The Red Men

It was the slowest wave she had ever seen. It was so slow, she wasn’t even certain when it actually began. She first noticed it when she stumbled over the red lump in the grass during her morning jog in the park.

On her hands and knees, she inspected the strange sudden protuberance that had thrust itself into her daily routine. The smooth ochre stone seemed to strain against the soil around it. Touching it, it feel hot and wet, but nothing came off on her fingers. Strange, she thought.

Dismissing it, she continued on her way.

It wasn’t until several days later that she noticed the lump was growing. She had diligently avoided the spot since then, either by going around or being sure to step over it. It wasn’t quite as smooth looking as she had first assumed. It was creased a bit at the edges. She reluctantly put aside her thought that the lump was a bowling ball that had gotten buried somehow.

As the weeks passed, her horror mounted. At first, she did not put together what she was seeing each day, but as the eyes erupted she was dismayed. It was beyond belief that a statue was not only buried, but heaving its way silently upward out of the soil.

And even more incredible is that no one else seemed to notice. Each day she watched other joggers, pedestrians and the like simply pass the ochre anomaly without notice. They never stumbled or tripped over it like she did, but yet they were also unaware. Aware and unaware.

She knew she should have stopped coming to the park. But she was drawn. She was witness. She didn’t know what she was seeing.

More weeks passed, and the statue was fully revealed. An ochre man in ochre clothes, with tears smeared like birdshit down his face.

Why are you weeping? She wanted to ask, but could only remain silent. What is happening?

The first was followed by more underneath, which raised the first on their shoulders. In turn, they were followed by more behind and below. And still, people did not see even when their numbers were in the hundreds, and then thousands. They rose in an eternity of months and eternity of years, a stair of crying ochre men stretching to the sun. Reaching upwards. A bloody, straining, grievous stairway to Hell.


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