An Angel in The Darkness: Pt 7
A little before first light, Putai and I set out across the desert.
I had arrived at the well to find her fully prepared and packed for a long trek. Ahmak was loaded down with supplies of food, water and fuel, and two more camels would be our primary transport. I donned the white turban and desert robe she offered; her own clothing was dyed a dark violet-blue that appeared almost black. I did not ask where we were headed, and she did not volunteer any information.
In silence, she led the way out through the village and into the emptiness beyond. Ahmak grumbled to himself the whole time, but fortunately my own mount proved to be docile, and far less inclined to casual violence.
After nearly two days of trekking across the sands, we crossed into the foothills of the mountains. Hot desert wind – the famous harmattan capable of scouring flesh from bone – howled up and down the narrow valleys, forcing our pace down to a crawl. I pulled
An Angel in The Darkness: Part 6
Although the eating area was crowded, no one else spoke or even looked at me – a small blessing, but a welcome one. The last thing I wanted was to fend off further conversation.
Once the meal was over, I was left pretty much to myself. Fields needed tending and animals had to be fed. No one noticed me slip casually behind the beehive-shaped bakery and along the south wall.
“Lara! Over here.” Salieah appeared from behind a stack of barrels and gestured for me to follow.
We worked our way down a narrow, half-blocked passageway, keeping the perimeter wall to our right. I kept my eyes focused on Salieah’s billowing headscarf. At last she halted, and drew my head close to hers as she whispered.
“Please stay quiet, or you’ll startle her.”
The mystery was solved when we rounded the next corner. We had come to a small cul-de-sac between the wall and one of the granaries, that was shaded from the midday
An Angel in The Darkness: Part 5
Werner’s hand stretched out towards me, his body shrouded by dust and falling rubble.
“Hurry Lara! Give me your hand! Quickly girl!”
“You’re back, Werner? No more Seth?”
My voice sounded faint, as if it was coming from very far away…
“No time! Your hand, Lara! Give me your hand!”
I tried to swing up to reach him, but my strength had drained. My grip - already tenuous - started to fail.
“Good to see you again Werner…”
“I couldn’t leave you!”
But he did.
Above the Pyramid’s angry thunder, I heard his limping footsteps retreating. For a moment I was too stunned to feel afraid.
But then the darkness swelled up, eager to devour me. My fingers scrabbled uselessly, hope giving way to all-consuming terror.
I fell, screaming, with Seth’s mocking laughter in my ears.
An Angel in The Darkness: Part 4
We arrived at the village just as light began to stain the eastern sky. The cold was ferocious – one of the many contradictions people often forget about deserts – and I was freezing even with the extra layers I had thrown on during the walk.
People milled about us. I was so drunk with fatigue I barely noticed them. I was also resentful of Putai who had ignored me throughout the entire journey. She was a puzzle; one minute she was attentive and nurturing, the next nothing but an arrogant old bag with the power to make me feel ten years old again.
Now she slipped down from the camel’s back, chatting and joking with the men who came to assist her. In the dimness they were no more than heavily-obscured shadows moving back and forth. Others hung back and herded children and animals away from the twitchy Ahmak, who had realised his work was over and was determined to be left alone to rest.
A figure was leading me towards a stone and mud-
An Angel in The Darkness: Part 3
My previous journeys on camel-back were a paradise compared to the trip we now embarked upon.
Despite Putai’s miraculous healing, my ankle continued to ache and grew steadily worse as the day wore on, hour after tedious, brain-numbing hour. I rode side-saddle most of the way, while Putai preferred to lead Ahmak on foot. Almost from the start, the animal had taken an offensive dislike to me, and I to him. He deliberately tilted forward too fast while I was still in the process of mounting, which left me hanging onto his jogging saddle like grim death until Putai managed to get him to slow down.
I could swear he was sniggering as I lashed myself to the saddle with bad grace, annoyed and already stifling in the heat. Putai seemed oblivious to any discomfort, so I forced myself to relax and assume my normal aspect of inner calm. It worked well for another few hours, but near noon my mask was beginning to wilt – along with the rest of me.
An Angel in The Darkness: Part 2
Someone was humming.
It was a random little tune, impossible to ignore yet compelling and rhythmic. In my dream I saw the singer, clad all in dusty black from head to toe. They were sitting beside a campfire of camel dung and wood chips, and stirred a metal pot that swung from a complicated framework. Every now and then they would toss a handful of dried leaves into the pot. The steam would change colour, and the smoke would sting my eyes.
My eyes. They were open. I was not dreaming.
“Who are you?” I croaked, trying to sit up. In a rush of sensation, I realised I was naked – bundled into a mass of woven blankets and soft silks like a swaddled child. A strange sky moved overhead, neither clouds nor stars.
The figure nodded to itself, and continued stirring the pot.
I wriggled my arms and hands free of the coverings. The air was shockingly cold. My eyes bored into the figure, willing it to answer. “I asked you who you are