Here is a short I wrote for a 15 minute timed bellringer in my writing group. I’d like to share a few of these for the occasional visitor. These are all unrevised, left as I wrote them for the group workshops.
On a side note, I’m almost done with my BA! Yay!
I stood on the precipice, the sharp wind grabbing, pushing me, teasing me into embracing the long but deadly fall that would ensue if I stumbled. My destination was close, the tower near; I could barely see the sheen of its metal parapets over the dense fog that still held mastery over my land. To finish this, the fog must be traversed.
Did I fear it? Of course. Any sane man would never have made it this far. The end for all was still far enough away that a man could lead a relatively normal life, leaving the rotting land to his progeny.
I was not normal, nor sane, apparently.
I stepped back and followed the edge of the cliff, a path meandering ever so slightly downward. Still above the fog, the path was rough and nary-used, perhaps at one time a safe passage for the people that once lived in the valley. Since the fog had come, the valleys had died, leaving only the hills and mountains for refuge. My people sought the heavens and were given that opportunity by this phantom plague, and some even praised the death that clouded the land for that new life of heights. I doubted the benevolence of something that restrained life, but I learned a long time ago to keep my fool mouth shut.
The shifting tendrils of seeping gray wafted upwards, eerie ethereal fingers that caressed the gray ground before me, enticing me to come closer, ever closer. I had a habit of personifying the inanimate, which some considered unusual, but it helped in managing fear and stress. Curse your troubles, bless your luck, and all that. I was still alive, so it must work.
I paused, a scant stone throw from the edge of the mist. Was I really going to do this? I knew the answer, we all did when I was sent. No one else possessed the courage—or, better yet, foolishness—to find the tower, let alone brave the fog and enter it. The prophet had been even more of a fool, convincing them that only I had the “power,” the ability to supplant the master of the tower…that only I could enter the mist. Hollow words to soothe the vicious fear that could tear cities apart with panic, and I was just the fool, too, to do what was asked.
Ah, well. Death comes for us all, and who was I to disagree? I entered the mist.
The cool air was inviting, refreshing, a gentle caress of moistness. It smelled clean and even sweet, a faint lingering of lavender, perhaps. I walked forward, hoping it was straight, letting the enveloping grayness surround me. For such amount of death brought by this mist, I was almost disappointed at its mildness.
The thick obscurity could not guide me, and I hoped that I possessed some sort of guidance toward the tower. If I was the only one that could enter the misty fog, than surely the tower that exuded this plague was connected to me.
Time passed, or I assumed it did; I could not tell. I walked for ages, millennia, it seemed, counting my steps as I walked into the thousands. Still, even though the walk was interminable, there was an end.
There is always an end.
The wafting tendrils swirled and eddied away from me. The mist peeled back, curled away as if wilting before the deep heat of the summer some. The tower, alone, vast, mighty in its solitude, spanned upward. I gasped at its size, overwhelmed that such a structure existed, its dark stone wrapping around it in an even and orderly pattern. The fog billowed out of rectangular slits that ringed the upper portion of the tower in random order.
Here was where I could end the mist, banish the plague that kept my people so close to heaven. This was the end, my end. I focused my gaze, sighed, and then made my way toward it.
This journey was shorter, the tower not far. The soil was clean and gray, a granular mirror of the mist around the tower and I, a stark contrast to the lighter soil of the hills I had left. Who was the master of this place? Someone must be, the structure was clearly artificial. I had pondered this many times on my journey, and today I would meet this master. With luck, he would die and we would be saved.
The stone sections were cold and clammy, much like the mist. I followed the wall only a short while before there was an opening, a simple archway that led inside. No point in faltering now. I went in.
Inside was open and broad, radiating a warm light that not only illuminated the vast chamber but also gradually dried my sticky and dank clothes. The space was so extensive that I could barely make out the far wall. A light flickered to my left, and I turned to see a large oval structure that was shaped vaguely throne-like. The master’s throne, perhaps. One he would return to, perhaps. As it was the only identifiable object in the expansive room, I made my way toward it.
A deep groan came from behind me and I turned quickly to see the dark stone shift together as if it were a curtain, cutting off the only exit that I could tell existed. No matter, this was the end, I knew I would not be going home.
I turned back toward the throne and began again toward it. There was no sound here, much like the mist, yet this silence was loud, almost deafening, the sense of being wholly and fully alone almost overwhelming. The throne grew smaller and smaller as I came near, its initial size never made for a human. Whatever power could manage such a feat was boggling. I could make out the details in it as I approached, the intricate runes and patterns becoming ever more complex.
When I arrived, I expected there to be some sort of culmination, a finish to my journey, the master showing himself to begin the epic battle for the salvation of my people. But there was no one. There was nothing here.
At the time, I did not understand why I did what I did next, but there was no urge or compulsion. Not really much conscious thought to my next actions. I walked up the wide and steep steps to the stone throne and, without any thought at all of the consequences, sat down upon the throne. It fit me as if I belonged in it. What better way to greet the master of the tower than from his own throne?
Then it hit me. Hit me hard with such mental force that I knew it killed me, my body alive, my mind alive, but my world changed. Yes, this was the end. There was a master, one that lived here, controlled the misty plague that rotted my land, one that must be defeated.
Yes, there was a master. And, he was home. I was home. I smiled.