They rode their donkeys along for a while, then got off and led them. From all accounts, they should be close now. They saw the dark cloud and it was pitch black just as everyone said it would be, those who’d made it through that is. Yet as they walked deeper and deeper into the valley, they didn’t really seem to notice.
“Are you sure this is the place?” The man asking couldn’t have sounded more confused.
Though things seemed pleasant, his friend’s response was full of trepidation. “I’m fairly certain we have arrived.”
“Oooooh, look over there!” Beautiful women danced and there were plenty to go around. “Maybe we should go ask them for directions.”
He actually started to go but his friend stopped him, grabbed him by the arm. “No, I don’t have a good feeling about it.”
Puzzled, he replied, “Are you sure? Because I really think I want to go visit with them.”
His friend nodded. “I’m sure. Trust me.”
Deeper into the valley they walked. “Wow, would you look at that! Could anyone possibly be having a better time than that group is having?” He actually started to sway to the beat of the music, invited his friend to join him. Someone sauntered over with a drink in his hand. “You look thirsty,” he said. “Here, try some. You won’t want to put it down.”
The friend quickly knocked the drink away. “He doesn’t want any.”
He’d stopped dancing now, turned to his friend. “What did you do that for? He only asked if we wanted a drink?”
His response was to suggest they keep moving.
Reluctantly, he went.
“Okay, I’m confused. I thought the valley of the Shadow of Death was supposed to be this horrible, dark, place. Granted it could be sunnier, so far, I’ll have seen are a great bunch of people having a great time.”
“It’s a good thing you brought me along then.”
The complacent reply did little to persuade him that they were indeed in mortal danger.
* * *
They’d been walking nearly the entire day now. Tired, hungry and also very thirsty, he spoke out again. “Okay, I realize you’ve been this way before and I bow to your superior knowledge but enough is enough. I’ve got to have some rest.” He looked off in the distance. “See that town over there with all it’s pretty lights and that big sign that says, welcome all who are weary? That’s where I’m going.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just too tired to argue about it.”
No more was done to stop him as he left the road and headed off.
* * *
Hours passed, the friend waited. All at once, a voice called out. Begging. Pleading. “I’ve lost my way,” it said. “Oh, please help me. I just want to get out of here!”
Running as fast as his feet could carry him, he went searching, followed the voice.
“Here, I’m over here.”
Beaten and robbed of so much more than just money, the friend continued to lament, even as he was being lifted up.
“How could I have been so blind? It all looked so good, so tempting. I was just so tired.”
He went on like that until the next day dawned, muttering as he was carried. After a while, he realized he felt better. He felt good enough to walk, good enough to say something besides how sorry he was for not listening. He saw a road sign ahead went towards it, squinted and read out-loud.
“Leaving the Shadow of Death Valley.”
He stopped cold.
Slowly turned to look back over his shoulder.
No one was there.
Only his donkey.
Somber, he grabbed it’s lead and started walking, articulating as he went.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the path of
righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my
head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
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