The day had finally come. The day that their Lord and Saviour would finally come down from The Mountaintop and collect them. Then would come The Storm to envelop the world. Of course, on The Mountaintop, the chosen few would survive, survive, watch the world blow away and survive. Then repopulate.
A naked man, Roy Bennett, stood on the rocks now, his shrivelled-flat penis flapped about in the lighter gusts like a windsock, and his echoes cracked. “Brothers and Thisters!” fat moustache-in-mouth lisp, and thick Welsh. “Today we thshed our garmentsth, for we mustht be thseen in full by the Lord!”
The others did, and the clothes hit the ground in a simultaneous landslide of cottons. Then the chanting began, pointed to The Mountaintop, the clouds, and whatever was up There. They sang old songs – nothing arcane, just Christian songs from the past fifty years, with references to Heaven replaced with “The Mountaintop” (Their version of Mountaintop by The City Harmonic remained almost untouched). One of the many Mrs. Bennetts baked Battenberg for everyone in the village, which they all ate as the Colourful Body of the Lord, and they sang some more. They sang until the grey clouds thickened to sludge and growled.
The hour was nigh.
“Who among uth will be chothen?” squealed Roy Bennett, mouth full. He knew for certain one of them would be him – it was his father who first saw the bearded man go up the mountain, and knew for certain it was the manifestation of the Judeo-Christian God when a rainbow shot over the hiker’s path a day later. The question wasn’t aimed at himself, but it made the others sweat. What if they weren’t going to be chosen? Many of them had devoted their entire lives to the Mountaintop, and all their efforts had gone into avoiding the Storm. What if, by unfortunate chance, all of the effort, singing and Battenberg would culminate in simply being blown away into damnation with the rest of the infidels? What if the horse they’d bet on never even left the gate? What then? They trembled with the ground, and rain started to fall.
“WHO” continued Roy Bennett “WILL BE TAKEN.”
It was pouring now, and the old, dowdy, naked bodies had little waterfalls streaming from every protrusion. Off outstretched arms that welcomed the Lord; off cold-hardened nipples. The sky roared with blue rage. A cyclone the shape of a galaxy whorled over the mountain’s peak.
They all chanted it now, some screamed. The screamers had become so overwrought with doubt and regret that it turned hard in their stomachs and yanked them into a foetal ball on the ground, while their tears were washed away into non-existence by the hard rain. WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO like apes grunting WHO WHO
The sky had gone completely black, the sun had fallen westward and outlined the mountain in a red fire, projected a glowing archway to Heaven onto the village square. A tiny silhouette rose from the peak.
“The Lord!” someone screamed.
Lightning punched fire into a house, and gales pulled everything to pieces. Roy Bennett’s body wasn’t found – he was chosen, the survivors knew.
He’d felt the storm coming for months. He knew every way the weather moved, like it was a dance he had seen time after time after time. He had learned in the fifty years he had been trapped up there, through the trials and errors of being nearly thrown from the mountaintop, and sanded down by the rain until he was red. He watched everything he had loved crumble in tiny distant forms, forced to watch and tell himself there was nothing he could do, and there was definitely no hope in leaving now – he was nearly eighty. His bones had turned to twigs and gravel, if he moved between rocks, he would surely shatter. He accepted his fate. In some ways, he considered that he was the mountain itself – stationary, stony and pitying. He pitied the people who crumbled – he prayed for them. He watched the village below be pulled apart by the wind that he thought he knew, and he deplored God that the people’s fear and pain would be put at ease. He prayed the hardest he could, as if he knew them.