The Ascent

The wanderer pressed his hand on the rock. Grasping firmly, he felt the heat pulse through his hand. The cylindrical structure resembled a well. The boiling wall of stone overlooked the abyssal pit below. The darkness was creeping up from above. Looking deep down below, he grew restless, as sizzling fires snaked across the darkness. Most often, their shape lacked meaning, but sometimes they seemed to be forming words or phrases as if they were speaking to him. They burned into his mind without touching him, his heart throbbed.

He felt the heat sink in, making him dizzy. The rocks crumbled under his right foot, he was pulled downwards. His hand gripped the rocks as they dug into his skin, drawing blood. With a frantic scream, he fought to regained balance. He pulled himself up, slowly.The view overhead gave him strength.

It encouraged him.

Above the pit was a soft blue sky. Its beauty only obscured by the majestic orb that hung above. The monstrous orb was gold with orange dots sprinkled about and a red outline, and staring straight into it was blinding. It glistered above as a sign of what was lost. Like a huge eye it overlooked those below with a just but harsh gaze. Its divine aura convinced anyone that it is the center of the world. Its rays spread onto the world, nurturing those worthy and punishing those unworthy. The true image of perfection stared and mocked those that aspired to reach for it. Like an unattainable goal it was there for all to see.

The wanderer felt warm, extremely warm. His face was burning red. He couldn’t determine if his whole body was burned, or if the light somehow made his skin look scorched. He wanted to put his hand to shade his eyes, but couldn’t. His grip was firm, but with every second he was losing strength. No, he has lost all his strength already, and the only thing that was holding him back from giving up was the revolting thought of recoiling to the cold, lifeless abyss below.

The view above irked him.

He continued to climb upwards, but the sky never grew closer. It was chained to a fixed point away from the beholder. Instead of the wanderer getting closer, the walls were only getting taller, or the sun was retreating away. Baffled by his perplexing sense of direction, he grew irritated. From his irritation came an urge to go faster. His feeling of defeat only goaded him onward.

He felt a sense of frustration which could only be extinguished by sating his ambitions.

As he climbed, the walls shook harder. The first thought that came to him was stopping, but he didn’t yield. Against all odds, he reached above. Again and again, the quaking walls rhythmically shook with each time he stretched his hand above, until he had to stop. He was panting, and everything stood still. He had to stop, he thought. That was the only way he could interpret the ordeal. He gasped for air, looking below. The darkness was scaling the rocky walls as if encouraging him. Mocked by the abyss he claimed, until he fell through a crack in the wall.

As if pulled inside by arms, he was swallowed by the fissure in the wall. He landed with a heavy thud on his back. He quickly stood up, and tramped onward. The corridor was filled with torches. Their flames was strong and steady. There was no wind. He wanted to grab one, but the flames consumed them as his hand got close. He run ahead, wobbling from side to side. Arriving at a four way intersection, he looked each way.

The tortuous corridors were nothing new to him. He was here many times before. It was a place that made him feel at ease, because he was familiar with it, but it also filled his heart with sorrow at how many times he lost his way. The screams of those below resounded through the corridors. Their intensity shook the flames. He was acclimate to the piercing sounds of others like him. He listened but his thoughts were somewhere else. His ears open, his mind wasn’t registering what was said.

It didn’t matter.

He turned left but the torches were extinguished. Ahead, the same thing happened. The only way was right. As he hurtled ahead, he sunk into the ground. The scorched soil melted into a pile of mud. His feet couldn’t reach the bottom. He sunk to his chin. Shaking more and more, he submerged completely. The walls shook again. He emerged covered in mud in an unknown place. Coughing, he sprinted until he reached a makeshift wooden ladder.

He reached the summit.

The air was soft with a refreshing scent of grass. Around him, he saw a variegated pool of flowers. He fell in. Sinking into the colorful puddle, he saw the orb of perfection once again. It was levitating above like a gigantic ring. Its inside was filled with a profound absence of movement. Its rays stood still. It looked at him. He stretched his hand to touch it. He could feel his fingertips charred by the flames as he got closer. Chasing after it again and again, he thought. Before he could touch it, everything turned black as if all light sources were extinguished.

Like a rat he was placed at the start of the race again. He was standing in the well. The darkness wasn’t so dark. The rays couldn’t reach him just yet. He could barely make eye contact with the orb.

He walked closer to the wall, and reached up.





Thanks for reading. Unlike my previous post which in comparison was quite ordinary, I opted for something a bit more bizarre this time. What started as a simple question, yielded this short story. The question was, “What is this wanderer hoping to acquire?” Enjoy!
Patrick Rain

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