The young man walked from one end of the pit to the other as the old man followed. The old man continued to talk as they walked, and the young man continued not to listen.
“The say the grass is always greener on the other side,” the old man said as they embarked on their journey, “but I always ask, ‘Where are the dogs shittin’?’”
Sighing, the young man didn’t care what this meant anymore. He felt blissful in his ignorance, freedom in his lack of emotional attachment to the words of this senile old fool. At the same time, knowing there was someone else alive in this desolate landscape did help him feel a little more comfortable. The only other living thing he had seen in this place had died on his chest, and despite his insane musings on the subject, the old man kept the young man sane. It felt as though the young man channeled his crazy into the older man. For that opportunity he was somewhat grateful.
They reached the other end of the crater. As he looked up the wall of the pit, the young man was surprised by the features he previously was unable to discern from the other side. This side of the crater was far less steep and much less rocky. He wished he had tried climbing this side first, but then he wouldn’t have met his current company.
“Maybe you should have tried climbing this side first,” the old man said, leaving the young man to question again whether being along would be a bad thing. He looked around. The air was still. The only time the air had stirred actually was after the sparrow had died, he recalled. He didn’t necessarily wish for it to return though. It’s presence, and the timing thereof, had creeped him out. Besides, while he might be trapped in a desert like landscape, it wasn’t hot like a desert. Nor was it frigid like a tundra. That was the one pleasant thing about this crater: the moderate environment.
That was no reason to stay though, and he was hoping that now he may actually be able to leave. He hadn’t forgotten about the invisible ceiling he had faced before, but he hoped it was more a manifestation of his imagination than a real thing. Or a supernatural thing. He didn’t think he believed in that kind of thing before, and if he had he didn’t now. It had to be psychosomatic. This time he assured himself that he would not succumb to it.
He looked back toward the other side of the valley. It stretched on for miles upon miles. How far he must have come seemed unfathomable to him to the point that it felt like a trick of the eyes. Still, he knew he had come a long way, he just hoped he had gone as far in mind as he had in body. He felt as though he had.
He turned back around to face his new challenge. “I think I’m ready to give it another go,” he said to the old man as he faced the rock wall.
“Are you sure?” the old man responded.
“Yeah, I think so,” he responded, looking back at the old man.
“Well, then Godspeed ya, son.”
“Hopefully, I won’t be back, but if I make it up and over and I find someone that can help, I’ll be sure to send ‘em back for ya.”
“I ain’t worried.”
The young man took a couple of deep breaths. What would his strategy be? Last time he had been climbing up rocks and couldn’t move very fast. Maybe speed had partly led to his failure before, perhaps if he moved faster he could avoid the mental block that had prevented him from making it up the wall before.
He would definitely be able to move faster up this wall though, so it seemed his strategy would be simple. With one more deep breath he sprinted up the side of the canyon wall. He felt as though he passed the altitude he had reached on the other side and the blue was the limit; then the great beyond slammed shut.