By Darius Jones
The myths, rumors, and speculation surrounding the Zakir ritual on Kaldar are well attested, but they remain only that, myth and speculation. Now, as I have witnessed the thing itself, I feel responsible to share the truth, no matter how loathsome, with the rest of the civilized galaxy. For those of you who remain ignorant of this notorious ritual, I have written this story so that the facts may be plainly known. To the best of my ability, I have tried to reserve my judgment and offer this only as a work of reportage, a relation of true events.
After several years of residence on Kaldar, in which I learned their language, their customs, and something of their primal prejudices and obscurantist rituals, I was, at last, invited to a “celebration” of the Zakir. I, of course, accepted. How could I not? It was an event which no Off-worlders had ever been invited to, let alone witnessed. To refuse would have been dishonorable, to decline, an insult. I asked few questions and begged no explanations. I knew the invitation was unprecedented, and I realized that too much curiosity might reveal my true intent, my determination to share what I saw.