The wet blanket was tossed over the fire to smother the flame as quickly as possible. Someone was coming, I was sure I heard a footstep crunch toward me from the darkness, and we don’t want to be seen.
We weren’t supposed to be here, see, the land was off limits, private property, only those dying few who had lots of money were allowed in here. A good heart didn’t count for squat among those kind. This land was held and used by The Moneybelts; I heard their ilk were called the something else a long time ago before the awakening, but it’s not important anymore. Now there were still a few private lands of lush forest and majestic mountains, like here, but no one could visit except the last remaining strange ones called The Wealthy.
So we sneak in and commune; we are here to celebrate life within these private velds of green. Instead of hoarding Her energy, we honored and gave offering to Her, our Mother Eairth. Oh, these weren’t the only green spaces, not by far. We’ve come a long way since the time of the Enlightenment when the scales tipped and then fell over to rust, the time of the Change when the majority simply refused to do any more work until all creatures and people were cared for and provided with enough. No, these green spaces still ‘owned’ and gated and isolated by The Moneybelts were few, but desperately in need of ritual cleansing to set free the spirits that lay within, remnants of an ignorant time when people thought bodies were the most important part of Life and so clung to them even in death, afraid to let them go, terrified of letting them return to the Mother as nourishment through transformation.
“I think whoever it was is gone.” Cloud’s whisper reaches my ears in the silence of the woods, carried upon the shadows of the dark moon night.
We pick up our shovels once more and began digging with reverence, casting prayers upon the elements, talking to the ones who were held confined to this space, afraid to leave because of the energies that bound them to their bodies within the vaults guaranteed to last centuries. Striking a hard surface, me and my friends brush the last bit of dirt away gently with our hands and open the lid of the casket. “Mrs. Miller, you’re free,” I whisper, and my sisters join me in an ancient chant. We take her bones and all that is left of her body, placing them within a hemp bag to take back to the funereal pyre built earlier in the night. I feel her sigh of relief caress my cheek upon the current of light cool breeze. Climbing out of the grave, I look across the dark expanse defined by tombstones and giant pine trees that rise tall and thick among the old stone markers barely legible, I see the bushes and ferns spreading themselves wild around the maze of once perfectly aligned burial sites where roots and quakes have shifted and lifted them out of their purchased complacency. Hundreds more to go, one at a time.
While we have the legal right to conduct these acts and rituals of liberation, rights provided by the Council of Elders, this compound and those like it remain heavily monitored by the Old Guard who cling to their archaic ways in spite of all that has been accomplished since the Great Shift, and it is said in hushed tones that they are still willing to kill just to maintain control and a semblance of power over others. They are so few now, they’re no longer a threat to the greater good throughout most of the world. But here, we are careful not to be seen. No one could imagine killing another human these days, or any living creature for that matter, but these people might. So rather than risk it, one of the initiations into becoming a priestess of passing is to slip into the fenced compound and free souls from their prisons. We know our duty and try to stay focused, but every so often one of us lets slip a nervous giggle. Which is what thirteen-year-old girls are prone to do, after all.