Higher

For the Daily Inkling.

Dusk_on_Desert

 

The dawn breaking, slow and sluggish wakes her, and the clicking of the sand crabs. They crawl out from their sandholes at first light, hunting. She pulls up her knees and sits, hunched up small, reluctantly letting go of the oblivion of night. The crabs click, and the sand stirs as hundreds of them home in on her body heat. She raises her eyes to the hills that roll heavily skywards and squints. The light is pale, but she is sure that the highest points are green, a ragged leafy crown of trees. Up.

Beyond the scuttling crabs lies the ocean, still miles away, but creeping inexorably higher. The crabs come first. She has seen what follows. Up. There is no option.

Sun rises and the heat increases. The light is deep red gold but it sears like flame. Up there, the air is too thin. The stars are too close. She keeps her eyes on her feet and climbs. Sand shifts, slithers, and each step drains the energy of two. Up here, there is nothing but sand, smooth and glittering, and dry. She fixes the image of the trees in her head and plods on, higher.

Higher, the sun weighs down, like lead pouring onto soldiers’ heads as they storm ancient walls. She feels the burning trickle down her back, dragging on her feet. She even hears the screams. Up. There is no option.

She no longer feels anything. Her feet have melted, her back is a brazier. Her eyes are as dry as her mouth, her vision as cracked as her lips. The shadow falling softly over her shoulders goes unnoticed at first, but the fire recedes, gradually. Cool. A breeze on her face, and slowly, painfully she raises her eyes from the sand before her and the flames in her eyes cool. There is shadow and thick trunks of scented pine. Her toes scrunch pine needles.

Hope dares to seep back that perhaps the story is true. Perhaps there is safety on the hilltops. She finds new energy, walking quicker, her head high, searching for water. There must be water or there could be no trees. She zig-zags between the trunks, sniffing, peering, her toes digging into the sandy soil searching for dampness.

Ahead, the trees thin. Already? Then there are no more. She hangs onto the last tree truck, her heart falling, falling, falling. Beyond, the hills roll down, back down, inexorably down, through baked dunes to the sparkling ocean, where they are waiting.

#writephoto: Equine retribution

This photo prompt is a little out of the ordinary, not the usual atmospheric rock formations and moody moorlands what I have come to expect from Sue. Tough one.

spurs

 

They rode their horses hard, got the last miles out of them before they fell. There was no way they were going to share their water, and horses just drink too much. They left the carcasses where they dropped and plodded on on foot, swearing at the relentless sun, and the dune that stretched forever, and their own stupidity in leaving the trail with no clear idea of where the coast lay, just Joe’s say so.

“We should’ve brought supplies with us,” Will murmured and licked his cracked lips.

“Yeah, an’ a few pack mules an’ tents an’ a bunch of sixteen-year-old virgins to keep us company at night.” Chas would have spit if he’d had any to spare.

“If your Tilda hadn’t woke screamin’ we could ’a done,” Will snarled.

“Well, she did, an’ we had to get out while we could.” The third man, Joe, gnarled and scoured as a piece of driftwood, glared at the sun and plodded onwards.

Chas turned and looked back the way they had come. Birds hung lazily in the air, rising and falling. Squabbling. Vultures. He wondered vaguely if they were after the horses or the caravan, if Tilda… He shrugged and ploughed up the dune behind Will and Joe.

It was Joe had spotted the horsemen following the caravan. It would have been suicide to wait around. They were too few men, with too many women and children to defend. Joe didn’t care. None of them were his. Will didn’t care either. He’d been banned from eating with any of the families after he raped that girl a few days back. They could all go to hell for all he cared. But Chas had been sort of fond of Tilda. He told himself, he was being sentimental. They’d only been married a couple of weeks. The novelty hadn’t worn off. She’d woken just as they were slipping away. Screamed, probably when she saw Will. Will had shut her up, but they’d had to take the first horses they could grab, and Joe was the only one who had thought to bring any water.

They’d run the horses to death and Joe was the only one who believed the coast lay just over the next rise. Chas scowled at the wiry silhouette on the brow of the dune. He froze. Joe was waving his arms and shouting. He turned, racing back down the dune, back the way they had come. Chas tried to grab his arm. Joe wrenched it away, his face beneath the tan, the colour of bleached wood. He garbled something incomprehensible and stumbled on. Will was next, immobile on the ridge for a moment, his reactions dull and sluggish with the heat and weariness. Then he too turned and fled.

A shadow fell across the sun, across the baked glare of the dune, a huge, black shadow that ran, or rolled across the sky, over the sand, like a giant spider. He heard the click as it turned, a familiar sound. The thing reared over the dune, gaunt and metallic, and he recognized the shape at last.

Desert

The Daily Post prompt is: Desert.

AbasElAkaad_Night

It stretches bleak from side to side,

Dust and arid stone shapes rising,

No heart beats in this dead wasteland.

 

No tender green to break the drabness,

No gentle blue in seas of grey,

It stretches bleak from side to side.

 

I search the skyline for trees waving,

But the wind blows, finding only

Dust and arid stone shapes rising.

 

Neon falsifies the moonlight,

No pulse throbs just engines roaring,

No heart beats in this dead wasteland.

Microfiction: Boredom

This is the photo prompt for this week’s Three Line Tales from Sonya.

Photo credit Fabio Rose

tlt14.jpg

“Is this all there is? Just a load of sodding sand?” He stared in dismay at the dunes running like an arid sea to the horizon.

 

“What did you expect?” she asked wearily. “Polar bears? It’s a desert.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t expect it to be so sorta monotonous. Giddyup,” he said to the camel, “let’s get this over with.”

 

But the camel snorted, sank to the ground and arranged itself back to the rising wind, as the first plumes of sand rose along the razor-edge crest of the dune, and the raging orange demon of the desert storm whipped the air into a whining, gritty hell.

There are no stories in the woods

This poem is in response to the Secret Keeper’s prompt. The words to use are

WOODS | LEGEND | WILD | HARD | SERVE

828px-Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Verschneite_Hütte

There are no stories in the woods,

Only truths, hard-fast, clinging.

The wild wind blows through the last dry leaves,

On its rough back, black times bringing.

 

There are no stories in the woods,

No fairy tales to serve with the sweet,

The bitter tales go deep as roots,

Down where tree and core rock meet.

 

There are no stories in the woods,

Told by the birds their sweet songs trilling,

Famine stalks and want and death,

Hopes of spring cold bellies filling.

 

There are no stories in the woods,

Their truths are harsh and full of fears,

The trees, the grass, the earth all dying,

Deaf and blind, we ignore their tears.

The mulberry trees dream

Manuel_Garcia_y_Rodriguez01

 

While wild vines wind their ropes of scarlet fire

About the poplars on the bank

And leaves fall pale and thin as wintry sun

The mulberries hold up leaves of glossy green

To catch the failing heat before the season’s done.

 

Their roots delve deep into the dark

To drink from wells of a forgotten source

Cold and pure beneath the desert sands

Where golden memories sleep in tombs of tumbled stone

Fallen walls of cities built by servile hands.

 

Running water sings in cool dug earth

And laughs in fountained gardens’ cloistered shade

That echoed once with songs of sweet despair

Of birds in gilded cages hung beneath the trees

Their notes still ringing in the dusty desert air.

 

Manuel_García_Rodríguez_First_Atrium_of_Santa_Paula_Convent_Seville

 

On the eve of autumn at the turning of the year

The mulberries remember summer’s song

And raise their boughs to listen to the rhyme

As crystal water courses through the earth

Murmuring stories of stone basins cracked with time.

 

Rocked by memories of summers past

The mulberry trees prepare their winter fast

To sleep and dream of Persian sands

And times when scented forests cast a soothing shade

Beneath the everlasting sun of antique lands.

The silk trees dream of home

©OliBac
©OliBac

Night lingers beneath the silk trees’ curving boughs,
Velvet soft their star-spangled canopy,
Bejewelled as a sultry bridal gown,
And cool as the fountains of Samarkand.
When the golden sun lights up the eastern sky,
Dewdrops hanging from rose-silky petal spikes
Reflect the hues of hanging garden blooms
And glitter with the songbirds’ liquid notes
That pour in sorrow from a thousand captive throats,
Filled with all the grief of broken wings.
Growing far from home with roots in distant lands,
The silk trees’ feather leaf fans fed by foreign streams,
Across the years and burning desert sands,
The breeze sighs with their languid cloistered dreams.

South Wind

©Matt
©Matt

Wind from the south
Gusting, scorching
Scratches the blue from the sky
With flails of sand
Whipped from the dunes
Of sun-dazzled deserts.
Carries the flavours
Of pines and perfumes
Piquant and pungent
Of exotic cuisine
And the babble of voices
In a foreign tongue.
A soft sea
Swells in its arms
Warm with the touch of the sun
Rocking with barques
Red and blue
And the brilliant billowing
White of their sails.
Hot wind
Unsettling amid
This northern green
Bending cool trees
Drying and cracking
The dark humid earth
Swirling its sandy skirts
And stirring the past
Deep hidden beneath the roses.
Summer wind
Gusts through the blossom
Red tears falling
On a heart ripped open wide.
Brash sunlight beams
On the windswept memories
Of that last summer
Before you went away.