Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Road of Fortune (2007)

This is the start (possibly all of it, I can't remember) of a story I wrote back in 2007. Now I see it as terribly flawed (though the messed-up mathematics of it is intriguing me enough that I might rewrite it one day). I haven't posted anything in awhile (still recovering from moving), so I thought I would post it.


Death comes slowly on the last day of life. The magician lay limp in the cobblestone gutter as tiny droplets of rain kissed his exposed skin. The road of Fortune didn't end here.

Fourteen years ago the magician set out from the city to follow the road of Fortune to its end. He had been a young man curious about the road. The journey had made him age prematurely. The rain collected at his grayed temples, dripping slowly off the ends of scraggled hairs. Sodden clothes adhered him to the road. He was finally stuck, unable to pull away from his murderer. He blinked in his sadness, water squeezing from the delicate folds of skin, becoming the tears he no longer had. Behind the eyelids lay his eyes, the portals to a mind insidiously corroded by the warped geography of the road.

Outside the border of the city the road gradually turned right. It kept turning right, and it turned right again. At the outset of the journey the magician took many measurements and found that the road should have crossed itself but it never did.

The road of Fortune split in two hundred and eighty-six places that the magician had counted. Each time he came to a fork he marked the path he took with golden paint, an X, and the path he didn't with a black O. Twelve times he encountered paths he had already marked, and once he found a fork with both paths marked with O's.

As he traveled, the days seemed to get longer, until there was only perpetual dusk and the stars in the sky peeked at him but he couldn't recognize any of the constellations no matter how hard he tried. During this evening on the road, he met an old woman. As they passed he asked her the same question that he asked every traveler he saw.

"Where does the road of Fortune end?" asked the magician. The woman stopped and looked at him. A toothless smile broke across her deeply lined face, then she laughed at him, hard and long enough to bring tears to her eyes.

Finally she caught her breath. "You should know the answer to that young man! Ahhh. Ha ha."
Rage was building inside the magician. "But I don't know, no one seems to know!" She laughed again, then resumed her journey. That was several years ago. Perhaps she had known, but maybe her mind wasn't with her anymore. As he lay with rivulets coursing around him, he continued to stew on the encounter. Slowly his thoughts returned to his life as a young man. He had been worshipped by many peers for his ability to solve the great mysteries of the world. He had been able to explain why the world was flat, and why objects were attracted to the ground. He had been a celebrated man, accruing great wealth, enough to mount his expedition. The vibrant life of the city, the center of the universe, was so far away now that he doubted it even existed.

No comments: