Golden Thread

“Where are we now?” said Andrew, looking around.

“I’m not sure,” said Dennis. “But we must have walked ten kilometres. Come on buddy, keep up. Fall behind and you know what happens. You’ll miss your chance. You may not get another one.”

“I know, I know,” said Andrew. “I know.” He was being silly. He stepped up his pace. He could surely admire the beauty just as easily walking faster – the snow-capped mountains; rolling dark forests; rivers sparkling; patches of rock, naked and strong; and closer by, long flat fields that produced their sustenance, and under their feet, the rutted black road with a golden thread running along its centre, leading to the Source.

People bunched up ahead of him. It looked like the Leader had called a stop. He pushed into the crowd to hear. “This was the largest farm in the area,” she said, speaking loudly. “It was 12,000 acres. They raised vast herds of cattle and goats; there were also llamas. At first it was mainly for meat, and then they moved to dairy production. When they realized that was also cruel, they turned it into an animal sanctuary. But people were not as enlightened then, and didn’t support the sanctuary, so eventually it ceased operations.”

“What happened to the animals?” asked Andrew.

The Leader hesitated, and said, “Of course they all died naturally,” and then, “Ok, let’s move on.”

They had started at first light after a ceremony at the Transparent Temple. After all these years it was still an impressive structure. Andrew wondered if any other Village had a building this inspiring. He had heard that there were bigger monuments in the City, but surely none of those had survived. And even if they had, they didn’t have views of the home of the gods themselves, Mt. Alba. Their group of 33 pilgrims had left Lucerne just after sunrise, and walked steadily for ten kilometres. It was the first time that many of these Service staff had ventured this far up the Valley. They were neither involved in Production nor Defence, so had no reason to go.  But today they walked the sacred road from Mt. Alba to Mt. Negra.

They continued admiring the Valley’s beauty for another ten kilometres. More mountains, forests, rivers and rock; and fields; all connected by the hard black road, and by the golden thread upon it. There was another bunching. The Leader spoke up. “This was the largest crop producer. It was a family that was here for over one hundred years. They grew mainly root crops – carrots, beets, onions, and potatoes.”

There was a muttering among the pilgrims. “Yes, that’s when potatoes were still allowed. Before the Great Blight.” There was further muttering. “Now I’m sure that none of you grow them in your gardens secretly.” She gave an exaggerated wink. “I know I’ve never eaten any grits or home-fries.” There was laughter. “Ok pilgrims, let’s break for lunch. Thirty minutes. You’ve done real well. You’re a good group. Now rest and nourish, and we’ll continue at midday.”

“Who does the scheduling around here?” said Dennis. “We should get an hour at least. And I don’t want to walk in hot sun at noon. I want my money back. I’m gonna tell her. I only did it because my wife kept bugging me. All her friend’s husbands had performed the pilgrimage. She wanted me to do it too.”

“Be quiet and eat this,” said Andrew, passing Dennis some proteinicious bread. Everything you need in one slice. Then he said, “Do they have a pilgrimage in Strattus?”

“Sshh! Keep your voice down buddy; you know what people are like.” Dennis looked around. “Well if they do, I’ll bet it’s an exciting one. Some of their ancient lifts are still running; the ones they built for recreation. They use them to reach hilltop lakes and meadows. They grow some “summer crops” there too.”

Andrew was a regular smoker of “summer crops”. He grinned and said, “So they can’t be all bad.”

They walked for another ten kilometres, and the road became rougher. The golden thread had been refreshed for the pilgrimage, and was still visible; evidence that the Village was connected to the Volcano. It was aligned with the Source.

The Leader told a further bunching that the dense forest before them was where their ancestors had hunted and gathered. It was the first place they had settled in the Valley, when only the Valley existed. Not much has changed since then, thought Andrew, but now it’s by choice; the Separation has cut us off from all other communities.

It was the blush of afternoon. “How much further?” asked Dennis.

“I heard someone say we were nearly there,” said Andrew.

A short while later, they reached the base of Negra mountain. There was a river between the pilgrims and the Source. They camped there that night. The long day’s journey had put them into a sort of trance, which fused into exhausted dreams.

The next morning the Leader gathered them together. She said, “Today is the great day you have waited for. You will be taken individually to see the place where all life in this Valley began, and you will see why Mt. Negra is as powerful as Mt. Alba – maybe more so – as it also has the power of death. Once you have witnessed this miracle, you will become an Initiate. From then on, you and the Secret will be one.”

She took them, one by one, across the river, and into the cave at the base of Mt. Negra. There they beheld the Secret that protected this Valley. During the Chaos of Separation, the Village had acquired a nuclear bomb. It sat quietly in the cave, protected by, and protecting, the Valley. If the mutant hordes invaded, they would of course be resisted by the Defenders. But if they overwhelmed Lucerne, then the device would be activated. All would end here, and then one day, begin again.

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One Response to “Golden Thread”

  1. “her friend’s husbands”. This placing of the apostrophe gives one of her friends more than one husband.
    The Leader gathered them together. She said, “Today . . .”
    Don’t you think the “She said” is unnecessary? It is obvious who said it.

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