Prophet

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       I haven’t done anything to you.
       The crowd roars, screaming for blood. Somewhere a clay pot shatters and a baby cries. Dogs howl, and the force of a thousand pattering feet shakes the ground like an unsteady heartbeat.
       What have I done wrong? Why have you forsaken me?
       The guards prod me with the blunt end of their spears, and I stumble forward, gritting my teeth as I fall painfully on my chained, bruised, numbed feet. My hands too are chained behind me, and they’re a faint blue, pale with lack of circulation. The only thing I feel is a painful throb throb throbbing in my neck.
       I was going to save you. I was going to save all of you.
       The guards roughly shove me into the sandy pit of the amphitheatre, and I lay there, panting and sweating heavily. There are two others here, one to my right, and one to my left.
      I never showed you anything but kindness. Even when I was beaten, stoned, exiled, rebuked, starved, thrown in prison, poisoned, drowned, I never bore any ill will toward any of you.
      I’m hoisted back up by the guards, who spit at the ground. Hired servants scurry back and forth, piling hay, straw, bits of wood, anything they can burn, into the center. I gaze wearily, unable to do anything else.
      So why?
      The guards sit down and sharpen three stakes - one for me, and one for each of my unwilling companions.
      Why?
      They drive the stakes into the ground. They walk over to me, cursing in a foreign tongue.
      Why?!
      They unlock my chains. I stare at them. One of them mimes running, but the other laughs. They know I can’t run.
      I’m sorry, Lord. I couldn’t carry out your promise.
      They drag me and the others to the stakes and we’re tied there with braided leather, like animals.
      If only I could proclaim your name one last time…
      My stomach turns as the crowd floods in, filling all the seats, the floor, and the doorways. My eyes blur. The servants come with three torches.
      It’s been a good life.
      They light the center. The crowd cheers. Someone from the audience throws a bucket of… something. I see my reflection in it before it falls, dousing the pile. It burns even faster.
      I’m glad I have no family. Then there would be mourning, and crying, and regret, and anger. It’s better this way. To go out quietly, with no one to mind. I’m a firefly - a short spectacle, not meant to last.
      I sigh. I feel the heat, tickling my feet. The blaze seems to smile at me, hinting at what it so longed to do: burn.
      I submit to you now all that I have. It is time to say goodbye.
      The ones to my left and my right are screaming, but I am calm, even as the heat devours me, turning me into ash.
      From dust you came, to dust you return.
      I see a light. Someone smiling. I reach out and






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