#163. The Meat

Every year, The Stampede sets up. The rides are shit, Matt Good was the last good act to hit the Coke Stage and the rest of it is just dull. The one stand out is the food. Fried bread, mini doughnuts, the kind of county-fair fare that everyone remembers eating at the Stampede when they were kids. Phenomena 163 is not so much a ritual or a landmark, but a warning. Certain rituals and preparations outlined elsewhere in my notes can offer preternatural senses and awareness; The ability to read objects and understand. Should you have taken advantage of these, never eat anything you are offered at the Stampede.
The Stampede traces its roots to the pagan rites that farmers new to this country brought with them from their homelands. The magic is old enough it’s no longer religion, just mechanical. The rituals performed after hours sustain the city, as the rituals that find their homes in other cities sustain them. But eating the meat makes you complicit, and the taste that what they do to it leaves behind carries with it all the cruelty of fresh blood on the snow.
Some acolytes more talented than I have reported being able to see what the men saw before the axe came down, and at least one claims that when the meat touches his tongue, he can see what the men saw after.

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