One day I was out walking. I was walking among many other people. There were people all around me. We walked all in the same direction. Then I noticed that there were men and women with faces completely covered, dressed all in black. It was as if they were herding all of us towards what seemed to be a compound. Many of those around me did not seem to notice these masked persons.
The compound-like area was difficult to see clearly. There seemed to be a fog and an eerie darkness surrounding the place. Many of those with whom I walked did not seem to see the compound either. It was as if they were blind to the blackness and darkness towards which we were heading.
We were herded into the compound, but the people dressed all in black made it seem as though we went in of our own volition. They opened the gate before us and shut it behind. We were shut in; trapped. All was suddenly dark as night. There was no more sunshine as there had been just outside the compound. We were plunged into utter darkness with no light of stars or moon because of the thick fog which hung over that place.
Once we were all inside everyone dispersed and each went his own way, not caring what happened to the others. I could no longer see those with whom I had been walking. I began to cautiously explore that place of despair; being wary of every sight and sound should something come out to attack me.
There were people scattered here and there. Some sat and stared wide eyed too afraid to sleep yet too tired to stand or walk about. But even then I could not see each face clearly on account of the darkness all around. Even though I could not clearly see many of them, I could hear them. Some wept softly, afraid to make too much noise, lest some evil creature come out of the darkness to devour them. Some were beyond tears and only sat or stood and stared around them in utter despair with no hope left in their eyes.
There were some who had been in that blackness much longer than I and when I saw them, what I was able to see of them was that they were covered in dirt and blood as if they had recently been in a battle. It was difficult to determine whether the blood was their own or belonged to someone, or something else, with which they had fought. I wondered what sort of place this was where so many were hopeless and lost.
After walking for a while and taking in what surroundings I could, I noticed a row of small wooden huts with eerie red-yellow lights above the doorways. These were the only lights in the place. Outside of one of these huts was a girl about my own age and stature. She looked to be deep in thought so I did not disturb her as I stooped to enter the hut. Immediately inside the doorway was a set of stairs that led downwards. At the bottom of the steps was a platform and beyond that a very deep pit. If this abyss had a bottom at all, it could not be seen. There was another red-yellow light above this pit.
To the left of the platform was another set of stairs leading farther down. These steps led to a room full of stalls in which people cowered in fear. The outside of these stalls were also covered in dirt and blood, as well as the people huddled inside. This place was full of fear and despair, so much so that one could almost smell it.
I returned to the platform where, now, there were four or five people staring down into the pit. I stood back a little way from them as they peered over the edge. One of them threw a rock into the pit and all waited breathlessly to see what would happen. As it fell, the rock hit the sides of the deep cavern. Then came the most terrifying and unearthly rumbling and roaring imaginable and we were not a little startled. Up out of the abyss came the most colossal and ugliest head that could ever be thought of. It was the head of a great Dragon. I began to slowly and conspicuously back my way up the stairs to the outside. The Dragon raised its head and snapped its jaws. Then it lunged and devoured one of those standing there. I turned and went up the steps as quickly as I could. I did not want to see more people devoured.
I came out into the darkness of that evil place and those who had escaped the Dragon followed quickly behind me and ran as far from that place as they could.
I did not run. The girl who had been standing there when I entered the hut was now sitting with her knees held up tight to her chest and her head resting on her knees with her face down. I couldn’t leave her there alone. Something held me to her. She did not run away so I decided to talk with her for a while.
I stood in front of the girl and peered around the corner of the hut and I saw three small red dragons huddled there, but they did not attack me. They seemed to be afraid; I know not what of.
I asked the girl “Is there any hope?”
At first she looked at me with a shocked expression as if there was no point to asking that question at all; as if the answer was obvious. Then her expression changed to one of complete and utter despair as she said softly, “No, there is no hope.”
Then she laid her head on her knees again, her eyes devoid of any tears to shed.
I felt a great deal of pity for this girl because I recognized that there was not even one small drop of hope left in that poor soul. I wanted to give her what I could to help her to hope again.
I stooped down and as I crouched in front of her, she lifted her eyes to mine. I looked directly into those despairing blue eyes and I said to her, “There is always hope.”
After I said this, I was filled with a burst of unimaginable hope and fearlessness in the face of all the darkness and dread that surrounded us. I felt as though there was light within me even though there was darkness all around. Then I knew that with this strength that I had been given why I was there. I was given this strength and fearlessness so that I would have the courage to face the darkness and despair and lead people out of it and bring the light back into the lives of those who were trapped in that evil place. Hope has the ability to reign in the midst of darkness even if only one person has the light that hope brings. That one person can spread that light to others, while continuing to shine and refusing to give in to the darkness of despair.