I’m keeping my eyes shut. Hope is making me think the air smells radically different than the forest I fell asleep in.
I’m probably dreaming, but someday I might really be saved. I learned to hate my own creators. And now I’ve wiped out so many of them.
But the sounds are gone, too. The hoots, the chirps, the howls, the clicks, the chatter of deciduous fauna is gone.
My fingers are grasping sand! But… no, I hear no ocean. I hear a faint wind. A warm wind.
I am finally free. I’m free of that torture. And free of that terrible power to drive animals against humans.
What was that thing who captured me? Have I really been a kidnapped prisoner for a year? My memory feels tricked. Everything that happened over the last “year” – the kidnapping, the rape, the beating, the starvation, the humiliation – seems like yesterday. Too much like yesterday.
That thing was some kind of entity that imitated Satan. It played with my sense of time. It needed my uncertainty.
I’ve never felt this depressed. Does struggling for anything after this make sense? If creatures like that exist, who can change me and have their way with me and come along at any moment to snatch me away… then maybe this is Hell after all; a Hell where I can only suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and “not to be” is not an option.
I refuse to get involved in whatever new situation I’ve been transcarnated into today. I’m just not playing. What difference does it make? I have no control over anything. I can barely remember that old jerk who told me I’d get control over this. Fucking liar. Why is it so damned hot?
I have to find out. I unfold from the fetal position to find myself laying on a large sand dune.
Standing, I clomp to the top of the dune. Nothing but sand, 360 degrees.
Fine. I’ll just stay on the shady side of a dune – when I can find one with a shady side – and wait this one out. Who cares?
There’s a rumbling from the distance. Is there a train station out here? Unlikely. I look around and around until I see it coming. A wall of sand is rolling in like a tsunami from one horizon. It’s growing bigger fast.
There’s nowhere to run. I’ll be buried. Okay. This is what I wanted, right? Make it quick. Move on to the next house of mystery? But to be smothered…!
Panic packs my gut and I scream in protest as the first grains pelt me like wasps.
Then everything slows way down, almost to stop. Over my shoulder a mountain of sand threatens to envelop me. But behind me from the midst of the sandstorm a woman passes through, brushing the floating particles from her path as she approaches me!
When she gets near me I have difficulty moving. My heart is slowing down.
“This can’t be love,” I say with leaden lips and tongue, “my heartbeat’s going the wrong direction…”
In her hands are glowing discs. She lowers them and everything pops into real time motion again. Sand pelts me and the mountain is swallowing us.
She yells against the grumble, “You have to hold my arm and keep your body close to mine if you want to live!”
Finally. A break.
Suddenly a jeep roars out of the grinding mist with soldiers pointing rifles at us. I look in the eyes of one as he takes aim at me and fires.
Instead of ducking or turning away as I do, the woman raises her arms at the shooters exposing the discs to them.
Again the wall of sand regresses to slow motion. The bullets fired by my assassin move gradually in my direction. No more sand pelts my face. Moments later she lowers her arms releasing the local spell and the weapons explode in the faces of those firing them. Then she resumes.
She looks over her shoulder at me. “Well?”
I grab her arm and hug next to her as she holds everything back and we slip away faster and faster at normal speed.
The area isn’t as bleak as it appears on the surface. A modest cluster of palm trees await us. At the base of one is a switch. Another tree opens its hidden door for us. My desert hostess takes me in and we go down.
Underneath the sand is a hidden refuge where a dozen others have established a comfortable headquarters, ventilated by pipes going up through the trees.
Once we’ve relaxed and settled below the storm, I learn what’s going on. The soldiers were hunting me. I am a leader of the rebellion against the government. And I happen to be this woman’s chosen love interest as well.
My savior is sculptress Oota Dabun, who was 28 when the death squad came, barely evading the fate of her parents and two brothers who were among the 8,000 people that vanished during the Algorian civil war when over 200,000 people were killed.
She had “recovered” and started rebuilding her life when a ravaging earthquake struck killing over 2,000 –including her parents- and making another 200,000 homeless –including Oota.
Roaming the desert she saw twin meteors fall through the sky landing nearby, where she found debris of two glowing minerals.
Attracted by their bright malleability, she molded some of the two minerals together compacting enough to make two discs.
With that, Oota would discover that she possessed field dampeners that would stifle all momentum except that of the person holding them – and she would be called Oasis.
The same fraudulent government still in power freed jailed radicals responsible for the murders of her family. Standing against all violent conflict, Oasis wields field dampeners that stifle all momentum except hers. She can pass through a rainstorm nearly untouched. In an earthquake she can steady a section of ground. If a ship is sinking she can slow it down for hours. If a fire is raging she can reduce combustible rates of speed, stifling its progress.
In any crisis, she is truly an Oasis.
And a beautiful one at that.