Comes to a Wall
The man came to a wall. The man came to a wall and he did not know how to get over it. He did not know how to get over it or around it. The wall was impassable.
The man touched the wall, and the man found that the wall was smooth. The wall was smooth and strong. The man could not push the wall over. The man tried to push the wall over, but he could not. The wall was too strong.
The man sat at the base of the wall and wondered how he could get to the other side.
The man thought about returning from whence he had come, but another wall now blocked the path from whence he had come. Steep walls lined the sides of the path between the wall that blocked the path from whence he had come and the first wall that blocked his path to whence he was going.
The man sat at the base of the wall and looked up. At first the man thought he saw stars, but then the stars disappeared behind another wall, although the man was not sure whether to call the new wall a ceiling or a wall. He decided not to call it a ceiling and instead he would call it a wall.
The man touched the dirt he sat on. The dirt was dry and dusty. The man ran his hands through the dry and dusty dirt until it too had formed a wall. The ground became just as much a wall as the walls on the other five sides of the man. The ground had become a floor, but the man did not think of it as a floor—he thought of it as yet another wall.
The man studied the six sides of the cube that enclosed him. He studied the walls that kept him from progressing or retreating or escaping.
The man listened closely. The man listened closely, but he did not hear a sound. He did not hear any sounds from outside the cube that enclosed him.
The man imagined that the world had disappeared. The man imagined that he was entirely cut off from the world.
And then the man began to relax.
In the silent enclosure, the man began to relax and give himself to the silent enclosure.
The man spent a long time sitting at the base of the wall in the silent enclosure. He sat long enough to feel all his anxiety dissipate.
When the man had yielded entirely to his silent enclosure, a small light appeared.
The man watched the small light circle within the enclosure. The small light lit the entire enclosure, and the man observed the surface of all six walls of the enclosure. The man observed the surface of all six walls, and he saw nothing on any of the six walls. The six walls were smooth and strong and barren of any blemish.
The man watched the light grow. The light did not become more intense, but it did grow larger. The light grew larger until it took a human form. At first it looked like a child, then it grew a little larger and the man could not tell if it was a boy or a woman. It was silent. The human form in the light continued to circle the enclosure without paying any attention to the man. The light then approached the man.
The light approached the man, and the man still could not tell if the human form in the light was a boy or a woman. It was still silent.
The lips of the human form moved, but the man heard nothing.
The man closed his eyes, and the man was alone again. Alone in the enclosure and alone in his mind.
When the man opened his eyes, the human form in the light remained in front of him. It continued to move its lips, but the man still could not hear what it said.
The man did not want to hear anything. The man had enjoyed the silence. He had enjoyed the lack of anxiety. He became afraid that he would not like to hear what the human form in the light was trying to say to him.
The man closed his eyes again. He closed his eyes, and he was alone again. Alone in the enclosure and in his mind.
The man left this eyes closed for a long time. The man did not know how long he kept his eyes closed, but he kept them closed for a long time. He kept them closed long enough so that when he opened his eyes the human form was gone. The light was gone. The man was alone in the silent, dark enclosure once more. The silent enclosure that was no longer silent when a voice said it looked like the light had disturbed the man.
The man could not tell if the voice belonged to a boy or a woman.
The man said the light had not disturbed him.
The voice said then why had he closed his eyes.
The man said he had seen but he had not heard.
The voice said wasn’t that always how things went.
The man said no.
The voice asked the man why he had not tried to escape.
The man said he had not needed to try. He said he had succeeded.
The voice said the man certainly had not succeeded in escaping the enclosure.
The man said he had succeeded in escaping everything outside the enclosure.
The voice was silent for a time.
The man neither saw nor heard anything, and he liked it.
Then the voice said but the man was being punished.
The man said punished for what.
The voice did not say. The voice remained silent again for a time.
Then the man became hungry.
The voice said now the man would feel his punishment.
The man said punishment for what.
The voice was silent. The voice was silent, but the light returned. The small light began to glow again and move in a circle around the enclosure. It grew to the size of a human form again, and the man still could not tell if it was the form of a boy or a woman.
The man closed his eyes again. He closed his eyes again but this time the man was hungry. He was not alone in the enclosure or in his mind because he had his hunger with him. The man’s anxiety returned as his hunger grew.
When the man opened his eyes, the human form in the light moved its mouth but the man could not hear what it said. It moved closer to the man, and the man could see it was not talking but was chewing. The man could not see what it was eating or if it was eating anything. But it was chewing, and the more it chewed, the hungrier the man became.
The human form in the light spoke clearly in a voice that shattered the man’s silence. The voice said usually it had to take its clothes off to start the punishment of those who were slow to suffer, but the man had been a strange one, and in the end he had shown he was not immune to suffering. A strange but simple man for whom hunger was enough.
The man thought about being outside the enclosure, and then he found himself outside the enclosure. He felt a cool breeze. He opened his eyes and saw the stars above and the trees along his path. He saw the path in front of him and when he turned around, he saw the path from whence he had come. The man saw no walls, no floors, no ceilings. He saw no human form, no light, and he heard no voices.
The man was no longer hungry.
The man took a few steps down the path, and then he stopped to listen. He did not mind the ambient noises of the forest that had bothered him so much before the first wall had appeared.
But then he came to a fork in the path.
To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.