The Tear of the Goddess
When the Mother of Reality saw her creation fall under moral decay, she wept a thousand tears of grief and sorrow.
‘The Soul of the World has fallen cold,’ concluded the Mother, ‘and beings no longer care for one another...’
She wept and wept – an age and a day – and one of her tears fell beyond the fabric of reality, in Non-Existence. The Alarian people retrieved reality’s tear and gave it a place of both fear and reverence, for it had miraculous properties beyond simple comprehension.
And like any decent artefacts of mysterious origin and unimaginable power, it was reduced to nothing more than a cheap trinket used for mindless entertainment.
‘Step right up, Ladyships and Gents, and witness the Tear of the Goddess,’ called Selmore, the merchant of crunchy chickpeas to whoever was listening (in this case, a visibly-unenthusiastic crowd consisting of unattended children, senior citizens and people with running-away disabilities). ‘Step right up and witness the wonder – the mysterious artefact, unbound by cosmic laws–‘
‘Mister, o mister!’
Someone pulled Selmore the merchant’s sleeve. He turned.
A tiny boy with orange air and an incalculable number of freckles was tugging hard at his sleeve.
‘Mister Selmooooooore, o meeeeeeeeester Sel—’
‘—bugger off, kid! Tryin’ to make a livin’ here!’
‘But Mister Selmore, sir—’ the boy insisted.
‘I ain’t givin’ you free crunchy chickpeas, alright?’
‘No, I just wanted—’
‘Look, if you need the bathroom, just get your pa—’
‘You’d wanna hear about this—’
Selmore the merchant shook his head in desperation. ‘Kid, d’you even know what the Tear of the Goddess does? It taps into the hidden dimension of Subexistence – a reality that contains the discarded outcomes of all other realities, combined – and it summons the absolute worst possible reality a person can experience—’
The kid rolled his eyes. ‘It’s just that your—’
‘The Tear of the Goddess summons the worst fear of your life, kid!’ Selmore held up a chickpea-stained hand, trying to look impressive. ‘It pulls down the pants of history, and rewrites your life’s story in the most disturbingly gruesome and embarrassing way imaginable!’
‘Speaking of embarrassing—’
‘Why am I even talking to a penniless little— You’re only costing me customers!‘ Selmore said reflexively, waving a box of crunchy chickpeas under the boy’s many-freckled nose. ‘Get outta here, kid! Back to school his instant!’
‘Suit yourself,’ said the boy and ran off to his mother and father.
Selmore the merchant continued his sales pitch at the top of his voice. The crowds parted like the Red Sea of Moses, allowing him passage. As he passed, bystanders averted their eyes, their transitory faces reflecting various degrees of revulsion. By the souk, a lonely mother struggled to cover her children’s eyes, all the six pairs of them, best she could. An old woman adjusted her monocle and stopped to gawk.
‘Crunchy Chickpeas! Step right up and witness the wonder – ’scuse me grandma, coming through – and witness the bringer of nightmares, the fuel of fears, the Tear of the Goddess—’
Selmore the merchant pushed through, unaware that in all his entrepreneurial enthusiasm, he had forgotten to wear pants – or shorts for what mattered – and that the look he was getting was more than the regular look of disinterest in his merchandise.
Somewhere beyond the constraints of the multiverse, the Mother of Reality sketched a smile.