The Hundredth Meridian

The Mysterious Mountain

The wind that had risen directly after sunset blew hard down-canyon, filling the rocky bowl where camp was fixed with a sound like rushing water, scouring the open fire pit, and sending red sparks in sheets among the dry cacti and bushes.  Between gusts, the coals in the bottom of the pit burned dark red and purple, then brightened to orange and yellow when the wind hit them.  Piled nearly a foot deep, they resembled the ruins of a destroyed city, burning with the vengeful heat of a crematorium.  Overhead, the stars remained obscured by the brilliant firelight until you stepped away from the campfire among the thornbush and cholla, while the night sky waited for a new moon.

“Is it possible humans actually are as malleable as the social engineers believe?” I asked, returning to the fire after briefly inspecting, the Pleiades through binoculars.  “I thought about it all the way down the Front Range yesterday.  O for an atom bomb!—as Evelyn Waugh said.  What kind of being other than a totally adaptable one could live in Denver and call it home?  Modern cities aren’t just not communities anymore, they aren’t even cities—simply conglomerations of realty machines designed for the purpose of processing populations and money.  Not even making the damn stuff—just raking it in.”

“People think they’re...

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