This Town Has Too Many Dark Festivals

In April, there is the Feast of the Black Finch, where a number of townsfolk are strung up in the trees, their limbs bound by a spirals of rook feathers and covered in sweet hazelnut mash, whereupon there they are left to dangle, in the manner of a crucifixion, until throngs of local songbirds come to devour the mash, and in so doing peck incessantly at the flesh and eyes of the hapless participants. It has been said to be highly uncomfortable.

In May, the local children build parade floats in homage to the Lord of Chewing, their dioramas comprised entirely of bubble gum wrappers.

In November, the most disadvantaged members of the community are taken into a winding maze of catacombs beneath the town, where they are draped in red shrouds and their lips sealed shut with the most malodorous masking tape, and this morose procession ends in a massive, lightless cavern, in which the disfigured persons are forced through an arcane and painful transformation ritual that results in the addition of several new limbs, all twitching and bleached white as deep sea fish that have never seen the sun. Then, the procession leaders serve coffee and sweet yam pie (but no one’s masking tape is removed, leading to frequent moans of longing.)

Every forty-third year on the Winter Solstice, as the residents prepare a vast array of pickled beets and canned peaches, an effigy of the titan Iapetus is constructed at the edge of town. The titan is comprised of residents of the town themselves, stripped naked and laboriously stacked on each other’s shoulders, in which position they are bound by dried blackberry brambles and old beeswax, after which the participants howl a cacophony of unholy hymns, a dark ruckus of malicious oratorios, a canticle the likes of which drives sane folk mad, and this song lasts all hours of the day until, just before the onset of night, the titan begins to walk, lumbering with the screams of the townsfolk screeching at its very joints, every movement a crush of the tiny limbs and bones comprised within the beast, and torch-bearers light the way as the titan trudges into the red-blood sunset and to the edge of the fields where the bones of hundreds of their ancestors lay littering the soil, those sad remnants shed off as the titans of past once walked, as though a massive constrictor shedding its scales or a dark star crumbling in hot particles of unknown matter. The townsfolk within the titan dance the dance of the untold ancients; then they head back to town and finish up their Christmas shopping.

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