Despair’s Choice

My heart is dark and weary.  I struggle to find oxygen in the thin foggy air of the high mountain.  I have been hiking and alone for hours.  I look up and see the peak wearing a gray fog like a crown.  Soon, the pine trees have halt their wooded and green march.  They sway in the wind, a silent crowd of onlookers, watching my doom unfold.  I walk further, my only company now the wind, the rocks, and my heavy sorrow.  After an hour I see my destination.  The tired wooden structure that I go to when the darkness finds me.  My shoulders ache deep inside.  A heavy invisible weight seems to grow hands and push down on me.  My eyes are thick, inflated, and swollen.  I am thirsty, so thirsty.  I push the old wooden door open.  Splinters of wood burrow into the reddened pink of my palm.  I take off my hat and wipe the hot sweat out of my matted hair.  I know I should get ready.  My doom is coming.  My redemption is waiting.  My choice will determine my fate.

The dark wooden shack holds tight to the windy mountain side.  It looks as if it were a tubercle of wood, jutting from rock.  An unnatural growth in a land of stone and wind.  It is  octagonal with open windows all around.  The smell of old wet wood hangs in the air.  Glass does not occupy the openings, there are only creaky wooden shudders with rusted hinges.  A deep water well made of stone lies in the middle of the room.  Fresh clean water can be pulled from the belly of the earth.  The taste is mineral and devoid of any dying swamp odors.  I have a fire going in a dulled brick fireplace.  It crackles and pops as the mountain wind whips and dances outside.  I should close the windows and drink.  Water to dilute the darkness.  But, I gaze out the open windows.  Memorized by the moment to come.  My mouth and throat are a sticky dry mess.  My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.  The storm is coming.  The air has a wet arctic bite.  The crows are coming.

Thousands upon thousands of dark birds fly up the mountain toward the tired wooden shack.  They caw and swirl, like an angry black ink swirling in  water.  I should shut my windows, but I my eyes are fixed.  My breath quickens.  Thousands of cries, getting closer and closer.  They want my water well.  If I close the window and drink, they will crash upon the wooden walls like beaten waves on a rocky cliff.  If I let them in, they will defecate and poison it my well after they have drank it dry.  I should shut the windows, but I don’t.  I stand still and let the feathered storm overtake me.  My clothes are pecked and ripped.  My skin becomes hot and cut.  They devour me to the bone.  They drink up all the water from my well.  The stoned circle is stained with the aftermath of their loosed bowels.  They fly away into the mist.  Hunting for the next sorrowed soul.


Copyright © 2017 Zachary W Gilbert

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