Saturday, 9 April 2011

Deer Park

The mountains are empty now, cleared first by soldiers and then by fire. The soldiers came in their thousands, roaming through the small pastures and shooting cattle, clambering over the rocks and tearing wildflowers from the soil by their roots. They stopped at the snowline and the Lieutenant ordered a head-count. Finding himself six men short, he declared that they had fallen off the side of the mountain and into the hands of the small gods, and then ordered the men to descend, checking for places they had missed on the way up.
At the foot, they set fires, and the wind fanned them and the flames ascended, burning what was wooden and not wet, drying out what was wet until it would burn. By that point, eighteen of the Lieutenant's men were in the hands of the small gods.
No-one comes here any more, but you can still hear the voices of the dispossessed. The mining project that the mountain was needed for dug into the side of the mountain, tunneling to its heart, and then stopped. Miners would not go into the tunnel and those who did often did not come out again. Voices whispered that the mountain was cursed, and they brought first one priest, then two, then twenty. Twenty frightened men circled the mountain, chanting prayers of appeasement and burning costly aromatic herbs. At the mouth of the tunnel an animist waited, checking with his spirits and listening to what they said. When all the priests had returned and were huddled together back in their rusty little van he shook his head sadly and said that the spirits were still angry.
But other ores were found elsewhere, and so the mountain was abandoned, left alone with just a gaping wound in its side that lead towards its heart.
Sunlight falls now, passing through the branches of trees that have grown since the fire, warming coloured mosses that grow amongst the branches and feed on the feet of birds and insects that are unwary enough to walk upon them. A clear sticky liquid with hallucinogenic properties drips from them when they've eaten, leaving sparkling trails of light in the darkness. One day, people will move back close enough to the mountain to see the fairy trails and seek them out.

No comments: