By Micheal Jett
A man walked down the street, looking just like any other man. Except that he was alone. He had been alone most of his life.
Walking down that lonely road, the memories of his past constantly haunting him, he thinks to himself the same thought he had come to know quite well. He was alone and would never trust anyone ever again. He had a lot of reasons for thinking this way.
When he was a child his parents, who he loved more than anything, abandoned him and left him to live with his aunt. He never saw them again. But this is not the only reason. When he grew up a little, and entered a junior high school, he found some friends and fell in love for the first, and last, time. First, he caught the girl he loved with another guy, and then he learned the hard way that some people become your friends only because they want something from you. In his case, they took advantage of his kind nature and tricked him into doing things that got him in trouble. Meanwhile, they reaped the benefits unpunished.
This pattern continued for a few more years, until a certain incident that made him decide he had had enough. From then on, even when people gave him good reasons to trust them, he never did. He was too afraid of being betrayed again.
He was the black sheep of society. He had long, black hair, which wasnt too unusual. But the way he dressed made him stand out. He wore a long black trench coat with a black shirt, black gloves, black pants, and even his boots were black. People stared and avoided him because he looked like trouble. Thats just the way he liked it, though, despite the terrible loneliness that lurked in his heart. The darkness that lurked in his heart.
One day, the man walked on a deserted beach. The sky was very dark and cloudy. A bolt of lightning shot out of the sky and hit a rock far out at sea. It was strange, though, because the man didnt remember ever seeing that rock before. But there was something even stranger on top of the rock: a light. Yes, a light had appeared where the lightning had struck.
A path of rocks had also appeared, leading to the light. The man did not know what it all meant, but he felt mysteriously compelled to go after the light.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was jumping across the path of rocks. He was about half way there when he noticed he was being followed. No, he was being chased, by a shroud of darkness that threatened to swallow him up.
The man panicked. He ran, skipped, and jumped as fast as he could. And when he was sure hed reached the light, it started moving. He chased after it while the darkness chased him. He reached out as far as he could, but the light got away, and the darkness swallowed him.
When the man awoke, he was floating in what seemed to be nothing but darkness. He could feel it all around him, like he was in an unusually thick liquid. He felt so worn out. Slowly, thoughts started to worm their way into his mind. I can rest now. I belong in this darkness. I should never have hoped for anything more.
But then he thought, Why am I thinking this way? I dont want to live like this forever! As he thought this, the darkness around him started to uncoil from his body. And then he came to the revelation that he would break himself of the habit of not trusting people when they have good and honest reasons for him to trust, and so the darkness completely let go of his body.
Now he could get a good look at his surroundings. He was at the bottom of a very, very deep shaft. There were tentacles covering the walls leading all the way to the top. They were the same color as the shadow that had captured him and brought him here; transparent black with an ominous purple outline. The only sign of light was at the top of the shaft where there was a bright circle where light seemed to be coming through.
The man thought that maybe it was the exit. He may as well try to climb up to it; there was nowhere else to go. There was one problem, though. All of the tentacles were different sizes; some were longer than others, some were thicker. On top of that, they were all moving.
But if he wanted to get out, he had to do it. So he started climbing, looking for tentacles that would give him the least trouble. He was climbing for maybe two minutes when the tentacles started going after him.
He climbed as fast as he could, but it wasnt enough. He was knocked down by one of the longer tentacles. The man thought he was going to die, but he luckily landed on a very thick tentacle. It was softer than he expected. He wasnt going to just lay there. He sprang up and started running down the tentacle to the end where he jumped off and grabbed on to the tentacles on the wall on the opposite side.
Similar things happened all the way up, but he finally managed to make it out.
Heart of Darkness
What the man saw when he emerged from the hole was unbelievable. It was a room with numerous staircases leading in various, and sometimes impossible, directions. The colors of everything; the floor, the walls, staircases, and the arcs around the doorways were different shades of that same ominous purple. There were zigzagging designs on the walls, too, with an eerie, yellow light pulsing through the lines of those designs.
The man wondered how in the world he was going to find his way through this physically impossible maze. He went up the flight of stairs only to find himself at a split in the road leading into two tunnels. He went to the right, and when he came out of the tunnel, he found himself on another staircase.
When the man looked around he found the hole he came through
on the ceiling! He was confused. How did he get to an upside down staircase from the staircase on the ground? It was difficult for the man to figure it out, so he kept running up and down stairs; choosing paths at splits in the road that were at the top of each set of stairs.
After a while the man got tired from climbing all those stairs. He sat down to take a rest, but it didnt last long. There was suddenly a ghost-like creature diving toward him really fast. He got up and ran as fast as he could down the staircase he was sitting on.
The ghost just barely missed him. The man didnt even stop to look at it. He soon found himself running along straight paths and staircases that split in two or more directions. More ghosts were showing up and were starting to chase him to. There were so many ghosts all around him he was able to see what they looked like.
These ghosts looked just like the tentacles in the shaft he came out of; transparent black with an ominous purple outline. They had big, yellow eyes the shape of a full moon with little, crimson dots in the middle. The man could barely see there mouths, it looked like they never closed, and they had long, dangerously sharp, needle-like teeth.
The man was running up a flight of stairs to another fork in the stairs, when a ghost swept down in front of him. He put his arms in front of him to protect himself, but the ghost just passed through him. He was relieved because he thought they wouldnt be a problem. His relief was short-lived, though, because another ghost went through one of the two staircases he was running toward and completely destroyed it. He realized the ghosts couldnt touch him but they could still destroy the landscape around him.
Panicking, he took the other staircase. But the sight that greeted him at the top made his heart sink.
He had reached a dead end.
The man entered a dome like room with the same patterns and colors as the maze of staircases. At the far end of the room was a big chair that looked somewhat like a throne.
But it was what was sitting on the throne that stood out the most in the room. It was a colossal size likeness of him, except that it was see-through black with a purple outline just like the tentacles and the ghosts. Its eyes were completely black, except for its pupils, which were that eerie yellow. When the demon opened its mouth that same color was on the inside of it.
The mans legs were moving by themselves toward the throne. He felt mysteriously drawn to it, just like he was drawn to the light on the rock. But there was one difference: this time there was a sense of impending doom in his mind. He dropped to his knees right in front of the throne. It was over. He had nowhere to run.
The demon reached down with one hand and picked up the man. The grin on its face was so demented it made him sick. The man figured it was what did all of this to him. It put him in a spherical cage floating hundreds of feet off the ground.
With its twisted smile it shot rays of darkness out of the tips of its fingers at the man. Those rays somehow made him very depressed; they took away what little hope he had of finding happiness again. Also the rays brought back painful memories. Like, when he was abandoned by his parents; his first girlfriends betrayal and so on and so forth. The demon seemed to be having fun. It was laughing the whole time.
The man wanted to escape, but couldnt see any way out of it.
He had no idea how long he had been in the cage, but the man waited long enough for the demonic version him to fast asleep. The man saw what he thought was a keyhole at the bottom of the cage. He reached down to examine the hole with his finger.
Somehow, he was transported into a chamber full of gears and levers when he touched it. The man realized that this might be the inside of the lock. How he came to this conclusion, he didnt know, but he could think of no other explanation.
When the man took a better look around he noticed that the gears were moving and were probably what was keeping the lock shut. And the levers were the triggers to unlocking the cage. The gears tilted in many different directions, although some of them were still flat; which he was grateful for.
The hard part was getting to the levers. They were everywhere; high, low, and in places he could not reach without climbing on to one of the awkwardly tilted gears. The man didnt know how he was going to do it, but if he wanted to unlock this cage he would have to pull those levers.
The man started with the easier levers near the bottom. He had to jump from one moving gear to the next. After he got all of the lower levers, he reluctantly started climbing for the harder-to-reach levers.
As he scaled a gear that went straight up, he slipped. He just barely caught himself, and pulled himself up before the gear turned too far. When he got up he looked down; if he fell from here, it would be over. So he tried to be more careful. But he had to keep moving, which made it hard to be careful.
Then, when he pulled the last lever, he found himself in the cage again. But he wasnt there for long, because the cage broke apart. The man thought he was going to fall to his death when he remembered how far away he was from the ground.
But before he even started falling, a woman, covered in light with the wings of an angel, appeared in front of him and caught him.
This woman, who seemed to be made of light, rescued the man. So he thought she might be there to help him, not put him back in the cage. She didnt have any facial features except for two eyes that were all black, even where they shouldve been white. You could almost get lost in them. But they still looked friendly and calming.
There was no outline around any body part that overlapped another body part. You wouldnt be able to see her arms when they were in front of her. There was no sign of clothing, but you could see that she had wavy, shoulder-length hair. And her wings spanned at least ten feet.
The woman of light slowly floated down toward the ground, still carrying the man. As she did so, she was explaining where he was. He was in his own heart. He had been brought here to dispel the darkness that loomed in and around it.
As she spoke, the man looked over her shoulder toward the demon on the throne. He was afraid it might wake up. But the woman assured him that it wouldnt, as if she could read his mind.
The man had many doubts that he could defeat the darkness. But in her soothing voice the woman said, You have the power to defeat this darkness. This is your heart. Only you can take control. All you have to do is believe in yourself. Believe that you can still find happiness in life. That is what caused all of this darkness to overwhelm your heart.
The man said he would try; it was all he could do to believe. The woman didnt have a mouth so he wasnt sure, but the man could swear she was smiling. She pointed to one side of the room and a door opened up to the left of the throne. The man didnt need any second bidding, he ran to the door without looking back.
False Sky and a Brighter Past
The man came out of the door into a corridor. He ran to the first corner and put his back to the wall so he could look around without being seen. There was nothing there so he ran to the next corner and did the same thing.
This time there was nothing there again, but there were two corridors this time. One led to a dead end; the other took a turn. He went to the corner again, but this time there were two creatures there.
They had the shape of human beings, but thats where the resemblance ends. Their faces resembled skulls and were the same color purple he had come to know so well. Everything else on their bodies, though, was pitch black. They carried unusually long lances. They seemed to be communicating, but he couldnt here any sound whatsoever.
Then he heard a high pitched scream coming from the dead end. When the man turned in that direction, he saw that a door had opened at the dead end and another one of those creatures was standing in front of it screaming and pointing at him. Now, the other two knew he was there, so the man ran down the hall toward them. He charged toward them, barely managing to dodge their spears and knock them down.
The man ran as fast as he could down that hall until he found a staircase. He was sick of staircases at this point, but he went up them any way. They went up a long way but he finally came out of a doorway into a gigantic room where he could see the sky.
The curved ceiling showed a beautiful blue sky. The walls looked like a mountainside that dropped down into a bottomless pit. There was a bridge right in front of him that wasnt supported by anything and led to a platform that was very much the same.
The man very carefully walked across the bridge to the platform. When he got to it, there was something that resembled a bird sitting in the middle of it. The bird was purple, too.
The man wondered if he should try riding it. As soon as he stepped onto the bird a pole with a handle shot up in front of him. The man impulsively grabbed it and, almost immediately, the bird started moving. As it rose higher, he saw a portal he hadnt noticed before on the other side of the room.
But the bird didnt take him straight to it. It circled around the room showing him his memories. But instead of showing him the painful ones, it showed him the good memories behind the bad ones. Like his first girlfriend, the memories of happiness before he found her with another guy.
After a while the bird went toward the portal. The man was ready for anything that was in the other side now. There were tears rolling down his cheeks as the bird glided through the portal.
As soon as the bird touched the ground it disappeared. The man had come out of the portal into a giant lava cave. There were only three chunks of land: the one he was on, the one on the other side where a staircase to the exit was, and one right in the middle of the pool of lava. The pool itself covered the rest of the room.
On the side the man was on there was an arc, like a doorway with no walls around it or a door to swing open or closed. He approached the doorway and when he stepped in it, stepping stones appeared leading to the rock in the middle and from there to the shore on the other side. He jumped from one stone to the next, making sure not to lose his footing. After all hed been through, though, the man had absolutely no fear anymore.
When he got half-way to the island in the middle, he heard something that sounded like a birds wings flapping. The man looked up and gasped. There was a huge, flaming bird circling above him. Nothing happened until he stepped onto the island in the middle.
The flaming bird started descending as soon as the man put foot on the rock. He knew it wasnt coming down to greet him, so he started jumping across the rocks again, but quicker. The bird began swooping down and attacking the man. He ran as fast as he could across the rocks, almost falling off a few times because of the bird and loss of footing.
The man finally reached the other side. When he did, the bird stopped assailing him and dove into the pool of molten lava. He thought to himself, Ive had enough of this for one day.
Then he scaled the stairs to the exit.
The man was nearly blinded as he came out of the lava cave onto a path suspended in the air. The sky looked so beautiful, even though it was still behind glass. The path followed the wall next to him which curved around on both sides. The man looked up and saw that it curved there too.
It made sense. He just came out of a dome-like cavern. The man very carefully stepped to the edge and looked down. Below him, the giant structure pulled inward. Whatever this thing was, it was gigantic. He estimated the bottom had to be at least a mile from where he stood.
Then, the man recalled what the angel said. He was in his own heart. Now it looked like he was on the outside of it.
But was it really his heart? The outside surface was made of steel; it was cold and unbelievably hard. The man wondered if he had done this to himself by not trusting people for so many years.
The man had a picture in his head of what he thought his heart must look like: it was in the shape of a valentine heart, but it was made of black steel. There was a maze of stairs wrapped around the entire thing. And finally, there was a barrier of square windows around it surrounding his entire heart. The barrier was shaped to fit around the heart. It was still hundreds of feet from the ledge he was standing on.
So the man started down the first flight of stairs. He noticed that the heart was floating in the clouds; he could see the ground far, far below him.
The man walked and walked for at least an hour. He got tired and sat down. It was then that he first realized how good of a spot this would be to watch a sunset. Conveniently, the sun was just beginning to set right at that moment.
It was gorgeous, like something out of a dream. The man thought, What if this is a dream? If it is, its one hell of a nightmare.
The man watched the setting sun for a few more minutes before he stood up and continued his descent.
At the bottom of the labyrinth there was a big doorway leading back into the heart. The room the man entered when he went through it was unusual. The floor was so clear it was as if there wasnt even a floor at all.
Underneath the floor was a room that was shaped like a funnel and it was clear there, too. And at the bottom of that funnel was a hole that looked like it dropped into the sky
and out of the heart.
As the man came closer to the center of the room, he started hearing voices whispering in his head telling him to give up. When he got to the middle of the room creatures started coming out of the walls.
These creatures were skeletons whose bones were a dark red, as if they had been drenched in blood. They carried bows and had quivers on their backs. They started firing arrows at the man after taking a few steps a way from the wall.
The man saw them slowly moving closer, so he looked around the room and saw a door on the other side of the room. Without hesitating, he ran for the door as fast as he could. Meanwhile, the arrows the skeletons were shooting were driving into him, but strangely he couldnt feel any pain.
The reason the arrows didnt hurt the man was because he no longer had any doubt in his mind; he would defeat the darkness. He would destroy the demon lurking within his heart.
The skeletons backed away from him as he ran to the door. They couldnt do anything to him now that he had his new resolve. The man dashed through the door at full speed. But he found there was no floor there, just a straight vertical drop!
Destroy the Darkness
He dropped for only a few moments before he came sliding out into the funneled room. But the man didnt see an exit at the bottom of the funnel anymore. No, what he saw was the demon from the throne, except it did not have any legs; it was acting as cork plugging up the only way out of this damnable place.
The man managed to stop himself from sliding right into the demon when the angle of the funnel flattened out a little bit. It was then that the man realized it was more of an upside dome than a funnel; but it still fit his theory about the shape of this structure. The man cursed. He had almost made it. Now the demon just stood there, laughing a very high-pitched, maniacal laugh.
Destroy the darkness!
The man heard the angels voice loud and clear in his head.
Destroy the source of your suffering!
He stood up. The angel appeared behind him, wrapping her arms around him. He was confident he would win. Confident the demon would never imprison him again.
The angel lifted the man up off the ground. It felt as though they were his wings, though. The demon wasnt laughing anymore.
It began shooting those rays of darkness. The man did not want to be hit by those rays again. So, as if she was reading his mind, the angel started dodging back and forth while moving toward the demon.
The determination in the mans eye made the demon of darkness panic. But, because it had no legs and was attached to the ground, it couldnt run away. All it took was one touch and the source of the darkness disappeared in a bright flash of light.
When the bright light faded the man found himself lying on the beach he was on when he first saw the light on the rock. He couldnt believe his eyes when he sat up. There were people all around, holding their hands out to him; offering to help him.
As these people reached out their hands, all of the mans dark memories seemed to drift away. He felt, for the first time in his life, that he was truly wanted. He took their hands and stood up.
The man looked around and, as he did, he saw a few familiar faces. He saw the owner of a restaurant he worked at for a few years. The friends he had in junior high were there, too. But they seemed different than before. Now, they looked like they really wanted to help him.
There were a few other people here and there he recognized, none he felt too attached to. And then there she was: the girl he fell in love with in junior high. She had become a full-fledged woman. She was beautiful; wavy, brown hair that went just below her shoulders and dark, brown eyes.
She walked up to the man and stopped right in front of him; she was about as tall as his shoulder. Im very sorry about what happened all those years ago. Truly I am. I was a foolish little rich girl back then who thought she would be happy if she got what she wanted. That was why I left you. The boy you saw me with was the son of a millionaire; I could get anything I wanted with his fathers money. After we graduated from high school, we got married.
She took a step closer and tightly wrapped her arms around the man; he was so shocked to see her that he just couldnt push her away. It wasnt until a few years later, she continued with her chin resting on the mans chest, looking directly into the mans eyes, that I realized what I wanted wasnt money, it was love. I found that I could never find such a thing being married to a rich man who obsessed over his money. So I left my husband, (who didnt protest very much) which is when I thought of you. I felt so guilty about what I did to you, though, so I waited a few years trying to find a way to apologize to you.
I couldnt find any good ways, so all I can do is ask for forgiveness. I dont expect to be forgiven, but I will ask anyway: Can you forgive me for what Ive done to you? Is it possible to have a second chance?
There were tears streaming down her face. The man knew she wasnt lying. Before he would have never forgiven her, but after all he had just been through he couldnt bring himself to resent her.
Ill forgive you, the man said but you have to promise you will never do something like that to me again. I dont think I could take it.
She smiled as she buried her face into the mans chest. I promise. She whispered. Both the man and woman were filled with overwhelming joy and relief as they embraced each other.
Who Are You?
The man and his first love (who was now his current love again) walked down the beach. She was hanging on to his arm, which the man loved.
The clouds in the sky were dark grey; just like before his little adventure inside his heart. It was as if no time had passed at all. There was a flash of lightning and, as a reflex; the man looked toward that rock out at sea where it struck before.
And what do you know? The bolt of lightning hit the rock. And just like before, the light was there again. The woman stared with astonishment at this phenomenon.
Oh my God! she gasped. What is that?
I think I have an idea, the man said. The woman looked at him quizzically.
The man started walking along the path of rocks again. The woman followed him. Why are we going toward that light? she asked. I dont like this, its dangerous out here. Lets go back.
I have something that I have to do, the man said. And it concerns that light. You can go back if you want, but I have to get to that light.
The woman mustered up all of her courage and retorted. Im coming with you. Ill be worried sick about you being all the way out here on your own.
Then lets go! said the man, smiling inwardly.
As they walked along the path the man thought about what hed been through. No one would believe him if he told them. He was still having some trouble convincing himself it was real. His doubts were melting away as he approached the oddly familiar light.
The man had a thought: What if that light and the angel were one in the same? He couldnt shake the feeling that he was right.
He stopped and looked back where he came from. There was nothing there. He knew now that the veil of darkness, that captured him when he was here the first time, was the darkness in his own heart.
Thats why the light ran away; it wasnt running from him, it was running from the darkness. But the darkness wasnt there anymore. He had actually destroyed the darkness within him.
Whats wrong? the woman asked him.
Nothing, nothings wrong, the man replied before they started walking again.
When they finally got to the rock where the rock was floating the mans suspicions were confirmed. The light had transformed into the angel. The woman was speechless.
The man stepped onto the rock. Who are you? he asked the angel.
You already know the answer to that, she said. And, again, the man had the feeling she was smiling as she said this.
The angel wrapped her arms around him and spoke directly into his ear, You dont have to be afraid anymore. You are not alone.
Thank you for everything. I couldnt have done it without your help, the man said.
The angel looked straight into his eyes and gently said, Theres no need to thank me. I am the light within you; I am a part of you. In other words, you defeated the
She was cut off when a deafening explosion came from the ocean near the rock they were standing on. Something big came out of the water. Both the man and the angel couldnt believe there eyes.
The demon was back, and it wanted retribution.
The woman screamed at the sight of the hideous creature that had just come out of the water. The demon that represented the darkness in the mans heart still looked the same as it did before the flash of light, except there were small streams of light coming from multiple holes that were covering its entire body.
The demon was laughing again, as if to say You can never destroy me. The man looked at it with an unwavering stare; which stopped the laughter. He and the angel exchanged glances, this time they would destroy it for good. So the angel lifted the man up into the sky. The man knew the woman would worry about him, but he had a score to settle.
The angel took him up to the demons head. He yelled at the demon, You arent wanted here! Go away! And never come back!
This seemed to provoke it. It swung a large, trembling fist at them. But it was too slow, they easily avoided it. The demon kept swinging in desperation.
The man doubted just touching it would do the trick this time. The angel whispered to him, It has no power over you anymore. Do not be afraid of it. Your resolve was to rid yourself of this foul creature. That is your greatest weapon against it. Repeat after me: I am not alone.
I am not alone! the man shouted.
I AM NOT ALONE!!! he shouted with all his might.
I AM NOT ALONE!!!
Every time he said it another beam of light shot out of the demons body. The demon kept swinging in vain. The man kept on saying it again and again until finally, the demon stopped moving completely. Then it shattered into a million pieces.
This time it was truly over. The angel brought the man back down to the rock. You two had better get back to the beach, she said. This rock and the bridge leading to it will disappear soon. As soon as she finished speaking, she vanished.
The man and the woman walked along the bridge toward the beach. The woman was very confused. What in the world just happened? she had to ask.
If I told you youd never believe me, the man replied. He seemed to have a bit of a bounce to his step.
Okay, Ill give it a shot. But dont say I didnt tell you so.
As he walked along the path of rocks with the woman, telling her the story about what had happened to him, he remembered the angel telling him not to thank her. Well Im going to anyway. Thank you so much.