You sit alongside a comfortably sized fire with a man who has never claimed to know all the answers. In fact, he has never claimed anything to you, yet you somehow know that he holds within him knowledge that no one man should ever have to hold. You realize you do not know where you are or even the identity of the man beside you. As that realization brings with it feelings of helplessness and chaotic fear, you quickly realize that this man next to you exudes feelings that make you feel at home, though you do not remember where home is or what it looks like. You decide to test the proverbial waters and turn to study his face before speaking.
His features are unremarkable, but beautiful. Nothing in his face stands out, causing his face to seem alien and perfectly strange. His eyes, though, hold the flames of the fire within them so brightly that it seems as though the fire in them is more real than the one you sit before.
You eventually cease studying the man's face, and instead, begin studying the cave you are inside. For you are inside a cave, you realize. The walls rise up to heights unimaginable and you feel as though you are sitting in a naturally formed chapel, more impressive than any man-made structure. As you turn a full 180 degrees, you spot something that seems incredibly out of place in the vast yet empty cavern. It's a sparkling white fountain. The man beside you chuckles suddenly, causing you to jump up a bit. You turn to see a bemused expression on his face and, before you have the chance to, he speaks.
"Do you know what that is, Child?"
You hesitate before you answer because you suddenly feel as though you are being both examined and tested by a being that may hold your fate in his hands. You are terrified of answering incorrectly. Eventually, you find your lips hesitantly forming words.
"It…It looks like a fountain sir."
He tilts his head a bit to the left but his belligerent smile never falters. He speaks his next words extremely softly.
"Look closer and answer again."
You, still afraid of disappointing this being, quickly oblige and nearly stumble over the rock you had been sitting on. You quickly walk over to the fountain and begin to study it with more attention to detail than your previous inspection. This time, you notice carvings lining the sides. You kneel before it to get a better look. The pictures seemed at first to merely depict age. It showed a babe becoming a child, to an adolescent, an adult, and then to a hunched elderly figure. As you continue to inspect the perfectly carved stone, you notice that the etching depicting old age was not the end of the carving's story. The last few depicted an elderly man finding a fountain, drinking from it, and then going through the reverse of the first carvings, leaving the last as a babe.
You think about these carvings for a long time, and you feel no pressure from the man as he seems to be the embodiment of the word patience. After searching your mind for seemingly an eternity, you speak again to the man, slightly stronger this time.
"Is it the fountain of youth, sir?"
The man smiles and you immediately feel as though you have passed the first test, though you still have no idea what you are being tested on, exactly. The man continues smiling as he replies.
"That is sometimes what it is called. What do you think you know about this 'fountain of youth?'''
Now feeling as though you had some solid ground to stand on, you quickly and excitedly recite all that you have heard about this fountain.
"The fountain keeps you alive forever, sir! If you take one drink, you can stay alive forever! Some people even say that it can help in all aspects of life. It brings you fortune, fame, and happiness."
You do not even glance in the man's direction as you add a few more details to your short speech
"Some people think it is hidden in South America, but others are convinced that it is in Mexico. Personally, I never thought that it existed before! But...wow. Its right there, huh?"
You end with a large smile on your face, satisfied that you will pass yet another part of this man's test. In your excitement you had been gesturing grandly and had somehow managed to turn yourself almost completely around, and had lost sight of the man. You swing your body back around prepare to receive praise for your "correct answers" but immediately lose your confidence and momentary joy when you behold his countenance. It is one of immeasurable sadness and disappointment. He inhales slowly and laboriously, and as he does so, you realize that he is starting to weep. You do not know what to do, and as such, you stand, dumbfounded, until he speaks again.
"I suppose I cannot fault you for your answers, though I will not deceive you and say that they bring me any joy."
He stops and gathers his composure for a moment then continues.
"Your answer is the one the majority of all humanity would come up with, and it is all because you, as a species, have always taken things so very literally."
He shakes his head for a moment, as though remembering something that was especially bemusing, and then commences speech again,
"This," he says as he gestures to the fountain, "is only a symbol of all of the real fountains that bring eternal life."
You momentarily forget your shyness and blurt out a question.
"There is more than one fountain of youth? Then how come we haven't found them? How come people still die?"
He looks at you, and you immediately regret your outburst. However, he seems to forgive it, and continues with his speech.
"These fountains, these wellsprings of everlasting life exist inside of every human. All anyone ever has to do to gain the never ending life and happiness that you spoke of earlier is drink of the water within them."
You give him a searching look. You have never heard of any sort of organ or vessel that might possibly produce a drinkable fluid, but you continue to listen attentively.
"You see…the fountain begins to flow the very minute you accept our creator as the one true God."
He looks off into space for a moment and then continues.
"Everyone comes to this decision at some point…and for each person, it is a different experience. Sometimes the person might not even realize that they have accepted Him right away, but they have all the same. When He is accepted, the water begins to flow freely. The water within this fountain is the hope for life with the Lord. By drinking of this water, allowing it to enter your soul, you ensure that you will have an everlasting place in His kingdom."
You stay quiet for a bit, but there is a question nagging within your soul, and it bursts free of its own volition.
"It is not too late for me is it?"
Your voice breaks on the word "me" and you are overcome with such anxiety you don't know how to handle it and you begin to shake, as you fall to your knees. The man slowly walks over and kneels beside you, not quite touching your quivering form.
"It is never too late to accept the lord and open your fountain."
You feel the most happiness you have ever experienced as you realize that with just those words, you have been grated everlasting life with the Lord. You bring your head up to thank the man for helping you save yourself, but find him gone. In fact, you seem to no longer be in the cavern either. You are floating through a seemingly endless black void. Suddenly, your eyes open. You are in bed. You remember your name, your life. You also remember your dream. You pick up the phone to call your boss and ask for a day off. You need some time to think. You feel that your heart is still racing from all of the emotions in your dream. You place your hand upon your chest to better feel the rapidity. You could swear that you can hear your heart as clearly as you can hear your alarm clock going off, too late. You could also swear, though its sound is barely perceptible against the beating of your heart, that you hear the sound of water flowing over stone.