A rope bridge sways in front of me, presenting options. It can be my escape. But its decaying wooden planks and unwinding twine donâ€™t exactly inspire confidence.
Iâ€™ve seen this play out in a dream, a premonition. But I canâ€™t remember the ending now.
In my mind, I know. I can see my weight jostling the first plank loose. In fact, I know that the bridge is so weak that my weight will jostle every plank loose. I picture each of my hypothetical steps sending clunks of bridge down to splash in the abyss. I know if Iâ€™m timid, if Iâ€™m weak, I will step with hesitation and definitely die. But if I force my way across the bridge, my mind free of fear, my heart full of faith then I only might die.
The temperature begins to chill around me, and I know the ghosts have arrived. Eluding them completely was a hopeless notion. Theyâ€™re more relentless than hounds and they donâ€™t need any scent to find me.
They can hear my beating heart. Theyâ€™re drawn to it by their jealousy. In anger, they will rip my life from me to turn me blank like them.
Iâ€™ve seen grown men give up in their presence, curling into a ball and crying as the ghosts ravaged their life away, prying their souls into the cold. That lack of resolve is disgusting at best.
Compelled to live, I run, embracing recklessness and swallowing all doubt as I place my faith in the bridge. Running is tricky, my steps forcing the bridge to bend to my weight. I adjust my balance with every step. Just as I predicted, the twine begins to tear, and the planks begin to fall. I can hear them, but in my mind they sound more like a ticking clock.
I struggle harder. Iâ€™m almost there. And with my energy waning, I heave myself toward the edge of the cliff to grasp it as the entire bridge falls into oblivion. Iâ€™m clutching the edge. Somehow Iâ€™m clutching the edge. With my last ounce of strength, I pull myself up.
All of a sudden, I feel blanketed by cold. The ghosts are truly relentless and theyâ€™ve followed me with ease. Perhaps, I underestimated them. Iâ€™m dead. I tried, but Iâ€™m dead. No regrets.
As I feel their icy hands dig into my chest, I bite my lip to force myself awake. I need to fight.
Have I ever quit in my life? Is it time to quit? Especially when I have nothing to lose and everything to gain?
All of a sudden, I hear the aberration screech so loudly that the air shakes. The sound sends ripples through my skin and writhe in pain. I can feel my pursuers depart.
But Iâ€™m warm. Iâ€™m still warm. An hour of bewilderment passes as I lie on the ground. I touch my face. Iâ€™m still me. Iâ€™m still alive.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ I hear a childâ€™s voice call.
â€œWho the fuck are you?â€
â€œI asked you first.â€
â€œIâ€™m. I donâ€™t remember.â€
â€œIâ€™m gonna call you Lionheart then. Lionheart, whose blood burns so hot ghosts donâ€™t wanna fuck with him.â€
â€œFine. Who are you? Why is everything like this?â€
â€œWhat do you know?â€
â€œItâ€™s been like this since I can remember. But I canâ€™t remember why? Why is it like this?â€
â€œItâ€™s always been like this.â€
â€œI donâ€™t understand.â€
â€œSometimes you die. Sometimes you donâ€™t. Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you quit. Sometimes things donâ€™t make sense.â€
â€œFuck. Thatâ€™s lame.â€
â€œItâ€™s super lame. But do you wanna press forward or lie here?â€
I stand to my feet and prepare for the next leg of my journey.
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