Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: White (10/29/09)
TITLE: The Long Walk Home
By Kevin Hussey
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It was late November, and despite the cloud there was a noticeable chill in the air as he stepped out of the offices onto the street. Thomas blinked a few times as though he was trying to get his eyes to work and make out more than the blurred outline of the cars parked on the other side of the road. It was futile, so he turned away and started to walk down the pavement, watching how the line of streetlights would slowly appear from nothing, the orange light radiating from each one in a noticeable halo around the bulb.
The first part of the journey home was relatively uneventful as Thomas meandered his way through the outskirts of the town, with just the occasional car crawling slowly past for company. The twenty-five feet range of vision was not very far, but enough to be aware of his surroundings and location. However, Tom’s luck would change as he reached the edge of the town, where the luxury of street lighting subsided and nothingness reigned. This final leg of the journey was a mile-long trek along a footpath which wound its way through farmers’ fields before arriving at the edge of the village where Tom lived. Normally he could make out its welcoming glow in the distance but this morning there was nothing but isolation in the impenetrable dark gloom.
Now Thomas had left the town the fog had thickened further, his eyes starting to ache as they had nothing to latch onto in the emptiness. Even his trusty pencil torch was failing him. Instead of the usual illumination all he was provided with was a concentrated beam of white light which was halted by the fog after only a few feet, giving no definition of the landscape whatsoever. Thomas felt so alone and vulnerable surrounded by this all encompassing power of nature. The chill became more evident as he hunched up further under his thick coat and clenched his glove encased hands tighter to retain more warmth. A slight fear overtook him which served to compound the anxiety of feeling lost despite having walked this route hundreds of times previously. However, he knew the path was there and that all he had to do was to keep going on. Granted, he could not see where he was but every step forward in the fog was one step closer to his destination. The torch was not entirely useless either. Despite the very limited range at least it gave some illumination in what would otherwise have been a complete and engulfing darkness. With the light shining straight down in front of him Thomas could just about make out his feet and the ground ahead, albeit only a yard. Enough to see where the next foot would go, but nothing more. Occasionally it would highlight a stone jutting from the earth or a rut or pot-hole that was familiar to Thomas, which could be used as a reference point as to his location along with the more substantial waypoints of reaching the edge of a field. At least then he could able to look back in his mind and see exactly how far he had come.
The walk home had become hard and exhausting. The effort to simply put one foot in front of the other was immense and the path seemed to go on for many miles beyond its true distance. Every step of perseverance into the unknown was deliberate and conscious, and every step was rewarded by the illumination of the next patch of ground on which to tread, ground which had previously been hidden from view. Slowly Thomas pulled his way forward until looming ahead of him in the cloud and darkness he could finally see a light trying to cut through it like a beacon. He was home, and it had never felt so good.
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