Day 23

I emerge from my shelter to a more illuminated environment. The skies are dark and gray but there must be sunlight illuminating the thick layer of clouds from the other side because my eyes can now see a great distance. The wind has mostly abated and although the cold remains, the temperature is less inhospitable.

I can now clearly visualize the landscape. I am in the middle of a vast, flat desert. In the distance on all sides, this area is surrounded by a wall of mountains. Through careful study of these mountains I cannot determine a best course of direction on which to embark, but as I cannot remain here indefinitely, I must choose a heading and begin my long trek.

I gather up what supplies are left and fashion a makeshift satchel from the remnants of my single blanket. There are no shadows by which I may determine a compass bearing or time of day, so I choose a point on the horizon where the mountains look less formidable and start walking in that direction. The great sinkhole in the middle of this area starts to slowly pass into the distance behind me as I trudge on through the sand. The size of this hole only becomes apparent as I, walking for what must have been hours, turn around expecting it to have completely vanished over the horizon, but instead find it only marginally smaller in my wake.

Instead of the startling appearance of her image in front of me, I now only make out these hovering phantasms from a distance; as I approach they disappear and are nothing but mirages. I cannot make out any detail or expression in her image anymore. Yet while the images are fewer and farther between, the revelation of a new image on the horizon still unnerves me, disturbing my psyche. Sometimes I must lie in rest from the mental and physical exhaustion effected by this environment.

Occasionally there is a sharp gust of wind that knocks me over. This is usually loosely accompanied by a great and distant roll of thunder, although I spy no lightning. The air remains dry, and though I long for it, no rainstorm comes. Bits of sand and dust infiltrate my eyes, nose, and mouth, and the tears that should flush the particles from my eyes are beginning to dry up from lack of hydration.

I journey onwards, slowly and unsteadily, buffeted by the winds, towards an unknown destination beyond an unfamiliar and foreboding horizon.

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Author: PhilRW

software engineer, pianist, polymath

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