Short Story Page

The Ladder

written 1994

by don the story teller

contained in The Taming Your Beast Saga: Mother Earth Speaks

A group of people on top of a small hill congregates around a rope ladder that hangs down from a cloud. The Void, the Emptiness, the Nothingness, is rising up the side of the hill. The Emptiness is swallowing up everything as it moves up the hill. The rope ladder disappearing into the cloud seems to be the only way out.

Rich Man: “That’s my ladder. I own it. No one can go up unless I say so.”
Strong Man: “Well I’m bigger. I say it’s my ladder.”
Political Man: “My armies have the most advanced technology. It’s my ladder.”
Religious Man: “God is on my side. The Church controls the Ladder.”
Simple Man: “Why don’t we share the Ladder? We have plenty of time.”
Rich Man: “Share? I don’t need to share. I’m the richest. ”
Strong Man: “Me, share? Why? I’m strongest.”
Political Man: “Share? No way! My army is strongest.”
Religious Man: “Why share? My god is most powerful.”
Simple Man: “Why don’t you guys take turns?”
Rich Man: “Turns? First pay me because I’m the owner.”
Strong Man: “Turns? First fight me; I’m the best warrior.”
Political Man: “First pay your taxes. Our political system is best.”
Religious Man: “First worship our god. He is the only one.”
Simple Man: “Did you ever hear of cooperation?”
Rich Man: “Ownership doesn’t need to cooperate.”
Strong Man: “The biggest and meanest doesn’t need to cooperate.”
Political Man: “The most powerful country doesn’t need to cooperate.”
Religious Man: “He who holds the truth doesn’t need to cooperate. Besides I don’t cooperate with heathens.”
Simple Man: “But the Emptiness is rising and only one can go up the ladder at a time.”
All: “Me first!” they all yelled in unison.
Rich Man: “I’ll sue, if you so much as touch the ladder. Remember I own it. No trespassing. Private Property.”
Strong Man: “Go ahead and sue. I’m going up first. I’m toughest.”
Political Man: “With the power of our armies, I claim the Ladder for the State. I go first to stake our claim.”
Religious Man: “I go first or you will all go to hell and be eternally damned.”
Simple Man: “There is plenty of time if we go one after the other.”

It is getting harder and harder to hear the Simple Man’s voice above the din, as the others get louder and louder.

Rich Man: “Here come my lawyers. You’ve got to pay me before you go up or I’ll sue you for everything you’re worth.”
Strong Man: “Over my dead body. You’ve got to fight me first. I’ve got the most deadly guns.”
Political Man: “Here come my Police to enforce the laws that I’ve made.”
Religious Man: “You are excommunicated from the Church and Heaven if you touch the ladder. I’ve blessed the Ladder. Only true believers can climb up. Convert now. Avoid the rush.”
Simple Man, weakly: “Beware. The Emptiness is continuing to rise. It is threatening to swallow us all up as we fight for our own selfish interests.”
Rich Man: “Stand aside pauper. I own the Ladder. Strong Man, I own your guns. Political Man, I own you and your Police. Religious Man, I own your Church. I’m going first. Because I own so much, I don’t think there will be any room for the rest of you.”
Simple Man: “If you get rid of your excess baggage, there would be plenty of room for all.”
Rich Man: “I don’t care about the rest of you because it’s all mine. Mine, Mine, Mine! And I’m taking it with me. See you later suckers.”

The Rich Man mounted the Ladder to escape the rising Emptiness. He loaded all his material possessions in a big bag that he carried over his shoulder. His policeman guarded his escape.

Simple Man: “Don’t you see? The Rich Man has left you to be swallowed by the Void, the Emptiness.”
Police: “At least we have jobs.”
Simple Man: “But the Emptiness is rising.”
Police: “Nothing is worse than being unemployed.”
Simple Man: “Death means being unemployed.”
Police: “Hmmm? I hadn’t thought of that.”

As the Rich Man was struggling up the Ladder with his possessions slung over his back, a high, strong wind came up, which blew the Rope Ladder back and forth. The Rich Man still had a chance, if he just let go of his enormous bag of things. He continued, however, to clutch his bag tightly, muttering under his breath, “Mine. All mine.”

Finally when there was no other way, he tried to let go of the bag. Unfortunately for him, it was too late. He had become hopelessly entangled in his material possessions. He fell, splat, dead upon the Earth. His bag and its wondrous contents also fell down to the ground.

Ignoring the Rich Man’s body, the Strong Man, the Political Man, and the Religious Man began fighting over the Rich Man’s bag.

Strong Man: “They are mine and no one can take them away because I’m strongest.”
Political Man: “No, the Law is on our side. Police grab it. It is all ours. We have better lawyers.”
Religious Man: “The Rich Man donated everything he had to the Church. On his deathbed he signed it all over to us, I mean the Church. He bought his way into Heaven. These possessions belong to the Church. ”
Simple Man, quietly: “There is certainly plenty to go around.”

Of course nobody heard him in the tumult. A tremendous struggle ensued over the Bag. The Ladder had been forgotten in the excitement over the Rich Man’s bag of things. The Simple Man shrugged his shoulders, walked over to the Ladder and began to climb up. The rest continued to fight as the Nothingness, the Emptiness, continued to rise.

Finally when the Emptiness began lapping at their feet, they began to grow alarmed and remembered the Ladder. They rushed over to the Ladder. The Strong Man grabbed the Bag, rushed over to the Ladder and began to climb up.

The Political Man and the Religious Man together yelled: “God is on our side!” as they pushed the button, that launched the missile, which destroyed the Strong Man, the lawyers serving him the papers, the Police, and the bottom of the Ladder itself. They had won. Their God and system were superior. But the Ladder was now out of their reach.

Miraculously the Bag survived. The Political Man and the Religious Man immediately rushed over to claim the Bag. The Simple Man stretched his hand out to help them reach the Ladder.

Ignoring him, Political Man: “The Bag belongs to my State. Our technology won it. Might makes right.”
Religious Man: “No. The Bag belongs to the Church. Without our God you never would have won.”
They both grabbed the Bag, pulling it back and forth.
Political Man: “It’s mine!”
Religious Man: “No. Mine.”
Simple Man: “Beware. The Emptiness is swallowing your foundation.”

Indeed the more they struggled, the deeper they sank.

Simple Man: “You must now stand on the Bag. It’s the only way to reach me. You’ve sunk too deep into the morass.”
Political Man: “But we can’t sacrifice the Bag. Think of all the power that money buys.”
Religious Man: “Think of all the souls that could be saved.”

The struggle continued.

Simple Man: “It’s getting late. Your foundation continues to sink. Stand upon each other’s shoulders. There still might be a chance if you cooperate.”
Religious Man: “I’ll stand on your shoulders since I’m closer to God.”
Political Man: “No way! I’ll stand on yours. Church is always subservient to state.”

They continued to struggle for ascendancy as the Emptiness continued to rise.

Political Man: “My way is superior.”
Religious Man: “No mine.”

Continuing to argue they were then slowly swallowed by the Emptiness, the Nothingness, and sank slowly into the Abyss. The Simple Man continued climbing until he reached the bottom of the Cloud. He looked down at the small hill he had come from. He slowly shook his head: “What a waste. If they had just shared......”

He then poked his head through the top of his cloud. He emerged into a new land. He looked up and there was the Simple Woman.

Simple Woman: “What took you so long, Joe?”
Simple Man: “I was just trying to help out. But Mary, what are you doing here?”
Simple Woman: “I thought you might like to go up the Hill together.”
Simple Man: “Thought you’d never ask.”
Simple Woman: “Let’s go then.”
Simple Man: “My pleasure.