This story was inspired by a poem that I published earlier.
A pit of milky, frothy lava oozed up from the endless caverns of the earth. It glowed red as though it were a sunset, and if that color had been in the sky, it would have been termed beautiful. Now, though, it was terrifying.
A man stood near to the edge of the pit. He could see the venomous flares coming from deep down in the depths, and they seemed to mesmerize him. He was spellbound by their glistening colors.
In his one hand, he carried a Book. He had been told that this Book was the guide to the true Life. He simply had to read and follow its commands to enjoy life and peace for everlasting. But today, as it had been for the past few weeks, his book was at his side, unread and unheeded.
Now he took a step nearer to the pit. An almost magnetic pull drew him closer.
His other hand held a sword. He was decked in full armor, but as he stood in the heat of the flames, he began to take off first one, then another piece of his armor as he became fatigued by the heat. He set his sword and other armor down, but he held onto his book. Deep inside, he still knew its value. His eyes reflected the orange of the flames as he stared intently into them.
Another step. And another.
Suddenly, he stopped. His mind cleared. What was he doing here? This was madness! He turned to walk away from the death trap.
But then, the singing started. A clear voice, as pure and sweet as honey, came wafting through the air to his ears. Where was that coming from? He stood still, straining to catch the voice again. There it was! He heard it once more, gaining in strength as it sang. The words were the most wonderful thing the man had ever heard, and he turned to see who was singing. No one but the red flames of the pit.
He set his book down as he stared into the inferno. His eyes took on a ghastly orange glow of their own. Through staring at the orange pit, they were beginning to become part of it. They drew him toward the cliff’s edge.
The man took a step closer. Now he could make out a dark shape on the opposite edge. It was tall, and he could see it silhouetted by the flames. Its mouth was opened in a posture of the most elegant singing. How could a mortal sing such words? Was it mortal? His gaze was fixed on the dark figure, so he paid no attention to the flames drawing closer with each step he took.
Mere feet away now, he was pulled ever closer to his eternal destruction. As he drew to the brink, he looked down, and he smiled. His eyes were now flaming balls of fire. His brain was fogged, but he knew that this was only the beginning of a great and glorious part of his life.
The singer had disappeared, but that didn’t matter. He could see beneath him the fiery inferno of the bottomless pit, and an insane desire pulled him towards it.
He smiled, and jumped.
Just as his feet left the edge, a powerful Hand grabbed his shirt and pulled him back. The man lashed out against the Hand. He would not be hindered! But the Hand held firm. Then with extraordinary strength, the Hand flung the man back, far far away away from the pit, away from its deadly grasp.
The Hand’s owner turned to face the pit. His face was steely as he spoke. “You will not have this man. I would rather give myself to you than let one of my own perish in your hideous flames.”
Even as he stared deep into the orange depths, his eyes did not change to reflect their color. Instead, they sparked a blue light that seemed to come from deep inside the man. Then without hesitation, he walked to the edge of the cliff, standing on the very brink. He felt no pull from the flames, he stood there of his own free will and in his right mind. “I know you think you have won. But you have not. You have lost.”
A slight smile tinged with sadness played about his mouth.
Then, he jumped.