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Flash Fiction 2013 First Prize
 

Zenith

Suyajya Sankar

 

 

He escaped onto a blank piece of landscape- unwritten terrains of brown and green, overseen by blue skies. The quietness inched in on him. Feeling the madness of silence, he kicked up a slow sprint that turned into a jog, and then a full-fledged run. His path was as easy as thought: like the flow of images, ideas and words that pour into the brain. His breath was even- he hadn’t yet fully exerted himself and this frustrated him. He pushed himself further and further. He was running now- not as a professional runner would, but a pell-mell forward motion, feeling the air rush across his face. He was the centre of movement and the breeze. A soft smile was beginning to creep across his face… but stopped.

The landscape had crumpled across the flatness so inexplicably- almost like paper. Everything that had been plain and endless had formed a vastness of ups and downs with little mountain ridges, hilltops, crags and crannies that dotted the brownscape in front of him. There were trees growing almost since the end of time, seeking the beginning. He hated the trees their guts for having been there forever!

All he could do was climb. One tedious step after the other he pulled himself onto the multitudinous folds of brownness, aiming for the pinnacle of perfection. The climb offered him much more of a challenge than the plains ever had. The pain in his muscles felt good, the sweat across his brow, trickling down his back reminded him that this was his own effort. The movement was exhausting, but slow- like the hesitant drip of ink when the thought flow turns to sludge and you have to wade through the muck to find the right words, the right ideas. He was happy in the slowness, waiting for the freedom that comes with reaching the zenith.

He grabbed at whatever supported him. Like a vortex, he bent everything towards him, as though he, and not the massive mountains, was the central force. Conscious that he was being so finite and so obvious and flagrant he grunted out his exhaustion, becoming slower and short-breathed. The air that had once been beating against him was now leaving him in soft bursts of agonizing physical pain. And yet, he took one step after the other, eagerly awaiting the top.

As suddenly as the crags had formed, he stopped. He hadn’t even reached the beginnings of the peak. He was on a broad mountain base, but could not find it in himself to move. He stood- doubtful, unsure, drained and defeated. All attempts at pushing onwards and upwards met with a sneer from the unevenness of the landscapes. He looked forward and backward and only felt the mountains. He was stuck. Surrounded by a never-ending series of ridges, crags and peaks, his feet could not step onto those precious terrains. Amidst all of this, he couldn’t escape. All he could do was let out a roar of frustration.

 

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