Cave of Redemption
__Under the Pseudonym Steven Bishop
A cavern opened onto dusk descending, and beneath that reddened hue which scraped the life from Sunday, a steam rose up from the cave's dark belly. Clothes of black and soil draped haggardly across a lone figure, who stood with his back to the crimson skies and regarded the ghostly apparitions ascending from the rocks. A gentle burning courted his nose with every breath, seducing him into the depths with pretended care and with poison. The man considered for a moment more, then found his way into the doom.
The cave's entrance was shallowly lit, allowing yet a partial glow from the setting sun. But as the heavenly embers fell from the sky, the dark one chose the left of two passages and entered its hall, the blackness quickly shrouding. He did not regret bringing no staff to guide his way, for the path was understood, explained somehow within.
His heart then drove his every step whilst one hand scraped along the broken wall, and he found from time to time a crevice or a hallway departing from the main, but ever was he guided to stay the path, lest his journey be in vain.
He trode on. Each step brought greater depth, and his eyes could not adjust. His ears were his guide, and the sharpened burning in his nose. The stones all around grew more pointed by some strange and ancient process of evolution, and continued travel brought scrapes and bruises. The man did not flinch or falter, but plodded on with hands and feet of blood.
He walked along in clothes of black, engulfed in a world of no light, every step towards destruction. A shock of pain then, daggers in the eyes, for a light intense dawned nearby, and the man stood weakly in a chamber.
As his pupils tremored in light and in confusion, there appeared before him a woman in rags, sullied by mud and by sin, who dwelt with eyes of sorrow. "My Lord," said she, "I would have you give help, for I starve and I thirst. Give to me life as only you may." But the man shook his sorry head and moved on.
The black returned, and again walked the one in blood and pain. Rocks continued to pierce his skin, draw his strength, call for him to slow. He winced with every step now, but swore upon each drop of life that he would never cease.
Blinding light that bore inside and wrenched his every intention, more harshly received than what had come before. A child suffered, boils across its body, and lay on the soot-black floor. Life retreated in the child's every moment, and the little head turned morosely to look on the man through liquid orbs of disease. The babe did not speak, but stared in confusion as if to ask for help and explanation. But the man shook his sorry head and moved on.
A dark as no other, for not only did it draw away sight, but began to tug on thought itself. Images and reveries floated stark, became real and unreal in flashes and emotion. Poison constricted, the realization that he could not feed, he could not heal. This impotence stung his mind. Alone, he spun from dizziness, fell to the earth and felt his side speared by a jutting stone, and his weakness grew and grew. He could not last in this harried state, but there was yet one goal to reach. He gained his knees and then his feet, and eventually carried on.
His eyes again were stabbed, and his organs and spirit, for the light filtered his being and made him shriek; but the light was a thing of good. And as agony subsided and his vision slow returned, he beheld a tragic paradox, for he stood against himself. He was drawn to look on the haggard body and the blackened clothes, on the hunger-drawn face and the blood caressing his frame, but instead looked he into the eyes, and there he read two words. He listened not to the agony of extended arms and hands, crying the message "help me." By the windows of sight he received the spirit, which only spoke "I am."
Blackness again as the lone man stood. He nodded his sorry head. And as he stepped through that dark and stinking cave, he knew what next he would see. Step after step after step after step, and then the earth fell away. The man tumbled through the blackest abyss, and all that remained was light. And all that remained was light.