He heaved a sigh of relief, having hiked all the way up to the crest. Joy dawned upon him, as he reminded himself of the fact, that he was the only person to have ever made it to the Stallrose peaks. The view filled him with serenity, calm and peace. The sight from this point was immensely breathtaking and its aura made it almost seem unreal. The peaks stood high and upright, embracing the enchanting sight, as the sky welcomed their presence with a warm and magnificent blue. Their wonderful artistry was a well-kept secret.
He stood there all alone, admiring nature and eyeing her magnanimous handiwork with awe. There was something that he had always found intriguing about the mountains. He could feel the peaks calling out to him, and finally he knew he was Home.
“I am finally home! This is where I belong,” he exclaimed to himself.
“Yes you are, my boy,” a voice echoed.
Startled, he turned around and to his astonishment, there wasn’t a single soul around.
“Here, my boy. I am here,” the voice whispered in on him, emanating from a tiny hill, in the midst of the lofty mountains, ever so subtle yet clear.
As a believer of infinite possibilities, he set aside his hesitation and headed towards the hill, more curious than afraid. However, when he arrived at the tiny peak, he could make out an opening leading to two tunnels inside.
Once again the voice resonated, “These tunnels shall lead you to the home you seek… It’s now up to you to choose which tunnel it’s going to be. Once you have entered a tunnel, you have to walk all the way through it, till you reach your destination. The light at the end of the tunnel will be your guide ! Best of luck, my boy.”
“Wonder why she’s addressing me as ‘my boy’ so peculiarly,” he thought aloud. He chose the tunnel on the right side to lead him to the promised destination, hoping ‘right would be alright.’
Inside the tunnel it was dark with the smell of fungi & mould and it felt as cheerful as a damp squib! The path was dingy and there was an unusually cold draft whistling eerily past the narrow confines. He trudged, trotted and walked on & on for what seemed like an endless eternity. The tunnel seemed long winding, virtually unending. He started feeling let down and discouraged, thinking he had been taken on a ride. Pausing in the tracks, he impatiently blurted out.
“What’s going on !! Where do I go, Stallrose? Am I lost? Help me! I am tired…Help..Help me! Please!”
“Look beyond, my boy. Look beyond, you’re almost there,” instantly echoed the strangely enticing voice of Stallrose.
He strained his eyes to see in the dark, and started trudging the somewhat inclined path. All of a sudden, a brilliant but blinding flash of light hit his weary eyes and as he ran forward towards the exit, he stopped short. He found himself standing at the precipice, the edge of a mighty cliff – an extremely high, sharp and jagged cliff.
Once again he heard that voice.
“Come here, my boy. Come along ! This is where you belong. You belong to the Mountains. For, you are too precious for the world. It was for a reason that you were the only person who managed to ascend it. For, this is your home. Come here, my boy.”
Nearly dazed, he approached the edge of the cliff, peering down its dangerously steep slope. The voice now was all pervasive and so close that he felt it was coming from within him only!
“Here, my boy. Jump. I am waiting for you, arms wide open… Jump!”
It was almost as if he was in a trance and though he wanted to resist, he found himself giving in without a second thought or resistance. Off the cliff the jumped and plummeted down. Gravity took over and he kept falling for what seemed like an unending eternity and all of a sudden, to his amazement, his feet touched the ground with a very light thud! That shook him out of the stupor & daze ! It was pitch dark all around and the silence was haunting.
“Stallrose?” he shrieked, “Stallrose? Where are am I? Where are you??”
All around him was silence, mocking his frail human hopes. A question mark hung on the dark walls of the cliff for the voice that had died in the vast emptiness. He kept repeating himself hoarse till he could no longer utter a word. In utter shock & disbelief, he realised what had happened! He was trapped in the crevice between two gigantic cliffs.
Suddenly, the air was filled with shrill laughter and rancour… “…am here. Here am I, my boy. Right here!”
It was then that he realised the voice was was coming from within him. Completely dumbfounded and horror struck, it dawned upon him that he had led himself into a dark spot with his reckless bravado, a perennial ‘trap’, never to be found or freed again.
That was the last they heard of ‘the only boy who had ever conquered the Stallrose peaks’ never to return again.
If only he had looked, before he leaped…
In this story, the boy is lucky enough to be the only person to have climbed the Stallrose Mountain. He reaches the peaks and finds the eye-catching beauty that the mountains behold, and has a strong desire in his heart to live there. He is driven by his wishes, (as the voice of Stallrose depicts, his inner cravings) over what he should have done. And, he carelessly falls prey to his whims. His desires control him, and lead him to an enticing & beautiful yet inescapable position.
Perhaps, that why it’s said even today in the hamlets that surround Stallrose peaks, “Look before you leap.”
// This fictional story has been penned by 13-year-old Naisha Mishra and has been selected for publishing on our platform from the weekly submissions //