The Hopeful Wanderer 1 – A Barren Heart

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In my wanderings, I often find myself traipsing a barren land. From horizon to horizon the ground stretches dry and cracked, riddled like puzzle pieces with the long-gone memory of water. Gray haze blows across the sky, blocking out the sunlight like smoke from an unseen fire. But I smell no ash, only empty heat. Taste no soot, just grainy dirt between my teeth. Plates of ancient mud snap beneath my shoes as I plod across acres and acres of desert.

I never know how I arrive here, but I always know my destination: anywhere else.

In the wavy distance, other figures walk. Black silhouettes, mere smudgy suggestions of people. Some toward my destination, others across my path, a few back the way I came. Always anonymous and alone. When I approach them, they scurry away, perhaps seeing in me nothing but the void-cut shape of a human, same as how I see them. Little eddies of brown dust spiral between us, growing and growing in height, towering upward. When a silhouette steps into one of these, both dust devil and person vanish in a twist of crimson spray. I make it a point to avoid these.

Though at times I walk a lonely space made for dying, I one day or the next step out of it. When my feet find soft grass, when rain droplets cool my parched skin, when clean air fills my lungs again, I raise my bowed head and wander ever onward. Yet no matter how many times I escape, I know that I will continue to return.

 


 

I’m always tired, so please consider buying me a coffee to keep me awake while I write the next story. 

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Dumpster Mimicry

I ran across bait this morning.

I ran across bait this morning.

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There are creatures in this world who mimic useful, everyday objects in the hopes that some hapless animal or person will stray too close, or pick it up, and become the mimic’s next meal. I nearly made the mistake of picking up this UPS vest. For what UPS worker would just leave a work uniform hanging on a dumpster? Curious.

It was alluring, attention-grabbing; soft brown and subtle yellow in the dawn light. Out of place enough to pique the interest of human prey. But as I reached for it, I paused. Swallowed the sudden dryness from my mouth as I turned my wide-eyed gaze on the dumpster itself. Only a UPS worker who’d had no choice would leave this behind. Probably one facing the first stages of digestion right now.

When I came back later, intent upon tossing my trash into the dumpster down the alley, I discovered that only my ordinary dumpster remained, UPS vest vanished. The mimic had moved on, it seemed, perhaps having decided that this area wasn’t good pickings after all.