A Big Rock

            Knobbledlegs and creaking joints propelled a sunken man from his buttock’s fortitude inan old concaved chair-seat, his hardened hands parting ways with a smaller man,head a blazed, who subsequently fell into a depression, ending his minute life witha swift ashy plunge towards the porch of wooden slabs, splattering in a spoutof smoke, his head then mere embers. The larger man placed one foot before theother, then paused, his open pupils searching for the horror they feared fromtheir irisical perches. The stingy night atmosphere clamped onto the man’smolested clothes, which in turn hugged desperately onto his back, suffocatinghis cracked and bashful skin. His head lifted upwards, until his face met thegaze of the canyon’s roof.

            Hisears again detected the stir that set his eyes into paranoiac dilation. Hecontinued off his porch, from his humble home, into the vacant street. Thetowering canyon walls began to tremble exponentially with each passing moment.The man heard the monster, a goliath bellowing mournfully from behind the bend,its howl sending chills further and further down the man’s spine as it grewcloser. Steadily the beast crept—no, rushed—towards the mining town nestledcontently in the depths of the crimson canyon. The monster’s roar soon awokethe neighbors, who joined the man in gawking at the enigmatic terror.

            Atthe man’s side: a presence.

            Helooked downwards to see a small girl dressed in white, her face the shade ofapathy. Twiddling with her bow, she cast her attention at him, a stranger inher narrow world. Beneath her static gaze, her juvenile mind puzzled over thealien image of a grown man in trepidation. The orchestral vibration then struckinto overture, and pebbles began to dance between her feet. The surrounding woodenhomes swayed in tempo sans breeze, and the roar of the choir echoed along thecanyon walls, louder, louder, louder.

            Andalas, a monster peeked its head around the bend, and man and child becamesilhouettes against an impending rush of energy. Black wings churned forth,great beastly legs crashed upon the canyon floor, and a faceless head lurchedupwards into the moonlit sky.

            Theman froze as his peers ran in circles, holding desperately onto their belovedand children. The monster blotted out the moon, blanketing the town in aforeboding bedspread. The darkness envelopedthe man, until his only distinguishable features were the widened whites of hiseyes.

            Thegirl screamed, the monster struck, and the town's breath was sucked away.

            Gasping,gasping, lungs heaving inward. Blackness, blackness, an ever-growing weight.Nothingness, nothingness, death.

            Vicawoke sucking desperately for air, lurching forward, head parting ways with theground. His shoulders heaved as his bewildered face stared up at the stiflingnoon sky. He felt around with his pruned hands, feeling for some sort ofequilibrium, trying to comprehend his muddled scenario. He transfigured hisbody into a support system, right arm held straight at a precise 45-degreeangle, hand at the base. His torso leaned on this temporary kickstand, allowinghis left arm and legs to move about as they chose. With a steady baseestablished, his mind started to catch up.

            Hewas male—easily establishable.

            Withhis gender realized, he decided to skip the trivial attributes of his being andfast-forward to the night before; or what heassumed was the night before:

            Awall of water, headless chickens, and complete and utter destruction.

            Hesat in silence, his consciousness gradually informing him that a fish was sucklingat his ring finger. Once full realization hit, he waved his hand spasticallyuntil the gasping fish flew elsewhere. In the aftermath of the waving Vic promptlynoticed that his hand smelled like fish.

            Lettingthe sun embrace his face in a heated hug, Vic closed his eyes and attempted to balancehis breathing. With his free left hand he felt what he inferred was a soggybook. Opening his eyes he found himself surprised to be surprised that it was, indeed, a soggybook. He was then disappointed to find out it wasn't Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,but instead Jane Austin's Emma. Ohwhat a blow to potential humor that was.

            Itwas at that moment Vic remembered that this wasn't the first time Jane Austinhad spoiled his life. He sourly remembered a dreary day in his schooling whenhe was Pride and Prejudice'd in theface by an infuriated girl who did not appreciate the worms in her shirt.

            Thinkingabout it again, Vic realized he might have brought that one on himself.

            However,he could place no blame on himself for the time a Sense and Sensibility was so conveniently placed at the top of astairwell, and he definitely didn't blamehimself for tripping over said book and losing all sense and sensibility at thebottom of said stairwell.

            Vicfelt puns were tacky. Agreed.

            FinallyVic's mind tortoised his body’s hare, and at last he realized he was in hislibrary, with the sun directly groping his skin.

            "Nonononononono,"Vic screeched, bolting upright in horror.



            Avoice from his left. Vic turned right in confusion, then turned right some moreuntil his confusion was suppressed.


            "Wow,no roof, eh?"

            "Yeah.Just what I need."

            "Atleast it's not raining," Richard retorted like the tool he was.

            "Right…How's the rest of the town? Have you scoped it out yet?"

            "Ohyeah, just awful. Half the place is wiped out. Thank God the saloon survivedthough." Vic’s attention was drawn towards the whiskey bottle in Richard'shand that he previously chose not to see, but was not surprised to see. Next tothe bottle stood Richard’s young daughter, whose name escaped Vic’s currentlydisabled mind. She was dressed in a battered white dress, waterlogged and sagging.Her typically childish blue eyes had taken on a heavy appearance, as if theyhad become weighed down by a lifetime’s worth of woes in one restless night. Shereturned Vic’s gaze, but instead of looking up, she looked straight ahead.After a beat, Vic snapped his attention back towards his buzzed friend.

            "Youknow what caused this?"

            "Ohyes, the Mayor made an amazing speech earlier. Just a few minutes ago, actually.Too bad you missed it," Richard said, idly picking surviving books fromsurviving bookshelves. "He got up on the balcony of the town hall, whichdidn't get much damage at all, amazingly enough. And he said, my fellowtownspeople, may I have your attention. As you can see we've suffered a greattragedy. I knew many who perished—many who were close to me, some who were not—andI know many of you lost friends and loved ones, too. It's a somber occasion,and as hard as it is to do, we need to pick ourselves back up, and rebuild, andcome together, and seek justice." Pause for effect. Pause for effect. TheMayor loosened his tie a bit as the crowd fell silent again. "We havereports from reliable sources that this flood was caused in part by none other thanSeposita." Pause for reaction. "That's right. Their mayor reallycrossed the line in his passive treatment of the barbarians that set basewithin his jurisdiction. From the North Corridor the waters came, and up theNorth Corridor, our enemies lay. I feel it is essential for justice, for thosewho died, to take action, and make those who brought this tragedy upon us pay."The Mayor exhaled a sigh of relief as his citizens cheered. He inhaled andcontinued. "I am bringing to the table a proposition. I feel that it is inour best interest to build a barrier between Seposita and ourselves. This barrierwill be an ultra strong, man-made rock, gouged between the walls of the NorthEntrance. This will give us a level of security unachievable any other way, andwill bolster our defenses tenfold. Not only that, but it will act as a dam, floodingSeposita and driving out the barbarians that thrive there and prey upon ourcivil town." Cheers. "And for those of you who may be dragging theirfeet, I must speak sternly with you. Without this barrier, we could very easilysee another event like the one last night. Death is up that canyon, and if wedon't do something promptly, it'll come our way again. Let me say now that any opposerto the rock, and in turn the safety of our town,is just as much of a threat to our safety as those barbarians of Seposita. You’reeither with us, or you’re with the enemy. God bless you all, and let us heal.”           


            Richardwaited, watched for Vic’s next move.

            “Theflood didn’t come from the north.”

            Richardpaused his fiddling with the clammy books. “What?”

            “Itcame from the West Corridor. I remember, I saw it.”

            “Maybeyou hit your head a little harder than you thought, Vic.”

            “No,no. I’m serious. The flood didn’t come from the north. I’m certain about that.I don’t know how Seposita has anything to do with a flood that came from thewest.”

            “Vic,you may want to cool off a bit. You did hear the part about questioning theMayor. People are scared out of their wits and won’t tolerate that kind ofstuff right now.”

            “Don’tyou understand what’s going on, Rich?”

            “Yes.You’re nuts.”

            Richarddidn’t understand what was going on. No one in the town did, save for Vic, whoonly did because he missed the Mayor’s speeches. Of course, it’d seem he wasn’tthe only one who missed the Mayor’s first speech. Everyone who heard the secondspeech heard the first speech, but whilst listening to the second speech, they seemedto completely forget the contents of the first, even the very fact that thereeven was a first speech to begin with.

            TheMayor stood at his balcony, except only several hours before the second speech.The audience slowly trickled into a mass that melded together into a blur ofarms and heads and eyes and ears just as it happened several hours later. TheMayor finally spoke, several hours before he spoke again.

            “Myfellow townspeople, may I have your attention. It is no hidden fact that ourtown suffered a great tragedy overnight. Many of us lost loved ones andneighbors and homes and valuables. This happening was of the freakish sort, andperhaps the greatest tragedy to hit our town. We know not what caused theflood, but we are sending scouts through the West Corridor where the waterscame from to investigate. We will determine the cause of this event, and searchfor a solution before we are hit again. This is a time for us to come togethernot as a town, but as a family. Let us rebuild our town, and ourselves. You’llbe in my prayers, let us heal.”

            TheMayor bowed as he bowed several hours later, and stepped down from the balconyand back into his office. He’d never seen anything like this before. He decidedhe’d tell his assistant that.

            “I’venever seen anything like this before,” the Mayor commented, seemingly offhand, toLars, his loyal assistant.

            “Meneither, Mr. Mayor. It’s awful.”

            “Thatit is. If you don’t mind me, I’m going to take a stroll, think things through.”

            “Alright,Mr. Mayor, we’ll just be organizing.”

            TheMayor trotted down the staircase that connected his penthouse office with thecommon offices below. He was a lanky man, almost goofy looking, with ruffled,graying hair and an almost constant look of cluelessness painted upon his face.His clothes were always pressed and tidy, but his tie always felt too tight,causing a constant struggle between him and the knot that hung close to hisneck.

            Ashe reached the bottom of the stairs, he began to chuckle to himself, musing athis deviousness. Lars had split personalities, and assumed he was one of manyassistants to the Mayor and that the work he was responsible for was, in fact, spreadevenly among five other male attendants and three female attendants. He got thework done, but was inexplicably tired day-in and day-out. As long as he didn’tquestion the Mayor, the Mayor didn’t say anything, and kept saving money. TheMayor felt guilty periodically, but then felt better when he reminded himselfthat he didn’t care.

            Hestrolled through the town hall’s back doors and into the courtyard. The day wasideal, picturesque even, but it hung so heavy. As soon as he stepped out intothe yard, he felt a shift in the air, subtle, but there. His slender face swungfrom one way to the other, spectacles reflecting the blinding sun with eachturn.

            Hetook a step, and in that instant knew what was different.

            Heknelt and felt the ground. What was once firm and stable was now sodden andmoldable. The certainty of the ground had been penetrated, a prefixindefinitely added to it. Dry and reliable became sloshy and worried. The earthshook last night and was plunged into a sea of fear. Where the citizens oncestepped to find the dry land they were so familiar with, they now found nothingbut mud, covered in a film of brown water. He looked upwards towards the WestEntrance. Last night changed everything.

            Thisthe Mayor knew.

            Vicstood at the edge of the canyon, looking back in angst at the mining town nestledbelow, a town he had helped conceive, raise, and put through college. He lookedfrom the battered cluster of buildings and mines to the mammoth of architecturethat towered above it all, but not him. The rock stretched from its broad basethat rested upon the canyon floor to its tip that soared towards sea level. Afeat, a monstrosity.

            Vicreadjusted the packs holding all of his belongings into a more comfortablearrangement on his back and sagging shoulders. He turned from his home, just ashis home turned on him, and began his long journey to nowhere, alone. His feetled him along the edge of the West Corridor, the historically dry sibling tothe more providing North Corridor. His home, which mined where those two metand incested, had always, for its own short history, gotten its water from the north.It was absurd to think any water could possibly come from the west; at leastthat’s what the Mayor drilled into the town’s collective mind.

            Hourspassed as Vic trekked, an outcast, eyes veered towards the shriveled canyonthat snaked below. The overbearing sun clung to his neck, fangs digging intohis skin unrelentingly. Soon though, it let off, sliding back into the earth’swomb for the night. This cycle went through several more rotations, until atlast Vic came across an interesting sight:


            Hecreaked to a halt, his body an oil-less tin man. Before him, an entire cliffface lay ruined, a corpse of a scenic deity. He tediously continued onwards, transversingan upset foundation, fearing to offend the aftermath. The damage was immense, thedoing of an anonymous grim reaper.

            Theland he trodded was indeed unsound, and was subject to become even more so atanytime. The town that spat him out was doomed, and they didn’t even realizeit.

            Buta homecoming would be unbecoming, likely a cause for a death by mob.

            Heturned his back on the wreckage, and walked against the globe.

            Nowlet us watch as the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, as clouds aresucked back by the wind and shrink and shrink and shrink, as words are eatenand exhalations are inhaled and inhalations are exhaled, as events unhappen andthe end of the world is put that much farther into the distance, as riversretreat back to their source and the slightest amount of erosion is placedcarefully back where it broke away, as Mr. and Mrs. Ennis fight and then makeup without the slightest memory of inverted insults spoken, as the earthsilently switches direction and moves against its nature, as the showgirl Lunabecomes shy and covers herself back up mid-performance, as little Jamie's legbones snap back together as he, with seemingly superpower strength, jumps backwardsonto the roof, as wars become unfought and bullets lurch from still bodies, asold and corrupted men shrink and become pure again, unlearn their callousness,unsee harrowing sights, and once again hold only the sin of the fruit to theirname, and retreat to the womb, where they shrivel away and return to infinity;watch as everything returns to an earlier state, as we all wish it could.

            Vicworks with friends and neighbors at reconstructing their adored town, denimoveralls smudged from many laborious hours. After the tragedy, the citizens caughta commune feeling of comradery and pride. All were brothers, all were sisters,working for the greater good. Never before had such a feeling drifted withinthe air they breathed, and it was refreshing, and it was good.

            Vicdonned a submissive mask, cloaked himself in the threads of his peers, andsilenced his dissent, became a sheep to the shepherd’s lies. With hammer inmid-swing, he shifted his attention to the town hall, to the Mayor, who erectedhimself proudly on his towering balcony subjectively akin to God’s phallus,monitoring his subservient populace with smug pomposity.

            TheMayor shifted his gaze from the odd man he caught glaring at him to thefoundations of his town’s massive bodyguard, his town’s savior.

            Anoise to his left, the Mayor swung around to see Lars.

            “Lars!My boy, what do you have for me?”

            “Wellsir,” Lars said in a strained voice, one disastrously attempting to match thepitch of Woman #2, “scouts have reported that Seposita is beginning to waver tothe effects of our flood, at last.”

            “Andtheir mayor?”

            “Well,he can’t be found. They’re searching long and hard though.”

            “Isee. Regardless, this is a victory that all should know.” The Mayor patted Larson the back, and looked across the faces of his admiring citizens. To his back,the infant rock, still a work in progress. “My fellow townspeople, our effortshave been rewarded: Seposita is already feeling the pain of the flood. Ourresponse was quick and competent and should be heeded by the many aggressors ofour crooked world. I proudly announce to you that our mission is accomplished.”At this the Mayor stretched his arms out, embracing the applause that hailedhim. “We still have much work to finish, however. But let this victory motivateyou further, allow you to take greater pride in belonging to such an empoweringcommunity. Know your purpose. We are here to rebuild, to influence, and tocontinue this fight against barbarianism. Let us double our strength, doubleour resources, and double our efforts toward building this rock. Even thoughour original mission is accomplished, we are still in danger; our security isunstable. Let us finish this rock, and let us come together like the grandcommunity we are. God bless us all.” Applause again.

            Asthe Mayor stepped from his podium, the rock continued its growth spurt into theorange sky, spiraling upwards amongst the scaffolding and human sweat, anintruder on the empyreal porch. The river piled up behind it, diseased by thetaint of the canyon; a muddy, murderous maroon mixture. In contrast, the land inthe town’s basin shriveled and heaved, sucking at anything for its thirst to bequenched, but alas, relief could not be found.

            Monthspassed, and the mammoth stood tall, nearing completion. Vic stood on a ladder,hammer and wood tucked under his arm, resting from rebuilding his library’swounded cranium. He was busy staring at the troves of workers toiling away atthe rock when he heard a sound from below.

            “ThanksRichard, that’s all I’ll need.”

            Vicsnapped from his mental detachment just in time to see Richard trot off, and tosee the Mayor’s assistant waving spastically.

            “Hellocitizen, please, come down. I have word from the Mayor,” the assistantbeckoned.

            Hesitantly,Vic did as requested.

            “Eryes? What can I do for you…?”



            “Ihave important news from the Mayor. Please do not be alarmed,” the shrill voicesaid. “He has cut off funds for the reconstruction of the library.”


            “I’msorry but this is how it must be. We are imposing a new plan for the erectionof the rock. It requires more funds to be directed towards it, which in turntakes away from other budgets, including your library’s maintenance. However,this will insure a quicker and more reliable construction, aiding in the fightfor security and against barbarianism. It’s all for the best, but I’m still verysorry for the inconvenience.”

            “Holdon, hold on. You’re saying my funding is being cut because the Mayor wants tospend even MORE money on that stupid rock? The rock that we shouldn’t even bebothering with? Are you kidding me?”

            “Sir.I insist you don’t speak in that manner. The rock is here for our security andfor our war on barbaric ten—”

            “Saveit. I don’t want to hear it. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only sane one inthis town. There is no reason for us to be flooding Seposita. There is noreason for us to be building that rock. It’s going to screw us over in the end,I know it.” Vic was now shouting at the furrowed, professional man (or woman)before him, and an intimate, judgmental crowd began to gather.

            “Sir.Please calm down.”

            “No.I will not. We are all being lied to. We’re being led astray. The Mayor is acrook, a damned crook! And no one seems to see this. If they do, I guess theydon’t have the guts to say anything. That rock is wasting away our money, ourtime, and our relations. We should be spending our money on rebuilding ourtown, we should be spending our time finding out what really happened on thenight of the flood, and we should be worrying about how we’re being perceived.Sure, our town has always been viewed as a bit of a bully, a power monger, butnow we’re literally spit at. Why is Seposita being flooded? I’ll tell you why.It’s the gold! Not because they’re barbarians. There are no barbarians there. Thepeople are nice, they’re like us. No one there is planning to flood our town,they aren’t plotting murder. Sure their mayor is a bit of a psychopath, but isthat really our business? Should we be sacrificing our future by playingsheriff? Our Mayor just simply wants the gold and the extra power. So becauseof his own agenda, we as his citizens are getting screwed! And all of you aregoing right along with it! No questions asked. Honestly. Patriotism is one thing,but suicide is another. I mean, look at this, can you feel the ground? It’sdead. We’re not going to be able to plant anything we used to plant here. Now,with relations and the ground dying of thirst, we’ve voluntarily let ourselvesfall from grace. We’ve taken a hand in our own murder. Not only are we going tostarve, but we’re going to be struck again. The flood came from the west, theWest Corridor, not the north, but I guess in your blind patriotism you’ve forgotten.Whatever happened, without proper investigation and prevention, it will happenagain. Not only that, but look at the monstrosity we’re building. That rock isour own death note. What happens when it’s finished, when all the water pilesto the top of the canyon? When that standing water overflows? What will happen?We will die. DIE. We will die in a waterfall of muddy water. We will die in thename of a false sense of security. And every single one of you is okay withthat. You’d rather curl up with your blankey in a fetal position and trust MamaMayor to make all the monsters in your closet go away instead of standing upand asserting your liberties and your freedoms against whatever threat mayreally be out there. But it would take courage to do that, wouldn’t it? I know.I guess courage is something that none of you have. Not even I had courage. ButI’m changing that. I’m tired of this. Our town will never recover, because ofthat rock, because of that Mayor, and furthermore because of us. Our town fallsbecause of a big lie. Our town falls because of a big rock.”

            Viccaught his breath. Surrounding he and “Beth” was now a large crowd, gawking mouthsand wide eyes aplenty. Vic turned his blaring attention back at “Beth” to seethe same expression.

            “Sir,I’m going to request that you come with me.”

            Andthere was Vic, walking away.

            Hewalked in reverse the path he and his comrades walked years ago towards themineral-rich canyon. He walked away from his greatest love, his greatestachievement.

            Atlast he came to a train station within the struggling remnants of a town oncemightier. The citizens glared at him; they knewwhere he came from, they knew what had happened.

            Atthe ticket booth,

            “Iknow where you’re from. You’re from that town that flooded Seposita, ain’t ya?”


            “You’repathetic. A mindless fool, greedy, fat, and power hungry. You should be ashamedof yourself. You should consider yourself lucky that I’m even selling you thisticket, that I’m allowing you to be on this train. You’re scum, scum scumscum.”

            “Ma’amI assure you, I didn’t do anything, I’m not like them. I actually just got banis—.”

            “Don’tgive me that bull. You’re all alike. Now take your ticket and don’t let me eversee you again.”

            Vicdid as requested. He stepped onto the platform, then onto the train. He took aseat, and those originally sitting in his vicinity scattered, huffing as theydid. He sat in silence, hands clasped between his knees, his back arched, headhung in thought. The window cast a warm, dusty glow upon his face, in turncasting unattractive shadows across his furrowed features.

            Herehe was, unwanted by his town, unwanted by all that wasn’t his town. Hepossessed no refuge save for his own mind, where he knew his truth was true,and the hegemony’s false. But even here he couldn’t avoid the fact that he wasalone, an outcast of society.

            Heawoke from his thoughts as the train lurched forward. He looked back at thestation to see a small girl. Her dress hung in rags, soiled by a long walk. Hereyes met Vic’s, and he realized he recognized her. Those heavy eyes watched thetrain slowly crawl forward, pick up pace. She was stoic, watching Vic, armslimp at her sides. The train began to pick up speed, but their eyes remainedlocked. As distance separated them further, all Vic could see was a spec ofwhite on the sprawled body of the horizon. As the spec fell from his line ofsight, he closed his eyes, but it continued to permeate his vision, burn intohis pupils. Within the pulsating blackness of his enclosed gaze, the whitedanced and throbbed, a lone protestor against the overwhelming darkness. Thewhite imprint slid from one side of his view to the other, with an unseen heartbeating, sending luminous pulses throughout its crude body. Vic knew that if hedidn’t intervene, this tiny dancer would begin to fade, disintegrate into thenight, forever a lost cause.

            Allhe had to do

            wasopen his eyes.

            Andso he did. But

            inthe flood of light,

            thespec was still lost,

            andhe then realized:

            whileGod may not be

            ableto create

            arock so big he

            can’tlift it, man can,


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"Our town falls because of a big lie. Our town falls because of a big rock."
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