Hello, everyone! So, this is my first story posted here, I hope you will like it :D

Comments and reviews are always appreciated!

Desert Wind

Chapter 1

Alex made his way through the crowd of the bazaar. He took the guide's advice and only brought a messenger bag and his camera; it wasn't smart to wander around with too many things because of the pickpockets.

Not like he needed anything, he was the happiest guy on the planet right now; he still couldn't believe his luck, buying that bar of chocolate back home was his best investment. Ever. He could still remember the way he almost collapsed right in the middle of the sidewalk, as he read the 'Congratulations! You won the first prize!' printed inside the wrapper.

If he wanted to be honest, this was the best thing that has happened to him in a very long, long time. Maybe in all his nineteen years. And it wasn't like he had to put off work in favor of a two week long vacation, since he didn't have a job to begin with…

Alex shook his head. He didn't want to think about the problems waiting for him back there. He was here to unwind and have fun, and he planned to do exactly that. Taking pictures, spending the pocket money that was also part of his prize. Who knows when he will have an opportunity to just enjoy himself like this again?

The stands on the market were selling all kinds of things, from fruits and vegetables, to luxurious fabrics and various nick-nacks for the tourist. The sun was shining, bathing everything in warm light, making the colors glisten. The smells of the steak-houses and other food vendors stirred his senses, reminding him that it was time for dinner. He could have eaten in the hotel, and everyone advised him that that would be safest, but hell! This was so much more fun.The buzz of the people around him almost made him feel like he was drunk.

On top of that he had to admit that he felt a bit awkward among the other tourists, especially since they were mostly from the upper class. It was a bit ironic that he fared much better with the locals. Not like he understood a word they were speaking, but they just gave off that good-natured, welcoming vibe…

He wandered around for a while more, buying something that resembled tacos, but flavored with spices he never tasted before.He took pictures of the women who worked at painting fabrics, their arms and hands covered in different shades of blue, red and yellow, and a little girl propelling a pack of goats… And the next thing he noticed? He was so lost.

Oh shit! Now what?

He knew from experience that it was fucking impossible to find anyone who spoke English on a level that could help him. Alex looked around, hoping to recognize something that could give him a clue about where the hell he was, but all he saw were rundown houses jammed together in narrow streets. He remembered that his hotel was a pretty tall building, if he could just find a place to have a better look at the city…

Turning in a circle he noticed a tower of some kind rising above the buildings surrounding it. He instantly knew that it wasn't a minaret; there was something strange in its structure that just didn't fit in with the Islamic architecture.

If I could get up there, I could find my way in no time…

He made his way towards it, trying to avoid the darkest alleys and keep an eye on the suspicious looking locals smoking on the corners whowere watching him darkly.

It took him longer than he anticipated to get there, the sun was already low in the sky, and it's light growing dimmer by the moment made him quicken his steps. Alex gave a sigh of relief as he finally found himself standing before the tower. From up close he saw that it was huge, at least a hundred feet in diameter.

Why didn't I see this in the tourist guides? It's magnificent…

The building itself was made from a pale colored stone, the outer surface decorated with intricate patterns of leafs, flowers and tendrils. Unfortunately the boy didn't have time to admire it, he was desperate to find an entrance as soon as possible. Just on the opposite side he finally saw a sturdy, metal door. It was a bit rusty, and he noticed a chain with a giant lock dangling from it, but to his surprise it was open.

Inside the tower it was dark and unusually cold. Alex felt goose bumps rise on his arms, as he looked around; the building was empty except for a line of narrow stairs snaking up the side in a spiral, the absence of windows made the place even spookier.

Guess I have no choice, but to climb…

Strangely there was no dust on the stairs as far as he could tell, which got him thinking; maybe the tower had some function and was used regularly, but he had no idea for what purpose. Well, it wasn't his business anyway; he just wanted to have a peek from the top.

But getting there seemed to be more challenging than he thought. Sadly he didn't have a watch on him, but he must have climbed for at least half an hour by the time he came to a stop. There was some kind of a ceiling over him, with a trapdoor at the end of the stairs.

Finally… I hope I can open it. It would suck big time if itwere locked.

He strained his shoulder against the metal and to his surprise it opened easily without so much as a squeak.

He made his way up the last stairs, greeted by the final rays of sunshine and the glorious view of the city under him. There were no real walls up here, only sparsely placed columns holding the top.

"Oh, thank god!" Alex exclaimed aloud, stretching his tired muscles.

He turned around to have a better look at the sight, and found himself face to face with a dozen dumbfounded Arabs. Dumbfounded, sword and machinegun carrying Arabs…

"Um… Hi?"


Alex had no idea what more he could say, or if they even understood him, but he felt positively like an intruder. Slowly he dragged his gaze over the people. Clearly they were holding some kind of a ceremony, judging by the festive robes some of them were wearing. He spotted a girl in the middle, dressed in a vibrant lilac dress standing beside a tall, handsome man in white. She seemed pretty stricken so Alex gave her a small smile.

"Uh… I-I just want to have a look…" He said, hoping that they wouldn't throw him off the edge after the shock wore off.

Okay… I have to get out of here fast!

He walked to a column and gazed down, fighting the sudden wave of nausea from the height. To his disappointment he couldn't spot anything familiar… then he heard muffled talking from behind him. He swept his head back just in time to see one of the armed men start to make his way towards him. The guy was pretty big, and that must have been the reason why he bumped into the one next to the girl. The dude in white gave a startled cry and dropped the blue and silver scarf he was holding. He tried to grab it, but the wind got hold of the fabric, throwing it into Alex's face, making him loose his balance and almost fall to his death.

He heard shouting and in the last second he clutched the column he was standing by, regaining his feet.

"What the fuck?!" His heart was beating fast from the adrenalin and the fright of nearly plummeting to the ground. He tore the scarf off his face with a glare; the damned thing almost killed him!

He was jerked back to reality as the back of a hand hit his face hard. He fell to the ground shocked, seeing one of the Arabs standing over him with a murderous expression.

"Hey…!" He couldn't finish the protest as he was hit again, and then kicked with boot covered feet. Long years of practice made him draw his knees up to protect his ribs and stomach while his hands wrapped around his head on their own.

He didn't know how long the man kept at it, but suddenly it was over and he was dragged to his feet by strong arms. He could feel a large bruise forming on his jaw and his shins were aching too as he put his weight on them.

There was a swirl of Arabic conversation around him from which naturally he couldn't make out a word, but everyone sounded pissed off.

What the hell just happened?

His mind was a bit foggy from confusion, making him realize that he must have hit his head…

He was hauled after a man as they descended the tower, the death-grip on his arm never relaxing, while someone kept shoving him from behind every time he tried to slow down to catch his breath. A couple of times he nearly stumbled down the stairs, but they always caught him, keeping him walking. His head felt dizzier with every step and by the time he could make out the outline of the door on the ground floor, he was ready to collapse.

As he stopped again, to get a second of rest the person behind him pushed him forward but finally his legs gave out and the world went black…