It was dawn. The river bank was desolate and serene and the river, serener. The air was infused with petrichor and the birds and beasts were tranquil. The only semblance of sound was air brushing into his nostrils, almost silently as he felt it graze his skin. This was his sacrament, this gave his life meaning. It was perhaps the only thing he did for himself exclusively. Everyday, he came to that exact spot at dawn, today seemed no different.

He looked around and as his neck swiveled about the nape, his earlobes danced causing both ear studs that he wore to shine brightly. The reflection glimmered across the mirror like still river surface, illuminating it. It must’ve meant that the sun had risen for only the sun could bring about illumination that lit up everything in sight. He shared a special bond with the sun, almost that of a son or so he had heard. Within minutes, everything appeared brighter and his skin shone like a second sun, putting shame to every diamond ever formed.

He looked around again, like he did everyday. It was becoming increasingly obvious that he was perhaps waiting for something, or someone. Suddenly, footsteps began to echo in the distance. An ascetic marched towards him as a smile stretched on his face, dimple commencing on his cheek where the moustache stopped. He waited patiently for his visitor, an eager chill ran down his spine. What was it going to be today? How was today going to be relevant for him?

As the ascetic approached him, it because clearer who he was. When he stood barely a few feet away from him, he prostrated himself before his visitor and asked politely how he could be of service. The ascetic stood there, unmoved, ashamed of what he was about to ask for. Before he could utter a word, a splendid bronze dagger emerged and sliced off both earlobes, causing them to fall on the earth. He extracted the studs and presented them to the ascetic who shamelessly grabbed them and shoved them in a pouch ticked into his waistband.

But there was more horror to ensue. He proceeded to make skin deep incisions all over his body with delicate use of the dagger, casting it aside once he was through. Then, almost as if he felt no pain at all, he peeled off all his skin lacerating his flesh to a gruesome incarnadine mess. The ascetic looked on aghast yet didn’t move a muscle.

In a few minutes, the sun could be seen and the moment the direct rays of the sun touched his burning exposed flesh, a new layer of skin began to form, not glowing like its predecessor. The ascetic was stunned, he shut his eyes and lo! The next instant the God of the gods stood in his place, holding his customary bludgeon, made of pure human bone. By now, fresh skin had formed on his body and his earlobes had reformed but the studs were no longer appended to them as they were before.

He stood there, two ear studs, and immortality poorer, and one bludgeon richer. A bludgeon that was now his until he used it.