Friday 20 May 2016

The Prince of Exiles, 5

Not apparent from the plain, a path, well-worn, winds around the side of the hill, fringed by rocky grass and the occasional bladed, hostile-looking palm. Further into the hills, a few miles back, I realise that I have left what I own – not a whole lot – in a cave, and I have left the others there.

And then it comes to me, as surely as the name I had in that other life of disappointment and failure has faded, leaving me with no name of my own, that I left others behind.

No, they left me behind. I stayed to meet – I wonder if they know. A flash of whirlwind frenzy. I shake my head, eyes screwed shut.

The sun begins to set, and the air takes on a chill to it. I wonder if I have another shirt packed away in that cave.

A rise, a sheer hill, and I cross over into a valley; on the opposite valley wall cave mouths, dozends of them, uniform. Possibly artificial, I think, a thought that I recognise isn't right for the sort of man who exterminates armies single-handed.

As I come over the rise, exposed, the setting sun now behind me – I travelled in a half-circle – leaves me silhouetted, absolutely exposed, and I realise that I do not care. From within one of the higher mouths a voice, hoarse, throaty, androgynous, a man with a high voice or a woman with a low voice, I can't tell although I think I will not be surprised when I see: "Hey, Eagleman! Eagleman! Eagleman lives!" The voice almost sings those last two words, and then laughter begins to echo across the valley.

[Collected Writings Index