At sunlight’s first glimpse of the world, when birds shiver awake and the aftertaste of a song not yet forgotten still lingers on the wind, there is suddenly something new. Either that or very old. It is deep and shifting; an uneasy complaint groaning through the soil. A buck lifts his head and gazes with protective concern at his mate. She’s wary, but unafraid. She’s never afraid when he’s nearby.
A new sound emerges. A crushing of stone. Trees tremble and a soft rain of needles patter the forest floor. There is a hush as waking creatures hold still to listen; muscles clenched in preparation. The geyser beyond the tall hill issues a terrible blast into the sky and the moment of suspension evaporates as creatures of every size stop listening to flee. The air becomes spotted with winged complaints. The hills swarm under scrambling legs. The trouble is knowing which way to go. The doe eyes her mate. He’s studying the hill directly before them.
A fissure forms ahead, splitting the side of the hill. At a gesture from the buck they both run, though not far. He is curious. They glance back to see trees and boulders tumbling as the hill shifts upward. Upward. Three wolves dash past them without a look. The hill’s majestic green covering is falling away as the land peels up. Finally the top and then the other side of the hill dissolve as this quake moves down the other side. In place of the mound of trees now lies something new. It is wet, like a lake, though swells like the hill that was there before. It is white like snow, though the air has no chill. The buck strides forward.
He stops at new movement. The forest is hushed again, though this time it is from emptiness. He can hear his mate shift her weight behind him. This time she is not following him. He hazards a few more steps. Brown, like the soil that for so long covered the hill that is now snowy lake, descends over the hilltop. More and more of the hill is covered with it, though this is not soil. It remains wet. And the white is still there, to the sides. It is as if a soil moon has grown fat and round within the snowy lake.
On either side of the hill the ground peels up again, though it is now free of the forest that once covered it. Both sides race to meet at the hilltop, covering the watery dome with its soil moon and snowy lake for a moment, before sliding apart again. The moon slides partially into the ravine that separates the buck and doe from this new thing, so the top of the moon’s arc is level with the pair. The doe has that feeling she gets sometimes when a predator is nearby but downwind. Of being watched. She takes a step away. Her mate, hearing her movement, follows behind her. They disappear into the valley.
The soil moon rises once again to the peak of the snowy lake dome and again the sides of the hill slide up, meet for a moment, and fall away again. The sky is still the same shade. The brave buck and doe seem the same as any other. It is the air that is different, then. The taste of it. Somewhat more metallic than before. How long has this sleep lasted? Are the others awake? With a final sigh, shaking a series of hills free from their forested carpeting, the giant rises.
Written by W. C. McClure www.wcmcclure.com. This short story may be shared (and please do); just please be sure to share it in its entirety, unaltered (and including this fine print), with credit given to W. C. McClure. Comments are welcome at www.farsideofdreams.com. Oh, and if you want to show your support, tell your friends about this short story blog – and pick up a copy of “The Statues of Azminan” by W. C. McClure. Thanks!