::gulp:: Another piece of original work - thank you so much to those of you who commented on the last. It was vastly loved and appreciated J Thank you, Noelle, Triona, Drathen, Diomede, John Santana and Myst for your thoughtfulness.

I can't claim to understand why I wrote this J I just heard the line of the song - the quote is from Sarah McLachlan's 'Vox' - and got hit by a wave of inspiration.

I'd love to know what you think. I hope you enjoy,
Ki

Desert

~ In the desert of my dreams I saw you there. ~

The song of the desert is seldom heard.

You would wish to hear it, to hear this exotic lament that can seize men's hearts and make them warriors, that can take a child and build a temple around him. Kings are born and torn in the dancing dunes. Bodies sink into the sands, spirits are shredded in the storms. All this you know, and yet your curiosity, your courage is greater than your fear.

You leave your life behind, you take only hope.

You walk into the desert.

There is only sand here; only shimmering dunes and the sky arching away above like the ceiling of a chapel. If you look around, you are utterly, entirely alone. No shadows cross the deserts, pure white light burning into your skin and melting the resistance from your bones. This is where religions are born, among the voices of the sand and the branding touches of the air.

You are one of the desert wayfarers now, a traveller dusty and torn who searches hopelessly among a maze that shifts with the winds and hurls new walls against you. Your world is gold and orange and white. Your world is a sighing, writhing fire that tumbles under your feet.

The heat drives into your mind, into your skin, slowly scorching you into agony. You pay the price with a fearful heart; this, after all, is the song of the desert.

You did not think it would be this way.

You did not come here to be lost. No one does. But the desert consumes you anyway, bleaching the life from your skin and reaching into your spirit to score away the remnants of humanity. The desert has emptied you, and you hardly even know, every step forward a step further into despair.

And when the darkness comes, it is complete and you are lost in an instant, plunged into the depths of the night sea.

You look up to the sky and see only yourself reflected back. Every star stares down on you, a thousand heartless eyes that watch without interest or passion, tiny glints of ice. You reach up to them, your arms burnt and broken by the day and your lips, cracked and clotted, move in shapes you barely remember.

In the desert, you have no voice.

Your words are unheeded and the silence of the night sea floods over you, powerful and terrible, forcing you down into depths where monsters lurk. You shield your eyes from what you believe you see and scream in your silent, splintered voice.

You believe you hear a thousand voices screaming with you, hear the sirens of eternity screeching the warning that you did not heed. And now it is too late.

You know it is too late.

Beneath that anguished sonata you hear another sound. The fragile, graceful hiss of smoke. You open your eyes onto the desert night and see grey clouds twining around you. There are strange lights in them that draw you closer, beautiful as the aurora borealis, alien as the light of other worlds.

You reach out to touch the lights and heat seizes you, pain grasps your arms and you flinch back but you cannot remove the grip of the strange steam. As you stare, the pain arching up through your arm to your terrified, stunned mind, the smoke solidifies and something is standing there.

Something. Yes, that is the only word you have for it. Maybe it is a person. You think you see familiar features on its face, ever-changing, a multitude of features in an instant. Its eyes cycle across a season's skies, the skin a dozen shades of flesh, stretching and shrinking like some madman flexing in a seizure's clutch.

Then the shape holds and you see your own face reflected back, perfect, whole. Untouched by these famished lands, these starving sands. Its hands are wrapped around your wrists, yours around its in a lock that it does not wish to break and you do not dare to.

Its voice is not yours. The seas crash within it, the sound of death rattles soft on its breath and your charred soul quails. The djinn offers you a choice. One wish. All or nothing. All for nothing. But you do not see it that way. You came here to hear the sands sing and you tell it that.

You wish to hear the song of the desert.

It smiles once, and for a fleeting pause, the smoke hugs tight round your body once more, and the vision is gone. You wait, wait in the ice of a desert night and with every heartbeat that passes, calm steals over you. The sand glows like ivory ground into shards now, a world where gods might walk. But instead, there is only you, burnt into a shadow of yourself by a mad desire.

The pain is immense, intense. But beyond it, your mind slowly opens to new possibilities, gateways seeming to swing open all around with hollow cries. Worlds mesh here, the stars seeming to loom closer and closer to your parched body, silent and breath-taking. A thousand doors open, a thousand chances waiting to be taken.

Touch the desert; touch countless worlds waiting for you to take them.

And they wait as you ache and curl around yourself, trying to keep off the icy grip of a chill night. Maybe tears slip from your eyes, but the sand siphons them to its heart. Give to the desert and it will give nothing back. All for nothing.

Time passes, but not here. The night goes on and you hear no song. Only silence. And then. And then.

You hear the slither of a body on the grains. Confused, you turn, and the thing that fills your sight blots out the sky above, it blots out anything but your fear and your sudden certainty that the only song you will hear tonight is whatever this beast would have you hear.

You run. Of course you do. You scrabble at the sand, desperately trying to haul your damaged body away from the stalker. You run towards those doorways left open to other worlds, herded carefully as a lost sheep. Waiting for the slaughter.

Your terrified senses take in only pieces.

Whatever it is, it is as broken as you are.

A claw, hooked and with hairline cracks running along it. A metallic, rasping sound as something grates along the ground. Damp, prickling cold that inches along your legs. Your hands grab at the ground, your muscles shriek as you frantically scratch at the dunes that give way before you. Sand is in your mouth, in your eyes, under your nails, gritty and grinding as you run like the cornered beast you are.

A world is waiting. And fool that you are, you step within it, lost in an instant.

Your breath is harsh and hurts your lungs. The air is no longer cool or fresh, but heavy and dull with musk, with cloying blood, with the death of worlds. In your ears, sound begins to grow, gathering, drawing up like a tidal wave. And it crashes down onto you and in your ears are the screams of children, the crash of metal on metal, the soft, clammy rupture of flesh and the hiss of blood.

In your mind, legions rise and charge. Above you, the night has fled in its own charge and you fight under a red sun, a vast dead plain beneath your feet that fractures into chasms. In that instant, you die, you charge, you parry and you throw back your head to the demoneye and howl out your soul to your gods.

In that instant, you are a thousand people and all of them are alone.

You have frozen quite still, your back arched desperately at the moon that blooms above you, welling red as blood while you are trapped in your mind, caged in condemnation. Your hands are hooked, stretching up to a sun that does not exist in the desert night. Around you, the sands are still, watching, waiting as the hunter halts before you and its tongue flickers hungrily, once to touch your skin.

The spell breaks.

You head turns for a fraction of a second, just long enough to see the mouth, jagged and dripping. It yawns wide, and with a shock you realise the hunter has no eyes. Its claws rip downwards and you throw your hands before your face, and suddenly the words are there, but you have only sounds.

You scream and scream and scream while above you, the stars seem to whirl in a swift, intricate dance. The demoneye sun is there again, or is the moon? You no longer know as the creature tears into you and tears you away, as those voices scream in your ears in one short, horrific symphony before they die.

They take you with them.

The desert has no songs, fool. Only screams. I liked hearing you scream.

You tasted very sweet.

~*~

Thanks for reading - I'd love hearing your thoughts.