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Monday, October 21, 2013

Story: The Bridge

The Bridge

One day while lost hiking alone, Jack came upon a thicket in the forest that had leaves of strange colors. He entered a small archway in the brush and came upon a bridge. The bridge spanned a large chasm, the bottom wreathed in black shadows too deep to see. On the other side of the bridge was a land unlike Jack had ever seen. There were fruit trees as far as he could see, rolling hills, and mountains decorated with blue waterfalls. He began to cross the bridge, intent on exploring the beautiful land, when suddenly an immense humanoid being with wings flew out from beneath the bridge and perched in front of him.
            “I am the guardian of the Bridge. You are fortunate to have stumbled upon this place.”
            “Bridge to where?” asked Jack, “I don’t even know where I am.”
            “The lands beyond are the Realm of Happiness. The people who have passed before you were wise and brave, and have built a perfect city where there is no disease, no crime, no war, and no pestilence. If you pass, then you will die only of old age, full and happy.”
            Jack thought of his life. He had little to live for back home. He had no family, no wife or children, and his job was nothing to be proud of anyway. He looked at the lands beyond, seeing a rainbow gleaming over a field of wheat. He thought he saw a glimpse of golden buildings near the horizon.
            Jack took a breath. “I wish to pass, Guardian.”
            “Very well. But to pass you must prove your wisdom. I will ask you a riddle. If you answer correctly, I will give you leave to cross the bridge, and your new life will begin. But if you answer incorrectly, I must instead end your life.”
            Jack was taken aback. “Are… are those the only options?”
            The being blinked its almond-shaped eyes. “Once I ask the riddle, your life will never be the same. However, you are free now to leave the way you came. But you will never find this bridge again.”
            Jack thought, looking out over the beautiful land. Then he looked off the side of the bridge at the blackness beneath. He opened his mouth to speak, then swallowed. He took a step backward. Then he walked through the multicolored leafy arch, never looking back.
            He soon found his way back to the trail, and made it home safely. He fell asleep that night peacefully, but in the morning he felt troubled. He had expected to forget what had happened the day before, but it was more vivid in his mind than the dreams he had had that night.
            Eventually he could go days without thinking of the strange bridge, but he never forgot the look in the winged being’s orange eyes.

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