I had scrambled for an hour up the loose scree of a gray hill, two steps up, one slide down; I paused at a small ledge in real, solid rock, my chest heaving and my knees shaking. Looking up after a moment spent clutching my knees, I saw an old man sitting Indian-style and peering at me. He smiled.
"What brings you here, my son?"
His voice was soft, almost lilting, and as I caught my breath I saw his eyes. They looked through me, each a whitened, cloudy orb set deep in its socket, unseeing, penetrating. I wiped sweat from my mouth.
"I am resting, father, on my climb up this mountain."
"Ah, I see." He smiled at his own joke. "What do you suppose is at the top, my son?"
"Nothing, but I am told that from there I can see." After a moment's pause, I asked "Do you know, father, what may be seen from the top?" Immediately I blushed. Perhaps he had been born blind.
"Yes, my son, I know what may be seen." He sighed, and his smile and eyes flattened at the edges.
I waited several moments, studying him. At length, I ventured to ask "What may be seen from the top, my father?"
His smile fell further. His eyes turned their blind beams to the earth below his knees. "More of the map, my son."
Taken aback, I pressed further, "What map, my father? What more does it show?"
He smiled again, but it was no longer kind. "The map to get out."
"Out of where, father?"
"The map, my son. How to get out of the map."