Madness is simply the description given to those that refuse to be a product of their time; to think boldly and to dream of things yet existing. This sort of madness can occur at anytime, almost always in quiet contemplation, for only alone, (and at a distance) can we look upon the world with sober eyes.
As I sit here in my elder years I cannot help but reflect on my life. I was a curious child. I saw things that got me into a lot of trouble, beatings, and even visits to the doctor a few times, before I learned what is and isn’t there in this world. It was difficult, at first, to not notice the strange lights whisking, the creatures scurrying, and the voices whispering; but as I forced myself to ignore them, they ignored me…
I had to constantly question my reality as I grew up and needed to be careful what I said and did. And though my strange sightings were completely gone around my 18th birthday, I did not fully trust what I saw and I became a nervous adult. I was easily startled and was unsuited for must work, and eventually, the stress got the better of me and I had a nervous breakdown. I was taken to a doctor that advised me to spend time out on the country every so often, as the fresh air would rejuvenate me. I cherished the idea and I spent every weekend from then on, on the Lonely Hills, a few miles north of town.
It was a special place, rich of lore and with a significance to my people. Stories of our struggle for independence and the very origin of our kind, with gods and everything. Unfortunately, there had been a lot of logging over the years and large swaths of the forest was now gone because of the industrial influence from the very people my ancestors fought to keep away. Though, despite its barren appearance, it still retains its magic – at least to me.
I liked it so much that I was miserable whenever I had to go back to town, and after many years, I’d seen everything on those hills… Or so I thought.
One day on my way to a lovely spot in a small valley near a hilltop lake, I found I cave I’d never seen before. It gaped wide and I was surprised that I’d never noticed it. With my torch held high, I eagerly delved into the cave and I was soon engulfed in utter darkness. Oddly enough, the deeper I went the harder it became to breathe, even the light from my torch seem to become smaller as if the darkness itself was leeching off of it. Further inside, the ground began to slope and I stooped over the edge and peered below. And as I looked, a small glimmer pierced through the void that caught my attention.
I’d never felt such excitement and I was eager to find what that glimmer was, so I stumbled down the slope until I reached the bottom. On my second or third step I felt something shattering under my shoe and my body froze. Moments later, a strange smell bore itself through my nose that weakened my knees, and as I crumpled, several lights glimmered and spread like a wave into the void. The light grew and faded until I was once again engulfed by the darkness. It took a long while before I dared to move, and when I did, the light glimmered anew, though much lesser than before. Gathering my courage, I reached out into the light and touched a smooth object that looked like an orb made of glass with a small light source inside.
My first thought was it couldn’t be real, but I felt it, I saw it; the smell from before lingered in my nose and pain still seared from the fall. All my senses told me what I had was real and that’s what I chose to believe.
I also realised that I was severely under-equipped to continue exploring, so I pocket the strange orb and made my way slowly up the slope. With some difficulty, I managed my way up and made sure to mark the cave with my now extinguished torch. As I hurried back to civilisation, I felt anguish leaving the cave, but I pressed on. I spoke to no-one upon my return and hurried back the next day. But when I arrived, and explored the cave with much better equipment, I could not find the slope that had led me to the innards of the cave. I search frantically for the whole day but came out empty handed, it was as if a whole section had disappeared. It was the same cave, no doubt, as the marking still stood.
I spent several days camped outside the cave but I never found the mysterious dungeon again, only the small orb that I’d pocketed remained. I look now on the orb as it rests on the table next to me, now glowing as faint as my heart now beats. I’ve never shown it to anyone as I’m afraid what they are going to say. Only in death shall I be judged as a madman or a dreamer.
© Christopher Stamfors
Featured image by ChrisCold