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A gentle breeze blew through the little valley, pushing the perfectly formed clouds leisurely across the sky. The tall, green grass echoed the movement in the sky above, swaying gently as the cool sunlight reached across to the distant horizon. Birds sang soothingly in a tree atop a slight hill, casting shade upon a lone figure.

He shifted slightly in his sleep, and gradually awoke. The man stood up slowly, shakily, and gazed around.

He had not seen such beauty in eons.

The man knew this place. He placed one foot in front of the other, and began to move forward. His progress was slow, painful even, but his pace quickened with each step. Soon, he was dashing carefree along the valley, his footsteps light and easy.

He climbed a hill, and was able to see a small town in the distance. He had made good time. The sun was still high in the sky.

The man ran down the hill, towards the little bundle of houses. The sun sank gradually behind him, and the clouds darkened subtly.

The man’s steps were now huge, bounding leaps. The man soared over serene fields of flowers, full of life and vibrantly colored. The sun sank still lower, shooting the cloudy sky with many beautiful hues.

The man leaped, and flew through the air, surrounded by such indescribable beauty that tears streamed down his face. Still, he pushed towards the town. Still, the sun sank; the clouds gathered.

He was now near enough that he could see the many inhabitants of the little town. All his friends, all his family, merely a heartbeat away. A tiny sob escaped the man’s throat as he saw his wife and children standing at the edge of town, waiting for him. He pushed off from the ground with all his might, propelling himself into their welcoming arms.

The sun met the horizon, and the world was consumed in fire. A pair of hounds rushed out from the flames, and grabbed the man, dragging him back to the earth. The man grasped for his family, but the creatures held him just out of reach. The animals dragged the man back towards the fire, as the clouds blotted out the sky, and began to rain fire down onto the little village, killing its inhabitants and twisting the landscape.

The man sobbed in horror as he watched his world being destroyed again. He had almost made it, this time.

Hell would be easy, if not for hope.

Credited to Dirjel Junshin