“The Mountains Upside Down” (1863)
a Gilles Vorace novel
Extract from Chapter III:
“Downwards And Upwards”
We had finally begun our climb down to the top of the mountain.
Dr Niemendorf had been right all along: the mountains upside down did exist!
Hektor Wiendelstein’s journal was not a fake nor was it a collection of demented ramblings which was certainly good news for the expedition. What lies at the peak of an upside down mountain, deep underground?
We were about to find out.
-“Dr Niemendorf”, I inquired, “What of the air down there?”
-“Young nephew, use your mind! Typically, a mountain peaks at the purest and lightest of its air. Therefore, since our journey already begins at the top, we should find a vast pocket of fresh oxygen right at the foot of the mountain. The freshest, most delightful air you could ever breathe. After that, it’ll all be downhill from there.”
-“Surely you mean ‘uphill’.”
-“Hush those mindless queries and corrections.”
-“But doctor”, our Finnish lumberjack friend Raskkattan started, “We five, we not enough. Maybe more people is better, no? Danger!”
-“Balderdash! A group of five abled bodies with working limbs and capable, functioning brains is more than enough to secure a safe and productive expedition.”
-“But we drop!”
-“Drop? Absurd! If my calculations are correct, and they are, once we have slid our way through to the mountain’s base, reverse gravity should kick-in just in time to guarantee a smooth upside down walk all the way to the top!”
-“‘But-but-but’, be quiet man! Keep your concerns to yourself and leave the science to those of us who are indeed qualified to discuss such intricate matters. Me, for example. Now carry this pig.”
Raskkattan should have known better than to argue with Uncle Niemendorf. He was as stubborn as an owl and, more often than not (by that, of course, I mean always), he was completely, surprisingly right. My uncle handed the bulky Scandinavian the pig and, after wrapping a long piece of rope around a nearby tree, started his descent.
Raskkattan followed, his porcine disciple firmly tied to his chest, like a real boy. Olaf was next, the weak-minded child was scared out of his wits, contesting throughout: “Why did he have to come?”, “Why couldn’t he go home instead?”, nonsense of the sort. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be part of such a ground-breaking discovery? I tied up the boy promptly, from neck to toe, filling his mouth with cranberries to keep him quiet, and lowered him down with the others.
The ungrateful tick.
It was to be Lady Seitenstreifen’s turn when she turned to me, her stunning figure in that all-too complimenting dress of hers, hardly suited to an adventure such as this one might I add, heaving towards me, like a bag of cherries, and asked:
-“Do they have napkins down there?”
Not knowing what she meant and for fear of sounding foolish, I immediately agreed with her. Puzzled, she nonetheless smiled and followed the rest of the group down the crack. Good thing I remembered to tie her rope to the tree in time, she had forgotten and a lesser gentleman could have lost himself in that magical smile of hers.
She truly was a special breed.
The climb down was torturous.
Impatient, Uncle Niemendorf intermittently yelled instructions back at us. The pig, no doubt deeply disturbed by the events, squealed uncontrollably, Raskkattan muttered what could only be Finnish profanities on and off, young Olaf crying hot, bitter, childish tear the entire time, Lady Seitenstreifen complaining about the absence of a working powder room (poor, sweet Lady Seitenstreifen, I could bury my head in her) and me, unsure about where this unsympathetic road would lead me.
Respect? Fame? Fortune? Death?
Time would tell.
-“My uncle, how much farther down until we reach the mountain?”
-“According to Hektor Wiendelstein’s journal, we should be approaching the base of the mountain somewhere between now and later.”
-“Later as in after some time has passed?”, interrupted Lady Seitenstreifen, with a voice so soft and cushiony I felt instantly wombed by its motherly comfort.
-“Precisely”, simply replied my uncle.
This was going to be one long climb.
-“You have water?”, Raskkattan asked the doctor with a thick Helsinki accent, so thick it must have weighed at least a couple of inches.
-“‘Vwahtier’? I suppose you mean ‘water’? Fool, you imagine I would undertake such a monumental undertaking without packing enough water for us all?”
-“No, but it’s good you have.”
-“I don’t ‘have’ it now, of course. I had to drop some weight on the way down in order to perform my leader duties to the best of my abilities so what I couldn’t drink, I discarded. But not to worry, as long as I am hydrated, the group should enjoy a safe journey with me, its leader, in top physical form. Besides, the water will no doubt be waiting for us down the mountain thanks to good old, trusty reverse gravity.”
-“Surely you mean ‘up’ the mountain, Uncle Niemendorf!”, I playfully jested.
-“I loathe the very fabric of your being and, furthermore, your face.”, was his, I felt, somewhat harsh, reply.
A sudden move by Dr Niemendorf sent all of us swinging and sent Olaf face-first into the rocky walls which surrounded us, cracking his skull on a sharp piece of granite. He died on impact. The blood pouring out of his little head angered my uncle but provided Raskkattan’s pet pig with enough fluids to keep it alive and squeal-less for some time.
The circle of life.
-“I tire, lets set up camp here!”, Lady Seitenstreifen suggested as Olaf’s motionless corpse hung puppet-like right below her small, delicate feet.
Suddenly, and without warning, the rope snapped and we started our long tumble down this mysterious, upside down abyss.
More extracts from Gilles Vorace‘s “The Mountains Upside Down” will come soon.
Only on WeTheMindThinkers.