I clawed my way up the once-molten lava beds, which had now been solidified for years after The Inclusion. Suddenly, my instincts kicked in and I swiftly proceeded to slide the box-like surface into a small alcove to hide - in the nick of time before I was found. I could hear it inhaling and exhaling deeply and coarsely, only stopping at brief intervals to examine the surrounding areas for any disturbances in the technicality and amplitude of The Trodden. Its putrid slime dripped near my hiding place as it seemingly became moist of the technical perfection it sensed - no disgusting 'style' anywhere to be seen. It shrieked loudly in the night, opened its windbreaker suit and pulled out the hideous pair of bionical wings, shaped in the form of five interconnecting rings and it blasted off into the darks skies. It was the first time I had seen A Judge so up close and I could hardly keep hold of my senses and not lose my mind. I had to move again, quickly under the Darkness.
How long had it been now after The First Games? Four years? Maybe six? It really didn't matter anymore, I thought, while continuing on toward the wasteland's edge. I had travelled for a fortnight, only moving under the guise of night as to slow their never-ending chase, but I couldn't even fool myself anymore - I would not return alive from my mission. I was closing in on my destination, but I could not help but turn around once more before leaving the Valley and lay my eyes on the Eternal Flame for a final time. Deep in the high night, it shone ever so brightly, illuminating most the Slopes where thousands of Trodden work day and night to perfect their triple corks, tens of dying of famine or energy drink overdoses daily. We were truly a dying breed, I pondered, as I looked down upon my weary hands; my nails were ripped off, my fingers forever bent into a mute hold and the deep, bright red scars reminded me of the terrifyingly sharp edges. I bowed my head down in anger and disgust, but I could not utter a word or they would catch me and all hope would be lost, while the Flame would keep shining on.
I remember it bright as day. I was informed of The Inclusion via a website dedicated to our sport. That site, or The Hole, as we called it had been at the same time a shining vestige of enthusiasm and a dark cavern filled with malice and unruly hate. In there, the now Trodden rejoiced of the honor our sport had been given. If they had only known. However, joy was not the only opinion represented in The Hole. Another group of people rose to fight against The System and believed it would end up destroying us - cold sweat slid down my brow as I saw how stupid I was to follow the Trodden masses and not the ones who were right. The ones who understood. The ones who saw behind the veil of five, beckoning rings and shining metal prizes. The group which called themselves The .
Another dreary day behind me, which I had spent in refuge under an abandoned van, I stood up and snuck out while the last rays of sun were whittling away. Just as the small spots of light were fading, I noticed the text on the van's door.
"..INE TR VEL NG C RCU S.."
So they too, had fallen from grace in an attempt to escape. Just outside the van, I saw the horrifying sight before me. A mass grave of escapees. The stench was unbearable, but I pulled myself closer to see if they truly were the ones who left before me. I had hoped for the best, but alas, it seemed fate had caught up to them in a unpleasant manner. I could see the faint tattoos overwritten by the Judge's barcodes - Nipwitz, CASG, SKI-FI... It saddened me to no end. Then I saw Chug... and removed the shotgun from next to his naked corpse as I heard him coughily whisper. He was alive, but barely. He called out to me and asked me to come closer, obviously wanting to utter his last wisdom. I kneeled down next to his beaten face.
"Hey, buddy......", he whimpered.
"Yeah, Chug?" I replied.
I waited anxiously for his final words.
".......nothing. Ha ha ha ha h---..."
I positioned the barrel over his head and released him from his anguish. The shot would be heard by the Judges, but I was near the end of my way, so it didn't matter. I continued down the Steeps until I finally saw my destination. It was a glorious sight - a shiny pearl in the middle of an ocean of despair. It was the only place where the Trodden had visited often to meet their guides before The Fall. The only place left in this world where the Judges' trepid claws could not reach. The Mecca of the former skiing world.
I had reached The Summer Camps.
At the gates, I was greeted by a lanky creature, chainsmoking cigarettes and standing next to a large pile of empty PBR cans. I knew this creature by his former name Max - now he was called The Gypsy. Armed only with a single ski with broken edges, he approached me right before I collapsed. I was down to my last moments. I had to deliver the package. I had to complete my mission. He grabbed hold of me while I told him the truth.
".....get me.....get me to B-Dog..."
My mind collapsed and everything went dark.
I woke up in a small, iglu-like formation of ice and snow, brimmed to the edges by salt to keep the tender balance of melting and freezing in check. I couldn't see out of my left eye and was quickly losing my vision in the right one.
"Si vous l'avez fait. So you made it", someone added from the dimly lit room.
I enhanced my blurry vision, struggling, but I made him out. Decked out with the coolest jacket ever made, he approached me. His tormented face told of both happy times and of years spent in hiding, running away from the eliminators of style. It was Casabon, in the flesh.
"So, you have come to tell me the key? The key to release us from this horror?"
"..yes, Sir... E-Dollo sends his regards. Now the message in its entirety..."
I spoke softly and slowly and repeated E-Dollo's, my master's message to his dear friend. He listened quietly, nodding his head once in a while and clenching his rugged beard. When I layed down the final words, his look changed completely. It seems he had grasped something in the message that I could not. The message was comprised of a secret code, mostly of barking sounds, and shouts of "Yezzir, B" but I managed to deliver it. The world felt heavier than ever and it grew hard to breathe. He laid his grab glove on my forehead and said:
"Shred freely in Heaven, bro."
He closed my eyelids and covered my face with my goggles. B-Dog rose up, snapped his neck, grabbed his skis, boots and poles and announced loudly to himself and to the world as his witness:
"FREEDOM WILL FLOW ONCE AGAIN!"