The sun disappeared from the sky long after Calvin found a lip on the side of the mountain big enough for him to rest on. He didn’t want to stop, but reasoned with himself that continuing the climb in total darkness was suicide. He was not an experienced climber, so he was forced to rely on common sense and the knowledge of his limitations.

After building a fire, he ate a Spam sandwich and boiled a cup of water for tea. Luckily, the wind died down to a wheezy breeze after dark. It was still enough to occasionally threaten Calvin’s fire, but not enough to pierce his layers of warm clothing. His toes were wet and cold, though, which concerned him. Getting frostbite did not worry him, as long as he made it to the top of the mountain before it got bad. Once there, he would trade his flesh and blood for something far greater and more powerful.

As weariness and some of Gorgo’s sedatives darkened his mind, memories as recent as last week and as old as childhood washed over Calvin. Images of conflict, feelings of hurt, and voices of old flooded him all at once. Suddenly, he was a child again, small and weak against his tyrannical mother. It’s no wonder dad left, he thought while she punched and kicked him. Curled into a ball on the floor, he took it. From early on, he learned to just endure the beatings. Nobody could help, because nobody was reliable. Nobody was good, because nobody was evil. Nobody was flawed, because nobody was perfect.

“Man is what man is meant to be…” Calvin recited, reaching through the memories with his voice and grasping onto reality. “Conquered.”

The End

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