Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
- TITLE: Rambler
By Catherine Craig
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“For what?” he asked himself aloud.
It was all so empty, without meaning. All the struggles to get to the town of Success and all the sacrifices…. they’d seemed so important at the time. The outward bits and pieces realized brought him no fulfillment. The fight to get there had given him much satisfaction though once he’d gotten there, there was nothing else to strive for.
The best Rambler could hope for now was to survive and to avoid the Craters that the nature of his very existence brought him. The man knew there had to be something more…something beyond. Rambler was searching for something; he’d know it when he found it.
His worn out clothing drooped limply from his thin frame. Rambler mopped the sweat from his grimy face with a rag that was a poor excuse for a handkerchief. Once it’d been new; that was before he’d left the last town called Sagebrush and had since then had to avoid huge craters in the desert on his way to Wanderlust. Smiling grimly, the irony of it all caused him to pause mid-wipe. Sagebrush in its own way had been no better than the Craters of Hunger and Poverty he’d managed to avoid. Like the Craters, the town’s residents were dismally apathetic; all were going nowhere with no plans of going anywhere. Rumor had it that those unfortunate enough to fall into a Crater seldom climbed out without sliding back in.
Though lonely, the man smiled to himself again and stuffed the handkerchief back into his pocket. Shielding his eyes against the glare of the Life Sun, in the distance he could see the three Craters of Bankruptcy, Sickness and Setbacks. His past Journey to Success had taught him well how to prepare so as to avoid those Craters in the future.
The dismal days passed by. Rambler went just to the edges of the two Craters of Flood and Death, but managed to sidestep falling on. Then it happened; he had no way of anticipating his vulnerability…. nor estimating his overconfidence. A whole series of Tribulation Craters catapulted him into the deepest darkest in existence – the dreaded ‘Valley of Despair’.
Somehow, Rambler landed on an outcropping…after running his hand along the surface he thought it felt like a wide ledge. Falling in headlong after barely sidestepping the Tribulation series left him feeling shaky and jarred by the descent. Looking down, it became apparent that the Valley was, for all purposes and intents bottomless – with some kind of fiery activity at its base. Shuddering, he looked up. There was some kind of light, an almost blinding luminescence far above him. An intense emotion washed over him as he realized just how far down into the Valley he’d fallen; the salty taste of his own tears invaded his lips as sobs racked his frame.
Rambler thought he could hear wings, the sound of a being flying near him in the velvety darkness. A silvery voice whispered something into his ear; the emotions that had come unbidden retreated as he strained to listen.
“You are on the ledge of ‘hopelessness’; you must reach for the Majesty’s Light above to avoid rolling off into the Fires of Anguish. I will show you where the footholds are if you will but trust me….”
“Who are you?” Rambler twisted around to where he thought the voice was coming from and tried to reach out, barely managing to avoid the jagged edge where it recessed then stretched out again.
“My name is Abet; I have been sent to help you; your search for meaning has been noted and the One who sent me bids you to come. I will assist; but both the Choice to seek and the Journey are yours only….”
“I choose to come…” was the Rambler’s clear reply.
As Abet directed, Rambler reached up to grasp the handholds and footholds of silence, meditation and reflection. After briefly stopping to rest, he continued realizing small triumphs gaining more and more height above the darkness toward the Light. Only once did he fall to the ledges of Sadness and Gloominess. Triumphantly, yet tired he closed the final span as Someone reached down and he felt himself being lifted…
It was over. Finally.
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