Day 5 of my Flash Fiction February entries. The suggested prompt was “Challenge” so I went with a story about a climb in my Space Gods setting I keep revisiting.
The Climb by Jeremiah McCoy
“Why are we doing this again?” Korry asked. Her arms shook from the effort of climbing.
“Because we don’t know if anyone ever has.” Mika replied as he placed the anchoring bit in a seam.
That last piece in place, he began setting up the platform for the two of them to sleep on. He was trying to be quick because they both were exhausted, but he didn’t want to mess up.
“That seemed like a good reason 2 days ago and about a mile lower.” Korry said as should sneaked a look down. The nearly sheer drop would daunt anyone, the divine elements notwithstanding.
“Yeah, yeah,” Mika replied as he worked. Tension supports and ancient unbreakable poles were slid into place. A few more adjustments and the tension of the platform would hold them solidly.
The not quite stone showed little wear but it thankfully had many seams to use as anchor points. They had made it up the right leg of the climb. That was largely to avoid the worst of the wind. The last bit in place he climbed up on the narrow platform.
“finally,” Korry began to say but a low crack cut her off. One of her chocks holding her had come loose. She slipped a few inches and scrambled for the freshly built platform. The motion caused her safety line to slip further.
Mika laid down across the platform and reached out. His hand grasped Mika’s and pulled her to the platform’s edge. Blind terror was barely kept in check as Mika pulled her up on the stretched tarp. They both lay there panting on the platform. The thin cold air never seemed enough to fill their lungs. They lay there looking up the sheer surface of the statue and hovered on the edge of consciousness.
After a seeming eternity, Korry fished a couple of nourishing seeds from her pocket and ate them. Mika fumbled for his water catch and took a long sip. With care, they maneuvered so their backs were against the not stone of the leg.
“So,“ Korry started but didn’t know how to finish.
“Yeah,” Mika knew what she meant.
“Too late to back down?” Korry asked the not question.
“Yep” Mika replied, looking further up at the statue again. A mile up the leg and they hadn’t quite hit the waist yet.
“Yeah,” Korry said with a long sigh. They were both very tired and it would be worse the next day. She laid her head on Mika’s shoulder and closed her eyes.
Mika just kept looking up. His mind was making plans for the next day’s climb and was very deliberately not thinking about the fact he had almost lost his partner.
“Let’s climb the god,” Korry quoted an earlier conversation. “They wouldn’t have just stood there if they didn’t want us to try.”
“Made sense.” Agreed Mika.
“We’re idiots, you know?” Korry finished with a laugh.
“Yeah, probably” Mika said, “but we made it this far.”