He walks over the rocky terrain, his backpack is as heavy as his thoughts. How long has he been walking? Days? Weeks? Years? Time has become meaningless now that he is alone. There is just walking over this endlessly desolate landscape, trying to forget fragments of what was.
He is beginning to believe that none of it matters. There is just now, walking alone, directionless, staring down at his aimlessly moving boots. So preoccupied with this burgeoning despair, he does not notice the massive wall of fog until he is mere feet from it. The shock at such a sight overwhelms any dangerous, self-destructive thoughts forming in his mind.
The fog stretches as far as he can see in either direction and appears to reach miles into the sky. He attempts to peer into the murky depth but can see nothing, or something. He is not certain. What he sees, or does not see, seems to fluctuate, shift, distort or not exist.
"Disconcerting, is it not?"
The mellow voice causes him to flinch and turn around to his right. He can barely believe the sight of the stranger not far from him, sitting on an ancient volcanic rock, facing the fog. He knows that he has never met this stranger before, yet there is something familiar in the features, as if from a long-ago dream. For this reason, he does not feel the need to introduce himself.
"What is it?" he asks, turning back to the enigmatic fog.
"It is what we all must face."
The familiar stranger's gentle answer causes him to face the volcanic rock again. "I do not want to go onward into what I cannot see."
"I do not either," the familiar stranger slips off the rock and walks over to him, "and this is why I have been waiting for you."
"Because the future is easier to face with someone next to you." The familiar stranger offers out a hand.
He stares into the eyes of the familiar stranger, weighing what he can see with what he cannot, what he knows with what he does not. Silently, he makes a decision and removes his backpack. Accepting the offered hand, they walk together, allowing the fog to envelop them until all that was is a distant memory.
P.S. Click HERE to read another short story.