He supposed that, as a man born without sight, he was fortunate that he was unable to see the cruelty of the world. The suffering that came with illness and the bloodied landscapes of war torn countries were things that were lost to him. His world consisted of sounds and touch; smells and tastes and he was forever left in what, he was told, a pool of darkness.
Beware of the devil, he once heard. Beware, lest he takes your immortal soul.
And how would he know if the devil was in his presence?
He sat alone and shook his head, enjoying the solitary peace of the countryside. His village was small, rural and many left him alone. He was cursed, they had said. His eyes diseased; a punishment for his mother’s blasphemous acts against the church, they reasoned. In his mind, their logic was faulty but he remained mute. There was no use convincing mindless sheep that had been brainwashed by religion, they believed in the word of God, a presence that could only be proved by blind faith alone. How could he, a mere mortal, even hope to compare?
The wind was soft against his face and he inhaled deep. The world was still and quieter than usual, though it didn’t unnerve him. The absence of sound was a blessing to him, the cacophony of noise was hushed and he preferred it that way. In the distance, he smelt smoke, the blacksmith’s forge was working harder today, it seemed.
The grass beneath his fingertips was soft to touch and to his left, he heard footsteps. Steady in pace but not heavy, they were the steps of a young man. The man sat beside him and for the longest time, no words were exchanged.
“You’re not afraid of me,” the stranger said.
“Should I be?” he replied.
The stranger’s voice was soft and light as he laughed. He had never heard such a beautiful voice before. “Most people usually are.”
He felt himself blink but the world of darkness remained the same. “Are you particularly threatening?”
“My appearance tends to intimidate people,” the amusement was clear.
With this, he could not help but scoff. “How shallow, though I suppose I’m hardly one to talk.”
“You don’t look deformed, in fact, you are rather handsome.”
He felt a smile stretch across his face. “Well, thank you.”
There was another stretch of comfortable silence.
“Do you have a name, my visually impaired friend?”
Friend…? He had never been considered a friend before. He was at a loss, unable to answer for a few scant seconds before he found his voice again. “Luke,” he eventually replied.
“Luke,” the stranger repeated, trying the name upon his tongue. “A fine name for a man such as yourself.”
“And you, kind sir?”
The stranger said nothing and for a heart stopping moment, Luke was afraid that had offended the man that had shown him such benevolence. “Is there anything you desire in life, Luke?” he asked instead, diverting the topic away from his identity.
Grateful that the stranger hadn’t left, Luke ignored the man’s avoidance and focused on the question. “No,” he replied. “Not really.”
“Not even the ability to see?”
“Not even that. I’m quite happy to be blind and ignorant of the world. I am healthy otherwise, and I’m content with my life.”
The stranger seemed to consider this, mulling over the response deeply and soon, he let out a sigh. Luke tilted his head, he sounded exasperated but at the same time, relieved? What a strange reaction.
“I like you, Luke. Would you like to come with me?”
“Where?” He shook his head. “No, I think I’d rather stay here.”
“Oh, what a shame but I guess I can’t change your mind. Well, I’m a traveller, so alas I can’t stay for too long.”
Luke’s shoulders slumped and disappointment heavy in his heart. Oh, he would miss this kind stranger and hearing these words, he was tempted to follow him. He had nothing left for him here, his mother had died long ago and he had never known his father. Aside from the elderly woman that lived in the town, no one came to visit him nor did they care for his wellbeing. It was a lonely life but it was one he was used to and was unwilling to part with.
The man stood and patted at the dust on his trousers. “I must be off, places to go and people meet. However, before I do, Luke?”
“Take my advice and don’t go into town.”
Luke’s brow furrowed. “Why…?” he asked slowly.
The response was a low chuckle. “‘Never set your eyes upon the devil, disaster will fall upon you,’” he sang. “Such a childish piece of advice, don’t you think?”
Luke’s confusion only grew. “I don’t believe in such things.”
“And that’s why you are blessed.” Luke could hear the smile in his voice. “Are you sure you won’t come with me?”
“Positive.” A hand came to meet his shoulder and patted him lightly. Luke felt a chill run down his spine. The touch was not human, it was much too cold, the fingers too long and the nails too sharp. The skin felt like steel and almost scale-esque, who was this man he had been talking to?
The hand left his shoulder and he felt a shift in the air.
He was alone.