There is a wind that keeps sweeping the valley, revealing layer upon layer of bone-white sand. Nothing lasts long in the desert. All that remains is the hard pan miles beneath the sand and the browned roots of what once had held purchase here. This all blows about in a bluster so that the sky is the same color as the earth: they have merged into seamless misery.
A traveler marks a path quickly lost in the desert. Their steps are unsure as the ground threatens to blow away at the last moment. Left are no traces of their progress. It is only by their blind faith in the lodestone lodged in their heart, in the inevitable magnet of their sheer will that they continue onward. The wind does not deter them. The apocolypse does not stir them. Their purpose is separate and true.
Eventually, the winds die. A quiet falls on the valley that causes the traveler to pick their head up. Everything is yellowed with age. The sky looks like an old bruise. Their path is lost behind them, trackless miles they have covered in search of something. Before them is a path created by banks of sand only a few inches high. A road sign is at the end, the words eroded, but the directions–two distinct, separate directions–are clear.
A figure stands beneath it in a sandblasted cloak. The figure looked to be part of the landscape at first look, but they are separate. The traveler approaches, feet imprinting softly on the path and leaving the first artifact of the traveler’s existence in years. The figure looks up, a human, familiar face staring out from beneath the hood. His eyes are gold. His mouth is thin. And his whole expression is hungry.
For a moment, the traveler vaciliates, then they ask–voice cracking from disuse. “Where do the signs point?”
The man glances over his shoulder at the eroded signs. He then looks one direction, to the east. It is to the east that the sky lightens into a familiar blue. There might even be a hint of green on the horizon that makes the traveler ache in a way they had forgotten. Longing seems foreign as it courses through them.
The man then glances to the west. There the sky darkens to the deep blue of night and towers of glass glint on the curve of the earth. This is familiar as well. It looks like the past, but the past is long gone. The buildings reflect the old world on their sides. The ache of longing doubles. It’s a world the traveler knows to navigate unlike the virgin paradise in the east.
Both are illusions, that much is clear.
“That’s where they go,” the man finally says, his voice just as dry and cracked. Then his mouth spreads into a grin, his lips cracking and filling with blood. “Now you must choose.”
The traveler approaches the sign and the figure allows them this. He steps aside so that the footloose individual can run their fingers in the grooves left by the old letters. ‘Heaven’ lays to the east and ‘Hell’ lays to the west. Glancing west again, the glass buildings are on fire. Looking east, the traveler can see the green thin to a bright white.
“I’ve made my choice,” the traveler tells the figure. Then the traveler continues on straight, ignoring the paths, and the unforgiving wasteland rises to a tempest again. The winds. The sands. The endless wastes.
‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…’
They are both illusions and the lodestone keeps pulling them home.
A/N: Okay, so as a note this is not about atheism. It’s a dream I had and the reason that the traveler keeps walking is because THEIR WOrK IS Not DONE. How that translates out of my subconscious, I don’t know, but that’s what dream-logic told me. The traveler had a purpose even it didn’t know, still doesn’t, and when given the option to finally give up–this not being the first, but rather one of many temptations–the traveler chooses to not stop. to continue. Take the meaning as you will 🙂
I also should just have a little category for my dream works. Bet you didn’t know most of this stuff I write is from dreams I have. ahahahaha.