Saturday morning arrived. Rose approached the book store, wondering if God Slayer remembered he promised to tell his story. She noticed a small group of people around the store, including her father. Quietly, she moved through the crowd to the door. Seeing the open sign, she pushed open the door. The beep alerted the people standing around. It must have been the signal they wanted because the crowd surged into the store behind her.
“Rose,” her father said taking her hand, “you should not be here.”
“But he promised to tell me about his tattoo,” she protested, loudly into the silence.
A gentleman with black hair, turned looking at her, “What did you say?” he demanded.
Shrinking against her father she whispered barely loud enough to be heard, “He said he would tell me his tale.”
Before the man could respond, John Smith stepped in from the back room, saying calmly, “So I did.” He smiled at Rose. “I also agreed to tell my tale to all who would like to listen.”
Lifting his blue eyes to the crowd, he motioned towards the back of the store, “I have chairs set up back here. Why don’t we have a seat and I’ll begin?”
Rose’s father started to pull Rose towards the door, “I still think you should not be here, Rose.”
“Sir,” the old man said, laying a hand on Rose’s shoulder, “please let her stay. She was the only one who had the courage to ask the question everyone wanted to know.”
Seeing the worry still in her father’s brown eyes, he assured, “Nothing in my tale will hurt her. Please stay.”
Nodding Rose’s father agreed and allowed Rose to lead them to the back of the store. Finding two empty seats they sat and watched as John Smith settled into a comfortable chair at the front. After a quiet moment, he spoke, his voice calm, but with a trace of sadness.
“In my youth, gods roamed the earth.”
“Impossible,” the black-haired man spoke, “Gods don’t exist.”
“Now they don’t,” John Smith agreed, “and I will tell you why, but you must allow me to speak.” He waited until the other man nodded before continuing.
“Gods roamed the earth. Some helped, some punished, some built, some destroyed. Each had their own purpose.” He shook his sadly, “I thought the gods useless, just around to create chaos, especially after my parents died.”
“Before I became God Slayer, I lived on a farm with my parents. Kind, sweet people that loved me and I loved them. Unfortunately, the year I turned 10, my parents boarded a riverboat to go to a city for supplies we needed on our farm. While traveling, the storm god created a storm, and their boat sunk, killing my parents.”
“When the news reached my town, the family who watched me gave me to my father’s brother. A cruel man, he delighted in beating me.”
Rose gasped, “But why?”
Smiling sadly at the distress in the little girl’s voice he answered, “Times were different. People did not consider children treasures. Many considered them burdens, as my uncle did.”
“Well, as I grew I blamed the storm god for putting me in this horrible situation. I vowed to kill him, so I trained to kill. I became one of the greatest fighters by the time I reached adulthood.”
“All around me, I only witnessed the pain from the gods’ careless actions. If I killed the storm god, then I would go after the others, I thought to myself. I considered myself a hero.” He laughed sadly, “I didn’t realize I was the villain.”
The crowd of adults and one little girl sat forward listening intently as John Smith continued almost talking to himself. “Anyways, I tracked down the storm god and despite all my training and anger, he defeated me. Well, I became madder and began hunting how to kill a god.”
“I searched for years, traveling all over the world. Finally, in one small town, I found the answer. In an obscure book, one paragraph explained that gods came into existence through faith, belief in them. They could be destroyed by forgetting.”
“It would easy to slay a god. I just had to stop people from remembering them. I went from town to town, city to city, preaching about how forgetting the gods would make life better. Those my age agreed with me and some started their own campaigns.”
“While I preached forgetfulness, I took all the factual books about the gods, until the only fiction stories mentioned gods. People started forgetting, and when the first god died, I received my tattoo. But I still didn’t stop.”
“I had decided to continue until after all the gods had died. It took years, but I did it. I erased them. I became God Slayer.” He stopped talking and the people shifted in their seats as if to leave. They figured he had finished.
“Wait, please,” he asked weakly, “I still have more to say.”
Curious, they townspeople quieted as John spoke again, his voice stronger.
“Years had passed. I thought I had finished destroying the gods. I had become the God Slayer. No one remembered them except me, but I chose not to believe in them. Then one day a woman entered my house. Beautiful to look upon, I realized the goddess of love had come to visit me.”
“I am the last of the gods,” she told me. “Do you realize what you have done?”
“What I have done?” I boasted, “I have stopped the gods from wreaking havoc.”
“No,” she whispered sadly, “you have destroyed life. Each god helped keep the world from being destroyed. We have protected you, but no longer can we protect you.” She touched my head with a sad smile and continued, “I bless you to see the destruction. You will live until you are the last on this earth and then watch the devourer come. You will see what your actions have achieved.”
“In my head, I could see this devourer she mentioned and the battle the gods had raged against it. I saw how the devourer moved forward with each god’s disappearance.”
Wrenching away from her hand and what I saw, I begged her, “Can we stop it?”
“That is up to you,” she said as I watched her start fading.
“No!” I cried then uttered words, I never thought I would utter, “I believe.” She stopped faded but I could see through her. “What do I do?” I pleaded.
“Help people believe,” she answered. “The gods must return if the world is to survive.”
“I’ll make them believe,” I vowed.
But she shook her head sadly, “No you must only convince them.”
“But how?” I asked.
“God Slayer,” she said, “That you must learn for yourself.” Then she left, the only god barely alive. Sleeping my dreams filled with this devourer monster. In the daytime, I tried to convince people to remember the gods, but it did not work. Again I turned to books and it occurred me.”
“People needed to see books written about the gods. I spent years carefully copying each book thousands of times. Now I travel town to town, city to city, opening bookstores, hoping to tell my tale, and remind people of the gods.”
Sadly he ended, “One day I hope enough people will believe as I do and the gods will return. Then maybe we will be safe.”
Looking up he met the eyes of every person in the room. “Please take whatever book you wish and learn of the gods and believe. Please help me spread this word.”