Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.
Christopher. Not God-Speaker. Not yet.
His inner landscape had changed once again. There were still stray memories, like flags in the wind, untethered and confusing. Others were sorted and collated, slotted neatly into larger narratives, anchored to times, places, and events. The swirl of emotions in his chest had a different timbre, a different color. He couldn’t explain it to himself in less synesthetic terms.
He realized that the desire to return home, to return to Christopher’s life, had faded, even if it wasn’t quite extinguished yet. That life felt impossibly remote, and how could he ever return to it? How could he make sales calls with the voices of the mountain ringing in his ears. How could he visit his parents and talk about how the back-yard garden was coming along?
The things that made him Christopher hadn’t gone away, but they were being diluted by the flood of God-Speaker washing over them. Christopher had thought that the transition might be like flipping a switch. Now he realized it was more likely that he wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the moment when he crossed over. Perhaps he already had. Christopher wouldn’t go away. He would become a few small branches in a very large, very old tree of thought and memory.
He could see now that he wasn’t unique. There were many other branches like his. After all, this was how God-Speaker had always achieved his immortality. He jumped into the body of another. These vessels were typically prepared for the experience, and it would be done with great ceremony when the new host was a few years into adulthood. He didn’t like to make the transition more often than necessary, but if he was going to take on a new body, why not one that was young and healthy?
These new bodies weren’t empty. They brought with them the thoughts and memories of their original occupant. They weren’t wiped out—they were incorporated. And while God-Speaker was the dominant personality, especially with the accretion of years and memories, these others were still present in some way. They could not easily be pried apart; they were no longer their own entities. But Christopher could sense that some of them might be disappointed by what had become of them, while some would hold some amount of satisfaction or pride at being incorporated into this larger whole. Together, they were a power, a unique creature on the face of the earth.
The voices had also changed, or he was hearing them differently. They no longer grated against him or overwhelmed his other senses. They were still present, but he could more easily “tune” them in or out. He could set them aside and listen to the quiet of the room. He could concentrate on other things again. If he focused on them instead, he could hear them with a new clarity.
They still had a neediness, an irritating quality of demanding attention despite being utterly powerless. They were kings without kingdoms or subjects, still issuing opinions and decrees, and Christopher was the only one who could really hear them. Now, though, he understood that they were subservient. If they had some morsel of knowledge, he could take it, and they had no say in the matter. They wanted so badly to strike at him, to make him obey, but they could not. Some trick of evolution and brain chemistry prevented them from entering into him the way he entered into a new host body.
There was a buzzing sound, and Christopher realized it was the sound of someone at the main doors to the apartment. He stood, but he was in no hurry. This internal world was too interesting to set aside just yet.
He focused intently on the voices. There were many of them, but not as many as he had initially thought. They were a choir, not a crowd, even if they didn’t sing in harmony. They were so much like God-Speaker, and of course they were, they were the ones who had taught him the original trick to immortality. Despite their current impoverished state, they were far more than God-Speaker.
Christopher reeled in shock as he saw a flash of them as they truly were. They were so very old—less individual personalities and more geological forces. God-Speaker’s reign of a few thousand years under the mountain was nothing in comparison to them. It was too much time for Christopher to fit in his mind.
They were creatures born in the adolescence of a strange world. They had learned many things, and eventually, a few of them learned the trick to immortality. They had warped their people and their world around them, just as God-Speaker had done with Razor Mountain. They were true kings. They had watched a young world grow old and weary, and finally die. Even then, they remained kings, albeit diminished. They set out into a vast universe, confident in the long arc of time. Eventually, there would be another world, another people who were compatible enough to continue their endless line of immortal rule.
But destiny had a cruel streak, or a sense of humor. Something had gone wrong. They had found a new place, a new people ripe for control, but there was an accident. They had come down in a streak of fire and light, cracking the mountain asunder, bathing it in noxious smoke, and burying themselves deep in its roots. Still, it might have been fine, if not for the other problem. The people of this place, as primitive as they were, were somehow immune to the interlopers’ power. Their minds, so similar to the invaders’, were impenetrable. Most of them could barely even hear the voices howling their futile anger from buried caverns.
There was one who heard better than the others, one who followed the voices down into the darkness. But even that one could not be used. The voices remained trapped. Even worse, they were at his mercy, used for his own ends. They were forced to watch his petty kingdom rise up around them, in defiance of the vast domains that now lived only in their memories.
No wonder they were pissed.