An OrdealMature

The cliff up to the road was out of the question. It was muddy, slippery, and dark. Sara had done some amateur rock climbing when she was younger, but a slope like that with one broken arm and a child was impossible. So she had to walk through the fields. She remembered them from the drive, endless plains of grass that went on for miles. It was hard, plunging into something you know you may not come out of. But it was for her child, and she needed to hurry, so she began without hesitation.

The ground was viscous fluid, and pulled at her feet as she moved forward. Soft sucking noises emanated as she pulled up out of it and pushed back in. The softness of it was maddening, walking through it it felt as if you were going nowhere. The beginning of an ordeal like this is by no means the hardest part, but it is the toughest to maintain. You can see all you have to do ahead of you and it is scary and foreboding. If it was just her out there, struggling in the muck, Sara would have given up relatively quickly. She had a strong will, but the exhaustion and pain would have been too much. But right now, her child needed her, and so she could not stop.

After ten minutes of walking, she was soaked to the bone. Her clothes were heavy and wet, making it harder to move forward. She was so cold, all she wanted was to lay down in the mud and give up, but Josh stayed in the front of her mind, urging her on. The rain was coming harder now, showing no signs of stopping. 

She couldn't feel her broken arm anymore, it was just a hot, throbbing pain that reverberated throughout her entire body. She kept her eyes off of it though, not wanting to lose morale. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

Everything was so heavy. Her body felt like a deadweight, her legs two small twigs that were about to snap. Every step hurt. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

Her lungs began to burn, not enough oxygen getting to them. Soon she was mouth breathing violently, gasping for air. It felt like drinking boiling water. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought.

The lactic acid began to build up in her leg muscles. Pain flared up when she stretched out for another step. It would be so easy, to lay down and be done with it all. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, but there was nothing to see. All there was was blackness as far as the eye could see. It was demoralizing, not having a goal or a right direction. It made it feel all so hopeless and worthless. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

A loud ringing began in her ears. It was tinny and shrill, piercing her consciousness with a knifelike precision. It hurt and disoriented her. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

Her legs went numb. They were two metal poles, devoid of all feeling. All she could feel was the pressure on her hips when they sank into the soft ground. It made it all so much worse. But she pushed on. Josh, she thought. 

And so it went. She walked at a steady pace while her consciousness and stamina slowly deteriorated. Continuing like this, she would eventually fall, and then it would be all over for Sara and little Josh. She knew this. She couldn't let that happen. She pushed on. For Josh. 

The fields began to wane and the ground got a little more solid. However, this was a blessing in disguise. After almost an hour of walking, her legs had gotten used to the passive ground. So now, when she walked onto something more solid, everything got a bit wobbly. She stopped for a second, with a deep breath rebalanced, and without further pause continued on, at a more vigorous pace. 

She was a sight and a half. It was evident her clothes once had colors, but now they were different shades of brown, muddy streaks across the fabric and her skin. A tangle of wet, wild hair fell across her face. Bright eyes shined from the mess, containing fierce determination. One arm was horribly twisted and dark smears of red decorated her sleeve around it. The other clutched a small bundle, containing a small child. The child was crying, screaming, but it could not be heard over the pounding of the rain. 

Sara burst out of the dirt onto a road. Her legs shook again, and she nearly fell. Another deep breath, more rebalancing. She knew if she fell, there would be no getting back up. She looked up and down the road, picked a direction and took it. It was an old country road late at night, there would be no cars. She would have to make it to civilization.

She walked for hours. It was not as bad as the mud, which was an anaerobic, desperate battle, but it was still difficult. The density of the asphalt hammered each step into her worn frame. The wetness of the surface made sure she could not tread without abandon. Fatigue was quickly catching up, she was not far off from failure. She pressed on. 

Her spirit was failing when she turned a bend and saw lights. It was the border of a city on the faraway horizon. It was still more then a mile away, but it gave her hope and new energy. She strived towards it, at a more brisk pace. 

At last, civilization. She walked through the suburbs, looking for help. Someone, anyone, to call somebody, to assist her. She was fading fast, so close and yet so far. Everyone was sleeping, it was late, cold, and stormy. Was this to be her fate? To die here after she had braved a field of endless mud and a never ending road? She hoped, with all her being, it was not.

Then, there! A dark form, hurrying away from her. Whoever it was, they had the right idea, getting out of this storm to somewhere safe. Sara almost missed it, but saw the movement out of the corner of her eye. She yelled at it, but it did not turn. The pounding of the rain was too great. She yelled again, still nothing. The shape was getting farther and farther away. She screamed at it, using all the energy she had left. It did not turn.

She sank to her knees. It was all over, every last bit of it done. It was the worst thing that had ever happened to her, and it was looking like it would be the last. Then she looked down at the bundle.

The noise she made wasn't human, it was barely animal. It was wild, and horrifying. To hear it one would think the noise came from some sort of monster in pain. A guttural howl, released to the heavens. Her child, her Josh was lifeless, unmoving, and cold. He was gone. 

She crumpled, not caring anymore, about anything. The last thing she saw before everything faded was the shadow from before, rushing towards her, glowing star in hand.

The End

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