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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Emily on May 26, 2012
"A rushed piece interrupted by food and friends, this is most definitely nowhere near as nice as I'd like it to be. Chances are I'll pull it out and edit it at a later date should I feel the need to write and not have anything in particular to work on.

Please feel free to critique as necessary. :)

Thanks A-Plenty,

A Perilous Palace

The climb to the top of the mountain had been somewhat treacherous, as I hadn't gone the usual route for hikers. I'd thought I'd be adventurous and see where the paths that remained rocky and steep would bring me. The trip had taken me extensively longer than usual, and I was worse for the wear upon arriving at the top. The famed Mount Olympus was my favored place for peace and inspiration, though no trip had yet to yield enough for a continuous flow of words from my pen. I was hoping this year would be different. Perhaps a few encounters with some less-than-friendly wildlife I'd had on my way to the peak would spark some flame in my mind; I had no knowledge as to how they would do so, but I could only hope. There was a tree at the top I often marked as my place to sit and think. If I were lucky, no other hiker would have claimed it as their own yet, today.

I was hunched and aching when my feet landed upon the fabled surface of the mountaintop and I had to place my hands on my knees to catch my breath. I didn't often make outdoorsy adventures, so I was out-of-shape, and I wasn't even going to try denying it. My ankles screamed as sharp daggers of pain wound their way into the sensitive flesh and the bottoms of my feet felt as if I'd been walking over needles the entire way up. It was an extensive and excruciating experience, being able to feel every last cell in your body so explicitly. It was quite possibly the reason I didn't make this trip more often. That, and the trip to Greece was outrageous price-wise, at least, for someone of my menial income.

Drawing in a breath, I forced myself upright and looked around. Instantly, I knew something was wrong. The trees looked dead and sullen, different from the lush greenery I had found in the past (albeit, a bizarre happenstance this high up anyway). No animals spoke here, and the sky that had been sunny and blue moments beforehand, only be-speckled with the white of potential snow, was now grey and sullen. A building sat before me, though calling it a ruin might be more appropriate. The stone was weathered and falling to pieces. Gunk spilled out over the elegant architecture where moss must have once grown. Bones littered the ground here-and-there, as if animals simply perished and nothing dared move their remains. It was frightening and I could feel my throat knotting up as I gazed upon the scene before me. My first thought was to run, and I almost did.

A voice in my head whispered, "But why?"

At that, I had to think. There was no reason to fear this place anymore than those I'd passed before. Why should I give in to the irrational reasoning of doubt and something new? No one had written about this place anywhere that I'd seen; why should I give up such a great opportunity.

Slowly, as if moving on their own, my feet slid forward. The air changed, no longer fresh or difficult to breathe, but heady with the scent of death and decay. The atmosphere grew denser than expected, and I found myself coughing. Sudden changes are harsh on the body, as anyone who's worked in the food service industry can tell you. Walking from cold, thin air into hot, thick, disgusting-smelling air is as difficult a change as walking from the freezer back out next to the oven, if not worse.

My recovery took a moment, longer than it should have, as I attempted to grow accustomed to my surroundings. I tried focusing on the ruins, but found that the harder I looked, the more difficult it was for me to bring the image into focus. One moment the grey ruins danced in front of my eyes, the next they were gone, and a moment later a small shimmer of elegant porcelain marble and gold seemed to appear. I blinked and looked again, only to find the ruins still standing in the same place, not having moved.

Curious, I forced myself to straighten again and moved forward another step. Again, the air around me changed, moisture seemingly appearing out of nowhere to weigh down on my lungs. My skin felt clammy and the world seemed unbearably hot. I couldn't fathom what was happening to me, and at the time I think I probably thought I was just going insane. Still, I tried forcing my way to the steps of decrepit stone that lay before me. This time a pain shot through my chest and lightning flashed in the sky.

I would have kept going, but some form of self-preservation kept me from going any further. And then my heel slipped, and I felt myself being propelled back.

I woke up, apparently, a week after the day I'd gone hiking. They'd found me at the foot of the mountain, unconscious and scraped up beyond belief. Yet, for some reason or another, no other injuries had been sustained. I just wouldn't wake up.

Part of me still wants to return, to climb that same route again. However, I think that for the time being, I'd rather live.

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