By Jeffrey Bishop
Scare Rating: 2/5 Ghosts
Jon stared in awe, but he was dejected at the scene before him: In his forever-twilight vista, a high stone wall spread beyond his vision upward, and as far as he could see to the left and to the right. In front, a tall, arched opening in the otherwise endless stone curtain showed a bright forever — golden light spilled into Jon’s present world to reveal a possible eternity of splendor. One easy, long stride away.
Obstructing the view — the path — were dozens of thin, shimmering webs. Thousands of spiders of all sizes toiled on the gate, some spreading new lines across the path, and others cutting and reeling in obsolete lines from the pattern. Though to Jon their purpose seemed singularly focused on him — on terrorizing the young man — the spiders nonetheless seemed oblivious to him in their work.
“All of life is a test. But, before you can graduate, you must pass a final test,” came a voice from nowhere and from everywhere. The voice came from the twilight ether that surrounded the scene. It wasn’t clear from tone, timbre, volume or attitude if the speaker was benevolent or otherwise.
The young man paused. He looked beyond, at the blessed eternity that lay beyond the simple stone wall. He looked beyond, but the spiders and their snares is all that he saw.He looked beyond him, to find oblivion — only cold, black, empty darkness.
He felt a choice. He hesitated. He knew what he wanted. He wasn’t sure of the cost; he wasn’t sure he could afford it — or perhaps, if he wanted to. He paused, then turned away from the wall. His shoulders hanged heavy and low, and even the relief of having made a choice couldn’t lighten the load he carried. Dread had replaced fear.
Nevertheless, on he walked. Into the darkness, by his own choice.
What might you have chosen? If not spiders, what fears do you have that might have compelled a similar decision? What if there was something — someone — who could clear the obstruction and provide a clear, easy path to the paradise beyond the wall?