The boy was standing at the temple's peak, gazing down the length of the house called the Sanctuary, down the wide valley to the gleaming expanse of ocean far below, and after a few moments, felt a voice laden with a sentimental dream behind his eyes. He listened to the words slide from his mind to his ears, from his ears to his heart, from his heart to his mind. He could see the Temple standing in the distance, a long stone structure in the shape of a triangle with a giant at the peak, a well at its base and a small collection of houses in between its base and the well. He thought about the strange, strange sights he had seen so far, one of them being the thousands of people living in the temple, doing their daily chores, praying to their God, worshipping him, getting married, giving birth to children, gestating, nursing, educating.

They are strange sights he thought, but far better strange sights than death, or torture, or hunger.

He felt all happy for them, happy that he had searched for their peace, happy that his search for their peace had led him to this place, where strange sights where not strange at all.

Then he thought about the grey man, the old man. He wondered if he had found peace himself. There is no way to be sure, he thought. I pray for him. I pray he finds it. I pray he is happy.

There was one more sight he had seen, one more sight that had changed his beliefs, changed his life forever.

No, If you want to know about that sight, you will have to read the full story.


The full story is teased below, after some information about the story sent to us by the author.

Five years before, I made my way down toward the ocean for the first time. I made it all the way to the desert, lying between the ocean and the bay, but at the ocean’s edge I saw a small group of people. They were people I would have never have encountered should I have run across them in the mountain, but down along the edge of the ocean, people were everywhere. I appeared to be alone, but then someone pushed one of the children into the water. This made me feel very uneasy, so I decided to leave the area.

Two days later, the same person tried to entice another one of the children into the water. When that person saw me, he too decided to leave. I felt the three months of solitude were coming to an end, but then people started leaving in droves, possibly because I was there (there were other people in the desert instead), possibly because of the sound of the ocean (it always sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard before), or possibly because of what happened to the people who entered the ocean. I don’t know.

My experience with the ocean was not pleasant. I suffered in the desert for four days after leaving, because I was very thirsty and I had no water. I was too weak to go back up the mountain, so the only water I had was the local fresh water from the ocean. Only a few people had been swimming near the edge of the ocean, those who got more food from the sea than those on land and who didn’t need the too often used freshwater lake. His food was gone and he was clearly avoiding the ocean.

After four days of thirst and hunger, with the desert seeming to get hotter and the sky getting more and more hazy with dust, I decided to go back. I bought some very expensive and rare flowers from the town and I set out with the flowers near my face and the ocean’s edge. I got heat stroke before I even started, but I could see the ocean and already imagined it in front of me, and that sight alone made me go farther and farther. I swam into the ocean and pulled myself to the surface.

I coughed and spluttered and floundered and hurled, and all I could do was wonder why I still held the flowers in my hand when I could barely hold my head above the waves much less keep swimming.

Unsteadily, I started swimming north. I could see faint specks on the desert’s horizon and the specks could only be houses. I swam all I could and started to hallucinate, constantly moving the waves into the shapes of things.

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