lace_agate: (stories)
[personal profile] lace_agate
Title: Written in stone
Day/Theme: June 5 - nameless hills
Fandom: Original, one-off
Characters/pairing: Two nameless people and a range of hills
Rating: G
Warnings: Geology. Also weirdness.



Take a look at these hills: these old hills, hills that stood tall long before you or I were born. These hills, worn down by time and sculpted by wind and rain. Look up at the jagged ridges, the green slopes broken by rocky peaks. See the spires and teeth of black marble where they jut out of the scrub and vegetation.

The rocks have a story to tell.

Look at these hills, and listen.

***

Long ago these hills were not hills but ocean floor. Deep in time, hundreds of millions of years past. Life had not yet reached the land, but the seas were home to alien creatures with strange names. Intricate branching lattices, colonies of graptolites, floated through the water. Trilobites and brachiopods lived on the seafloor. They lived, died, were buried: over many lifetimes their bodies collected at the bottom of the ocean.

These rocks are the remains of ancient creatures, buried for so long we can barely comprehend the depth of time involved. While they were buried that Earth above them changed beyond recognition. Plants and animals invaded the land. Oceans flooded in and receded. The planet’s crust sheared and distorted, creating great mountain ranges that weathered away in the blink of an eye. The rocks that would become our hills did not escape the upheaval.

The pressure and heat of the distorting crust transformed these rocks. The minerals crystallised into new and different forms. Limestone became marble.

The upheaval eventually ended. As the dinosaurs were dying this land sank quietly into the sea. For a time, there was quiet. Our land slowly sailed south and east, away from the rest of the world. Twenty million years ago, there was a collision of tectonic plates. The mountains began to rise again.

A fault tore our marble apart. It was thrust upward, hundreds of metres upward, until it reached the surface of an Earth very different to the ocean time of its birth. Each earthquake lifts the marble a little higher, while wind and rain wear it down, sculpting the hills we see through the window today.

***

The fault is still there. Tomorrow I will lead you up through the paddocks, through the bracken, gorse and nettles, to the outcrop where it cuts across a cliff-face. Above is ancient black marble; below, a younger limestone whose fossils resemble the creatures living off the coast today. The university brings its students here every year. It’s the last stop on their field trip; later they will go and get drunk at the local pub. Thinking about deep time, the aeons of stories told by rocks, gets overwhelming after a while. Sometimes you just need a beer or five to put things back in perspective.

Later, you will return to your life and your job. You will forget the story of these hills and the alien creatures who roamed the prehistoric seafloor. But sometimes you will look at the hills and remember me, and the weekend we spent together.

I will not remember you. I will go back up into the hills, and read the stories written in the rocks. I will imagine the ancient oceans, the volcanoes in the distance, long gone. I belong to these hills, and they to me. You will not see me again.



The hills in this story are loosely based on Takaka Hill in New Zealand.
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