A Fiction
Vani Venkatesan

Chapter 1     A Lone Runner


It was a normal weekday evening in autumn. The thin layer of snow covering a trail of the Grand Canyon in the morning had long melted. A lone young man, his eyes keen and bright, with thick dense hair covering both ears, shouldering a heavy backpack was running on the desolate trail, mounting forward through rifted rocks and passing through gullies, ravines, a miniature desert, and a long crevice. The soft rays of the setting autumn sun shining in a cool pale sky had made his run easier. The mountain looked desolate but beautiful, colorful tree leaves whispering in the soft wind.
The sun was falling behind the misty mountains, painting the sky shades of red and pink, and casting great shadows on the valley. A thin fog began to form, shrouding distant mountains. The man wasted no time, walking swiftly to the backside of the motel. Brushing his way through bush and yellow flowers, he found a hidden narrow trail climbing up a mountain. He renewed his running, still firm and fast. As he ran, two eagles were circulating and screeching in the sky for some time. He waved to them before they descended into the mountains.

Under the faint residual brightness of the sunset rays, he ran with confidence toward his destination. He was first running between ferns along a trickling stream, arriving at the chaos of rocks and he was blocked by some large boulders. With both hands and legs, he climbed over boulders after boulders and turned around a sharp ridge. He then climbed down towards a miniature valley within the great valley. The miniature valley was fully wooded, green vines and creepers twisting around tree boughs and the stream winding around it. The air was fresh and the leaves were clean and virginal. As he entered the forest, the sun had set and darkness fell upon the mountain. He felt a shudder run through him as he never liked darkness. He walked slowly, feeling his way forward. Passing many large banyan trees, he saw light again. At the far end of the forest were a few huts lit by oil lamps, the light confined within the forest. The huts were fully concealed by the thick woods, but the man seemed to be familiar with the environment as he quickened his pace on the trail that was dimly lit by the lamps. He ran toward the central hut, the largest shelter, which had lanterns hanging at the four corners of the roof.

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