Friday Fictioneer 100 Word Story: Flat Top

Flat Top

I am a Monscindogen. People hate us – mostly in Tennessee nowadays – but they don’t know us; we keep to ourselves. We just do what’s in our nature, have for over a hundred thousand years, maybe longer. First I know was in the Ukraine, maybe Africa before that. Then over to the British Isles while some went east, Mongolia, China. They crossed the Pacific, stopping on islands, then in Peru. Some came down from Siberia to North America. We’re not miners, we’re not religious, it’s just in our blood. All we care about is cutting the tops off mountains.


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51 comments

  1. Dear Carlos,

    Tell me, if you can, about the Monscindogens and where you came up with the name and etymology of the species. I am intrigued, envious and puzzled all at the same time. i loved your story and found myself retracing their path to see if I could correlate any mountains with missing tops in the areas of their travels.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • Well, this is a story, not a history… My cod-Latin: mons= mountain; scindo=to cut; gens=family. I was reading about Silbury Hill, Avebury, near Stonehenge, but earlier, the world’s largest man-made hill (except possibly for a pile of garbage, once the highest point in Florida), which first was peaked, then the top was flattened; Solsbury Hill (yes, the Peter Gabriel song) was an Iron Age hill fort upon a flattened hilltop, not uncommon, I think. Then I read about mountaintop strip mining in Tennessee. Add a Richard Leakey item on Huffington Post… genetic determinism was on my mind already – it always seems to be for reasons I shan’t go into.
      Sadly, I’ve explained it all – things perhaps readers shouldn’t know, like exactly what your photo is, though I think I knew anyway.

    • We are not only creatures of habit, but creatures of our genetics. A lot more to be discovered about that, but keep in mind those stories of twins raised separately that, grown up, buy the same kind of car, wear the same colours, etc. Thanks for reading.

  2. I agree with Doug, I loved your piece! I think that is so clever a race of folks who must protect the tops of mountains, at least that was my take. That idea brought out a big chortle from me. Good work!

  3. Before reading your explanation for the derivation of the Monscindogen genetic line, I tried all sorts of ways to try to suss it out. Failed miserably. Like Doug, I also tried following the geographic clues you provided, but could find no rhyme nor reason there, either. What I DID get, before reading your backstory, was that some group of folks … human or otherwise … took great pleasure in, while being driven to, taking the tops off of mountains and leaving a visible trail for all to see (and to speculate as to origin). That gave me a good laugh. I wish we could find a way to channel those impulses towards something more constructive … but it’s hard to imagine anything much bigger or stronger than a mountain that could give them the same rush. If you have some time, you might want to check mine out over at http://scottcheck.blogspot.com/2012/06/desolation.html

  4. Just normal humans, Scott. Possibly, in previous circumstances, their penchant for removing mountain tops might have been less destructive than strip mining in Tennessee. I walk my dogs occasionally on the flat top of Solsbury Hill and that’s quite nice.

  5. There is something terrifying about that story, Carlos and I’m not sure what it is. Did you feel a sense of darkness about it when you wrote it or am I just being paranoid?

    • That’s a good question, Mads. Possibly you’re being paranoid, but here’s an honest answer: I feel a sense of darkness all the time and I’m sure it comes out in my writing in general. I try to balance it with humor, which comes out as black humor. This story was, in my mind, quite lighthearted, just putting together a jumble of minor experiences I had during the week (see my reply to Doug).
      One of the aspects of the Friday Fictioneers I cherish is that I begin to see facets of myself that reappear in the stories and I realise then the issues that resonate with me. One of these is a kind of fate, not cosmic, but perhaps genetic, that guides what we are and what we do. Thus the story.

  6. I finally got chance to come and read your alternative to the icecream scoop theory, Carlos. Thoroughly enjoyed the genetic determinism and the voice. I would have liked “they crossed” to be either “we crossed” or “my ancestors crossed” just to be clear that we’re still in the first person, but otherwise fantastic!
    You’re been and seen, but in case any of your fans want to see the icecream scoop, I’m over here: http://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/friday-fiction-guilt-trip/

    • You are probably right about that; I decided to use ‘they’ for the possibly misguided reason that readers would think there was something superhuman about the Monscindigens, that they live forever like vampires. Maybe I was overthinking. My fans? If you exist, like the Monscindogens (I’m getting used to typing it), take yourselves immediately to Elmo’s story!

  7. Dear Carlos,

    when i first read the story, i felt stupid for not knowing what is it that you were talking about! to save some embarrassment i googled “Monscindogen” and still found nothing… Now that i have read through all the comments… i think you are a genius, you dint just create a new word, but a whole new species and made us all believe it to be true… i think that’s the magic of words… i will keep coming back for more… thank you for sharing.

    Regards,

    BC

    • Thanks, Jake. Yes, the net makes quickly available a lot of useful but trivial knowledge; it’s great. I just read your story and it was very funny. Oddly, I had that very thought when I visited Loch Ness years ago, about reptiles in the cold. That was before I lived there and realised how really unrelentingly cold it is.

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