Short Story: Worship Woes

It has to be said that having lesser gods take an interest in your picnic makes for a good story after the fact; but the actual experience in the moment is not all it’s cracked up to be. The problem is that they assume the spread of food and drink on the blanket is an offering to them. The thought that it might be your lunch doesn’t even seem to cross their tiny but specialised little minds.

If that sounds disrespectful that is entirely your right. I call it simply a pragmatic and empirical assessment of the situation. These small kerbside gods – the locus genii so beloved of the Romans – are basically elemental manifestations of their immediate surroundings. Unless you’re in a library – in which case the librarians are already annoyed by your bringing food near the books – most places aren’t intrinsically intelligent, self aware, or even cogniscent that there’s any difference between you, a sheep, or even the small pile of rocks by your feet.

They just want to be adored. Your implied worship when you admire the view is like bread and butter to these things, and when sacrifices are made, they positively glow. You might see it as a few dropped crumbs, or a spilled drink, but to a small god that’s fuel. With animist thought being pretty thin on the ground these days they’ve had to get creative in finding more.

They can’t control much of their surroundings – well, not usually, but please don’t go picking a fight with Father Thames to test that theory. It never goes well. But if you’ve ever wondered where the wasps come from that fall into your drinks, or the ants that spontaneously get into your fruit salad and clothing are doing there well perhaps the jigsaw puzzles are starting to fit together.

Whether you discard food that’s been ruined, or just knock it over while being divebombed, it counts as far as the small gods are concerned. It’s like being mugged by babies while they throw tantrums.

For the most part people can’t see them, which does spare some blushes as the more anthropomorphic small gods tend to not quite understand the concept of clothing, or indeed modesty. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, we did invent the concept after all. Every so often though, they try it on with someone who has the Sight, and that’s often when things start to get thrown around the place.

Kay really should know better, especially with her background, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the sight of an angry buxom redhead chasing a naked river god around our car to get her bottle of rioja back absolutely deserved to go up on Instagram. The river god didn’t show up in the picture, so it looks like she’s falling over her own feet to catch an airborne wine bottle. The picture has three hundred “likes” already. Here’s hoping the small gods don’t work out social media any time soon!