The Soldier and The Abyss
Atop an ancient fortress stands an armored clad man in white glossy garb. He stands face forward towards the setting sun gazing at a peculiar sight. The young soldier did not quite know what to make of what he sees. For him against the backdrop of dusk is a shady dark cloud that seems to be pulsating a weird energy. It lays low against the Earth as if it is absorbing her life force, causing the ground around it to grow brown and grey with a stench of decay that can be smelled by the men at the garrison. The cloud had only shown up several days prior with no particular fanfare and has sat there steadily growing.
"What an oddity", Said the young soldier in white to his comrade next to him.
"Indeed it is, John, I haven't heard from the uppers of their plans to investigate." his comrade replied.
Both soldiers let out a small sigh and continued their watch while also glancing occasionally towards the cloud with a cautious nature.
Several days later a meeting was called at the garrison. The commanding officer and his assistant wanted to discuss the creeping cloud that seems to be growing steadily day by day.
"Today we are here to discuss the appearance of the lingering abyss. We sadly do not have any new news about the current situation", the Commander stated to his troops, "However, over the course of the past few evenings we have sent scouting parties out to assess any information we can about this lingering abyss and as of today the only news we can share is that we have lost three out of our four scouting parties. We are not sure why they have not returned, but as we
ascertain information from the fourth scouting party we will inform you on what steps we shall take next. That is all, carry on!"
Later that evening in the barracks John and his fellow soldiers were sitting at the round table in the back of the lodge discussing the current developments. As each man looked to the next they could tell a certain level of fear was in each one of them. They tried to let out a few awkward jokes to break the tension but failed to alleviate the fear each had burning inside. For each man had an idea about what was to come, about what their superiors were planning to do.
"John," The man to his left says lowly, "You do realize they may plan to send one or more of us directly into that creeping hell, don't you?"
"Yes, I do." John said with a steady but fearful voice, "I fear for any of us that may be chosen to walk directly into that miasma."
John continued, "We have seen it grow day by day. We have seen it pulsating as if it is reaching out to snatch our life force. We smell the death it wrought as it rapes and pillages the earth around it." John's eyes light up, "I can say for the first time in my life I am afraid. I am so very afraid. Together we have fought wars; we have caused deaths, have seen the deaths of the ones we love, and the ones we were so proud to fight beside. I feel tomorrow, whatever may come, will cause nothing but a wrenching pain in all of us that will stay with us to the end of our days."
John sighed and slumped down into his chair, while his fellow soldiers all let out various sighs and groans knowing they are not mentally prepared for the unknown they face. Each man whether they are chosen or not realizes an unknown hell awaits them not far from the safety of their garrison gates. They must find some measure of peace before morning when the orders come.
The next day comes as any other peaceful day might arise. The air smelled sweet filled with the scent of flowers, which was an unusual treat considering the past days were filled with the aroma of rot. Raising over the hills the sun filled the garrison with a serene blissful light. The soldiers got up and readied themselves for their daily duties as the commanding officer called everyone for a mission briefing.
"Today, after much debate, we have made a decision about what to do about the lingering abyss that has been plaguing our lands." the commander said sternly, "We have chosen to send a small four man unit into the abyss in order to determine what it is and if we can locate our missing scouting parties."
At that moment as John was standing at attention listening attentively, his heart started to flutter. As his commander spoke he had a realization that he would be one of those chosen for the task.
The commander continued, "As of now our chosen unit will consist of John as the unit leader, and three men of his choosing."
John's heart almost flew out of his chest when he heard the commandment. He was a man with a fear of the unknown but he knew he now had no choice and must conquer his fear and himself.
"John, pick your team and move out." The commander ended his briefing.
Several hours later after gearing up and preparing himself and his comrades for the long journey ahead, John was ready to set out. They left the garrison gates and marched dutifully towards the lingering abyss. Although it was not a long march to the wild miasma, for each man each step felt like an eternity. Each step a moment closer, each step time to think and reflect, each step time to think about life and how each man lived up that that point. They were not sure if they would return from the unknown but they knew the decision to go was now out of their hands.
They finally reached the lingering abyss after what seemed a lifetime. Each man stood in front of the hideous miasma gazing deeply into it. As it pulsated and made growling noises they all took a final moment to prepare themselves. John in particular felt as if he was frozen in time. He was at the front of an unknown he had rather not face.
"Well," He says to himself with a slight nervous chuckle, "Here we go!"
John took one final moment to prepare himself. Like most people in life, he knew he had to face a fear of the unknown that he had no choice in. So with one final breath of air he steps into the lingering abyss. Like a child staring down a long empty dirt road, John in his final moments before entering had a spark of fire inside his soul. He came to the realization that discovering and conquering the unknown was what living was all about. The excitement of finding the unfound whether it is good or bad is a reward in itself. All people live lives that deal with the daily unknown and the lust for discovery. All people must find the courage inside of themselves to brave the depths of the unexplored, unexplained, and the wild unknown.