Injured and disoriented, I stumbled back down the mountain after my stone.

The mountain had looked good. It was the only one within sight that would suit my tastes. Taking a long, winding path, I had eventually reached the top, and, with an immense effort of will, had heaved the stone onto the pinnacle, thus relinquishing my control and leaving my hopes to the mercy of the wind.

Until that point, I had not known how the wind was blowing. Heading west, it would have taken my rock to the warm side of the mountain, where I could have rested, hopefully for a long time.

But, no. The rock toppled eastward, from whence it had come, clipping me on the side like an eighteen-wheeler. I spun around twice and collapsed as the rock bounded down the mountainside. After about an hour, I stood up.

A few months later, after much weary traveling in the ice- cold wastes, my burden and I spotted another mountain. This one seemed perfect, and I headed for the base at once to begin climbing. I tackled the sheer slopes with renewed hope, always pushing that boulder ahead of me. I climbed higher than I ever had, so that, when I neared the peak, my head began to spin. Oh, that tantalizing warm side! There, it would be perfect.

Were my eyes fooling me, or were the scraggly plants at the top leaning west, as if blown that way by the wind? With my heart in my mouth, I strained to place the monolith on the peak, and with horror, I watched it topple... east.

As the peak was rather high, and as potential energy must be transformed into kinetic in order to be conserved, the rock squashed me like a six-inch-long cockroach under the heel of a cafeteria worker. I twitched, and promptly fell off a cliff.

The fall lasted many minutes, for the mountain was sheer on that side, and my impact gouged out a deep crater.

Would you expect my ensuing death from these events? Here in Tartarus, even death does not prevent the physical functioning of the body, which eventually regenerates the soul.

When I could think and see once again, I examined my surroundings. Damn this pervasive cold! The crater was akin to a slick-walled well.

Help, I thought, I've fallen and I can't get up! After an interminable struggle in which time warped, and every moment was an eternity in hell, I sent out an empathic, pathetic plea: "I'm trying to crawl out of an infinitely deep pit, but I can't do it alone..." and someone heard. A friendly, comforting hand lowered a ladder and helped me out of the abyss. I didn't get a chance to thank the owner of that hand, but there will be other opportunities...

Now there's another mountain. Once out of the horrible pit, I'd found that the landscape had changed, or perhaps my perspective had. Whatever happened, I am now hundreds of miles away from wherever I was before. I've found a wonderful mountain, and have nearly finished the ascent. My current altitude in unclear, as there are no units of measurement here, and even the frames of reference are weak.

I could be very happy, basking in the glow of the west face of the mountain. But... I'm scared. Yet again, I've seen indications that the wind blew west, but I've thought that before. Better to remain in the chill of the eastern shadows, longing for warmth, than to have my dreams shattered, my hopes dashed to the ground. And yet... how much better to finally find relief! Dare I present my burden to the whims of the wind?

I'm... so... cold...

- Joe Levy 6/92

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