We were on the road for five days. On the radio, we were constantly bombarded with news of Notak's attack and things weren't going well for the humans. Entire cities have been razed to the ground and the current death toll was in the thousands.
To make matters worse, the people weren't united in their stand against the demons. Many people took advantage of the panic and confusion. Shops were being looted and thugs roamed the streets with large clubs and make shift bow and arrows. There were violent and riots in the big cities. The military had to be called in to quell the violence but things were very tense at the moment.
Away from all this was the three of us, me, Sarah, and Lilly, a 12 years girl we picked up on the way. I still don't trust her and I feel that she is hiding some big secret. I hope she isn't one of Notak's spy in disguise.
We were on some important quest to find some mystical sword that may be able to kill Notak, the leader of the demons and bring an end to all this fighting. If we find the sword, we can kill Notak. If Notak died the war would be over. That is quite a lot of ifs, if this happen if that happen. But there is no harm in trying.
I hope that once Notak was killed, all his demon followers would suddenly stop their attacks. All this hope in finding a single sword.
There we were, just the three of us driving, driving along the transcontinental highway in a stolen car with the AC cranked up to full blast when the car's engine coughed and sputtered.
"No no no, not now," I muttered.
I glanced down at the dashboard looked at the fuel gauge, which confirmed that the car had run out of fuel. The arrow on the fuel gage was pointing toward empty. After sputtering some more, the engine died and we coasted, waiting for the speed to bleed out. After traveling for another twenty yards, the car came to a stop. I turned the key and pressed my foot on the gas pedal. The car sputtered a few times but didn't move.
"Damn it," I swore slamming on the steering and accidently hitting the horn. This caused the horn to blare out loudly waking up Lilly sleeping in the back seat and startling Sarah.
"Who? what?" Lilly exclaimed as her eyes shot open.
"I forgot to refill the fuel at the service station some twenty mile back," I answered.
"That was pretty stupid of you," Sarah said from the back seat.
"Thanks for rubbing it into my face," I answered annoyed.
I am quite certain there were no service stations in the middle of the desert unless one of those cacti could be cut open and its fluid used as fuel.
"Guess we have to walk the rest of the way. I said.
"Are you suggesting we walk in the blazing hot sun," Lilly cried out. "It must be a bajillion degrees out there."
"Umm I'm pretty sure bajillion is not a word," I said. "And what should we do? Just sit here and die?"
As soon as I got out of the car, the soaring heat of the desert hit me. The temperature difference was extreme: it was like emerging from a freezer into a baking hot oven. Lilly slumped out of the car giving me the evil eye. Sarah too emerged from the passenger seat but it look like she was second thoughts about it. Who can blame them?
The inside of the car was certainly cooler, for now, but eventually it would heat up like an oven. Here's a little science lesson: the infrared rays passing through the windows and windshield and heats the air inside. However, the heat cannot escape back out; therefore, the car eventually getting hotter and hotter. The same phenomenon also keeps the planet warm.
According to a website I've read, the temperature inside a car can reach up to 50°C when a car is standing in a parking lot with the outside temperature just around 32°C. I can't imagine what would happen to the inside of the car out here in this blazing hot sun.
"Guys, we better move the car to the road side so that nobody gets injured," Sarah said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"We better move the car so that no passing cars would hit it and cause a traffic accident," Sarah replied.
"I guess you are right," I said as I begin to push the car. The car wouldn't move. Sarah joined me and heaved at the car.
My back was straining when suddenly I remembered that the car's gear was still engaged.
I slapped my head muttering, "Duh!" I crawled back into the driver seat and moved the gear into neutral. The car started to roll. We pushed the car to the side of the road.
"There that should be enough," I said wiping the seat from my forehead.
"What now?" Sarah asked taking out the water bottle from her backpack and drank it.
"Pass me the water," I said.
Sarah handed me the bottle and I shook it to see how much was inside. The water sloshed loudly.
"We better conserve it," I commented.
I took out the map from my backpack and consulted it. I took a glimpse of the land ahead but I could see no recognizable landmarks. I pulled out the compass from the bag. I studied the map closely looking back and forth between in and the compass. After twenty minute of deliberation and careful consideration, I said, "Our destination is that way." I pointed lifted my hand to shade my eyes and using the other hand, I pointed northward.
"It is not far from here and should take about two days give or take a day, just in time for the summer equinox," I continued.
"I guess we better start walking," Sarah said and started walking toward the direction I pointed. The rest of the team joined her on the long trek across the desert.
The blazing sun beat down on us and all of us were sweating a lot. I glanced toward Sarah. Her clothes were soaking with sweat, causing to stick to her body outlining her every curve. Sarah noticed me looking at her and stared at me. I glanced away blushing.
A tumbleweed rolled past us. On a distant sand dune, I spotted a snake moving in a sideways motion leaving parallel "j" shaped marks in the sand.
"What is that," I asked pointing at the snake.
"That is a," Sarah said. She was interrupted by Lilly.
"A sidewinder snake," Lilly continued, "named for its unusual sidewinding movement that it uses to travel in the sand. It travels that way to minimize its surface contact to the hot sand."
"Showoff," Sarah muttered.
Lilly overheard this and stuck out her tongue at Sarah.
There was nothing in sight except groups of cacti and clumps of some desert prickly bushes. The desert scenery got pretty old very fast.
Day soon turned to night and the sun dipped below the horizon. The sparkling stars made their appearance. A large round disk that is the moon arose from the horizon. The air started to cool down a little. This made our trek more bearable.
In the distance, a lone coyote howled at the moon. Soon other coyotes joined, their howls blending together to produce a melodious song.
I looked up at the sky and I recognized the many constellations along with the many I do not know. The stars twinkle overhead. This is the same sky wherever we are. In fact, there were more stars out here than the cities due to the lack of pollution. It may seem ironic since the desert had more sand than cities, but the air is certainly cleaner here and I could see more stars.
These were the same stars, well almost the same stars, that I saw back home when I used to stare to the sky. When I was young, I wished I were an astronaut so that I could see the heavens from above. I wish I were back at home
These were the same stars, well almost the same stars, that I saw back home when I used to stare to the sky. When I was young, I wished I were an astronaut so that I could see the heavens from above. I wish I were back at home.
Actually, here is safer than at home since Notak was attacking cities and villages and plus the looting and violence would certainly make me uncomfortable.
"Is that the Milky Way?" I commented pointing to the white band of stars that stretched from the horizon. It resembled a giant rift.
We continued walking until our eyes start to droop.
"We better get some sleep," Sarah yawned.
We stopped walking, removed our backpacks, and set them in the sand. After eating a dinner of more chips and chocolate, we lay in the sand using the backpacks as pillows. I'm pretty sure if my mother was around she would chide me for eating unhealthy food. If my mother were around, we wouldn't be in this mess.
"Good night," I mumbled.
"Good night," Sarah called out.
"Night," said Lilly.
I sighed and drifted off into a deep slumber. As morning approached, I stirred feeling refreshed. I heard a loud hissing by my ear. I jumped up and reached for my sword but only grasped a handful of sand. Failing that, I grabbed my backpack and brandished it in front of me looking around for the source of the sound. I spotted a small lizard with its mouth agape and a large frill wide open. It was hissing at us ferociously. I didn't know whether it was poisonous or not but I wouldn't take my chances.
I kicked Sarah on her foot, which made her quite mad indeed.
"What are you kicking at me for?" she yelled. I pointed at the lizard. Sarah shook Lilly awake and we slung our backpack on our backs and started to run. The lizard followed us some twenty yards, hissing and snapping, before it stopped.
"What was that?" I asked.
"I think that was the frilled lizard," Sarah replied.
"Sandstorm!" Lilly cried and pointed toward the horizon. I looked where she was pointing and could see a plume of sand. It was moving quite fast and we just barely made it to a small outcrop of rock. I squatted down and held my backpack over my head for cover. I shut my eyes tightly and covered pulled up my shirt to cover my head.
The sandstorm lasted only for a few minute but I was covered in sand. I shook my head hoping to get the sand out of it. The sand got everywhere from my toes to my hair to other unmentionable places. I could even feel the sand in my pants, which I'm sure, would give me bad chafing. The sandstorm has covered everything with a fine coating of sand. Sand. Sand. Sand.
I was getting tired of all these sand. I officially hate deserts. Not desserts, I still like those. DESERTS. I was beginning to get a bit irritated with the vast expanse of sand and nothingness.
By noon, the heat was unbearable.
"Can I have some water," Lilly asked.
I reached into my backpack and pulled out a canister. It was empty. I pulled out another one but it was empty too. Sarah reached into her backpack and luckily, her bottle was not empty.
"We got to conserve water," she said, "as this is the last bottle."
She handed it to Lilly who took a sip of it before handing it back. Sarah too took a sip. I held my hand out and Sarah passed me the bottle. I drank it till the last drop. I shook the bottle and two more measly drops dripped into my mouth but it was certainly not enough. We have officially ran out of water. My mouth was still dry. Then a thought popped into my head. Why not produce water through my powers. I waved my hand to try producing water. A small blue orb appeared in front of me. I was excited to finally quench my thirst but to my disappointment, the bubble just sputtered and disappeared. I silently groaned
There was no water out here except cacti. Wait a minute. Doesn't cactus have water in them? I suddenly remember a cartoon episode of a guy in blue clothes getting drunk after drinking cactus juice. The guy was seeing mushroom clouds, thinking they were friendly. Basically, throughout the entire episode, he was behaving weird from the effect of drinking the cactus juice. Although it was quite funny to watch, I certainly don't want a similar thing to happen to us and I certainly don't want to find out whether the effects were true or not.
We trudged on through the desert in single file. I bumped into Lilly who grumped, "Can't you watch where you're going?"
"You watch it," I grunted back.
"Come on guys, we gotta stick together," Sarah said.
I turned away grumbling. We are all grumpy and moody with the lack of water.
The evening came and went. There is a slogan that states that time do travel fast when you are having fun. However, we were neither having fun nor in the remotest sense enjoying ourselves. We have been traveling through the forest for two whole days before I found the mountains.
"There it is!" I yelled spotting the mountains.
Looming ahead of us were tall mountains dark mountains. It cut across the barren desert, and lay dark and silent before us and ever higher above us.
It was turning dark and the equinox tomorrow. That just leaves us one day to figure out the clue. Luck was against us.