Safe Passage

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From the vantage point of a sheer rock cliff, Samantha stared into the void, the weight of an entire planet resting on her shoulders. She lifted her head, and in a deep baritone rumble, proclaimed, “I bear precious cargo and demand safe passage.”

The witch who hired her had warned her to be careful, that the world she carried would attract dangerous creatures who wished it harm, but there was no way Samantha could have prepared herself for this unique brand of terror.

The darkness in the void beheld her, standing with the world on her back, then surged, swelling like a dark rose in full bloom.

Samantha felt thick, creeping vines of despair shoot through her heart. All at once, the cargo she carried became too heavy, and she could feel it beginning to slip.

“Come,” said the darkness. “Drop your burden and follow me into the void.”

She could feel its corrupting influence surround her, a dark miasma that stoppered her nose and her mouth, making it difficult to breathe.

“I can’t,” she said, but she felt her feet sliding, her face falling. She could hear the inhabitants of the world she carried crying out. They, too, had sensed the darkness, and they were afraid.

She could no longer see the path that lay ahead. The impenetrable darkness wound around her like a snake and proceeded to crush her alive.

“Did you really think you could protect them from me? They are mine, as are you.”

The world on her shoulders sagged some more.

“I won’t deliver them to you,” Samantha said, but it was all she could do just to keep breathing. Like a noxious gas, the darkness seeped into her lungs, starving her of oxygen. She knew she couldn’t hold this position forever, but she also knew she couldn’t let the darkness win.

It was clear now: she had no choice but to use the magic the witch had given her.

Searching herself for the light within, she feigned weakness, and the darkness, eager for the prize she carried, rushed in. Samantha held her breath and readied herself for the outpouring of light that was sure to come…

Except it didn’t.

Samantha’s legs began to buckle.

What’s wrong? Why can’t I do this?

She felt the light inside of her, but it fled from her every time she reached for it.

I can’t keep this up much longer.

The little air that was left in her lungs was devoid of oxygen, and Samantha was beginning to feel lightheaded. Meanwhile, that awful darkness shook the cavernous walls, confident and victorious.

“You are mine,” it pronounced, and Samantha, to her mounting horror, believed it to be the truth.

Surrender, the witch had said. The light cannot be forced, only drawn. Let it take control of you, or you will surely die.

Starved of air, surrender was now her only option and, tumbling dangerously close to the death and darkness that awaited her, she opened herself to the light’s will at last.

Please, she thought. Help me.

And in the stillness of a guttering heart, she heard its reply.

Like lightning, it tore through her body. It drew an involuntary gasp, forcing the stale air from her lungs. It burst from her eyes, her ears, her mouth, piercing the darkness and making it shriek.

In the presence of that unwavering light, the darkness shriveled, drew into itself, and evaporated.

Then, just like that, the light was gone, fled once more into the deepest recesses of her heart, where it would wait in hiding until Samantha needed its help again. She fell to her hands, heaving, and the world she carried, safe at last, fell to the ground beside her.

Thank you.

She didn’t know if the light could hear her thoughts, if it was even conscious and could discern the meaning of her words, but she knew now that it was on her side, and she picked up her precious cargo once again, knowing this time that it would be safe for the remainder of her journey.

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