Choices can't always be selfish, no matter how enticing.
| The snow was thick like wet sand, yet fluffy like an overstuffed comforter. Krisa didn't have much momentum to keep a consistent pace, but she had to keep trekking. She wasn't planning on dying out here in the freezing cold. She made sure to wear three sweaters, each cotton filled and three sizes too large. Her pink windbreaker, the top layer, wasn't very useful, however. The freezing winds made their presence known. Each breeze sent chilling pains throughout her torso. Pain that was like no other. A stabbing feeling that soon felt like gunshot wounds. It wasn't like anything she had felt before.
I'm so close, she thought. She wasn't wrong, as the summit of the Mountain was in view, albeit hard to see with the blizzard pouring on the landscape. Krisa looked down at the pants she wore. Once black snow pants now covered in a white haze. She took her next step towards the summit and noticed her leg garments were freezing over. No, rather, they were already frozen.
Her first thought was to panic. How is this fair? What did I do to deserve this? The inanimate freeze didn't listen and continued. Winds grew faster, the backpack she wore with emergency food stashed inside felt heavier. I'm not going to make it. I'm not going to make it.
Krisa starts to groan. In a flurry of fear, she tries to rush through the six inch thick snow. Her legs churn, as fast as she can possibly go. Yet as she tries to move quicker, the wind howls louder. Snow begins to pour like water out of a pot. Her legs burn like a wildfire. I don't wanna die! I'M NOT GONNA DIE! I"M GOING TO MAKE IT.
Suddenly, she runs into what feels like a wall, her body snaps backward into the heavy snow and lands on her shoulders before collapsing into a lying down position. Sore pain begins to flood her head. Ow.
Krisa rubs her forehead for a moment before rising into a criss-cross applesauce seat. The wind around her begins to slow down. The howling ends as the snow transforms into a light sprinkle. The clouds were still overcast, but the scenery was visible. Krisa looked to her left and spotted a few short mountain peaks in the near distance. Each peak covered with a different colored fluff. The shortest peak in the middle was drenched in what looked like a tan material. Almost like sand. To the left, the tallest peak was merely blue, like water. No, in fact, it was water. Vaguely, she could she rivers of water streaming down the side of the mountain top. It didn't seem possible. Where she was sitting, it had to be any number below zero degrees. The peak couldn't have been more than 10 miles from her current position. How wasn't it frozen? What's going on? In a state of pure awe, she looked to the peak on the far right. This one was strange. In fact, it was downright insane. The mountain was oozing lava. Pure molten lava. It seemed endless. Streams delicately made their way down the jagged rock and into the ground below. Krisa's jaw striked the floor. Her eyes opened as wide as they could. It wasn't real. It couldn't be real. How was all this possible?
"Interesting isn't it?" A voice announced, seemingly from nothing. Krisa, in an instant, spun her head around to the other side, which only held a crooked wall of the mountain she currently sits atop of. No one there. She turned around, facing the long winding path of the mountain she already climbed. Again, empty. Not another person in sight. In fact, as far as she could tell, there was no one with her the entire trip. Throughout the climb, she's been alone. She faced forward to the hill she was going to climb. The last stretch before the summit of the snowy mountain she started climbing only a week ago. But yet, no one was there. Or so she thought.
In an instant, a statue began to materialize slowly in front of her. From the base to the top, particles started to materialize to a grand figure, nearly ten feet tall, almost double the size of Krisa's five foot frame. The figure was made entirely of black marble in the shape of an Egyptian pharaoh. The silhouetted statue was bulky, with a gold lining across the edges and a stretch of cloth along it's chest. The cloth was marked with characters that seemed impossible to decipher, a total of five, each unique in shape and size.
Krisa was already lost, but this was too much. She struggled as she tried to push her body through the snow away from the terrifying appearance. "Oh, you're afraid? I apologize. I never realized myself to be unattractive." The voice spoke again. It was dark, gravelly and absolutely horrific. Krisa knew after she heard the voice once more, it was coming from the statue. It didn't make any sense, but her better judgement told her otherwise. Nothing makes sense anymore.
"Who are you?" Krisa says, as confidently as she can. The statue then stepped down from its pedestal, moving on its own. The fright in seeing this with everything else made Krisa wanna puke. This was almost too much to last a lifetime. This was alien. No way could man make all of this. Any of this.
"That will be answered, but only if you tell me this." The statue spoke, but it's mouth didn't move. It just... came from its body. Krisa's terror began to fade rather as the conversation continued, her curiosity rose. She slowly rose from the ground to her feet, her body covered with patches of snow. She replied, "What is it? What do you want?"
"What do you seek here?" The statue spoke. It seemed like a fair enough question, but one Krisa doesn't feel comfortable saying. However, she realizes in this situation, with the world currently around her, there's no point in hiding the truth. "My father left this note in his memento. I want to know why he came here and why he was found dead near this mountain. He left me and my family behind for this stupid place." With each word, Krisa felt anger rising. She doesn't like talking about her father. Not one bit. Yet she needs answers. "He said there was something up here so important. I guess it was this, but-" She paused again as the awe of her surroundings crept into her head. "What is this? What is going on? Where in the hell am I? Is this some sick joke? Am I supposed to be high or something?" Her questions seemed to pour out nonstop. one question spawned three more. Before she could finish rambling, the statue interjected.
"You seek answers."
" You're damn right. Now who are you?" Krisa was now more angry than ever. Her fists clenched against her black climbing gloves. She wanted to know everything. Now.
"I am you. A part of you. A fragment of which you will become. To many, I am simply a piece in their mind. You may call me Quietus."
"Quietus?" Now everything is off. What does that mean 'a fragment of what she will become'? Her answer only spawns more questions, but her throat gets caught. She doesn't know what to say.
"Indeed. My name is your imminence. Eventually, you will fail. On this very mountain. The one your father climbed." The statue was speaking what seemed like utter nonsense, but all Krisa could do was listen.
"This is not 'a' mountain. This is yours. You come here to decide. Life or Death. Those who participate, most choose death."
"Why? Why do they choose death? What was the reason?." Krisa was bewildered. Only confusion was settling in.
"The humans seek escape. Here on Mt. Dolor, the many make their choice. A leap from this cliff will lead to freedom. The depths are endless, the end is quick. The summit is painful, wretched, among the animals. Those who climb will find family, those who fall find happiness. One is selfish, one is altruistic." The statue then faces the peaks in the distance. The bright tan, dark blue and molten red peaks appear as clear as ever. "Each mountain is a journey based on life. Tell me, what have you been through?"
The question seemed out of left field. After everything said, Krisa was still trying to put together exactly what this mysterious marble was saying. To go with that, why does this thing want to know? Is it really important? Well, at least I can vent. I don't get a chance to do this at all. She thought. If anything, someone was willing to listen.
"My boyfriend broke up with me. My Mom is dying and my family rejects me. My friends don't respect me and treat me like crap. I let them treat me like this for the sake of keeping them happy, but I know that in the end, they don't want me for who I am, they want me for my money and my car. Everyone just wants to chew me up then spit me out. I don't know why, but my Dad was the only one who ever really cared about me. He gave me everything I could ask for before-" She stumbles. It was never easy to say this, not even to herself. "Before he killed himself. I want to know why." She seemed to let everything out at once. In one swift summary, she went from being angry and confused, to melancholy. Her face turned ill as she eyed the floor inches away from her feet. It's true. No one likes her. No one wants to be around her and the one person that did, is gone. He chose to be away from her. She was alone in the real world. "Tell me, what did my father choose? Where did he go? I want to be with him." She felt mistreated by the world. She wanted to be with her father no matter what. She wanted to see him one more time.
"Your father fell. He chose freedom, as do many. Take a look." The statuette pointed off the cliff to the depths below. Krisa hesitantly took steps toward the cliff side before looking down, off the cliff. What she saw was truly remarkable.
A well, the size of a meteoric crate with a swirling galaxy that was painted bright colors, too many to count. It was gleaming, the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Never had her eyes been treated to such a spectacle.
"Here lies freedom for the selfish. There-" the statue points to the summit, "lies pain and humanity. Make your choice. Will you be remembered as a saint who climbs the rock, or as a failure who falls into happiness."
Suddenly, Krisa's stomach grew tight. Failure? No. she wouldn't dare. She can't do that. It would be unfair. Yet, the well shined brighter, the light was so intense yet so inviting. How could she not want it? The choice wasn't fair. But then again, who would remember her? Her friends? Her family? No. She's alone. She's got no one, nothing. The only thing she can do is jump, right?
But, then who will be there for her mother? Who will take care of her? There's so much conflict in her head, it begins to boil.
"Make your choice. You live, or you die." The statue is right, if she jumps, she won't make it. No matter how much her mind says to jump, it will be all too quick. A satisfaction that will never be remembered. The summit will be dreadful, but she can at least have another chance. That's all she needs. Maybe she will find better friends. Ones that will care for her. The family might reconsider how they treat her. They may notice one day that they are wrong. Things can get better. Right? But how will she know? Why is nothing happening? Why can't everything be better now?
It doesn't matter. In the end, we all die right? That's what her boyfriend would always tell her. He was smart too, all A's and top of his class. Why not die now and worry about the consequences later? That way she could at least be with her father. It seems fair, but look at where he is. He's dead. There's no coming back from it. No matter how much she wants to see the world, if she dies, it's done. She won't get to go to Paris. She won't be able to see the beach for the first time. There will be no marriage, no world trip, no fancy foods, no more home. Nothing. She won't be alive to see her mother for the last time.
As much as it pains her, she can't see her father. She knows what he did, and he can't come back from it. He followed the flock like many others. He chose death over life. She can't do that to her family, her mom, not even herself. She has to live.
"I have to live. No matter what." She says. Her voice cracked with sorrow, but confidence as well. She had to do this, for everyone. The statue turned and replied, "A wise decision, may your pain be felt by only you. You may go." The statue's last words send a shock through the mountain as the howling winds begin to pick up yet again. Before Krisa could prepare, the statue disappeared into thin air and the blizzard commenced. The snow was fierce, like nothing from before. The wind sent Krisa back in the snow. Her shoes planted, she wasn't going to fall. Not now.
Keeping her ground, she raised an arm to shelter her face. The air felt like knives, but the summit was more visible than ever. No matter what, she had to reach the end. She had to reach the top and stay alive. For everyone.
She began to take slow paced steps before her speed began to kick into high gear. The walk turn into a run, the run turned into a sprint. She was blazing through the thick snow as fast as she could, her face starting to sweat. Each step grew harder to make, the snow seemed thicker and her legs grew tired. She moved her arm from her face to see the treacherous path ahead. I can do this. I'm almost there. She thought. The summit took up more of her view. Closer and closer. Running became desperate leaping across the wild snow. I'm almost there. Her breathing was now violent. Each stomp was now a struggle. The summit was now only a few paces away. It's right there, in front of her. ALMOST THERE! Out of absolute desperation, for the sake of her life and her future, she took one last launch towards the end. Then.
She lands on a hard floor, A surface that feels made of wood. In an instant, the temperature goes from below freezing, to spring warmth. The area smells of ocean breeze and only the sound of a ceiling fan can be heard. Krisa snaps her eyes open before jolting up to a standing position. Her breathing is frantic. Slowly, her panic settles into a state of drowsiness. She looks down at her clothes, she recognizes her green Maine sweater she snagged from a tourist resort while on vacation with her mom a few years back. Below were here plain plaid pajama bottoms colored white and black. Her feet were red and showed signs of overheating. She feels a sense of comfort in her familiar clothing. Looking around she sees her room as per usual.
A mahogany dresser in the back left corner, colored the same as the floors, each drawer with a decorative black knob. Her closet sat in the opposite corner, holding all the fashionable clothes to her liking. The floor was bare and the only thing left was her basic twin sized bed covered in up-kept sheets of white and red. There was however, something odd laying near her pillow.
A handgun. The one she stole from her mothers lock box. The handgun only meant to prevent intruders, for self-defense. The gun she almost used to shoot herself.