The Bridge

They say no one’s been to the other side.
They say no one knows where it leads.
They say it’s impossible to cross, and many have fallen to their death.
They say I shouldn’t even think about it…

But I don’t like to be told what to do.

I stand at the edge of the cliff and look down. There’s a sheer drop off, and no one is sure how deep it goes. Fog clouds the basin, but there’s a distant sound of running water. I throw a rock and listen for it to hit the bottom, but it never happens.

I shrug and step back. I’m alone at the edge of the forest. No one dared come even this far with me. I thought they’d want to see me off, but not even Jared wanted to accompany me. But that was fine with me. I’d take enough pictures to prove I had made it and then maybe they’d come and see me do it a second time.

The bridge itself didn’t look like anything special. Wooden planks secured together by rope. Not even rotted away in spots. It swayed gently in the breeze, the ropes twisting and creaking. I stared across to the other side, trying to make out something in the shadows. But there was nothing but darkness.

I took a step out onto the first plank and tested my weight. The ropes pulled, but it held.

“Here we go.” I gritted my teeth and began the crossing.

One step in front of the other, the planks creaked louder, but I felt secure. I gripped the ropes at either side, keeping a steady pace. Halfway across, I looked down.

I expected my gut to clench or fear to grip my chest, but I had no reaction. The fog covered everything below me and the lack of bottom made the danger unreal to my adrenaline riddled brain. I laughed and then looked back over my shoulder.

And there was the fear. Because behind me was not what I’d walked away from. Behind me was a shadow. No sun, no trees, no bridge.

My grip faltered, and my foot slid between a gap in the planks. But I wouldn’t give up now. I couldn’t.

My hands tightened on the rails, and I took a deep breath before regaining my footing. I kept my eyes straight ahead and convinced myself that it had been my imagination. I would make it across, and then I would go back.

After a few more steps, the planks rattled, and the wind picked up. But I kept my eyes on the opposite edge. I was so close now.

I fought against the wind and the unstable bridge and reached the other side. But as soon as I had my feet on solid ground, I knew something was incredibly wrong. I was cold all over, and I couldn’t see anything ahead of me in the trees. But I could hear something…

What was that… a hiss? A groan? The loud yawn of some giant creature?

“Hello, there,” a soft voice echoed around me and chill bumps rose on my arms.

“Uh, hello? Who are you?” I was ashamed to hear my voice shaking.

“Who am I?” a giggle that reminded me of someone I knew… “I am…you.”

The shadows flowed out of the trees like water, and I didn’t have time to scream before they consumed me.

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