Aided by the wooden guard rail they ascended using the narrow dirt path which wound up around the side of the mountain; David in his waterproof jacket and walking boots, and the man leading the way in his toga and sandals. The roar of water became louder as they went. They stopped when they reached a great ledge, and stood at the balcony overlooking a great waterfall, with an awe inspiring view over Shangri-La.
Stretching far out below and ahead of them as they stood under the shadow of the mountain, was a vista rich in colour an vibrancy. The walls and parapets of monasteries and fortresses graced a green landscape sculpted by rivers, valleys and ridges, dotted with trees and other flora. Exotic birds flew overhead, their calls carried on the gentle breeze.
As David breathed in the pure air, absorbed the atmosphere of this place, all his troubles and anxieties dissolved into the bright sunlight.
“Wonderful isn’t it?” the man said, smiling.
“Yes, yes it is.” he agreed.
“You an stay here as long as you need to.”
“But what if all of this is a dream, and I’m going to wake up soon?”
“What makes you think this is a dream?”
Well, there were ways of finding out. David looked down at the earthen path beneath his feet, and imagined pushing himself away from invisible railings with his hands.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you…” the man said, as David slowly rose into the air.
He looked down at the man in triumph.
“See? It is a dream. It must be”.
The man looked at him with sad eyes, but a smile upon his face.
“Yes, it could be, but do you really want to wake up? If you do, you might not come back for a long time, maybe not until the end.”
“Yes, but…I want to go home and see my family and friends, besides, they’ll be worried about me.”
The man turned his back to him and looked down at the ground “if that’s what you want.”
With that, David was already rushing up and away from the light into darkness, gradually emerging into grey light and into wakefulness.
He gasped as he sucked air into his lungs, and blinked as his eyes filtered the bright daylight and resolved it into shapes and forms. He placed his hands on the ground, and slowly sat up and looked around at the green and pleasant land, surprised to note that he was indeed on a ledge on the side of mountain, and that there was a remarkable view.
Then he looked down at the blood-soaked, mangled lower half of his body, and screamed.
Written for Rarasaur’s prompt ‘Meraki‘.