Write at the Merge: Kaylein’s Sacrifice

This story was written for a Write at the Merge prompt. The prompt was to use either the above  picture and/or the following quote:

“It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.” —Ayn Rand

Kaylein stood before the elders, straight and tall. Her face looked confident, but she was terrified. She’d gotten the news last night after Asher brought her home. She touched her lips; they still tingled from his kisses.

She cleared her voice and asked, “Why was I called? It’s not my turn.”

“Malkyn broke her leg. You’re next,” said the chubby elder with a pockmarked face.

“But I’m only sixteen. You have to be seventeen.” Kaylein knew the rules. It was her life at stake.

“You are ready. Remember, this is what you’ve trained for – to save us. Your people depend on our care.” It was the elder with the long braided beard. He gave her a nasty look.

Kaylein bristled. How dare he speak to her like that? Her eyes glowed red, making the elder look away. Her point made, she said, “What if I refuse? I have that right.”

“You have that right, but this is your people’s promise.” Marjole was the elder who trained Kaylein. Her soft voice spoke to Kaylein’s honor.

Kaylein bowed and nodded her acceptance to the elders.

Now, huddled on a wooden bench, she was to dance for the creature. Her feet ached in the satin slippers disguising them. But she couldn’t rub them. Kaylein had no arms or hands. Her people were born with malformations. Some were severe.  She was one of the lucky ones.

“I can’t do this. I’m not ready to die.” She pleaded with Marjol, who was allowed to mind-speak with Kaylein.

“If you don’t, they will die and your people with them.” Marjol’s voice was sad, but determined.

“I don’t care. This isn’t fair.” Angry tears spilled down Kaylein’s cheeks.

“Think of the children, then.” Marjol’s voice faded as heavy footsteps thudded outside.

The door flew open. The creature’s musky scent filled the room. Kaylein cringed seeing his sharp teeth, glistening with fresh blood.

His beady eyes reflected disgust; he believed she was weak and deformed. Sprawling on a cushion by the fire, he lifted a hairy finger and made a circle with his long dirty fingernail. Kaylein hesitated.

“Dance! I need sleep,” screamed the creature.

She studied him. That was when she saw it: A piece of bloodied pink cloth stuck in his filthy beard. It matched four-year-old Adrianna’s dress. He’d found the children. Hot rage filled Kaylein.

She began to dance. When his eyelids drifted down, she danced closer. When he began to snore, she started to spin. Her feet moved faster and faster until she was high in the air, hovering just above his sleeping head.

Her shoes burst, freeing her flexible feet and long toes. They wrapped themselves around the creature’s neck and squeezed. He fought, but Kaylein was too strong. She held on until she heard the crunch of his broken neck. The creature was dead.

Kaylein fell. As she lay dying, she heard the children laughing and Marjol whisper, “We honor your sacrifice.”

*     *     *     *     *

This story was partly inspired by the following video of two amazing dancers.




33 comments on “Write at the Merge: Kaylein’s Sacrifice

  1. “The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”

    I like how you’ve used this part of the quote both literally and in its inversion.

    • Sara says:

      @ Write on Edge — Thanks. It was an excellent and fun prompt. You gave us to plenty to consider. I’m really enjoying your prompts and your writing at Write on Edge:~)

  2. angela says:

    What a reminder that those who speak of sacrifice are so seldom the ones making the difficult decisions. Your imagery and emotion were really powerful here.

    • Sara says:

      @ Angela — This was a challenge for me. You know how it is, sometimes the story writes itself and sometimes you have to do a lot of sweating to get it come together. I loved the prompt and really wanted to write something more on the Fantasy side.

      Thanks for reading the story and for your comment:~)

  3. Talon says:

    What an awesome read, Sara. You have a sure deft hand and I loved it.

  4. Alien Ghost says:

    Hey Sara,

    As always, you have such a powerful writing! I did get emotional after reading this story; or maybe this one brought many memories of the dictatorship in my country while I was growing (from 11 to 27 years old).

    I saw that video long time ago and I believe it makes you cry by the amazing dancers in their particular situation, and also makes you feel guilty of the laziness of the one that has it all and still complains!


    • Sara says:

      @ Alien Ghost — Thanks for you kind words about the writing. Growing up in a country with a dictator can’t be easy. There’s so much fear and uncertainty.

      Regarding the video, I found an even more amazing one of a young girl (16) who lost her arms and her legs, yet danced. She even danced at NYC’s prestigious Juilliard school. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a YouTube video and so I couldn’t get to work at my site, but here’s the link: http://abcnews.go.com/US/video?id=8246927 It really is worth watching. She’s amazing!

      • Alien Ghost says:

        Hi Sara,

        I just watched the video. This girl is really amazing! But perhaps what impresses me the most is how she keeps such a positive attitude where most people would consider their lives over. She is truly an example to us all!

        Thank you for sharing this video with us :)


        • Sara says:

          @ Alien Ghost — I don’t know who said this, but this what’s to mind for me when I see that video. “Never underestimate the human ability to overcome adversity.” Those dancers prove as do so many of the people we call “handicapped,” when many of them are stronger and more determined they’ll ever be. They’ve learned not to give up.

  5. Annabelle says:

    Wow, there’s so much here, I’d love to know more. You make us feel the unfairness here so sharply.

  6. suZen says:

    Hi Sara,
    Something tells me you don’t really “prompts”! Again, a riveting story! :)

  7. Sara says:

    To all my regular reader (and everyone else):

    I have an announcement: Ellis is back! Check out his new post at: http://desk49.blogspot.com/2013/02/whistle.html

    It’s definitely worth the read. I read it out loud and it was funny and touching.

  8. jean sampson says:

    Sara, you are such an engaging writer! And the video was beautiful and amazing. The young woman had a huge task to balance without her other arm—-and she made it look so effortless! And you make the writing look effortless, too, although I know how hard it is to do the things you are doing with your writing now! Brava!!!

    • Sara says:

      @ Jean — I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. This was a difficult write, but I was pleased with in the end.

      The video is amazing, isn’t it? Thanks for the read and your nice comment:~)

  9. powerful read and video…made me feel concerned with how often I do not extend myself – the Rand quote is all about dualism…as are the dancers with their own bodies…

    sacrifice and master – wow
    Thank you for sharing this – we are all getting deeper in our winter reveres and contemplations?

    • Sara says:

      @ Patricia — Yes, we are getting deeper. I’ve been enjoying your post about the things you’re learning about yourself.

      As always, I do appreciate you reading this story. I love to write and it’s nice when a story works out!

  10. desk49 says:

    One tends to tell you how to
    sacrifice yourself easier and quicker,
    then their willing to show you.

    No no you first then I’ll follow.

  11. Ms M. says:

    I was on the edge of my seat when she was dancing. You really built suspense in this piece and particularly striking was this line:
    he believed she was weak and deformed.

    It conveys so much in one sentence and foretells what may happen.

    • Sara says:

      @ Ms M. — Thank you. Yes, it was the creature’s mistake to think Kaylein was weak.

      I really appreciate your read of this story and your comment.

  12. Valerie says:

    Powerful story, Sara! This truly embodies selfless sacrifice. I love stories about women who triumph under adversity, and the fact that Kaylein made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so is so very heartbreaking- but inspiring too! As always, well done!!

    • Sara says:

      @ Valerie — Sacrifice is a difficult subject. It makes me think of all the people who have chosen to give up their lives for something they believed in — like freedom against oppression. I once read about three young people in Germany who passed out information about Nazi activities and the dangers. They were in their twenties and warned against continuing, but refused to stop. They ended up being executed. It was sad, but I had to admire their tenacity to inform and let people know what was happening.

      Well, enough of that. Thank you very much for your comment.

  13. Patty says:

    This is so edgy and moving at the same time, Sara. I was feeling a bit nervous as I read it. You have a true gift for calling forth feelings with your writing.

    • Sara says:

      @ Patty — Thank you very much. I do love writing. I’ve done it all my life. Every job I ever had involved writing in some major way. It’s kind of strange.

      Thank you for the read and you very nice comment:~)

  14. Dancing for the demon as a sacrifice is something that we hear alot but you made it sound so new and different!

    • Sara says:

      @ Habiba Danyal — Thank you. I wanted to write something different for this prompt. It’s nice that you read it that way.

      I appreciate your nice words.

  15. Linda says:

    Sara, a fascinating and riveting story. Kaylein was stronger than she knew. I did not realize until the end that she was being sacrificed. Her sacrifice was not in vain, though. Sorry I’ve been absent lately – the challenge is very consuming.

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — I’ve noticed that the challenge is rather consuming. Writing something interesting every day is difficult, but you’ve done a wonderful job of doing this. Pretty soon, you’ll have to join Hilary in the A to Z challenge. OMG that one is also an exhausting blogging experience.

      Seriously, I’ve really enjoyed your writings and stories!

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