Eyes Upon the Abyss
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The Journal of the Walk, Monday, October 23rd

It was growing darker the further I walked. The previous trail I had followed vanishes at my heels with each step further into the night. The trees are tall, imposing things. Branches full of needles pierce the dark. Fallen ones, browned, crunch underneath my footfalls. But this is barely audible over the din that hangs above my head.

The sky is loud with wingbeats. The cawing of crows. They swarm the heavens in a crowd that blocks the beams of the moon from view. Hiding it it with the clusters of their shadowed feathers.

It would give most people pause to see such a thing, something that could so easily be seen as Omen, but perhaps I am not most people; for I continue forward. I continue forward even as the light of the stars fade under the feathers.

Only once do I actually pause, when a feather drifts down in front of me. A crow lands- it's once-owner perhaps. It stares at me, tilting its head this way and that. Squawks with a tone that someone with the perchance to personify would call 'fearful'. I wonder if it is trying to warn me. I crease my brow, and hesitate.

I find myself standing at a precipice, for just beyond this crow is a true darkness. It is not merely the absence of light but the absence of all. There is Nothing beyond the crow, and the crow stands like it is the sole guardian. Watching, waiting.

Waiting for me?

Instead of staring longer at the crow, I raise my gaze to stare into the Nothing.

When there is no light for the eye to see, the mind struggles. It squirms in that lack of visual input, tries to create writhing things out of the dark. It drives a deep wrongness into your core for you do not know what is there. You cannot know what is there. It almost hurts, trying to squint into the nothing. I can feel my heartbeat rise into my throat. Blood in my ears. The cawing of the crows has faded. It prevails into that deafening sort of silence.

All that there is is the single crow before me. The crow and me.

What do you seek from attempting to stare..? It is not words. It is nothing audible. It is a deep vibration. An impression of something but not anything. I do not know what speaks to me. Perhaps nothing does.

I struggle to bring words to mind, my throat feels dry- but I manage a: "…is someone there?"
A foolish call, really- for no one is there. I'm not even answering the proposed question. And the response reflects my immediate thoughts.

No. Nothing is there. It sounds almost exasperated, if such a thing can.

I glance down. The crow is gone. It is now just me and a wall of Nothing within the dark woods.
"Then what do I…" I clear my throat, shake out my head, "then what do I speak with? I cannot speak to nothing, can I?"

But you do. You do speak to Nothing.

"A figment of the mind, or a concept?"

Are those not the same? Are concepts not borne of mind? Not brought forth by perception of what surrounds?

"…Hm. I suppose they are similar. Perhaps not the same, but similar. Concepts have root in reality, the mind does not always produce such things. It is not always rational." Is this rational? To continue to speak in the dark? I do not know if anything else lurks here.

The sound of wing beats, of the caws, are gone. The swarms of crows are gone, but the moon stays unseen. The stars stay silenced in their twinkling. Only now do the woods become unnerving to me. Only now do I shiver.

"How can I speak to you, if you are nothing?"

Perhaps there is some Nothing within you, wanderer, something that connects you and I.

"That wouldn't make any sense." I reply, squinting, "I'm something. Someone. I think I would know if I wasn't, such a thing is not easy to exactly overlook."

I could swear the wall shifts, but perhaps my mind is playing tricks on me within the night. I break my gaze away from the wall. Down to the dirt at my feet. There are pine needles amongst it. The dark feather from the now-vanished crow lay between my feet. With my eyes turned away from the blank nothingness I am able to take in every piece of detail about it. The intricate vanes that branch out from the quill, the way that it shines of purple- of blue- of green in the low remaining light that the Nothing has not consumed. There are little bits of fluff at the feather's base, where it had connected to the downy body of the bird.

It all stands out so stark to me that it's almost startling.

Wanderer… tell me something.


How can you be so sure that you are something?

I furrow my brow, take a step back. "I exist and you do not. I live and breathe within these worlds. That makes me something."

But I too exist. I exist in the absence. I exist within the space between breath, within the blinks of everything. How do you know you are not an absence where there should be something, instead of being something?

This gives me pause, attempting to wrap my mind around the words. The Nothing continues before I get to reply,

I have seen your travels. The trail you walk. You watch, author, you speak but nothing changes. It doesn't change when you are there, it does not change when you are not. What is the purpose of your journeys? You seem incapable of interacting with what you see. You are an observer, watching the world behind a plane of glass. But what is behind the glass?

If it had teeth, it would have bared them.

Or are you naught but smoke and a mirror?

"I…" my mouth opens and closes, I curl my fingers into my palms.

"I may be an observer," I say, "but I am also an author. You said it yourself."

No response, but it seems to acknowledge this, if such a thing is possible.

"Then that makes me something. While perhaps my direct actions are nothing, the words I put upon the page- the words of the things I have seen, of those I have talked to- they are far from nothing." I reach my hand into my pocket, I grasp the heavy pen that lay within- wooden and warm.

"What I write upon the page makes others think, makes others reflect. It makes them wonder. That is not an absence. That is substance. Story. That is knowledge to be granted, to be gifted, so that those who read them can learn."

An inhale, the feather on the ground quivers with a light breeze.

"And that is how I am something."

There is a pause. Silence. It is not the deafening silence of the Nothing, but the silence of the woods. The faint chirping of crickets, of cicadas.

The distant caw of a crow.

When I raise my gaze from the feather, the wall of Nothing is gone. Well… perhaps not gone, but it has faded into the darkness of the woods. The light from the moon begins to filter through the needles of the stretching pines.

The stars glimmer overhead.

I kneel down and pick up the feather, turn it over in my fingers, watch the moonlight dance across its surface.

I tuck it into my pocket, and continue along the way.

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