For the people of New Llandudno Colony, the fifth of November was a special night. Every year, the colonists gathered in the town square for a celebration of life and death on Arnor 3. A special stage was erected, a bonfire was lit, and the school orchestra gave a rather wobbly rendition of Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Goat Night, as the festivity was called, was a chance for the colonists to let their hair down. It was marked by singing and dancing, the consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs, and a good deal of mischief and debauchery which went on well into the small hours. But for many the highlight of the evening was the public slaughtering of a goat – an important and time-honoured practice which took place at eight sharp without fail.
The slaughtering of the goat was the tradition around which Goat Night was built. It remembered the very first animal culled by the colonists’ ancestors after their arrival on the planet. The pioneering colonists had faced plague, drought, and a shortage of food during their first year, but they had resolved not to kill any of the livestock until the Autumn so as to ensure they had enough meat to last them through what they new would be a harsh winter. The joy they felt at filling their bellies with hot roasted goat meat was shared by their descendent as they shared the traditional meal.
But the goat had become a symbol of much more than history. Far from remembering starvation, it had come to represent gluttony, greed, the satiation of appetites. It was a banner under which the normally tempered and hard working people of New Llandudno could allow themselves to be wild and free. Goat masks were worn by bare-chested men and women alike, turning the feast into a firelight masquerade ball, and a multitude of sins were both committed and overlooked.
The god Pan was once again being worshipped, thousands of light years from Earth.
That year, however, something was different. The crowd gathered around the main stage, the goat was presented to enthusiastic applause, and the three virgins of the feast readied three bowls with which to catch the blood. The current mayor of New Llandudno – a Mr. Edward P. Biggins – gave a lengthy speech about community and togetherness, after which an anonymous member of the audience commanded him to “kill the fucking goat already!” And he did. At least, he tried to.
The knife slipped through the goat’s throat with ease, blood fountained out, and the three young girls rushed in to fill their bowls, staining their pretty blue frocks with splashes of red. But the goat remained standing and refused to die.
How would you continue this story? What unseen force prevents the goat from dying, and what happens next? Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Written by Mark Ball.