Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sands of Al-Haasra

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Everything Flows" in Mirror Shards.

The moonlight illuminated the swirling sand as winds blew across Al-Haasra. Intellectually, Mehmet knew that other princes stood watch just as he did on the neighboring signal towers. Emotionally, he felt abandoned as the night hid the others. Mehmet fingered the leather pouch of white phosphorus tied to his belt. Perhaps, nothing would happen tonight. He glanced up at the full moon overhead and prayed for Ra's rays to rise.

A star shot across the heavens and when Mehmet looked back at the sand he saw a man-shaped figure lurch across the dunes. Mehmet's hands shook as he tossed phosphorus on the open coals and white flame shot upwards from the brazier. The Impundulu's black eyes, inset in the impossibly smooth pale skin, matched his black robe and Mehmet looked away before the beauty of the creature bedazzled him.

This tower had a laminate shooter and Mehmet grabbed the nozzle and pointed it at the Impundulu. The water shot out in a single smooth stream that reflected the moonlight and its glassy surface. The Impundulu blinked away leaving nothing more than a black feather as the water hit. His fingers gripped the hose as he dragged it with him walking the circumference of the top of the tower. He was alone. A lightning bolt flashed on the horizon.

Mehmet heard flapping wings over the winds of the desert. He pointed the nozzle at the moon and searched for the Impundulu's bird form. He tripped over the hose and fell on the stones. He rolled and lost hold of the hose. The black-and-white bird landed on the tower's parapet. The black eyes watched him as the body morphed into a pale-skinned man.

Mehmet scrambled for the hose.


The Impundulu's silver voice stopped Mehmet, he looked down at the sand that pooled across the stone floor.

"Look at me."

Mehmet looked at the black eyes as the sound of the wind died away. "Don't kill me."

"That is written, or not." The Impundulu jumped down from the parapet and landed next to Mehmet as his robe swirled around him. He reached down and lifted Mehmet to his feet. "You will come with me." He tossed something into the fire and the flames died.


"It does not matter whether you travel with me or I capture your will for a time. Choose."

Mehmet looked at the desert. "I'll live?"

"For the moment, it is written."

"I will come," said Mehmet.

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