Tuesday, June 22, 2021

short story - The One Hundred (philosophy)

The One Hundred  by Marie Lamb

"Out of the One Hundred, broken on the way down." This was scratched laboriously into the side of the mountain we passed today. We all paused, and read it, and looked from one to the other to see if anyone understood. I looked up at our goal, the peak, dizzyingly high, and wondered: 'What was broken? Or, who?'

How did they fall?

Were we climbing the Mountain, only to fall ourselves?

My guide was not enthusiastic about telling me. He doesn't like questions, he says. He just likes the Traveler's to follow along. The road has become so full of ruin and sharp edges that he seems to spend most of his time dealing with it by knives. It was not that there was nowhere else to go, but that we were drawn by something so strongly that we could go nowhere else.

Even so, it is not a wonder to me that there are so few of us who come these day. The ones I stand among are thin and weary in the eyes, but still they look at the Mountain. One must feed up on hope, even when it is doled out in only small spoonfuls. We are all thirsting for the water, and hungry in our souls. And we feel the pull of the Mountain in our blood, calling us.

I fear to ask more while he hacks away at the path. Perhaps our guide was one of the One Hundred, or that he knew one of them. I tread a little more carefully, not to step upon his grief. But still, I wonder how we will not relive the trials of the past if we sit in ignorance of them. We walk along the same paths, and look for the bones, but refuse to speak of them.

We reach the door in the Mountain, and our guide opens it up with a twist of the flywheel. It cranks slowly, on what sound like ropes and not chains. Within the doors the market is bustling and the world is different and full of life. I see the eyes of my fellow Travelers light up with wonder and disbelief.

We look for projectors and speakers, and try to reach out and touch the fruit. But we are pushed forward, our hands batted away. We have come through but are told our journey is not yet over. Instead we are pointed to the Hill, up a set of clean white stairs. We huddle together, our hope held on strings, and begin to pull our ragged bodies up one bit at a time. It is only as a group, with hands together and much strain, that we finally reach the top.

And for the first time, since I began walking, I am counting. I did not count on the trail, or as we entered the gate. I saw and felt only a sea of dead eyes and misery and strife, keeping my sights on the trail and begrudging that there were not enough answers.

Now I see. As the last small child has been pulled up on the top stair we stand together. We are the One Hundred, for this time and place, as was written. We were broken on the way down. And now we have come up.

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