Wayward Scryer

By P.V. Vamsidhar

Harker passes a dead deer on the drive home, which means xe has to pull over and stroke a hand over its stiffened fur and pull out its eyes, because a dead deer on the side of the road is a message from God, and Harker knows how to spot a message. 

Because there’s always a message, is the thing. Harker feels it twisting under xir ribs and ringing in xir ears. Xe kneels down beside the deer, car still running, the grass wet with dew under xir knees, and xe traces the language in the deer’s buckled legs and twisted neck and in the hole in its skull. It’s a pretty deer, this one. Young. Its eyes pop out without any fuss when Harker reaches for them, which is a good sign. 

Harker’s face is clear in the dead glass of the deer’s irises. Sharp-nosed, sharp-eyed, with dark hair feathering out behind xir ears. The message crawls up xir throat, sure as prayersong: GOD LOVES YOU. THE END IS NEAR. EAT A FIG FOR DINNER.

It’s not always so easy to understand. In a more mangled creature there would be more noise, more to parse through, more dried blood sticky on xir fingertips. But this is simple. This is easy. The deer died clean, and God loves Harker because Harker is willing to look and listen and find the messages while xir neighbors continue down the winding street towards home. 

“Thank you,” Harker says softly, squelching the eyes between xir palms. Xe always says thank you. It’s a hard thing to die, even for God, even for an answer to an unspoken question. 

The deer shifts a little. Parts its black lips. It clambers to its feet shaky and unseeing, stale breaths puffing cold against dusk. Harker watches it gather itself, watches it hobble away on trembling spotted legs. It’ll be fine. God’s looking after it. Xe wipes xir hands on xir pant legs and shuffles back towards xir car, a sudden chill spiking down the back of xir neck. 

At home there is a single fig in the fruit basket. It sits among the apples and bananas, shining purple like an omen. Harker cuts it open and reads the love message in its entrails, and it’s a little rotten, but xe doesn’t mind, really, since the texture is better like this anyway. The lights flicker as xe takes a bite, which is a sign of approval. Xe smiles with fruit stuck between xir teeth.

The end doesn’t come that night. There is no rapture or sky cracking down the middle or great divine fire consuming everything in its path. Everything stays the same. After dinner, Harker waits by the window and watches the world keep turning, slow and steady and constant. Something like disappointment, blasphemous and ugly, sits coiled in xir gut and festers there. If not tonight, then when, but—

But it’s fine. Harker doesn’t mind. Xe’ll keep reading the signs until God’s ready to show face.

About the author

P.V. Vamsidhar (any pronouns) is an Indian-American writer currently pursuing a degree in marketing and professional selling. Their work tends to focus heavily on the strange and esoteric and has previously appeared in West Trade Review and Broken Antler Magazine. Find them on both Instagram and Twitter @pvvamsidhar.

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