Pete's Climb

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: March 27, 2017

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Submitted: March 27, 2017

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Pete's Climb

 

Pete  knew about the mountain,  Ben MacDhui.  He'd first heard about it, he wasn't sure where, maybe from his grandfather, maybe  from school boy legends of the Grey man who made is home there.Even other climbers had warned him away.  There was a feeling of doom, a depressing eeriness that inhabited those mountains, he was warned, that it took you over and made you think thoughts, feel feelings equally as dark.

  Despite these talisman warnings he knew he had to climb it, to experience it for himself.  And now was the best time. He'd been mountain climbing for near 30 years and despite his will to continue more and more his body held him back.  First his knees, then a foot.  The warnings then came from his doctor, to hike on level land, to not push himself so much.  He knew now his love affair with height, with eagle views and solitude had an expiration date, a time limit as it were. 

One that drew closer and closer with every hourglass moment that passed.Although his body ached, with every climb, his senses sharpened.  Picking up the sound of every cracking branch, the smell of every pine and the sweetness of the mountaintop breeze.  Savoring it, embedding it in his memory.  There to bring out from his memories, when he and the mountains had their final parting.

For the days when he would become one of them.  Even them, he became sharply more aware of now.  Those he dreaded to become.  Those who spent their days in the cereal aisle deciding which flake had more fiber.  Sitting on the porches watching others live the lives that they used to have.  Where he'd be old Pete who use to, along with Old Hazel  who used to and Old Mike who used to.  That would be something he would have a hard time getting used to. 

For now though, Ben Macdhui waited.  It loomed in front of him as gray and misty as the highlands that surrounded it.  Holding it's myths, close to it's rock grayness.  Daring him to uncover them and return alive.

He hiked well for the first half.  The gloom surrounding him continued to grow though, dogging his every step.  Turning him left, then right, then left again.  More than once the compass had come out from is pocket, tight in his wrinkled hand, guiding the way. 

Then his knee started aching.  The damn knee.  His first sign of revolt from his body.  He ignored it and pushed on. The trees got darker and the mist grayer, as they clung to every branch and rock in his path.  He continued on, his knee taunting him, bringing him back to the reality of his future,  which seemed as gray and misty as the air which surrounded him.The life, his life so far had been a good one and so now it ended it seemed in a brick wall of tottering in walkers and  nursing home dreariness.

He stopped for a break, when he heard it, a footstep.  Faint at first, yet rapidly coming closer.  Coming for him, he knew now he was not alone on this mountain.  There was another, the legends were true. Terror gripped his soul.  He knew he had to continue on, to get away from whatever was coming for him.

Back on his feet now, he walked faster and faster, with the echoing footsteps keeping up.  First the sound came from the left, then the right or maybe not either.  He wasn't sure, it wasn't clear, nothing was, in this fog. On and on, running now when he could, walking when he couldn't, getting further and further away from the steps which crept ever and ever closer. Slipping on moss covered rocks that seemed to insist on dragging him down into the mountain itself.

Lost he was sure, the compass all but useless in his mind's blind panic.  His knee screamed  with age,  Pete pushing on or being pushed, he wasn't sure which by the presence these evil woods protected.

He looked ahead to a lighter mist.  Bright almost, it beckoned, called to him, the mountaintop did.  Here he would have it out with the footsteps,  know for sure the secrets of Ben MacDhui.  Climbing, climbing, ever climbing, knee screaming, lungs too now entering the cacophony of his years.  He slowed only to hear the footsteps again and he raced once more, his climb keeping pace with his loudly thumping heart.

It was getting even lighter up ahead. Too light almost. Bright even, which didn't make sense.Asudden rustle of leaves made Pete turn to face him.  The man of grayness who waited.  He smiled with his mist colored breath obvious, making a ring around his head.  “It's time” said the robed man with this evil grin.  Pete knew, there would be no other life.  He was trapped at the end.


© Copyright 2017 Carla Charter. All rights reserved.

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