The cold wind went through her clothes like a thousand tiny knives. She had to move on, she had to find shelter. The rest of the crew was dead. The climbers. The Sherpas. Her dear friend Janout. The excursion had failed. All she had left was her instinct of survival.
She climbed through the snow. She could see a crack in the wall further up. Maybe she could hide there until the storm was over. It was her only chance. If she could get there.
She moved along the mountain side, pressing against the rocks so she wouldn’t be carried away by the wind. She saw something. A gate. Half open, snow entering.
Darkness. She got her flash light out. She was in a hallway, going deep into the mountain side. She followed the tunnel, seeking away from the cold draft from the open door. There was a winding stairway at the end. Innumerable stairs going up through the mountain. The climb seemed like an eternity.
A hall. Huge, majestic. On the other end there was a window. Slowly she crossed the floor. Detailed carvings covered the walls. Humans. Animals. Gods.
Some transparent material separated her from the world outside. The storm was over. She could see everything. She had to be almost at the mountain top. The top of the world.
Quite a view, isn’t it?
She turned around. A little man was standing there. A monk. He looked old. Too old. Too old to be alive.
Who… are you?
I’m the keeper of the temple. The keeper of the truth.
Truth? She was about to fall over. This was just too much. What truth?
The only one that matters. He smiled a peaceful smile. His eyes were astonishing. So deep, so wise. She couldn’t stop staring.
Concentrate, she heard inside her head. Concentrate on my eyes, and you will know.
She saw herself. She was him, and he was her. She knew all he knew, and she knew he knew all about her. She knew everything.
She was back, watching the little old man in front of her.
You know now, he said.
Yes. She looked out of the window, at the world extending below her. I know. We are all one.
She had heard it before, so many times. She had even believed it, but she’d never fully understood until she saw it for herself. Nothing would ever be the same again.