Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
TITLE: Through the Darkness
By Holly Westefeld
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I do not lose consciousness, but am being deluged with sand, gravel, and small rocks. Will I be buried alive? When silence looms, it takes a minute for me to catch my breath. At least I CAN catch my breath.
The spot where I landed seems firm and stable. I explore gingerly with hands and feet, finding that the rubble in which I lie seems to be on a solid shelf of rock. My head protests as I sit up slowly, and I am relieved to find no open wounds, though I can't imagine that my next look in the mirror will be pleasant.
I am sure my eyes are open, but still see no sign of the full moon that had guided me.
My watch... Yes, its soft glow is there, but is insufficient to illuminate any of my surroundings. 10:30. I've been out longer than I realized. Nikki might even be sleeping by now, Matty and Marcie tucked in a couple of hours ago. I have only myself to blame that my absence will not concern Nikki. She thinks I am burning the midnight oil again at work.
I reach as far as I can in all directions, finding solid, level rock, and sensing wide open space. Could clouds have obscured the moon? Will I have to wait for dawn to make my way down the mountain?
The warmth of the summer evening has vanished with the moon, or is it just the shock of the fall that is making me cold? No, the stone shelf beneath me is cold. I'm sure I did not hit any trees on the way down, and only fully shaded rock could lack warmth from the earlier sunshine.
No... It's not possible, is it? I clap my hands. Echoes bounce back from all directions. ...But the entrance to the caverns is a good half mile away!
I throw a stone in each direction. The one to my left strikes a wall close by. The one behind me lands and skitters downward, while the forward stone lands and stays put. The one to my right makes no sound for a few seconds, then plunks in to water.
If only I hadn't left my phone in the car, I would have a flashlight. If I'd had lunch with Sabrina today instead of James, I wouldn't have been pressed to confront the crossroads I am at in my life, and taken this isolated walk up the mountain. Ironically, James described it as choosing between darkness and light.
Right now, though, I have no choice of light, until dawn might slip through an opening in several hours. I rub my arms as the 55 degrees of the cavern begins to penetrate, contemplating how best to keep alert and warm until then. I load my pockets with stones for future terrain testing, and crawl slowly to my left, indeed encountering a wall within a few yards. Working hand over hand up the wall rippled with flow stone, I stand slowly, finding that it reaches well over my head. Exploring a few feet in both directions, I am able to determine that I am in a safe area.
When my watch indicates that dawn has arrived, yet I see no sign of light, I stop the stationary exercises I have used to keep warm, put my left hand on the wall, my right arm across my forehead to protect from stalactites, and move slowly forward, testing each step. The wall meanders for a while, then suddenly my hand and foot encounter empty space, and I throw myself backwards, landing hard, which is a lot better than the alternative.
I drop a stone over the edge, and hear it splash far below. Should I turn back and try the other direction?
Now I'm really starting to lose it, thinking I hear someone calling my name.
Then a thin beam of light appears above and across the chasm from me.
"He's across the chasm. Bring the rescue gear."
James' words from lunch yesterday envelop me. "Jesus is the light of the world. His death on the cross bridges the chasm of darkness and sin that we are powerless to cross to God on our own."
I pray that Jesus' light will fill me, and, shining through me, be able to expunge the darkness I have brought in to my marriage.
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