A short piece I was randomly inspired to write while driving by an interesting rock formation.
“Yes.” Sam forced a smile. “Loose stones.”
I nodded. It was slow, going over such rocky terrain. More often we made our way on all fours, climbing over stones so big they could almost be called hills, if they weren’t so jagged. Everywhere sharpened points waited for one misstep; so we guarded ours.
Finally, we came to the base of the mountain, and what we saw filled us with fresh dismay. Steps. Massive steps, each half again the height of a man; worn smooth in a way that nature never would never allow.
“Who could have made these?”
“Let’s keep moving,” Sam said, walking up to the wall as if they were old friends. Out came the rope he always carried, and an old knife to give it some weight. It didn’t catch on the first throw, or the second, but by the tenth it found its way, and so did we.
The tops were not nearly so smooth. Dirt and grass collected in gullies, shaped by rain, or some great boot dragging across it? The significance of these steps could not escape me, but Sam simply coiled up his rope and readied the next throw, as the wind howled around us.
Suddenly the ground shook. A great rumbling filled the air. We both fell to the ground, clinging to what little purchase we could find. In the distance I saw a black speck. Slowly it grew into a shape, and then a beast, and still it grew, hurtling its thunderous roar into our ears. It flew by, a great worm of hardened stone, its many legs a blur that carried it off into the horizon.
“What was that?”
“Something we best avoid.”
“Sam, how can you be so calm?”
He turned and looked at me. “You think that thing has any fear of us? You think whoever built this would show the slightest concern for us?”
“But think of it. No one’s ever seen anything like this.”
“Oh, I’d wager some have. And some knew enough to say nothing, and let the memory fade.”
“Because, some things have no need of us, and no need to notice us, as long as we stay out of their way.”
Sam stared at me, waiting. We’d been traveling together, on and off, for a dozen years, and I’d never seen him like this. “Alright,” I said, fighting to sound calm. “Come on. Let’s get over this mountain. We won’t find any supper up here.”
He nodded, gathering up his rope. We made our way over, crossing strange tracks the likes of which I’d never seen, but Sam’s eyes were still on me, and I did my best to hide my curiosity. We still had a long way to go.
By nightfall Sam was his old self again, quietly working at whatever task he could find, smiling whenever our eyes met, but in his eyes I could still see that cold stare, watching me. I smiled back, and said nothing of what I saw.