|The Two Shows
(Taken from a letter written by Caleb Sighwater to a friend)
While I am indoors I am my normal height. As soon as I step out of my door I am shrunk to the size of a pebble. I am an ant on a tablecloth. My miniature existance lasts for as long as I am within sight of the Two Show Ranges. Once I step into my friend's home I am returned to my old size and my embarrassing plunge into perspective is forgotten. I become large and important. I am a man, a big, strong man in charge of his surroundings. After a few hours of talking and eating this commanding individual decides to return home, and once again he is exposed to the looming gaze of the omnipresent mountains and reminded that he is a tiny fragment of an immense and complex world which he does not understand.
I have no words to describe the immensity of these mountains or the deep impact they make upon the mind of this city. They are always present, always visible, standing in wrinkled heaps above the horizon like the folds of a blanket. Their jagged heads cut the skyline in two. Above the jag there may be blue sky, but below it there is always a brown, creased night.
At certain times of the day the sun will strike the walls of the range and turn the mountains pink or orange. A frail ribbon or cloud trails across the sky, accenting the strength of the peaks. The snow on the precipices will glare opaquely white as if it had become panes of sunstruck glass.
These transmutations of colour come and go and beneath it all the rocks remain impassive. The haze of the setting sun brushes over them, but their hearts are not touched. Their dignity is frightening. They stand apart from the normal ways of nature with its fits of constant movement, from birth, to food, to sleep, to rising, to death. They are waiting, but what for? There is no human motivation that would interest them, and so we are left to wonder.
Aside from their moods, the mountains are mortally dangerous. People have died up there. The most recent death was of a plant teacher from the Odd Head District who fell down a crevasse and broke his skull. Other deaths have been caused by avalanches, crumbling ridges, exposure to the elements and a thick fog that comes down, obscuring a climber's vision and sending them stumbling blindly off cliff-tops.
Nonetheless, the Goolooians continue to climb, like the girl in the story who clambered across the back of a giant. They give names to the crevices and peaks: Fruit-pip Way, Riverrun and Hard-head. The mountains wear these as they would wear any names, that is, with monsterous indifference.