Palm trees rattled gently in the breeze as the water rippled across the clear blue pool. Lounging with a cold bottle of lemonade in one hand and a ripened date in the other, I realized life couldn't be better. With my handkerchief, I polished anthropological awards pinned to my safari shirt. As a world-renowned lecturer and real-life Indiana Jones, I have helped solve many mysteries of the past.
"You have done well," said Crusoe, sitting to my left, "It took me ten years to attain this level of luxury and security."
"Thank you, Robinson. Reading your century's old story has assisted me in my plight. I owe much thanks to you and Mr. Defoe."
"Thanks be to Him on high," said Crusoe.
A pair of deer, much like Bambi and his mom, meandered to the pool to drink, undeterred by the lioness that slept in the shade of the palms. I bit into the chewy date and let its syrupy juice trickle down my throat.
"This is the life," I said.
"Life? You talk about life. Aren't you forgetting something," whined a woman in an Eleventh-century gown.
"Lady Macbeth, if you're going to infect me with your negativity, you can leave my circle.," I said, "Worry about the damned spots on your own hands."
A Raven sat atop a palm branch and crowed, "Nevermore."
"The same goes for you too Poe," I said.
A nomadic tribal group from the Kalahari desert sat in a circle on the opposite side of the pool and sang.
"Dem bones, dem bones, dem … dry bones."
A young black-haired tribal girl, approximately five years old, stood at their center and raised her forlorn face. Bloody droplets seeped from her eyes as she raised her arm and pointed at me in accusation.
She mouthed the word, "Murderer," then shouted above the song, "You brought your disease."
Anger boiled within me at this third disturbance of my blissful peace and I threw the bottle of lemonade toward them. It fell short of its target and landed in the pool with a splash. On impact, the glass shattered into a bloody burst and tainted the clear water crimson. At the scent of blood, the deer ran, and the feline predator charged after them in chase. The Raven took flight in the abandonment of my manufactured oasis. I glanced to my right, and Lady Macbeth transformed into a ragged skeleton with blood dripping off her fleshless hands. Black flies buzzed about and gorged on the remnants of flesh on her tendons.
"That was rude of you sir," Crusoe said, "I will take my leave." and his goatskin-clothed body turned to dust and dissipated into the ground.
"Water, water, everywhere, and nor any drop to drink," said the Mariner as he stepped from behind the Palm tree. As he spoke, the spoiled pool of water was absorbed into the earth to create a dusty red bowl. He looked up and waved at an Albatross passing overhead. The once lush palm withered brown, fell to the earth, and was swallowed by the sand.
"What has happened to my perfect world?" I said and recalled the tribal hunters cursing me as I escaped to the desert.
"Like one, that on a lonesome road,
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread," said the Mariner.
"I didn't mean to harm them," I cried, "It was an accident."
My legs burned like shame as the sun blazed ever hotter until sand danced about them and covered them. The fire of Ra crawled up my torso, arms, and shoulders until I was buried up to my neck.
The Raven returned, landed before my face, and pecked at my right eye, then my left, blinding me, and squawked, "Murderer nevermore."
"An orphans curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! How horrible that that
Is the curse of a dead man's eye!" quoted the Mariner, who then turned to sand, and blew away with the wind.
Inherent germs from my body, like a thief in the night, had wrought a tortured death upon an innocent family. I had been warned of the danger but by arrogance and pride had ignored it to win another prize. I ran for my life but, alas, nevermore, could I survive the consuming heat of the Kalahari. My twenty-year tenure teaching at Cambridge and bringing home prizes from remote parts of the world meant nothing now except a nameplate in a museum. In the delirium of my final ragged breaths, literary friends had judged my guilt and abandoned me. My name, Dr. Hershel Lee Gathers is forever blowing in the wind, and erased from the world.
Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.
Author's Note - Literary quotations are from.
Robinson Crusoe - By Daniel Defoe, 1719
Macbeth - by William Shakespeare, 1606
The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe, 1845
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, 1798
About the Creator
Since reading Tolkien in Middle school, I have been fascinated with creating, reading, and hearing art through story’s and music. I am a perpetual student of writing and life.
J. S. Wade owns all work contained here.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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