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The WhiteoutThe Mountain

The following is a short story that preludes a series of novels entitled HIGHSIX:

The mute felt no emotion and only bowed to his Elder as he accepted his duty and took the day’s worth of provisions in a pack. No words were exchanged between him and his fellow Demonks because no one in The Vessel Monastery had a tongue to speak with.

They wrapped him with skins all over, covering his face until his eyes were of no more use and so he closed them and began the prayer within his head to The First God.

‘Keep me in Your sight,’ he demanded internally. ‘Hold me within Your focus and do not let me stray from the favor of Your gaze.’

Despite his layers, he felt the rush of dead air envelop him and heard the thick doors of the monastery shut behind him. He began his walk, ridding himself of memories. They would not last him for more than a hundred steps. Only Mountain was always changing and at this altitude, the highest known point in The Land of SIX, memory would surely lead to a frozen death. Instead, he repeated the prayer, ‘Keep me in Your sight,’ and took each step in faith as he waited for The God of Eyes to show him what he needed to see.

There was much to fear on Only Mountain for those that were still capable of that emotion. Giant arctic eagles, called sampry, with a wingspan over six times the height of a man, nested here. They dug holes with their beaks into the hard rock above where the clouds would reach and uprooted whole trees to make their nests. They chewed their prey into a pulp before letting the remains dribble out and into the mouths of their young.

Often, this prey was people.

Hopefuls who wished to show themselves faithful to The God of Eyes would set out annually from the village towns at the base of Only Mountain for The Joyous Morn. As the sun rose, willing men and women, and often unwilling teens, were sent up the mountain all together in hopes that The First God would find them in her favor.

Their numbers were usually in the hundreds upon departure and only about half on average made it to The Tear Drop. From there, only a fraction continued on and then only a fraction of that fraction made it through the whiteout. The storm of snow was always running above and it was only from above the clouds and their constant flurries that the tip of Only Mountain could be seen.

Within the whiteout and around The Tear Drop, the travelers weren’t safe from the sampry, but above the clouds, death was considered certain. Unless The God of Eyes intervened.

The mute continued over the rocks without sight. The ground was becoming steeper as he went and he kept his pace as even as he could so as not to fall in to a run down the mountain. At any moment the ground could give out below him and he could find himself falling to his death, but he felt this wouldn’t happen. His god had yet to show him anything, but he thought the prayer again and again to push any thoughts from his mind.

When he was hardly a man, his father had pushed him out of his home, not caring whether he trekked up Only or made his way south into the Orange Lands or even if he stayed in The Lashes and begged for food. His father never liked him, but to be fair he never liked his father. His mother was shrewd and lost interest in him once he was taller than her.

He set off on The Joyous Morn with the rest of them. He saw a woman break her leg falling in between uneven rocks and disregarded her like the rest of them. He saw a cougar eat a man alive, even heard his bones crunching. He saw a boy slip off the edge and disappear between the evergreens below. By the time he reached The Tear Drop, he didn’t recognize anyone.

They were served tall glasses that steamed with warmth. He was hungry and thirsty and would have drunk the entire glass if he hadn’t closed his eyes to pray first.

‘Keep me in Your sight, my God,’ he thought. ‘Show me Your path so that I might follow You.’

Before he could open his eyes, he felt his skin rush with warmth and his stomach shrink out of discomfort. His eyes remained squeezed shut as the world formed around him. From above, he saw himself with his head bent over the steam of his drink. All around him, the others moved in a flurry of speed. They downed their drinks and filled their cups again and again with pitchers. They laughed maniacally, slapping each other, hugging each other, and eventually they were on top of the tables, dancing and shedding their clothes. All around him, they became naked and he watched as his body was still and all of the others thrashed their way in and out of each other, rolling on the ground, bent over tables and clumped together in piles with their mouths sucking each other.

They passed out one by one, laying atop each other and snoring away their drunkenness. It wasn’t until they were all immobile, though it lasted only seconds, that his mind shot back in to his body. He ran in to the cold rushing air, stepping over their bodies to get there.

He ran through the night, through the whiteout and up past the top of the clouds in frenzy. He didn’t know about the sampry then. He didn’t see one then and learned of their existence only after his exhausted and near dead body crawled to the doors of The Vessel Monastery.

Still no sight from his god, but he prayed none the less until he could mistake the beating of wings above him for wind no longer.

‘Do what You would,’ he thought, maintaining pace. ‘Nothing happens outside Your will.’

Just as before, his mind shot from himself and from above he saw his body walking just steps away from a drop off with a mile of empty air above where the whiteout began.

The undeniable screech of a sampry slit the air.

‘Your will alone,’ he thought as he lunged himself off the cliff.  Against the wind, the mute soared and saw his skins shedding, flying up, away from him. The wind fought gravity as his body pushed and pulled simultaneously. He shot back in to his blinded self and as he entered the whiteout, his fingers touched feathers.

The God of Eyes 077-083

 The Null of Eyes

“Not everyone gets the epiphany.”

 The Two of Eyes

“Just so you know, you’re being lied to. The Land of The SIX is not what it seems.”

 The Three of Eyes

“The Council of Skol runs Center CIty and the majority of SIX. They do this through minerals, monetizing the very land you sleep on .The same land that was here long before you and will be right there, for as long as the world is, after you.”

 The Four of Eyes

“Everything you see is controlled. There are curses worked in to every message you get from the world around you. Pretty soon, SIX will all be waste. Our planet’s small circle of land is habitable only temporarily.”

The Five of Eyes

“There is no way to stop the Council of Skol because they control everything. Like puppets on strings, everything you see becomes clearer of sense when you take a step back. That is what Only Mountain is like. A drawing framed in close that allows you only a fraction of the information necessary to discern it. With each zoom out of the frame, a new epiphany is made.”

The Six of Eyes

“If you think you know the history of SIX than you are wrong. No one can know the unknowable. All that is available to the historian is a collection of accounts it must trust. Without trust for history’s authors, one has no use for ‘fact’ driven education. The truth is, facts simply can’t exist. People are just not meant to really know because we are built fallible, victims to our own perceptions.”

The Soul of Eyes

“Perception is just like a ghost, unreliable and intangible.”


The God of Hands 070-076

The Null of Hands

“I was born and raised in Center City, the one place in the known world where The HIGHSIX have never gone and never will.”

The Two of Hands

“My first memory in life was the hands of my uncle. His calloused fingers rubbed my teeny nipples and he dug his dripping teeth into my young hairless skin.”

The Three of Hands

“I grew up an object, raped no matter where I went, even if only with eyes and whistles and pats and squeezes. I dressed the part like all the other girls did, shaving and flirting, even though I hated men and their ugly snakes. It wasn’t until I met my mothers that my life truly began.”

The Four of Hands

“Mother Devusi surpassed my young beauty with ease even under the simple yellow fabric she wore over her sun scorched skin. She approached me as I quietly pretended to listen along with my school friends to the party minded boys in on vacation from across the Still Lake where they went to University. Mother Devusi and I connected eyes and I could not detach from her bright yellow stare, like sunlight, as it sucked who I was, my soul, unapproved, but welcome, right in to her beaming glow of perfected self. She held out her hands, interrupting the group, but paying them no mind as she spoke to me alone and said, ‘NITHYA has called you to come so that you will never again be victim.'”

The Five of Hands

“I left with Mother Devusi and we walked hand in hand South where we exited the draw bridge of Center City leaving all that used to be me behind. We walked miles without word and while the myth of the Mothers of NITHYA was that they hypnotized their followers before brainwashing them into their cult, I can attest that no part of that is true. I was chosen by Mother Devusi because NITHYA, our God of Hands, The Fifth and only truly just god of The HIGHSIX, worked through her to select me. We walked slowly, but for a distance of miles I never once could have without the healing radiance of NITHYA that accompanied us. Our destination was the entrance of a cave, black within, that marked the end of fertile land and beyond it the cruelest of all lands of the known world: The Desert of Nails.”

The Six of Hands

“I may not speak the words Mother Devusi spoke to me because they exist only within our Mother and Daughter bond. I became hers then and NITHYA shined the last light of the day’s sun upon us in blessing. Our connection filled my heart, relieving it of the hole I had tried and failed so many times before to make complete. We entered the cave where another world lived away from the terrors of society governed by misogyny and barbarism. Women controlled the underground living in peace with each other and finding love for every living thing, even the vermin. It was the first night as I slept cuddled in a heap of Mothers and their Daughters, my mother holding me tight as a man without eyes strummed a sitar sweetly, carrying the righteous understanding of NITHYA in to my brain.”

The Soul of Hands

“All that live are vermin. Not just rats and mice. Not just flies and roaches. All are vermin and that is truly a beautiful thing.”

The Injection 012

The Injection

The following is an excerpt from VERMiN:

“Don’t move,” he heard and Isaac looked around frantically. “Stop it. Keep your eye still. You’re really going to want me to get this right.”

Isaac opened his mouth to yell, but a roll of leather was shoved between his teeth.

Then he saw the needle.

“Look right at the tip. Injection on three. One…”

Isaac tried to push the sweaty tasting leather out of his mouth but it was stuck behind his teeth.


He stared at the tip as it lowered toward him recognizing it as a syringe. All his muscles went taut and he pushed with all his might outward until his eye became blind with the puncture at his pupil. The metallic point went deep into the middle of his eyeball and his throat lurched to hold his sickness.

“There we go,” said Rat. He depressed the back of the needle and an ice cold fluid flooded the inside of Isaac’s eye.

Rat pulled it back, but there was no relief as he closed Isaac’s eyelid with his dirty fingers. He held the skin shut until he secured it with tape in an X shape.

“Good,” said Rat.

Isaac’s heart thumped desperately. His nostrils flared with each inhale and exhale. His hands were fists and his toes curled in the musty air. He only then sensed he was naked as the fingers pulled apart his other eyelid.

“One more and you’re done,” said Rat and before the horror repeated, Isaac felt the liquid, so cold it burned, traveling through his face. Rat didn’t count for the second shot and by the time his other eye was filled with ice too, the other injection had traveled to the middle of his brain, turning the spot behind the middle of his eyebrows into a molten orb. “Pay attention. You’re going to want to remember this.”

The words were hardly there and by the time the needle left his second eye, tape crossed in an X over his eyelid, the heat in the middle of his head was spreading. He pictured his entire brain melting and then bubbling up through his nose and out of his ears.

It was then that Isaac dreamt his first dream in almost twenty years.