The Orb

The orb weighed heavy in my pouch, smacking against my leg and bruising it as I ran. The map in my hands shook, blurring my path, but my feet remembered the way.

Behind me, flashes of blinding white lighting destroyed the stone path, arching from one rock to the next. My eyes occasionally strayed to look back, and each time I would end up blinking spots out of my eyes.

The stones beneath my feet rumbled, and cracked when I stepped on them, even though my footsteps were as light as a fairy's. They were warm though, and sent spikes of welcome heat through my body. It didn't last long, as each time I jumped to the next rock, the nothingness would quickly devour it.

My legs were built for running, yet even this stretch could tire them. The weight of the orb dragged the breath out of my body and tired my pumping blood. My legs protested every step as the skin on my feet began to crack.

I kept on reaching down my hand to touch the orb, even though it was impossible to not notice its existence. Putting aside its weight, the bright colors emanating from it were still visible through the fabric. I had to physically keep my eyes from staring at it.

The white energy flew past my head and hit the stone in front of me, destroying it. Red blood from my throbbing head began to obscure one of my eyes, and I felt myself morbidly drawn to it. But there was no time to waste. My legs protested and almost gave in as I increased my pace, but for a second, the orb almost grew lighter, as though it was cheering me on. I pushed myself off and through the nothingness, and I felt it tear at my skin. It stripped me of covering and washed the blood off my bones then slowly ate away at the layers of my heart.

Then I landed, crashing into the ground, every nerve in my body firing all at once and my vision and hearing and every sense dying for just a second. Then my brain rebooted, and with throbbing arms, I pushed myself up.

The desk sat in front of me, a small plate dangling off two poles the only object on it.

I took the orb out of my pouch and gently laid it there. Even with the rough landing, the orb didn't have a scratch.

The colors began to coalesce, and standing at the other side of the desk a young boy formed. He stared off into what was for me an infinite gray expanse with wonder, and walked forward without looking back.

With a sigh, I turned around, and went back to collect another soul.