The acrid scent of blood drifted across the air currents and worked its way into Tepiltzin, reminding him of the night’s work. She had been pretty and young. The scent carried with it the last indicators of fear and panic, lending a not unpleasant afterthought to the rich aroma, and Tepiltzin breathed deep. Her life had gone from her eyes, and her face was still a distorted mask of tears and pain. It was a pity. If only she had known, could understand, what her death had been for. Now, she was silent, and he set to work, allowing her blood to drain into the clay bowls he had set to gather it. He worked quickly, knowing the ins and outs of the human body, where the most important and sacred organs lay. As he worked, he whispered prayers to the gods, made offerings of the various organs and bones. He held Xiuhcoatl, his sacrificial blade and a gift from his father, deftly in his hand, and used it with surgical precision. The process ended minutes after it began; he had found the heart, the last organ and the one most sacred to the gods. He held it high, over his head, and let the blood drip onto his face, a solemn and proper sacrifice complete. This was how Gods were meant to be worshipped; not with meaningless communions and endless litanies of self denial, but with blood and sacrifice. It was a true God who demanded respect, not love. Like Tepiltzin’s father, not the pathetic corpse-god of his mother. The sudden thought of his mother produced an involuntary sneer from Tepiltzin. She had been weak, a catholic high-school student when his father had seduced and impregnated her, a fact she had never forgiven herself, or Tepiltzin, for. She had also been the first person he had sacrificed to his father, on the night of his 16th birthday when his heritage had been revealed. That night still lived in his memory, these 10 years later. The terror, the awe, the thrill were as vivid today as they were then. His blood had come alive then and he had been filled with divine purpose, his path made clear. He was a true son of his father, and would see him restored to his former glory. The Gods had not been honored in too long, and the world about him showed the decay.
Dawn broke, crisp and clear, over the desert of San Simon Az. A Latin man, about 5’6” and handsome, walked out of the cellar of his house into the light, dressed in jeans and a black shirt across which was written AC/DC. He got into his car, an old and Chrysler Concorde and drove off.
He wandered around town for a few hours, running various errands. Town was small, with few people and fewer prospects of continuing Tepiltzin’s work. Besides, too many people had already disappeared from the area, and authorities were on alert. No connection had been made with his earlier work across the southwest, but soon….
His thoughts were interrupted by supermarket cashier, a teenager with severe acne, speaking to him.
“I’m sorry- what did you ask?” Tepiltzin replied, coming to attention.
“Could I just see your driver’s license for a moment? New policy on personal checks,” the cashier asked dully. Tepiltzin handed it over and waited as he entered the information into his register. He handed it back and the register printed a receipt, “Thank you for shopping with us today Mr. Eliseo. Have a good morning.”
He smiled warmly and grabbed his things, but inside he was scowling. Eliseo. Carlos Eliseo. The name his wretch of a mother had given him, the one he had discarded years before. On the way out, he realized too late that one bag had been packed too full. It split along the bottom, and the contents came spilling out. A bottle of red wine vinegar hit the floor and cracked, the crimson liquid spilling out and snaking along the floor, finding the lowest points. Tepiltzin cursed quietly as an employee rushed over to help him and another went to replace his broken bottle. He knelt down to pick of the other items, and his eyes were caught by the liquid, which oozed away from the bleeding bottle and had begun to pool at the foot of a metal display. His eyes tracked upward to read the sign, on which was written:
Tell us your opinion and you could Win!
3 day 2 nights in Los Angeles!
Fill out Customer survey and enter online for your chance to Win!
His face broke into a smile. Yes. Los Angeles was a fine place to begin anew. Tepiltzin knew a portent when he saw one, probably knew them better than most. He gathered his things and walked out without glancing back.
That night, a house in San Simon burned to the ground. The blaze had already consumed most of the structure by the time fire-fighters arrived. The incident was labeled an electric fire- apparently a space heater had been left on near flammable material. The bodies of the two elderly owners of the house were found in bed, burnt to the bone. Nothing else was recovered.
Tepiltzin wandered around his new apartment, setting up the few personal pieces he had saved. The city was alive all around him, fresh with life and blood, pulsing with a heartbeat fit for a God. It was like a beast, this city, breathing, moving, people flowing through its streets like blood through veins, and spewing filth into the air and rivers around it. He reached his bedroom, and pulled the cover from his most prized possession, a gift from his father. A large jagged obsidian slab, polished to mirror sheen, was mounted on the wall in his bedroom. He ran his hand along its surface and felt the power within it. It was a shard of his father’s mirror, a tool of prophecy and power and had served him so well in the past, revealing truth and warning him of pitfalls before they happened. The last few days, however, it had shown him nothing. It lay silent and cold beneath his fingertips, and no ritual had persuaded fate to bestow him a vision. Tonight he would try again but, like all things, it would require blood. He had already found an abandoned warehouse, a place out of the way and remote in the crowded city. It would work perfectly. He would need to transport the mirror there. Now he would need to find a fitting sacrifice. Young and beautiful, and healthy. That was the most important part- healthy. He stepped out of his apartment and walked down the stairs, leaving his building behind. Down the street, a show was letting out of the theatre he had moved in next too. Perfect. It had begun to rain, and Tepiltzin looked at the sky and opened his umbrella.