Death smiled at me and I opened my arms and walked forward to embrace him. I was prepared to feel bony arms encircle me and waiting to feel the cold I was certain radiated from him.
I stared at eyeless sockets and moved forward, uncertain about what would happen or what I would do.
The screams of loved ones echoed in my ears but I ignored their pleas to wait because I was done waiting.
My inner clock had stopped ticking and the incessant buzzing of the alarm pushed me to keep going forward.
I was ready to pay the price for the knowledge I sought and if necessary willing to fight for it.
Across the field I marched watching and waiting to see if his expression or demeanor would change. Donâ€™t know what I expected from an old bag of bones but nothing happened.
Midway through the march my legs grew heavy and it felt like I was walking through waist deep mud.
A flash of light flew through the sky followed by a tremendous boom and I was knocked off of my feet.
It took a moment to clear my head and realize I was lying on back but I didnâ€™t open my eyes.
Instead I saw through my ears and hands. Â It wasnâ€™t because my eyes wouldnâ€™t open or didnâ€™t work but because I knew that if I really wanted to know things I needed to rely upon more than just what my eyes were sharing with me.
It was time to rely upon my gut and intuition. Time to find tune out the noise and focus. I wanted to. I was ready and I tried but before I could all went black
The absence of noise bothered me more than the darkness.
I had moved blindly through the forest before and traveled across fields covered by cloudy skies that extinguished the flames of the night sky but the soft sounds of the night had always given me something besides touch to work with.
Tonight there was nothing and the absence of sound was more terrifying than curses. I would have preferred to have listened to the howls of angry demons chasing me than this.
Something about the combination of the two sent goosebumps up my arms and made me want to curl up in a fetal position. Fear didn’t paralyze me. It didn’t let me stop moving, it pushed me forward and made me want to run with reckless abandon without regard for light or concern about what might lie on the path ahead.
It was all I could do to maintain my composure because somewhere in the silence I felt something waiting for me. I could feel it lurking out there but I couldn’t figure out where or what it was.
Was something really out there or was my imagination getting the best of me? I was growing less certain by the moment and I was quickly running out of ways to trick myself into maintaining my calm.
Standing in place, I closed my eyes and took five deep breaths and a memory flashed through my mind.
Many years ago I read a spy novel in which a man had been carefully broken by torture, but not the kind of torture you see in horror movies or stories set in medieval times.
This man was placed in a wetsuit and dropped inside a pool of water. His ears were plugged and his eyes were blindfolded and the net effect was that he lost the ability to determine where he was and all sense of time.
Men of iron will kid about the desire to return to the womb as often as possible and this man had been one of them and he might have stayed that way had he never been subjected to his watery tomb.
Humans are communal creatures by nature and even those who don’t desire or need as much contact require some.
He had none and it didn’t take long for his mind to go searching for someone or something to talk to. Bravery turned to fear and fear turned to anger. Anger looked for an opponent to battle and when it found one it had no fear and no remorse.
The silence didn’t respond to threats or care about mercy. It never broke character or gave any hope because when nothing is there, there is nothing to rely upon, respond to or commune with.
Just an empty place, a hollow spot that occupies space, that can be felt but not seen.