They walked from the foot of the hill to its head. Nobody had told them the volcano was still live – and then the mouth
Hundreds of years; thousands and more. People had been circling the old volcano since before memory began, rhythmically at first, and expecting a consequence.
Now, of course, all that had been forgotten, and people walked, or jogged, or ran for fun. They ran alone, or jogged in pairs, or walked, and stopped, and photographed, in groups. And didn’t expect the consequence. And then, one day, by chance, by mishap or – and we must only hope not – by definite design, the necessary number circled at the necessary speed for the necessary time. And those inside awoke.
They awoke and shook themselves and looked around themselves in the dark, not seeing but knowing, being called, being called, one and all together.
They tore through the walls of the old volcano using hands and nails and bleeding fingers. They tore them through with ferocious speed until they were within a long arm’s length from the crust, the grass where people lay and slept and picnicked and laughed and watched the walkers circling. And saw the walkers stopping and laughing and clapping one another on the back.
And then the ones inside stopped too, a long arm’s length from the world, as if a silent trumpet call had sounded, they stopped, heads tilted towards the silent sound, listening in the silence and the breathing. They stopped and then returned to where they had slept, dirt-faced, red-toothed, and lay and slept again.
But now the old volcano wall was thinner; much, much thinner. And a year on from that day the walk would begin again.