The foggy green glow of the old mercury lamps was far off to them now. They were on the edge of complete darkness with only the vague tinge of the lamps to orient them. It didn’t matter as the lights,or lack thereof, would not help their plight.

Following the shrunken, dark figure out into the vast isolation that was the outdoors was the first in a series of mistakes that evening. They lived past the towns, past the barely paved country road. The lived in the past and this very present situation confounded them. How could they be so lost in the night and in this world? Had their asceticism failed them for good?

Helen looked up, praying that a break in the thin fog would point them somewhere safe. The distant inhuman howling wasn’t something she’d ever heard anywhere before and it curled her toes in fear. The whispers from the others grew louder as they all huddled, as if by a silent command, on the dirty mound she stood on. They talked now in stammering fragments, each one cutting off the other with unfinished thoughts that all went nowhere. Helen knew in that moment that all her choices led her to this crisis. She had to flee this group shackled by the deep root of paranoia and a compete lack of practical skills. They had disengaged from modernity and modernity had mysteriously lured them out into the fields to make a point: You are desperately alone here worshipping simplicity and your life, full of possibilities, wonder and potential, is elsewhere.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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