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A Peak of the Unknown


F I C T I O N – F L A S H 


Saam Hasan


They looked up. Their eyes stretched all the way to their foreheads. What a sight. It seemed the sky itself was too small to contain this earthen titan. The mountain rose so high, they questioned if it ever ended. Perhaps its peak sat somewhere among the stars, perhaps somewhere among the heavens. It was a task high and daunting. And their bones mutinied with pain. Still, it was their path forward. All around them darkness grew. To get to the promised light, they had to scale this mountain that drowned them in its shadow.

The bravest among them stepped forward. All around him, there was frantic gasping. Many pleaded for a retreat.

“Salvation is useless if we do not live to see it,” argued one of them.

“Indeed, please, we must reverse our steps at once, away from this domain of the devil,” said another one.

But the bravest refused. He turned to the youngest among them.

“Tell me, child, do you wish for a future in the light?” He asked.

The girl trembled, her lips quivering but unable to fashion words. He placed a reassuring hand on her.

“Yes,” she was finally able to blurt out.

“Then we shall go onward!” He declared, a blaze in his eyes that spread to those around him.

One by one, they began to scale. Naturally, the bravest led at the forefront. His ox-like grip clasped the scape of the mountain like iron clamps. His battle-weary feet put one step above another, refusing gravity, air pressure, and anything else that tried to bar his path. Seeing his indomitable stride, the rest followed suit. Before long, they had reached a fissure situated in the midway point. Many wanted to sleep, but the bravest would not allow it. Time was not kind to them. They had to press on, they had to reach the light soon.

They climbed, and they climbed, and they climbed. In an odd turn, the sky did not lighten as they ascended. He had hoped to let his eyes feast on the infinite blue that had been robbed from the world for so long. But it did not appear. In its stead, the higher they went, the sky wore an even blacker cloak across its body.

What sorcery was this? They did choose the right, did they not? Suddenly, he could hear screaming. It was coming from all around him. They were being attacked. By what he could not see. All that met his eyes were sparks appearing here and there, sometimes engulfing the bodies of his brethren. 

“WHAT MADNESS IS THIS!?”

And then, came the moment he dreaded above all else. Terrified of the unseen foe, his friends relinquished their grip. They choose the hard embrace of earth, over facing some foe they could not see. What fools!

He anxiously looked askance for the girl. If she were the only person he could save, he would choose it. His heart calmed upon finding her nearby.

“Stay near me,” he held her close.

“KEEP CLIMBING, OUR ONLY SAVIOUR IS THE PEAK, THE OTHER SIDE!”

He hauled the young girl onto his shoulder. Bearing both their weights, he kept on climbing. Despite his pleas, the rest were blinded by their fear. Their numbers dwindled as a scattered drizzle of humanity fell down from the scape of the mountain.

His breath was starved, his heart fluttering about like a motor about to burst. His beaming face was slowly draining of colour, turning paper-white. Was he right? Did he willingly lead his people on this fool’s chase, and cost them their lives?

No, no, no. He could not entertain such doubt. He still had the girl to care for. Yes, he would look after her. He looked up. They were oh so close to the brow. So close.

He glanced around. There was none left but him and the girl. Still, it was fine. Even if hers was the only life he could safely carry to the other side, he will have fulfilled his duty. But…what if there was no light on the other side?

They reached the peak. All he had to do was haul them over the edge. He raised his shoulder for the final push and….he froze. He froze mid-climb. Sparks were going off all around them. Oh God, no, he was wrong. He was so wrong. What an idiot he had been. His whole body shook, his thoughts jumbled into one shapeless mess. At his wit’s end, the brave hero saw no other choice but to surrender his fight against the unseen. He eased his grip, before jumping straight off the peak.

However, someone else had chosen to remain there. Right at the final moment, the girl had latched onto the uneven surface of the mountain. Even now, as the sparks surrounded her, she allowed herself to be consumed by the strange phenomenon. At first, it rose in luminosity, forcing her eyes closed. But once the light had eased, she found herself in a wonderful new place. She was surrounded by happy people, and greenery, and tasty food, and cheerful houses, and last but not least, she found herself underneath the blue sky, with the light pouring down on her.

 


Whether it’s pop culture, fiction or politics, writing is Saam’s ultimate passion and reprieve. 

 

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