The Person On The Hill

10 minutes read


A person sat down on a hill in the middle of the night, their right arm rested against their right knee, their hand shakily rose to their lips so they could take a drag from their cigarette, the strange plant material inside let off a green flame as they inhaled as much as their lungs would allow. Their eyes were bloodshot, and their mouth was slightly ajar whenever the cigarette was pulled away. They bit their lip slightly, pulling the stickiness from his lips and spitting the bitter substance to the ground. Their eyes remained open as they stared into the darkness of the night, they did not blink, and they could not move; their body was in so much shock that all they could do was take drags from their cigarette, and once that burnt out, they continued the action despite nothing being there. Their head became so light that eventually, he was incapable of holding himself up; he dropped onto his right side, his eyes still wide open, his breathing increased in speed, and he decreased in volume until he barely inhaled any oxygen. The blood from the gaping wound where his left arm used to be dripped down the side of his face until it started to trickle off his nose and onto the ground just as his breathing stopped.

The sound of crunching stones filled the space as a lone individual walked up the hill to where the man lay dead; the person knelt down and looked down into his eyes.

“Who were you, friend? What could you have been if you hadn’t crossed my path this night?”

The person said as they searched the body, taking what they could from the pockets they sat in the crook of their body, using them to rest. Each time they breathed out, their breath appeared in the cold of the night.

“I don’t know if it matters, but I didn’t want to kill you. I know it is controversial here on Hollow, but I actually don’t enjoy killing people; I might if I felt they could put up a better fight, but against a high-impact, long-distance rifle, people don’t really get much of a chance to fight back. But as far as dying goes, I don’t think you died poorly. I have taken off a few limbs, but seeing someone sit down to smoke calmly is new to me.”

The person filtered through their cash and looked over a strange box that the man had in his pocket. The person’s eyes narrowed as they looked over the inscriptions on the box.

“I don’t recognize this script. Now I wish you were still alive, not that it matters; I am sure I can find someone who will tell me something. Maybe them…” They said, trailing off.

In the distance, nestled into the base of a hill, a small light escaped a dense thicket of bush.

“I get the feeling like you may have been looking for that friend, which explains why you looked like a lost animal searching for its mumma.”

The person took a deep breath before standing to their feet, their rifle slung across their back, they wandered down towards the light, leaving behind the man on the top of the hill. Down at the base of the hill, the person looked back to the man, watching as nearby birds were already fighting over the corpse. The person grimaced, looking down at the box in their hand. They gripped it tightly and kept moving. They pocketed the box and stood outside the thicket, their eyes narrowed as they let their mouth hold ajar before drawing their pistol and calling out.

“I know where the box is, kill me, and you will never find it….”

They waited; the shuffling that they could hear before stopped completely, and for a while, there was silence before the haggard voice of a sleep-deprived individual called out.

“I don’t care who you are, return with the box of doors and we can get started. Oh, and put your gun away; I need a second person to open it.”

The person outside stepped through the thicket, putting their gun back into the holster, they opened the door that was left slightly open. They walked in to see a nearly empty room, just a table on the far side with a monitor showing various small screens from video cameras and a pile of notes, some of which were on the floor. The other person stood with her hands on the table, muttering under their breath as they read from the paper before them.

“Hurry up, would you? We don’t have a long window where this will work, so we really need to move fast. Which isn’t ideal, and I would have had more time, but I assume you took your time with killing my runner?”

“Kind of; I shot his arm off with a long-distance rifle, then let him finish his last moments. Although I had been watching him for a while, I think he was lost.”

There was a groan from the woman at the table; she turned around, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“This does not surprise me. Honestly, you have probably done me a favor.” She extended her hand towards the rifle wielder. “My name is Dr Srent. Who is my new assistant?”

The other person extended their hand in turn.

“I am Kayla; I don’t know how to be an assistant.”

“Oh, it is easy; just do what I say when I say it.” Dr Srent replied

The Doctor ran around the room frantic, her face lit up with glee as she shuffled everything away.

“Do you know the history of Enadrome, Oculi, and Anodyne?”

Kayla shook her head. “No, is it important for this box to be opened?”

“Almost not at all, but listen as I do what only I can do.”

The doctor started to scribble notes from a book onto the ground, getting Kayla to place the box in the middle of the room.

“Okay, it is quite simple. Anodyne made Hollow, this everyone knows, but one thing that was annoying him was how often Holites would escape through portals and how often others came here through the same means. In response to his frustration, he made the god Enadrome, a god to guard Hollow against all portals, then, in turn, Enadrome created the angel Oculi to help manage their task.”

“Gods can create gods?”

“Of course, they can, but there are different ranks of gods; Enadrome will never be able to fight against Anodyne because Anodyne was born, and Enadrome was made. But there are even more ways for a god to come into existence, but we don’t have time for that right. Essentially with Enadrome in place, it was impossible for beings to travel to or from Hollow using portal magic. But one thing Enadrome and Oculi can’t stop is other gods because gods can tap into a power we could never dream of obtaining, they open literal doors between worlds, using enough energy to shame a supernova in the process.”

“So in this box is a god, or like a key to a door? I do not follow what this has to do with this box.”

“You are actually pretty close. During a fight with another God, Anodyne killed the other god as they were summoning a door; while the door disappeared as they usually do, what was in this box fell to Hollow. It was contained in that box by a prominent scientist so that they could study it safely, but with a little help, I managed to leverage the artifact, so now we are going to open the door; we are going to leave Hollow for a world of less suffering, we are going to be free of Anodyne.”

Kayla looked at the box sitting on the floor, her eyes transfixed as she whispered to herself.

“I never even thought of escape as an option. Hollow is so…”

“Absolute, trapping, soul-destroying, corrupting?” The Doctor interrupted, but Kayla remained quiet. “It does not matter what Hollow is because we are leaving.”

The Doctor stood, pointing to a circle she had drawn on the ground. She mumbled an instruction as she stood in another one. Kayla had not heard the instruction, but it was not hard for her to figure out what the doctor wanted. She moved into the circle and stood still as the doctor looked over her work.

“Okay, this probably won’t kill us.”

Before Kayla could question the remark, the doctor had already pulled a metallic lever and sent a bolt of electricity into the box, the intricate line work around it lit up as if the chalk she had used was made of lights, and the electricity was needed to bring out the light from them. The room filled with a strange wind that was warm; it tossed the loose paper around the room as the two Holites braced their stances so they were not pushed to the ground. The light from the ground was getting brighter as the box flew higher. It turned and cranked, and the outer shell fell to the ground, damaging the wooden planks below it. Inside was a simple copper doorknob, lightly worn and rather unremarkable.

“What is supposed to happen now?” Kayla shouted.

“We wait for the rest of the door to operate, then we step through, to freedom.”

The doorknob started to rattle; it shook as a door started to form around it, and a dark wood of worn planks and twisting creaks slowly appeared. The two of them stared with amazement as the door finalized its form.

“It is beautiful; I never thought I would see the way out of Hollow, all within my grasp.” The doctor said as she reached out to the door.

Kayla was practically salivating, her eyes trained on the doctor’s hand; staying within the circle she stood in, she tried to look around the back side of the door she was looking at. As she looked, she slipped from the tips of her toes, placing one foot outside her circle. She looked down at her foot, then back to the doctor; there was panic in Kayla’s eyes as if nothing happened. She let out a long sigh as the doctor was not paying attention, she grabbed the handle twisted it and pulled it towards herself. The door jammed, and she felt her hand get stuck.

“Why have the circles if they were not protecting us?” Kayla asked as she stepped completely from the circle.

The doctor’s eyes widened, and she screamed.

“You fool, it needed two life forces to open. You have killed us both.”

The doctor started to melt, her skin slopped to the ground as her bones cracked, and she withered away. Kayla watched as the other circle where she once stood erupted into the fire, a fire that spread at unnatural speeds around the building surrounding Kayla.

Outside, the corpse on the hill was being plucked at by the local birds, one eye gone, the flesh from around his hands all but gone, and most of his face had been stripped clean of skin; suddenly, his second eye opened, and he swatted at the birds.

The birds squawked and protested but eventually flew when the man got a hand on his pistol and started firing wildly around him. He was panicked, with labored breathing and pain that was so intense that he felt as if he should have passed out, but he remained conscious.

He sat down on his knees and stared down at the fires that were erupting from his master’s hidden lab. He was so confused that he just sat and stared; even the sensation of the pain was numbed as he racked his brain for any information on why he had returned from the dead.

Unsure of whether what he was seeing was the reason he was alive again or nothing more than a coincidence, but never the less, he watched as Anodyne walked into the burning building. When he emerged again, he was holding the doorknob in one hand and the containment box in another. Anodyne looked up to the man on the hill as he combined the two objects, sealing the doorknob back in the box before dropping it to the ground. Anodyne took one last look down at the box before he walked away, slowly disappearing into the night.