The mountain top was a dizzying blur of pummeling snowfall and freezing winds. Larsen had spent the last two months leading this expedition and scaling the towering
peak of India’s
mythical, but now discovered, . The mountain was
famed through antiquity as the legendary place where Alexander the Great met
with a holy man who told Alexander the meaning of life. A meaning so powerful
Alexander never recovered and he died shortly after hearing the wise man’s
words. Larsen was starting to care very little about this wise man. He’d lost
two men to frostbite and the pack mules plummeted to their deaths so early in
the climb. He was left with Dr. Richard Sorgon and his adventuring wife, Mrs.
Claire Whittle-Sorgon, to reach the summit and the legendary Indubuti
cave of Guru Ashany Wic-Ani
Larsen returned to the base camp he and the doctor had set up just a few hours ago. They had stopped their climb to review the map that Dr. Sorgon had discovered in an Egyptian Curiosity Shop. Larsen doubted the authenticity of the map at first. What were the odds of finding an accurate map in a curiosity shop? He’d thought it was a fake for sure. Once they discovered the first two markers, a winged sphinx of granite and a statute of
his doubts were somewhat belayed. The
map was in Egyptian and Greek, which did make sense since Ptolemy returned to Egypt after his
campaigns with Alexander and became Pharaoh. It was still suspicious to Larsen.
Larsen approached the thick winter style tent and unzipped the door. He stepped in to find Dr. Sargon huddled over a small table carefully examining the map and Mrs. Sargon working the small heating element they had set up. Larsen turned quickly and re-zipped the door flap.
“Ah, Larsen. How’s the weather looking,” asked Dr. Sorgon without looking up from the map.
“It looks like the winds may break tomorrow and we should be able to continue up toward the peak. We can leave the tent here as we’ll need it for our descent. We’ll just take what we need. I guess if we leave at first light tomorrow. We should reach this cave by mid-day. We can make camp in the cave. If it’s there,” said Larsen.
“It’s there Larsen,” said Claire, “I believe in my husband”.
Larsen nodded and removed his gloves and moved toward the heating element next to Claire. He leaned in close to her.
“If he’s wrong we’re all going to die out here,” said Larsen.
“He is not wrong. We will find it,” said Claire.
Larsen didn’t trust Claire Whittle-Sorgon one bit. She reminded him of a dark witch that lived in a rickety old house in his youthful home fishing village. The stories alleged she turned young loose women into cats. All through the night you’d hear the mournful mewing of those poor whores as they stalked the streets. The witch’s husband apparently fell in love with a loose woman and carried on an affair with her. The witch went crazy with jealousy when she found out and cursed the woman and turned her into a cat. Then she continued her rampage, turning any woman she thought loose into a cat. Larsen’s village was nearly overrun with cats. He didn’t really believe the story, but there was something about Claire that made him think of that witch. It was her strange steely green eyes.
“Larsen, have you any questions for the great Guru when we arrive,” asked Dr. Sorgon as he folded the map and moved toward his wife and Larsen at the heater.
“No. I do not wish to know the meaning of life,” said Larson.
“You don’t want to know the meaning of life? The meaning of everything,” asked Dr. Sorgon.
“I know the meaning of life. My father taught it to me many years ago,” said Larsen.
Dr. Sorgon smiled and nudged his wife.
“Do you hear that my dear. Larsen here already knows the secret for which we’ve been searching for these past two months. Won’t you enlighten us Larsen,” said Dr. Sorgon.
Larsen bristled at Dr. Sorgon’s condescension. He had tolerated it for this trip because the money he was being paid was far superior to anything he’d ever made, for any expedition. Plus, while Mrs. Sorgon might be an evil witch, she was very attractive.
“The meaning of life,” paused Larsen, “is to live it.”
The wind outside the tent howled and the flaps of the tent fluttered loudly. Dr. Sorgon and his wife looked at each other and then burst out laughing.
“Oh my dear Larsen, there has to be more to it than that,” said Dr. Sorgon.
Larsen moved away from the two and toward his cot. He pulled his heavy sleeping bag open and lay down.
“You two should get some sleep. It will be a long day tomorrow,” said Larsen.
Dr. Sorgon and Claire stopped their chuckling.
“Don’t sulk Larsen. I’m sure your father was a wise man. But tomorrow we will find the most wise man ever and we’ll see for certain if you’re right,” said Claire.
Larsen didn’t respond. He let his mind drift quickly to the days of his youth in his village and was quickly sound asleep.