The night was dark and stormy. The clouds hung low in the air as if to cover what was about to happen from sight of the heavens. The Sahara Desert hugged the horizon on every side with its vast liquid arms, every gust of wind puffed a little cloud of skin off of its surface. Twirls and spirals of dust.
Pebbles seemed to levitate. The creatures of the cold desert were hunkered away in preemptive fear. Every brush of dust and crack of tension received no response. The Sahara was scared.
For tonight was not the night of natural law. No, this night was ruled by something else. Something unholy… and dead.
Then life breathed in. A clap of rising lightning and a spark of roaring thunder. From the ground he emerged. Completely nude, the sand fell from his body. He took his first inhale of air the tiny particles stung as they gripped the flesh of his untainted lungs. The pain damped after successive breaths.
He looked around. Not knowing who he was, what he was or why he was. Streaks of light dashed across the ground. Not more than ten feet away appeared a short-sword. As if it had grown from copper vines.
With each step more sand fell off his body. This, revealed muscles pushing at bronze skin. He grabbed the waiting blade and it felt as if he had relocated his shoulder. Slice. Slice. Slice. He took several practice slashes at the air and to his own surprise he felt the muscle memory take over, almost as if he’d been doing this for eons.
Another roar of lightning. The sand began to buckle upwards. A small pimple in the Earth rising to form. There—in the sand—just out of striking distance emerged a beast.
A small squirrely creature no bigger than a golden retriever but uglier than a hagfish. He felt a pull on his skull towards the monster almost as if killing it was required for his heart to continue beating.
It bared it sickled fangs through the pink lips of its star-nosed mouth. It released a high pressured hssssssssss. Neither knew the other but both felt a connection. An invisible elastic band of life. That would have lead them to this moment across oceans or time.
He jumped forward landing sword first in the monster’s back. The life drained from the creature’s eyes almost as fast as the putrid yellow blood drained from its wound. He placed his foot on the creature’s neck and pulled the sword from the carcass.
As he stepped back his foot caught something in the ground. He bent down. Scooping the cold night sand away revealed a nylon dual strapped backpack. He rummaged through the innards. Several articles of clothing, three liters of water and a signal flare. He dressed into the new clothes. He placed the sword and the carcass—which he had wrapped in a shirt—inside the backpack. The pack was just big enough to close over the hilt of the sword.
He began his trek.
There were 360 degrees of directions he could take. By the cosmic dice of the universe he had decided to take this one.
He now wore a dark-orange shirt and blue jeans. From time to time he would stop to empty the sand from his sneakers and gaze at the dome of the cosmos.
Over the course of the next week or so he wandered further onward. Traveling over the sandy dunes. Past the mirages of oases. He had been exposed to the elements long enough for the sun to bake the skin on his hairless head and the wind to sandburn his lips.
As he walked he learned much about himself. He learned he could function properly with less than a cup of water a day. That sleep—while required for you and I—he did not need. He knew of food and knew he would eat it if it came around but felt no fatigue without eating. Perhaps he had been born on a full stomach.
He sat down.
The sun was beating him into submission. He wrapped the shirt around his head and drank his daily cup of water. What was his plan? Why was he even here?
“Mister? Mister what are you doing all the way out here?”
A man approached him. He was wearing thin clothing allowing the heat to pass through and around. He extended a hand.
“Hello, my name is Mehdi.”
He extended his hand and shook Mehdi’s.
“What is your name Mister?” Mehdi said.
After thinking he said, “I-I do not know.”
The first words to leave the man’s mouth. They rubbed against his dry throat and he surprised himself at his ability to talk.
“You don’t know? Wonderful! Then you are in a position that many only dream, you can choose your own name! So what shall I call you Mister?”
He thought for a second.
They name carried significance but he knew not why.
“Well Mister Hunter do you need a place to rest your head?”
Hunter knew he did not but would accept any invitation to civilization.
The old dune buggy surfed the sandy waves. Each bounce threatened to break the screws off the axels and send them careening down the hills. Mehdi just smiled and laughed ‘it always sounds like that.’
He had inquired further about Hunter’s past and Hunter—for the most part—deflected the questions. Mehdi had stopped after seeing how uneasy Hunter became.
The duo approached a large sandstone wall whose guard stretched out for miles before curving back onto itself. Several armed men stood out front. Rifles hanging by their sides. The dune buggy rolled to a stop. Wind kicked up sand. A guard approached them.
“Identification,” he said.
Mehdi handed him a laminated plastic card. The guard scanned the barcode with his phone—beep beep ding—he handed the card back.
“You,” the guard pointed to Hunter, “Identification.”
Mehdi stepped in before Hunter could say anything.
“He doesn’t speak Arabic, just look at him. He is far to white.”
Mehdi gestured his hand up and down as if to emphasize ‘that he looks like a Caucasian.’ Hunter sat there letting Mehdi do the talking. More confused that he was hearing them talk in English while they obviously believed they were talking in Arabic.
“What’s his business here,” the guard said.
“He is a guard. Now don’t be nervous he isn’t here for your job just to keep unmentionables out of my Bed and Breakfast.”
The guard thought long and hard. He lowered his rifle and motioned for the gate to raised. He stepped aside. The dune buggy drove through the entrance over rough sandstone roads. When they were far enough into the city Mehdi began to speak again.
“I told them that I hired you as an employee. A guard to defend my Bed and Breakfast from rowdy clients.”
“I know, I understood you.”
“Oh so you speak the native tongue?”
“No I heard you all speaking in English.”
“Bizarre. What do you hear now? For me I hear the voice of my father; hopeful, stern, Arabic.”
“It still sounds like English.”
Mehdi looked at him for a moment before talking.
“Well let’s just keep this little trick between us. You just assume that anyone speaking is speaking in Arabic. So do not engage them unless I say we’re speaking English. Hard enough to explain why a white man was wandering the desert. Don’t want to make it harder.”
They continued to drive through the town. Past sandstone buildings, through decaying archways and near colorful bazaars. Women walked—children in hand—carrying large clay water jugs on their heads. Men were busy at work repairing broken buildings. Soldiers wearing goggles and shemaghs walked through the desert town carrying guns.
Hunter tucked his pack in closer.
“Alright, we are here Mister Hunter.”
Mehdi pulled the dune buggy over. It sputtered several times before dying down. They both stepped on to the stone, the ground crunched under Mehdi’s sandals and Hunter’s sneakers.
The floor was thick and the rooms were hollow. The walls echoed with the sound of children playing. Mehdi had made mention of his twin girls between the silences in the car ride. It must have been them.
“Sit, sit please Mister Hunter.”
Mehdi ushered Hunter towards a wooden table and chairs. It creaked under Hunter’s muscular frame.
“Would you care for something to eat?”
Hunter nodded. Mehdi laid before him several warm wet rags contain various pita breads as well as a selection of hummuses. He went on to explain they were all family recipes and Hunter is welcome to all he likes.
That was all the encouragement he needed.
Hunter ate for several minutes straight before thinking to thank Mehdi for all he had done.
“Do not mention it Mister Hunter. Please eat up, we have much to talk about.”
“Babaan? Babaan you’re home!”
Hunter turned his gaze to see two little girls running down the home both shouting ‘Babaan.’
“Zafirah! Zayna! It is so good to see you! Now tell me where is your Jidd?”
The two girls hopped onto Mehdi’s lap and recounted the tale of their day. The story of two princesses making bread with Jidd. Castles built from tables and blankets.
Zafirah held out a long stick. It was decorated with glitter and markers. Zayna held out a similar one.
“They’re to defend us from the Roc!” Zayna said.
“The Roc?” Hunter asked.
“Yes the Roc.”
An older woman walked out of the hall.
“A horrible little creature that’s been terrorizing town and… likes to… eat… little girls!”
“Jidd stop!” The girls said.
They laughed as Jidd made eating motions with her mouth. She smiled with heart.
“Good to see you’re back Mehdi. Who is your friend?”
“A traveler who needs some rest.”
“Well Mister Hunter you’re welcome to stay at our Bed and Breakfast as long as you like.”
“Thank you for your kindness. I will find a way to repay you.”
Mehdi waved it off and smiled.
“Girls show him to his room so he can get settled. Don’t worry Mister Hunter the food will still be here when you get back.”
Hunter stood up. Each of the girls grab one of his hand.
“Don’t worry we’ll keep you safe!”
They held up their swords and charged together down the hall to one of the guest rooms.
But Tye this isn’t a Pop Anal post. Yeah I know. The one I have been working on is still being worked on. Everytime I think I am getting close to finishing the writing phase I think of something else to add. I also found a few factual errors I had to change.
This story is actually what i am working on for NaNoWriMo. While I am not hiting the word count which I wanted, I am still writing more then ever before.
So did you like the post? Any comments on how to make it better? Were parts of it confusing? Are you bored? How was your day? Do you want to get pizza? Leave me a comment letting me know!
Next week Jacob will be back with a fiction post.
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