I wrote this short story, 1667 words
based around an experience in Peru. I'm looking to improve it so I would welcome any criticism or ideas on how to change it.
I realise this is long and it's also a long shot. Tales from Peru: The Fog Citadel
"I can't believe I'm actually here, I feel like I'm dreaming."
Nate smiled and held her hand, feet dangling over a steep drop down to old rock. The rock overlooked the ruins and was a popular photograph point for tourists. Only now, the view was almost totally masked by early morning fog swirling through the ancient open hallways. He knew the fog would clear by around mid-day, but he could sense her growing impatient.
She leapt to her feet and jogged onto the path. "Come on Nate, lets explore!"
He slowly rose to his feet and watched her jog back towards the steps that led down to old thatched huts.
She was young and in awe, having read about this place when she was younger. A childhood obsession. "When I grow up, I want to go to Peru." Sarah spoke bravely infront of her year 6 class. "I want to visit the city in the clouds!" she paused, trying to pronounce the name. "Mah choo, pee choo."
"Machu Picchu" Sarah screamed at the top of her lungs, arms outstreched, her legs leading down to the gate to the city. "Mah choo pee choo is very old, and it lives on top of a big hill in the middle of the mountains. People called Incas once lived there. There are lots of old buildings, and steps going up to a temple. When I go I want to climb the big mountain covered in trees called Way-na pee choo." Sarah reached up as far as she could, pinning some printed photographs on the whiteboard with bluetac. Bright blue skies, rolling green hills.
Nate jogged to catch up with her. The fog that had consumed the ruins was starting to roll away partially revealing the sprawling ruins of dry grey stone and green farming terraces.
"Look!" Sarah yelled, standing at the edge of a sheer drop down the side of the mountain. "You can just about see the river at the bottom." Nate jogged to her side and stared down. He could see an ocean of grey swirling, even in front of his eyes, but just like Moses parting the Red Sea the ocean of fog was clearing outwards. "I had a dream that I was standing on Way-na pee choo, and I could see the whole world!"
Sarah slowed down and stopped under the entrance gate, examining the huge regular shaped blocks. Past the gate was the Upper Building Complex which led downwards to a path to Huayna Picchu. She stepped through the gate, noticing the recesses in the rock on the other side, suggesting there was once a locking mechanism there.
Sarah wondered off, exploring all the nooks and crannies, peering through the square holes in the walls looking down over the farming terraces stretching down the side of the hill. "Come on, lets go climb Huayna Picchu!"
As Sarah walked on, taking everything in I heard her mutter "This is the best place, ever."
The climbing of Huayna Picchu takes around 90 minutes. 90 minutes of near constant uphill climbing on old steps. The morning dullness starting to brighten, the fog starting to clear, the two began the long trek up the winding pathway.
"This is perfect!" She yelped in excitement as they descended from "Baby Picchu" onto the pathway up Huayna. She could see the hills through the trees on the side of the pathway, fog particles dancing in the gentle breeze, as if being hurried away.
Half an hour and several breaks later they sat together on a cold damp ledge before the first set of treacherous stairs, giant knee high steps jutting out at irregular angles, trickling water running down them, a miniature waterfall.
Sarah grabbed Nate by the hand and looked him in the eyes. "Thank you, for bringing me here. It is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Something I have dreamt of since I was about 10."
"It's the least I could do." he smiled. "Isn't it beautiful, the way the peaks of the mountains in the distance stab through the mist. Trying to break free of a heavenly shroud."
"It's trying to reveal itself to us, but the mist keeps swallowing it up." "My mum has a lot of money hidden away, and she said she would take me there one day when daddy comes home. I can't wait for him to come, with us."
"I think we're near the top" Nate spoke, his breath running short. Far above they could see buildings on stone terraces, watching over the land.
"The gods surely must live here." She said in awe. "Please god." Sarah prayed, two years later, her classmates sat in silence with their hands together and heads bowed. "Please make my mummy better. There are still so many things we need to do together."
"Look Nate, a dark cave!" she yelled back. Nate was struggling up the last set of stairs.
"I think... I need a minute." fighting for breath.
"It's so dark in there Nate, will you go first?" She gleamed. "The fog is nearly lifting, we will be able to see everything."
"You've been waiting a long time for this moment, we should savour it for a few minutes." Nate gasped.
"I know." Sarah sighed, turning to the valley surrounding them. "I just wish my dad had brought us here, before... Instead of squandering all the money on alcohol."
Nate held her hand tight. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I want to make it up to you."
Clambering to his feet, he approached the dark mouth of the cave then fearlessly dissolved into the blackness.
"Come on, It's perfectly safe Sarah."
She ducked into the cave and waited a moment for her eyes to adjust. His hand guided her between the thin walls, a short distance ahead was a slit of light at the top of a slippery slope.
Like being born again, they squeezed out of the tight gap into the sunlight. It burnt their eyes.
"More steps..." Nate sighed.
"Come on." Sarah giggled. "It can't be much further." She ran on but stopped suddenly, looking out over the lush green valley. She could see Machu Picchu sat on top of the fauna covered mountain. It looked beautiful.
Nate stopped next to her, shoulder to shoulder. "This is like a movie scene, we have just discovered a lost paradise."
"Just like Hiram Bingham did 100 years ago." She gleamed. "Come on!"
Sarah and Nate sat side by side in Year 9 English when the news came. The school receptionist entered the classroom looking pale. "Sarah, your father is here to pick you up."
She looked at Nate, worried, grabbed her bag and marched out of the classroom without a word. The receptionist locked eyes with the teacher, Mrs Backhouse and shook her head. The whole class seemed to understand.
"This is it." Sarah whispered. They were stood under a roof of rocks, nearby was a wooden ladder to the top.
"You can go first, if you fall I'll catch you." Nate smiled.
"You always catch me." She grinned back, grasping the middle rung of the ladder. Second year of college, Sarah and Nate had drifted apart. It had started with the death of her mother and her shattered dreams. Sarah stood outside the college gates, waiting for Nate to pick her up. It was one of the few times a week they got to spend together, the only day their timetables met which at first was weird for them both, having shared classes nearly their whole lives. His headlights illuminated her, she smiled. "Why have we drifted apart?" She asked herself as he pulled up beside her.
"Oh Nate, it's beautiful." She cried, spinning in circles on the slanted uneven rock. The view was perfectly clear now, the surrounding hills bright with colour.
"It looks like we are floating in a bowl Nate!" She pointed at the distance. The area beyond the hills were masked with fog, all around them making it appear as if Machu Picchu was floating in a bowl in an ocean.
"The clouds, we are so close to the clouds I feel like I can touch them." She said with a tinge of sadness.
"Maybe if I reach high enough I can hold her hand one last time."
As Sarah stood reaching high into the sky, a drop of rain collided and ran down Nate's face. He looked up into the sky and saw the clouds darkening.
"Oh Nate, everything you have done for me is perfect. Thank you, this is the best day of my life." She jumped to him and they hugged for a long moment. The rain fell harder.
"No..." Nate whispered to himself. "Not again, please don't ruin this."
Sarah let go and stepped away. "It's not your fault Nate. I don't hate you for what happened. You have brought me to my mother, how could I possibly hate you for that?"
"Please, hold me and don't let go." Nate cried, a tear running down his cheek. He lunged forward to grab her but found himself grasping at nothing, clothes lagged with water. "SARAH!" HELP!" Nate screamed at the top of his lungs, but no one was around. Blood poured from the gash in his head but he did not feel the pain. He felt fear. Diving beneath the surface he swam downwards, the red rear lights of his car sinking further and further away. He had struggled out to try and drag her from the floating prison, as he tried to undo her seatbelt the car took a plunge down towards the icy depths.
The sun was starting to rise as he stood alone at the peak of Huayna Picchu. Not far below he could hear the banter of tourists. The paradise evaporated around him, the skies clouded over and fog began to rise.
"Sarah, I did all of this for you. I know that you were with me all this time because this place seems so much duller without you." Nate said, staring at the mist covered mountains surrounding him.