Anthony and the Alchemist

This was a prompt I ran across on Facebook a while back. I hope you enjoy it.

Anthony planted his left foot firmly into the packed soil in front of the imposing door, placing his right shoulder against the wood, anticipating the effort he was sure would be required to pass into the alchemist’s laboratory. Taking a breath to fill his chest for the work, he grunted and pushed with his entire body. To his surprise, the door gave little resistance. It swung open, but only partway, as wood met stone only about a foot and a half beyond the opening. 

“Strange,” he said to himself. “Why would there be such a large door where there is no room to open it?”

Peering into the narrow opening, Anthony saw nothing but darkness. It was a profound darkness, one that seemed so powerful it might cast a shadow from itself onto the sunbathed earth upon which Anthony stood. Despite the forbidding nature of the passage, Anthony pressed on, squeezing his body through the opening and into the confining space beyond.

He was barely clear of the door when it slammed shut behind him, leaving him alone in a darkness so intense he felt it must be penetrating his very bones. He shivered. Was he cold? He couldn’t be sure. The darkness overpowered all other senses.

By slow degrees, he became aware that the door behind him and the wall before him were fading away. Either they were moving more distant or else they were becoming less solid, less real. He couldn’t be sure which, as the darkness commanded all his mind could process. 

Then, the light came.

It was at first a pinpoint, high above Anthony’s head. Had the darkness not been so complete, he would have scarcely noticed it. As it were, the dot was a sun in Anthony’s otherwise empty universe. The light illuminated his arms, his legs, his torso, his simple tunic, and the canteen strapped around his neck, but nothing else was visible. Alone. Floating in a universe of nothing, Anthony began to panic. The ground had fallen away. He was suspended in space with nothing to perceive other than the growing star above. 

It was then the alchemist spoke.

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