The Well and the Wicked

By: Mathilda Bofinger

In a small distinct village, a well feeds its people. Villagers praise and safeguard the well; it brought them life and sustainability and kept illnesses at bay. Never once had a villager experienced the sting of a drought or the pang of widespread disease. The well’s water was blessed with good temperament and brought tranquility to those who frank from it’s deep springs.

In nearby villages, well-drinkers of a different kind grew ill and green. Their skin akin to fire, it begged to be disposed of; while the whites of their eyes turned a bright green, distorting their vision. Among the affected clans, an inner turmoil grew. Instead of warring with competing villages, they fought internally, destroying their own homes. Dismantling bonds of friendship and love, all in the name of paranoia and their internal epidemic.

The small village caught wind of these events and exalted their deep well. They boasted of it’s impenetrable walls and it’s deep caverns that warded off such plagues. Their well was their holy source of life, above such bacteria and nonsense.

In three days time, their well was poisoned. This virus took flight in the night and had the demonic capability of thriving once all the lights went out. The infectious disease traveled at great speeds and dashed itself down, down, down, into the dark caverns of the villages sacred well.

Three hours after sunrise, the village had fallen ill. People quarreled amongst their families, amongst their allies, amongst strangers. They projected, screamed and at times physically fought one another in search of superiority. No matter how long they fought, or how loud the argument was, none could find satisfaction or fulfillment. Their desire drove them mad, welling up inside them, taking stock in their insecurities.

The only ones who failed to be affected were the babies who drank not from the well, but from their mothers breast. The plague was not spread person to person but only through the simplicity of water. It’s plainness appealed to the creative monster who found the water malleable and easily manipulated.

The abandoned infants, left in a heap, cried at their neglect. Their small, incapable bodies yelped for attention, for nurturing and for the quiet peace of a mother’s embrace.

Their mothers and fathers, distracted by their war, grew forgetful of their children and began to think only of themselves. The wee ones’ crying fell upon deaf ears and blended into the background, becoming as unrecognizable as white noise.

One day, amidst the pillaging, the crying ceased all at once, and the warring people stopped in their tracks. A noise that had come to line their third sense was stripped away, leaving an empty and discernable space. The halt of innocent cries signaled an end. The silence that grew thereafter was deafening, and the negligent villagers realized the extent of their selfishness. The fragility of a pure soul lay lifeless in their hands. Their meaningless destruction was apparent to them now.

The fault of man: selfishness, cowardice, neglect and greed. All these and more welled up inside them and lay putrid and sour. It sat at the bottom of their stomachs and made it ache and contort into knots.

The monster took pleasure in the now green-eyed people’s destruction. He could feel the disgust that they felt for themselves, how they had grown to covet each other’s gift and sought no resolution for their own. He relished in their sins and their faults and from it, grew in both size and power. Having felt his job done and his conscious complete, the wicked beast slithered up the walls of the well and left.

The people, too blind to see the beast for who he really was, lamented at their destruction and let their fires of their ill will burn themselves out.

Clinging to each other, which was all they had left, they gathered near their water source, not yet realizing its source of destruction, but realizing, rather, its source of construction.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Clarity” The Teller May 2019 Issue 6

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