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Son of the Sands (standard:fantasy, 3643 words)
Author: Gavin J. CarrAdded: Apr 03 2005Views/Reads: 1811/1115Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A man persues a lone figure over the desert.
 



Son of the Sands By Gavin J. Carr 

I met a traveller from an antique land, 

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, 

Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown 

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command 

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things, 

The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed; 

And on the pedestal these words appear: 

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, 

The lone and level sands stretch far away. 

(Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley.) 

Beyond the cracked earth he could see the man. 

At first he thought him a mirage.  An empty spectre conjured from dust
and shimmering desert air.  But now, after three days, he was sure the 
man was real; as solid as the stony ground which cut and bruised his 
feet. 

He stopped, and cupping his hands around his mouth, shouted.  The sound
was flat and listless, swallowed by the distance. The man did not look 
up.  He continued his weary trudge, ahead and forever out of reach. 

Perhaps I will never catch him, he thought.  The man must be as tired as
he was, but he never seemed to slow his pace or stop.  Just continued 
onwards, always on the horizon like a far away constellation. He looked 
up at the sun, shielding his eyes with his hand.  It burned on, 
remorseless, unaware and unmoved by his plight.  No wonder they once 
worshiped it as a god, he thought.  It held life and death in its hands 
and was indiscriminate, providing both in equal measure. He tried to 
remember how he had got here.  What events had led to his journey over 
the burning sand.  But his mind was clouded.  He could think only of 
his swollen tongue, throbbing with the need for water. Somewhere, 
hovering in the periphery, there was the image of an aeroplane.  Of 
cool blue skies and cotton clouds.  Shrapnel pounding off fuselage like 
deadly hail.  Smoke, thick and greasy with the smell of oil.  And 
blood. 

He pushed the images away and concentrated on the ground.  It was no
sandy Sahara, this desert.  But a twisted land, made up of compact 
earth covered with a layer of sand that hid toe-stubbing rocks.  A hot 
wind blew from the south, whipping the sand into his face and 
momentarily blinding him.  He cursed the wind.  Cursed the sand.  
Cursed the fates that had led him here.  Cursed himself for being led.  
Cursed the curses.  Laughed.  Fell-down.  And cried without tears. He 
got back up.  The man was still there.  Still in the distance... 

_________________ 

Night descended like sudden death.  There was no stirring sunset or cool
twighlight.  One moment there was the blazing sun, the next, darkness 
and what dwelled within. 

He scrambled into the shelter of a narrow wadi, dislodging stones and
pebbles as he slid down its side. 


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