Flash Fiction: Mount Barry

It was a misty, rainy night when it appeared. I sat in my car, feet up in the passenger seat, sipping a coffee as I admired the view. A large slab of rock concealed by the mist, what was it trying to hide from me? I imagined a dragon perched atop, looking down and wondering the exact same thing, so I put my car lights on to signal to my dreams. But really, I didn't quite know what this mountain looked like when laid bare for us all to see. It had only popped up at the edge of town that very same moment, after all.

The funny thing is, no one could remember what was there before. And when other cars parked up alongside my scrunched up Mini, I drove away without really thinking all that much about such a discovery. I had to get home and cook dinner, who has time for a small town mystery?

But that mystery sure had the time for me.

Each morning when I opened the curtains, I saw that same mountain looking right back at me. The mist had cleared so I could see it wasn't as tall as I considered it could be. I imagined it stretching to the heavens, God would be waving from the top, he felled the dragon, taking his spot. But no, it was just a substandard stubby, stumpy, grey slab of hard rock. It reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago. What were they called? Can you remember every stubby, stumpy, grey slab of hard rock you see? The first person to climb this one called it Mount Barry. Because that was his name. What else would he be trying to say? The locals accepted it, because it had already trended on social media. The mountain itself even had its own instagram. Who ran it? Surely not Mount Barry?

At work our weekly huddles turned into Mount Barry discussions. Where did it come from? Who saw it first? Who climbed it last weekend? Who will climb it this weekend? Isn't the guy who named it kind of cute? What's he doing these days? Shouldn't we make our company mascot a cartoon Mount Barry? Someone had even stitched a mock up plush in their free time, they'd pasted Barry's face onto the mountain. It looked like a faded knock off of the emoji poop. It was kind of cute, or so they said. I was back at my desk, urgent emails, or so I said.

A co-worker approached me one lunchtime, the one who had made the poop mountain plush. I was sat on a bench outside from the rest, turned away from Mount Barry, I'd seen enough of him for one day. They looked concerned, upset, a little miffed.

'What's up?'

'You know what's up.'

'I don't want to look.'

'You can't hide from it.'

'I've seen enough.'

'We've all climbed Barry.'

'I'll bet.'

'How could we not?'

'It's just a rock.'

'You'll be next. How could you not?'

As I drove home from work I found myself checking my rear-view window every few minutes, I felt a chill each time I turned a corner, as if someone was tailing me. But what I saw were empty streets, and Mount Barry stealing the sunset from me. He was much more alluring when the mist was so concealing. I turned another corner, felt another chill, then took another glance, and there Mount Barry was, sitting in the back seat, smiling right on back at me. I screamed, swerved, and the car crunched concrete. I slowly turned to face those seats once more, and there Mount Barry still sat, still smiling, and I let out a laugh. I had forgotten we'd all been given the finished plush toys to take home. It still looked like shit.

I started to keep the curtains closed , I needed time to myself, sometimes this town felt so small you could hardly breathe in it all. I felt dizzy walking upstairs, it reminded me of climbing, and so I slept downstairs. I didn't have time for this mystery, I had things to do. Like work, like eat, like sleep, like meet. Who had time for a small town mystery?

But the mystery sure had the time for me.

A few nights into sleeping on the floor, the world began to shake around me, and when I awoke, between my legs a hard rock poked out from under the floorboards. Mount Barry had come to find me. He looked up, tears in his eyes.

'What's up?'

'You know what's up.'

'I don't want to look.'

'You can't hide from me.'

'I've seen enough.'

'Why won't you climb me?'

'I've done it so many times before.'

'But not with me.'

'Because we had something special. Just me and you on that fateful rainy, misty night. I couldn't see you, you couldn't see me. I thought you were bigger, I thought you had dragons and gods on the tip of your top. But when the other cars showed up, that was that. You showed us all everything, and everything weren't all that.'

The mountain kept on rising, cracking my floorboards, upturning my sofa, smashing my TV. His face was rather menacing, and I had to move my legs to avoid the heft of his craggy neck pushing through the roof, and right on into the night sky. I hugged the soft plush tightly, hoping Mount Barry would depart from me. But once he'd devoured my house whole, I only had my car to drive or hide away in. But when I got in, I simply sat cross legged in the passenger seat, watching Mount Barry make a fool of himself. In the morning people would see just how fragile a mountain could be. At least his tears made the mist come back, no one needed to see all that.

A writer of objects brought to life, in hopes of understanding himself and others. Joe regularly updates his blog at channelstatic.wordpress.com, and has recently written about his own personal struggles due to his disability for a SICK AF feature at clarrisaexplainsfa.com.