Author's Note: This is a microfiction story written with a limit of 350 words. For those unfamiliar with the form, a microfiction story is written to come in under a strict word count. The story is pared to the bare essentials, and many elements are only hinted at or implied. Please leave a comment if you would like to see more stories in this form, or if you prefer longer stories. -WP
When Runni found the corpse with the snakebites, he didn't believe it. Surely it was a trick, a cruel joke. He took the body back to the village, where old men muttered and a fresh widow grieved. Children pushed each other for the best spot, just an inch shy of arm's reach to view the bloating man on his pyre. They whispered about the cobra bite on the man's soft hands and wondered how long before the vermin found their way back into the village. Would more pyres follow?
The fire was lit at dusk after all had said their goodbyes and laid their gifts of food. Scarlet chrysanthemums ringed the former hero, and their scent accompanied his spirit past the veil.
The spirit found himself on a road not unlike the one on which he died. He placed one foot in front of another, not daring to look at the coils of mist to either side that rose up and hissed at him with flared hoods.
Red-booted Yama met him at the crossroads. The god of death hailed him.
“It is time to take your karma's account, Mon-” The death god said.
The spirit held up his hand “Please, Lord Yama, I no longer deserve that name.”
Yama's face was as terrible as a monsoon, until he chanced to look at the spirit's hand. The two tiny marks left from the cobra were red and angry, even here. The storm broke as Yama let out a booming laugh.
“Indeed.” he said. “Let us see to your karma, then.” The death god raised his hands and two mountains of pebbles rose about them, one white and one black.
When the tally was taken, the mountain of white stones only just outnumbered the black. Lord Yama grunted.
“Barely enough.” The death god stood aside and indicated the right-hand path.
The spirit of the royal assassin who turned traitor to save a small village looked down the path. The man formerly known as Mongoose walked towards his life's reward.