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A Bamboo Bridge

A bamboo bridge, suspended by fragile ropes and gossamer hopes high above a lush valley gorge, appears before me in the rainforest.

I walk alone through a strange unearthly mist, between trees too high to ponder and ancient palms too numerous to count. I watch silent figures in orange robes cross the ephemeral bridge. Their hands are folded in front of them as if in prayer, they are silent; their lips speak no words, they utter not a sound.

There is no sound at all save for the sound of the water rushing down the river through the gorge below.

The eerie mist hovers and covers everything in this strange place; cloying and frangible, the mist envelopes me and makes it hard to breathe. The air is thick like syrup. This is a strange and odd place. I shiver in the hot, humid air.

I step onto the flimsy bamboo bridge. It sways with every step I take, each footfall is muffled by the mist and the roaring river racing through the green jungle gorge. The bridge stretches before me its ends disappearing into that ethereal mist. I cannot see where I have come from nor can I see where I am going. I can see only the peaks of the green hills rising above the silent forest and the bamboo beneath my feet.

It seems I have been walking for a long time on this bridge but the end of it is not in sight. The mist, which now feels hostile, makes it impossible to see where I am going; my hands cling to the frayed rope rails on either side of the tenuous bridge and I can no longer quell the quiet fear inside.

I cannot see where I am going, I cannot see where I've been. I look off into the mist-shrouded hill that rise above the gorge guarding it from the world beyond. In the mist I see faces. They are the faces of children and babies. I recognize them all. These are the faces of humanity, starving and sick. The ones I have ignored all my life. The ones I pretended not to see. The ones I never fed or clothed now floating in this mist of death in a strange place, obscured in a mist I cannot ignore and far away from the place I call home.

The tiny faces float all around in the mist but they make no sound. They do not scream. They do not cry out. They make no sound at all. Their eyes are hollow and hungry but they do not cry.

I want to cross the bridge and get on with my journey but the bridge will not end. It seems that I have walked for a long time and made no progress on this bridge. I want to cross it and get out of this dreadful place of nightmares and apparitions, but the end of the bridge is nowhere in sight.

My hands are gripping the ropes so tightly that they are bleeding. A consuming fear grips me and possesses me, chilling me in this hot, humid place.

There are millions of faces floating in the mist around me. Their sunken eyes fixed on me. Their emaciated faces, with an agonized yet peaceful countenance float slowly around me in a circle of horror. I have ignored them all my entire life, why can't I ignore them now. The mist holds them aloft and fixes them in my view. There is no direction in which I can look and not see these faces of humanity: The starving; the sick; the suffering. We're all dying but these poor, little souls never had a chance. I never gave them a single thought, let alone anything to eat.

I could not stop once in my life and give them a thought and now I cannot see anything but their faces - floating in this suffocating mist in a jungle gorge above a bridge that has no beginning and no end.

I cling to the ropes tightly yet I feel as if I will fall into the river below. It is a long way down. I feel the river wanting me; it is urging me to jump. The faces in the mist taunt me with their eyes and i cannot ignore them. I cannot close my eyes to them like I have done so many times before.

I feel as if I'm falling into some dark place, but I awake in my own bed. The sky is bright and the birds are singing and the soft, early-autumn breeze feels good as it touches my skin.

I'm safe at home in my own world.

It was just a dream, I tell myself. Just a horrible dream.

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