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The Spider Priest by Sugar de Santo

It was a hot night. He tossed and turned restlessly in his sheets. In his dream he saw a vast steppe. His gaze was caught by a single old tree. He moved slowly towards the tree. He felt the sun on his back. The vastness, with nothing but sand and horizon, worried him.

He lived in a big city in Europe with buildings everywhere. It was mostly gray and everything was constantly in motion. Here, in the dream, there was nothing. Only sun, dust, and an old tree. His eyes wandered. Nothing. Slowly everything began to shimmer. He had reached the tree. The few shadows cast by the branches with their spare leaves did him good.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, he thought.

Then, he heard a very fine and soft voice.

I´m glad to finally meet you.

He looked around. No one. Now he was laying on his back in his bed, covered in sweat and rigid.

Who‘s speaking? he asked.

It is I, the whispering voice answered. I am your spiritual power animal from your ancestors. I‘m the source of your African roots. It is time. Now.

His heart raced. He still couldn‘t move.

What? Impossible. You don‘t exist, he whispered.

It seemed to get even hotter in the shadows.

Oh yes, I have called you, as I called your father and grandfather. You are called. You shall become a powerful spider priest. I will give you strength and power, like all your ancestors before you.

He looked around. Still no one. Surely, the heat, he thought. He felt thirsty, but he had no water. I am hallucinating. Spiders can‘t talk. He felt his dry mouth, and his sticky tongue on the roof of his mouth. Where was he? What was this all about?

You are in your homeland, in the land of your ancestors. The roots your father had forgotten.

Slowly he became restless but was still paralyzed. His father had never spoken about his country. He was always trying to become a European. He worked hard. Tradition, he said, was something for old people, but not for him. He had simply left. A short goodbye. It was a long trip but he'd managed it. He found a better life. He got everything he wanted. Not only that, he got married, and became a father. He was proud. He had forgotten his tradition, and its roots. Sometimes, he heard voices, or he was dreaming. But he told nobody. He didn't teach his traditions to his son. His vocation meant nothing to him. This was Africa. All this belonged to Africa, not to Europe. Not to him.

Then, he got sick, and the next moment, he was gone. Only dust in a simple clay urn in the living room on the fireplace.

Bring your father home, the whispering soft voice said. Your father belongs to his ancestors, he has to return home. You have to know where you come from, you need to see your culture, your roots. Your father neglected everything. I warned him, but he didn´t want to listen.

I am dreaming, he said. There are no speaking spiders, I'm in a dream, it's all nonsense, I need a vacation, I work too much …

So you mean … ? was the soft answer.

Then he felt a slight sting on his neck. He woke up.

Wow, what was that? A really strange dream, he told himself, then he got up, and went to the bathroom. He turned on the light, and splashed cold water on his face. That refreshed him. He dried his wet face and neck. Then he felt a small, red swelling on his neck. Funny, he thought. I must have been bitten by a mosquito. He switched off the light. Everything in the apartment was quiet and dark. His father‘s urn was still standing on the mantelpiece in the living room. But something was moving. Quietly. Slowly. The spider began to weave its web around the urn.

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