This week we have two stories about the prompt from a great hight.
Stories this week by:
Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll
and Jeff Hite
What to talk about the stories, come out to our discussion forum and let us know what you think.
A Different Perspective
By: Philip Carroll
His cell phone rang.
He dug it out of his shirt pocket. With it came his pen and a business card, both of which fell to the floor. He sighed and picked them while he looked at the caller id. “Unknown Caller” was all the screen said. Of course there was no call back number.
He debated answering the call. Who did he know that would have his private number, but have thier own number blocked? Maybe he had given it to an important client. On the last ring before it would go to voice mail, he answered, “this is Harris.”
The voice on the other end spoke in a monotone, flat and unemotional, “I didn’t think you were going to answer, Chuck. I was about to give up.”
Charles didn’t recognize the voice.
What was more unusual was he hadn’t gone by the name Chuck since he was a child.
His parents had called him Chucky from the time he had learned to crawl, and most family and friends followed suit. It was natural as he grew, the name shortened to Chuck. One night he watched a Charlie Brown special and heard Peppermint Patty call Charlie Brown, Chuck. His youthful mind recognized Peppermint Patty’s lack of inconsideration. When she used the nick name with out his approval it seemed condescending. “Chuck”, sounded short, cut off and abrupt.
He sought out his parents.
“Mother,” he asked, “is Chuck my real name?”
She smiled and rubbed his short blonde hair. “No, Dear, your name is Charles. You’re named after your grandfather. He was a powerful lawyer and senator in the 40’s and 50’s.”
He smiled the wide smile of a child who was just given a great gift.
“Then I will be Charles,” he said with childish commitment.
“I am Charles,” he told everyone he met, both friend and stranger. If anyone called him by his former familiar name, he would stare, glassy eyed, into the unseen distance, until they acquiesced to his preference. By his eighth birthday there were none who would call him by anything else.
“Chuck, are you there?” the monotonous voice broke into his thoughts.
“Charles. Yes, I’m here. Who is this?” he asked, trying to form an impression of the voice, find a picture in his mind, the face of anyone who had spoken to him in such a way.
“I’m tired Chuck. I don’t think I can take much more of this. I’m thinking of ending it,” the stranger droned.
“I’m Charles, and what do you mean by ending it?” Charles was startled by the stranger’s confession.
“I’m on top of a building. You’d remember it. We used to hang out here and talk about our lives, our potentials, our futures. Mine sure went bad, but you seem to have done ok,” he mumbled a short humorless laugh.
“A building?” Charles began, but the stranger cut him off.
“Don’t think about it Chuck, you can’t stop me, now. Not if I decide to. You’re miles away anyway,” the man spoke this quickly, for the first time altering his mono tonicity.
“No, I’m not trying to interfere,” Charles said mentally fishing among the weeds of his own murky thoughts. “I’m sorry, but I’m just trying to place who you are. Would you tell me your name?”
“Chuck,” the man said and sighed so deeply, Charles imagined a giant sucking in and exhaling a great wind that would send a fleet of ships sailing across the ocean.
“I’m Charles,” he defended when the breath finally ceased.
There was silence from the phone, so long that Charles began to wonder what sounds he might hear from the phone of a man who jumps from the heights of a tall building
“The view is incredible from up here, Chuck,” he finally continued. “Don’t you remember it? Of all us, you, me, the other guys in the club, I thought you’d remember. I can see the whole city, clear out to the old house, where you grew up. If I stand right next to the wall, and push against it with my knees, I can lean right out over the edge. From this high up the cars are so small they look like toys.”
“You see, buddy,” Charles said and allowed some of his frustration to boil to the surface in his words. “I never had any friends, I was never in a club, and I grew up in the suburbs, far from any city with tall buildings. I hate to tell you this, because you sound really depressed, but you have the wrong guy.”
Charles could hear the man breathing, short, shallow breaths.
“I don’t want you to hurt yourself, though,” Charles back peddled. The last thing he wanted was to be the cause of someone doing something rash. He had been feeling a bit depressed, himself, recently and could understand how overwhelming the feelings of sadness and hopelessness could be.
“I mean, there have to be people who can help you,” he continued. “Tell me where you are and I’ll send somebody to help.”
“Thanks, Chuck,” he was back, “You’ve done enough. I can see more clearly what I need to do. Good bye.”
“Wait,” Charles shouted into the phone, but it had cut off and the stranger was gone. Charles held the phone out and stared at its small screen for a long minute. He checked the caller history. There was no return number.
“Chuck,” he said, and shook his head. He placed his cell phone on the low wall and looked out across the city to the old house where he had grown up. Below him the cars were so small they looked like toys.
By Jeff Hite
Prometheus hung by the rocks facing them for the first time in nearly ten thousand years and panted. He looked exhausted though he had only climbed a few feet. Rob knew they needed to get out of here if they were going to survive this, but he was making very slow progress.
“I hate to rush you but we need to get moving. Zeus is bound to notice that his eagle as not returned and will start looking for it and then we will all be in trouble.”
“I believe we have deeper worries than that.” Prometheus motioned with a nod of his head toward the cliffs below.
There far below us was a speck of black that had just come above the clouds. At first it didn’t look like much of anything, but as it continued to move up the cliff face, I saw finally that it was the eagle. It was circling and slowly getting higher.
“I am afraid that your rescue attempt may have been in vain. I am spend, and do know know if I will be able to climb any further. She will be here before I can crest the cliff face. And once we have reached the top, there is no place to hide.”
“Look I am not going to give up that easy. If I am going to anger the gods I am going to make darn good and sure that I get away with it. But I am not going to just hang here and give up.”
“Rob, what is going on?” Larry yelled from above.
“He has no strength, and can’t climb. Do you think you can try pulling him up?”
“It will not work. I weight too much. Gods are heavier than you mortals.”
“We have to give it a try. Larry start pulling.”
“Will do.” I saw him step away from the edge of the cliff and the line begin to tighten as he hooked it around some thing to use as some sort of leverage. It a moment the roped was tight and began pulling against the wasted god.”
“Come on you have got to try. We can’t give up now.”
“I will try.”
We moved but incredibly slowly, and I tried not to look down to see the eagle’s progress. Inch my agonizing inch we made our way toward. I worked on pushing Prometheus as best I could from below, and Larry Strained to pull from above. I lost all track of time.
“Rob, The eagle is about level with you. You need to watch your back.”
I turned to see the great bird, her eyes ever watching me circle and go higher, getting above us to make a better attack. There would be no way that we could deflect an attack from her this time.
“Larry we have got to hurry, when she decides to dive we are only going to have a few seconds,” I shouted up.
“I’m doing everything I can up here.”
“I know.” We continued to push and pull because that was all we could do. We were within ten meters of the top when we heard the cry. It sounded like a scream and a battle cry all in one and even without looking I knew were it came from. I took a chance and looked to where I had last seen the eagle, and then began scanning upwards looking for her. When I finally found her she was a great hight above us. Just as she had been a speck when I had first seen her, she was about the same size now. A tiny dot far above me. I knew it would not be long before she started her dive. She would have us both and we would fall like she had fallen, but unlike her, we would have no way to stop our fall.
“She will announce her kill before she attacks. It must be known that she intends to kill, or there will be no honor in it.” Prometheus said through pants. I noticed that he was sweating profusely and his muscles all shook from the effort of just hanging there.
“We don’t have time to talk about this. Come on we have to get to the top. If we get up there, at least we have a chance to fight her off, here we are sitting ducks.”
“She is diving!” Larry’s warning from above was like the hammer blow that knocks the wind from you. We moved as quickly as we could knowing it would not be enough. Then Suddenly the line seemed to move much faster. Prometheus was ripped from my hands and pulled up the side of the cliff. I struggled to keep up with him. As he rose up the side of the cliff. Then he was over the top. My line was equally pulled and bang me against the rocks and I struggled just to keep the rocks away from my head.
as we crest the top of the cliff, larry stood dumb founded as his muscles literally steamed with the effort he had made to pull us up the side of the wall. Behind him stood two figures. Meredith stood hand in hand with what looked like another woman, there free hands resting on larry’s back.
The new woman looked very thin and almost not quite there. She had longer legs and arms than seemed natural. She wore only a dress of a light material, that was very obviously see through, but yet revealed nothing of what was underneath. Her Hair was the color of spring leaves, only turning brown near her head. She smiled at Meredith, but had the same weary look that I had seen on Prometheus.
It was then that we heard the scream again, the the great bird dove down at us. It happened to fast that I remember being hit but nothing after that until awoke in this place.