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The Chosen One

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“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their mind”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

…..

Somewhere in the not too distant future….

You’re waiting in line, waiting for a claw machine to place you in a hole with others who have chosen the same profession, whether it be custodian, teacher, welder, chef, or cop. Any person with a job is picked up and placed in a 250-foot hole with all those who have chosen the same fate. On the way down, the light dissipates, and darkness begins to take over. Platforms line the way down in a circular, spiraling position, each 3 feet wide by 5 feet long, wide enough for any individual to use if they are young and strong enough to jump to the next one. At the bottom, there is a spiral staircase leading to the first platform.

Once the new recruits are dropped in, they are given the rundown of their fate. They will be paid a starting wage, which isn’t enough, and the people who look down on them are the ones who control the money and labor. As new groups are dropped off, the masses surround them and greet them, telling them exactly how things work. They’re told that it isn’t that bad, and once work is done for the day, they can use the money they’ve earned to buy everything they need to survive. They encourage the new members, assuring them that it isn’t that bad, and urge them to find a partner to bring more meaning to their lives when they aren’t working.”

On this day, a new group of 10 members joined Division IV which is classified as public works. After being informed of the rules, one of the members inquired about the staircase “Why does no one ever use the staircase and try to get out?” he asks one of the older gentlemen.

“There’s no safety.” The old man looks up “If you try to climb out and you fall from high enough you are guaranteed certain death. No man sees it as worth it. Plus, if you crawl out what will you do and how will you survive? It’s really not that bad down here once you will get used to it.”

The man stood in silence. All he could do is stare at the wall and see that the platforms were not that far apart. The risk didn’t appear to be as improbable for a young man as the older gentleman was making it seem.

Later that night the young man gathered around the fire with a group of four men. He began a speech that he believed it was possible to get out. He stood and raised his hands with passion and paced in front of the men. His shadow grew tall on the rock wall behind him. The wind gusted and lifted the fire high into the air as he finished. The other four men were enamored and agreed they could escape. They decided the five of them should try to climb the wall and reach the top. They were all young and knew it was possible, but they all seemed to have a different level of confidence.

The next morning the five men woke up before daybreak when the cave was pitch black. They filled their canteens with water and made their way to the staircase, others took notice and as they approached the stone stairs. A crowd began to form from the middle of the pit to the staircase. Whispers turned the plain talk, the men could hear the chatter, they’d never seen anyone climb out the pit and the few that tried were dead.

The 5th person who appeared to be the least sure looked around “This is impossible.” and joined the crowd.”

Just before the first step an influx of people was gathering around the staircase. Four men stood in front of the first step with their arms crossed. They weren’t physically blocking the men but wanted them to understand this was a dumb idea. That even if they made it out, they would starve out in the world with no place to sleep or make money.

This discouraged the 4th man in line, and he told the other three “What’s the point fellas they are right.” and joined the crowd.

Three men remained, they pushed through the crowd and began to make their way to the top of the staircase. The crowd gathered at the bottom and screams erupt: Your idiots get back down here. Do you think your better than us? You must think your do good to be down here.

The three men stood at the top of the staircase. They began to reach for the steps. The third man grew nervous amidst the crowd. He feared they wouldn’t accept him if he attempted to climb. Unsure of the feasibility, he continued walking towards the first platform until a man grabbed his wrist and said, ‘Don’t be foolish. You’ll ascend 50 feet and fall flat on your face. It will hurt, and you could die. Is that what you want?’ The man looked at him and replied, ‘No, I don’t have kids yet. I don’t want to die. I have so much I want to accomplish. The risk isn’t worth it.’ Slowly, he descended from the platform and rejoined the crowd.”

Once he was digested, he began to discourage the last two guys, yelling and escalating, growing angrier with the crowd as the men prepared to make their leap for the first platform. Just as the two men were getting ready to jump, the entire crowd began to chant at them, “You can’t do it, you can’t do it,” repeatedly. Despite the crowd’s taunts, the two men retained their confidence and successfully jumped to the first platform, no longer on the stairs.

The crowd erupted into an outrageous frenzy, resembling a riot, and began to stack on each other’s shoulders to reach the two remaining men as they leaped towards the second platform. Twelve feet in the air, men with rabid eyes and a crazed expression on their faces seized their feet, determined to prevent their escape. There was no sign of mercy in their eyes; they were on a mission to detain these men. They grabbed hold of the two men just as they attempted to jump for the third platform, which was five feet above the second. The weight of the men clinging to their ankles was felt immediately. The second man screamed, “They’ve got my ankles! I’m not sure if I can hold on.” Perhaps he was right, as he desperately clung to the platform. The first man reassured him, “No, they are not. Just hold on and pull yourself up.” However, the second man cried out, “I can’t! They are too strong,” and let go, plummeting to the floor, swallowed by the crowd.

The last man remaining refused to release his grip, summoning every ounce of strength to pull himself up. The man clinging to one of his ankles began to lose his grip, while the other dug his nails into the remaining man’s leg, screaming, “You don’t deserve to leave! You’re no better than me!'”

The man manages to get his elbows onto the third platform, while the man holding him begins to lose his grip. His nails tear the skin from the man’s leg down to his ankle. Despite the bleeding, the final man summons his strength and continues to pull himself up. The man holding to his ankle loses his grip, and he falls back to the bottom taking pieces of peeled skin under his fingernails with him.

The final man reaches the third platform and peers down; no one can reach him. The crowd below grows furious, hurling insults and objects at him. Someone screams, ‘When you fall and die, we will leave your body to rot!’ However, the final man remains unfazed and begins to leap from platform to platform until he is 25 feet above the crowd. Pausing to rest and check the bleeding from his leg and ankle, he gazes down. The restless crowd attempts to reason with him, shouting, ‘It’s not too late to come down! We know you mean well. If you come back, no harm will come to you.’ With a smile, the man continues to climb.       

The entire population of the Pit is gathered in the middle, discussing the man as he climbs. They watch him ascend as if it were a TV show. Some start to believe he might reach the top, while the majority remain skeptical. The man climbs halfway and pauses for a break. Being 100 feet up, he can’t hear exactly what they are saying, but the crowd’s demeanor seems to have shifted from anger. In fact, about 25 percent of the crowd now believes he will make it to the top and find inspiration in his journey. Whispers of him being an uncommon man begin to circulate. The man smiles faintly and resumes his climb. As he ascends higher, more of the crowd starts to believe he will succeed. Three-quarters of the way up, the man can see the lights below and the light at the top. The people below are now all discussing him. The attitude towards the man has changed; it’s no longer about doubting his ability. Instead, some recount their encounter with him the night before, mentioning his aura and how he seemed different from the rest. Others speculate that he may have been sent by a divine power. The man doesn’t understand what they’re saying, but he senses the commotion and feels the shift in the crowd’s energy. He knows they can no longer reach him to pull him down, so they have no choice but to regard him differently; he is now untouchable.          

As he reached the last two levels of platforms, he began to hear the crowd. The majority started to cheer, with people in the crowd talking about him as if he were heaven-sent. He wasn’t like the rest; there was something different about this man, and the crowd chattered about it in their conversations. The man paused briefly for a break, then continued to climb the last two levels. Everyone below cheered and rejoiced at the accomplishment the man was about to achieve. The crowd themselves felt almost like a part of it too.     

The man reached the top, and the crowd erupted in a cheer that could be heard in heaven as he grabbed the sand and pulled himself out of the Pitt. As the people chanted his name, he knew what he had accomplished was rare; however, it wasn’t special. He sat at the top, staring into the Pitt as the cheers continued. He was stoic, feeling nothing, because he knew a secret the rest did not know he was not special, uncommon, or different from the rest of the men and women in the hole. He was simply willing to try.

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