Here is one of the short stories that can be found in Section Three of my book, Komplex Sinplicities; available on Kindle and paperback. Enjoy!
Jason stopped somewhere in the woods; heaving chestfuls of air into his burning lungs. Through the hills he could hear dogs barking and the trampling of horses. Men were yelling—their voices echoing on the wind through the trees. His knees were burning from exhaustion and his body was shaking from the rush of adrenaline.
Bending over with his hands on his knees he looked back from whence he came.
“Jason,” she said calmly.
Startled, Jason stumbled backwards; his arms waving about aimlessly. He did not see the old woman before, nor did he hear her approach. That would have been easy with the dead leaves covering the ground.
“Who . . . Who are you? How do you know my name?” he asked, the barking of the dogs getting a little closer.
“Never mind who I am, Jason. What is important now is who you are, and that we leave this place immediately.”
Jason looked at the old woman. She was shorter than him. Her long gray hair wiry and course. She wore peasant clothes; ragged and in many layers.
The sounds of the approaching hounds seemed hungry, but more distant now. Jason took to his feet and followed the hag briskly through the trees and over the hills. He couldn’t remember the moment when they began moving.
Jason had no memory up to the woods. He only knew he was a wanted man. He was running for his life for fear of something that would be far worse than death. And here he was—traveling with a stranger he had only met moments before that was unaffected by the terrain and their speed. She was, indeed, going very fast for a person of her years; unusually so.
The coming party a bit more distant with the passing of each hill, but something caught his attention in a field below that made him stop dead in his tracks.
Soldiers. Oblivious to them, but very interested in those under their guard. A path of well trodden ground came from between the hills and entered the clearing and made a large oval shape; spiraling towards its middle with a small circle ending the oddity.
Jason saw what appeared to be peasants on their hands and knees in the path of dirt and mud. Men and women, all scantily clothed, each pushing a very large rock. They were spaced at irregular intervals. Though they were all going the same direction they didn’t seem to be moving forward, but rather stayed put; struggling to move the stones they were enslaved to.
“What is this madness?” Jason asked.
The old woman stepped closer to him. “It is a punishment. There is nothing we can do for them.”
Jason turned to look at her and she met his gaze with fierce intensity. “A punishment for what?” he demanded.
“They are the sons and daughters of the gods and goddesses. They are the chosen ones the gods used for whatever the reason they needed them. This has been the fate of many from many different temples. Even the angels and demons are equals here.”
Jason was confused. He looked back at the people below and he could hear their sadness from the moaning and weeping that floated up to them.
“What have they done? Why are they being punished?”
“For being who they are,” answered the hag. “Nothing more than that. They will push their stones to the middle of the spiral. No one knows what happens beyond that.”
“Wha . . . What do you mean no one knows what happens?”
The woman moved closer to stand beside him. “I do not have the answer, boy. Those that have crawled the path will deny its very existence. It is said twas the fate of Adam and Eve. It is rumored that even Zeus, himself, once took upon a stone. They never sleep. They can not eat. And they never leave their stone.”
She turned and began to walk away. “Come, Jason. As curious as this may all be, your fate will be much worse than theirs if we do not keep going.”
Section Three is my favorite section. I must admit, it was very difficult for me in deciding which story to share. Thank you for reading,