A Pile of Rocks

A Pile of Rocks

A Story by The Cynic

I saw something, across the water, in the night.


I came to a dock in the night, past the forests and the mountains, past everything I cared for. Still, further, more forests and mountains waited, yet I stopped, for I hadn’t seen water or light in a long time, and I yearned for both.

The inlet was small, and had boats and ships tied up at its center, accompanied by the thin dock, which lead back to shore. The moon was as full as I’d seen for myself in years; I’d forgotten how much like day the night could become, its clouds radiating silver in strands, the very sky illuminated by the thin mist, a few stars staring curiously over them into the water.

The mountains were only noticeable by their black silhouettes, cutting out parts of the sky into a darker tone. Giants, surrounding and staring into the water, as if to check whether a single thing breathed down there. The only such sound were the gentle waves and the not-so-gentle wind, whispering the same word, but one less harshly than the other.

Besides the moon, lamps lit the coast where I stood, casting a little light out, but mostly illuminating my surroundings. Thirty meters from where I stood, to the right, the dock touched the earth, along with a small shed. The shed cast a shadow behind it, into a small wooden staircase beside it and past it, over the water.

On this wooden staircase was a person, or something entirely unlike a person. Perhaps it was a group of rocks that my imagination, inebriated by the moonlight, formed into an entity. Or perhaps it was a person, or something similar, and it’s my imagination that seeks to deform it into a pile of rocks.

Seeking not to give it much attention, though, I looked around me. Behind was a structure built as an asylum, yet it offered hospitality to anybody seeking it in the night, or at least so I thought. I approached it and greeted the well-tempered dogs that watched me approach.

Peering inside the windows, I noticed well-lit spaces, a reception desk and staircase, keys readily hanging on the wall to confirm my hypothesis. In another room, I saw billiard tables, and also ones used to dine on. Machines were on, and if I harkened I could hear them purr.

Yet not a single person was to be seen.

I could have satisfied my curiosity. Gone in, asked for somebody at the desk. They’d surely have woken up. But why wake anybody? I wasn’t long to stay, after all. To this end, I barely touched the glass door, nor breathed on the glass windows, lest somebody should see me peering in and have a fright.

No, I turned back, down the stone staircase that led to the door, back to the place I’d stood on, staring over the abyss around me. Only this time the abyss no longer held my attention. No, I was rather mentally torn over remembering the last position I’d found that peculiar group of rocks to possess. Because it seemed to me that, perhaps, the thing that was next to the shed on the dock hadn’t always been exactly in the position I saw it in now. Yet I stared at it, and not a breath, not a wave, not a single acknowledgement back towards me.

Oh, I froze and stared at it. Were they really rocks? Or was it indeed a figure I was seeing, sitting down on the wooden staircase next to the shed on the dock, two legs relaxed, stretched, two arms drooping on either side, two large concave columns of hair down to its knees and its obscure head between its shoulders, buried in shadow, all features unseen?

Ages seemed to pass. I wouldn’t move. I was safe here, in the space I knew, next to a streetlight. Oh, I could’ve easily found out about it, walking up to the dock peering right around the edge of the shed and in that instant finally seeing it for what it was. But I couldn’t tolerate it. What if I got there and it weren’t a pile of rocks? What if it were a creature, a being, something like me? Would I have to talk to it? What would I say?

Or worse still, what if I peered around the edge of the shed and there were nothing there but stairs?

So I stayed myself next to the streetlamp and stared across, and was stared back at by whatever was there. Not a muscle moved in me, not an impulse stared other than that of keeping my eyes open. My very heartbeat slowed so as to be undetected, and my chest wouldn’t emit a sound that could rival the wind.

Eons passed during the unchanging night. The wind was always on the side of my face, the water always caressing the shore, and I always begging the figure in front of me to move, to rid me of this prison, to let me know it was alive so I could simply go on. I begged the other to move, all the while unwilling to forgo my petrifaction.

Voices around me stared, wondering why I did not breathe if I so resembled a person. Oh, the mountains turned to stare at me instead, wondering whether I might someday move and rid them of their dilemma. I felt everything stare at me as the person next to the shed did, and I couldn’t then move. I had no eyes for them all, only for the one that scared me the most, the one my size, the pile of rocks on the stairs.

But I tire far more easily than a thing made of rock, or the mountains, or the wind. In a sudden break, I took my keys out of my pocket, unlocked my car, got in, and sped away, back to what I knew, as fast as I could.

Perhaps after years, the thing on the dock will still be staring at those who only wanted to rest next to the light and water.

But what scares me the most, I think, is the possibility that it could still be thinking of me.

© 2013 The Cynic

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Added on October 21, 2013
Last Updated on October 21, 2013
Tags: pile, rocks, dock, moon, mountains, forest, streetlight, light, night, shed, person, hair, asylum