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Sects with a Goat

by Luc Reid

"We believe," the man with the missing hand said, "that when the Fragments of God settle each day, one can sometimes be coaxed to settle in a goat. When our priest--that's me--determines that this has happened, we put the goat in the shrine and bring sick and unfortunate people to it so they can bask in its divinity. Then we roast and eat the goat, and the Fragment passes through each of us."

"Well, we don't believe that at all," I said. "You people are crazy."

The priest shrugged. "You think we're crazy, but we spend more time with God than you, so we think you people don't understand God like we do. That's why you keep having accidents."

"We keep having accidents because we've been driven into the mountains by the River People and it's easy to fall down in the mountains when you were raised on farmland. Your people keep having accidents, too. Why is your hand missing?"

"I stole a goat years ago, and the River People cut my hand off."

"Because the goat had a Fragment of God in it?"

"No, because I was hungry."

"And your people made you a priest?"

He shrugged again. "God said it was OK. Would you like a piece of goat?"

I looked at the piece of goat. It was just a dried strip, not very appetizing, but I'd lost my bread on the mountainside on the way to the village, and I hadn't eaten anything since dawn. I took the meat.

"Does it have a Fragment of God in it?"

The priest smiled.

I tore off a bite with my teeth and chewed slowly. Then I noticed that the priest seemed to have two hands now. With the one that had been missing, he gave me a thumbs up.

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