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The Weary Traveller
Kate Rancid

The adventurer heaved his ruck-sack onto his aching back and continued to tread heavily across the scorching desert. The sun above tore at his skin and the ground beneath him burned flesh off his char-grilled feet. He shaded his sunblind eyes and squinted despairingly towards the sunset.

He had been lost in the desert for almost a week. His meagre food supply had run out after four days, and his water bottle containing his last drip of life had fallen off his belt as he had negotiated a cactus the previous day. Now all that stood between himself and death was the hope of finding water; the hope of an oasis.

Above, the black shadows of impatient vultures loomed teasingly. Tired of eating skinny coyotes and rubbery salamanders, they viewed their prey with interest. They could smell the adventurers blood as it began to boil in the torturous heat, and the vultures knew the time was close.

The man was getting weaker. His once manly gait was now nothing more than a pathetic stagger. His chest heaved and his lungs rasped as they filled with the thick sandy desert air.

His head pounded. His whole body ached, crying out to be released from the torment of living.

The man fell to his knees. Something inside him had stopped; the will to live. Turned off like a light switch. The adventurer lay down and stared at the sky until the sky turned black.

He awoke to find water being poured lavishly between his lips. A parasol shaded his cracked skin from the heat, and his wounds had been dressed. He opened his eyes to find a beautiful young girl bending over him. Her long black hair was tied clumsily to one side of her face, and strips of shiny black hung around her brown face. She had lips which were a natural shade of crimson, and her huge violet eyes were framed with spider-like lashes. The strange woman's breasts were visible through her scanty robes, and their gravity-defying hugeness made something previously forgotten stir deep inside the adventurers sweat-stained underpants.

The woman spoke softly, but the man was unable to understand her, as she spoke in a strange yet alluring language that he had never before heard. Her voice sounded like the trickle of a mountain stream; her hands touched his face like a silken shroud. Gently she took his shaking hand and placed them on her breasts.

Again she spoke.

The adventurer was slowly beginning to realise he could not move. He was frozen. He stared helplessly at the beautiful vision, as she touched his face and talked to him. He could not feel her breast, although he could see his hand remained there. Her hand brushed the dust from his head, but he felt nothing of its softness.

Presently the girl stood up and began to walk away. The man tried to scream; tried to stop her from leaving, but he could not move a muscle. He watched as his last hope of living became a spot on the horizon.

Pretty soon, everything turned black again.

The man awoke again to hear a plane overhead. It was so low, that when he opened his eyes he could count the whiskers on the pilot's chin. He could smell the washing powder his wife had used on his shirt, and hear the joke his co-pilot was telling: "Why is it difficult to make tea for a camel?"

He asked again and again.

The pilot wasn't listening. He was wondering why there were so many vultures below. Too many for a coyote carcass. He was wondering whether they'd found a hippo; after all, they were only a few yards from the watering hole.

The man on the ground watched the two men in the sky as they sat absorbed in their own worlds.

The pilot had by now stopped thinking about setting down the plane and checking out the situation with the vultures.

"What do you say there?" he asked his co-pilot, scratching his crotch.

The plane became a dot and the world went black again.

The next time the man opened his eyes he was walking. The pain had gone from his body. He was no longer tired and thirsty. The sun seemed less overpowering. In the distance he saw a road sign.

Civilisation!

The man broke into a run.

As he got nearer he saw he had reached a desert petrol station. He could see people around.

He was saved!

He burst into the petrol station shop and grabbed a can of Coke from the fridge, gulping eagerly. He noticed that the people there were the two pilots and the girl.

The girl looked up and smiled.

The men were arguing loudly.

"Is there a phone here?" He asked, finally relinquishing the cola bottle.

The people began to laugh.

The woman got up and produced a mirror from her bag. She thrust it into his face.

The adventurer sank to his knees. His face was gone. Pieces of black flesh hung from his cheek bones. Maggots danced inside his eye sockets. Vultures flapped around, fighting for the last of his flesh.

"I am dead." Said the traveller. "When did I die?"

He was losing his vision again. This time he knew it would not return.

The woman placed her hand on his cock and began to rub. He felt nothing.

As he faded away to nothing he heard one of the men say, "They can never decide whether to have one hump or two."





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