REWARD, n. Punishment, seeking opportunity and justification.
Many, many years BI*, a young man from Cleveland set out on a world tour, seeking enlightenment. He had been told, by a scruffy fellow sleeping on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, to find the village of Sto-Makk-Puc and climb the mountain there. “Legend has it”, he had said, “that a mighty reward awaits the one who reaches the top of that mountain”. He had, of course, no idea where Sto-Makk-Puc was, except that it was somewhere “in the East”.
After weeks of trial and deprivation, the man found Sto-Makk-Puc, deep within a steamy Asian jungle, and the villagers set him on the path to the mountain’s top. As he climbed, the air cooled and became sweeter, tinged with the euphoric scent of the mountain’s flowers (a species of Gardenia, now thought to be extinct), and the vistas of the surrounding countryside became more spectacular. As the climb got higher and steeper, the sensations grew, and the man became more and more ecstatic. Finally, he stood on a ledge just below the summit pinnacle, and he said to himself, “If I stand on that pinnacle, the world will be at my feet, and I will be its King!”
At that moment, the ledge crumbled underneath him, and the man fell hundreds of meters straight down to his death. At the sound, the villagers ran to where his broken body lay. They stripped that body of everything of value, burned the rest, and scattered the ashes in the jungle, leaving no trace. They spent the night carousing at the local tavern, chanting their mantra, “A mighty reward awaits the one who reaches the top of Sto-Makk-Puc mountain!”
No trace of Sto-Makk-Puc now remains. It is said that, during World War II, the invading Japanese discovered it, exterminated the villagers, leveled the mountain, and destroyed any records of the site that they could find.
– Carney Nasturtium Traveltown
* BI: Before Internet