They do not proselytize, those who worship in the cult of Viaremora. They bear no outward sign of their allegiance, gather in no places of worship when sacrificing to their dark goddess.
But they are everywhere. Their high priests hold positions in local government; their flocks work behind glass ticket booths and drive-through windows. They even have agents who handle the luggage at airports.
Potential initiates are often noticed after taking several minutes to decide what to order at a fast-food counter or when answering their cell phone at the front of the line of a busy coffee shop.
When such a promising new acolyte makes themselves known, Viaremora herself visits their dreams and offers them a sumptuous afterlife of utter stasis, stuck in her glowing amber where no thought is required and nothing ever changes.
(There’s also endless reality TV.)
Upon acceptance of the goddess’s offer, initiates are subjected to a five-day vigil at the DMV. If they survive this ordeal, she accepts them into her bosom.
Members then make themselves known to one another by a subtle sign. What happens is this. On a fine morning, on a clear highway road, one of them will pull their automobile alongside the other’s. Each will quickly glance sideways and apply a simultaneous gentle tapping of their brakes, which in turn causes each car’s hood to briefly dip, as though their vehicles are nodding at one another.
Then, with a smile that stays in their eyes but does not quite touch their lips, the cultist in the faster lane will match his vehicle’s speed to that of the cultist in the slower lane, carefully calibrated to exactly five miles under the speed limit.
As the cars pile behind them, as the atmosphere of rage and frustration grows to a boiling point, as horns are honked and fender benders occur, they will perhaps pull out their cell phone and text a random acquaintance or begin doing their makeup in the rearview mirror, slowing down even more.
For the goddess Viaremora feeds upon the frustration of travelers. And every morning, her worshippers ensure she is provided a most gluttonous feast. Every curse, every shout, every pounded dashboard and honked horn is a glorious hymn to their terrible deity.
Eventually, as the highway dips over a hill or turns around a bend, the cultists will quickly exit, allowing the corral of trapped drivers to accelerate, leaving those stuck in the back of the gridlock to wonder just what the hell the delay was?
But the cultists of Viaremora know. They feel the satisfaction of their goddess, who has gorged on the traffickers’ rage like a fat leech and is well satisfied. They wait, as they always do, to get back on the road again. To see their fellow cultists. To pause, smile with their eyes and, ever-so-gently, apply pressure to their brake pedals.
About the author:
Patrick Hurley has recently had fiction published in Factor Four, Deep Magic, Paizo’s Pathfinder, Flame Tree Press, and Abyss & Apex. Patrick is a graduate of the 2017 Taos Toolbox Writer’s Workshop and a member of SFWA. Find out more about his work at www.patrickhurleywrites.com.