"The Return" - Heathens

The “scene”-play below is a response to a Reddit writing prompt in the subreddit r/writingprompts. The original prompt itself was posted by user u/murmuringseahorses.

INT. THE CATHEDRAL MAIN HALL - NIGHT

An older man with the traditional garb of a priest approaches a poor, young-looking man in the tattered remains of a crusty brown robe. He is kneeling before the massive golden statue of their god Romuti. The man on the floor looks to praying while the priest puts his hand on his shoulder in a comforting way…


PRIEST:

My son, it's getting dark, do you need a place to stay for the night?

The praying man quietly nods and places his hand over the priests.


KOTI:

Father, I - need to-


PRIEST:

You need rest Koti. You've been here for hours. The Lord will be here for you when you return.


Koti turns back to the golden god and presses his palms together, and raises his thumbs to meet the center of his forehead. A symbol of closing prayer.


PRIEST:

Are you hungry? I have some left-over bread.


Koti stands up still staring at the statue as though it were whispering to him in thanks. He smiles, and turns around. He throws his arms up and embraces the priest in a warm hug. Like an old friend would after being separated for many years.


KOTI:

You have shown me such kindness on this night of great suffering.


PRIEST:

I'm afraid every night contains it's own suffering. I am glad I could be here to ease yours my son.


They let go but still hold each other's arms. Koti's face hides a deep sorrow, but it is difficult to see through the innocence of his smile. Koti let's go of the priest and gathers his staff and satchel from the pew.


KOTI:

I just have to ask, father. I never stood a chance, did I?

The priest frowns, and thinks for a moment.


He returns a smile.


PRIEST:

My child, I -


KOTI:

Please father, I must know the truth.


The priest's face returns to a frown. Disgruntled by the interruption he ignores the pleasantries and spits it out.


PRIEST:

That's the sad part - you did once.


Koti first looks at the priest, tears beginning to fill his eyes. Then he looks down briefly reviewing the memories of all of his disciples who had been mercilessly tortured and murdered for following him. Then he looks up, the redness in his eyes really becoming visible, as he wishes he could blame his god but he knew better. He was fully aware of his actions, his failures. Then he looks back at the priest.


KOTI:

I should have at least been there for them. Taken the beatings, the lashes.


PRIEST:

No one deserved what befell your friends. Not even a heretic.


The word 'heretic' clearly stung Koti, he flinches at it as though a snake had pounced from the priest's heart. Koti looks strongly at the priest bows, and walks out.