Two men. Both of this world and of the other.

The fabric of life being torn apart.

 The world’s fate hanging in the balance.

 One fragile line bears Man’s hope.

Excerpt

“Welcome back,” said the old man. He was tall and noble and had a shock of white on top, deep crevices running down his face.

“Thanks. Wasn’t planning on coming back so soon but….”

“You want to know,” said the old man, completing the visitor’s sentence.

“Yes. I want to know,” conceded the visitor, quietly, seating himself on the ground. “I want to know where it’s all headed.”

“I understand. I cannot say.”

“Why not?”

“Some secrets are best left secret. Knowing the future can have dangerous and unintended consequences. Only the sage can know the future without letting his knowledge affect his actions.”

“But you know.” Here, the visitor paused. “Tell me,” he insisted.

A stiff breeze picked up. Gold and orange leaves, dark crimson ones, and leaves with curled brown edges, swirled on the ground, dancing to nature’s time, gently crinkling, making music like small chimes swaying in the wind.

The old man peered through a canopy of trees, a kaleidoscope of colors beaming like stained-glass windows in an old stone church. The old man studied the deep blue sky. He sighed. “Alright. I will tell you what I know.”

Choosing his next words carefully, speaking slowly and deliberately, the old man said, “I see the momentum lines. Thousands of them. Thinning out. They become five lines. Each holds an alternate possibility, a pathway to the future. The history you seek answers for is not yet written. Much needs to happen. Much needs to unfold before Humankind arrives at the doorstep of his annihilation….” Here the old man trailed off. Ending in a stronger voice, he said, “…or survival. The future is not complicated.”

“The future isn’t complicated?!” The visitor exclaimed. “That makes no sense. Just look around,” he said. “We’re a mess.”

“True. Man has made a mess of his affairs. He fails to grasp the nature of life, of what is truly important. He chooses short term comfort over long term abundance. Profit over gratitude. Entitlement over compassion. He prefers earthly vices over quiet moments.”

Puh! The visitor angrily spat on the ground. “Sorry,” he said.

“No need to apologize,” the old man interjected.

“I wasn’t apologizing to you.”

“Yes. I know.”

“Then why tell me there’s no need to apologize?”

“Because she knows it was not directed at her.”

The two fell silent. Leaves performed cartwheels in front of them. The sun had risen above the horizon, and birds were chirping in trees, their bellies full from morning meals, as critters stirred from thistle and down nests, homes that had kept them safe and warm from autumn’s first frost.

“Don’t be too critical,” said the old man. “You were once the way of many men.”

“I was never that way,” the visitor said, adamantly. “I was just caught up in it. Still am. To a degree. Never bought into their way. Never gravitated towards it. All I ever wanted was a small corner of this world, a place to call my own.” The visitor hissed in a breath. “But this…this insanity, this…this…madness is impossible to escape…completely. A person has to survive.”

“Still so much to learn.”

The old man craned his neck upward. Through cloud covered eyes he studied the sky a second time.

“I see another. One that was not there before. A momentum line bypassing all the rest. A line sweeping the world down a path of hardship. There is much chaos on this one. Great destruction. Horrors. The end happens quickly. And here,” said the old man tapping the sky, “here is another leading to devastation in a blink of an eye.” The old man shuddered. “Both lines are feint, barely visible. They have not yet taken hold as strong possibilities.”

The visitor sat staring at his mentor, the only sound leaves rustling in the wind. “Solomon,” he said placidly, “what aren’t you telling me?”

“For every step Man takes, for every time Man places his foot down upon the earth, Humankind either creates another line or breathes life into one that exists. It does not appear that Man is headed towards a desirable outcome. Should man take more steps in either of these new directions these feint lines will turn into strong, durable ones, real possibilities, lines capable of carrying the world down a path of annihilation. Swiftly.”

“You sound as if our extinction is inevitable.”

“It is not my young friend. Humankind can choose a different future, a bright one.” The old man paused as he scried the sky. “But they do little to ensure it.”

“So you know. You see. You know where it’s all headed,” insisted the man.

“No I do not. Not even my sight can see such things,” said Solomon. “All I can see is where Man is headed and where he has been, the momentum lines that form his past, present and future. The only one who knows where Man is headed is Man himself. Man chooses on which momentum line he wants to travel. He decides whether he wants a future of peace and prosperity or one of rage and conflict, and extinction. Man, alone, decides his destiny. Man can choose poorly or he can choose wisely. I have no control over his affairs. All I can do is sit, and wait…and hope. There is always that. Hope.”

“Hope? You see hope in the momentum lines?”

“Yes. One fragile line bears Man’s hope.”

© 2015 Scott Bishop. All Rights Reserved.