The Strange Land of Fallen Sands
I love walking, and exploring, but one long walk one day brought me to a strange land I had never visited, or heard about before. I happened upon its metal gates. Adorned around the top with what appeared to be gears, it seemed very different, something I’d not see before. They looked pretty amazing though. Well, I thought nothing of it except interesting and kept on my walk through the gates and into this new area. As I walked into town, I noticed some people wandering around in the distance up the hill and chatting with each other. Seemingly going on their day normally about this small town. I couldn’t help but be taken aback and stare at the skeletons sitting around in various poses as if they had died, deteriorated, and were frozen into those positions. They stood around, or sat around outside the shops, which I must say gave me chills! For instance, two fellows, skeleton fellows, just inside the gates, were standing as if taking a photograph of themselves and still holding the cell phone with a battery I can only assume was long since dead! Just as they were! Another lone one was sitting on a stone bench, still holding the roses in his hands (again, long since dead) and looking at his pocket watch, as if he were waiting for someone. Is this normal? Why are they left here and how did this even happen? Was there some catastrophe here? Is this some sort of strange decoration? Spooky…
I looked up to the sky, though it was daytime it was overcast and cloudy, but the light still seemed to cast a very weird shadow across the area. I didn’t see too many people, but I definitely heard lots of voices in the distance and the sounds of a busy market place. Those I did see or cross paths with, did not seem to notice me, nor did they respond to my questions. Eh, they must not like strangers here, I’ll keep going. There has to be someone with whom I can speak to.
The stores were lit up like a normal operating day. I entered a few as I wandered and found no one, not even an attendant or cashier. I could have easily helped myself to their wares with no one to stop me. But there has to be someone here, there just has to be! I stood around for a bit looking in one store, but to no avail. No one came to help me or even peek in at the very least. But I still heard so much commotion. “Maybe they are all at a town gathering” I thought to myself. So I continued taking in all the new sights of the town.
The streets were not cobblestone, they were lined with pipes, large pipes partially buried in the sand. And the sand was everywhere! I guess there were just walkways. I saw no evidence of vehicles of any kind, I heard elephants and other wildlife, but no prints to be seen in the sand. Nothing but skeletons of various kinds…more skeletons. And tall figures made of pipes and gears, very strange…very strange indeed. Animals and plants were made from these metal pipes and gears. There were also natural plants such as cactus and palm trees. Why these metal plants were here I did not understand, more decor I suppose. I walked along the shore and saw a card table with, of course, skeleton players, this time covered in cobwebs! And they were playing for Voodoo dolls, rats, worms and bones! One had a lit cigarette in it’s mouth! I’d had enough of the sights for now. That’s it! I headed to the sounds of the marketplace up the sand dunes and hills. In search of some answers from someone… anyone.
The sounds became louder as I ascended the hills to the larger buildings. I was certain I would find someone I could ask questions of and maybe learn a little bit about this small town. But, as I arrived at the bigger building in the middle of town, I heard lots of people but still there was no one outside! But there had to be. I could find no one. Anywhere…inside or out, and what happened to those few I had come across? I decided to try another large building from where I also heard sounds. Nothing. The thought that this was simply a ghost town crept into my mind. The thought sent chills down my spine and I felt goosebumps coat my arms. I stepped out of the building and walked rather quickly down the path back towards the gates again. Looking around, just to make sure no one was around, but afraid I would see the non-responding inhabitants of the town. This ghost town rather, I am totally convinced by now. Glancing again at the tall metal plants and birds, flamingos to be exact, I had wished I had taken pictures, but I was now on a mission to get out of town and fast! Especially since I noticed the sounds I’d heard previously of the busy market place were getting louder as I walked away from the buildings on the hill. On my way up here they sounded very much in the distance before I had headed up the hill. But now it seemed the sounds were following me, chasing me out of town, or trying to overtake me before I made it out. They sounded as if they were surrounding me now. My quick trot turned into a full run as I searched for the skeleton on the bench where I remembered I had turned to head towards the shore and the hill. There it is! Still sitting there, “Thank the gods!” I exclaimed quietly to myself still horrified by the sounds booming around me! I dared not look back until I passed through the gate. Out of breath but too scared to stop, I rushed through the gates and kept running until I noticed, rather quickly, that the noises had stopped. Dare I turn around to look? I had to.
When I turned to look at the gates I had just run through, I saw nothing but sand. No gates, no overcast sky, no clouds. All of it was gone! Had this been a dream? Did I run so far that I could no longer see it? NO! I couldn’t have! But still, I saw no evidence of the town I left behind. I wiped my eyes still not believing it was completely gone. I turned completely around in a full circle searching the horizon around me. Nothing.
“Well, hopefully I will wake up soon. This has to be a dream.” I said to myself as I turned away from where the gates should have been and headed back home…I hope!
Whirlwind of Fate
“It’s gonna knock over the purple plant.”
“Wait, I’m changing my mind! It’s gonna wipe out the yellow one.”
Erasmus and Fidget sat watching the dust devil. Well, that’s not absolutely true.
Fidget sat waving her Dinkie tail in the sand.
Even though there was a sun umbrella and a cooler fan — Erasmus puddled.
It’s rare that you see a snowman in the desert under the open sun.
The Dinkie and the snowman were making bets on whether or not the dirt tornado would destroy anything in it’s path.
Fidget planned on getting a serious sized moo-shake with chocolate bacon ice cream in it. Erasmus was going to get another carrot, just as a spare.
They both eyed the whirlwind which narrowly missed all the plants.
“Pffft! That was close though Erasmus!”
The snowman gurgled.
Lowering her voice to a whisper, she asked Erasmus, “Have you seen the anyone come thru here looking for a carrot plant?”
The carrot nose jostled in what could have been the wind or a sideways “no.”
“You let me know if you do .. I hear near the whole land is searching for that plant! The little blue guy says it’s important.”
Another gurgle came from Erasmus.
“True, if I find it first … then … well, I rumour has it there’s treasure involved. And with treasure, we could get you another cooler!”
The Dinkie left it at that and scarpered, her tail following her. “No melting while I’m gone Erasmus!”
(Images provided by Author)
by Caledonia Skytower
“You’re late!” grumbled the First Player.
“Hey, why do you care about time?” replied the Second, his chair making a remarkable scraping sound across the sand.
“Where’s Fred?” asked the Third, taking particular care with the placement of his chair and his personal effects.
“Ah hell, you know Fred. He insisted on driving and that old wreck of his and it broke down just on the other side of the water.”
Fourth Player began to pull out his stake, assessing and arranging as he said, “Yeah, they don’t make those models like they used to.”
A low, inattentive muttering of agreement.
Observing one piece, holding it up, he interrupted himself, “This one isn’t mine. You guys recognize it?”
Heads clacked as they shook.
“Now the Phoenix 4326XE,” Fourth continued, cleaning his glasses with a sand-spattered cloth, “now THAT was a ride!”
More enthusiastic groans acknowledged the truth of this, followed by more adjusting of chairs.
“Anybody remember the old Thunderbird? From the Eternities 600 series? The one with the aqua wingtips?” asked Second.
“Oh man!” . . . “That beast was smooooothe” . . . “My Dad had one that we sooo cherry!” . . . “damn fine ride!” were the responses, thumbing one on top of the other.
“Well,” First continued, picking up his previous thread once more, “Fred’s Manticore Sport is not in the same class with those. They move those things in and out like manic siroccos, if ya asked me. They oughta take a little more care – folks putting their bones on the line and all.”
The table became silent but for the arranging of stakes, and players shifting in their seats.
“But you know Fred, we got up to walk and he got distracted by the first belly dancer we came across. Just stood there with that damn blue bumbershoot of his, trying to look suave all the while just melting under her smoky gaze – the witch.” He grunted. “Chicks! Don’t trust’em!”
“Yeah…!” A general attempt at supportive assent, followed by silence.
“I think your stake is still moving,” Fourth muttered to Second.
“No, that’s First’s. Take a look” the whispered response.
A silent “Oh” mouthed and a nod. The table was quiet again.
“Should we open the door? Seems a bit close.” Third looked around, absently shuffling his stake so it rattled on the table top.
“The door’s already open,” First gestured dismissively to the nearby pavilion, its dulled copper simmering in the sun, “and we are in the desert ya mook! Whaddaya want?”
“Okay, okay … no need to get tetchy!’
“If ya don’t like the heat, play in arctic next time,” he snarled, “Are we gonna play cards? or do I need to get the bones out so we can roll something else? We can’t talk about transport and Fred’s fractious love life all night. PLEASE not all night! DEAL!”
“Who brought the beer?” Second shuffled the cards, a very small dust storm formed with this movements as he began to deal.
“Beer?” sneered First, “Beer, really?! Are you kiddin’ me? What are you smokin’?”
Second looked around the table incredulous. “A cigar,” he waved it before them, “Isn’t it obvious.” He was, and it was.
“Right,” grumbled First, “I’ll take two.”
He leaned forward, reaching for the stack when…
“Hey! Wait a damn minute!” cried Third, “What is that tucked in the back of your hat?”
“Tucked where?” First tried to look innocent.
Fourth joined in, “Aw Man! You’re real piece a work!”
Second sat back with a derisive glance to his companion, taking a quick puff, “I thought a top hat in this heat was a little weird, even for you.”
“You guys are killin’ me!” First said in weak defense, rising and slamming the table with his fisted hand.
“Cheat!” shouted Third, reaching for his gun.
The chairs tumbled, cards and stakes skittered across the table as it fell, the sounds of colliding players filled the air. There was a loud crash and boom.
Then . . . silence.
There was nothing left but bones as the wind blew the sands swirling to quickly cover the disaster. A few of the stakes slithered or crawled towards safety, and a small column of smoke rose from the still smoldering cigar.
(Images provided by author)