Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Other Town

We’d heard of Hamelin of course.

We watched the piper come down the only road into town, watched for miles as he grew from a sliver to a splinter from the city walls.

His walk was uneven as if his feet pained him. As he drew near we could see where famine had pecked at him, rending his many-colored cloak in tatters. He begged us for work. If we didn’t renege, we had no need to fear his wrath.

We refused of course. Stoppered our ears and tied our children to us and drove him away with rocks and threats.

Our relief only lasted so long. I’m sure news of the rodent plague has gotten around. They got so bold they hunted the cats, bit the terriers until they collapsed. At night you couldn’t sleep for the sound of gnawing. The rye didn’t even get a chance to ripen. As we grew hungry, we grew desperate. As they grew hungry, they grew bolder. They seemed to multiply without aid of food, suckling pups by the hundreds. They ate the granaries empty. They drank the wells dry. A famine like none before or since descended on us.

And in the midst of all this, the piper came back.

He walked even slower now, for he had no shoes. He seemed humbled, by hunger or some other means. He said he would play for us for a single night’s supper. He bore no ill will to us, we had only to feed him and he would do whatever we asked.

We flung the gates wide and took hold of him. We had no blackthorne, for we had burned it all for fuel, and no rope that hadn’t been chewed through. So we took him to the edge of our barren fields and stoned him to death. His heathen songs had already been the downfall of one town, and obviously he had been the arbiter of our own plague.

A plague which did not lift with his death. In the end, it would have been just as well if he had piped the children away. They were bitten, scratched, plagued to death. We were a town without a future, and so we scuttled the town itself. We burned the buildings and in the flames we could hear the shrieking of a thousand mouths, a thousand worm-tails singeing like candle wicks. Come morning we stood in the ashes of our home, free and yet not.

In the end, who was better off? Was it Hamelin, who was left standing but without joy? Or was it we, who are masters of our own loss?

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Clean Living

The note taped to the mirror read

you are not sick. live clean, live long

He was examining himself, studying eyes threaded with seven weeks of solitude, poor sleep and stale air.

He had stocked up on antibacterial soap. The papers had warned against using it, saying improper use would just lead to stronger bacteria without affecting the real cause of the infection, which was a virus. He used it anyway. They hadn’t been able to do shit about containing the infection, what did they really know? The virus could probably hitch a ride on bacteria, they were related or something. Anyway, how the hell could you use soap improperly? It was soap.

His face was free from spots. Free from infection. He was like a fish in a tank while the sea washed at the doorstep. Safe. Safe. A sealed membrane. He could stay this was for weeks, months at a time.

Breakfast was spam and powdered eggs. The external door was in the kitchen. Bits of Harry’s scalp and a trace of his blond hairs still clung to the latch because he didn’t want to bother cleaning it. Stupid bastard. Harry had been too slow, always one more thing to go back for.

The den had been a compromise between the two of them. Harry’s exercise bike was pushed up against the wall, already half-cannibalized for parts.

There were movies, movies and tv shows. He had already watched them in English, French and Spanish, with director’s commentaries and every ‘making of’ documentary.’ He popped in an 80’s comedy and cracked a mineral water. That had been one of Harry’s complaints: no booze. Booze was too much of a risk.

After scrubbing his dishes, he stuck his mouth beneath the stream. Clear and cold, it came from a cistern deep in the ground. No pollution.

 

He put up another note. It said

smile. you’re alive.

He had to check his teeth in the mirror. He had heard that a bad tooth could get into your bloodstream, so he flossed a lot. His gums bled. He washed the lacerated flesh with listerine.

There were two entrances. He had wanted one, but bargained it down from three. The door in the kitchen which he would never, ever open again and the hatch in the ceiling he had sealed  before moving in.

The shelter was a deluxe model. It had a game room where he played the wall at ping-pong and a kitchen and a shower that used the runoff for the septic system. The air system was ionically filtered, no changing screens. Quick. Efficient. It could have supported a family of five. Hell, it could’ve supported him and Harry, but one was enough. One could live well, provided one took care.

He took care of himself and ate right. Some canned food, mostly dry. Dry didn’t go bad. Jars could get air in and go bad. He’d had enough bad air.

Sometimes he wished he could get the news in here. Just to see how much better he had it. No matter how bored he was, at least he didn’t have to step over bodies every day.

He made a pyramid of food cans and rolled Harry’s houseplants down the side until the pots broke. The ferns and orchids were long since crispy. He didn’t waste water on them.

In the game room he made another go at the rubix cube before he threw it at the wall. The puzzles were mostly Harry’s idea. Most of the games were two-person affairs. He unpacked the chess set and made it act out Reservoir Dogs.

Dinner was protein powder mixed in with peanut flour. He longed for a steak.

 

The next note said

wash hands

in big block caps. And he did, every time he saw it. Had to. Sores had opened up on the backs of his hands. It hurt, but he had to keep the infection out.

He bandaged his hands with rolls of gauze smeared liberally with antibiotic ointment. It must have been the cheap stuff, because he didn’t heal any faster.

There was a spot on his back. It was probably a zit, but it itched. Did that mean it was infected? He washed it with antibacterial soap every hour, but it just got bigger and redder. His hands were too bandaged to properly examine it, so he got a kitchen knife. Just a little nick, shorter than a dime, but it gushed like a geyser. He swore and scrambled to blot it with toilet paper.

It had probably been fine and now he’d let the germs in.

He hopped in the shower and washed until the water at his feet turned pink.

He got dizzy. Shit. Was that a symptom?

He got out of the shower and took a mega-dose of vitamins and antibiotics. He must have passed out at some point because he woke up with the towel sticking to his back. He itched.

The new bandage sat on the dried blood because he didn’t want to risk opening it up again. His stomach screamed with emptiness.

The dehydrated tofu wouldn’t absorb water, so he ate the cubes out of the box and drank Hi-C. His stomach swelled and ached, so he brought the cubes up in the toilet. Could tofu go bad? He dumped it just to be safe.

 

The mirror said

don’t scratch

because he’d been unable to manage the tape and paper with his hands. They looked like white boxing gloves.

Since the gauze was flammable, he ate right out of cans. Cold spam. Cold beets. He dumped the egg and milk powders right in his mouth. It started a coughing fit that made him puke.

Food was no good. He ate granola off the counter because he couldn’t use his hands. Itchy.

The water tasted stale. It was tainted. The air was bad. So itchy.

He could taste blood on his gums. Harry sabotaged the food. Had to. Probably coughed on everything. Bastard.

The granola went down the drain. The spam went down the drain. The milk powder went down the drain. The water chuckled as it ran down. The veggies went down the drain. The protein powder went down the drain. The drain clogged, bad water backed up into the stall. He fell trying to get away. Back made contact with the dirty floor. Go to the sink and scrub, scrub, scrub.

Back itched. Probably sick. He taped his hands together to keep from picking at it. Behind, so it’d be harder to undo. Live clean, live long. He slept and woke in shifts. No night or morning. No windows. Itchy. He stuck to the couch. Hunger shred his stomach, but the food was bad. No steak. No meat. He slept. Still hungry. Itchy.

 

The mirror said something. Couldn’t read. Too stale. Air bad. Had to grab the door, but hands behind back. Keep trying.

 

“Anything to report, private?”

The young man came back at a slow jog. “We cracked the hood, sir. It’s a shelter. Mostly empty.”

“Mostly?”

“Well, there’s a shambler in there, but he’s pretty well harmless. I think the guy saw it coming, tried to save other people.”

“By locking himself in?”

“And his hands are taped together. Should we fry it, sir?”

He peered past the younger man down at the hole. “Nah. Let’s not waste the ordinance. Pull out, let’s keep moving.”

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The Incident at Hillside Downs

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Photo courtesy of the ever-excellent Bill Draheim

Russell Bryant stepped out of his apartment in the Hillside Downs housing project at a little after 6pm on a Wednesday in 1992. Intending to check for the mail, on return he found the door to his apartment would not open, even with his key, and was forced to solicit help from the building superintendent. After an interval of approximately half an hour, the super accompanied Russell to his apartment. By their combined efforts, the door was finally forced open. Drawn by a foul smell, the two men entered to find the interior abandoned as if for weeks and not hours. Bryant’s cat lay dead on the windowsill where it had unsuccessfully tried to claw the screen open.

***

Hillside Downs, like other government-subsidized housing, began construction shortly after WWII. The architect was a polish man, Andrzej Budny, who had studied in the secessionist school before emigrating. He drew up an innovative “cloverleaf” design for the grounds, including a small park and pond situated in the middle of the four buildings. Budny himself never lived to see the building finished. One night he told his secretary he was going for a walk of the construction site and never returned. He was presumed dead.

***

A police car dispatched to the Laurel building of Hillside Downs around 7pm. The super accused Bryant of neglect and demanded he turn over the keys to the apartment. Bryant protested that he had only been gone a matter of hours, and had an alibi to back his statement up.

Tiffani Marivich was a single mother who worked night shifts at a nearby hospice. Bryant claimed he often babysat her daughter Candace “Candy” Marivich. That very morning, Tiffani had come by to borrow toilet paper, giving ample time to examine the apartment.

Marivich’s door was also difficult to open. With the aid of the policemen, the door was forced open to reveal a scene not dissimilar to Bryant’s apartment. The sole occupant of the garbage-strewn flat was an elderly woman watching a television that displayed nothing but static. The woman showed signs of longterm neglect and had visible sores.  She appeared aware of the officer’s presence, but afraid to leave her chair.

On entering the apartment, Bryant fell to his knees. When asked if he knew the occupant, he said yes. It was Candy.

***

The park that lay between the four buildings of Hillside Downs was eventually demolished in an attempt to reduce crime rates. The pond was cemented over twenty years before Bryant rented an apartment in the Laurels, the building showing the least decay. The four buildings were named in turn: the Laurels, the Cedars, the Pines, and the Hollies. Budny had named them after evergreens in keeping with his intended theme of renewal. He envisioned buildings that could change easily to accommodate the shifting demographics of future residents, immigrants like himself. Many of his changes remained unimplemented because of his untimely disappearance.

***

Russell pointed to a discoloration in the older woman’s right eye and a scar on her elbow. The scar was from a roller skating accident. The discoloration was a harmless birth defect. It was Candy, he was sure of it.

Attempts to reach Tiffani at her place of work proved fruitless. The elderly woman appeared senile and could not properly answer questions. When removed from the apartment, she became distressed. Only Bryant could calm her.

The super informed the policemen that the apartment did indeed belong to a Tiffani Marivich, he had been in only three days before on a plumbing call. There was no old woman, and the apartment had been clean. He could provide no answer as to what had happened in the interim.

The policemen inquired if there was another resident who could verify Russell’s story. Russell volunteered Samuel Beech, who lived on the top floor. One of the officers stayed with the superintendent and Bryant, who refused to leave the old woman. The other boarded the elevator.

After an interlude of three minutes, the officer in the elevator contacted his partner through the walky-talky. He asked what floor, exactly, did Beech live on? He was on the forty-third and rising.

The super replied that building only had thirty floors.

***

Hillside Downs decayed over the decades, though it never reached the infamous heights of the Cabrini-Green projects. Tenants would often disappear owing several month’s rent. The elevators would malfunction frequently, stopping in-between floors or skipping them entirely. The stairs were prone to blackouts. But however poor its condition, the housing project had never been subject to investigation of any kind. Its tenants were low-income families and recent emigres to the US, and the frequent disappearances were written off as rent evasion.

***

The officer on the ground instructed his partner to exit the elevator as soon as possible. He solicited the emergency shutdown key from the super, who left to collect it. The elderly woman had another fit and Bryant attempted to comfort her. Over the walky-talky, the officer in the elevator counted into the fifties. The super had not yet returned. When the number reached sixty, the officer on the ground left to find the super, taking Bryant and the old woman with him. The super’s basement apartment sat beside the incinerator. The door was closed. It took the combined efforts of Bryant and the officer to open it.

The super lay fully reclined in his easy chair. It appeared he had shot himself some months before, the body having had time to dessicate. The apartment was in disarray; there were deep scratch marks created by a crowbar in the windowsill and the inner doorknob had been smashed. On the walky-talky, the other officer exclaimed that he had finally exited the elevator.

The sixty-eighth floor of the building appeared to be under construction. Raw wood and tarps littered the area. Wind blew through the open walls. The floor seemed solid enough so he walked out, abandoning the elevator.

On the ground, the officer instructed his partner to remain within sight of the elevator. He then attempted to use the super’s phone to call for backup. The phone did not work.

The officer on the unfinished floor described steps echoing his own. Twice he went silent for a period of five minutes, claiming he had heard someone calling. His own calls garnered no response. Either disobeying or forgetting his partner’s request, the officer eventually found the edge of the building and a half-finished fire escape. It was at this point that the ground officer’s transmitter ceased to function: though he pleaded with his partner not to board the stairs, the other officer kept up a running commentary of his descent as if oblivious. After the top floor, the construction became sturdier. He descended three floors without incident until he came to a dead end. The platform he stood on had no stairs leading to the next platform. There was also no next platform.

***

Shawnda Barber, a waitress who lived in the Hollies, had propped a fire door so that she could smoke a cigarette without entering and exiting the building through the front gate. The bucket she used to prop the door fell away, and the door closed before she could catch it. She was forced to use the fire escape to descend down the side of the building. Antoine James was disposing of rubbish in the Pines’ incinerator chute when he saw someone clip the padlock on his bike and steal it. He gave chase, but gave up after three blocks. Harold Kim turned the keys to unlock his apartment in the Cedars building, but found himself stepping out the delivery entrance of the Laurels.

Besides Russell Bryant, the officer, and the old woman found in Tiffani Marivich’s apartment, these three people were the only known survivors of the Hillside Downs incident.

***

The officer on the ground had lost contact with his partner and was shepherding the two left in his care to the police cruiser. Observers described a strange blur, as if the building itself was vibrating, before Hillside Downs disappeared completely. In its place were four excavation holes and the puzzled survivors. After a brief investigation, the city labeled it a structural collapse despite the absence of any debris. The holes were backfilled with filler dirt and paved over. Besides a small concrete memorial, no further construction was attempted on the site. The displaced occupants were re-homed elsewhere.

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Obligifts

I guess we all had to deal with them one way or another in childhood. Mine were so frequent I came up with a term: obligifts. You don’t want them, don’t need them, but you can’t throw them away because it’d be rude.

I never got that last part. Aunt Myra never really seemed to care what I did with her gifts, never asked after them. She just came back every visit with more crap that looked like she picked it up from the side of the road. She’d smile with nicotine-yellow teeth, arching her penciled eyebrows as she handed me a battered watch that didn’t even work or one half of a BFF necklace.

It was only ever me, too. Not my younger brother. Maybe it was because I was a girl, or maybe it was because I was older. My mom said that Myra and and her husband Eddy had always wanted kids but could never have them. I never got that impression. Myra’s concern began and ended when she handed me the newest present, she never asked about school or what books I was reading. Eddy didn’t come over as often as Myra, and when he did he would ask me to sit on his lap. Always came off as skeevy to me.

Anyway, Myra wasn’t really my aunt. She was like a second cousin twice removed or something weird like that, but mom said I had to call her aunt just like she said I had to accept all her gifts like they were gold. They were crap. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it looked like they were road litter. They were all used kid’s stuff, just random crap like a yo-yo or a scrunchie she probably picked up for ten cents at a thrift store. Half the time it was boy stuff I wanted to pawn off on my younger brother but my mom wouldn’t let me.

When I was ten she brought me the headband. Purple with tinsel threading through the chunky plastic. It smelled like the kind of perfume they sold with fashion dolls. The plastic was scuffed, and it had just a little bit of hair grease on the underside.

I hung it from the end of my finger and stared at it.

“Say ‘thank you,’” my mom prodded.

I mumbled something that sounded like thanks and took it back to my room. Myra stayed through casserole and cigarettes at the dinner table while my brother and I had to go to bed early. The headband sat necklacing my Garfield lamp until the day I saw the news.

The weather had just ended and they were getting to local events; you know, where they announce rummage sales or animal rescues. That kind of thing. But this one was different. This one had the girl with my headband in her hair.

She was Jobeth Nichols, age 8, and she’d gone missing a week after they’d taken her school photo. That was the one they used in the story. She’d gone missing on a walk home from school. My mom would never let us walk home from school. I took out the headband and hid it in a drawer. I didn’t know what I was afraid of.

The next time Myra came over, she brought Eddy with her. He had too many beers and leered that I was never too big to sit on his lap. I was too distracted by the headband to react. It had to mean something.

My brother finished early and went to the den. Eddy followed soon after and the sound changed from cartoon noises to the roar of a football game. I picked at my potatoes. Myra lit a cigarette.

Mom prompted me to finish my dinner so I could go to bed. That gave me a little push. I set down my fork and said, “I was thinking of going to the police station, to ask them something.”

Myra’s hand tensed. Smoke steamed away from the end of her cigarette, forgotten. She was looking at my mom washing dishes, but she wasn’t really watching her.

“Why, sweetheart?” My mom asked from the sink.

“Did you see that news story that was just on, the missing girl? I think I might know something.”

Myra’s mouth pursed like it had drawstrings. From the den, I heard the sound of a can of beer being set down.

My mom flicked her hands and dried them on the towel pinned at her waist. “Don’t waste the police’s time, sweetie. That’s finished enough. I want your teeth brushed and you in bed.”

I left the kitchen but I didn’t go far. I paused in the little piece of hallway outside the door and listened.

Aunt Myra asked if I could spend the night at her house.

My breathing stopped for a second. My mom said no, it was a school night. Myra pleaded: I was such a good girl, mom knew her and Eddy didn’t have kids of their own, couldn’t she spare me one night? Miraculously, my mom only got more firm the more Myra pushed, finally snapping at Myra that they had survived all these years without a child, one more night wouldn’t kill them. Myra went silent. Out in the den, only the TV sounded.

Dad came back from the bathroom and told me to get to bed. I lay on my side on top of my pony quilt, unable to sleep.

The stairs creaked. One by one, steadily, like someone was sneaking up. My dad called Eddy’s name. The steps paused. Eddy called back that he just wanted to wish me goodnight. Dad said I was a light sleeper, he shouldn’t give me any cause to miss the alarm in the morning. I held my breath until I heard the steps downstairs again.

Myra and Eddy didn’t visit anymore after that. Mom didn’t seem too put out by it, I guess there were some limits to even her patience. I got rid of everything but the headband, still have it today. Sometimes I take it out and stare at it, like I’m doing right now. Guilt is the ultimate family gift. You don’t need it, don’t want it, but it’s yours.

Forever.

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The Climbing Diary of Paul Tassel

On August 12, three amateur mountaineers attempted ascent of K2’s notorious north ridge. What follows is a series of excepts from the diary of Paul Tassel, the only party member to survive long enough to make contact with society again.

 

[Note: the pages leading up to the ascent itself have been omitted for brevity’s sake]

Aug. 12

Cheated base weight by leaving the stove, packing a single-wall tent. Dane says I’m playing a fool’s game, but the extra pounds mean a lot. Dave’s already struggling in the snow, and we didn’t get an alpine start so he’s probably having a harder time than he needs to.

Later

Fuck. Cache is torn open. Something got at it. Dave says it’s a Lynx, but I don’t think they’re around here. We stocked up as best we could. So much for less weight. I took the water. Dave’s low in the powder already.

Aug. 13

Iceman found.

Aug. 14.

I can’t believe it. I can look over the pictures and I still can’t believe I was so close to a piece of history. We found a fucking mummy! This is just fucking magic. This is why I got into climbing.

I didn’t even know they made mummies around here. He’s a little less dignified than the Egyptian mummies, all he has is this furry pouch that makes it look like he has fluffy grey pubes. Dane nearly died laughing.

I wonder who he was, why they left him up here to die. His skull’s split and his face looks like he’s screaming in fear, maybe we’ve got the world’s oldest cold case file (ha) He must’ve been somebody important, I heard they only tattooed the important people. In the places where he isn’t yellow leather, he’s dark blue. I can’t imagine all the needle-pricks that went into making that. I feel almost bad for posing with him like he’s a cardboard cutout, but when the hell are we ever going to get a chance like this again? We planted a flag by him, promised we’d be back for him later. Don’t worry, iceman. One way or another, you’re getting off this mountain.

Aug. 15

We left the iceman and ascended. Dave even waved bye to it, I think he was the one who posed him like he was scratching his balls. Thank god those pictures aren’t on Dane’s Nikon or we’d have every scientist in the world after us.

Good start. The pack’s nice and hard.

Aug. 16

Good weather. We’re late in the season, but we made up for it.

Aug. 17

We haven’t seen the ropes yet. Dave didn’t want to use someone else’s system, wanted to man his way over the mountain I guess. We rightly convinced him it would be suicide.

We should have seen them by now.  

Aug. 18

no

Later

We found him again. It’s impossible. But there he is. The red flag we planted. The cache we left at his feet.

Dane is looking at the route map those Canadians gave us. Dave’s just kicking snow. Goddamn, how did this even happen? Did we double back somehow?

Aug. 19

We tried descending. I got so dizzy I thought I was going to fall down. Couldn’t tell down from up, anyway. Dane puked on himself because he didn’t know which way to heave. We stopped trying.

Aug. 23

We’re back. The wrapper I ripped is still ripped, in the same place.I threw it away, watched the wind take it.

Aug. 24

We tried descending. Vertigo. Went back up.

Aug. 27

We’re back. The wrapper I ripped is still ripped, in the same place. Someone must be fucking with us.

Sept. 1

It’s my sister’s birthday today. We’re back at the fucking cache. I hope she’s eating better than us.

Sept. 3

We’re back. WHERE ARE THE FUCKING ROPES?

Later

I didn’t know he was going to do it. This diary will be proof. I didn’t think Dave was that angry. Me and Dane were in our tents and we heard Dave shout. The iceman didn’t make a noise when Dave rolled him off the mountain, but he made his mark. On Dave. Dane’s treating it now. Looks nasty. Serves him right. We’re all angry, but that dude was a chunk of history.

Sept. 10

We made it we made it, jesus christ we made it. I didn’t want to write anything just incase.

Dave’s not doing too well. Thought it was AMS until I saw his hand. Dane’s globbing on the neosporin but we really need to get him to a hospital.

It’s not like we’re doing any better. We passed the cache by without taking anything. We’ve been climbing for days on dwindling supplies. God, I hope we summit soon.

Sept. 11

The second we hit Eagle’s Nest a storm blew up. Dave’s incoherent. We’re all bunking in the same tent to try to keep him warm, but you can see it in his eyes. He’s almost gone. We needed the time we’ll lose to this storm.

Sept. 12

Dave keeps asking me if I have any marshmallows left. I think he thinks we’re back on Mt. Josephine. My 15th birthday. I never asked for presents, I always wanted to go places. I take back my birthday request. As a special gift to me, can my best friend not fucking die?

Sept. 13

oh jesus god no

Later

i can’t

Later

Dave stood up for the first time in days. His hand was swollen to the size of his foot. He started laughing, saying “I can’t believe it’s over. The sun feels so good on my skin.” God. It was still coming down in droves. Dave ran out before we could grab him, goddamn hands were so cold I could barely open them, shed his coat and a pair of pants as he did. He tore the zipper and ran out. Laughing. God, he was laughing. What am I going to tell his mom?

Later

The storm died down an hour after it took Dave. Of fucking course. Dane went left and I went right. Dave was so crazy he probably went right over the edge, but I wasn’t going to say it. We needed to look.

I wasn’t gone that long when Dane bowled me over, scared to shit. I asked what he was running from. He told me he’d found some rocks he couldn’t stop staring at, didn’t know why he couldn’t. After a minute he realized that someone was lying on the rocks. Someone the exact same color and texture of the rocks, lying perfectly still. He was so scared I couldn’t get anything else out of him. God, don’t take him away too.

Sept. 14

Neither of us will admit it, but we’ve stopped looking for Dave. Dane said it was best to go on, if we tried to go down we’d just get dizzy again. I’m more afraid of finding Dave’s body, but I didn’t say that.

Sept. 16

why didn’t we tie ourselves together why didn’t i tie us together you’d think after we lost dave i would’ve thought that but i’m an idiot.

Later

God, I have to put this down. I don’t know if anyone but me will read this diary, ever, but I have to put down what happened. Maybe people will think I went nuts and killed both my friends. Trust me, if I had done that, the next person on my kill list is holding the pencil.

He was right in front of me. He was putting up our ski poles to make a support system. Safety first. I was just checking the fisherman’s knot on my pack i swear i only looked away for a second and he screamed god i’ve never heard him scream like that and he was gone but the scream just went on and on

Later

Okay, I can finish this. I went to the edge. The vertigo was back, but I went to my hands and knees and went all the way up to it. I didn’t care if i fell too, i had to see if i could see him. If the scream was anything to go by, he fell for half an hour. I don’t know how that’s possible. It isn’t possible. None of this is.

I’m alone.

Sept. 19

I can’t see the point anymore. I can’t bring their bodies back to their families. I can’t bring closure.

Sept. 27

It’s my fault. It was my birthday. “Let’s go climbing,” I said, “somewhere hard.” Asshole. God.

October? 3?

On my 18th, we went to Moose Mountain. Didn’t plan. Didn’t tell the folks. Just threw some things in the car and left in the middle of the night. I remember [personal anecdote omitted by request of the deceased’s family.]

And I was the one who got hurt. They carried me down the mountain, got ice for my ankle at the Hardee’s. Why couldn’t that happen this time? It’s my fault. It’s all my fault.

October 10 15 20?

White. White. [note: the following 2 pages contained nothing but the word “white” repeated ad nauseum.]

Undated entry

I’m going up. It’s all I can do.

Undated entry

My fingers are black.

Undated entry

I think the world is a snowglobe and god’s shake shaking it up.

Undated entry

am i up or down? walking? a level path to the sky. on either side a drop to hell

Undated entry

not hungry. cold. not cold. numb. not numb. dumb. dumb dumb dumb.

Undated entry

Wh ere ism y ic ema nf rie nd???

Undated entry

i saw them. hoods. the mountain finally fucking came out to kill me. i scream as long as dana did.

 

[Paul Tassel died shortly after this final entry. The only information on the climb comes from this journal, as the digital camera was presumably lost along with Dana Holt’s body. Neither Dana nor David’s bodies have been sighted by subsequent climbers. The “iceman” mummy has not been recovered.]

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