Something a bit different from the Super Spuds today. I wrote this little story yesterday based on a hitch-hiker I saw one day in the desert.
The Unknown Man
Hour after hour, he waited in the sun - a lone figure by the edge of the endless blacktop. His black veil sheltered his face from the unforgiving desert sun, but there was no escape from the rising temperature: A relentless 40 degrees by 9 a.m., which quickly drained his vital bodily fluids and moral. Kneeling, the man stared intently at the road, watching – praying – for a car to come to his aid. After one hour, a car approached, its outline punching through the shimmering heat radiating off the tarmac, and the man stood up and stuck out his hand. The car did not stop. The man kept his faith and resumed kneeling, turning his body to keep the sun on his back and the wind on his face. He had no water with him, and there was no water within a hundred miles. At noon, the wind ceased to blow and the punishing heat began to take effect. His lips started to crack, his mouth stopped producing saliva and his head was like a drum pounding to the beat of a slow rhythm.
He strained his eyes to scope the surrounding area for shade, but only the unwelcoming sight of flat gravel plains rewarded his effort. There was no vegetation in this particular location: the environment only existed to take away life, not sustain it. It was at this moment the man began to realize that he may not survive for much longer. The heat would take his body and the desert would take his soul. When the next car came – if one came at all – he would walk into the road and force the car to stop, rather than rely on the generosity of a travelling stranger. The man reflected on what the mind of the driver who failed to stop was thinking. If I were the driver, would I have stopped? The man smiled to himself, he would have done the same and kept on driving, it was easier – and safer – to assume the next car along would stop and help. Leave it for someone else.
As the sun began to set, its brightness dimmed enough to allow the man to stare at it. It would be beautiful, the man thought, if it was not for the fact it was going to rise tomorrow and condemn him to his death. The sun seemed to laugh at him as it disappeared below the horizon, resolute in its confidence as the ultimate giver – and taker – of life on Earth. The wind continued to blow, pushing the sand grains against their will onwards and away. The man stretched his legs out and drifted in and out of sleep – the severe dehydration taking its toll on the strength of his body. It was now midnight, the unbearable heat of the day now long gone. The ground gave up its warmth and the empty space consumed it greedily. The contrast between day and night in the desert was stark and cruel in its conflicting nature. The man almost wished for the sun to come back soon and warm his body again. He knew once it did though – and it would – he would be wishing for the cold again. The dark of the night only confirmed his loneliness: there were no car lights approaching and only the stars kept him company tonight.
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