This short story was originally posted in 2012.
Two young men walked shoulder to shoulder, talking quietly under the hot summer sun.
“I don’t know,” Harry said. “I just can’t accept the idea that there is some sort of being that is in control of everything.” He looked at his friend and raised his brows in challenge. “And I don’t think there’s anything when you die. I think you just die and that’s the end.”
“But,” argued John, “why are we here then? What’s the point of this life if we just waste it away and then die without ever doing anything important?”
“I think we are here to have fun, to do what we want to do. I mean, it’s my life; why can’t I do what I want when I want?”
John thought about that question, knowing there should be an answer, but he didn’t know what it was.
As they walked a short way further, John looked a little ahead, studying the heat rising from the pavement. The road they walked along was wide, paved and smooth, with no potholes or bumps to mar its surface. He frowned, wondering if this was indeed what life was supposed to be like.
He looked to each side, taking in the dark quiet of the woods that flanked each side of the road.
He felt uneasy as he looked into the shadowed depths on the left, as if there were someone in there watching their passage along the road, wishing evil on them.
He turned his head and looked to the right, feeling a peace fill him that he had previously not known, as if whatever was there was watching over him.
He turned to look at his friend and said, “I don’t know. It just seems to me that there should be something more to life than a never ending stream of parties and friends drinking and playing and having a good time. There has to be more. Otherwise, what’s the point? It seems such an empty, shallow life; if that is all there is.”
Before Harry could respond, they rounded a bend in the road, and came upon another road that went off to the right. This road was narrow and covered in dirt, an uneven surface that would be much more difficult to walk.
They stopped just before the intersection of the two roads, taking in the distant view. The woods ended just a few yards further on and there open fields began. They stood and studied both roads for a bit, then noticed the signs ahead.
The sign on the left was a giant billboard, covered with beautiful young people, each holding a bottle of beer while they laughed and talked. The words spread across the bottom of the sign said, “Joe’s Jolly Joint. Where a good time is had by all.” In smaller letters was the address “Fire Street, Brimstone Township”.
Harry chuckled delightedly and rubbed his stomach.
“Ah-h-h … my friend, a welcome sight, this. I am thirsty and in need of entertainment. Come, let us go and get a drink.”
John turned his head and looked at the sign that stood further down the road that led to the right. It was weathered and beaten, the paint chipped and faded; but it was still possible to see the beautiful scene of a glistening lake nestled in the trees and hills. “Serenity Lake. Come and rest.”
He let his eyes focus on the distant view and could see sunlight glinting off water. Suddenly, he was thirsty also, but not for the drink that was beckoning to his friend.
He turned to look at Harry, who was slowly stepping toward the point where the paved road continued to the town that stood silent in the late afternoon sun. The buildings were painted in bright colors that gleamed in the sun, glorious hues that filled the eye with a colorful welcome.
John hesitated, wondering if the lake matched the worn out, battered sign; comparing that image to the bright, eye-catching town that had grown up around the wide highway.
“Come, rest in Me.”
The Voice was quiet, beckoning and reassuring at the same time.
“What did you say?” He asked Harry.
Harry had reached the edge of the woods and turned back, brows raised.
John frowned. “I asked what you said to me.”
Harry laughed. “Friend I didn’t say anything other than I want to go get a drink.” He pointed to the sign for Joe’s.
John asked, “You didn’t tell me to come with you?”
“What are you doing? Hearing voices?”
“You didn’t hear it?”
At this, Harry laughed outright.
“No. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t hear anything.” Then he sighed, getting impatient with the delay. “Now, are you coming or not? I really want to go get a drink, and see what other amusements are available.”
John frowned heavily at the sense of dread that filled him.
“Come, rest in Me.”
The quiet Voice came again; and this time he realized that Harry had not heard it because the words were spoken in his own heart.
“Harry, why don’t you come with me? We can get something to drink down at the lake.”
Harry looked both directions, taking in and comparing the two destinations before laughing sardonically. He looked at the two differing roads then back to his old roommate.
“No, I don’t think so,” he responded decisively. “I can’t imagine that road leading to anything good. You’ll probably have all sorts of trouble going that direction. If anything, you should come with me. Aren’t you thirsty? We’ve been walking quite a while.”
“Yes, I’m thirsty too; but I’m going this way.” He raised a hand and pointed toward the sparkling water in the distance. “Please, come with me. I have a bad feeling about that place.” He pointed to the bright town and looked at Harry steadily; but his friend just laughed.
“Seriously? You have a bad feeling? Going psychic on me now?”
John closed his eyes, unable to find the words to keep his friend from making what he was sure would be a deadly mistake.
“Please, Harry, come with me. I don’t know why, but I feel like you should come with me.”
“Ok, you know what? This is nuts. If you want to go to your little lake and break your leg in the process, who am I to try and stop you. Just don’t try to force me to follow you.”
Harry turned and walked down the paved road in a huff. John watched him go, sorry to see his college buddy take what felt to be the wrong turn. Why couldn’t he see that it was the wrong way to go? Why didn’t he hear that voice that beckoned so quietly?
He pulled his mind away from the questions and looked to where Harry had been standing a moment before; but all that was there was an ominous black cloud that seemed to be rising from glowing embers in the middle of the road. The town was shrouded in a dark grey covering, somewhat resembling smoke and ash.
Startled, John stepped back.
“He has made his choice and can not turn from it now.” The quiet Voice filled his heart. “He has rejected Me in favor of a good time and having his own way. Now it is your turn to make your choice. Will you come to Me and sup with Me and let Me give you rest? I have living water that once you drink of it, you will never thirst again.” As if reading his hesitance, the Voice continued, “Do not worry about the uneven road. When you have trouble getting to the end, I will be right beside you to help you along. All you’ll have to do is reach for Me.”
John felt peace and love fill his very soul as he turned and hurried toward the lake.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012, 2019