View Full Version : The Incident at Uncompahgre

March 17th, 2015, 11:32 PM
“200 more yards. It’s just around this bend,” the man alerted the party. They had walked for eleven miles over steep alpine terrain, and the prospect of sleep clouded their minds. Although human eyes could not pierce the dark (a tempest slowed the journey, and its remnants clouded the sky), artificial light and instinct guided them to the edge of an expansive clearing surrounded by ominous spruce, where the four men assembled four tents surrounding a glowing, crepitating fire.

“Hey, did ya bring the poteen?” the fire-haired Irishman asked.
“The what?”
“The whiskey.”
“Yep, right here. Pass it ‘round.” Each man took a slow swig, with the exception of the excursion leader. “Hey,” one tapped his shoulder with the bottle, “you want some?”
“No.” The wilderness was no place for drinking and conversation. That was how mistakes were made, and the man would not have any. Instead, he let himself become intoxicated by Italian opera in the confines of his tent, where he would be left alone with the music and solitude.
Once it had become apparent that twilight was fast approaching, the remaining three retreated to their respective tents, and the unconversational night was left in welcome silence. The man soon fell asleep to la traviata, and his mind left his body when sleep came to claim it.

It was noon. On the trails of high altitude, the sun could strike the skin precisely, without the interference of vapor or dense foliage. There was only rock and sun. Nothing else. The man and his companion trudged through it nonetheless. The apex of Uncompahgre Peak was just one mile away, lying in the emerald slopes like a god’s throne. The two ascended on the gentle grass slope, and approached the precipice on the other side. Around them, several blue-green streams flowed downward from the high tundra, and disappeared into a patchwork of viridian and yellow-green. As always, Verdi blared through the miniscule radio. Their love of opera and mountaineering were the only two things they had in common, but he knew he would love her until she died. The only thing that mattered at that time was that they were happy. However, no matter how much love lied in the wife’s bosom, he could never give away his love in return.
“Just what do you think you’re doing? Keep that match away from that!” Mmm, more sleep...
During their fifty-seventh summiting of Uncompahgre Peak, amidst a ravenous wind and warm sunshine, the two false lovers exchanged obligatory adages. They summited, then prepared to make the descent. One last time, the woman looked over the edge of the cliff, then took a single fateful step. She slipped on a rock and fell. No matter how hard the man tried, he could not grab her hand. It fell away as her ragdoll body rolled down the serrated boulders, then came to rest at the bottom. Somewhere, her soul drifted aimlessly in the sky, upward toward a indiscernible point in the infinite blue.
“Ahh! Put ‘er out! Put ‘er out!”
Since that moment--three years, twenty-five days, nine hours, thirty-six minutes and fifty-four seconds ago--the man could stop thinking of her, but every once in a while she took her place in the golden throne of his mind. It was not until his wife’s death that he missed her presence. In sleep and wakefulness, she sat in his subconscious. It was not until his wife’s death that he missed her presence. Why must Fate be so cruel? Why must it melt happiness like ice? If only man could manipulate Fate as he can manipulate the Earth. Then, she would be alive by his side, and their joy could be ethereal. The man cursed destiny, and attempted to soothe his internal wounds; he began to develop an intense passion for Italian opera and mountaineering. Nothing else. For three years, twenty-five days, nine hours, thirty-seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds, he lived in darkness, lying on the empty floor of his life with only Verdi and Uncompahgre to console him.

He awoke in the fetal position. Tendrils of pine smoke wafted into his nostrils, and his stomach ached for fire-grilled trout. His eyelids slowly pulled open, then slammed shut like window shutters. Cinders and dust filled the air, and he could not keep his eyes open for longer than a few seconds. An acrid stench soon reached him.
It was then he realized something was wrong. With his eyesight gone, the man could only navigate as a blind cave fish through murky water, so he stopped stumbling around to listen. The morning was still. It seemed as if everything ceased to live.
“Hey, anyone there?” No answer. “Hello?” No answer. “Where is everyone?...” No answer.
He took one step forward, feeling for flat ground. Rather than packed soil, his foot found a rigid, cylindrical object, which splintered under little weight. His red eyes darted downward for two seconds. Beneath his left sole lay a charred femur, and a scattering of unidentifiable bones lay around it. He blindly ran.
On the edge of the clearing, the man gazed diffidently in the direction he had come from with refreshed eyes. The tents were no longer tents, only ashes. The men were no longer men, only ashes. Nothing was left but indifferent nature sitting idly by. Somewhere down the Big Blue draw, a immediately recognizable sound stirred in the verdant shrubs; the crackling of a hungry fire.
He shook off the fear-induced trance, and traded it for sheer insanity. Did I do this?Yes. No. Yesnoyesnoyesnoyesno. His palms were covered in black, fingernails filled with skin and stygian powder. He could faintly remember the screams of innocent hikers, and could recall. Yes. Hands soon tore hair from his scalp, heartbeat increased to the point of explosion, legs turned to solid columns. When the instinct of flight kicked in, the columns broke in their centers, and he took lengthy strides.
Up the broken trail he ran, through boughs and boiling air. Pines dissipated, followed by brush and grass. He was left with only rock, sun, and madness. No matter how far he ran up the trail, his legs obeyed, and the gales could not hamper him. The air grew thinner with each foot gained in elevation until he submitted Uncompahgre above the emerald slopes.

“Oh, Fate, you bastard. What do you want from me?!” He shouted at the sky.
“Ah, you have done me well,” the voice boomed from the wispy clouds.

“What do you mean by that?”
“Ever since I caused your wife to fall to her death, you let me control you. Every action you have taken was caused by me.”
“I wont let you control me! I have my own will!” the man defiantly uttered.
“It is too late for that. I have taken your body, love and soul. Now, you will do my bidding.” The man’s form evanesced and metamorphosed into aspen leaves and columbine perfume. Gentle wind took his remnants, and dispersed them toward the four cardinal directions.

March 19th, 2015, 07:03 AM
This was an interesting story chief! I enjoyed the scene upon which it was set and the background, plus how it twisted at the end.

Not horribly good at critiquing, so take it with a grain of salt, as it may just be a humble opinion yo.

I get a bit confused with the dialogue, figuring who was saying what. I only know of the main character for the most part, and that there was a red headed Irishman along with them. I get the dialogue back in forth in a conversation, but generally after those characters have been identified and introduced.

The other kicker was when the main character was dreaming, I believe? I gathered the italicized portion of it was to emphasize that it might be an inner monologue, but it did take me a few paragraphs to really catch on with it. And while the end was a twist, I was a bit confused once he woke up and how he deduced that he was the one that caused the fire? I got the jist of it, but was curious at how he came upon the same realization. To me, a little more detail to define the scenery and situation at hand.

Still, a good story which drove me to wonder who or what gained his own self in the end!

April 10th, 2015, 08:00 PM
That was very well written.

April 11th, 2015, 01:35 AM
I liked that! I thought the scenery was explained well, but I agree with the above post that it needs more details about what is happening.
This seems to be a redundancy:'The man soon fell asleep to la traviata, and his mind left his body when sleep came to claim it.' But I like the part about the mind leaving the body! It just needs a little rewording. There were several other phrases that I liked and overall I thought it was good!

May 11th, 2015, 06:22 PM
wow, impressive I liked it, nice word choices

May 12th, 2015, 12:34 AM
I enjoyed that but one thing although strange was the gentle wind that took him away. The story was fast moving but the gentle did not fit for me, maybe the soul was burnt in embers or flashed into flame would work.

Nit picking but overall a great read, thank you!