We live in a world of darkness, unilluminated by sun or star, and the darkness becomes a vast screen upon which we project our fears, an infinite canvas where we construct disasterpieces of our possible failures. Against the darkness there is only one defense, and so we light great pyres, monuments of fire and light, and we huddle there, together, in the ring of light that keeps out whatever it is we put in the darkness.

There are lost souls who wander out of the ring of light, fools who wonder what is in the darkness, what the darkness is. There are always those who don't listen to sense and wisdom and leave the right of light, who turn their back on the fire, and venture outwards. They wander alone, stumble and grope their way through the inky wilderness, blindly picking their way over terrains they will never see. Sometimes they will hear another - footsteps, ragged breathing - and they will wonder if it is a human like them or something never meant to be seen in the light. Sometimes they will brush hands with another person, and sometimes those two will go on together. If they are lucky, they might find a few more, and each holding onto the other, they will find their way together.

Or perhaps they perish, alone. Perhaps the darkness does not give back the lost souls. 


What I do know is that everything dies, and fire is no exception. As the wood turns to ash, as the fire burns low, those inside the light will feed it, more fuel, more light, but nothing can last forever. As the fire dies we will grow more desperate, we will burn more and more of what we have to keep the darkness at bay. As the fire dies the ring of light will shrink, and we will fight over who may stay in the land of fire and light, and who will be left outside, to be taken by the darkness. We will burn everything we have and it will not be enough, because like everything, the fire will die.

And then, there will be darkness.

When the fire goes out, when the light has gone, those who dwelt within the ring of fire and light, who lived their whole life seeing, those people will fall apart. They will be helpless. They will be afraid. They will clutch at embers wishing for a bit of light, unable to accept what has happened. 

This story can end one way or another, depending on what you believe is in the darkness. If you believe it is everything we put in it- our fears, our failures, our ever-present doom - then this will be the end. As the fire dies, so too does humanity, a tiny star that burned and then blinked out of existence, as unknown to the universe as a single cell is unknown to us. If you believe that life lives only inside the light, where we are comforted by certainty and the safety of numbers, then this will be our end.

On the other hand, it is possible that when the light burns low, those who wandered into the darkness will return. Those who spent lives without light, who never took for granted what was before them and had to find each step on their own, those people would not want to live in the light. It would burn their eyes, bleach out the subtle vision acquired by years of never knowing. Perhaps when the fires burn low, the people who wandered in the darkness will return, and they will take the hand of their lost brothers and sisters, and lead them into the unknown. 

And perhaps those people will start new fires, and the cycle will begin again. Or perhaps they will keep walking, a great mass of joined hands, and journey towards unknown lands together, forever. 

I suppose that's up to you.