Phobias, part II

Author’s note: This is part two of a short story; part one can be found here.

So eventually, after what could well have been years of climbing, I made it all the way out of that Hell-hole.  Heh, literally.  The climb was long, but the long thorns protruding from the sides of the cave made it fairly easy.  I really don’t think those devils were too intelligent.

After I hauled myself over the lip of the cave, panting, I found myself standing in a grassy field.  The grass was up to my thighs, and seemed to stretch on for miles and miles in all directions.  Off in one direction, I could make out a single tree, but that seemed to be it in terms of landmarks.  What else could I do?  I set off for that tree.

As I drew closer, I could see that the tree was a large oak, its branches spreading in all directions.  What type of oak?  Heck, I don’t know trees.  I only knew it was an oak from the acorns.  Swamp White Oak, maybe?  As I came closer, I could see that it also had something stretching straight up, high into the sky.  I couldn’t make out quite what it was, but it looked long and thin.

I spent a few days simply sitting at the foot of the tree, resting and enjoying the view.  Day and night certainly happened here.  During the day, the clouds were always white and puffy, and constantly changing shape, hypnotizing in their constant movement.  At night, the sky was alight with stars.  I could swear that every star in existence had to be shining down on me.  It was breathtaking.

Of course, even the most incredible sights can eventually grow to be mundane.  After some time, I felt the boredom begin to return.  Since I still couldn’t see anything else but the endless plain of grass, I started climbing the tree.

As I neared the crown of branches, I could finally make out the long, thin object rising from the center crown of the tree.  It was a ladder, silvery and almost ethereal in appearance.  I reached it without too much trouble, and began to climb, rung after rung.

Once again, I don’t know how long I climbed.  Day and night both passed several times, but I was focused on holding onto the thin and fragile rungs of the ladder, and couldn’t keep track.  I climbed through the clouds, until the tree was a speck down below.  Eventually, I was surrounded by clouds.  Every once in a while, a small hole opened up through which I could see the sea of green below, but most of the time I was shrouded in white.

Of course, the ladder didn’t go on forever.  It finally came to an end atop the clouds, a fluffy white plain.  I cautiously put a foot on the cloud, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it supported my weight, somewhat springily.  It felt like walking on a mattress.  A few hundred feet from the ladder, I could see a set of golden, intricately wrought gates.  I was momentarily annoyed that Heaven was so cliche, but I still headed for them.

When I reached the gates, I realized that they were closed.  They didn’t budge when I rattled them, but a nearby button looked suspiciously like a doorbell.  I pressed it.  And waited.

Part III can be found here!

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