No Place I'd Rather Die

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Where do you want to be when you die?

Submitted: January 28, 2009

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Submitted: January 28, 2009

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There’s a story about a beautiful hill. From atop this hill, one could look out over the vast expanse of land for miles in every direction. Such a thing was possible before the industrial hindrances of our modern age. In those days there was a man who lived a simple life in the shadow of the beautiful hill. His name is unknown, even he had forgotten it. This may seem strange, but he hadn't any use for a name. You see, those who made his acquaintance called him "Friend" or "Brother", and of these there were certainly few. However, for the sake of storytelling we will call him Jacob.

As I have mentioned, Jacob's life was simple. He wanted nothing more than to walk and admire the beauty of life. When he walked he always gave thanks for each sight of splendid beauty that he beheld, even if he had seen it before.... especially if he had seen it before. Jacob breathed the cool mists of the valley, absorbing the infinite life in the atmosphere. And for this also, he gave thanks. He was thankful for all of everything, but there was one thing for which he was most thankful.

The beautiful hill was perfect. Thick patches of clover covered the hilltop like a patchwork blanket. They were ever so soft and perfect for resting upon. A single tree grew atop the hill. The tree seemed familiar, though Jacob could neither identify it nor find another of its kind in the area. The tree was pleasantly fragrant, and perfect for casting shade. Jacob would lean against its trunk and gaze absently at the horizon.

Sunsets were not always so short. Had you described todays sunset to someone who had seen the sunsets of old, they would think you hasty in your account or suppose that you'd had too much to drink and discredit such nonsense. Indeed it was not uncommon for half of the daylight to be twilight. But it didn’t matter to Jacob; he would watch the sunsets as long as they lasted. The colors were vivid and variable, much more so than today. From the beautiful hill, the view was such that it would render speechless even the most eloquent of poets.

In this way, Jacob passed his days. One day when he was quite old, Jacob walked up the beautiful hill as he usually did. Nearing the top, he heard thunderclaps, although there was not a single raincloud in the sky. When he reached the top, he beheld a terrible sight. A gargantuan creature, dripping black blood that scorched those beloved patches of clover, stood opposite the familiar tree. The monster lunged at the tree as though he meant to break it in half.

Jacob watched in horror. Before the monster's claws could reach the trunk, a branch bent down and positioned itself between the monster and tree. The strength of the attack caused the branch to shatter and fall to the ground amongst many other splinters and leaves. The monster was repelled, seemingly injured by contact with the tree.

Suddenly the tree began to move on its own. The branches contorting and melting together, the tree metamorphosed into the shape of a man. He was covered in a robe the color of leaves, and his skin was rough like tree bark. This all happened very quickly, and Jacob hadn’t a moment for disbelief. The monster unleashed a vicious attack on the tree-man who, in turn, bled golden sap which appeared to harm the monster.

It seemed to Jacob that this battle was carried on for an incredibly long time; although in fact, it all transpired rather rapidly. He simply couldn’t understand why such a horrible thing was happening on his perfect hilltop. Suddenly, he could stand it no longer. Although it was certainly suicide, Jacob rushed recklessly toward the hideous creature. With a single blow the monster sent Jacob flailing across the hilltop like a ragdoll. By the time Jacob fell to the ground, he knew that many of his bones were broken, and his insides were bleeding. Never before had he been so certain of death.

Gasping the words "No place I'd rather die," Jacob raised his head to take one final look at the horizon. Instead, he saw the man who had once been a tree. The man’s lower half had taken root and the words he spoke sounded like the rustling of leaves. There was the sound of wings beating against the air, and a violent gust of wind that halted the monster's advances. Jacob clung to the man for fear of blowing away.

Looking at Jacob, the man spoke without moving his mouth, "My friend, I am glad you came. This gift is for you." Then the leaf robes he wore became the colors of autumn, and the winds became a typhoon. The tree-man's body scattered into a cascade of autumn leaves and amber that went rushing toward the monster and consumed it. There was a distant sound, like the echo of a whisper from the sun, as the autumn leaves coalesced into the horizon. "Thank you for this gift," Jacob smiled, as he felt his old body transforming into something familiar and fragrant... and perfect for casting shade.

 


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