Don't You Come Round Here No More

The man from the mountain felt much better the next morning. A patron of the Lucerne Valley Hotel had given him a voucher for a free steak dinner, and the barmaid had offered him free beer. He knew the receptionist would have given him a free room if possible, but would have got in big trouble. The village was that kind of place.

The man from the mountain slept in a small park near the centre of town. Its young lawns were dotted with clumps of cedar, and there was a fountain and pavilion, in the corner of which he found a blue tarp. He brushed its dust off and laid it back down, then he lay upon it, pulling the slack over himself. A cement bag made a good pillow.

Something wasn’t right when he woke up. Before he’d opened his eyes he felt threatened. He knew better than to make quick moves though. That increased the threat. He rolled his arm slowly across his body, pulling the tarp across with it.

A group of people were gathered around. He noticed their legs initially, then vague balloon-faces. He couldn’t say how many there were but guessed twenty.

A high pitched voice said, “Look, it’s the Abomination.” There was muttering around him, saying, “It comes in many guises,” and “We must guard ourselves against it.” They were repeating the words of the preacher outside the Transparent Temple yesterday.

The man from the mountain sat up on the tarp, seemingly floating on a small blue lake. Fallen white blossoms were scattered around him.

The high-pitched voice, which he saw came from a young girl, said “Why are you here?”

There was no need to answer this brainwashed child, but he felt she deserved an answer that was different from the ones she repeated unknowingly; she was putty in the hands of her parents, who were putty in the hands of the hate preacher.

Still seated, he turned around to face her, and said, “I don’t know how or why I awoke on the White Mountain. Somehow I was brought there, or came there, without my knowledge or consent.” Twice the girl almost interrupted, but she had been brought up with good manners so held back.

He continued, “I was alone there, cold and hungry, so came down to this village. Kind people fed me last night, and then I slept here.”

The child repeated, “Why are you here?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll be gone in a day or two, towards that dark mountain.” He pointed to Mt Negra.

The crowd stepped back and gasped. A man of a similar age to the man from the mountain jumped forward, his wild eyes rolling. “No, begone!” he shouted. “You belong to the dark mountain. Like the others before you, begone!”

The crowd stepped forward, circling him more tightly. He had to act, and flung himself just to the left of the girl. He broke through the crowd and ran into the forest beyond the park. They chased him, shouting, “Begone!” and threw coins and stones, but he outpaced and wrong-tracked them. The man from the mountain knew he couldn’t rest now. He climbed and crawled through the forest towards the dark mountain.

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