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The Mountains of Madness

Dec 4, 2010


Location: Dominica
Author: James Head
Sing to me Muse, sing of the adventures of the Argonauts whose ill-fated journeys we love to hear told! At dawn they left the ship and took a van ride up to the trail that would lead them to our destiny. With the help of their guides, Pancho and Lenny, they trudged through the jungle, up over logs, rocks and rough hewn trails, up through the early morning heat, up and up and up around blind turns offering false promises of one last push until at last they reached the summit. Sweat-drenched and jelly-legged they rejoiced in their victory over mother Earth, arrogantly glugging their water and glutting themselves on sandwiches meant for lunch (it was not yet even noon) and brazenly egging her on. Was that it? they seemed to say; We heard this hike was supposed to be hard! Woe are they who challenge the gods! But worst of all was Hilary, who took all her belongings and hurled them over the edge into oblivion, gave the mountain the finger and ran down the other side ahead of the group, all but daring Nature to give her her worst. Poor Hilary; how could she have known of her terrible fate? Did nobody warn her of the vengeance of the gods? While Hilary was charging down the mountain, determined to be the first to get wherever it was they were going, the remaining Argonauts tightened up their belts once more and prepared for what they thought would be an easy descent. But oh! down mud-slicked slopes and slime-greased ravines they stumbled, stubbing their toes and wishing they hadn’t wasted all their water on saliva for giving each other wet willies at the summit. But all the while they suffered in the hot sun their only comfort was the promise of sweet relief at the bottom of the trail and their spirits brightened when they saw a bubbling brook up ahead. But lo! what did they find at the bottom of the ravine after they crossed the stream? A desolate valley of sulfuric death where nothing grows but rocks and clouds of noxious gas. Frightened now and bemoaning their foolishness they thought it might be wise to appeal to the mercy of the gods with an offering Hilary was the obvious first choice. But out from his magical sack Pancho pulled a basket of eggs which he had plucked from the nest of a Phoenix, and in the boiling stream he hard-boiled them, providing enough sustenance for our heroes to go on. Hilary’s life was spared, for the time being. The wise and aged Boomer who has knowledge of prophesies and scans the flight of birds, advised that the heroes anoint themselves in the sacred grey mud of the riverbank in hopes that their tribal markings would garner favor from mother Earth. Looking like dirty fools, they happened upon a hot springs where it was not too hot for humans to tolerate, and thinking it was a blessing sent from above they bathed in the day-spa quality waters, laughing and splashing and horsing off as if their earlier troubles had never been. But they could not stay in the waters forever, so they ventured on through more arduous hiking conditions until they reached their destination: the infamous boiling lake! Legend has it that the scalding waters which bubble up angrily from the depths of hell are hot enough to fry a man in ten seconds. The irony that they had planned a journey to a boiling lake of non-potable water when all they wanted was something cold to drink dawned on them with bitter comprehension. So they decided to turn back and return to the vans from whence they came, and the journey was pretty much the same thing as before only in reverse. But now they were twice as tired, twice as thirsty, twice as hungry, and twice as grumpy. They began to turn on each other; Why didn’t you give me a slice of orange when I asked for one? Why didn’t you let me make an extra sandwich this morning when I wanted to? Why didn’t you bring salt for the hard boiled eggs? Its a good thing I didn’t otherwise you’d be three times as thirsty! On and on they quibbled and bickered amongst themselves. But with the determination and heroic leadership of their Skipper, they eventually they made it back to the vans, completely tuckered out. But poor Hilary she was swallowed up by the lake as penalty for her hubris, fricasseed to a crisp. Covering himself in magical Rasta oil, Pancho dove in after her in a brave attempt to save her life, but came up with only a golden-brown human-sized french fry. When he returned to the vans, hours behind the others, they were sad to see that their friend had died. But they weren’t really that sad. I mean, they were sad because death is always an unfortunate even, but they weren’t that sad because they were starving and now they had something to eat. Plus, Hilary eats a lot of sweets so they knew she would taste good. The End.