Razor Mountain — Chapter 30.2

Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.

There were other rooms accessible from the hall: a living room with luxurious couches, a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen. At the end of the hall were two more heavy doors, and these led out onto a balcony carved directly from the side of the mountain. Christopher unlocked them and stepped out.

It was drizzling, and the patter of it was a balm to his exhaustion. The balcony was cleverly concealed from below, and a roof of stone kept it mostly dry, but the far end was open to the elements. The small drops ran down the heavy stone railings and ran together, flowing into narrow slits in the floor.

Christopher lay on the cold rock with his head in the rain. He looked up, blinking against the drops. Fast-moving gray clouds streaked the black sky, but he could see a dark sky and a few stars beyond. Instinctively, he reached out a hand for a presence on his left. There was nobody there to grasp it. An aching loneliness filled him. He remembered a woman’s face, but he couldn’t think of her name. Whoever she was, she was gone. Thousands of years gone.

Other faces came to him then, and some he could put names to. Strong Shield, and others who had betrayed him. There would soon be another to add to that list. But really, who hadn’t betrayed him? They all died, all left him behind, going away and never returning. Going where he couldn’t follow. Wouldn’t follow.

He stood and wiped his eyes. Back inside he found the bedroom. He stripped off his wet shirt. There were still clothes in the drawers here, only faintly musty. He found something soft to wear and lay on the bed, on top of the blankets. The images still flickered on his eyelids. He held up a hand. It looked steady, but he felt as though he were shaking.

He stood and walked across the room. There was a long strip of dark glass, a gas fireplace stretching the length of wall. He turned the knob and pressed the ignition switch, setting the flames racing from one corner to another with a satisfying whoosh. It immediately put out heat, more than he really needed in the already-warm room, but the flickering firelight comforted him. He lay down again, imagining himself alone in a cave with a roaring campfire as his only company.

Is that what it had been like, after he lost the rest of the tribe? Had he found some wood while wandering the halls of ice and stone? Had he somehow been able to set it alight? He couldn’t remember. Those ancient caves were a dream place. He couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it had ever been real, even if their remnants still existed, far below him.

He had wanted to give up. That was all he had wanted, really, ever since Makes-Medicine had been taken from him in the warm valley where the tribe had wintered. When he had lost the tribe, there was no reason to keep going. No reason except the voices. They kept pushing him, kept telling him what he could build. He could make a tribe, lead it himself. He could be in control of everything. He could be the greatest shaman anyone had ever known. They would give him secret knowledge of the world.

Of course, he wasn’t really a shaman. Perhaps there was something wrong with his brain, something that had once convinced him that a chunk of rock in the vague shape of a man could somehow speak. Something that made him think he could see the magic and spirits behind the ordinary world. Maybe it was that same defect that let him understand the voices of the mountain when nobody else could. He wished they would shut up, even for just a moment.

As Christopher’s consciousness grew fuzzier with sleep, he turned inward. It felt like looking down an endless well. Or perhaps up into the endless blue light above the chamber of the voices. God-Speaker was waking up, and he was a vast ocean of thought and memory. Christopher was just a drop, and his gut tightened with the fear that he would cease to exist.

He was dreaming now, the flickering images still playing across the sky above the endless ocean. He wondered if he would still be himself when he woke.

The mountain was there, in the ocean. It was the mountain of old, its freshly split peak still vomiting black smoke. People, like insects, swarmed over it and built upon it. They scratched its surface and begin to dig. They dug deeper and left the surface altogether. They popped out only briefly, connecting new little structures to their network of holes and tunnels. Soldiers marched around the perimeter, protecting the mountain from a strange outside world. But it wasn’t really the mountain they were protecting. It was the lone figure at the center of the mountain. It was God-Speaker.

He was in his body again. So cold and so tired, his hands were dirty and bleeding, but he couldn’t stop. They called to him. He stumbled and crawled through the rough, uneven tunnels. There was no light. He was far too deep. And yet, there was something blue in the distance. It hurt his eyes, even when they were closed.


Author: Samuel Johnston

Professional software developer, unprofessional writer, and generally interested in almost everything.

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