The Red Ash Road

By: Esay

Chapter two

Robert awoke with start. Quickly springing to his feet as he wildly looked around, fear gripping his stomach tightly. All around him was fog, so thick he scarcely see his hand in front of his face. It glowed softly with a strange red light that seemed to come from all around. In confusion he looked in all directions, but was met only by more blinding fog.

He slowly closed his eyes thinking he must've hit his head harder than he had thought. Opening them he hoped to see the street, or perhaps the ceiling above a hospital bed, but just as he had expected, he was greeted by the same swirling fog. The splitting headache forming at the back of his mind was only being magnified by the eerie red light. Coupled with the confusion of this bizarre place he found himself in, he was beginning to wonder if he was even awake. A place like this scarcely seemed possible in a dream, much less in the real world.

The fog itself was so blinding that Robert wasn't even able to see the ground below his feet. Placing one unsteady foot forward he carefully stepped out into the mist. He half expected his foot to meet with nothing but air. However he found, much to his great relief, soft ground, much like stepping into freshly fallen snow. After several cautious steps he started a steady, if not dazed, walk toward no where.

He had simply started off in the direction he was facing. There had been no difference in the fog in any particular direction, and since he figured he was probably dreaming anyway, he had just started walking. The eerie mist perpetually swirled about as he continued blindly on his way. With each silent step he felt his apprehension growing. This place, in all its strangeness, was becoming unsettling to Robert. The suffocating fog was making him feel trapped as the growing fear in his stomach started to creep into his senses.

After what seemed like hours he finally gave up the hopeless pursuit and slowed in his already drawling pace. Looking all around him there was nothing but the vast sea of red fog. After hours of aimless walking he couldn't even tell if he had moved at all. Frustrated, he gave a hopeless cry, pouring out all the frustration and fear, until his lungs ached from the vibration. The thunderous scream was met only with the haunting ring of silence. No echo. No vast reply from the mist. In disbelief Robert sank to his knees in panic, not even sure if he had truly cried out at all.

As he began to question the madness he had fallen into, the light around him grew softer, almost inviting. His head suddenly shot up as he stared with wonder into the swirling fog. As the light around him grew softer still, the fog grew thin, and within the surreal beauty of this white plane, it began to snow, soft and steady.

With a new resolve within him, Robert reached out an uncertain hand to met the falling snow. To his amazement these flakes of light passed right through his hand. With a strange curiosity he ran a finger through the fallen snow on the ground beneath him. Pulling it to his eyes he stared at it in confusion. It was black. Rubbing the tips of his fingers together he stared at the ground beneath him in awe. "Ashes?" he said uncertainly.

As Robert again began to climb unsteadily to his feet, a gentle wind began to pick up, scattering the dust about him. With a chill running up his spine, he watched in amazement as the wind seemingly drew out a strange meandering trail, stretching out until it was swallowed by the fog. In the distance he could have sworn he heard someone laughing, but it was so faint he doubted weather or not he had actually heard it.

Not caring weather this place was simply an escape of his lonely mind or some horrible punishment for trying to end his life in such a way, he started to run down the winding trail, silently hoping for some answer to this strange dream land he wandered into.

With quick silent breaths Robert ran as if he was being chased by some unseen force. The growing strangeness of this wind blown road was filling him with an eerie uneasiness. As countless steps fell into the ash before his feet Robert heard the laughter again, but its voice was growing. It had a warm quality about it. Like some long forgotten memory there was a strange comfort in it. Desperate for some clarity to dispel the growing apprehension, Robert ran at an even more frantic pace. Stumbling along the ashy road, he felt a hope rise in him as the easy going laughter grew louder with each step.

With fatigue ready to claim his breathless form, the only thing allowing Robert to continue on was the hope of reaching the warm voice in the distance. Just as he was ready to give in to the burning cries of his muscles, a faint figure appeared in the distance. Running in desperation through the snowing ash, Robert called out to the figure growing larger with each stride.

"Is someone out there!?" He cried, not even entirely certain that the figure was real. "Can you help me!? He cried out breathlessly. For a moment he was uncertain if he would get a reply, but he was reassured when he saw a faint hand wave at him.

"Come on now!" The figure said with a certain hopefulness in it's voice. Laughing again with the same warmth, the figure stretched out an arm and again waved Robert to him. "I've been waiting for quite awhile now. I'm glad to see you found your way!"

Robert was puzzled by his response. "What do you mean?!" He shouted as he closed in on the shrouded man. "How could you have even known I was coming?!" He cried out with a hint of puzzlement in his voice.

Robert slowed to a walk as he neared the man, cautiously approaching as he still couldn't quite make out the man in the fog. There was a strange feeling about this man, his voice, his presence even, seemed remarkably familiar. "I've always known you were coming Robert." The strange man answered with a playfulness in his voice. The man laughed again, warm and inviting.

Robert was taken aback by the man's strange answer. "Exactly who are you sir?" he asked with a slight hesitation. Robert was almost at the man now, he recognized him wearing a familiar brown suit, his brown suit.

The strange man laughed again. "I have a feeling you already know." He said with a chuckle. "In fact, I'd bet on it. Your just too afraid to admit the possibility." Bowing a bit as he said it, he looked Robert directly in the eyes.

As Robert came face to face with the man he stood awestruck. "Surprised?" The man asked as if joking. Robert stood unblinking, completely dumbstruck upon seeing the man's face. "Not too surprised I hope." The man said, a warm smile spreading across his face. "We are, after all, one in the same." Robert could only respond with a look of total disbelief. He could only stare at his twin with fear and confusion apparent in his gaze.

Well there's chapter two. I figured that Robert would need a guide to get him though the Red Ash Road. Who better to guide you than yourself? I thought. Anyway, hope anyone reading this is enjoying it because this thing is just getting started. I plan to make this novel length, so I will take my sweet time in setting everything up. Also know that if I do get a bit heavy on the descriptions, its for a reason, be it building the plot or making a point. Try to point out any mistakes if you can, and be sure to tell me if you like it as well. That's all for today, but I will try to update a chapter a week.