The Thousand-Mile Voyage

By Gregory Halley

Onto the barren wasteland he stepped, beginning what was to be the most arduous journey of his life. The clouds broke just as he began. What would have otherwise been a cool day would now be blistering hot. He considered returning to safety, but the reward was too great to hold off any longer. It’s funny how powerful a motivator food can be. Across the dangerous crag was a lush forest brimming with delectable cuisine. He would be well-fed for months if only he could reach it. It was now or never.

Behind him he dragged all his life’s possessions, his back straining under the weight. He couldn’t leave them behind as scavengers and opportunists would surely snatch them, leaving him nothing but a hollow shell of his former self. They meant everything to him, and so he pulled.

The jagged rocks were unforgiving. He was assaulted by horrid flying monstrosities who wanted his head. These hunters may not have been a problem for stronger travelers, but he was no fighter. The only defense he had was to hide among his possessions to appear as a derelict junk heap. He held his breath in suspense each time. Would it be enough to stave off the pursuers? Fortunately, none were curious enough to investigate. He longed for the days where he need not risk his life to survive in this cruel world. But in this cruel world, those days would never come. Instead he marched, and he strained, and he ached, and he struggled, and he toiled, and he slogged, and he feared, and he hoped, and he prayed. For one thousand miles across the barrens. 

Then he made it. He carefully traversed across a final deadly crevasse and felt a gleeful chill as he touched the fresh soil. The sensation of dirt on his flesh was one he desperately longed for. Surrounding him on all sides were bounties of food unparalleled to anything he’d seen before. He ate to his heart’s content, brimming with joy and wishing for nothing more in the world. It was difficult for him to fully accept that he had indeed survived the trials of the wasteland. He was safe. Perhaps there would be more journeys ahead in time, but that was not his concern. For now, he reveled.

After all, only the bravest snails cross the sidewalk.

                                                                      *   *   *

Gregory Halley is a young and aspiring writer currently based in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. He has previously self-published a speculative fiction / horror short story on Amazon and Audible (self-narrated!) called Ever Downward. He is extremely passionate about writing and would love to share his stories with you!

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