Surrounding the valley were mountains named Desperation. They were so named for the disease that drove some of the colony members to attempt escape from the valley. These runners, as they came to be known, would leave quietly but hurriedly, turning away from family and friends and rush into the rain that pelted the mountains continuously. The mountains were all too well-known for their power to strip runners’ souls from their bodies. Men and women would struggle up the fog covered rocky slopes cutting their hands on sharp stones. Their bodies were attacked by ever twisting winds that ripped at the runners’ clothing tearing it away in some cases.
Even as these men and women desperately climbed up foot by painfully gained foot to escape the darkness that lay behind them, it seemed as if they had made no advance. For those who were able to speak later, after being found by rescue parties that were reluctant to leave the colony’s closely kept border to look for the runners, it seemed to them that no matter how high they thought they had climbed, when they paused and looked behind them, they found they were just steps from the base of their tormentor. It appeared to them that they had climbed no further than a few feet even after hours of struggle and, after a while, they would drop, drawing their bodies into a ball, and weep. Some tried to retrace and reach the base only to find that each step down took no distance away. In fact the more they attempted to go down the more distant from the base they found themselves.
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