(The Sands of Time)
With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone
We bear the burdens and the heat
Of the long day and wish them done
Not till the house of light return
All we have built do we discern
The year was 1903 and it was somewhere out in the French Sahara, between the borders of Algeria and near the border of Morocco. The cool evening air was now slowly starting to heat up and the many little busy bugs had now started to scurry back and forth along the silver sands, digging frantically to escape from the rising heat, burrowing deeply beneath the cool depths of the sand. As the sun started to rise from its nightly sleep, the golden rays sprang forth chasing the darkness away and bringing color to all it touched, as its gentle lights tenderly caressed the desert sands. Pink, orange, red, purple, and yellow, the rocks all took on new and beautiful colors as the kingdom of light once again returned to rule, it was only a matter of minutes before the silver sands of night had turned to gold. Soon all the busy desert nightlife had burrowed its way back into the hidden depths, and the coolness of the desert air grew steadily hotter by the minute. By the time midday had arrived, it was like an inferno and not a sign of any life in sight in the sand except for the occasional insect popping up and then quickly disappearing again under the sand.
The blistering heat of the noonday desert sun scorched the white sands, turning them into an unbearable oven. The sky shimmered in the relentless heat giving a hazy appearance to everything. All was quiet, nothing stirred it was as though he was lost in time. Ronald groaned in pain as he lay still, clinging to the cool relief that was supplied by the small shade offered by the sand dune. His face burnt and blistered from the burning heat; he lay there covered in sand, his face caked like a mudpack. He moaned with pain as his wounds throbbed unbearably, almost driving his mind to the point of insanity. If only death would come, he thought to himself. His tongue now swollen and his throat parched from the lack of water; he could feel his throat lined with fine sand.
Soon, very soon, he thought to himself, that fine sand filling his throat or his swollen tongue would choke him, he was feverish, and his mind had been playing tricks on him. He wondered if the suffering he was undergoing was but a prelude to the agonies of hell awaiting him. He watched the beetles as they scampered out of the heat and dug their way deep down into the coolness of the dark earth below, a scorpion moved almost within his reach but passed by ignoring him, even the sting of the scorpion would have been welcome to him. He tried to laugh but could not, and then his eyes spotted something on the distant horizon. Were they playing tricks on him again? He had to squint, narrowing his eyes against the glaring sun, as he looked staring off into the distance. Yes, he made out something; there was some movement over on the horizon.
He struggled in hope, as the shapes of people appeared out of the sand, maybe by some miracle of God he'd be rescued from this certain death. But alas, it was in vain for as the figures drew nearer he recognized them as Arabs, his doom was sealed there would be no mercy now. The French legion was at war with many of the Arab and Berber tribes in this area he had almost met death already not long ago at the hands of some Tuareg warriors. If anything, worse torments than death lay ahead now for he had heard many stories from Jean and from Otto of how they loved to torture their prisoners, driving them mad with pain as they screamed for mercy, while they but watched in glee. However, maybe they had not seen him yet, maybe he could avoid them possibly there remained a chance yet. If he could only move closer under the dune, yes that was it. He roused every muscle and iota of strength left within him as he tried to crawl to possible safety. However, he realized it was too late, for at that moment he heard a cry from one of them showing that they had spotted him. His mind still felt clouded from the fever, yet he struggled on against all odds, he crawled, as a man possessed; yet lost, just hoping for a miracle, yet unbelieving that one could happen. He cried out with all that was within him.
"Lord, sweet Lord, I've lived a life without You, I abandoned all my mother taught me, I have lived my life in utter selfishness, now my sins have caught up with me. Now is my time of accountability. Lord please I beg of You, have mercy on me, let death take me now and deliver me from this torment. Give me relief from the torment of soul and body."
He lay still exhausted and delirious from fever. No one would miss him, he thought, no one would mourn his death, even if they knew of it. His mind conjured up pictures of his mother as she taught him the words of Jesus, he thought of his father, his brothers and sisters. Then his mind lingered on other faces ominous faces from the past, there was Gwenn, whom he had almost married, who had brought back into his life all that he had lost before, only to slip once more through his fingers like drops of water. Then he saw Constance whom he had loved, used, and then cast aside, discarded back to the streets where he found her, as soon as no longer needed or of use to him.
Then foremost of all his loves, one forever deeply imprinted within his heart, he thought of Michele. Ah, sweet Michele, mon amour, she it was who had been the one that had introduced him to the full meaning of pleasure. Opening up to him doors to ecstasy such as he had never dreamed possible; she brought to his life joy, happiness, inspiration, and a zest for life that he never knew again. Despite all that he had found through her, he had been destined to loose it all forever, due to the result of one moment of reckless drunkenness.
There was old Max also, his faithful servant since childhood, who had lived and died for him, and Otto the German bully whom he had killed in a moment of anger. Many more people whom he had used and discarded as they had fitted his purpose, they flashed passed his eyes in one flickering moment of time, each like ghosts from Macbeth each bringing with them a haunting memory of the past. His senses started swimming and mercifully, he sank into oblivion as the deep blackness drove all from his mind and he sank into unconsciousness…
 French Sahara: Algeria, Tunisia, Niger, Mali, and part of Morocco