Content warning: Violence, ritual cannibalism.
She walked into the woods, snakes twined up her legs, slithering over her feet, and still she walked, slowly, carefully so as not to injure any of them. She sipped from a battered silver flask as she walked, her cheeks growing pink and her eyes brighter.
The trees grew closer together, blotting out the light of the full moon, and the stars that paled in comparison with her face. Other footfalls joined hers, other women with pink cheeks and bright eyes. As they walked, they shed the trappings of civilization, here a coat, a shirt, a bra, panties, shoes, stockings. Those whose menses had come bled freely down their thighs, eyes bright. They all drank from their battered flasks, some engraved with words, letters, in many languages, vines, flowers, fruit, animals, gold, silver, brass, here and there adorned with sequins glittering in what little light filtered through the boughs above them.
They walked, as one, to a clearing, a spring fed pond glittered in the moon and starlight, and at its edge other women, their brown and blonde hair looking greenish in the moonlight, stepped nude into the waters and sighed with relief.
In the center of the clearing, a beautiful young man stood. His skin glowed with health and youth, he smiled and and spread his arms to them all.
"The time," he spoke in normal tones, but his velvety voice carried to all the reaches of the crowd of women. "The time, your time will be soon, I promise you. You will take back what man has stolen from you. You will have what has been taken."
Two of the women, older women, carried forward a metal basin, and no larger than a mundane salad bowl.
"Until that time does come, drink of my blood and eat of my flesh, and grow your power." He drew a silver sickle across his own throat, dropping it to lean over the basin, holding himself up on the edges. "Take me. I am yours, and you are mine." He closed his eyes, and the hands of the women, manicured nails grown sharp and jagged, reached for him, tearing and biting his flesh. The blood never overflowed the basin, yet, no matter how many flasks were filled from it, it did not empty until every woman there had drunk her fill, and had filled her flask. He was not a large man, but the multitudes of women present ate their fill of his flesh until naught but his bones lay gleaming under the moonlight, and then the women in the spring cracked them and sucked out the marrow, moaning in ecstasy.
Done with their communion, the women embraced one another, keening for the loss of their god. By midnight, they had quieted, and sat on the grass of the clearing, singing and speaking of things that had been, were, and yet would be in quiet voices, laughter ringing like chiming bells through the night.
Near sunrise, they rose as one. The women in the spring stood, and wrung out their hair, and they turned to walk back through the woods, gathering clothing as they went, exchanging items until each woman wore what she had come in. Flasks were tucked away until the next full moon, when the god would come again, and again, until it was time. Their time.
The women smiled, and checked make up in compacts, cell phone camera images, and car mirrors, before going back to their lives, their jobs, husbands and families. If an occasional snake tagged along, it would be released under the house, in the apartment duct work, near a job with landscaped lawns and a rabbit problem.
A cell phone rang.
"Yes, honey. Oh, it was fantastic. I know. I wish you could too, but no husbands allowed." A musical giggle. "I'll see you soon, sweetheart."