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The old man's cloak drags behind him and his feet move slowly. The air was dry and stuffy and he moves with gentle silence as he steps over the scorpions. The snakes weaving in and out of the sand let him pass as if he is just a whisper on the wind. The old man turns, scuttled into his hut and gathered together what he needs for the day. He got his spiel, his ¼ full water bottle, his compass, his maps, the carter, his bouler and a couple of sheets of plain paper before gathering them together and putting them in a bag. The old man came out, reaching his hand out to the camel's hump and moving along to it's head,

“The air's very rough today” he says looking off into the distance. He looses contact with the camel as it bends down and he clambers onto it. Rising back up again, the morning was already heating up.

“I think we'll go west” He says with a calm boldness.

The camel was almost as old as Alexander himself and they had a lot in common: they both had been stuck in the desert: they both had a passion for exploring and they both had forgotten the way home.

“Slow down there Randy” Alexander called but the camel took no notice as Alexander's bouler slides around messing up his mapping of the area, not that it mattered too much, the only thing they had passed was a rattlesnake going the other way. Each step meant only that more sand could be seen on the horizon. Sand. Sand. And more sand. Alex taps Randy once on the shoulder, Randy stops and lowers to the floor allowing Alex to clamber down. Alex waddles over to the cactus plant and jams the spiel into it, letting the clear water flow down into his water bottle. Once it was full he let Randy come and have a drink. After that Alex filled himself to the point where he was happy, he pulled out the spiel and let the cactus be. He got back onto Randy and taps him twice on the shoulder, Randy stood up and started off.


“Keep going Randy, anything could be on that horizon” Alex says putting his bottle into his bag. He took out the carter, which was a crumpled piece of paper with a single square on the left hand side of it. It had the letters, the carter, on the top right side of it so that was it's name. He had found it in one of his history books that he'd brought from Kirk about 50 years ago. He had no idea what the square on it meant or where it was but he was sure it was a map because there was the faint outline of a compass in the top left corner.


And this time, heading west, he was hoping that the horizon was going to offer something a bit better than sand.

Submitted: May 31, 2015

© Copyright 2022 SE Howie. All rights reserved.


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