Not far back to the recent past there was once an old woman whose facial hairs were profound, particularly her nose-hairs which extended down to her breastbone. These were very thick hairs which, upon seeing them one would assume the old woman would have great difficulty with them. How is she to eat? What happens if she gets a cold? Does she ever shave? For one so old, and no one has heard her complain, she managed to get by with her apparent monstrosities. Once a week on a Monday she came to her village, and when she walked by walls and doors, and over cobblestones, the inevitable sniping whispers followed her. And she would think, well if they don’t like my appearance, it’s their problem, because I am not doing anybody any harm.
Now the village in which she lived shared its nook with the natural splendor of a valley which is always in view. The village sits below a great forested hillside, and in front, beyond the cobbled village square a great wide river flows. Fields and lush glens surround it, and although the winters are often harsh, the warmth of spring rains and summer skies are a joy to the village’s inhabitants who celebrate their secluded Eden with many a festival.
One day the old woman, while walking to her home which is on the village’s fringe directly beneath the hill, fell and hit the stony ground rather hard. As there was no one about who could help her, she lay very still for a long time. She was on her side and her nose-hairs were touching the ground. As she was in no great pain she did not think she had broken any bones although her head hurt. She would rest instead and wait for the shock to subside. Her mind was blank; she did not wish to panic, but then images of her village entered her mind. They were broken and incoherent but she saw destruction on a grand scale. She remained still while she saw that the hill above the village had crumbled away and its debris had crushed the village. Ah, a landslide! Sure that she had recovered from her fall she gingerly got up and slowly hobbled to her home.
She did not leave her home for a number of days, all awhile puzzled by the images of her destroyed village. She argued with herself over them, and as much as she tried she could not clear her head. And puzzlement gave way to fear, and then she realized that her premonition of the village’s doom was real. She must get to the mayor, for there was no time to waste. Without a phone and without neighbors nearby she will have to run the gauntlet herself.
As soon as she felt as good as recovered, though the side of head still ached a little, she walked to the town hall, about a half a kilometer away, as slowly but as determined as she could manage. She would see the mayor and tell him. Although the mayor was popular, people said it was because of his flamboyance and his various business contacts, he nevertheless was wary of outsiders. He thought the old woman as a witch type, one who never attended Sunday church services and who bore a disapproving demeanor in public.
When she got to the town hall she began to wave her arms hysterically and demanded to see the mayor. It was of the utmost importance that she sees him because a disaster is going to happen at any time. When told of the woman the mayor, who had just had lunch, was about to dismiss her, but remembering that his image relies on what people say about him agreed to listen to her. They met and she told him what happened to her and what she saw. Her alarm was so acute the mayor was torn between believing her and dismissing her outright as a crank who made him her target for the day. After all she has been known to pester people who she claims has done her an injustice.
He listened politely, and then he explained to her that the great hill is benign, that geo-morphological studies have been carried out, because he too was suspicious of the hill behind the village, and geotech tests are made each year for that purpose. She would not have it and she became hysterical. It will happen she cried, and everyone must get out. The mayor assured her again that everything was all right and not to unduly worry, and with the help of his secretary escorted her still hysterical from his chambers and onto the street.
For awhile she stood distraught and then she began to tell everyone she saw to get out of the village because the great hill is going to tumble on them. She got a range of responses, but none showed any alarm. She could not believe it. Everyone is complacent. There is no room for fear and danger in this blissful village. People’s hearts are enthralled with peace, and because she’s never had what they have, to them she’s is a bitter old woman who threw away her chances to be like them. She has lived in the village all her life; she knows all its comings and goings. She has never married, instead choosing the solitary life of an outsider and observer.
She went home and brooded and cried; despairing and admonishing herself. Her fall could have created metal illusions caused by her anxiety over it, she felt very vulnerable, and perhaps she should rest some more days, and not worry about it. She does not like the mayor but she respects his position. And the village people, whom also she does not like, have every security unto them and it is she who should expect less.
The next night, it being Thursday, the village emptied itself and all its inhabitants and camped and bivouacked across the river, lighting small fires and singing songs. Suddenly about 4 am, the ground began to shake as piles and piles of earth and rock tumbled from the great hill breaking up, and soon the village was swamped with rubble and debris until it was completely gone. There would have been no survivors if the villagers had stayed. But one did, the old lady who everyone despised, and who is no doubt entombed beneath the rubble.