When The Eldest began to pass away, the younger ones sought to take the last light of The Universe which he guarded closely. The Man, The Woman, The Girl and The Boy set off through the darkness, towards the pinprick of dim grey which stood out stark amidst the endless black.
The four felt, stumbled, and struggled blind as they had forever. Until today, the small pinprick of light would only appear occasionally when the eldest allowed it to be seen, as if to give depth and distance to their blindness.
Upon reaching him they found The Eldest faintly outlined with last light cradled on his chest. To them it appeared to be a swirl of smoky glow, swimming in an invisible spherical boundary like a small school of ethereal fish. It cast itself through the darkness and projected a static halo within their vision. All four reached towards it and touched it, feeling its warmth spread through their limbs.
Oh, how rich they felt, to see the lines and patterns in their own flesh, something that they had never seen before and something most never would. However, the burden of bearing the last light of The Universe caused each to hesitate on lifting it.
Eventually The Man reached for it, took it in his hands and cradled it at his breast, causing the halo to break and the warm pool of light to concentrate only on where he faced and on his own chest.
“I must protect this light just as The Eldest did, keep it safe and keep it for us,” The Man said.
“I don’t think we can do it alone,” The Woman said. “We should share it with The Neighbour and The Friend, they will help us to keep it safe from The Stranger and The Enemy.”
The Man pulled the light in closer and it dimmed as he did so. “You’re foolish to trust The Neighbour and The Friend, they are kin with The Stranger and The Enemy”
The Boy and The Girl watched on with the powerless intrigue that spectators share. It was not their time to carry the light. The Boy wondered what bad things might happen if The Stranger and The Enemy got the light. Meanwhile The Girl found herself fascinated and enthralled by that swirling orb and the arms of The Man which she could now see for the first time in her life as they wrapped in shining coils around the darkening globe.
Their time with the light had drawn others towards their glow. The Man set off, striding through the dark with newfound ease thanks to the sickly beam that stretched from his cradled arms. The other three followed.
The Woman tugged at him. “We can’t keep it safe, we can keep the light for ourselves but if we let the The Friend and The Neighbour follow us and light their way, they will keep us from harm.”
“They would sooner tear us apart for this precious dying light and kill it for good,” The Man growled, wrapping his grip on it tighter and tighter until it was barely visible.
The Woman lunged at him and started tearing at his arms. “You’ll destroy it!” she cried out.
“And you’ll let others destroy us with it!” he shouted back at her.
The two fell to the ground, ripping, tearing, and biting, a writhing single beast of violent growls and curses that echoed in the deep fissures that develop in one’s heart through a lifetime of onward struggle, cooperation, and love.
In the struggle the light fell from them, stricken and pale. A single dark grey strand lurched nauseated and alone inside its transparent shell. It came to rest at the feet of The Girl and The Boy, who knelt to try and bathe their faces in warmth that so quickly turned to cold.
“It’s going to disappear, isn’t it,” The Girl said, scooping up the fragile thing.
She raised it to her face before extending her arms and offering it to The Boy, wanting him to feel it for himself before it died. As they made the exchange, the light brightened, the strands of light multiplied and found some vigour in their movement.
The Boy took it from her, captivated by the sight of his own hands and the warm feeling he felt spreading to his very core.
“It’s warmer now; here, you feel it again,” he said, handing it to The Girl.
They made the transaction once again and the light grew to a size and brightness greater than it had been with The Eldest when he died. In its glow they could now see the silhouettes of The Man and The Woman on their hands and knees, panting and hurt but equally enthralled by the light.
The Girl offered it to The Woman, who held it in her palms, but at an arm’s length; a smile could be seen spreading across her face and a tear reflected the light as it grew brighter once again. She quickly passed it back to The Man.
As its rightful owner by all laws and traditions, The Man began to pull it closer to his bosom, but hesitated as the light faltered. Instead he passed it back to The Girl, who had shown she could keep the last light of The Universe alive.
She stood and raised the glowing beacon above her head, to light the way for all those struggling in the dark. First came The Friend, who passed it to The Neighbour, who as predicted passed it to The Stranger, who gave it to The Enemy. By the time The Enemy passed it back to The Girl, the light was too bright and too large to be handled by any one person. Its powerful golden strands pulsed and spun with excitement.
Together the eight of them lifted it up and gave the light to The Sky, who gave it to The World, who gave it back to The Universe.
M.Sherlock writes from London, England.