The Hill

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
After a chaotic war, only the most basic of species can survive the physical and spiritual harshness of the unforgiving world. An inevitable showdown between the last surviving members ensues in quite an unexpected way.

Submitted: July 04, 2017

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Submitted: July 04, 2017

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A single hill rose up from the bleak horizon. Dotting the empty countryside were wisps of onion grass reminiscent of an earlier time. The nostalgic flora sung a sweet song of the good old days, but often, as was the case on this abnormally cool day, the resting wind drowned out their innocent voices. Other than the hill, the wind swept across the prairie with no major obstacles, carrying along its aimless objective of scattering every particle of dust to the obscure corners of the earth. The hill was the pillar of defense; a beacon of good in an otherwise heartless world. It was as if the order had retreated to a finite singularity, the utter notion of cosmos all but disappeared. The had taken void took over, and everything became the void: everything was nothing.

The hill was not nothing. What it was is unclear, what it represented was strength, a fleeting, cowardly strength. In the pure sense of the term, the hill lacked power. Although not quite an explosive force, or even a contagious one, it relished in its quiet beauty, soaking up every minuscule motion of the world. Those who lived to see the hill remembered its godliness. Divinity was a harsh word in those days, but the hill unmistakably had it. They said the God of the hill was an old one. Older than the war, older than the onion grass, older than even the winds themselves.

Wisemen were well-regarded for their lineage, dating back to the ancient years. They never disputed the Hill’s antiquity, treating it with a solemn reverence, as if the last remnant of an unknown happiness. A word so desperate as happiness was seldom uttered in this new cold reality, but the hill embodied happiness. 

Sel never embodied happiness. Sel was a wanderer, one of those unfortunate souls who had by pure accident survived the devastating consequences of the previous generations. His tortured existence meandered across the world, clinging to the smallest strands of meaning betwixt the onion grass. He found little, starving spiritually, more than his frail body even knew. 

Skin and bones, he approached the prairies with an aura of despair. Crossing the vast empty nothingness only furthered the creeping evil that permeated around him. The very blood in his body lacked the will to circulate, blackening his fingers in a rather ugly bout of oxygen deprivation. 

Diseases never bothered Sel in quite the way that advanced species experienced pain. Pain as an entity was virtually nonexistent in this postmodern world, replaced with a dull numbness that emerged as a necessity among those not convinced by death’s allures. Sel was unlucky. A life of solitude never exposed him to the concept of death. So utterly alone, Sel experienced life through a singular prism, his own. Empty-headed, he lacked the capacity for language or emotion as our basic minds interpret it. Runes covered his arms and a voice inside his head whispered the monosyllabic calling that he took for a name. Lacking the ability to externalize his categorization, he retained the name merely as an intrinsic characteristic, drawing his feeble form to some higher existence.

Perhaps the hill was what Sel sought. In some inscrutable way this dirt mound connected to Sel on a transcendent level. Wisemen never doubted this phenomenon, waiting patiently atop the plateau for their savior to come, Influenced by the adamant religiosity of their ancestors, they saw a Christ-like figure in their redeemer. Armageddon had come and gone and yet the Messiah made no appearance. He was neither a god, manifesting in the unholy body of the human, not a human himself, riding on his donkey, blowing his horn, signaling the end of days. There was no happy ever after. Eternity became far more final and factual. 

Years went by and Wisemen waited atop their hill for God to appear, for the three angels to emerge from the metaphorical desert sands. As time went on, the wind wore down on the territory, the rivers dried up until just wisps remained between the caked soil. Inevitably, a man would see a mirage, occasionally convincing his peers of his claim’s legitimacy and celebrations would ensue. Upon reality’s discovery, the false prophet was hanged, until one by one their remained none left to be the false prophet. The last remaining Wiseman was not wise at all, but a nihilist in the shallow sense of the term. Habitually fearing the sin accompanying suicide, he remained atop the hill, resigned to studying weather patterns and observing the harsh climate.

In old age, when hope had all but run out, a figure appeared from the midst, edging closer to the hilltop. The Wiseman interrupted his meteorological study to watch the incoming guest. Methodically, he prepared his noose, acknowledging his responsibility as the last survivor to purge the hilltop of all falsehoods. Mechanically, he tied the coarse rope with a subtle melancholy. The tangible existence of the visitor had no place in his mind. He was fully committed to the excuse finally afforded to his miserable life to leave this world and reunite with the Holy Spirit. The Wiseman’s plan was simple, as his life had grown to be after years of isolation. Once a worshipper of God, he now prayed only to Death.

Satisfied with the strength of his knot, the Wiseman gazed out at the dark sky, barely discerning the now larger silhouette. The Wiseman gave the shadow a momentary glance, returning to his work with nothing but an empty heart, and a deprived soul. Long ago he had given up the pleasures of life, subsisting on nothing but the air which resolved to torture those who breathed with a majestic survival. Humans had miraculously evolved past the point of necessary sustenance, a mistake that long ago derailed the entire population. This Darwinian development was instituted in the name of Progress, but fostered only a post-apocalyptic spirit in adults, and disillusionment in the youth. God died long before humanity, but the demises were not only connected, but also causally linked. Historians of the later age claimed the loss of religion was the final blow to Pandora’s Box.

The lone hope remained with the Wiseman on the hill, who at the present moment had stopped preparing for his death, and began watching with a youthful eye as the demonstrably real figure trekked closer and closer to the hilltop.

Sel did not recognize the site’s holiness in as much as he felt it. That persistent voice inside his head drummed on, tapping at the neurological section inexplicably tied to a higher plane. Sel lacked the intellectual ability to comprehend the nature of his existence which rendered him in a state no higher than animals. Yet something unknowable distinguished him from the earthly beasts, which had long ago departed in favor of the ever more benevolent grace of death. Sel remained alive, which in of itself granted him a higher status, but the inner flame which burned inside him is what truly unlocked his humanity. That same fire stopped his adventure mid-step less than half a mile from the hill’s base. That enigmatic forced moved him to fall groundward in a state of extreme terror. Emotion spread through his decaying limbs in a painful explosion of life. Debilitated by this sudden sensation, Sel froze. He knew nothing of pain, nor feeling, or even life. As such his entire being was engulfed by this newfound sense of awareness. For a brief moment Sel unified with his surroundings, prostrating himself against the dirt for no reason other than his body compelled it.

The Wiseman observed Sel’s seizure with indifference, noting his disappearance from the horizon as routine. For years the Wiseman had fought against an instinctive arrogance associated with his clear mind, never having been perverted by reality’s deceptions. At the moment he resigned to admit his mind’s fealty, and the recognition of his humanity. Finally, he too succumbed to the harsh desire to experience life for more than it was, or so he thought.

As night approached, and the sky progressed from clouded gray to pitch black, Sel slowly regained the feeling in his extremities. Infancy took hold of him, and the entire life cycle progressed through his body in spectacular fashion. Rising up, he emerged from the abyss as a fully formed, sentient being. Sel climbed the hill, for the first time constantly aware of his feet stepping one after another. Sel felt exasperated, perturbed by the consciousness that the world suddenly exhibited. Sel had been drawn to the hill as an animal drawn to its migratory patterns, feeling, not thinking. Now, he began to experience doubt, contemplating the reason of his journey, and questioning the goal he sought.

The night progressed and Sel reached the hilltop. His eyes understood darkness intimately, he had no need for light, the dusk was as familiar as the day. Amidst the blackness, Sel made out a figure hanging from a rope. Approaching the foreign object, he ran his black fingers across the man’s skin, taking in the fullness of his being. Swaying back forth in the midnight breeze, the still-warm body was of extreme interest to the suddenly aware Sel. Neurons fired in places they had not previously, and new pathways were formed though the mass that had fallen into disrepair. A brief chemical moment and Sel was cognizant of what stood in front of him. Somewhere buried in the recesses of his ancient being was the concept which he currently grasped. Finally, Sel knew death, and the hill completed its cycle. The world had reunited with itself, the gods fading with the last of the saviors fulfilling their final purpose.


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