Two men tiptoed through the thick woods together. Their backs hunched over, they maneuvered through the trees quickly and quietly. Each had a bow with an arrow nocked to the string. The taller of the two men had a thick build. His sleeveless dark tunic was completely filled out with two arms rippling with muscles protruding from the shirt. His hair was dark almost matching his black tunic. His companion’s hair was a sharp contrast as the blonde locks flowed to a shoulder length. His tunic had sleeves that loosely clung to his arms which were lacking in muscle. He didn’t appear weak, but he looked small compared to his friend. Each of them had coils of rope over their left shoulder and a sword sheathed at their side.
The two hunters stopped at the sound of a breaking branch. It had come from their left; they each hunched down to a crouch. The woods were still. Neither of them dared to breathe. There was nothing… Had it been only the scampering of a squirrel or a few birds flying off. They waited. Nearly an hour passed by without them making a move. They were as close as they’d been to the catch of their dreams. This one moment would prove whether the myths and legends were based off of facts or fiction. Their muscles screamed out for mercy, tightening up from the uncomfortable crouching position.
Out of the silence, the beast appeared. It gave no warning to its approach. It wasn’t and then it was… It stood majestically in their presence. It almost taunted them, posing only thirty feet away. Neither man could comprehend the sight in front of them. The physical image of the beast was vibrant and passionate, yet it seemed to always be changing. Its mouth was enormous. At one moment, many rows of teeth taunted the hunters. Then in an instant they were gone, creating a scene of solitude or wonder. Then the teeth would reappear, bringing back the anxious heartbeats of fear and worry. The only thing unchanging about the beast were its wings. Each wing was huge and covered in deep blue feathers. The wings folded in to the side of the creature.
Both men looked at each other, knowing what they were about to attempt. They readied their bows, placing their index and middle fingers around the nocked arrows. In unison, they stood to their feet and let an arrow loose. Both would fancy themselves a good shot, hence they were both confident in the outcome once the arrows had flown. But as soon as the arrows had left their bows, the creature vanished. It didn’t appear that it had even used it wings. It was just gone in a quick flash…
Where had it gone? The men quickly scrambled to the spot were the creature had stood. Only a dark blue feather remained. They tried to think of what course of action they should take. Eventually, the slimmer man found himself climbing one of the tall oak trees for a better vantage point. After much struggle, he managed to reach the top. He looked over the forest. Just trees and more trees. Then, something jumped out of the green canvas. It was a sharp point jutting towards the sky. It was a mountain breaking vertically away from the earth quite a distance away. the tree-climber thought he saw something flying in the direction of the summit. He strained his eyes, desperately trying to clear his vision. He was sure it had to be the flying beast circling the mountain. He scurried down the tree as quickly as he could to tell his partner.
The two men raced to the mountain. They paid no attention to their hunger. They couldn’t afford the time to stop. They had to catch up to the creature. They did not notice their thirst for they were consumed by the idea of the beast. Neither of them were conscious of their fatigue, all of their thought revolved around one thing, that elusive creature.
After two days of constant jogging, they had reached the mountain. The men looked to the great peak, it was much larger than either of them had realized. But the humble emotion of climbing the mountain vanished when they saw the creature circling the peak. This had to be where the beast lived. The men decided to sleep at the base of the mountain and begin the climb at dawn.
They made a fire and laid on the soft grass beside the gigantic peak. Both were silent for many hours. The sun had set, the nocturnal animals were doing their evening rounds. Then, the bigger man began to talk. He could not sleep with the thought of the creature hovering above their heads. He talked about how catching the beast would change his life. With the beast tamed he could do anything, accomplish anything, be anybody he wanted to be.
Then the smaller man chirped in. He spoke his dreams of what fortune the tamed beast would bring him. He and his family would be beyond wealthy. They would own the world, having any comfort that a person could imagine. Health, food, friends it would all come with this prize in hand.
Like a crawling shadow at twilight the same thought creeps into each man’s head. A selfish and bitter thought changes each person’s perspective. The bigger man asks how they will split up the catch? Fifty fifty?
The blonde disagrees. He deserves more since he convinced his friend to come. The conversation quickly heat up as the disagreement turns into a fight. The larger man finally flings himself upon his once named comrade. They wrestle back and forth, struggling for an advantage. After many minutes of this tossing and turning, the weaker man finds himself depleted of all his energy. The larger man wraps his huge hands around his friend’s throat. He squeeze his hands into a tight grip, crushing the weaker man’s throat. In an instant, his companion is dead underneath him. The man climbs to his feet a self-proclaimed champion. He takes no time to mourn over his friend or regret his actions. He only looks at the summit…
Taking in a breath of the morning air, he begins the climb up the mountain.
The trek is not an easy one; he stumbles often as it begins to rain. The slopes become increasing slippery as the incline becomes steeper. He stops often to drink from small puddles of water. He doesn’t remember the last time he ate. Eventually, he forgets when the journey had become. He doesn’t remember leaving the small village he and grown up in. He doesn’t remember the days of hunting in the woods. He doesn’t remember killing his friend. The only thing on his mind is the beast waiting at the peak.
He is thin from not eating; his muscles have shrunk. He has to use his rope to scale the steep walls of rock. The air is continually thinning. He does not know how much further he can go. He gets dizzy often and stops regularly to rest at lesser slopes. At one moment, he lies on the cold hard rock, completely exhausted, trying to breathe. His vision blurs and he passes out.
A day later, the man awakes. He lifts his head and gives it a shake. He has never felt worse. His head pounds, his stomach aches, his throat and tongue are swollen from dehydration and his lungs burn from lack of oxygen. All of these feelings melt as he notices what stand merely feet away from him. It is the beast. The enormous creature stands at the edge of the cliff, looking out over the forest. The man reaches for his bow. He finds an arrow and nocks it to the string. He stood to his feet, takes aim, and lets the arrow fly. He feels his energy coming back to him. This is it, the moment he has longed for. The arrow soars through the air at an incredible pace. It reaches the creature and the arrow shatters on contact.
He had hit the beast’s wing, but the arrow had only broken into many tiny fractures. The creature lifted to the sky immediately. Its beautiful, terrifying eyes met his. The man grabbed a second arrow as the creature circled him. He let it fly. It was another direct hit to the wing, but the creature didn’t even flinch. The arrow only shattered yet again.
The beast dove towards him. He drew his sword. The beast crashed into him, knocking the blade off the side of the cliff. He lifted his spinning head from the mountain’s surface. The creature leaned over him. He dared not move. The beast sniffed him with his great nostrils and with one gulp, it swallowed the man whole.
These two men were ignorant. They had failed to realize the point to all of the myths and legends about this creature: you cannot tame the beast called Time.
This story was inspired by the song Lost in the Moment by NF.