On graduation night, we reveled around clandestine bonfires until the sky purpled and dawn broke. Livers pickled, we slouched back into town to learn which of us would be fed to the ancient presence that lived deep inside the mountain. Stately men in masks with crescent maws greeted us, chanting reverent prayers to civic pride. Our youthful bluster curdled as we lined up to receive our fate. The men reassured us there was dignity in being devoured. They patted our shoulders with well-manicured hands, promising everyone that this was a happy day, that this was how our little town thrived.
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