All the essentials gathered. Snacks packed. Map in my right coat pocket. And most importantly: a proper course plotted.
A look forward revealed mist-covered peaks. Storm clouds swirled in the sky. A sign of things to come? Of a game yet to start, to all but one.
The battle of a lifetime, or maybe just a trivial piece of gossip to read about in the news the day after and amuse yourself with for a moment before you leaned back in the sofa, took a content sigh, and turned on the tv to find out the results of yesterday’s football game. For mankind the former, for me the latter.
Greenery covered the path ahead. My legs trembled from the effort, but I took my first step up the mountain. A mind-numbing ascent only made the slightest bit more pleasant by the thought that this would be the last time I visited. Yet there was a bounce to my step, a vigour I would have thought lost to me decades ago.
I ascended. Step by shaking step, strained breath after strained breath.
Time was running out. I gave them as much time as possible to prepare. Perhaps that had been a mistake.
Eventually I reached the top, the storm growing fierce enough that I would have forgiven anyone watching for thinking it would blow such a frail old man over the edge. My life over in an instant as I fell of the kind of cliff that had stolen the lives of many brave, stupid, and unlucky mortals. Not an entirely unpleasant prospect, but my fate lay elsewhere.
The peak was empty.
No opponent awaited me. Nothing but ice-cold snow falling out of the sky, heavy snowflakes pattering down onto the mountaintop.
I turned back around as soon as I had gotten a good look. Etched it into my mind. I would not have minded watching for longer, but my business lay elsewhere.
Even through the thick cover of clouds and over the roaring storm there were things you could make out. Millions of lights dotted the distant ground below. One of the largest cities in the area. Last I heard about a million people lived there, and by now a building or two reached the clouds. Someone had clearly been busy while I was away.
I let out a content sigh. Let the scene mix with many others from my memories. I was firmly of the belief that everyone deserved to be remembered, no matter how despicable, and these people were far from it. Their only failing was being in the wrong place at…