Beyond the Pale

📅 Published on August 1, 2021

“Beyond the Pale”

Written by Josh Morelli
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Jonathan West

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 4 votes.
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My grandfather would tell me stories when I was young about the time before when the world was large and the mists had yet to come. He would tell me about animals that were larger than humans and buildings that stretched into the sky. There were so many people in his stories that you could travel your whole life without ever seeing the same face twice. I loved his stories, and I would always be sad when they ended. Because our world is nothing like the one my grandfather spoke of; our world is small, and you will see every face here many, many times.

I remember that my grandfather argued with people a lot. If someone thanked the keepers for protecting us, he would invariably get annoyed. When the council started to say, we are the last of our kind. I recall that he even got in trouble for trying to debate them. But granddad had always found an issue with what the council preached. When I was young, he and my father would get into fights pretty often, and he would shout at my dad to “open his eyes.”

Grandad had an unhealthy dislike for the council. He called them a cult of the mists and said they weren’t created to enforce their own laws and religious doctrine. When he’d rant about their worship of the mist, he would tell me never to forget one thing. You build a fence to keep your livestock safe from things trying to get in, but you also build it to stop them from getting out.

I love my grandfather, and I remember every lesson he taught me. I don’t know why the mists exist. But what I do know is that they’ve been there since I was born, and they will be here long after I have died. They enshroud the boundaries of our world, and for a good reason, it is forbidden to traverse them. I made the mistake once of breaking that taboo when I was young. A vague memory of stepping over the threshold is all I recall, and then nothing but darkness. I’ve been told I was found in the early hours of the morning quietly sitting on the ground staring at the fog.

Ever since that night, sleep rarely comes easy to me, and when it does come, I have terrible dreams. Visions of beautiful things devoured, of a writhing black mass born of rotting flesh. Nightmares always end with the image of a world consumed by a towering maw of endless teeth. For thirteen years, I’ve awoken almost every night in a cold sweat. I lay there breathing hard and terrified that one day I might have to venture back there: into the mist.

This past month my suffering has grown unbearable as I await the day I turn eighteen. Because this place has a tradition, one that has been kept for as long as anyone can remember. Each year we host a festival where every able-bodied person- over the age of eighteen- must enter their name into a special box. At the end of the day, one of the councilmen will choose randomly from it and then announce the name of the year’s festival winner. That person will then get the privilege of becoming the season’s mist-walker.

The next day there is a parade, with the chosen at the front. They will be dressed in the ceremonial garb and wearing the mist-walkers blindfold. Thousands of us are led to a spot where our land borders the fog. Once there, a speech will be given about the origins of the festival. Then the winner is told what they must do after crossing over. Finally, a council member will speak on the keepers and whisper words meant only for the years chosen.

A shiver ran down my spine when the date was announced this year. Because it was decided the festival would take place the day after my birthday. When my father came home on the day of the announcement and whispered to my mother in our kitchen, she started quietly sobbing. He held her close and kissed her on the forehead. They stayed that way for some time before telling me, but they needn’t be bothered. I knew why she cried. This year I would be eligible for the box.

On the day in question, it was as if all eyes were suddenly fixed upon me. Ever since the day I returned from the mists, most of my neighbors saw me as an anomaly. I had no friends, and those forced to deal with me would do so only out of necessity. As I wrote the words “Sebastian Verose” on the tiny piece of paper and placed it in the box, it was as if the outcome was already decided. When the end of the day came, and it was announced that I would be the year’s chosen. A silent sigh of relief was felt throughout the crowd.

As my name is broadcast loud over the throngs of people, I felt all the years between that night from my childhood and now disappear. The fear is revitalized, fresh as the day it happened, and my stomach remains firmly lodged within my throat for the rest of the festivities. I can see one of the councilmen stepping down from the stage to congratulate me. But I turn and run through the crowd of staring faces, desperate to get home. The sounds of people calling to me echo in my head as I tear through fields and back roads. When I finally see my house in sight, I cannot even reach the front door before retching. Ten years’ worth of horrible, fragmented dreams, visions of cruel terrors, and teeth come pouring out of me as I fall to the ground.

My parents follow me home and arrive shortly after I get there. They find me pale white and shaking and rush to embrace me. After a few moments, my father speaks: “They cannot force you, son. To hell with tradition. Everyone knows what happened; they couldn’t blame you for refusing!”. Next, my mother’s soft voice rises to challenge him. “Of course they know. That’s exactly why they’ve chosen him. No one here cares. What matters is that he scares them, and they want him gone.”

My father releases me and steps a few feet back, beginning to pace. “Fine, we’ll hide him then, in the cellar- we’ll say he’s run off.” My mother kisses me before turning to face him: “Don’t be stupid, David, whatever we do, one way or another, they’ll find him.” My father stops pacing, delirious desperation in his voice. “Fine… Then I’ll go in his place. All they want is a body, so I’ll give them one.”. At this, my father opens the front door, and I catch a fleeting look of determination on his face before he storms out.

My mother chases after him shouting from the doorway: “David, wait!”. But it’s no use, his mind’s made up, and he quickly disappears down the street. She slowly closes the door, a look of exhaustion in her eyes. I can see the indecision as if it were written on her face, but she doesn’t hesitate when walking back to hug me. “Don’t worry, Sebastian, we’ll figure something out. It’s going to be okay.” I try and take heart from the sentiment, but it is obvious she is finding it hard to believe.

The rest of the evening passes quietly, though sleep consistently evades me. Even deep into the night, my father has still not returned. My mother’s footsteps keep me company as she paces the hallways for hours. It is only when the early light of dawn begins to show that I forfeit any attempts at sleep. I get dressed and proceed to the kitchen; my mother now sits at the table with a half-empty cup of coffee. She smiles as I enter and starts to greet me, but before she can utter a word, we are interrupted by noise out front.

A knock sounds at the door, and before I can answer it, my mother is on her feet. She presses her finger to her lips and motions for me to step inside the closet beneath the stairs. I do as she asks, quietly latch the door, and listen. I hear her as she opens the front door and begins to greet whoever is there. But her words are cut short, interrupted by a familiar voice.

Charlie Ipswitch, one of the town councilmen, is a tall, angular man with a receding hairline and a sharp jaw. Since the day I was found by the fog looking too much like my grandfather, Charlie has hated me. His voice is loud, obviously meant to be heard by more than just my mother. “I believe this is yours.” The words come as something is painfully thrown to the ground, followed by a grunt and my mother’s shriek. She cries: “David!” as I hear my father coughing and spluttering on the floor.

Then the cold voice of the councilman speaks again: “What kind of insanity brings one to try and bribe a councilman, to argue with the process is tantamount to blasphemy. It’s designed to be fair and unbiased, and it’s above any negotiating from stubborn fools who refuse to accept honest results.” My dad’s voice comes roaring back in protest. “Unbiased my ass, you goddamn cockroaches railroaded him the second it was possible! You’ve hated him for years, you son of a bitch!” At this, I hear a loud *thump* followed by another grunt from my father and my mother yelling, “Stop it!”.

This is followed by the irritated voice of Charlie again, shouting above my parents. “Your son has been a nuisance since the day he broke the rules, which I remind you, were planted with good reason by our forefathers. I have been kind in my treatment of him, but I am also not alone in noticing the fear he incites in people. He is turning out to be very much the spitting image of his grandfather. Now, tell him to come out so we can be done with this nonsense. He is going to meet the keepers, for goodness’ sake, that is a thing to be excited for.”.

There is silence after this, followed by a sigh before he speaks again. “Alright, you’ve done this to yourselves, making everything so difficult.” I hear a struggle, and then a whimper escapes my mother’s lips before she starts to sob. Next comes the annoyed voice of the councilman: “Sebastian, you have a decision to make now. You can either come with us, and I’ll release your father, or you can continue to hide and make this process a little more painful.” I hear my father breathing hard as the scraping sound of metal glides against his throat.

My mother’s screams become deafening as she repeatedly shouts for Charlie to release him. But I hardly hear her now, as I listen to the councilman’s words, I know what I must do. I inhale a deep breath before slowly pushing open the door and walking towards them with my hands raised. I can now see that behind Charlie stands several other men, their faces all jeering and full of sickening looks. They grab me as Charlie releases my father, kicking him to the ground.

I remain silent as they aggressively drag me back with them, though I hear the councilman make one last pronouncement as we leave. “Thank you for your hospitality, and don’t worry about Sebastian. You will see him again soon.” Before I’m shoved into an enormous box, the last thing I see is my mother tending to my injured father. They both turn to look at me with tears in their eyes as the lid shuts.

We travel for some time, long enough for my eyes to have adjusted to the darkness inside the box. At some point, we stop, and after a few minutes, the lid is removed, and the dying light of dusk blinds me. Once the sharpness has dulled a bit, I can see we have arrived at a large compound. They lead me to the back and shuffle me inside. Once the door has closed, I am locked in a cell and shackled to the wall. My clothing is soon stripped from me, and I am forced into a solid white ceremonial gown.

Not long after, Charlie returns with some of the other councilmen in tow. I recognize them as they get closer, Adrian Powell, Boris Youglsiv, and Michael Torantov. Each of them in their mid-60s, at least. They’ve all been councilmen for decades. Charlie is the newest of their ilk and also the youngest. They greet me, standing behind bars to my cell, and Adrian is the first to speak. “Hello, son, I apologize for this. It is common practice for the chosen to be treated the night lavishly before their journey. But Charlie has made a rather compelling case for the likelihood of your attempted escape; we, therefore, felt this was necessary.”

Councilman Youglsiv is next, speaking slower as he seems to question my captivity. “The cell, I understand, but are the shackles truly needed? He is, after all, our guest until the ceremony, yes?” Charlie wastes no time skillfully directing the conversation. “I appreciate your concerns Boris, but Sebastian has already proven himself to be difficult, and I do not doubt that he would take any opportunity presented to flee. In all honestly, these precautions are entirely his own doing. I would have liked nothing more than to see him entertained and hosted with a fine feast. Unfortunately, it seems our young friend cannot shake the role of the troublemaker.”.

Mr. Torantov is the last to speak, and what he says has an air of finality about it that tells me they have made up their minds. “Alright, you make a good point, Ipswitch. At the very least, make sure the boy is fed. He should be ready to be received by the priests tomorrow.” They continue talking, and I hear Charlie reaffirming and assuring them that they’ve made the correct choice. Slowly the voices weaken and disappear down the hall, and I am left to my thoughts and the silence of the night.

During the first few quiet moments I have had this day, I look through the tiny window in my cell. There is little to see, but I notice that this place appears to be on the far outskirts of town and partially borders the mist. As I move from the window to sit back down, the day’s events begin to take their toll. My mind drifts, flowing from one thought to the next, like ripples on the water. Pulling me deeper, until finally the battle with sleep is lost, and I helplessly drift away. Though pleasant at first, as they always are, my dreams quickly succumb to a dreadful shift in tone.

As I tumble through scenes from my life, I inevitably end up trapped inside the purgatory of that hellish fog. Always stumbling and falling as I blindly seek a way out. Time is askew in dreams, and what feels an eternity in mind is hardly so. But this night, I feel every minute of my sleep, each second an endless burden lost within my nightmares. When suddenly, the fog starts to clear, and an ancient memory crawls its way out as I see my exit. I can feel the images resurfacing as I near it, and with them comes the fear- unlike anything I have ever experienced. My hand is outstretched as I near the end, desperate to breach the fog’s threshold. I am so close when I suddenly stumble, my feet tangled; I see myself colliding with the ground as I feel something grip my foot. I look back at my attacker and see a fleshy mass with millions of tiny teeth latched onto my leg. A scream rises in my throat as the discolored thing crawls its way up my body and latches on to my face.

I jolt up from sleep, shaking and inconsolable. I have had night terrors for a long time, but they have never been so vivid before. Usually, just flashing images and feelings, but this time it felt like I was there. This time, it felt like I almost caught a glimpse of what it is I’ve forgotten.

Terrified of falling back asleep, I instead choose to wait out the clock until morning. I bide my time counting the bricks in my cell, trying to imagine what this place is used for when it isn’t housing me. I have lived here my entire life. Everyone has. There is nowhere else to go. Our existence spans about sixty-five hundred acres or roughly ten miles. I’d say twenty thousand or so, give or take, live on this land. Here we are born, and here we die together.

Still, there is always a past, a history of things that led to where we are. However, like shadows exist behind the light, a community like ours is built atop its secrets. All I know is what family told me and what they, in turn, were told by theirs. The world was not always so. There was something before the mists came. As I sit shivering on the cold stone floor of my cell, memories of my grandfather begin flooding into my mind.

Sitting atop his knee, his alabaster beard so long I can recall it tickled my nose. These were the times when he would speak to me of the world that came before—describing visions of a wondrous and vibrant place that would see me lost in my imagination. When he was a child, he told me how he had had books that spoke of these things. He had loved them more than anything and had nearly worn the pages out of many of them. When I asked what had happened to them, his face would become grave.

I remember him telling me they had all been burned, a decision made by every adult in the community- including his parents. They would never honestly explain their actions that day to him, and this was something I don’t believe he ever truly forgave them for. Some nights when I was older, and he was in a certain kind of mood, he would speak his mind on what he thought their reasons might have been. One particular night stands out, especially now, because of what he had said: “Sometimes people who live in ignorance are scared by the truth, Sebastian. But don’t you forget, if you live in that ignorance long enough, it’s the only truth you know.”

The only reason I wanted to explore the mists that day was because of my grandfather’s stories. His rebellious nature was infectious to me, and after he died, I remember thinking that maybe he had just crossed over, and if I looked there, I could find him. It wasn’t until much later that I would learn he had actually disappeared one night. My father told me the last thing he had said to him was that he couldn’t live in ignorance any longer. No one ever found his body, but it was long suspected he had gone into the mists.

It is a long time coming before the morning light begins to shine through the tiny window in my cell. It’s soon followed by a chorus of doves and thrushes, tolling the coming dawn. When the darkness has retreated completely and the sun’s warmth has begun to seep into my cage, I hear footsteps approaching from down the hall. An unfamiliar face brings me a hot bowl of something to eat and a glass of water. He tells me to eat quickly because the ceremony will begin soon.

After breakfast, they come for me. I am led through the winding corridors of this place until we reach a door that brings us outside. Once we pass through, I am greeted by the faces of the councilmen again, with Charlie Ipswitch stepping forth to meet me. “Good morning. I hope our accommodations were acceptable? It is most important for you to be well-rested for today’s event.” A vile look slithers across his face as he says the words. He steps aside as I am led past, the rest of the councilmen following in tow.

We do not have to travel far, and it is not long before I see the crowd that has begun to gather at the threshold. Thousands of people have come, possibly everyone who lives here, all waiting to see me forced into that dreadful gray. They part like the red sea as I pass, all staring and terrified eyes. I feel a rising sense of hate for them, but also pity. They are like sheep, fed on generations of ignorance. They see me as a threat to their beliefs, and they have all come to see that threat gone. I wonder… if they knew they were sending me to my death- would it matter?
As I near the end, and the fog becomes a reality closing in. All that I can think of is the visions from my dreams and a distant memory of a child in an endless gray world. Finally, I reach the border, where wispy strands of white reach out to me. I am only vaguely aware as one of the councilmen begins reciting something behind me. I have become transfixed by the fog; I can almost hear it as if those small strands of white were singing to me.

Suddenly, the spell is broken, as I am jolted back into the present by the sound of my father’s voice. He is pushing through the crowds as he calls out, interrupting the councilman’s speech. I can see him frantically shoving and forcing his way to the front. When he finally breaks through and is close enough to be heard, he points at Charlie. “This is all bullshit, and you know it. You just want to be rid of my son!” At this, the councilmen all look flustered and confused, except for Charlie. His face contorts into a look of contempt as he speaks: “Your son is an insult to everyone who lives here, a troublemaker just like his grandfather! He is exactly where he is supposed to be!”

My father turns to the councilmen, reaches into his coat pocket, and removes a handful of something. He throws them on the ground at their feet, hundreds of tiny, folded pieces of paper with my name on them. “Do you know where I found those? In a box, poorly hidden in the office of Councilman Ipswitch. When I was there last night, I spotted them pleading with him to let me take my son’s place today. I don’t think much imagination is needed to know what they were for, is it Charlie?” I can see the look of anger spread across the man’s face as he slowly steps down from the podium and approaches my father.

“What exactly is it you’re accusing me of, Mr. Verose?” They are now inches apart, their eyes locked. My father raises his hand and pushes the leftover pieces of paper into councilman Ipswitch’s chest. “I think you know.” He then brushes past him and looks into my eyes. “Come on, son. We’re going home.” As I reach for my father’s outstretched hand, a deafening noise rings out from behind him. There is a high-pitched buzz in my ears, but through it, I can hear the muffled gasps from the crowd.

A moment passes between my father and me. He stands in front of me with a look of shocked surprise on his face. It seems to last an eternity, and then his eyes drift down to where a large red spot is forming on his shirt. He tries to take another step toward me but falters, loses his balance and stumbles forward; my father is dead before he even lands in my arms. Above us stands the councilman, gun outstretched and plumes of smoke rising from the barrel. Another scream echoes through the frenzied crowd, and I recognize the sound of my mother’s voice.
Chaos reigns now, and no one stops her as she charges through and attacks him. She hits him with something heavy, shaking him from his frozen stupor and knocking the pistol in his hand aside. He defends himself for a moment as the other councilmen flee around them before he grabs her wrists and slaps her. I gently lay my father’s body on the ground while his eyes stare up at a cloudless sky. As I feel his still warm flesh for the last time, a kind of clarity washes over me, and I suddenly know what I must do. The scuffle nearby has drawn close when I notice a metallic glint on the dirt beside my father. As Charlie raises his fist to strike, I cock the hammer back on his sidearm.

Standing off to his side, he catches me out of the corner of his eye and stops. His face is a tepid mixture of emotions, all swirling around at once. My voice strangely calm, I say: “Let her go, and step back.”. He almost looks like he won’t comply, the hate boiling over into insanity, but he does as I say. His hands above his head, he steps backward, now only feet from the border of the mist.

My mother looks at me, and then her gaze drifts behind me to the body of my father. “Sebastian… Is he…” I look at her with a gentle smile and say: “I love you, mom, please go see to dad.”. She nods, with a look of exhausted acceptance, as if she already knows what comes next. I see Charlie take a few steps toward me as he starts to speak again: “How do you expect this to play out, son? Are you really going to kill a councilman? I don’t think that would do well for your family’s name at all, do you? I’m sorry about your father, but to interfere with the ceremony is a crime. You know that. Hell, everyone knows that!”

He keeps talking while he walks toward me, a little closer with every step, until I raise the gun again. He stops, hesitates, and looks into my eyes. I slowly close the gap between us, never breaking from his gaze. When the gun is close enough to press against his head, I pull my hand back and bash the butt of the gun into his face. He crumples like a ragdoll, blood pouring from his busted nose and missing teeth. He bellows and screams like a child, and I wait.

He continues hollering and cursing me. His bloodshot eyes valiantly stare at me while he speaks. “You worthless piece of fucking garbage, you’re a plague, and your whole family needs to go. I’ll make sure of it, I’ll drag every goddamn relative you have here, and I’ll shove that fog down their fucking throats!”. I let him rant for a moment before I signal for him to stand with the tip of the pistol.

He does so slowly while holding his nose with one hand. He continues cursing me while I walk him backward toward the threshold. He suddenly has a moment of clarity when he sees it and stops, turning to me with his eyes wide. Now it is my turn to speak: “You worked so hard to get me here, councilman because you wanted me gone. Well, now you’ll get your wish, let’s go, Charlie.” His eyes grow wide as he looks deep into that white unknown before turning back to me.

He grabs at my robe and pleads with me: “Hold on now… Sebastian, the rules! Only one can go, it can’t be the both of us, the keepers will be angry! Please, don’t do this, just follow tradition! Accept that you’ve been chosen!” I look down into his pitiable expression and kick him off me before aiming the gun at him again. “Ignorance has become your truth, councilman, but it will not become mine.” When he shakes his head and refuses to move, I fire a round into the dirt beside him.

Tears now stream down his face as he gets to his feet. I walk up behind him and place the gun into his back as I speak again: “Move, councilman.”. As we cross the threshold, I briefly turn back. I can see my mother holding my fathers’ body as tears stream down her face. She looks up for a moment, and our eyes meet. A lifetime worth of words could not compare to the unspoken bond we share in that instant. Then she is gone, and it is only the two of us in that eternal white void. There are no sounds or noises here, with the sole exception being the quiet sobs from my passenger.

We travel in silence as I try to navigate. Even though he is barely two feet in front of me, I can hardly see him. I can’t even see the ground beneath me, and there are no obstacles in the mist. It truly feels as if we have ascended into a different world entirely; nothing exists here. There are no birds or animals, trees or shrubs. There is only a vacuum, an eternal gray nothing through which we traverse. When his sobs eventually subside into shallow breathing, the absence of sound becomes almost painful.

My mind wanders as we head deeper, thinking about my mother’s fate. Were my actions cruel in leaving her alone with my father? Would it have been worse had I stayed? The community is in tatters now, and nothing is certain anymore. I cannot know what lies ahead, but the farther we go, I find myself regretting what I’ve left behind. Suddenly, he stops in front of me, turning around to face me and speak.

“We’ve been walking for ages, Sebastian, neither of us have blindfolds, and only you wear the robes. This doesn’t seem right. You must feel it too! I believe the keepers are testing us. They want us to turn back, to do this the right way!” I flick the end of the gun and motion for him to continue, but he keeps talking. “This is madness. I won’t go against the wishes of the keepers, and I refuse, damnit! You’re going to get us both killed for this blasphemy!”

I sigh before reluctantly responding: “Charlie, you have two choices now, you can keep walking, or you can be shot. Either one is fine with me but decide quickly and stop whining.” He looks at me for a moment with pleading eyes and then stares at the ground and quietly responds. “I will not be a party to your insanity; I’ll make this right and drag you back with my bare hands if I have to!” Before I can even comprehend his meaning, he’s gripped the barrel of the gun and begun struggling to take it from me.

He starts to pull me to the ground when I quickly slug him in the face with my left hand. I feel the crunch as the remains of his broken nose flatten against his face, releasing a fountain of blood that runs down his mouth. He screams in agony but does not loosen his grip. We struggle on the soft ground beneath the mist as he attempts to kick me and bite my hand. We roll around on the floor, fighting like rabid dogs until we are both utterly exhausted. Finally, in a last desperate act, he attempts to shove his finger into my eye as he bites the hand holding the gun.

The pain is excruciating, but I do not focus on it. Instead, I use the last of my strength to grab the broken fragments of his nose and pull. I hear a tearing sound that ends with a noise like crunching celery, and I feel the cartilage explode as I pull it from his face. He is above me, and as the blood erupts, I am drenched in it. An inhuman wail of suffering comes next, and he involuntarily releases me as he grabs his face. He flops around for a few moments while screaming before getting to his feet and blindly stumbling forward.

As I follow behind him, nursing my swollen eye, I realize that any sense of direction I may have had was lost during our melee. I have no idea whether we are headed forward, backward, or sideways. We are now irrevocably lost in this abyss. With no other options left, I simply follow behind as he stumbles on, howling and screaming. I stay far enough back that he does not disappear, but I give him the space to flail at the nothingness.

Within minutes, I see him fall to his knees and look up. Blood clogging his throat, his wretched scream is hoarse and filled with a choking sorrow. When he finishes, coughing and spluttering the last of his wails, he falls forward. Though I expect a sound from when he hits the earth, there is nothing. As his body collapses into the mist in front of him, it completely disappears from my field of vision.

Confused, I cautiously walk toward the spot he had fallen. As I near, the fog begins to thin a little. When I finally reach it, the mist has cleared almost completely, and his disappearance suddenly makes sense. I stand at the precipice of a cliff, and as I peer over the edge, I bear witness to the truth. Thousands of feet below me, I see the wriggling mass of black flesh, split open and shining with millions of marble-colored teeth.

The mass stretches on as far as the eye can see, a single entity, with billions of serpent-like tentacles crawling over each other, gnashing their fangs. I stare at death, the destroyer of worlds, or what could be conceived of such a thing. From below, countless tiny little black eyes peer back at me from the sides of an endless writhing mouth. For a moment, I stand there, Charlie’s sticky wet blood stinging my eyes, and stare.

But in the distance, I notice something, something that brings me to my knees and makes me start to laugh. I keep laughing for a long time until it hurts. When I can no longer even smile, I pull out the cylinder to Charlie’s revolver and empty every round- except one. I push it back into place and spin the chambers. Then with a delirious grin, I aim it at the behemoth beneath me and pull the trigger. An empty *click* sounds as the chamber turns. My grin widens, and I aim the barrel at myself, whispering quietly: “I guess we’ll keep going until one of us flinches.”.
Standing at the edge, I stare into the distance, and as I start to gently squeeze the trigger, my grandfather’s voice rises from the depths of my subconscious. Echoing in my head as I look out at the horizon.

“Walls are built to keep your livestock safe from things that want in, but they’re also built to stop your food from getting out.” Deep into the distance, as far as I can see, are countless other small portions of land and around each of them swirls an empty gray fog.

Rating: 9.50/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Josh Morelli
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by Jonathan West

🔔 More stories from author: Josh Morelli

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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