the spirit of The-Mother-Our-God inside them. They convulse and cry out in Her voice, Her sacred language.
“Follow us then, brothers and sisters in Our Mother,” preacher says. “Follow us and be fruitful before Her as we commit this womb to Her!”
Mama and preacher grab me beneath each arm and carry me down the aisle. The congregation spills into the aisle behind us, skipping, swaying, whirling.
Mama and preacher lead me from the church to the fallow pit behind. Eight-seven years ago Our Mother ejaculated her fiery seed from the sky, blasted the mountain-top bald. Yeahoh and Shaggath came to worship at the crater and teach us about Our Mother. The orgasmic truths learned in the pit built the new church on the burnt timbers of the old.
A horned moon lights the heavens above the crater. At the center, sacred virgins awaiting their own wedding nights have prepared a fire. I am carried to the pyre. Mama and preacher help the virgins undress me, paint the sacred signs of Our Mother, signs fertility and want, upon my hips, belly, breasts. As we await the arrival of my husband, the congregation cavorts and couples, careless of gender or marriage. Nine months from now, as the first Shaggath and Yeohah crawl from me, dozens of members shall be born to our church.
I have yet to meet my husband-to-be. But I like to pretend I did, once.
It was a couple years ago, on MaryAnn Lee’s wedding night. Being a sacred virgin, I could not partake in the celebrations after MaryAnn’s husband carried her off to consummate their marriage. I walked back to the church, to sleep on a pew among the other chosen. Billy Howe found me. Lust made him forget the laws of our faith. During our most blessed rites he sought to blaspheme before Our Mother. By the hair he dragged me through the congregation. I kicked and begged for their help. They were too consumed by writhing, screaming pleasure to notice. Billy smashed my face into the crater’s blackened dirt, pinned me under his fat. I mewled prayers into the Earth, pleading for Magna Mater’s forgiveness.
Before Billy could defile me, his weight vanished. I rolled to my back, ready to defend my purity. In the light of a pregnant moon and the bonfire I saw a Yeohah over me. It stood like a man but was a head-taller than the biggest person I knew. A thick jaw was closed on Billy’s throat. Framed by a hairless man-like face, rage smoked in the Yeohah’s beastly eyes. Blood streamed down his neck and chest, mixing with his mossy-brown fur. A thick male musk hung to creature, both churning my belly, and summoning the most terrible, wonderful desires in me.
He took Billy from his jaws, held him by the head. On claws hooked in his scalp, Billy hung limp. Blood still gushed from him. The desiccated soil lapped up what fell to the ground, accepting Billy’s penance for his sacrilege. I stood, reached out to my savior, to run a hand through his coarse, matted fur. Beneath my touch, his chest was a hard fire.
The Yeohah lowered his face to mine. Hot breath stinking of Billy’s blood washed over me. Every part of me raised towards him. For a moment, the animal fury in his eyes was replaced with familiarity. If I had not been chosen of Our Mother, I would have had him right there. The Yeohah knew this. He turned and gone, dragging Billy with him into the forest.
Billy’s body was found a couple days later, nailed by thorns to a tree. His ribs were spread open like wings and his belly emptied. The scurrying creatures of the forest had picked most of him away.
In my most private moments, alone in bed at night, away from mama’s constant attention, I think about that Yeohah. I hope he is my husband.
I’ll find out soon. The trees have gathered at the edge of the crater. They stamp their hooved roots and wave their ropy branches, looking as if they could pull down the moon. They sing to Our Mother, green, glistening sap running from their knot-hole mouths. “SHEUB-NUG-RATH! SHEUB-NUG-RATH!”
The Yeohah, all of them, emerge from between the trees. This is it. I reach for mama’s hand but she’s gone. Beside me, her and preacher have been overtaken by the festivities. I blow her a kiss and whisper my goodbyes as my husband walks down the slope of the crater and into the firelight. I recognize that mossy-brown fur.
He scoops me up, slinging me over his shoulder. There is no gentleness in his touch. As he carries me away, I bury my face into his coarse fur, inhaling his husband in.
I will be a mother to abominations.
Bruce Priddy’s fiction work has been published in the Lovecraft eZine, the Stoker-award nominated anthology “Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations” and the upcoming anthology “Edge of Sundown.
Posted on January 20, 2014, in Issue 12: The Shadows Only Hide the Monsters: Poe & Lovecraft Tribute and tagged e-zine, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, horror, monsters, short stories, The Were-Traveler, Tribute. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.