The Woman on the Mountaintop (My Response to Bill's Challenge)
I don't usually participate in writing challenges. In fact, I often feel like I don't have enough time to write at all. Then there are times when I must write whenever the inspiration strikes or else risk losing either the words, the idea, or both. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how I look at it) for me, this moment is usually after I am ready for bed and want nothing else but to sleep. Lucky for me, this was not exactly one of those times, though I did jot a few things down about my concept before going to bed. Still, I had to think on this idea a bit further.
You see, I read a few hubs that responded to Bill's challenge and it piqued my curiosity. Could I too come up with something unique and interesting based on that photo?
Then I read Bill's hub in which the challenge was not only issued but he also provides his words for what the image inspires in him. It is a very touching tribute to his wife, someone that seems to make the world around her a better place. Someone I found myself relating to, at least as I looked at the picture. I thought of my own love of hills and mountain views, despite my fear of the edge of heights. There is just a sort of freedom up there that cannot be explained, yet it courses through the veins and is felt in every heartbeat. At such moments, all seems right with the world and the beauty of life is crystal clear in all its delicacy.
But I digress, because I didn't want to take up a challenge like this only to write something expected like that. Believe me, those that know me well would definitely expect me to speak of my love of hills and such. It is a challenge, after all, though, so here's my attempt at a short story or flash fiction, whatever category it falls under.
The Woman On the Mountaintop
She stood upon the edge of the mountain lookout, alone and undisturbed, much like the nature around her in these quiet moments before sunset. However, the solitude was a comfort. She was alone with her thoughts and one with nature. To her, there was no better time or place for calming her spirit and getting her wayward thoughts under control.
She watched as the lights of the homes in the distant city turned on one by one. The fog slowly creeping in made the lights flicker and sway like candles in the wind. The colors on the horizon matched the city sprawled out just beyond the banks of the winding river. The view could not get any better, she thought, despite the fact that it looked rather eerie.
She came up to the mountain to escape that very city for a few days. She currently held nothing but contempt for it because it was there where her life started to fall apart. It was there that she learned only recently that she was adopted. Adopted because her birth father is a serial killer in prison awaiting his death and her mother, his last victim, had no other family to take her in.
At least now she better understood the ominous black cloud she always felt hanging overhead. It hung so low it seemed tangible at times, not unlike the murkiness of the fog obscuring the city below. Dark now, the stars danced in and out of the rolling clouds above, merrily oblivious to her inner turmoil.
A lone wolf howled somewhere in the distance. A mouse simultaneously ran by her feet, startling her as it rustled the small pile of leaves it ran through. Suddenly, with all senses on high alert, she sensed someone watching her. Was that the sound of footsteps or the mouse again? Alone no more, she felt the chill of the wind run down her spine as she heard a deathly whisper.
"His. You're hisss."
Instinct told her to stay and listen some more. Panic and adrenaline told her to run. So she ran. The rhythmic drumbeat of her heart kept up her pace. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Already banging so hard she feared it might leap from her chest, it beat faster. She ran faster. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang.
From out of nowhere, a crooked tree root sprung out of the fallen leaves and grabbed her foot. She felt herself tumbling head over heels. On and on she rolled for what seemed like endless minutes until she landed at the river bank; broken, bloodied, bruised, and dying.
The wolf in the distance howled again. Somewhere an owl cried out into the night. And as she took her last breath, she heard the bone-chilling wind whisper again.