Short Story: The Path (Preview)
 
 The Hunters called the darkness Death and walked away.

The Medics called it Justice and fought it for every inch.

Leaders fell and people shut themselves away in airtight houses, windows rattling and sobbing sniffles about the end of times.

The Darkness came for them all, one by one, and did not let any get away.

Then, like a blazing star, a beacon of hope shrouded in helplessness, someone lit the way. They carved a clear path through the swath of Death. The steps sang with beauty and glowed like fireflies, a soft yearning for brighter days long gone.

The people were free again.

The pathway was lit, guardian lamps flickering against the darkness, guiding any who could to traverse the world again. The path could not be strayed from. The path could not be changed. There was but one way through, one guide for every person to lead them on their way.

It was magic, strong clean magic that started to knit the world back together.

It was magic they all hoped would last.

***

When Sam was eleven years old she saw the darkness and was not afraid. She couldn’t explain it, not really, but it was like suddenly there was a switch in her brain that clicked. She knew the stories, saw the Traversers’ careful footsteps and harrowed eyes as they brought news of the towns wide over. She’d never questioned her mother’s hushed tones about the days before or her father’s steady hand on her shoulder as he brought her back inside just before darkfall. 

And yet, one day, watching the sun slip its way down the horizon, watching that bead of darkness trailing from beyond and hearing the high-pitched whine that signaled it was time to turn back indoors, she was comforted. 

She was at peace. 

She was not afraid of what the darkness brought that evening, but she didn’t know why.

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