weird little piece. unfinished as of yet. very VERY rough...
|“I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was just someone else’s torch,
so I wished him well and kept going as I turned another corner.”
“What came first, the chicken or the bucket?”
The Pilgrim stopped. “What?”
The voice came from within the darkness of the tunnel, for unlike the one carrying the torch, the Pilgrim had no light and she could not see.
The voice was wild and gravelly, thick with the hysteria of primal knowledge. “What came first,” it repeated with glee, “the chicken or the bucket?”
…which made the Pilgrim think of a well, and thus of her own unquenchable, rasping thirst. “The bucket,” she said, and lo, she was holding in her faithful grasp the thin, wiry handle of a silver bucket.
The Pilgrim moved on. She was ravenously hungry. More than that, she was blind. The tunnel was engorged with such an impenetrable darkness as none the Pilgrim had ever experienced. Even the torches and candles of other voyagers did nothing to dissipate her own shadows. Once, the Pilgrim glimpsed a spark flickering in the distance. It was accompanied by the clank and click of a cigarette lighter. Rising high and mournful above these otherwise mundane sounds was the hopeless, frustrated wail of lighter’s owner. His wick would not catch. When the Pilgrim called out to him, he only wailed louder. Apparently, concluded the Pilgrim as she passed him by, we are all alone in our travels through this tunnel.
The Pilgrim knew that she must find a well, since now she had a bucket with which to carry her much needed water. She foolishly began to run and shortly thereafter, she came to an abrupt stop upon running headfirst into the continuous, monomorphic wall of the tunnel. She hit the wall with such force that she bounced off of its smooth surface and sprawled backwards, dropping her newly acquired silver bucket with a tinkling clatter—a cheerful resonance much in contrast with the cold, dankness of the tunnel.
Another corner to turn.
The Pilgrim groped blindly for her bucket, for lest we forget, the gloom which surrounded her had claimed her eyes. She didn’t hear the footsteps behind her, but they were small and uncertain, so it is not surprising that the Pilgrim missed them. However, as she was frantically feeling about for her bucket, she heard a small, hopeful whisper exclaim, “Oh! A bucket!” The Pilgrim then heard the tinkling clang of the handle tap merrily against the side of the bucket as the owner of the little voice lifted it from the ground.
The Pilgrim’s heart sank. My bucket, she thought in despair. How will I fetch my water?
The owner of the voice, a girl of seven, sat down with the bucket in her lap. She could not see the Pilgrim just as the Pilgrim could not see her. Both their eyes were shrouded in the tunnel’s veil.
“I’ve a bucket,” said the girl to herself. “I’ve a well,” she continued, “but I’ve no way to reach the water.”
The Pilgrim asked, “You’ve been to the well?” She had quite forgotten the darkness and how the girl could not see her.
Startled, the girl jumped up and let out a small cry. “Who’s there?”
“Forgive me,” begged the Pilgrim. “I’ve dropped my bucket and my thirst is great. Perhaps if you lead me to the well, together we could reach the water and both drink from the bucket.”
The Pilgrim waited for an answer and she expected none; such seemed the way of those traveling through the tunnel. However, after a moment the girl responded with a faint, yet thankful yes and thus she became the Companion.
Both Pilgrim and Companion reached out their hands and formed a bond across the pervading drear. The Companion, who had spent much time there at that corner and knew by heart which way it turned, led the Pilgrim around it. Presently, the pair came upon the well.
“When I found it,” said the Companion speaking of the well, “I heard a wild voice say, ‘How far up is Heaven?’ ‘As high as I can throw a stone,’ I answered, and lo, I held in my faithful grasp a stone. I dropped it in the well, but I’ve not yet heard it hit water.”
Indeed, the well was very deep. Both Pilgrim and Companion, blind as bats in daylight, felt upon the well for an edge and rested upon it. “We need a rope,” said the Pilgrim. “We could tie it to the bucket and lower it into the well and draw water.”
Both Pilgrim and Companion silently and expectantly waited for that wild, questing voice to pose to them a question to which the answer would be rope, but the voice, when already answered and expected, is silent, as it was for the friends beside the well in their desperate hour of need.