Why I Brought You Here
I wrote a wee short story. It's only a little one. Hope you like it.
You can read it here, or download… Why I brought you here.pdf.
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Why I Brought You Here
I imagine you have no idea why I brought you here. I imagine you are stunned to find yourself in this place, in point of fact, sitting in this cavern inside this hollowed-out mountain. I expect this is the last place you thought you would end up. Though of course I must be careful to remember what you know and what you don’t know, and not ascribe intention to you falsely. That would not be fair. That would be worse than unfair, that would be wrong. I mustn’t do wrong things. Well, not bad, wrong things anyway.
I stand and watch you over the monitors, sitting on a chair in the middle of a brightly lit cave, floor concrete smooth, vault hidden by the lights but marked by rock-bolts and the lines the hammers cut when we were excavating. Soon I will enter, dramatically, and we will get on with things, but first I will stand and think for a while.
For what I have to remember is… why exactly did I bring you here?
I had it a moment ago, but now I forget. God damn it. This keeps happening to me. Walking into a room and finding myself there with no reason to be there, it was on the tip of my tongue, I had it there a minute ago, just put it down for a second, who is that? Have to leave again, hope I remember later.
Waking too early after too little sleep, sitting bolt upright in bed, blood pressure shooting sky high, seeing stars: where is this place? what am I doing here? and sometimes, when I’ve had a little too much to drink; who am I? But I don’t like to think about that. All very troublesome, and all part of Getting Older and Being a Famous Rebel Leader, I suppose. In any case, it is of no concern to you. The less you and your side know of my weaknesses the better.
I better go and talk to you soon. My aides are standing around me looking nervous. I guess they’re thinking to themselves, oh dear, he’s distracted again, he’s not concentrating. Glancing at each other when I’m not looking at them. As well they might. I’d be the first to admit I have a bit of a temper.
…now, where was I? I despair sometimes, I really do. This is just too much. I look at the monitors again, and see you from several angles, sitting on the chair in the cavern, by the table which has the things on it. That reminds me of something. Was there some book I read once? I can’t remember now. Surprise.
But, now, concentrate. The desk with the things. That’s important, that’s got something to do with why I brought you here. If only I could remember what.
I must be careful to remember what I know and what I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard. Lack of sleep, or the eternal fight? Always moving from place to place, never knowing quite where I am? Things smear and blur.
It’s been so long. I don’t remember how long, but an awful long time I’ve spent out here in the steppes, around the mountains, fighting the likes of you. And for good reasons, the best of reasons, even if I don’t recall exactly what they are right at this moment. Never mind. Just… seize the moment, maintain the momentum, keep going!
I look up, around the gallery, at the monitors and computers and telephones and desks and chairs, and the cold bare walls beyond, the ducting and cables, and all of you, my dear loyal comrades, the ones that stuck with me though all these years. I have to concentrate, I have to think about what’s best for you. Funny that, me thinking about the future of others when I no longer seem to have a past.
“I’m going out,” I say, and stand. People look up at me. No one says a thing.
I walk out of the gallery, stopping by the door to say, “I’ll be back soon,” then turn into a corridor, deserted and dimly lit, and walk out towards one of our concealed entrances to the outside. To reality, I suppose. The corridor lights turn red next to the door to the outside, and cut off entirely as I open the door, and slip out.
It’s a little platform, cut into the scree and the larger rocks, high on the mountainside. You can’t see directly below, but you can see out, and away, for miles over the plains. It’s just before dawn, it looks like, the horizon glowing to the east. Did I know that before I came outside? I can’t remember. It’s a great view. I remember that I like to come here and look out over this great view.
I remember that it’s been a long hard slog. I remember that it seems an epic struggle, even if right now I’m struggling to recall any details. Like: where did we win? What have we lost? Who, exactly, are we fighting? How many times have I looked out across this plain? When, exactly, did my mind become so feeble?
I remember that at first it seemed as if we were winning, an easy run over an open plain like this one. Then things got hard, and we got bogged down. I remember that it used to feel like we were digging ourselves into a pit. Now it feels more like a deep, straight valley. With a sunset at the end of it. I wonder why it feels like that now. Ach, there’s clearly something obvious that I’m missing.
Dawn comes, and the light slowly flows down the mountainsides and over the plain. The door to the lookout opens behind me, and someone says, “come on, you can’t keep her waiting much longer.”
I sigh and say, “Just a couple more minutes…”
The door swings shut.
I stand there for a while, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what I brought you here for. Suddenly there is a sound, the revving of big diesels down on the plain. I can’t see them, so they must be right below, at the foot of the mountain, right next to our… main entrance. Which is meant to be secret.
Alarmed, I duck inside, and make my way back to the main cavern. I walk straight in. There you are, sitting at the table, in the centre of the brilliantly lit space, waiting with infinite patience, or so it seems. There are papers spread out all over the table. On the floor, by your chair, a case.
You look up and see me.
“Ah, General,” you say, indicating the vacant chair. “Please sit.”
I sit and look at you. For the life of me I can’t remember what to do next. What did I bring you here for? What are all these papers? You look at me, studying my face, saying nothing. You don’t look scared.
“So, then,” you say. “Surrender,” and you pass a document to me. I look at it.
Ah, yes. Surrender. Mine. I didn’t bring you here, you brought yourself. In the middle of the night. Those are your vehicles outside, and my comrades are quiet because, there’s nothing we can do. It all becomes clear.
I remember now. It’s over.
Copyright 2006 Stephen Mackenzie