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Episode XI - Sand

Premiered 20 March 2009

 

Multiple Choice -- Episode XI

Sand

 

Given the choice… water is better than sand. It dries… eventually… and sand has the tendency to do… well… sand blasting. Sand also sticks to the slightest hint of bodily moisture, finds every imaginable hidden fold in which to deposit itself. The conversion of everything to sandpaper-like-simplicity is simply not a good idea. And despite any commonality of water-induced phasing, given the alternative…

David had felt in every part of his body the sting of sand blasting against skin, the latter which had developed a real affinity for water… the human body being primarily a water bag with miscellaneous neurons and bits of soggy matter. True to form, the sand impacted on his body from every conceivable direction… including from below, which gave a whole new meaning to an early morning wake up call. David was in fact tossed and turned as the sand found its way into every conceivable crevice in his body. This particular sand had a real exploratory bent to its meanderings.

Abruptly, the multidirectional sand blasting became sand blowing from roughly a single direction. This was David’s first clue that he had arrived at the site of his next adventure. But then he was promptly blown over by the raging sand storm, and losing his balance totally, he began to roll head over heels (and more importantly, heels over head) down a huge sand dune.  Eventually he reached a low spot in the sand dune locale… whereupon he began to think in terms of trying to avoid being buried in sand.

With a whole new motivation, he struggled for several minutes to get to his feet and stand against the wind. He would liked to have found himself back in a huddled mass yearning to be free (of sandstorms), when a momentary lull in the storm allowed him to see a rock formation just downwind of him. Rock good, sand bad. Rock not bury David. David scampered for the rock-promised haven. Crawling around the rocks to a cleft in the rock cliff, he promptly crouched to wait out the massive sand rearranging program

He did manage, however, to verbally chastise himself.

“Crap! What in the world was I thinking?”

The world had no clue, the sand continued to blow, and David’s view of the outside world was slowly obscured for the duration of the storm.

***************

David had dozed off. It had in fact been some time in his personal chronology since he had been allowed to sleep. He had, accordingly, taken advantage of the moment.

When he did awake, it was likely because of the quiet stillness. The wind had died down to the point of momentary extinction. This left a lull where the surroundings were covered with fresh blown sand… all the imperfections of the landscape gracefully draped in brilliant, shining particles of Silicon-based compounds with multiple albeit hidden impurities.

David very slowly opened his eyes, in order to appreciate his new environment. He squinted at the reflected light, and then straightening and shaking himself free of the sand all over his body, he stood up and began moving out and away from his shelter. His movements were tentative and uncertain, as he began to survey the new situation.

A beautiful, but stark and forbidding scene rolled out before him -- a desert of sand and rock with absolutely no signs of life… not so much as a tiny resident sand lizard coming out to inspect its new backyard landscaping.  In the sky, the only action beyond the wind blown sand was a virtually constant and intense lightening storm in the distance.  There was no hint of moisture, rain or coolness -- nothing even remotely suggesting life.  Everything was dead.  Looking up, he saw the Moon in the late afternoon sky.  It looked different, as if blasted or somehow devastated.

“Jesus!” David exclaimed, for the benefit of any passing intelligence. “If they did that much damage to the Moon, the Earth ought to really be toast.” Then he looked around again. “Then again,” he thought, “Maybe it is.”

David made a 360-degree survey of his situation. He then shook his head for a moment. He took a deep breath… Hey! At least the air was breathable! He began walking and looking about the lifeless desert of rock and sand. He licked his dried lips, and tried to swallow… his first notice of his physical predicament. His hand began to gently massage his throat.

“Okay, David,” he began. “Time to remember your survival training. Too bad I never had any. But it’s pretty clear it’s going to get awfully thirsty hereabouts. Crap! Not even a frigging cactus!”

David began to stagger up the side of a dune, which naturally caused tons of sand to cascade down beside him, slowing his pace to a near-crawl. And considering his means of locomotion on his hands, knees and feet… the crawl description was entirely appropriate.  Meanwhile, above him was a blistering hot sun, which in his semi-prone posture helped him somewhat, keeping his eyes lowered to what was almost shade.

David kept moving, climbing and then sliding down the sandy dune.  Once on top and on more solid footing, he began walking. He tried to shade himself from the sun, but his body felt increasingly dry.  He simply kept walking until he came to an old paved road -- one that was in dismal shape.  He smiled slightly, thinking that here was civilization! The smile vanished when he realized that there was nothing to see in either direction.  He turned left… he had always been something of a liberal… and set off down the yellow broken-pavement road. 

It was a long road, bereft of any notable observations, other than perhaps a small dune to one side that suggested a rocky break in the landscape covered with sand. David kept his eye on the semi-permanent dune, assuming that it hid some worthy object of his search. He was not entirely disappointed, if only because as he rounded the bend caused by the dune and reaching the top of the ridge that it had caused in the road, he saw up ahead an old dilapidated gas station. His movements now more of a stagger, he nevertheless perked up at the sight, and began moving with renewed energy and expectantly toward the old wooden building.

Before David reached the building, he slowed, glancing around, still looking for the slightest sign of life, and simultaneously trying to catch his breath.  Seeing nothing, he walked directly up to the front of the station. Frowning, he stepped through the shattered front door, and found two skeletons, one in a chair, and one sitting on the floor nearby.  Bits of skin, preserved by the dry desert air, hung from their bones.  David leaned against the doorframe, his shoulders slumping in disappointment.  Then his eyes caught something, causing him to move slowly to the opposite wall, where a dusty, faded “official notice” has been long ago tacked to the wall.  He brushed some of the accumulated sand from the poster (causing some parts of it to flake off and fall to the floor).  The remainder read:

“Emergency Order 30 - ...
  All personnel movements, other than authorized........
unlawful and punishable on site by death.  Any attemp........
underground facilities will result in immediate executio........
advised to remain w.......      .. ... preserve law a.....
.”

David reached up to brush more sand away and inadvertently caused the rest of the notice to flake off in pieces and fall to the floor.  He winced as he looked down at the trash.  Now partially covered with flakes, a can of red spray paint caught his attention. David picked it up, and momentarily toyed with it, shaking it and being rewarded by the traditional ball bearing sound of the internal stir mechanism.

David smiled broadly. Then using the spray can he began writing in block letters on the otherwise nondescript wall the words: “Question Authority.” Well... actually, the spray can gave out toward the end, leaving the last three letters almost indistinct. David smiled nonetheless, thinking his work here was done. Clearly, he would not be giving any presentations to a lecture hall filled with eager students.

On the other hand... the reference to "underground facilities" and so forth... there just might be some adventure to be undertaken. Such a possible journey, of course, assumed that David was into once again encountering anal-retentives with a penchant for control at any and all costs. But such an adventure was essentially just variations on a theme by Xerxes. Why bother? Especially when finding an underground facility prior to dying of thirst was going to be a real pain. And once there... enclosed in impenetrable walls. No thanks.

Simultaneously, with the sense of dismissing one train of thought and having done his thing enough already, having learned or gleamed whatever was to be gleamed from the current situation and the latest in a series of tyrannies, and not particularly prone to milk the current scenario for what other experiences might be available... The sound of wind picking up gathered his attention, and he moved back to the doorway, where he saw a small twister moving along the road just outside the gas station.  David turned and looked at the skeletons in the gas station, and then back at the twister.  He stepped outside and started toward the miniature tornado, his staggering gait showing considerably more confidence than before as he broke into a near run.

“Forget what I said about no more water,” David commanded. “I love water! I love to go with the flow. Feel free to hit me with everything you’ve got… just as long as it’s water!”

Without breaking stride, he ran directly into the small twister. The scene phased.

 

Episode X -- Domed Cities

Forward to:

Episode XII -- Bunkers

               

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