This is not so much a story but a character sketch. I was trying to explore what a person might look like in this situation. Here it is:
The Lonely Traveler
He walked on. It would be there; over the horizon. If not this one, then the next. He hung his head and walked. The sweat dripped off his body and added another trail in the desert sand. It joined a trail of shuffled foot prints staggering across the sand. Snaking up one dune and tumbling down the other side. The desert sand clung to his body longer then his rambling trial clung to the shifting sands.
His sweat stood glistening its own trial through the grime of his face. His eyes shone like beacons of madness in his dark face. The sunburned redness of his skin was covered by a darkening coat of sandy grime. He wiped the sweat from his eyes amazed that the relief of the storm clouds, from the desert’s heat, could have a danger all their own. His hand left a scar of cleaner skin exposed like a putrid display of life on the sand scorched landscape all around him. His long hair curled up over his ears in the humid respite the approaching storm brought.
He wouldn’t make the mountains before the storm broke so he would be forced, out in the open, to face the storm’s onslaught of pelting sand and rain as he walked on. To stop and huddle under the oppressive might of the demon called storm would risk being buried alive. He wouldn’t take that risk again.
With his water bags long since emptied and abandoned he licked his lips. His dry coarse tongue only scratched his chapped, peeling lips. It lingered in the corners of his mouth, in the scabbed split of his pale pink lips, but there was not even his own blood to moisten his tongue anymore.
He hunched his broad shoulders against a gust of wind but they weakly sagged with the exhaustive length of his journey. He had no more defenses left on his journey. His legs once strong and muscular stretched down to his feet like withered reeds on a dry river bed barely holding his weight as he took one step after another. His feet kept their rhythm despite the burning pain shooting up from the exposed soles. They moved in a tired shuffle step each barely striding more then a few inches in front of the other foot before sinking into the shifting sand and rising to start the process all over again. It was a new dance they had learned on this journey. As mindless and routine as the “Circle” and the “Waiting Fan” had been in his youth.
Those days in the village of Marpai were long gone. Grey streaked his hair at the temples letting their devouring tendrils of silver steal the handsomeness of his youth. But he had a purpose. A destination and a goal when he got there. So he walked. Until this horizon, or the next one, brought him to that place. He walked on.
Is this my reality or yours?