Title: A Mountain in the Wasted Lands
Characters: the Explorer, the Romulan Suicide, the Chiurgeon
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D2)
Warnings: Expletives and ephedrine. Glossing over the flaws of many.
Notes: I took a man of my acquaintance at his word, when he gave me permission to … well, I asked to rhapsodise, but this took a turn for the dark and strange. But, given the place, I can’t say I’m at all surprised by that. Disappointed, perhaps, but it always tells itself as it wants to be told, and I’m not invited to pretty it up.
There is a mountain I know. If I say the [redacted] mountains, do you know them? I know you spent a fair stretch [redacted location], but I’m not knowing how far west you got. But, up in these mountains, there’s a way, up a winding branching road, the condition of which grows more treacherous, the higher you go, where a one finally comes out at the base of a radio tower, and the road ends. There, off to the left, there’s nearly a gateway of trees. To look at it, it’s an arch into an alcove, all of wood and green, and sometimes, in the winter, untouched snow.
It’s a moment’s looking, but the rest of the path is there, thin and flickery, and never quite there but for just ahead of where you stand. But, it winds ahead, around the fence around the tower (by somewhere in here, the tower’s almost easy to forget, except that the intensity of the signal off it is … you can taste it. It inhabits your bones) and winding in ways that could make you think you’ve turned back on yourself, but it comes out into a round clearing, cut off at one side by the sky. And when you first come to it, it looks as if the world just ends into the sky.
And this is the place we called Runs-With-Scissors, a joke made of the town below and some unfortunately self-destructive habits of so many of us, though we were so few… Closer to the edge, it’s a bit more obviously a rocky cliff, but the edge is still sharp. A touch left of centre, there’s a place to climb down a short way, to a ledge with niches and nearly seats in the stone. To the right, a finger of stone points out at the circle of lights, below. (At first, we thought it was the town, but somebody figured out we were on the wrong part of the mountain for that. We think it’s the sewage treatment plant, but it’s a pisser to get a sense of direction, up there, and the tower’s bad for a compass.)
Sometimes, we’d go up, when everything went to hell. Something about the stones and the view. Something about the lack of everything, and the sense of the place as it crept through the flesh, as it gnawed at the ears, telling strange tales that weren’t quite there. (I’m not going to say it literally spoke, but the number of us who heard things, up there, that weren’t actually said… It encouraged those sorts of things.) It brought things to the fore that no one would speak of anywhere else. I learned some sincerely horrible things, there, but that’s why we were there. That’s almost always why we were there. It was a place to go to bleed it all out, to sing to the open sky, to let the pain rip itself out in laughs and screams. We’d dance together, velvet-ephedrine skin, until we knew each other inside and out.
There are only three of us left, now. One by one, they all came to see what the world expected and turned their backs on us, in disgust and fear of association. Denied they’d ever had secrets, but had more than ever before. Locked themselves down, and slowly died inside as it writ itself across their faces. We let them go. You don’t stand in the way of a man so bent upon his own future. But, I’m not sure we three fared much better. One of us is a desperately bitter agoraphobic who’s lost everything but the job and the cat. One of us is just a head above water, but the expectations keep piling up, and the water is rising. And one of us is me, and you know me. But, I still look back and count us three the lucky ones. We, the fortunate fucks we are, still see the place with joy, when we can push ourselves past the bubble and go. We still have each other. We can still say three words and mean an entire sensory experience of hours, if only to each other. And for all that all things come from our own actions, I still attribute much of it to the locale. We became as we are because we had it. We didn’t just run with scissors, we duelled the dark with them, and I like to think we won, however hard-won it was.