Here, There and Over There

Two streets cross in a mile and a half wide valley. The valley is a mile and a half down a hole. Twenty thousand people live Here. They call it Here, cause they know nowhere else. You don’t leave Here, those who leave here die. They’re surrounded on all sides by forest with odd metal jutting out of the tree line. There are stories of people living in the forest and even beyond but everybody Here knows that stories lie.

Here people treat stories like drugs, they partake, they abuse and then when they can’t get any they withdrawal. Some find the lord and abstain from such sinful lies all together. Most just take enough to get through the day. There ain’t no jobs Here, ain’t no money Here and their ain’t no future Here. There’s just the food you eat today and the food you hope is there tomorrow. Miles is seventeen and he’s getting out of here.

Miles is a smart kid, he knows that if he stays Here, he’ll die Here. He also knows there is a way out the valley but the real trick is getting through the forest where tigers, dogs and dead men roam. There are those that go into the forest but never to far and always armed. Miles has a four inch blade and a flashlight. That’ll have to do, he’s at the border of Here and out there and he ain’t looking back.

The voice of a man booms across the forest. The voice says strange incoherent things in tinny tones. Miles knew this was the way once the way of men. Men could live forever in sound and light, now only ink permits a man such miracles. On occasion, Miles has seen and heard such things and he remembers them. His reverie is short lived, a man approaches.

“Turn back boy.” Miles understands the tongue of the forest well enough.

“Be damned if I do.”

“There’s nothing you want up there.”

The man sulks away knowing better but impotent and old. Miles starts towards the path up the hole. Oddly the path is well made. Still it’s treacherous enough, Miles spent a summer collecting bodies that fell back down Here. Usually there were about ten a season. Miles hoped that meant twenty got to the top but but hope is kinda damning in Here. Luckily, Miles wasn’t going to be Here much longer and he let himself get high on the hope. It was a much needed anesthetic.

Half way up the screwing path, it turns to simple grooves carved into the stone. They are glorified holds but Miles is thankful. Anyway up is better than down, especially now. As he gets closer to the horizon, the dirt starts to fall. It’s heavy half muddy stuff that encumbers him but it’s better than rocks. He continues clockwise and upwards. He can see the sun and he knows that it’s close to evening. Until now, that fact was useless.

As he reaches the top he sees the moon rising for the first time. It’s enough to force a tear and make Miles kneel upon the ground and kiss it. The new ground tastes different, maybe better but then again the dirt is always tastier on the other side of the street. On the horizon he can see nothing but that could be just the darkness. He is afraid, he is ecstatic and he is new in a new land.

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